That's two of my mutations out of the way, time to bring it home with the final play. This one's straight forward. The infrared detection has been useful, there's no denying that, but the future-sense has been literally life-saving. In the unfolding menu there remains a thousand and one options of other things that I can upgrade my antennae to detect, air, electric current, mana, life (how does that work?) amongst others. I have to say though, something more interesting than the literal future is unlikely to pop up. During my last mutation I pumped up my capacity for future sensing and I'll do so again now. Perhaps after this mutation I'll entertain branching down another path, but for now I'm pretty sold on it.
I look through the menu and select Far-sight Oracle Antennae +25, costing me another 115 Biomass. This level of expense is really painful. Confirm those mutations! Let's get this over with!
Gawd almighty! Why the heck?!?! ACK!
Once again I dissolve into a twitching mess on the floor as my body is wracked by waves of horrific itching. My antennae in particular are the worst this time around, my head and indeed my brain are affected by the change and let me tell you, having your brain start to itch is less pleasant than it sounds.
It passes as it always does and I'm back on the go before ten minutes is up. Which is a good thing since Granin wanders in shortly after that.
[Another round, another win, Granin. Isn't this supposed to be hard?] I boast.
[Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's not worry about the myriad of factors that fell your way to help that win happen. If anything, I think that creature was one of the better designs in this tournament. Certainly better than some bug.]
Now of all times might not be the time to be throwing shade at my species, Granin.
[Don't go all still on me, I'm joking you touchy insect! You did great.]
[Compliments, Granin? You aren't behaving like yourself.]
The big Golgari reaches the bottom of the ladder and settles down in a seat for some face to face chat.
[Well, perhaps I'm starting to feel like we might actually win this thing. Which is good news, since I'll feel less bad about having forced you into it when I captured you.]
[ I'll be alive as well.]
He waves a hand.
[Sure, that too. Torrina bumped into me and said you had a few things on the go. You want to meet with the other reincarnators? What's brought that on?]
Need to watch my words a little here.
[Well, each round is another chance that I might finally die and so it'd be nice to get a word in whilst I still can. There's a lot of things I haven't asked them yet. Like when they died on Earth. Why the heck didn't I ask when they died?]
I can finally get confirmation of the passage of time between Earth and Pangera!
[You're thinking about the time difference? It's inconsistent. We've looked into that, ages ago.]
[I'll do what I can but there's been some strange rumblings about those two lately, especially Sarah.]
[What do you mean, rumblings? What's going on Granin?]
He shrugs, a look of distaste flickering over his face.
[I don't know enough to elaborate right now. It's complicated. Look, exactly who is in charge of the reincarnators is usually up for debate since they're technically "guests" of the Shapers. As I said, working with the Shapers is usually a partnership, that's how it's meant to go. In our case, we haven't pushed the reincarnators we found and formed relationships with into becoming Ancients the way we do with other monsters.]
Seems a little odd. We start with quite an advantage over most species after all.
[Why's that? There must be a reason.]
[Several, in fact. First is that none of the existing Ancients are reincarnators, as far as we know. Certainly it wasn't until several hundred years after the cataclysm that the first reborn souls were found by the Cult in its various forms. This leads us to believe that the appearances of your people didn't start until well after the Dungeon was formed.]
[How long did it exist before it broke the surface, do you think?]
I'm not sure why, but I'm curious.
Granin just shakes his head.
[You ask that question around the right scholars and you'll start a fist fight. Short answer, nobody is sure, but a long time. The second main reason is that nearly all of you are reborn in the first strata, thus limiting you to basic Beast type species until you evolve to a high tier, a milestone that most don't survive to reach.]
[Nasty. Wait. So it's possible for me to 'upgrade' in some way. I might get access to the goodies that the monsters in the lower strata get their claws on?]
[Yeah, of course. How else would you have any chance of descending. The Dungeon is a real pain in the backside, but it's scrupulously fair to monsters. Theoretically, every species has the chance to descend to the centre. It's just harder for the upper species since they start behind the curve of the creatures below them.]
Huh. Well that's interesting. I wonder what sort of options will pop up the further I go down. Perhaps Shadow Ant? Daemon Ant? Whatever is in the fourth strata?
[Hey Granin, what sort of creatures live in the fourth strata?]
[You haven't even made it out of here alive, or even set foot in the third strata, and you want to learn about the fourth?]
[Come on. I'm just curious.]
[Sure you are. The fourth strata is a doozy. As if any of them aren't. Mythic Beasts. Think of the sort of stuff you saw in the first strata, but with the power turned up about a hundred times.]
[So like. Really, really big Gorillas.]
He just shakes his head at me.
[Listen, your pet? He's not even a quarter the size of some of the things down there. Let alone you. If you want my advice. IF you manage to survive this mess, then take a little time in the second strata to accumulate a bit of strength. The third isn't a cake walk by any stretch and the Demons there are smart and tough as nails. You'll want to be as prepared as you can be.]
[What do you think about that Invidia?]
[You have knowledge. I shall have it.]
[Yeah, yeah. We were just talking about your home strata. You want to get back to Demon Town or whatever?]
[I will follow the Master.]
[Well, yeah. You know what? Just go back to practicing healing.]
[Level ups. They will be mine!]
Going to take a little adjusting to get used to the little guy. Still, his eye is glowing with what I hope is delight as he weaves spells together with enviable ease. As long as he's happy.