Book 2, Chapter 19

Growing Up(2)

The broodmother’s abdomen had devolved into a big round ball, out of proportion with the rest of its body. The creature’s shell was almost bursting apart, a few transparent wings popping out of the cracks. The mere size of the broodmother had already ensured that these wings were mere decorations now.

The broodmother stopped in its tracks, its abdomen expanding quickly as a cracking sound emanated from its body. Fissures started to appear all over its dark black shell, widening as they leaked a yellow liquid. The liquid vapourised as soon as it came in contact with air, soon forming a black mass.

Everybody, Richard included, was bewildered by the creature in front of them. It had literally doubled in size once more just now! They also felt a sudden sting in their eyes, tears rolling down without control even as their skins started burning. Although most of the gas had solidified, whatever did remain seemed to be very corrosive.

The broodmother spoke again, “I produce a large amount of acidic gas when I grow, Master. Please leave for now.”

Richard led his team out of the building immediately, but the thick gas still rolled out in waves. Eventually, Flowsand had to dispel the corrosive effect on everyone.

What Richard didn’t see was the huge pile of bones behind the broodmother being corroded rapidly by its acidic fluids. This was the source of the gas, but the creature didn’t want Richard to see that. Moments laters, all that was left of the bones and wreckage was a lump of black ash, with no way to tell its original form…

By the time the gas completely dissipated, the broodmother had grown once again. This time, it was half a metre wider and longer, looking even chubbier than before. It was almost impossible to tell head from tail, and while its body had grown its pincers and limbs had not, making them seem rather out of place.

At that point, even leaving the room grew difficult due to the creature’s increased size. The entrance had now grown too small for it to pass through, causing it to let out a sound of annoyance before it charged forwards and broke apart the frame to get through.

This took out half of the building’s walls as well, and the ceiling collapsed on top of the creature’s head. The window and balcony caved in as well, burying the broodmother underneath. It shook off the rubble, crawling out as if it was nothing.

Two knights had been alerted by the collapse, and they were shocked as soon as they saw the broodmother. They readied themselves, entering combat positions as they called for help and cordoned off the route to the rest of the camp.

However, Richard came over and stood by the broodmother’s side, tapping its shell as he spoke to the two knights, “There is no need to worry. This is a broodmother, a creature contracted to my soul.”

The two knights shared a look of incredulity, one of them shuddering involuntarily as he looked at the bee-like creature before saying, “Alright, Master. But… it seems like a good idea to keep your distance from the creature.”

The broodmother propped itself up, waving its mandibles at the knight menacingly. Its actions seemed to take effect, as the knight jumped back into a stance. It only calmed down a little when Richard tapped its shell once more.

There were a lot of things left to do after the battle, so Richard dismissed the rest of them as he stayed behind to communicate with the broodmother. It delivered all the information it had over to him in an instant.

The creature was still in its larval stage, but it was more than half of the way to evolution. Having observed the humans and the power system of this plane, it had enhanced its physical defences. Its shell could now take the blow of a level 10 knight without any damage, with only those on par with Menta being able to even damage it. In terms of magical defence it was almost immune to acid, poison, cold, and electricity, fire being the only major element able to hurt it.

Its ultimate offence now lay in its soul attack and the acid it could spew. The acid spray had a short range, only ten metres, but if one got hit by it even a fully armoured soldier could only resist the corrosion for a minute at most. Outside of its reduced movements and the lost ability to fly, the broodmother was actually a force to be reckoned with. And even though its oversized abdomen seemed weak, it was multilayered and made of a substance similar to its hard shell that could only be cut open by a knight with a heavy axe. The arrows of archers like Olar wouldn’t be able to penetrate it.

This evaluation had come from the broodmother itself after the day’s battle. Its clear and simple analysis surprised Richard, yet again reminding him of its intelligence. Its head was about as large as a regular human’s, but the creature told him that it wasn’t a critical component of its body. It had more than a dozen brains, most of them safely protected by the thick shell of its chest.

Still in its larval phase, the broodmother needed to consume a lot of food. Once it finished the report, it asked Richard permission to hunt.

“Will you even be able to catch prey?” Richard asked, “Or should I have Olar come along?” He was rather doubtful of the broodmother’s speed, and its soul attack and acid spray were pretty limited in their range.

“I can breed drones right now. They will capture my prey, flesh and blood are the best food I can have at this stage.” The broodmother seemed to be implying something, and Richard instantly remembered the hundreds of bodies in the camp. He lowered his voice, “No humans, but other than that I’m not interested to know. Do you need anything else? I’ll try my best to get it for you.”

“The drones will be enough.”

Permission granted, the broodmother slowly crawled out of the base. It seemed rather displeased with its own speed, flapping its wings several times to no avail. It took off several times, but it always fell back within ten metres, having to crawl again.

Even aware that this was their master’s contract beast, the knights couldn’t hide their faces of shock. They’d seen many powerful beasts on the battlefield, Gaton’s own mounts were majestic creatures, but the one before them gave these veterans a feeling they’d never felt before. And it was not a good one.

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OMA's Thoughts

Theo: My tests are winding up and I'll be off after this weekend, so release times will grow more consistent soon-ish. 

Translated By: Gem

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA