Chrysalis Chapter 540


Chapter 540: They really want me stabbed

A nice, light touch. That's always the correct play. Keep it friendly, no need to shout or get angry, that stuff never defused anything. Believe me, I know. You gotta smile through the screaming, that's how you get your bacon out of the frying pan. So far, signs are good! The powerful Golgari warrior, encased in gleaming metal, is yet to stab me through the face, so let's call the initial salvo a victory!

[You would be Anthony, I presume?]

The mental voice that comes back to me is deep and powerfully resonant. Just by touching that mind I can tell that this guy is not ordinary. There are depths of power here that he hasn't yet displayed. A sleeping aura that boils beneath the surface, controlled and concealed. I get the feeling that if this guy were to really cut loose, not only my pets and I, but also his allies would be impacted by it.

[That's me. One big 'ol ant.]

[You were once a human, were you not?]

[That is indeed the case.]

[Interesting. I presume you choose to surround yourself with these monsters for security, yes?]

He gestures towards the eerily still wall of ants that cover the tunnel walls and ceiling with one hand as I watch him carefully for any sign of motion. If he moves a single toe, I want to see it happening in advance. Come on antennae, don't fail me now!

[I'm not sure what you mean. I've been more welcome and treated far better amongst them than with any 'civilised' race I've come across so far. With the possible exception of the Sophos.]

[Monsters rejecting the Sapient to consort with monsters. I'm hardly surprised.]

What?!

[That attitude may be part of the problem, uh, what was your name?]

[I do not give my name to creatures such as you. Why do you wish to talk with me, creature? We have business to be about.]

This guy has issues. Serious problems in the upstairs department.

[You still want to fight? I think we both know that were we to continue, every Golgari behind you would die, even if you survived.]

It's hard to read the man's emotions, his face being hidden behind the intricate helmet he wears along with the armour. Now that I'm close enough to get a good look, the armour is super fancy. Smooth, burnished surfaces, elegant lines and incredible fine detailing. I'll be shocked if it isn't enchanted. The cores must be socketed somewhere inside the suit, which makes sense. They'd create a weak point where they placed anywhere else. Such a suite must be immensely difficult to make, not to mention pricey. My estimation of this guys' status is rising even further.

[These proud Warriors would be pleased to give their lives to achieve our mission. Which, I might add, is exterminating you and your kind.]

[You really want to test the dedication of your members against mine? I'll give you a hint at how that'll go: they're insects.]

The figure has barely moved, and now indicates indifference with the slightest lift of his shoulders.

[You have killed my people, monster. The city has charged me and mine with the extermination of your kind, down to the last, so that no further infestation will spread to threaten the empire of stone. I know not what you seek to achieve with this banter.]

[Preservation of life? According to your own words, more of your people will die here in this tunnel than have perished at my people's mandibles, so far. If you actually care to keep your people alive, then turning around, and returning to your city, is by far the best choice. I have no wish to kill your people, we seek only to return to our home, far from here.]

The ants around me maintain their eerie, inhuman stillness, all eyes locked on the gleaming figure encased in metal. Even to me, it's a creepy scene. When I include Crinis, all three maws open and dripping with ooze as she gnaws on the air whilst staring at the Golgari, it becomes a touch unnerving.

[Just chill out, Crinis.]

[He stabbed you, Master!]

[I'm aware]

[Twice!]

[I was there! Just don't attack unless I say, alright?]

[Fine]

Phew. This situation is bad enough without Crinis going off the deep end and committing us all to battle. Even now the bulk of the Golgari force is still tracking the majority of the Colony, somewhere in the tunnels around us. My fear is that battle has already commenced over there, though I know the Colony is doing all they can to maintain the distance. There should be no chance that they are fighting, but still, I worry.

The armoured figure has remained silent for a few beats and I feel compelled to fill the silence.

[You need to make a decision, guy. Either you turn around and walk away or we fight it out to the death right here. There doesn't appear to be any middle ground.]

[These ants,] he muses, [they don't behave as they should. I presume that's because of your influence?]

[I suppose a little of my personality rubbed off on them, what can I say? On the bright side, they aren't trying to eat you right now.]

He nods and hefts his weapon.

[Hopefully they'll return to their savage selves after you are dead.]

No. C'mon, please.

My antennae flicker a warning to me and I respond on instinct, twisting to one side and the sword slides passed my face and sinks into my thorax.

[Are you serious?! Do you have any idea how many are going to die because of this?!]

Omen Chomp!

My mandibles crunch around the armour, dragging the figure closer to my face.

[There's going to be war! None of your people will make itback to their city.]

He wrenches his blade from my carapace and brings up his arm.

[The Empire of stone is always at war with the Dungeon, monster.]