Chapter 28 True lords of the domain
An enormous, scaled hand reaches forward and grips the hard ground. Each scale is a polished, dark green colour that practically glows with the reflected light of the forest.
Vicious claws tip each digit, curved blades that taper into a fearsome point. What sets my poor heart beating the most is that each of these claws is probably the size of my head.
Thick, powerful ropes of muscle on the hand drag the rest of the monster forward.
The long pointed jaw, studded with teeth precede the recessed, chilling eyes of the beast. Many teeth can be seen even with that massive mouth being shut, giving the impression of a menacing grin. There is a cruel intelligence gleaming within its gaze, striking fear into the heart of every creature unfortunate enough to cross its path.
Across the back of the monster the overlapped scales are broken up by bony protrusions that end in spikes easily a foot long.
With its body kept curiously close to the ground, its movement is sinuous and swift. As it passes by I can see a second set of shorter, but powerful arms halfway down its body are supporting its low profile.
The creature growls and huffs explosively as it passes, releasing a sudden flare of red flame, causing me to almost squeak.
Finally the powerful rear legs come into view. It's clear from their positioning that this creature could easily stand on its hind legs should it choose to but has evolved in such a way that it can move swiftly and low to the ground like a crocodile on earth.
The monster is roughly twelve meters long from snout to tail.
That's almost forty feet. That's like four basketball hoops stacked on top of each other. That's almost the length of a bowling lane.
Sure that length includes the creatures long, muscular tail but….
ISN'T THAT TOO STUPIDLY BIG GANDALF!?
That monstrosity is so huge I could never hope to challenge it! What the heck is a giant like that doing crawling around up here?!
I mean, judging by the appearance this is clearly an evolved form of the Croca-beast (I just can't bring myself to call those huge monsters an infant). The crocadilic features are clear to see, but what I didn't expect was the extra set of arms, the breathing fire and the stupidly huge increase in size.
These things are so much larger than the Croca it almost beggars belief. Is it entirely possible that this titan is actually two evolutions away from the Croca?
Judging by the size of those scales I don't think my acid would even be able to chew through it. This creature is like a tank. Its weight alone must be several tons!
If there is anything here larger and more deadly looking than this thing I'll head back up and take my chances with the humans!
Vibrations shake my tiny legs as the tremendous weight of the monster continues to impact heavily on the ground with each departing step.
It's at this moment a renegade thought pops into my mind and I immediately move quietly out of my hiding place and begin to shadow the colossal croc.
For some reason I thought of pilot fish on Earth.
These fish would attach themselves to a larger creature, like a whale or a shark, and follow it around, keeping it clean and eating the leftovers. The larger animal gets a free cleaning service to keep it healthy and the smaller creatures get protection and food.
I'm not about to waltz up to this behemoth and offer to brush its teeth, but I may just have found an amazingly safe way to move about for the time being.
Safe Anthony?! You must be outside of your mind!
Well wait a moment.
Its highly likely that almost every creature around here is going to want to avoid this thing like seven plagues stacked on top of each other. Everything that doesn't get out of the way quick enough with have to get past the big boy before they could have a chance at me.
As long I'm not noticed by the croc, then I'll be extremely safe! Thankfully Advanced Stealth has shown its prowess in keeping me hidden, and if I continue to trail along and hide I may get another level in that skill while I scout around.
There are risks to this plan but they are manageable ones.
I skitter along in the wake of the titanic monster. Due to its sheer size it moves fairly quickly, causing me to have to move a lot faster than I can realistically keep up with whilst minimising noise, however the bulky creature makes so much noise on its own my pattering little legs barely register in my own ears.
For the next hour I continue to scuttle about whilst remaining hidden from my unsuspecting body guard. The bizarre scenery of this forest continues to astound me as we travel. At one point we passed by an enormous flower, vibrant petals wide open to reveal a gleaming jewel in the center the size of my own head.
I was completely stunned at the sight but the croc continued to stomp past, unmoved. I didn't get much time to inspect the flower, but I got some strange vibes from it. The petals spread in a dense overlapping fashion across the ground as the center of the flower faced directly upwards. Something about the way those thick, fleshy petals unnerved me, they almost appeared like a welcome mat, rolled out to invite a guest towards the center of the flower where the incredible diamond like jewel grew.
I also received an unexpected benefit when a large centipede suddenly scuttled out of some bushes in front of the Titan-Croc, as I'd begun to think of it. One of those large, evolved centipedes would be a tough fight for me, one I possibly couldn't win. To my new friend the Titan-Croc? Not even worth mentioning. Barely slowing down, the Croc brought one of its claws crashing down on the centipede, squashing it into paste instantly.
What surprised me most was that the Titan-Croc didn't even stop to consume the precious Biomass, not even pausing before it continued to advance. I remembered at that moment what Gandalf had told me in the evolution menu, that more evolved creatures received less Biomass from those less advanced than them.
Possibly this centipede was useless to the Croc.
But that didn't mean it was useless to me!
Its possibly a sad reflection on my present life, that I would gleefully run over to the smashed remains of a gigantic centipede to eat. The tremendous force of the claw had crushed the poor victim like a human stepping on a bug, causing the guts to burst out everywhere.
Even I'm losing my appetite…
I won't give up the chance for Biomass!
Remember always, if you would ALMOST rather be dead, then you need to eat and live!
[You have consumed a new source of Biomass: Adultus Unguibus Scolopendra, you are awarded one Biomass]
[Basic profile of the Adultus Ungiubus Scolopendra unlocked]
[Adultus Unquibus Scolopendra: Adult Claw Centipede, this branch of evolution of the basic claw centipede vastly increases the base creatures might, without providing much boost to cunning]
Interesting, this seems to suggest that there are other branches of evolution for the claw centipede? I ponder this concept as I quickly munch a bit more.
[You have gained one Biomass]
Right! I've barely consumed even a quarter of the creature before I decide my protection is getting too far away and I need to leave and catch up.
Just before I do, I notice something glittering in the remains of the Adult Centipede.
Just behind the base of the monsters head is a small, shining gem like orb.
Is this … what I think it is?
Moving closer I grasp the object in my mandibles.
[Compatible monster core detected. Would you like to reinforce your core or reconstitute a monster?]
It is! A monster core!
I don't have much time to think about what Gandalf had to say, my protection is getting further away every second!
Reinforce my core!
The spherical orb immediately melts into thin air and a burning energy swirls through my body before being drawn down into my core like a swirling vortex. Faster and faster the energy circulates as it spirals ever downward whilst my own core grows hotter and hotter.
Eventually all of the energy is consumed and with my core still burning inside me I hurry off after the Titan-Croc whilst checking my Status:
Level: 3 (core)
Skills: Digging level 4; Improved Acid Shot Level 1; Grip Level 4; Crushing Bite Level 1; Advanced Stealth Level 2; Chomp level 1; Tunnel sense Level 4; Mana Manipulation Level 1
Mutations: Eyes +4, Antennae +2, Acid +3, Legs +1, Mandibles +2, Carapace +1
Species: Hatchling Ant Worker (Formica)
Skill points: 0