[Worms are stupid.]
[I said I was sorry already]
[They look disgusting and they eat dirt.]
[I know, okay? I know.]
[They're soft and don't have a carapace which makes them less shiny.]
[Not all ants are shiny! Only you are shiny!]
[Are you talking back to me?! Invidia, I think he's talking back to me!]
[Sssstrange. It should be shame.]
[Yeah, you're supposed to be shame! Aren't you, Jim?]
[ yes. I am shame. Can we PLEASE discuss this another time? Like, when we aren't being ACTIVELY chased?!]
As much as I enjoy reminding our resident worm that he and his entire species are massive failures who the world would most likely be better off without, we do have something of a situation on our claws. After we popped up outside those massive stone gates, we hightailed it back underground but it wasn't long before we started to sense signs that we were being followed.
Luckily, Jim was able to retrace the tunnel that I'd collapsed a lot faster than he could dig through solid rock, but we couldn't follow that all the way back, we'd just end up in the Shaper outpost that we'd started in. Which meant that we needed to dig our way into another Dungeon tunnel, a job for which we needed Jim's now suspect earth senses to try and find.
[Look, I found a tunnel, didn't I?]
[Just not the right one]
[I was close!]
[Close to a city full of Golgari]
[I'll be quiet.]
Every few seconds I can feel pulses of magic radiate down through the ground, trying to home in on us. I'm not sure if these are some form of mental attack or if this is just a location spell of some sort? Monster detection? Perhaps trying to sense vibrations in the rock? Either way I'm not a huge fan. Jim and I are using every technique we can to speed up our tunnel digging. He's biting and utilising his earth magic to its limits as I do the same from just behind him. I've put Invidia on tunnel collapse duty so I can focus more completely on assisting the digging. It's hard to manipulate the mana that far ahead of myself, Jim is a long worm after all, so I need to put real effort in.
Another pulse! They're coming quicker now Does that mean they're homing in on us or are we getting further away? I wish I knew!
[How far, Jim? We can't be far, surely!]
[Not far! I've found another tunnel, probably twenty metres dead ahead!]
[Poor phrasing given the circumstances!]
There's a rising panic in the worm that is worrying. The more danger we get into, the more unsettled he becomes. Being a sheltered creature, not having to fight for so long, having his meals brought to him, it must have killed his edge. Although, judging from his history, this guy was never the most aggressive of monsters since his rebirth.
[Hold it together, Jim. We're gonna get there!]
Also, it would be super great if I could not have worm butt in my face sometime soon, I'm well over it. It takes a couple of minutes for us to drill our way through and with a joyous cry, Jim rushes into the dark tunnel in front, shouting with glee.
[We did it!]
[Get down, Jim!]
I blast out of the tunnel with Invidia close behind, my mandibles wide.
The shadow centipede shrieks as my jaws shear it apart and it falls to one side, twitching. Stupid centipedes! They pop up every time I don't want them to!
[What the hell was that?!] Jim cries, panicking.
[Shadow centipede. They're new. Stay alert, Jim! You're in the Dungeon now. What do you want to do? Try and hide in the walls or do you want to come with me?]
[Look, I don't care if you want to go alone, I really don't,] I assure him, [I've got places to be and you'd rather hide, it's fine. I just need you to make a call very, very quickly.]
The giant worm shudders for a moment as he struggles to decide.
[I'll come with you. I'm still too close to try and hide here, they'll be able to find me before I get too far.]
HAZZOW! I'm off!
[Invidia! I want you to blast anything that looks like it's going to get too close! Alright?]
When you don't know if an angry team of eight foot tall rock people are going to leap at you from the shadows, motivation to run isn't hard to come by. Invidia isn't the fastest, so I pile him onto my back and start dashing down the tunnel. I don't know exactly how to get to the Colony, but I can sense a general direction that I need to travel in.
Jim does his best to keep up, but he isn't designed for flat out speed. In terms of tunnelling through the earth, nobody could hope to match him. Over rock though? He's sluggish at best. Which isn't the problem that I thought it might have been. This is the Dungeon after all. You can't get far without running into monsters, a hazard which Jim isn't the best qualified to deal with. So it falls to Invidia and I to tear into the creatures that try to prevent us from fleeing.
As we rush through the dark, cold tunnels that twist and turn I use my Tunnel Map to ensure we're moving away from the Golgari city we stumbled into earlier. Obviously not somewhere I'm keen to return to. Neither in the short term, nor ever, if I'm frank. Robbing the Lirians was a laugh but tussling with the Golgari is not on the cards.
Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!
I cut through the second strata shadow creatures that inhabit these tunnels with Invidia casting support magic on me. The support spells make all the difference as my enemies reel from his dizzying mental attacks, are rebuffed by his shields or straight up detonated by his explosions. The support caster I always wanted is finally here and it feels so damn good.
[This way, Jim! Keep hustling. I think we're nearly there!]
[Where exactly is it that you think is going to be safe? I thought we were just trying to get further away from the Golgari?]
He sounds a little suspicious, which I can't blame him for. As far as he knows, there isn't any safe place anywhere in the Dungeon.
[Look, I'm an ant.]
[Where do you think an ant would feel safe? Supported? Enveloped in the warm love of their family?]
[You don't mean]
[You're going to meet the Colony, Jim!]
The shuffling worm comes to a screeching halt.
[You want to betray me?! Turn me into ant food? Is that it, Anthony? I can't believe this!]
The worm shifts its head from side to side, as if looking for a way out.
[What do you think is going to happen to me when I get surrounded by ant monsters?!]
[They'll eat me!]
[Jim, they aren't going to eat you if I tell them not to. Trust me, they aren't like what you're thinking.]
[Oh, so they aren't a ravenous horde of killing machines?]
[Look, they might be a ravenous horde of killing machines, but they're also intelligent and very serious about what I say to them. Perhaps to an unhealthy degree. So don't worry about getting eaten. They'll help you, they'll even protect you. Protect both of us.]
He wiggles a bit, clearly unconvinced.
[Look, that is where I'm going. If you want to head your own way, I'll say good luck to you. You make the call.]
It doesn't take him long to make a decision. The Colony is going to have a visitor!