Chrysalis - Chapter 923 - The Tree Fort
I’m no longer shocked by how fast the Colony can work. I mean, I’ve seen it all by this point, surely. Even if they can’t shock me, they can get pretty damn close! In the twenty four hours after the initial battle with the termites, the area in which we fought has been transformed. A simple wall was only the stopgap measure, now we have defence in depth! Layers of walls, spiked pits filled with acid, surprise attack tunnels, the works.
The new walls are more than a little better. Compressed stone reinforced with Smithant’s finest steel frames, enchanted to harden the metal even further, each wall covered in crenellations and cheeky sniper windows to allow mages to unleash their firepower from range. If the termites want to run headfirst into this then they really are blind. Gweheheheh.
The issue we have is the sheer amount of ground we have to cover.
“How much of the rock has been compressed in your area?” Cobalt asks.
She’s been doing the rounds, getting a sense of how far along the fortification is.
“Not even twenty percent, I’m afraid,” the site foreman lets her know.
Not even twenty percent?! My brains are fried over here!
“You’re a long way ahead of the other teams,” Cobalt lets her know wryly.
“Well, I think we both know why that is.”
I mean, I don’t want to take all the credit, after all, there’s a lot of hardworking mages here putting in all thei- … Oi. Why are you staring so admiringly at Invidia? He’s not getting nearly as much done as I am! If you wanted to blow up the area then, sure, he’d be your guy, but I’m out here busting my brains to squish this rock!
“You know I’m joking Eldest,” Cobalt laughs, “no need to look so sour.”
“Who? Me? I don’t look sour. In fact, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Who are you, again?”
Heh. Smooth. Covered myself well there.
“As much as your help is appreciated here, Eldest, we need you in another area.”
I eye the tiny carver askance.
“You sure that’s a good idea? The sooner we get this network set up, the safer we’re going to be from enemy tunnels.”
“The reality is, we can’t cover such a huge area in anything less than two weeks, no matter what we do. I’d need five times as many work crews to achieve the job in the timeframes we want. So far, we’ve managed to cover the most direct paths the enemy could take to access the roots. That should help funnel them into our fortifications. The rest is just going to have to get done when we can.”
“That increases our risk.”
“We have to take on some level of risk,” she shrugs. “By moving you around to where you’re needed most we hope to minimise that risk as much as possible.”
“All right then,” I sigh and release the omni-elemental construct.
Immediately all of my mind constructs fall apart and for the first time in hours my brains relax. Compressing stone might be simple to do, mana wise, but it takes a hell of a lot of willpower. You’re basically grabbing hold of the stone in a hand full of mana and squishing it, using the mana to heal the fractures as they occur and bond the rock tighter together. It’s immensely draining, monotonous work and I’m well and truly over it. Seriously though, the next time I check my status I ought to see a huge boost to my elemental magic. I might even hit the next rank!
I’m excited to see what sort of magic I can get my hands on!
My friends in tow, I follow along behind Cobalt as we make our way out of the winding work tunnels that twist their way around the Mother Tree’s massive main roots. As we travel I idly dip my attention into the Vestibule to see what my fellow members of the ten thousand strong expeditionary force are up to.
Quite predictably, most of them are digging, even the Immortals. Ah, it seems that Leeroy has learned of the soul devouring nature of the termites and is hoping, along with her sisters, that her soul will be consumed before her Phoenix Fire organ can kick in, circumventing her rebirth and finally achieving a glorious death in battle. Not a chance, Leeroy! I’ll pull your soul out and stuff it back into your body myself if I have to. The soldiers are helping to coordinate the movement of soil and stone, it seems. Ah, it appears that Brilliant is attempting to reconstruct the root gates of the Mother Tree using a few twigs, a small metal pin, a rock and a fire. I’m not sure how much luck she’s going to have there…
What’s interesting is that I don’t see Vibrant anywhere. And I’ve just realised a large crew of scouts has assembled near the main exit.
I think I’ve caught onto the issue.
“How long has Vibrant been missing?” I sigh.
The carver in front of me jumps.
“Ah. Since the battle. She ran off to scout and hasn’t come back.”
“And you want me to go and look for her.”
“We want you to lead a team of scouts to find her, yes. There’s a bit of concern that she might have followed the termites too far in their retreat and gotten surrounded or … distracted.”
If I had money, I would put it all on ‘distracted’ in a heartbeat. Still, we don’t want to leave Vibrant out in the middle of the fourth stratum on her own. As powerful as she is within the Colony, she’s a tiny little bug down here. Even at tier seven we’d only be average down here.
“You lot will have to be extra cautious while I’m gone,” I fret, “if the termites come again…”
“We know the risks, Eldest. We have to have Vibrant back.”
“I know that. I just worry about the family.”
“We know. We’ll be fine.”
Dammit Vibrant, if I catch you swimming in a pool with little golden fish or something equally stupid I’m going to be a mad, mad, Eldest.