Viewing as Guest
Chapter 20: Bonds
Date Published: November 28th, 2015
AN: days off coming-up so I’ll try to write a bit more
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Arc 2: The Power of Knowledge
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〘〙= Status, Combat Arts & Magical Spells
〚〛= Internal Thoughts
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Chapter 20: Bonds
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Elrick : " Argg!"
Elrick growled as he watched the videos of the battles with the Calimado forces. He was so enthralled that he didn’t notice the 2 Elves come into the room.
Bowden : " Why are you making that Face?"
Elrick : " Eh?"
Finally noticing the two looking over him he gestured for them to take the luxurious seats in the Executive office at the Atlantis Starlight offices.
Grinder : " We won; you should be happy. Right?"
Elrick : " I am happy"
Bowden : " Then why are you making that Face?"
Elrick : " I just realized how far behind I’m falling"
Grinder : " Really?"
Elrick : " Despite spending 4400 Gold Coins on Spiritual Fortifications I can’t keep up with the likes of Mithriliar, Nakamura and Lady Lorelei. It’s freakin’ frustrating to be so hapless!"
Elrick sighed in resignation.
Elrick : " At this rate 8.8 million dollars will be rendered meaningless."
Grinder : " Didn’t Nakamura and Lady Lorelei spend a bit more than you?"
Elrick : " Yes; but …"
Bowden : " They used Clan funds for the additional, and they actually contribute to Clan Combat Operations."
Elrick : " Nonetheless I saw a weakness in our formations; a critical flaw in our mêlée capabilities. If we were to encounter something truly powerful we would be in trouble."
Grinder : " What happened?"
Bowden : " Our tanking isn’t up to scratch; our front lines were pressed by some of the Calimado heavy hitters."
Elrick : " As expected; you noticed"
Elrick : " Is it possible to plug the gap without Spiritual Fortifications?"
Bowden : " Probably not! Still; I think we can make due for a while longer."
Elrick : " Grinder; I take it you received the proposal from Falcros Sage Media? Would the amount they’d need to pay for 5% of Starlight Spark be sufficient to finance Spiritual Fortifications for 5 Party Shielders?"
Grinder : " Due Diligence is yet to be done but taking account of assets and liabilities I estimate Starlight Spark to be worth 300-350 million USD. 5% of Starlight Spark should go for a minimum of $15million, and since the deal would require Starlight Spark to take 5% of Falcros Sage Media at around $5million we’d end up with $10million provided Elrick is willing to lend Starlight Spark the $15millon since they suggested that the 5% come from Elrick’s stock. According to the proposal Lorelei, Carol, Edwin and Jason all own 15% with 40 others each holding 1%. It indicated that the 5% on offer will come from the 4 who each own 15%."
Elrick : " Hardly enough to make a big difference"
Grinder : " Wouldn’t that be enough to double both《Strength》 and 《Agility》?"
Elrick : " Boss rank monsters possess over 500 《Agility》, 《Strength》, 《Durability》 and 《Endurance》. We won’t always have the option to fight at our convenience; we got lucky at the Battle of Twin Peaks, and the enemy Serpent-Men had no intension to fight, but had they been predisposed to fighting they would not have been caught off-guard."
Bowden : " 2000 Gold Coins for each of the 5 should be sufficient; 5 Spiritual Fortifications per Tank in 《Strength》 and 《Agility》 should be enough."
Elrick : " Grinder; if I’m not mistaken the Deal worked-out by Lady Lorelei should net higher long term prospects for Starlight than my plan, but is it enough to finance the Spiritual Fortifications?"
Elrick : " I see; she took an option that was unavailable to me. Turning Lucifer and Calimado into a client is a far better option than Annihilation. Though I suspect Lucifer would have never yielded to me; but it’s fine to acquiesce to Lorelei’s Charisma."
Bowden : " If we are going to work closely with Falcros we are going to need to know personal info on its heads to avoid friction; I saw Lady Lorelei get very annoyed at the mention of someone named Fiona."
Elrick : " Ehe?"
Both Grinder and Bowden are surprised by Elrick’s somewhat guilty reaction to the mention of Fiona.
Grinder : " Who is this Fiona?"
Bowden : " And why does Lady Lorelei dislike her?"
Elrick’s sigh indicates that he is ready to tell all.
Elrick : " Fine; it’s time I let you in on everything anyway."
Grinder : " Everything?"
Elrick : " As much as you can Comprehend."
Bowden : " Is this about what you are?"
Elrick : " That will have to wait until the whole board is gathered. Bowden; when do you think you’ll reach Coswe?"
Bowden : " Two days RET"
Grinder : " Then we can set the Board-Meeting in 2 Days RET; it should be a Joint Board-Meeting between the Boards of Starlight Spark and Falcros Sage Media."
Elrick : " Understood. As for Fiona Bremner; she’s a New Zealand born former ALI classmate of Lorelei and Lorelei’s foil.”
Grinder : " Lorelei’s foil?"
Elrick : " Lorelei was an awkward tall naturally red headed girl who constantly had to endure the teasing of other girls. Fiona had an uncouth habit of referring to Lorelei’s unruly red hair as a Ginger Mane or likening Lorelei’s athletic build to that of an Orangutan; a type of behaviour surprisingly common amongst Caucasians. Sometimes some would remark that Lorelei’s combination of Reddish-yellow hair and Emerald Green eyes marked her as a descendent of witches."
Bowden : " Ohh"
Elrick : " Before Lorelei’s transformation into the Swan she is today she was a stark contrast to the Natural Beauty and Grace of Fiona Bremner. At some point Fiona’s family returned to New Zealand and the pressure on Lorelei subsided; a reprieve the girl desperately needed. Unfortunately for Lorelei and to some extent myself Fiona joined us at our university as part of her research towards her Doctoral thesis. Needless to say the Friction between Lorelei and Fiona was intense. A war broke out in the Biology Department of the Faculty of Science as the two vied for supremacy; both of them competing for limited resources necessary for any PhD grad-student. As such Microbiology faced off against Marine-Biology in a contest actively encouraged by the Biology Department senior personal; the angst between Lorelei and Fiona became an outlet or proxy war for the competing fields."
Bowden : " And?"
Clearly eager to hear the outcome.
Elrick : " The University had more than a few ALI alumni and had no shortage of acutely intelligent people. And so battle lines were drawn and alliances formed as the two Queens did battle. It was clear from the beginning that Fiona’s group held sway as the better resourced group and her family connections granted her access to wealthy, influential and powerful people. Lorelei is by no means poor as she comes from a successful Industrial Farming family, but compared to Fiona’s financial insider family Lorelei was outmatched in that regard. Since the ALI alumni are pretty much even in intellect it’s the financial resources that were tipping the balance in Fiona’s favour, and Fiona’s skill in gracefully leveraging her access to the who’s who of the local chamber of commerce guaranteed her better access to Lab-Time, Computing power and associated support staff."
Grinder : " She lost?"
Elrick : " It was inevitable. Fiona always came out better than even against Lorelei, and after proclaiming victory she left with me in tow."
Bowden : " What?"
Grinder : " Eh?"
The two are shocked by the revelation.
Bowden : " Were you some kind of prize in all this?"
Elrick : " As if! I was merely a pawn; just one more thing she ripped from Lorelei’s grasp."
Grinder : " Why would you allow yourself to be used like that?"
Bowden : " Weren’t you inl…?"
Elrick : " Though shameful my actions were entirely predictable."
Bowden : " Predictable?"
Elrick : " I was in-Love with her"
Grinder : " Who?"
Bowden : " Lady Lorelei."
Grinder : " Wait? You betrayed her because you were in-Love with her?"
Elrick : " Such is the twisted nature of Romantic Love. I was in-Love with her; Hopelessly, Desperately and Completely in-Love with her. I who was born with acute intellect, confident in my superiority to normal people, arrogant in my understanding of the common man and completely oblivious to something understood by normal people was blindsided by Romantic Love. I don’t know when exactly I fell in-Love with her, but from the very beginning she had become extremely important to me, and had I not been so arrogant in my early childhood I could’ve learned from normal children, but my extensive reading excluded romance or anything to do with fairy tales. How was I to know that falling in-Love is like waking-up for the first time, like opening my eyes and seeing the world born anew, like taking your first breath. One moment I was going about my life and suddenly; 「here I am, and there you are」. Conscious of her, anxious for her feelings and keen to be near her; when I realized what it was I confessed undying love for her.”
Grinder : " And?"
Bowden : " Isn’t it obvious?"
Elrick : " It would have been better had it been obvious, but rather than an outright rejection her reply was 「I do Love you; I just don’t know what kind of love it is」; wishy-washy. Complete bullshit!"
Grinder : " Looks like she was afraid of the consequences of a rejection."
Elrick : " Because of that I held out hope that she would come to some kind of resolution, but she never did, and instead left me in a quagmire of my affections. Soon enough like the other girls her age she blissfully enjoyed the attentions of slightly older and handsome men; it is then that I understood that I had been rejected in the most cruel manner. Nevertheless I couldn’t stop loving her; four years later and the feelings had yet to subside. Such is of-course the nature of a first love; you never truly get over it. To make things worse she seemed to enjoy rubbing her relationships with the good looking guys in my face, or at least that’s how it appeared to me."
Bowden : " Cruel"
Grinder : " I feel for you man."
Elrick : " In the end the distance between us became a chasm, and I think I started to hate her a little. I wouldn’t allow situations where I would be alone with her, and when she would come around my place looking to do this and that I would hide and cowardly pretend that I wasn’t around. I couldn’t get rid of my feelings for her; not time, not dating nor losing my virginity could free me. It would have been obvious to normal people that I couldn’t settle my feelings as long as I remained close to her, but since the Five of us were somewhat inseparable I continued to suffer in solitude. It should have been obvious since humans can’t be in-Love with more than one person; we may care for more than one person, and it’s even possible to love more than one person as is the case with familial love, but biologically and chemically we can only be in-Love with one person. Unbeknownst to me the only way to rid myself of the foggy loved state I was in was to fall in-Love with someone else but I couldn’t do that as long as I remained close to her; every-time I came into some-sort of contact with Lorelei the brain’s reward system would kick-in thereby sustaining my unhealthy attachment to her."
Bowden : " What?"
They seem to doubt what Elrick is saying but they instinctively know it’s true.
Grinder : " Somehow?"
Bowden : " 「To love is to lose」 is about Lorelei?"
Grinder : " 「To love is to lose」?"
Elrick raised an eyebrow but decided to continue without addressing the subject of his Blog.
Elrick : " My reprieve came in the form of a whirlwind from the East in the form of Fiona. Watching from the sidelines I could see the battle between the 2 Queens. The fact that Lorelei hadn’t made use of me was the final punch to the gut; a knife through the heart. My Heart that had born the weight of my feelings finally broke and when Fiona defeated Lorelei she noticed me on the sidelines of Lorelei’s group. As she put it; I looked like someone on the edge of a cliff and about to fall off."
Grinder : " She rescued you?"
Elrick : " A protective instinct was somehow triggered and she came to my rescue; my second Fall. For the first time I realized that it was possible to fall in-Love with someone else; a revelation akin to a seismic shift. So I abandoned my friends and followed Fiona back to Auckland and lived my first truly happy days in years. The depression lifted and I was awake, breathing and happy. Alas it wasn’t meant to be and a year later I returned to Cape Town to face the scorn of my friends. Fiona and I wanted different things; in particular she wanted to go to Antarctica for 2 years on a maritime adventure and I had to somehow build a career. I resolved to face the wrath of my friends."
Bowden : " Running off with a sworn enemy"
He shook his head.
Grinder : " How do you make up for that?"
Elrick : " They were furious and I was resolved to beg them for their forgiveness, but before I could act Lorelei moved first. She apologized unreservedly for her treatment of me and took responsibility for what happened; she had chosen to bare my sins. It is then that I realized that Lorelei’s behaviour had been completely normal for teenage girls/young adults; it was because I was in-Love with her that everything she did became overly exaggerated. Not a single word was passed between myself and Lorelei in the year I was away, and now it was obvious that she had been in pain because of my actions. I was overcome with guilt and remorse, I understood that she had tried desperately for years to avoid hurting me; she had tried to make me give up on a romantic relationship with her but I stubbornly resisted. I should have accepted a rejection for what it was; I was blinded by the toxicity of love."
Bowden : " Are you sure she wasn’t just confused? It wouldn’t be a surprise given how different you people are."
Elrick : " Regardless; she had been making all the moves towards maintaining our friendship, and I was always half-heartedly pulling away. I stopped speaking to her one on one long before Fiona showed up; for years she had been at a complete loss at how to deal with me because I would not engage. I had been a complete jerk to the woman I claimed to love; the inexperienced me was unprepared for that situation. I had been an unmitigated ass."
Grinder : " Is that so?"
Elrick : " To Lorelei taking all the blame I said 「no Estelle; the one at fault here is me. I allowed the fact that I was in-Love with you to twist and distort everything. And in my unfounded and unjustified anger I ended-up hurting you. I’m truly sorry, though I may not deserve it I ask for your forgiveness and promise you that the feelings that had sent me down this path have been locked in a box and buried under a mountain of concrete; never to show themselves before you again. I commit to henceforth be your true and loyal friend.」"
Bowden : " She forgave you just like that?"
Grinder : " She does seem the type to hold on to grudges"
Elrick : " The relief in her eyes was enough."
Bowden : " It seems as though that you and Lorelei remain unresolved"
Grinder : " She might have felt the same as you but got confused by your inability to properly pursue."
Elrick : " That is irrelevant now; it’s done and everything is buried. Furthermore I have resolved to never do anything that would harm Lorelei; and that includes digging-up those feelings and complicating her life. I only wish to see her happy."
Bowden : " You really are different"
Elrick : " I am; the Memory Imprints age you."
Bowden : " Enough to come to a resolution about the last woman to share your life?"
Elrick cringed for a second.
Elrick : " Despicable though her actions may be, I can understand that I put her in a terrible situation; involving her with a man she can never hope to understand, and resigning her to a life where she would always feel insecure and inadequate. I should have known that one of my kind could never or rather should never pair-bond with anyone other than those like us. I will speak no further of this; lest I be reduce to tears."
Bowden : " Understood"
Grinder : " Got it"
Elrick : " Then I will take my leave; food has become an issue and I must hunt for food."
As Elrick logs back into Realm Eternal the other 2 also prepare to log back in.
Bowden : " From what I’ve been able to gather Lorelei has become single again."
Grinder : " And Elrick is also single."
Bowden : " We have to figure-out what is the exact nature of her intensions towards Elrick."
Grinder : " Things could get complicated if she suddenly decides to pursue Elrick; what should we do?"
Bowden : " Let’s deploy some assets to investigate."
Grinder : " It can’t hurt; though by the sound of things it may be that her attention has always been on Elrick."
Bowden : " They do seem a bit overly attached to each other."
Grinder : " That’s an understatement."
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Elrick had dug a 30 degree downward tunnel to the mountainside. He had chose an oblique angle to his target location to avoid a direct line of sight to the area where he had previously killed the Kobolds. Once he safely deployed the 1.2X1.2X1.2 Hunter’s Lear he could see the target location 37 degrees left of his direct line of sight. And taking a closer look with his binoculars he could see some animal activity in the area; carnivores seem to routinely check out that area.
Sweeping that area with his binoculars he noticed an ant colony; the ants are some 1.2m long and nothing like the 20-50 centimetre long ones that populate the outskirts of Towns and Cities on Ado.
Elrick : " I really hate bugs"
Elrick squirmed a little.
Elrick was taking advantage of the fat that now that he’s on his own he didn’t have to put up a brave front, but with no-one watching he was free to be afraid of bugs and not put up a manly front. As he watched the ants he noticed something peculiar about their behaviour and decided to observe them closely and try to figure out what was going on.
Using thought activation he activated a skill.
Elrick : " 『Elf Eyes』”
His focus increased allowing to see more detail than the binoculars provided.
『Elf Eyes』 is a Skill and in Realm Eternal all skills are Active and only 《Attributes》 are passive. Elrick could see that some of the smaller worker ants were being carried away to a dumped some distance away from the nest; these weren’t dead ants but somewhat disoriented and sickly ants.
His mind goes to work analysing the situation.
Elrick : " What’s-up with that? Are they sick? Infected maybe?"
Continuing to observe the sickly ants Elrick temporarily forgot about his mission to secure food.
Elrick : " Dammit; Food! Wait; are ant’s edible? They should be fine, but what if I catch some kind of infection? No; cooking should kill any disease. The ants may be a solution to my problem."
Elrick had gotten a bit excited at the prospect of a relatively easy supply of food, but as if to pour cold water on his joy something was moving towards the sickly ants.
Elrick : " What’s that? A slime? But there’s no core; wait there is a core. But it’s not a core; it’s some kind of squid or octopus inside a living slime. Or maybe octopus is the core; perhaps the octopus produces the gooey slime. Why the hell is there an amphibious octopus slime?"
Elrick was stunned by the sudden appearance of the amphibious octopus slime or squid slime, and he watched as it approached the sickly ants.
Elrick : " No! Food thief!"
Then the amphibious octopus slime shot gooey slime at one of the sickly ants completely immobilizing it.
Elrick : " So in Realm Eternal the Slime is an amphibious octopus slime. In here the slime mob is not the lowest level but something higher level than the likes of wolves judging by its dimensions; 1.42m high and 2.745m wide."
Elrick continued to observe as the Squid Slime engulfed the ant; his 『Elf Eyes』 clearly showing him as the Squid Slime produced digestive juices into the slimy body and absorbed nutrients from the ant.
Elrick : " Wait; isn’t Squid delicious? But the Slime part looks like it might be toxic. Some analysis might be necessary, and while I’m at it I’ll take a look at what’s making the ants sick."
Elrick got to work immediately.
Elrick assembled the Customized Level 2 Bow-Swords into the Bow Mode; carefully attaching the Mithril Bowstring. The strength requirement for using the Mithril Bowstring Customized Level 2 Bow-Swords in Bow Mode is 250 EXP; something far beyond the abilities of the current crop of Atlantians; only those who had Spiritual Fortifications can boast such strength. Not even 3 months and 2 weeks RET could change the fact that the bulk of Atlantians are weaklings; barely capable of surviving the immediate vicinity of a Town or City.
A Realm Eternal day is 27 hours. A Realm Eternal Week consists of 11 days in accordance with the Elements; Earthday, Fireday, Windday, Waterday, Iceday, Plantday, Lightday, Shadowday, Soundday, Enchantday and Psionicday. A Realm Eternal month is 5 weeks. A Realm Eternal year is 11 months. In Real World Time a Realm Eternal year (approximately 16,335 hours) is 136.125 days (3,267 hours) or approximately 19.5 weeks or 4.5 months.
And so once the Customized Level 2 Bow-Swords was in Bow Mode Elrick took out 10 Runic Arrows; 2 with analysis Runes, 2 with observation Runes, 2 Explosive Runes and 4 with Fire Runes. Elrick had quickly come to the conclusion that the Squid Slime is likely to be vulnerable to Fire and he fully intended to attack the dangerous looking Squid Slime. Elrick opened a larger firing hole on the Hunter’s Lear; clearly meant for the bow. He was forced to hold the Longbow outside the Hunter’s Lear given the cramp interior.
Elrick was glad that Sir Arwick had made him buy the Encyclopaedia of Monsters for his 『Survival』 Skill on top of his 【Basic Survival】 set; otherwise he would not have been able to gain information on the monsters he would be targeting with the analysis Rune arrows.
Taking aim he shook of his nervousness.
Elrick : " Activate 『Survival』 Skill. 「Targeting」on, 「Arrow Guide」on."
Taking a deep breath he focused on the targeting HUD generated by the Level 2 Longbow.
Elrick : " Bow Art; 〘Precision〙. Bow Art; 〘Rapid Fire〙."
In quick succession Elrick let lose 2 arrows with 2 with analysis Runes. Upon observing the targets there was an immediate reaction as the arrows expertly hit their targets thanks to 「Targeting」, 「Arrow Guide」 and the Bow Art 〘Precision〙. Even though the analysis Rune arrows aren’t designed to do damage they are still arrows and the 2 monsters noticed.
Elrick quickly released 2 arrows with observation Runes to get a clearer picture. Bringing up his virtual interface Elrick began to consider the information flowing from the 4 Runic Arrows.
Apprehension surged upward as he read the info.
Elrick : " Eh?"
~ Ding! ~
『HP = 2514/5027』 - 『MP = 20』 - 『Atk = 1006.483』 - 『Deff = 1280.163』
《Strength = 1195》 - 《Agility = 187》 - 《Dexterity = 4》 - 《Durability = 1259》 - 《Endurance = 1187》 - 《Sensitivity = 0》 - 《Vitality = 1156》 - 《Eyesight = 5》 - 《Charisma = 0》 - 《Leadership = 2》 - 《Awareness = 7》 - 《Reputation = 0》 - 《Observation = 4》 - 《Knowledge = 5》 - 《Wisdom = 5》 - 《Intelligence = 4》
「Status」 : Infected「Infected Status」 :
Hazardous Material = Fungal Spore-Seed of the Crystal Plant.
The Fungal Spore-Seed of the Crystal Plant can infect the body if ingested or upon contact with skin provided that 《Durability》 is lower than 5500 EXP.
Elrick : " HeHeHeHe! What the Fuck is this?"
Nervous laughter leaks out. Looking at the other monster.
~ Ding! ~
『Juvenile Squid-Slime! 』
『HP = 39466』 - 『MP = 3958』 - 『Atk = 7566.413』 - 『Deff = 8782.763』
《Strength = 8945》 - 《Agility = 1589》 - 《Dexterity = 1632》 - 《Durability = 7012》 - 《Endurance = 2245》 - 《Sensitivity = 0》 - 《Vitality = 12457》 - 《Eyesight = 447》 - 《Charisma = 0》 - 《Leadership = 0》 - 《Awareness = 486》 - 《Reputation = 0》 - 《Observation = 524》 - 《Knowledge = 270》 - 《Wisdom = 351》 - 《Intelligence = 299》
『Magic Skill = 3038』
Magic Sub-Skills, Affinity & Proficiency
【Water Magic EXP = 453 ;「Aff = 5」 ;「Prof = 5」】- 【Ice Magic Exp = 124 ;「Aff = 5」 ;「Prof = 5」】 - 【Alchemy Magic Exp = 294 ;「Aff = 5」;「Prof = 5」】 - 【Appraisal Magic Exp = 23 ;「Aff = 2.5」;「Prof = 2.5」】 -【Psionic Magic Exp = 157 ;「Aff = 1」;「Prof = 1」】 - 【Sound Magic Exp = 121 ;「Aff = 1」;「Prof = 1」】.
Insufficient Data to complete Skills Analysis.
「Prey Status」 : Infected Army Ant
Elrick’s face contorted if fear.
Elrick : " What to do? What to do? What to do? Fuck-Fuck-Fuck!”
Finally an idea popped into his head.
Elrick : " 『Elf Eyes』. 「Targeting」on, 「Arrow Guide」on. Bow Art; 〘Precision〙. Bow Art; 〘Rapid Fire〙. Bow Art; 〘Long Range〙. Longbow Art; 〘Artillery〙. Longbow Art; 〘Convergence〙. Longbow Art; 〘Multi-Shot〙."
Taking a deep breath he focused on the targeting HUD generated by the Level 2 Longbow and released the Arrows.
WHOOSH-WHOOSH, WHOOSH-WHOOSH, WHOOSH-WHOOSH.
The Mana cost of stacking six arts and a skill was not a problem to the current Elrick, and thanks to the Longbow Art 〘Artillery〙the arrows would attack from above the target and not give away his position. Thanks to the Longbow Art 〘Convergence〙the 6 arrows would arrive at the same time, and thanks to the Longbow Art; 〘Multi-Shot〙 Elrick could fire 2 arrows at the same time.
Elrick is relieved by the aftermath of his attack.
Elrick : " Hee; as I thought."
Elrick let’s out a little laugh as he sees the Squid-Slime quickly run deeper into the forest. He is surprised by the speed of the monster but understands that given its agility stat it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Elrick : " My attack did less than 1 damage to your HP, but given your demeanour it’s enough to make you run."
Elrick smiled as he saw that there are still 4 sickly army ants left.
Elrick : " So Mr Squid Slime? Even though you have those high stats you’re still a juvenile, and despite being 8 times more powerful than the ants you choose to only feed on the sickly and dying. That indicates that you’re not a true hunter but more of a scavenger; at least not yet. Perhaps a fully grown Squid Slime would choose to fight rather than run."
Elrick had the look of someone pleased with his achievement.
Elrick then attached Steel threads to a number of Runic piercing arrows and along with a winch recovered the 4 sickly army ants.
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