Insects Sure Do Cause Goosebumps, Don’t They?
“Oh shit!” I shouted out of reflex as I swerved my face to the side to dodge a wad of acid. “Hooooly crap, that almost got me!”
The yellowish green liquid flew right past my face and hit a nearby tree. The unfortunate plant was killed by the attack in an instant. Half its trunk was immediately turned to goop. The other half was unable to support its own weight, so it snapped and collapsed. Oh god. That could’ve been my face.
Rir and I were in the midst of a desperate escape. Behind us followed a veritable army group of ants. Massive, gigantic, oversized ants. Every single specimen was at least the size of the average dog.
And when I said an army, I meant an army. There were so many of the carapace-clad, six legged freaks that the thought of counting them didn’t even cross my mind. It was a fool’s errand, one that I really didn’t want to bother wasting my time with. The wave of insectoid bodies almost seemed to swallow the scene behind us as they gave chase. Some were on the ground, others were in the air, but either way, they almost seemed to pollute the environment with their sheer numbers. It was a disgusting sight to behold. There were so many creepy crawlies that I started to get goosebumps.
It hadn’t started this way. At first, there had only been a few. They were rather weak, so I thought them easy prey. But a second, slightly larger group showed up almost right as we defeated the first. And then a third, and so on and so forth. I hadn’t thought much of it at the time.
My naivety had gotten the better of me.
Every time I killed one, several others came to take its place. That, in and of itself, wasn’t a problem. I expected to be able to slaughter them all eventually. But the eventuality I expected never happened. Their numbers never diminished no matter how long we fought. Before long, Rir and I found ourselves overwhelmed with a force far outside our expectations, so we fled.
Only to encounter another problem.
Rir was fast. He was more of a sprinter than he was an endurance runner, but he was still a fenrir. His speed was undoubtable. If he were to race against most other monsters, he would likely reach the goal before they even left the start zone. But, despite his outstanding speed, Rir was unable to escape the ants.
They were still right on his tail.
“Hey uh, you sure I shouldn’t get off!?” I was well aware that I was slowing the large wolf down, but he responded with a growl as if to tell me that my concern was unnecessary. He and I both knew that he was faster than me. And since the ants had fliers among them, I was sure to be swarmed, torn to bits, and devoured if I didn’t remain on the wolf’s back. The thought made me shudder. Oh god. Why the hell did I have to go and imagine that? Ugh…
“A-Alright.” I shook my head a bit to ward off the scene created by my imagination before spinning around while still on Rir’s back. Evidently, the young fenrir was prepared to carry me for as long as he was capable even if it meant his death. As his master, I’m not about to just idly sit by and let him be the only one to act like a man. “Then I guess I might as well give it everything I got.”
I was now facing the incoming army, but that, in and of itself, didn’t actually free up too many options. My gun was out of ammo, and the iron rod I had in my hand was well… an ordinary iron rod. Unlike Sun Wukong’s Ruyi Jingu Bang, it couldn’t suddenly extend and allow me to strike the enemy’s army in just a single fell swoop. Though I wish it did. That’d make this easy.
Let’s see… Yeah, uh, looks like I’m pretty much all out of options. Welp. Magic time, I guess. I had yet to use magic in a real battle, but I was fairly confident that there wouldn’t be any undesired surprises. Granny’s always told me that everything would work out as long as I believe in myself. Not that I’ve got a granny. Topkek.
After making my decision, I immediately kneaded my mana and cast the spell that I had spent the better part of the last few days practicing. Three massive oriental dragons materialized around me. Their long serpentine forms were constructed of water. Specifically hot water around the same temperature you’d have it at when filling a bathtub, but that part’s not important.
Their clear, distinct forms served to evidence that my imagination was becoming more vivid. Wait, doesn’t that just mean that I’m getting more delusional? Fuck. Feelsbadman.
“Take this, you assholes!” I shrugged off my laments and had all three dragons assault the incoming army. They shot through the air like bolts of lightning and swallowed many an ant whole.
Although it didn’t look it, the deadly spell I casted was rather simple in nature. The dragons would swallow their targets and then coil up. The high speed currents running inside of them would swirl about to prevent the targets from escaping while also functioning like pressure cutters. I even mixed a bit of sand into the water to give it extra grit, and therefore power. Those that the pressure based blades failed to slice to bits would be held within the powerful currents until they drowned.
If I had to be completely honest, there was no logic behind the spell’s shape. It simply looked the way it did because I liked the aesthetic. You know what? I need to show this spell to Lefi. She told me to do exactly that if I came up with anything so she could judge it, and I’m pretty sure she’ll give me full points given the way it looks. I mean, it’s both artsy and badass as fuck. What could possibly go wrong?
The dragons did their job and shredded a large number of ants as I sat on Rir’s back, lost in thought. Seeing that, I crossed my arms and began to haughtily laugh.
“Mwahahahaha! Take that, insects! Fall! Fall b-before…” My eyes went wide as the ants that hadn’t been caught in the spell began a counterattack by blasting corrosive acid in my direction. “Fuck! Oh god, I’m sorry! I’M SORRY!!”
Unable to contain myself, I began to scream and apologize vehemently, but to no avail. The discoloured, formic-acid like attacks kept coming right at us.
“You know what? Fuck you! You assholes are just ants! Ants! You ain’t got shit!”
I continued creating water dragons and firing them at the incoming swarm. Although my position seemed favourable, it wasn’t by any means. My spells were working exactly as intended, but I was most likely going to run out of mana before I managed to eliminate them all. There were just too many of them.
Magic was supposed to be more versatile and adaptable, but I had failed to practice anything but the one spell that I had been using nonstop. I didn’t have the means or experience to cope with the situation. Shit. I would’ve spent more time expanding my repertoire if I knew this was going to happen. God damn it, what do I do? Do I have anything to slow them down? Wait! Yes, I do!
I reached into my inventory and grabbed a monster corpse, which I promptly chucked right at the mob. I repeated the action several times even though I felt it a waste of good food. At first, the ants avoided the projectiles, but stopped upon identifying them. They instead started to swarm the previous meat and gorge themselves with it. Uhhh… That was a bit more effective than I was expecting it to be. Really didn’t think they’d stop entirely.
“T-totally calculated,” I stuttered. “Let’s go, Rir. We need to get ourselves the fuck outta here.”
Having seen through my bluff, the large white wolf put on the canine equivalent to a wry smile before evacuating the area.
“Whew…” Only after losing sight of the ants did I finally breathe a sigh of relief. “Holy shit, that was exhausting. Why don’t we call it a day.”
“Yeah, you too. You did real good out there, boy.”
“You know what, yeah? I would appreciate if you brought me all the way back to the cave. You know what? You might as well stay the night while you’re at it.” I paused for a moment to stretch the stiffness out of my shoulders. “Man, those ants. I swear, there were enough of the goddamned things to traumatize a guy for life.”
“Good point. There probably was an anthill nearby.”
I put a hand to my chin as I recalled the anthills that I’d seen on TV back in Japan. They were easily the same height as the average person even though the ants that inhabited them were tiny. Which means those giant ass ants we were dealing with just now probably live in a literal mountain or something. Actually, thinking along those lines, finding it and making the area a part of the dungeon would probably net me mad bank. But uhhhhh… yeah no. I don’t think I’ll ever be going there again.
While I didn’t particularly hate bugs, the sheer number of them had left my skin riddled with goosebumps. I was so terrified of the giant ass ants in particular that I almost wanted to start ranting on and on about how the world would be a much better place if all insects suddenly ceased to exist. Man, thinking back on it, you know who gets chased by giant fucking bugs all the time? Indi*na Jones. After experiencing it myself, man, I respect the hell outta the guy. He’s gotta have balls of steel to stay sane after all that shit.
“I’m really going to have to work on expanding my arsenal though…” I continued to think as Rir gently carried me home. I need more weaponry. I’ve been managing with basically just my stats so far, but as all those annoying ass bugs have proven, I’m still a few steps away from having all my bases covered. Really going to need something to deal with massive swarms of enemies if I don’t want to die. Magic is nice and all, so I’ll be working on that, but I should probably look into other stuff too. Yeah, you know what? I’ll make sure I sink a good bit of time into finding something I can work with in the short term.
I ended up showing Lefi the water dragon spell I had developed a few days later.
“…Yuki, I’ve a question.”
“Is there a particular reason for which you have forged the spell in a dragon’s image?”
“Nah, not really.”
“Your preferences are… “ Lefi took a moment to find the right word to describe how she was feeling. “Quite bizarre.”
Yeah… Can’t really say she’s wrong there.
Editor’s note: Hey, guys! Joker here. Boy, Yuki really stirred up the ant’s nest this time around, didn’t he? He should’ve known better. Anthills contain literal THOUSANDS, after all. Plus, they can spit acid, so there’s that as well. Luckily, he managed to break through by sacrificing his lunch and launching his multiple water dragons. Rir did good as well. He’s not an endurance runner, as it said, so he’s probably real tired. Good boy, Rir. You get first dibs on the good meat today. And of course, Lefi’s not impressed by Yuki’s taste. Maybe if it was a majestic European dragon, with a bigger body and longer neck, she might be. Or just say that you did it because of how cool she looks. Appeal to her vanity, after all. See y’all in the next chapter!
Translator’s note: Yuki used 2ch slang this chapter. So voila, 4chan slang to match. I didn’t add references tags this time
because I was lazy because I think most of them are obvious, but just to be safe, there was a Mai Otome reference, an Indiana Jones reference, and a Journey to the West reference. Probably not in that order.