I intend to weaken the two Red Ants tasked with guiding me as much as possible while I check their status. Having inflicted them with poison using [[Poison Fang]], I then have them waste their MP by continuously shooting [[Clay Gun]] towards the wall.
……Alright, that should do it. Like this, I can defeat them with [[Wind Blade]] in a single hit, and since they’re weakened by a status condition, they shouldn’t be able to dodge properly.
My partner peeks at my expression from the side. ……Don’t look at me like that. It’s not like I’m doing this because I want to.
The Red Ants call out to us and begin to walk forward. They’re presumably signaling that we should follow them. Even I can understand that much without having it translated for me.
As we head deeper into the Red Ant nest, I stay alert using [[Presence Sense]]. After walking for a while, [[Presence Sense]] suddenly starts reacting vigorously.
It’s not just one or two, but dozens of targets ahead. It might be a bit troublesome if we’re swarmed. I stop and bark “Guoo”.
The red ants stop walking and turn back. Ball Rabbit, I’ve got a message for those two. Tell them to bring their Queen to me. Without any escorts.
[……Queen, bring over here. Alone.]
Hearing our demands, the Red Ants cry out worriedly. Seems like this is a tough demand for them to meet. Still, this demand is a must. It’s obvious that I’d be in a bind if I were to plunge into that swarm.
[By self, can’t decide. Queen, we ask.]
I let out a small bark to inform of my approval. The two of them intend to go over, but I call for one of them to remain here.
If the other party’s boss does not accept our demands, a large group of Red Ants might possibly come our way. In that case, this one will be valuable experience points before the battle. I can’t have it running away.
One Red Ant heads towards the deeper parts of the passage. After waiting for around five minutes, a Red Ant nearly twice the size of a normal one appears from the depths of the passage.
Its abdomen in particular is swollen, and it moves while dragging it along. Its movements are slow. Possibly due to its position where mobility is not essential.
There are no escorts. As requested, it seems to have come alone.
The large Red Ant cries out in a deep voice.
For now, I’ll check its status with [[Status Check]].
Species: Queen Red Ogre Ant
Lv : 31/70
HP : 421/421
MP : 9/128
[[Earth Element: Lv–]] [[Sociality: Lv–]] [[Pheromone: Lv–]]
[[Red Sand: Lv–]] [[Auto HP Recovery: Lv5]]
[[Physical Resistance: Lv4]]
[[Telepathy: Lv6]] [[Bite: Lv4]] [[Clay: Lv5]]
[[Clay Gun: Lv5]] [[Auto regeneration: Lv6]] [[Sand Breath: Lv4]]
[[Spawn Eggs: Lv8]] [[Wide Rest: Lv4]] [[Roll: Lv3]]
[[Fully Evolved One: Lv–]] [[Queen Ant: Lv–]]
[[Master of the Nest: Lv–]] [[Many Children: LvMAX]]
I see… There’s no mistake that this is the Queen. If it fought with me with that status, the likelihood of it surviving would be high, but its MP is empty. I guess that’s from constantly restoring the statuses of the Red Soldier Ants that collapsed due to abdominal pain from the poison.
However, it’s convenient that it possesses a high level [[Telepathy]] skill. If that wasn’t the case, negotiations would prove difficult.
The Queen Ant comes to a halt some distance in front of me. Numerous Red Ants can be seen glancing from around the corner of the passageway behind the Queen Ant. Maybe they’re to come out if it comes to it……
The Queen Ant turns its head and glares at the scampering Red Ants in the back. The Red Ants quickly pull back and scatter off. Perhaps they were concerned for the Queen and came to check on the situation without permission.
The Red Ant I kept as a hostage let out a small cry. It was a cry filled with awareness of its own insignificance.
[First of all, I am thankful for accepting negotiations. We bear grudges towards each other, but let’s restrain ourselves…… Now, with this the introduction is over.]
The [[Telepathy]] comes from the Queen Ant.
There aren’t really any grudges on our side though. However, if that was a snide remark, I’ll just take it with a grain of salt.
I have certainly not come to chat while standing around. I don’t have that kind of time. Let’s get to the main topic.
[Dragon, what do you wish for? If food, we will give all things in our nest. But could you please pass up on that?]
It would be fine to accept those conditions, but I am not in need of food.
……I see, then is this retaliation against your previous expulsion? Other things I can offer are this nest… And lastly, I could offer to give you young Red Ants……
The nest, young Red Ants… I don’t really want either.
Well, that’s how it is. If possible I’d like them to go along with it, but the Red Ants can’t be expected to easily offer what I want.
What I want is experience points in order to level up. The time limit is by the end of today. If that cannot be arranged, you’ll sadly have to pay with yourself and your subordinates.
[……Oh, experience points. For what cause?]
Experience points, don’t you understand? Well, if they live by fighting off invaders, they’ll of course be aware of it. It was surprising that Adofu knew, but to think the Ants knew as well……
[Today, you said. If you will fight something tomorrow, we can give you our aid.]
…… I see, that’s the kind of approach you’re taking. In order to subjugate the hero, the ants are a little……
Then how about that? If a swarm of Red Ants enter Haranae, a great panic might occur. It might be possible to rescue Nina and Adofu’s relatives during that time.
However, I fear that I’ll be driven out by that hero. I’ve only ever faced him once, but I’m confident that he’ll do that much, to say the least.
Red Ants are not particularly quick. If I were to escape together with the Red Ants, he’ll surely catch up with us. If the Red Ants and I were to escape separately, they’ll definitely be killed once that hero catches up to them.
And even if the Red Ants and the current me were to clash with the hero, our victory would still be in doubt.
First of all, the hero doesn’t have the size a large centipede does. And yet, he does have stupidly high stats.
At most, only three of us would be able to face him at once. So if three Red Ants were to face him simultaneously, he’d still be able to calmly deal with that. In contrast to his physique, his attack range should be absurdly wide.
As for that hero, there’s no choice but to face him with stats of equal rank. I can’t imagine taking him on with numbers being a good plan. Victory would be more likely if I were to challenge him after levelling up by defeating Red Ants.
[So that won’t work…… Then, I will hand over ten subordinates. Levelling up by killing them is fine. I will have them come before you one by one following the timing you wish for.]
A realistic proposal has been made. When it is said by a boss in this manner, it carries a fairly heavy meaning.
…… How many are left in the nest?
[……The timing is bad. We do not have a surplus. We have already been considerably reduced in numbers. This is the most we can do.]
Seems like the numbers will not increase anymore regardless of what I say. There must be more than thirty…… Can this be seen as a shortage of workers?
……This one said this while understanding that I might act violently if things were to go poorly. If that were to happen, they’ll be wiped out.
The minute I agreed to negotiations, I might have been seen as naive. Besides, it’s not the words which are perceived, but the thoughts themselves. There’s also the possibility that my hesitation to wipe out the Red Ants was noticed.
[The reason I have heard your demands, is not only for you to state your requests.]
[It is also in within our ability to foil your plans if you do not accept our demands. Do not forget this.]
Wha-what…… don’t tell me…… You’re threatening to equalise the losses, enforcing conditions to reduce the casualties on your side!?
[If this condition cannot be met, I will commit suicide. Also, those subordinates who can move will scatter, and they shall kill those who can’t. Either way, if you take any more, we will meet our end.]
As expected, my weakness was discovered, huh? No, this is a gamble established from their acknowledgement of being lower ranked. Having my weakness found out doesn’t sound right. Wouldn’t it be better to say that I’m being looked up to? The Queen Ant seems to have concluded that I won’t resort to retaliatory behaviour such as driving them to extinction.
I guess the experience points I’ll be able to gain will be practically none if I get angry now and reject the conditions. By training the ball rabbit and utilising the strategy with the centipede dumplings, I found out that the amount of experience earned is most likely linked to how much one contributed in the fight. That is only natural though, it is combat experience after all. If I trample over an enemy who from the outset has no intention to run or fight back, the amount of experience points gained will not be large.
They dare to push the limits of this wager. It’s a negotiation technique rooted in game theory, based on the assumption of me being rational. Being evaluated as smart by its subordinates was no exaggeration.
Ten Red Ants, huh…… If they were to be safely obtained, they’d surely become convenient experience points. But will that really be enough? The experience points gained will surely also decrease according to the difference in rank.
The Red Ant Queen quietly observes me being troubled. After having seen my reaction, do you intend to change your method of negotiation once more?
If so, it would disadvantageous to openly display my emotions. That being said, I can’t let it show on my face. Damnit, I seem to be taken advantage of just by thinking about it. I’m envious of my yawning partner next to me who’s just spacing out.
……To observe means that there’s still a chance to make good use of the information gathered from doing so. In other words, do you still have something else? Are you holding back?
As the leader of a nest, the other party also has things they can’t concede. However, I too am in dire need of experience points, no matter how few.
Was it perhaps a mistake to initiate negotiations? To have the other side turn the tables on me…… I never imagined them using my objective against me after luring it out of me, and to be imposed on by threatening an impasse.
Without negotiating, the Queen did not have the option to have her followers commit suicide. As a consequence of me being enticed by my opponent to blurt out my objective, the upper limit on the amount of experience points I can gain has been greatly limited.