Ch. 183 One Long Queue
After making sure that the ant safely returns to the nest, I return to meet back up with the ball rabbit and Adofu. After meeting up, I notice that there is a strange bluish-green liquid coating ball rabbit’s mouth. Once again, I guess it defeated and ate some weird monster somewhere. Since its HP hasn’t decreased, whatever it was, it wasn’t too strange.
After that, we roam around the outskirts of the red ants’ nest, eventually coming across a spot with a big cactus. It has already gotten very late. Making my base here, I decide to rest my body while keeping my eye on the red ants’ nest. From here, I’m able to see the state of the red ants’ nest by simply flying above it.
Depending on whether or not the centipede dumpling plan is a success, whatever move I make next could radically differ.
If I can’t level myself by using the red ants, then catching up with the hero’s stats in just a few days will be impossible. If that happens, it’ll be bad for Adofu. We’ll end up with no other choice but to shift the plan to saving Nina instead and quickly making an escape. If that happens, then it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to afford to save any of Adofu’s relatives.
However, initiating the plan where I level with the red ants means a red ant massacre. The image of the red ant lowering its head to me is still lingering in my mind.
I shake my head, dismissing the image of the red ant that appeared in my head. I must do this. I must have determination!
I slap myself on the cheeks with both hands in order to fire myself up. My claws pierce into my cheeks a bit, and they hurt a little now. The ball rabbit stares at me, narrowing its eyes.
Hey, red ants, sorry about this. Forgive me, please don’t hold any grudges. However, even if it’s only in my head, allow me to apologize.
I periodically fly up into the air to survey the red ants’ nest. Fifteen red ants come out from the nest and split up into three groups of five, each going in their own separate direction. I see several more groups come out, doing the same thing.
Although I’ve already known about it, the red ants’ management abilities are extensive. I don’t think there’s any point in the red ants acting in groups of more than five members, especially in this desert. Other than the Giant Centipede, I haven’t seen any other B ranked monster in this desert. In the case of C ranked monsters, five red ants should be enough to break through any of them. That much is very clear from Big Scissor-senpai’s case.
Conversely, in the case of the Giant Centipede standoff, five or ten red ants were not enough. The red ants couldn’t escape from the Giant Centipede, and that Giant Centipede’s carapace was impossible for them to break through. Even I had to utilize the Centipede’s [[Heat Ray]] to get through its carapace and cut its pointlessly long body in half. It doesn’t seem like the red ants would be able to pull off such a feat.
If you’re outside and see the Giant Centipede, you’re pretty much dead if it decides to lock onto you. Is it because of such a thought that the red ants are still alive? Maybe confronting a Giant Centipede class monster with only a five bodied unit reduces the total risk of annihilation of the colony? It’s a little heart-wrenching if you think about.
Are they acting on instinct or is there something at the top…? If they’re acting on instinct, they won’t be as effective since it’ll be possible to take advantage of their habitual behavior. On the other hand, it’ll be troublesome if the red ants are receiving commands from a leader. If I’m unlucky, and there’s someone on top, then there’s a possibility that they’ll stop the centipede dumplings from being carried in… I can’t say for sure that there is someone controlling them from above due to the situational adaptability they showed when I entered their nest. So what is it?
As I continue observing the nest, I see the red ants carry a variety of things into it.
A huge mantis-like monster; a cactus. A mantis, I haven’t seen that before. Although it doesn’t seem like it would taste too good, I wonder how many experience points it gives? It seems like cacti are valuable sources of water out here after all, they’re carrying in several of them.
One by one, three ants are each holding a head of the camel. Is that perhaps the mortar camel? If so, then where did its body go? How do I put it, somehow, seeing it like this, it’s surreal. That three headed camel, isn’t this a cruel sight to behold? No, each individual head is from the same body. The species is a hot commodity.
There’s an Amagarashi that’s still breathing that’s being lead to its slaughter. With the red ants overpowering it, it frantically squirms around. Why are they waiting to kill it? At least kill it sometime soon. The poor thing looks so miserable.
Following the red ants that are carrying the Amagarashi, there are red ants carrying some plants. It’s the plant that grows in that one swampy marsh. There are four red ants carrying the Amagarashi and three ants carrying some plants.
I wonder, did two groups join together? Because if so, there should be three more ants, but I don’t see them. I can’t imagine a situation where the red ants get killed by an Amagarashi. Although it does seem like there’s room for the possibility. Especially considering this scene where they’re carrying it back alive… Well, even if I can imagine such a situation, there’s nothing that I can do about it now.
However, back to the scene that I’m looking at right now. As expected, the number of red ants numbers a hundred… at most, maybe about two hundred? Though because the nest is underground, I don’t know how large the scope of it is. I don’t know if there’s something standing guard inside, either.
While pondering the situation, the sun begins to peek out from over the horizon. Is the night over already? Since the day before yesterday was when I was attacked by the hero, the scheduled date will be the day after tomorrow. I want to evolve before today is over.
Hurry up! When is a second red ant going to hurry up and appear so that it can carry back a centipede dumpling already? That red ant that had carried that centipede dumpling back to its nest… There’s the possibility that the centipede dumpling was largely unpopular amongst the other red ants. Maybe after reporting back that there were a lot of them, it got dismissed and ridiculed as a fool when it was seen that it was alone. Perhaps the red ant even ate it as a test and collapsed because of the poison.
I went through a lot of trouble to guide the first one. Should I have had it grab one without any poison in it? Because I kept referring to extermination methods for ants from my previous life, I couldn’t get out of this fixed impression that I currently have about ants. Maybe I should have come up with more ideas from there. Thinking that I had failed, my head starts to get hot.
After I get up off the ground, my thoughts start troubling me.
Those red ants may just be ants, however I think that they have a reasonable amount of intelligence. They seem to understand how to fight in numbers, and that one ant seemed to express gratitude toward me when I helped it. Their intelligence is on par with an animal. An ant has to experience intense hardships, after all.
The ball rabbit anxiously looks up at me.
This is bad, ball rabbit. I might have done it now. What should I do? After Adofu cooperated with me in the hope of saving his relatives, I feel bad. How should I explain this?
The ball rabbit is stroking my tail with its ear. Is it encouraging me?
…Yeah, not yet, it’s too early for me to be giving up. Fortunately, thanks to me having observed the red ants all night, I’ve more or less grasped their habits.
I’ll have Adofu and the ball rabbit pair up a little bit closer from here and have them keep watch over the red ants’ nest. I’ll have them keep track of how many red ants leave the nest and have them check in what direction the ants go in. I’ll occasionally return back to this base to have the general locations of the red ants relayed to me. I’ll use that information to go to where the threat of multiple groups of red ants converging is the lowest and continue repeating the extermination. If all goes well, I may be able to hunt as many as twenty red ants in a single day. If I evolve, it could potentially open up some good paths for me.
Alright, with this plan-… While thinking about that, I look up and see a long red line above the desert sand. Huh? That… Ooh, are those red ants? Why are they moving in such numbers? Up until now, they’ve only ever composed themselves into groups of five…
After thinking up to that point, I realise it. The long line of red ants are heading towards the direction of the pile of centipede dumplings. The red ants intend to gather up every single centipede dumpling.