The plan isn't complicated, which I hope means it's more likely to succeed. Once I have the space to myself, Invidia begins to weave an illusion around me. The image I ask him to create isn't anything too fancy, just an shell of myself, cast around myself. The only part of the spell that extends beyond that covers the floor for thirty centimetres beyond my feet. The moment the image is in place I weave together an earth mana construct and start pumping energy through it, taking hold of the now dark brown mana and using it to create a spell of my own.
A spell that I direct downward, into the stone beneath my feet. The Shapers above can sense the mana being utilised, but they've been sensing me and Invidia cast magic down here for days on end. The only time spells aren't being created in this cell is when I'm asleep! But I won't be able to conceal what I'm doing for long.
In order to divert their attention I have Invidia practice some of his louder spells. We aren't allowed to damage the room, but he can set off some smaller explosions here and there. As he does I begin to tunnel downward, the stone and rock breaking under the strength of my earth drill spell. Earth mana is interesting in that it allows you to move and shape soil and then stone into almost any form you please. As I push open a space downward I compact the soil to the sides as much as possible to avoid having to bring too much to the surface. The Shapers are wise to this sort of magic though, they've pact the dirt incredibly tight around the cells. After only a minute the dirt begins to rise and spill out around my legs.
This is going to be tougher than I thought. I'd hoped to be able to carve out a space the size of my body in order to hide myself in it before the signs of my digging became too apparent. Ah well, nothing for it then!
I renew my magic assault on the ground, chewing away at the stone beneath my feet until chunks of stone begin to spill out between my legs. Thanks to my training and relatively high rank in earth mana, I'm able to make rapid progress. Of course, the stone chips appearing out of nowhere are a slight giveaway that something fishy is going on. The triad of Shapers looking down at me step forward as one to peer intently into my cell.
Too late, fools! Muahahahaha!
Desperate joy surging in my heart I pull my legs close to body and drop down into the widening gap in the floor, face first. Engage earth mandibles! One my sub-brains begin to direct more mana from my core into my earth affinity construct and then pushing it into my mandibles which begin to glow with a russet stone colour. Ha! The mandibles aren't just for yoinking people across battlefields, I can infuse any type of mana I want! Once the mana builds up in my mandibles I begin chomping away at the dirt like a maniac, the empowered jaws shearing through the stone as if it were butter.
Dig! Hear the roar of my soul and dig to freedom!
They aren't going to let me do that, are they?
From behind I can sense the concussive release of mana as spells begin to detonate in the cell.
[How're you holding up, Invidia?]
[The barrier will hold, for now.]
[Nice work. Try to hold them of as long as you can.]
The eyeball is following the plan and formed a dome shaped barrier over the entrance to our escape tunnel after following in behind me. He probably won't be able to hold off their barrage for long but if I can get us far enough underground then it won't matter.
CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP!
With relentless energy I work my face hands and rip into the stone even as my sub-brains direct their spells to shape and split it. Now this is digging! With my earth magic I don't even have to bother shifting the rock after I shatter it! No more trips back to the start of the tunnel for me! Dig, Anthony! Dig as if your life depends on it!
The attack on my mind comes suddenly and stabs home like the point of a knife. I can feel my consciousness rock from the blow as darkness begins to swim on the edge of my vision. This is the exact same technique that Granin used to knock me out when I captured. Unfortunately for these suckers, I'm not going down as easy this time!
I pass control of my body over to a sub-brain and use the entirety of my main mind to focus on my mental defences. The attack they're using is an advanced application of mind magic and one that I can't quite execute yet. What's more, the three Shapers are coordinating to perform the strike, three advanced mages focusing their minds in harmony to cast a single, powerful spell. It's little wonder the I and any monster of my tier wouldn't be able to handle it alone. That's just way too much mental firepower to handle.
Luckily I'm no longer alone!
[Drop the barrier, switch to mental defence!]
[I will take their pain!]
As I cast my senses out to try and sense their next strike, Invidia does the same. But, since he has more than enough processing power to spare, he also goes on the offence.
[They hold me off. I WILL have their mindsssss!]
A task that he throws himself into with relish. As powerful as he is, I still don't expect Invidia to succeed in breaking down three mages. All he has to do is buy a little time. Every second a veritable blizzard of stone chunks flies out the back of the tunnel and into my cell as I burrow free.
Here it comes!
My external mana senses tingle as compact spell zips toward me through the stone. The moment I sense it I try to take hold of the spell and break it apart with my mind, shredding the threads that hold it together. Invidia does a better job than I but between the two of us we still aren't able to destroy it. The spell is expertly constructed and dense with mana. At best, we're able to take a third of the mana out of it before it strikes my mind.
My brains ring as if struck like a bell but I manage to hold onto consciousness and continue digging. Ha! Two was enough to put me out last time, but not now! I swear, when I evolve next I gonna pump my Will to an absurd level. No way I'm letting myself stay vulnerable to this sort of attack. The next few seconds are tense as I furiously dig whilst sensing in all directions, trying to work out where the knife will come from.
Above me I can sense a flurry of mental mana as Invidia steps up his assault on the mages, trying to bring one of them down.
Dig, dig, dig! Shouldn't be far now!
Another blow stabs toward my mind which I once again strain to break down without success. My vision swims in front of my eyes and my mind wavers on the verge of shutting down under the assault. My legs buckle for a moment but straighten again the next as I stabilise. The energy pouring out of my Collective Will Vestibule pushes back against the pain and steadies my mind. The Colony isn't about to let me fall at the last hurdle!
With a mighty chomp the stone in front of me crumbles away from me, starting a chain reaction that cascades the rock down into an open space. When the ground beneath my claws gives way I fall downward and land flat on the top of my head.
[You gotta be more careful when you tunnel straight down. That's amateur hour.]
[Seriously, Jim? You're going to critique my tunnelling technique now?]
[You're right. Let's go… Worms rule.]