[Ant Tensei - Chapter 2]
"Aristocles log, stardate... Unknown.
I've been carried for nearly 15 minutes on the back of this big ant's back. Starting to get really bored.
If only I had my body, i'd start something interesting...
Along the way, we've gone through several large chambers, though quite dark I seem to still be able to 'see' inside the rooms.
There have been several groups of over a dozen smaller ants carrying all sorts of things.
If I have anything interesting to note, it's that whenever I come to update my log, I get the feeling i'm being watched. Someone must be spying to steal the contents of my log! I must remain on high alert, for the secrets of the log are not for the eyes of men!
Ah, well, it doesn't really matter. There doesn't exist a man alive that can convince me to reveal the contents of my log... but... wait... these aren't men. OH NO!
QUICK, PURGE THE LOG BEFORE THEY READ IT..."
~Aristoclese thus spent the next fifteen minutes talking to himself about spies and how to cover up the evidence. To what you ask? It's better that you don't know.~
After several more minutes of travel, the group escorting Aristocles entered a large room filled with a warming light.
"I have to say, i'm pretty impressed."
In the room, there were several hundred ants. Each cluster were carrying out different missions, scurrying every which way.
These ants never took a break during their entire lives, something that held the respect of Aristocles. As an existence that looked down on most lifeforms, it was a great compliment.
Suddenly, something caught Aristocles' vision. A glowing crystal in the center of the room, but what truly caught Aristocles' attention, was what was on this crystal.
"Holy mother of antdom! That is one big ant!"
Upon the crystal stood the Queen of this hive, the great Ant Queen
"Hmmm, pretty impressive cavern she has here, wonder what that crystal is though..."
As Aristocles believed he had been thinking to himself, he found himself the center of attention within the room. All of the worker ants that had been previously moving had all stopped. All eyes were fixed on him.
The first to begin would be the Ant Queen herself.
"Guard, bring me that child at once!"
As if by sheer instinct, the large armored ant began moving at full speed towards the Ant Queen. Once there, Aristocles was immediately dropped in front of the Ant Queen, and the large ant backed from her.
Around this Ant Queen, persisted a thick aura. While not harmful, for mere ants, this energy was like that of divine precedence. For Aristocles to be before the Ant Queen, and not perish, was enough to surprise all within the room.
The Ant Queen at once began to express a sense of pleasure. While ants lack the ability to express emotions through facial expressions, they instead share their emotions through chemical signals that are felt by one another.
During this time, Aristocles made the judgement that depending on the wisdom of this Queen ant, she either saw him as a wonderful child worth her affection, or as a tool to use to the full extent of it’s use until it can be safely discarded.
Aristocles of course assumed the worst in all life, for much of life is the same. He had learned during his previous life that as long as someone held power they had not earned themselves, they would see those without power as below themselves, no matter who that person is.
This, however, was the first time that Aristocles failed to grasp the true intentions of the individual before him.
The Ant Queen was old, she had lived for many years and had seen what she had believed all she would ever see. When this oddity appeared, she simply couldn’t help but smile. Though she remained vigilant. Her instincts told her that what ever this creature that was placed before her was, it was dangerous.
(Ant Queen) “What is your name little one?”
“Why is she speaking to me? I don’t have a mouth, I can’t speak…”
Aristocles pondered the questioning Ant Queen. Was there perhaps a way of communicating in this state that he was unaware of. If that were the case, how could he do so.
Though, as if sensing the confusion from the youth before her, the Ant Queen decided to settle the issue.
“You seem to be mistaken, I can hear you quite clearly little one”
(Aristocles)“What? Are you able to read my mind or something?”
The concept that these seemingly lower life forms had such an advanced method of communication had not yet occurred to Aristocles. Coming from a world where insects were mindless creatures, Aristocles had made the error of letting his preconceptions carry over from his previous world. Though, Aristocles was not a base individual, he quickly threw off the shackles of his old way of thinking and opened himself to the chance that everything he had ever known might no longer be factual. From what the air he is breathing is made of to the concept of gravity, Aristocles instantly prepared himself for any situation upon having his revelation.
“Hmm, yes and no little one. When we create thought, signals are generated within our heads. These signals can then be picked up by others around us, allowing for easy communication. Now that I’ve answered your question, I shall ask my own once more. What is your name little one?”
“Well, this is quite the surprise, sentient ants… this certainly is a game world. The name I was called in my previous life was Aristocles.”
The Ant Queen pauses for a moment, then continues with a tired tone.
“You say a previous life hmm? Well… that would bring up many questions, though that can be for a later time. Since you were born not Long ago, your words do, however, carry a greater note of worth. I cannot say that I have prior experience in such matters, so forgive me if I merely treat you as if you are an intelligent subject. Though for the sake of gaining perspective, I will humor this situation by requesting whatever you are willing to share about this previous life of yours, mainly accomplishments and skills.”
Aristocles remained silent for roughly one minute. During this time, his body was constantly moving. To the Ant Queen, this came off as nervousness. In reality, however, Aristocles just found the topic of the question and the bluntness of the Ant Queen to be insanely humorous and was laughing to himself heavily, luckily for him his laughter was physical and not mental, thus his laughter was not conveyed. If it had been, Aristocles would have died on the spot. Even knowing, Aristocles continued laughing for over a minute, then continued laughing after he realized that no one knew he was laughing, to which he laughed at that. Then he went to ‘speak’ while continuing to laugh. Having his thoughts conveyed into language was quite useful for he could hide his emotions quite easily in this manner.
“I suppose i’ll tell you, though i’d prefer to not, well, be killed right after you hear my answers. I don’t really care if I am killed right now, but I’m going to be honest here. I love this game world, and want to go join an adventurer’s guild, do you have one of those? Ok, joking aside, I’m actually at your full and utter mercy right now, so please don’t have this worm killed just yet.”
While Aristocles has a severe issue in providing necessary respect for those with power above his current stature due to his previous life, regardless of how he tries to change his outlook, it is not that easy. Though, Aristocles understands his situation, and is attempting to create the optimal situation for his survival, it is the most logical choice to infuse disrespect along with recognition of one’s power in order to create a comprehension of individuality for those used to mindless servants. Aristocles understood this point well.
“Well young one-”
“Ah yes, and to prevent further ‘Young Ones’ from being mentioned, my name is Aristocles. My mental age is likely far beyond that of yourself Queen Ant.”
The level of disrespect from the larva was astounding. Many ants in the room were personally taken aback that any being could be able to show such levels of disrespect to their precious Queen. The Queen ant merely sighs and continues.
“What a distasteful mouth indeed. If you felt so threatened, it might be a better decision to offer more respect and tact into your wordings in the future. As for your life, regardless of your viewpoint on me, I still view you as one of my hundreds of children and have no desire to terminate your life. You represent a unique variable, something about you is quite different than anything that I have ever seen before. You certainly must have potential in some field, and thus I intend to discover and use you to your fullest. With that reasoning, you can rest your unease. Now then, as my first question had been answered, Aristocles yes? As a sign of recognition, I will grant you the honor of applying this name to yourself. With this, might you will yourself to answer your Queen’s questions? Might you tell me of yourself, I do not mind if you tell your stories of what you perceive as a past life if that aids you.”
Hearing Ant Queen’s statement, Aristocles stopped laughing to himself. The air around these two beings started to grow dense as the cavern they resided in grew ever more quiet. Each of these two had their own auras, the Ant Queen gave off a powerful authority earned through the passing of years and is the representation of her wisdom. The other side, Aristocles, gave off an energy that none of the ants could comprehend. He gave off the most dense and powerful sensation you could imagine. To see this creature, you would feel a sense of emptiness, to have all, but nothing at the same time. To be able to walk the path of enlightenment, to only turn away and walk down the path of madness instead. Words fail those who cannot understand that the creature before the Queen ant was a being beyond them.The moment Ant Queen finished her question and this larva stopped moving, it was as if these lesser ants had found themselves in the middle of a conflict between otherworldly powers. It is not something you can easily understand even if it is described to you.
But just as this intense situation began to reach it’s peak, one side broke the silence.
“My Queen hmm? Interesting…”
For a moment, it had seemed as if there would be another clash of these two beings would break out. Though, it never happened. The aura from the little larva didn’t pour out a second time. Instead something else happened. The little larva gave off a warmth, rather than his dark and overpowering killing intent, it was as if the entire room was encased in something you cannot describe. These ants were intuned with the emotions of their species, the feeling given off by this larva can only be described with one word.
“Sure, I suppose that is for the best hmm? Very well my Queen, as you wish, I shall obligate myself and satisfy your request. Following others always brings a greater interest than those being at the top. When one stands at the top, the experiences of their lives are lessened due to the weight of the lives of those around them. If one has never tasted the top, one can never understand what is required of that position, how it tampers with the holder’s life. It is the smallest aspects of life that hold the greatest meaning. The further one climbs up in life, as with the air in the sky, the lesser one’s life becomes. To reach the top, you sacrifice all that you are so that you can have power. To carry those scars holds a great weight that will pull you down while you stand at the top, eventually you will fall due to this weight. Those born after these men and women fall into the depths into their power can never understand those beneath them, and will be dragged down, by the very origin and source of their power. That is the existence of power in my world. It is not something I have interest in holding without purpose. Not any more. That is all I have to say about my previous world. It is behind me, for just as it no longer exists, the Aristocles of my past no longer exists. Command me my Queen.”
If you were to listen to Aristocles describe himself, once would obviously come off that he is an arrogant man. He managed to achieve everything easily due to his abilities, often not thinking deeply into the lives of those who died. While he may claim this as a divine fact, the true reason lies in his wisdom. His arrogance is merely his coping mechanism, by expending so much energy into his random actions, he allows his mind to remain focused. Taking into mind the all those around him, as if it was a continual test of character. The tactics that Aristocles used to take power were something that no other could comprehend. His charisma and bravery held the line, while explosions fell across the battlefield, no one doubted that victory was certain. He would not think about those that died because they were satisfied with what they were doing, when you sacrifice yourself for the future of something greater, you should not regret, something that Aristocles understood. He did not offer his heart to those below him because if he were to do so, a greater hatred would fester, it is within the nature of life to do so and as such, he treated all coldly but fairly. There was no hatred because all were managed so as to not inspire hatred. Even during harsh war and crisis there was no hatred. This was because this man saw through the truth that is life, and gave all life what it needed best. Beyond his words, beyond his actions, one look at the figure before you and you would fall to your knees just to listen to him. When he speaks, you listen, when he charges into battle, you follow, when he lies, you understand, when he smiles, you smile, when he thinks, you wait, when he teaches, you learn. There is nothing remarkable about him, but at the same time, there is no one more perfect. A being not bound by hesitation or confusion, he simply does. This man known as Aristocles.
As if gazing into the abyss itself, the Queen ant’s eyes beamed down upon Aristocles. While the other ants couldn’t judge her reaction, she who was able to judge anything, could not get a read of this single larva. The fact that one of her larva could hold such wisdom from such a young age was impossible. At the same time, she refused to fully believe the tales of reincarnation. A subject she continued to ponder for several minutes.
Finally the silence was broken by a sigh from the Queen ant.
“Sigh… you are certainly an interesting child. Whether or not you truly hold potential, this I cannot say. Regardless of what you might have been in your possible past life, you are now a mere larva. That you have decided to understand your place is reasonable, though I am certain that a request may come later, if you will hold off for some time, that would be preferred. As for you renouncing that which was your past, I shall complete this process by giving you a new name. From now on you shall be granted the name Are (Pronounced Air). A point that both you and I agree upon. We both find the other interesting.”
“I do not find the change of name to be that big of a deal. The general concept of a new world is a new name, the fact that I would be using my old one would only generate confusion within my mind later down the line. As my mind continues to adapt to this situation, the conflictions of this world and myself should decline.”
The Queen ant shows a sign of being pleased.
“Your reasonable nature is greatly appreciated. If you will, to further reinforce my position on this matter, I will only see you as one of my children that was blessed with wisdom. I cannot allow myself to hold you as a being from another space and time, regardless of your proof. As a special case, I shall see to it that you are treated as such.”
As she says that, she changes her tone and yells
“I SUMMON ONE OF OUR SPIRITUALISTS, COME FORTH TO YOUR QUEEN!”
Within seconds, a small ant scurries over and bows before Ant Queen.
The Queen ant once more begins to speak, this time with a very serious tone.
“You will bestow your life force upon this youth so that it might grow and serve great use to the hive. Will you comply to my will my child?”
The little ant immediately responds.
“Your will is my own, there is no will other than that of the Queens, for you shall will it, it shall be done.”
Once he finishes this statement, he walks over to Aristocles, and binds their bodies together.
Aristocles is puzzled by the sudden change in tone and asks what is occurring.
“What exactly… is he doing?”
(Ant Queen) “He binds his life force to yours, you and he will join as one as he falls to the abyss. His destruction is the door to your transcendence.”
(Aristocles) “Well, I can’t say that I fully understand this measure, so i’ll merely go along with it.”
Several minutes passed, and suddenly a warm light begins to emit from the two.
It’s been several minute since this ant has positioned itself on me. Since this is a custom I am unaware of, I shall simply have to wait.
There’s a warm sensation… I’m also thinking, but it doesn’t seem that anyone else can hear me. What is this sensation?
It feels as if my very soul is burning!
---Thirty seconds pass, the burning continues to grow more and more intense
The burning sensation is so intense my mind is starting to grow dull…
---Just then, a new panel appears before Are
[A being has merged it’s life energy to yours, Experience gained ]
[Experience points has reached limit [2/1] process of the soul’s evolution has begun]
[The following paths are available to you: |Worker|Warrior|Mindless|Spiritualist|Guard| ]
[The path you choose will determine how your body will develop, you do not get to change to another path once the decision is made, some abilities from other paths can be gained through great effort though at great cost to functionality]
I thought for a moment, it was a difficult decision after all… It seems that this is this world’s evolution/ rank-up system. It also seems to be far less forgiving than other systems. Once choice, one body, one path. It is a difficult decision that I must give great thought into...
---Aristocles, thinking this, instantly selects warrior
[This one has chosen the path of the Warrior, you now will begin metamorphosis into a random warrior breed. The breed you become will be determined based on your the characteristics of your soul]
---In the next instance, the body of the small ant on Are turned into light and fused with Are’s body. After that, a sensation of pain so intense rushed over his entire body. The pain from before was no comparison. Not even Are could withstand something this intense, it was a pain of one’s soul. No training could build resistance should the soul be in pain. Are’s body turned from white to red, his flesh twisted and melded. As this continued, the feeling as as if his very soul had begun to rend.
---Several seconds pass, though for Are, each second was like that of several days. Eventually, however, the pain began to subside.
Just like that, my body stopped burning.
I was reborn.
[End Chapter 2]