After my visit to the core shapers and taking in their own advancements, I hustle off to find Propellant and Coolant. I track down the two mages busily training their own Skills and overseeing the progress of their fellow caste members in the 'mage training area'. Appropriate, I suppose. A rather large, enclosed place that puts me somewhat in mind of a bowling alley. Long, straight lanes to the left and right on both the floor and the ceiling, each ending in a carved, enchanted target which the ants hurl spells at.
The noise is deafening. Roaring flames, shattering ice, splashing water, crunching stone and rushing air are all around, the sounds mingling into a shattering din. Luckily, hearing has nothing to do with being able to talk when you're an ant, so I manage to find who I'm looking for by asking around.
"Hello, Eldest," Coolant welcomes me, "how do you like our new training facility?"
"It's looking good!" I congratulate the two of them, "presumably you're seeing some good results from it?"
She flicks an antenna with authority.
"At the moment we have three separate training areas that are being assessed. All of these mages report daily on their MP used, number of spells cast and Skill gains. Hopefully, we'll have some hard data soon and can adjust our training to be more optimised."
Already conducting experiments and trying to optimise the training time? They grow up so fast Also, three separate locations? Looking around, there must be at least a hundred mages in here! I keep forgetting how many of us there are now. Focusing on why I've come, I tell the two council members all about my experience with the Golgari Shapers, the ways of training, different levels of magic, the various elements and combinations thereof, and the extraordinary power of mind magic when combined with high stats.
It's a lot for the two of them to digest and I leave them to it after letting them know I'll be hosting a council meeting later on. With that job ticked off, it's time to chase down the carvers, Tungstant and Cobalt. The two of them are much harder to find, neither of them are working in the forges, enchanting chambers or even in the statuary.
Yes. A statuary. I know I wanted to let the ants do whatever they felt called to them, let them find their own way in life I just didn't expect statues!
Just let it go. It makes them happy, what's the harm in it? I'll just move on. Before I leave that particular chamber I just ask very politely if they would consider other subjects for their works. I'm not sure how well they listen to that suggestion, most of them appeared to be taking my measurements with their antennae whilst I was talking.
I gladly hustle my way out of there and eventually track down the two I'm looking for in a 'design sketching chamber'. As I enter, I don't see the two of them drawing anything, but rather talking to each other as they fuss over an intricate 3D model of carved stone.
"Looks good!" I say as I approach. "Is that the layout of this nest?"
They startle a little as I approach, so engrossed in their discussion that they don't notice me squeeze into the room.
"Oh, Eldest!" Cobalt greets me. "No, not at all. This is the proposed design for the third nest."
"What do you mean, proposed? I thought this was accepted!" Tungstant protests.
"With this tunnel layout? Please."
"You have to compromise somewhere, Cobalt!" The other carver fumes. "The stone in the third quadrant is too soft! Proper design has to be shaped to suite the environment, not forced on it!"
"You call this suiting the environment? This is a hack! Difficult problems require elegant solutions!"
"What's Ellie got to do with this?"
"Whoa there, you two. Chill out a little."
I interrupt them before they launch into what feels like a well-worn argument and they remain silent as I inspect the model. It really is a fantastic piece of work. Every chamber is perfectly shaped to the desired dimensions, not to mention they are 'open' on one side to show the intricately formed interior of every space. Some of the connections between pieces are spiderweb thin, appearing as delicate as blown glass.
"How the heck do you make something like this?" I ask them in wonder.
"Oh, it's something we figured out. Certain types of rock can hold mana which makes them more durable," Tungstant informs me.
I'm impressed as heck! What an incredible display of skill! I cast my eyes over the intricate connection of chambers, tunnels, with their elaborate defences. In the heart of the nest design lies the egg laying and brood chambers, as one would expect, complete with tiny stone grub carvings.
"Do we even have Queens to populate this nest?" I ask. "I thought there were only the three here and then another group in the first nest?"
Cobalt answers me.
"Another six Queens have begun being raised as soon as this nest was completed," she says, "according to our timetable, we should have the new nests in a solid, defendable state by the time they are ready to move down."
Six more Queen's? Almost doubling the rate of egg laying we currently have yikes. I shake off my shock and spend a little time talking to the two of them about whatever I can recall from Earth that pertained to construction. Some of it is just words, like "superstructure", or "load bearing walls", but perhaps more useful are the descriptions of famous buildings that I could still picture. The Pyramids, the Eiffel tower, the statue of liberty, stadiums, hospitals, skyscrapers. Basically, I dump everything I think of on them and leave it for them to sort out. Hopefully, they'll be able to pull at least a little workable information from the mess I just handed over.
"Ah! Don't forget about the council meeting. Two hours!" I call back to them as I leave their chamber.
The two of them are standing in silent contemplation and don't respond to me before I'm gone. I'm sure they caught my scent, it'll be fine. With two hours to kill before the meeting begins, I have a little time on my claws. What to do?
[Master Mind Magic Affinity (IV) has reached Level 8.]
Oh! Nice! Ever since my gruelling training with Torrina, I've been in the habit of constantly working my sub-brains, always handling one type of construct or another. Right now, all three brains are grinding away on Mind Magic, trying to push closer to that rank five threshold. With my feet planted firmly in the mana rich walls of the Dungeon, I don't have any issue with mana and thanks to my Vestibule, mental fatigue isn't as much of an issue, meaning the training has been more effective than ever!
I'd really rather not, but I suppose I may as well head over to that mage training area and work on my spells. Still a long way to go before I hit that elemental fusion I'm after. I wonder what sort of Skill I'll get when I finally manage to complete it? Well, I just hope it doesn't suck.