I place the ball rabbit on top of my head and move forward while checking the general vicinity with [[Presence Sense]].
The inside of the red ants’ nest is dark as usual, but the ball rabbit uses its [[Light]] skill and makes three little will-o’-the-wisps float about, which gives us a decent enough amount of illumination to see. …The little will-o’-the-wisps occasionally bump into my head, but I don’t mind it.
Anyhow, the walls are bright red. The further we go in, the further my anxiety is stirred. Was this wall specially made with the red ants’ [[Clay]]? When I lightly poke at the wall with my claw, the wall doesn’t crack or even give way. We’re gonna be in trouble if this collapses easily.
However, where are the red ants? I have not yet seen a single red ant anywhere in here. There were two weakened ants at the entrance, but I thought that the inside of the nest would be swarming with more.
Without encountering any red ants, we reach a point in the passageway where it branches off into three directions. It seems that these passageways are becoming increasingly complicated. Could this mean that if we stir up trouble in one passage, the ants will escape through another? It seems that since they’ve resigned themselves from fighting as they’ve not shown themselves yet.
The fact of the matter is that since the path ahead branches out, it’ll be easy for the red ants to escape from me since they have a territorial advantage. They probably have multiple exits prepared as well.
For now, the ball rabbit, Adofu, and I each face a different passageway. “Let’s see each other again, alive!” I joke to myself like it’s some passionate delusion, but that’s not the plan. There’s no merit in splitting up our fighting potential right now.
I stick my head into the passageway on the right, and look inside. I cannot see anything within my field of vision, and in particular, there is also a distinct lack of sound.
Concentrating magical power in my throat, I extend my neck forward, narrow my lips, and blow out magical power to use [[Whistle]].
The whistle echoes throughout the otherwise silent, red passageway. Listening carefully, I feel like I can just barely hear something that sounds like footsteps, mixed with the sound of the echoing whistle. I’m stuck trying to come to a conclusion as to whether or not it was just my imagination.
Well, I didn’t expect much of its effectiveness anyways. It’s somewhat successful to a degree. I can’t believe I’m getting hung up by such a thing. Shall we quickly get going?
[Level of Normal Skill [[Whistle]] has increased from Lv 1 to 2.]
…Even if this increases, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to do much good. Well, perhaps the distance that the sound reaches extends? I appreciate it a little bit. Anyways, it’s good, y’know? If my whistling improves, I may be able to use it to kill some time, or use it as a neat little trick but…neither of those are really necessary, hmmm…
“Are you going down that path?”
Adofu is calling out to me. I look back towards Adofu, shake my head to indicate no, and return back to the passageway. After that, I stick my head into the passageway in the middle. Finally, I stick my head into the passageway on the left. The middle, left, and right passageways are all the same. No signs or sounds of anything.
Well then, I guess I’ll just take the left side.
I turn my head towards Adofu and give a low cry and then proceed down the passageway on the left side. Once my body is completely inside the passageway, Adofu follows after me.
Why did I pick the left passageway? There’s no particular reason. But, I just think that the red ants will misunderstand my whistling and think that I will be coming down the right passageway, so I took the opposite side to screw with their expectations. Even though I know it doesn’t make much sense, it’s of little importance.
The red ants would do well to escape down this passageway… or so I thought, but there’s no sign of them at all. Did I make a mistake? Should we return at once?… As I’m thinking, the passageway I exit once again branches out into three more.
How big is the red ants’ nest? Going through the whole routine every time I come across a fork in the path is going to get tiresome, so let’s just keep going as is. As I continue advancing forward while keeping watch with [[Presence Sense]], I gradually become more and more impatient. Why is this place so empty? Where exactly did that red ant return back to?
As we still continue advancing forward, I sense something behind us. Are its instincts encouraging it to stay near the center of the nest? If that’s so, then it won’t come for us.
As I expected, I sense the presence of multiple ants up ahead. Rather than escaping, it seems like they intend to overwhelm me with their numbers. Them doing it this way is very convenient for me. I can round them all up and raise my level to its maximum instantly! …Though, that depends on the degree to which the red ants have been weakened.
This passageway is narrow. This large body of mine is making it hard to move through here… However, at the same time, the number of ants that can pounce me at once is limited by the confined space. I simply don’t know whether the width of this passageway will work positively in my favor, or negatively against me.
“Kucha!” “Kucha!” “Kuchaa!!”
The red ants cry as the sound of their footsteps draws near. There is quite a large number of them. As for me, I want to quickly raise my level up to its maximum and then retreat… Though escaping will likely not be easy. Should I just smash into them directly or would it be better to flank them from the sides?
…What’s this? [[Presence Sense]] seems to be glued to a strange spot? Its reacting to something on the other side of the wall.
Feeling suspicious, I turn to the wall and try roaring. “GuuoO!!” The red wall melts away, immediately revealing a sea of red ants on the other side of it. It appears that the red ants intended to greet me with an attack here. It also seems that they used [[Clay]] to modify the wall, and concealed themselves behind it.
At the same time, a large swarm of red ants come from both the front and rear of the passageway. I’ve been deceived. In just an instant, we are now completely surrounded by red ants.
Just as I thought, these guys operate on more than just instinct. It’s clear that they must have a commander. For this to happen without one is unimaginable otherwise .
This amount of ants… even though they’ve been weakened with poison, should I expect this to be hard? Nah, now’s not the time to feel timid. The only time I have to be timid is when escape becomes my only option.
I can’t become pessimistic now!
It’s good to take on this many at once! I’ll beat all of you down and turn you all into experience points!