I won't. I'm running for it. With a great leap, I fly into the air, over the heads of the ant-robed people and crash back down to the ground. My legs creak under the strain, but I care not, forcing myself to sprint as soon as I can.
"WAIT FOR ME, GREAT OOOOONNNEEE!!!"
It's not happening, you mad priest. I barely talk to you and now people are wearing strange robes and following me around like secret service. A few more conversations and you'll have newborn babies dressed up as larvae, and people will start trying to carry me around on a palanquin or something Actually the baby thing sounds cute
No! I'll be strong! DASH!
I kick up a huge cloud of dust and just like that, I leave the humans and Beyn floundering in my wake as I run for the hill. The sweet mana, it calls to me! As do the more reasonable behaviours of my family members. I'd rather talk to Leeroy than exchange words with that nutty priest. My time in the town was certainly interesting, and it's nice to know that the Colony still has a strong ally in Enid, even if some of the more recent arrivals don't look quite as favourably on us. I can't help but feel a little disgruntled about that. Who saved all their lives, bore the brunt of the horde attack, and is even helping them build their town to this very day? Sheesh.
I speed back to the nest with Crinis still attached to my carapace, plunging into the welcome dark the moment I can. The sweet blue light of mana infuses my body and I breathe a sigh of relief as the drain from my core slows significantly. With constant application of external mana manipulation, it's possible for me to slowly replenish my reserves in the first strata, a thought which unwinds the unconscious knot of tension in the back of my head.
Walking around with mana leaking from your core is almost like a human taking a trip down the streets whilst bleeding from an open vein. Your very life energy is slowly dripping out of you as you try and ignore it and concentrate on other things but it's always there, the sense of impending death prodding away at your mind. I'm not a fan. Which is why I was happy enough to come back here in a hurry, even though there's something I have to do now that I've been avoiding for a long time.
Moving much slower now, I make my way through the nest, trying to make space for the many hatchlings and others that I share these more cramped tunnels with. Those tricky flickers in my Vestibule have returned, but I ignore them for the moment. I need to concentrate on this task, she deserves my full attention.
Pushing ever deeper into the nest, I make my way to the brood chambers, where hundreds of pupae line dozens of chambers, each lovingly cared for by their brood tenders. In the centre of these lies the egg chamber, where several immature Queens now reside in what used to be Mother's room.
"Hello, all!" I greet them. "Hope things are going well. I've seen the designs for the new nests and they're absolutely out of control, you'll love them."
"Eldest!" They cry in surprise.
"Just passing through, came to pick something up from my old room."
I can feel Crinis shift on my carapace as I speak, but she chooses to remain silent. She knows why I've come, even if she doesn't understand why I've hesitated until now.
"We didn't expect you, Eldest," one of the Queens steps forward to say, "but we heard you had arrived in the nest. Is there anything we can help with?"
"No, no," I laugh, "you do your best for the Colony and leave this sort of thing for me. You have a very important job to do, much more important than mine. Good luck!"
So saying, I ignore their looks of surprise and crawl down through the gap in the floor and down into what used to be the space reserved for myself, Tiny and Crinis. Just as the nest below ground has expanded, so too has this one. Dozens of extra chambers and tunnels have been carved out, the misplaced dirt and rock added to the towering ant hill above ground. This unadorned little chamber has been left untouched throughout those works.
It's a bit cramped, now. With my larger frame and Crinis glooped on me, I fill the space in a way I never did before. Which brings me uncomfortably close to the object I left here when I left, Garralosh's core.
I still have mixed feelings about that fight, and the eventual death of Garralosh. If she hadn't ended the life of one of my family, Grant the brave, who sacrificed her life for me, then I'm not sure I would have found it in me to finish her off. We made use of her Biomass, though the Colony ate much of it, but her core was something I couldn't bring myself to deal with at the time.
I could reconstitute her. Bring back a brand new Garralosh copy to stomp around on behalf of the Colony, but without her soul. The human who had been reborn on Pangera is gone forever, perhaps to another, even stranger life. Certainly the new Garralosh would be more sane than the last. It's a fairly low bar to jump over, if I'm honest. Still, I don't think that I'll bring back the giant croc. The drain on resources that the Colony would experience trying to keep her up and fighting fit wouldn't be worth it. Not to mention the baggage of all of those that were trying to hunt her down returning to finish the job.
No, I didn't come here for that. This core needs to be absorbed. I wasn't prepared to do it after the battle, and not only because it's so uncomfortably big, but because it represents the struggle of Garralosh, the suffering that she endured, vanishing from this world for good. When this core is gone, there really will be nothing left of her. Nothing except for the profile that was unlocked when I consumed her.
With a sigh, I bring it up using the menu and read through it once more.
[Garralosh. The unique monster known as Garralosh is the reincarnation of Janice Thornton, a human from Earth. The product of a violent household, Janice's view of relationships grew twisted and callous. As she matured, she grew more cruel and manipulative, eventually coming to utilise violence and brutality to get her way. This ever escalating spiral resulted in her descent to madness and two murders before eventually she was cut down. Her soul was selected as a likely candidate for resurrection due to her urge to dominate and confront with violence. It was hoped that her introduction to the Dungeon would allow her to vent her more bloodthirsty urges and develop herself as an apex predator. Instead, she drowned in conflict and descended further into madness. Her desire to dominate, control and gain vengeance eventually led to her isolation and entrapment. Despite reaching a reasonable level of evolution for a first strata monster, Garralosh is yet another failed transplanted soul, leaving little to no mark on the Dungeon and its ecosystem.]
Does the Dungeon have a similar profile ready for me? Bit of a disturbing thought. Gingerly, I grab the core in my mandibles and begin to make my way back down to the second strata.