Battle of Souls
There was a special tree on the edge of the Land of Turmoil. If a normal person were in front of it, even the weakest of mortals or just a child, they would instantly say that it was a person, but no powerhouse could identify it from afar. However, as a land conquered completely by the broodmother, the only inhabitants were drones who detected thins in a very similar way to the latter.
This was Krowes, a mage unknown to the world but renowned amongst the Scholars of Soremburg. He had stood in this one place for nearly a month now, observing the pitch-black horizon of the larval forest with strands of timeforce floating above it. It was a beautiful view, but also a terrifying one.
Krowes had seen the larval forest and the various creations of the broodmother. Three days ago, he had seen an enormous bug-like creature of some sort flying overhead and immediately felt a surge of uncontrollable excitement; he had found the right place! The moment of distraction had elicited a scan from the powerful consciousness— there were some cases where ignorant or arrogant explorers entered the Land of Turmoil and even reached this far— but to the senses of the broodmother, he had still remained a tree amongst many.
Having waited for the opportunity for a long time, Krowes now knew he had found his chance. His eyes locked onto a drone that was crawling past the plains, the creature clearly injured and separated from its kin. These drones weren’t very valuable, but it was still rushing back all the same; the broodmother was ever the resource-minded one and could recover half of the resources for a new drone through it.
Krowes silently flashed behind the drone, stuffing his left hand into the part connecting the broken wings to its body to grab a fist-sized core that was the source of its power and limited intelligence. He crushed it immediately, causing the creature to collapse immediately without a sound.
A nearby cloned brain realised that a connection had faded, investigating the death only to find that the drone had been injured and dropped behind. It automatically removed the connection from the list of entries; accidental deaths were common when one produced thousands every day.
The broodmother lost hundreds of drones on a daily basis to natural lifespan and accidents, especially since she had created new ant drones with the larval forest that were only the size of a cat. Those things were scavengers, porters, and cleaners, performing the most menial of tasks. An ant drone wasn’t even level 1, but their number was in the millions. Thus, the number of nodes in the broodmother’s network was unimaginably large. Regular refreshes of the list would cause a heavy burden even to the cloned brains and her own massive mind, so she passed on some duties for the network itself to keep track and update her slowly. For example, there were ant queens that were responsible for their own colonies and would report to the cloned brain if necessary. These intelligent creatures could manage a colony of around ten thousand ants themselves.
Krowes extracted the bodily fluids of the drone and quickly smeared them across his own body. He then placed some in his mouth and tasted carefully, modulating his aura until it was the exact same as a drone. He immediately removed his clothes and burned them with magical fire, burying the ashes before casting a spell on the drone’s corpse to age the wound. This couldn’t deceive the broodmother herself, but he already had an accurate grasp of the limits of the cloned brains.
Once everything was set, he headed deep into the larval forest. Every tree here was like an eye of the broodmother, but they only saw a single drone crawling through the forest. Although they didn’t have any records of the drone, they assumed it came from a different worm nest and weren’t alarmed at all.
The Scholar headed further into the forest, sometimes a drone and sometimes when resting resembling a tree to most senses. Some of the things he saw along the way made him want to scream, like the enormous flesh furnace that resembled a giant castle. Wasps were constantly flying over and depositing hundreds of tonnes of frostiron ore into the huge mouth atop the furnace, and a while later groups of drones surged in through the lower openings and dragged out perfect ingots and a large amount of slag.
He also saw the worm nests that were a hundred metres tall, with many packed compartments near the centre. Most of these compartments contained sleeping combat drones, all just waiting for a chrysalide to transport them to the battle lines. A single nest contained more than a thousand units of all shapes and levels, and there were many such towers all around.
It took a week of walking around to reach a strange open space, about ten square kilometres in size and surrounded by the larval forest. The sky above was filled with strands of timeforce, the lowest a mere 500 metres above. Even as someone skilled with space, Krowes wouldn’t dare navigate the dense field of death; if he couldn’t control the timeforce or at least predict its movement patterns, he estimated the chances of death exceeded 95%.
In the middle of this enclosed area was an enormous being, resembling a huge bee but 1,200 metres long and 150 metres tall. From the distance, it looked like a small hill!
Krowes’ heart almost stopped beating at the sight. This was a broodmother, and one who had gone through the soul-mending project! In his vision, the magical marks on the body were so eye-catching they were the only things he could see.
The broodmother was motionless and looked dead, with no drones nearby transporting food towards it. A strong mental scan would sweep through the entire area every half an hour, a routine check that proved the being was still alive. However, this sort of check wasn’t sufficient to detect Krowes; the Scholar stood next to a tree and his feet warped, multiple tendrils digging deep into the soil and connecting to the larval forest before he watched silently.
He waited for an entire month, exhibiting the signature patience of the Scholars. The process of exploring the world was rarely exciting, and one had to get used to solitude and stretches of no activity. It took that entire month for him to finally confirm that the broodmother was deep asleep due to a level-up.
This was an excellent chance. Krowes didn’t know just how a broodmother that had just reached level 10 was going through another level-up so quickly, but there were many sources of divinity in this plane and it was still plausible. However, its defences would be the lowest at this point and it was hard for it to awaken from its sleep.
He quickly made up his mind, a gust of wind sweeping through the calm space. The drones walking or flying about crumpled to the ground, and while his body still remained standing in its original spot it was now only a hollow shell. His soul had already rushed into the broodmother’s body, following the signs to his target.
In his soul form, he could see empty space all around him with a huge ball of light in front, an image of the broodmother floating within. This was the barrier to the broodmother’s soul, and there was a small crack upon it that was marked with a dark red sign. Unable to keep up the soul form very long, Krowes flew into the crack rapidly and shot towards the core; there would be a tough battle of the souls soon, but he was an expert in the field and was confident against a sleeping broodmother who could only defend itself by instinct. If it refused to surrender, he would destroy it completely and replace it with himself.
Of course, this was the last resort; doing so would leave him unable to obtain the most important secrets of the broodmother; knowledge about its evolutions. Prepared to make it bow in one go, he turned into a beam of light and shot towards her at full speed.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: WQ
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA