It doesn't take long for us to catch up, since the two soldiers are moving cautiously, attempting to avoid the notice of the thronging monsters in the forest.
Every now and again I notice one of them looking up, doubtless keeping an eye out for the gargoyle monsters that nest in the roof. I haven't seen any sign of those things for a while now but I don't doubt they are still up there somewhere.
Fingers crossed that when they do show up they decide to swoop down on someone else.
The two soldiers move with practiced ease through the area, avoiding pitfalls and reading the signs of monsters being nearby.
I'm honestly impressed by their level of knowledge. They seem to know exactly where every monster nearby is without having to actually lay eyes on it. I'm desperately hoping that doesn't include me!
The way they move seems to indicate they know exactly where they are in the open space and exactly where it is they want to go. I wonder how they are doing that. Do they recognise the features of the ceiling? Are they able to track their locations based on familiar features of the rock up there?
That makes so much damn sense I'm shocked I never thought of it before. After the thought occurs to me I start to glance up at the ceiling, using my advanced eyesight to pick out obvious features to try and recall later.
After an hour of travel we arrive at what appears to have been the destination the soldiers were heading for.
A large hill rises from the forest floor and in one side a tunnel has been cut, leading down into the hill and downward. At the entrance to the tunnel two more soldiers are standing guard, attempting to appear inconspicuous, not wanting to draw too much monstrous attention.
The two I'd followed solute at the entrance, hands over hearts of some such and then enter the tunnel, their dark uniforms quickly blending into the shadows as they move out of sight.
If only I had mind reading or telepathy or something. How am I supposed to glean information from these people? They must know so much that I couldn't possibly find out on my own! A veritable goldmine of information is sitting right here in front of me and I cannot access it in any way! Gah! This is maddening!
I decide to stay and watch this apparent human camp for a while. I can't think of anything more threatening to the colony than an attack by these damnable soldiers, so in my capacity as a scout it is my duty to observe them until I am satisfied that they pose no threat.
Two hours later, my dedication to the cause has faded somewhat.
The two guards out the front were rotated, replaced by two almost identical guards. The new guards were not the two I'd followed to this location so at least I learned that there are at a minimum six people within this camp.
Tiny is growing completely bored and is having a nap behind me. Thankfully there is enough background noise to wash out his gentle snoring.
I spend my time observing the humans and seeing what I can learn from them by picking up on the details.
Their boots are fairly distinctive, made of stiff looking leather and dyed black the boots are laced from the heel to half way to the knee. The breastplate appears to be made of some kind of stiff leather, once again dyed black and stitched with some sort of gold embroidery. I think there is an insignia on the armour but I can't quite make it out.
The arms borne by each soldier appear to be slightly different. When I'd arrived, the first two guards had both worn a long sword on their hip and had a large shield across their back. The two who replaced them however, where different. One had two short strapped across the back in an x. The second uncased a crossbow from their back when they came out, slotted a bolt and cranked back on the shaft before taking up his post.
Seems like a bit of an odd army. Almost every individual is armed with a different weapon!
After some thinking I decide that the light armour they wear makes a lot of sense. At first I'd expected that they be loaded up with massive plate armour like a medieval knight but when considering the size of some of the monsters down here, how strong some of them are and how sharp some of their limbs can be What the heck would a suite of metal armour do? Absolutely squat!
I could probably punch straight through metal armour using a piercing bite. Other than slowing down the person wearing it, I can't imagine that armour will achieve much at all.
Eventually two more soldiers return from the forest, joining up with their fellows and entering the tunnel. Shortly after the whole crew emerges, or at least I imagine it's the whole crew, ten soldiers wearing that same identical armour. They talk to other softly but I can't understand a single word of it. I'm able to hear it well enough that I'm confident they aren't speaking any language I've ever heard before.
Fantastic. This makes the dream of communication ever more distant. Not only can I not vocalise I can't even understand the language!
Several of the soldiers appear to be carrying heavy packs. It seems they are moving out of this hill and heading to another camp sight.
It isn't long before the soldiers group up and start to move. I hesitate. The direction they are travelling is still directly away from the colony.
I'm already an hours travel away from my home nest, do I really want to travel any further than this?
Not to mention, following along after these humans is still exceptionally dangerous. There are ten of them now. I assume they could annihilate Tiny and myself in a heartbeat were we to be found.
Best to play it safe.
I've learned a fair bit of information already. I know where their forward camp is, I know that they are here and I've managed to witness some of their skills in action. That's not insignificant.
I consider trying to head into the tunnel and investigate their little base but in the end I reluctantly dismiss the idea.
There is way too much risk involved. These people look like professional soldiers, not ragtag mercenaries like the last camp I invaded. Also, I wasn't able to witness the defences being setup, like I did before. There could be any number of traps inside that cave and I would have no idea.
I'll back off.
After the humans have departed I start to journey back towards the colony with Tiny. Keeping my eyes on the roof of the cavern I try to follow a few of the landmarks that I remember from my way here and despite getting muddled a few times I manage to get back to the general area.
I need to be extra careful when I'm out scouting now that I know there are human soldiers moving through the cavern. I honestly had thought I was free of those killers. The way they moved through the tunnels, exterminating every monster they found without mercy still sends a shiver down my spine.
Only one thing can be done in order to be safer, become stronger and evolve! If I can evolve and then help grow the colony even further, hopefully we'll be able to live free of human interference.
For now my priority is to hunt and get levels! Just two more levels is all I need!
One Tiny and I have made it back in the general vicinity of the nest I climb up a tree and start trying to scout out possible prey. The forest is completely packed with monsters so any target needs to be chosen carefully. I get more experience from taking on evolved monsters but some of those are a lot stronger than others. I'd rather fight three evolved centipedes at once than have a Titan-Croc get the jump on me.
So I have to be careful and choose my prey wisely.
My core still throbs painfully inside my body. Hopefully it won't be long before I can release all the potential held inside there. I wonder what I'll become?