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[Ant Tensei - Chapter 4]



[The character in question lacks adequate knowledge to comprehend the following option]

[Character will be notified upon realization of necessary requirements]



[Urgent Notification!!!]



[###########] [############|##########|############]




[Notification]

[Character now has access to [Brood Transcendence]]

[Requirements]

[Brood Size 0/2500]

[Further Information not available]



[Notification]

[Character now has access to [Transcendence Pathways]

[Requirements]

[Further Information not available]

[Further Information not available]



[New Attributes Available]

[Soul Power 10]

[Armor Value 5]



[New Abilities Available]

[Subjugation: Forcibly leech half of the soul of a defeated opponent. At the cost of sentience, the target will become a member of the user’s brood]



[Heavy Acid: Allows the user to eject a highly acidic liquid capable of heavily damaging carapace. Nullifies lower tier abilities]



[Minor Flight: Allows the user to fly minor distances and scale minor obstacles]



[Minor Hover: Allows the user to hover in a space for a short period of time]




[Status]

[Name: None]

[Species: Blood Beatle Patriarch]

[HP: 11/11]

[MP: 1/1]

[EXP: 1/2500]

[Strength: 4]

[Constitution: 7]

[Intelligence: 26]

[Wisdom: 14]

[Charisma: 39]

[Attributes]

[(Mind of the General): A mind forged in the heat of combat over several decades. Calm and collected, never frightened of impossible odds]

[(Reincarnation): This being has been reincarnated, their mind remains intact from their previous life)]

[(Manipulator): This being has spent years learning the art of the mind, and how best to convince others to suit their needs]

[(Brave: This being charges headlong into battle without concern to their life]

[(Berserker): Depending on the trigger, this being is capable of entering a battle rage. When in this state, all subconscious limitations are removed at the cost of damaging one’s physical body]

[(Insane Beyond the Words of a God): This being’s thoughts and decisions escape the grasp of even divine entities. Those few in the history of creation who have achieved this level of madness and are capable of breaking free of the tide of destiny itself. In short, they are capable of resisting the will of divine influence]

[(Flamboyant): This being is so ridiculous when it comes it's actions and movements that the only description possible to fit him is that it makes the Ginyu Force look normal. "If you do not get this comparison, ask a random person on the street, you are the only one who doesn't know"]




[Abilities]

[(Minor acid): This ability allows for the user to eat through acid on their flesh, absorbing nutrients]

[(Blood Beatle): This creature is a Blood Beatle and is able to restore damage through the ingestion of blood, using the nutrients to restore lost cells and armor]

[(Patriarch): This creature is a Patriarch of it’s species and holds dominion over those within it’s brood and species utterly]

[(Subjugation): Forcibly leech half of the soul of a defeated opponent. At the cost of sentience, the target will become a member of the user’s brood]

[(Heavy Acid): Allows the user to eject a highly acidic liquid capable of heavily damaging carapace. Nullifies lower tier abilities]

[(Minor Flight): Allows the user to fly minor distances and scale minor obstacles]

[(Minor Hover): Allows the user to hover in a space for a short period of time]





Hmmm quite interesting.

It would seem that my body has gained some interesting and useful abilities. Though I will admit, I did not foresee the fact that if I do not have information on a subject, my status window won’t display the information. If I were to take this into account, it would mean that this world is nothing like most that you would normally think of. I suppose i’ll be asking this little ant next to me quite a few questions while I get a good run of the place. Ridlis was it…? I never have been great with names, no reason to start now.

Oh, but there are just so many questions, where should I begin-



---At this moment, Are was cut off by Ridlis who had sensed Are’s complicated disposition.



“Ah, certainly you should have quite a few questions yes? Given that you are quite young in terms of knowledge of our world, shall I share with you all of my knowledge of it? Well, I suppose within the limits that you would prefer is acceptable of course.”



“Hmm? Oh yes. Well, I have several questions to start with, then we can get onto general knowledge. For starters, are you aware of the Status window and the HP and MP meters in the corner of your vision?”



“Oh? Yes, this information is indeed known to me. The Status window you speak of holds a detail of our bodies and personalities. There are several ways for others to view some of this information, but there are just as many ways to resist this. I, however, cannot say that I know much on the topic of resisting since I have not been in a situation that required such nor do I have access to such individuals who have had such experiences. Attributes are key points of one’s personality. If they dramatically affect your behavior with others, objects, animals, or your own body, they will be listed here. Attributes are difficult to gain and or lose, they are earned through work and dramatic shifts in the individual’s environment. One’s skills are natural abilities of one’s body. Generally gaining new abilities is quite rare, but it is possible to improve the quality of the skills you already possess though training and other such methods. does that answer your question on that matter?”



“Mostly, I have a question about a certain ability of mine. I don’t seem to have much information about it, could you possibly fill in some details?”



“If I possess the knowledge of such a skill I should be able to do so.”



“Ok then, the ability is called Subjugation.”



“...”



“Is there an issue?”



“Eh? Oh, my apologies, it’s just that the skill you just mentioned is quite the dark ability to possess. It allows an individual to forcibly steal half of one’s soul and destroy their mind. In the process the offender is able to gain a great share of the victim’s power. It’s a fearsome skill to say the least, if one were to be defeated in battle, you would have no way to resist  against subjugation. You would lose your sentience, and become a prisoner of your own mind for the rest of your existence.”



“Hmm, doesn’t sound like I would want to use the ability for most cases.”



“That statement, is something that relieves me quite a bit.”



“Well, if I may, you mentioned that you would lose your sentience. Can you elaborate on that further? It was brought up several times, but I would prefer to understand this concept in this world’s terms.”



“Right, quite an interesting question you have just raised there. … Hmmm, where to begin.

Well, I suppose I will start with our race then. We of the firebreed are one of the eldest races of this forest, though our numbers are down to only a flat one thousand in number now. Of that number, I would say that of the ones that I am aware of, there are between thirty and fifty sentient ants within the warriors, two within the workers, and then there are fifteen of us within the spiritualist group. Our job is to preserve and pass the knowledge of the Queen ant and all of our race onto the heir of the hive, as well as to learn the knowledge of this world. Knowledge is a great power if you know how to best use it. Those who hold sentience are able to work independently from the main hive cluster. What I mean is that we are able to choose our own tasks. While the Queen ant may request anything of us, we are the only ones capable of acting of our own free will. It holds benefit to allow us to exercise this for the sake of our hive. This world is vast and there is still much of even this mere forest that we do not know of. Resources undiscovered, soil fit for colonization and fortification. For this purpose, our warriors that hold sentience commonly set out and explore the forest to gather vital information. It is filled with great risks, and there are times where even entire parties are wiped out. To be short about a conclusion, those who hold sentience within the Firebreed are a vital source of knowledge and security.”



“I’m sure i’m safe to assume that the humanoid races for the most part hold sentience commonly for the most part. That does, however, put things into a better perspective for me. My thanks, that will be it for the moment.”



***



Ridlis had walked me through several of the winding tunnels of the hive. To be honest, they all seemed relatively the same to me, though I was informed by Ridlis that each room held a special purpose. I can say that I remember almost nothing of what he told me about these rooms since they don’t hold much importance to me at this moment. I do, however, remember where the store room, the food store room, and the recovery room. These three might end up being useful to me later on, so it’s best to remember these at least.



---After a while Are decided to ask Ridlis about something that was on his mind



“Hey Ridlis…”



“Yes, what is it Are?”



“I have another question about something that appeared in a pair of notification window… and…”



“Go ahead Sir Are, I will do my best to inform you to the best of my abilities. Even if you possess another dark ability, I shall not refrain from informing you about it as it was the Queen ant’s very orders that I provide you with all you require.”



“Is that so? Well then, when I had activated I had received three notifications, one urgent and two normal ones. All three had information that was unavailable, though the urgent one was totally unavailable, meaning all of the text was in strange symbols.”



“Oh ho? Now that is interesting indeed. Well for starters, notifications and new skills are only shown and made truly available after accessing your Status window. Urgent notifications are quite rare actually. They only appear to people that are able to make a major choice with their future and their soul will be affected by it. Decisions between the paths of light and darkness. Usually these are visible, I must admit that the fact that your urgent notification was fully blotted out is quite odd. There is the chance that because you have received it so early in your life in this world, you simply lack key information that you would normally receive just by living in the world. But… there is something else that is bothering you isn’t there, please do not hold back on my account.”



---Are had begun walking slower and his head had been lowered, exposing his hesitence to speak.



“Right then, the other thing that came up was that both of my notifications were on this thing called transcendence. The thing is that Ant Queen also mentioned it when she was changing me out from a larva. What is transcendence Ridlis?”



---Ridlis stopped walking and was silent for well over a minute.



“Ridlis…?”



“Eh? Oh… Sorry, that’s quite a broad and difficult topic to discuss Are. To explain that is to explain the full workings of our world and the essence of religion and a major cause of war greater than that of resources. It is our soul and existence. I can tell you of this, but are you sure you want to know? More often than not the information I’m about to tell you corrupts the minds of weaker beings. Forgive my hesitation, if you still wish for this information, I will give it to you.”



---Are only paused for a moment before he continued.



“I am a part of this world and as such I desire all of the knowledge necessary to live in it. This corrupting knowledge you speak of will most likely not cause me any change of heart. What I do is already a fixed fact, I will not be influenced unless it stands as something that will greatly inhibit my ability to survive in this world. Now, please go on Ridlis.”



“By your desire Sir Are, by your desire. Now then, how should I begin…”



---Ridlis pauses for several minutes, at this time both ants are simply standing side by side looking forward.



“Transcendence… Is the ability and power of life itself. In life, there are those with more life or even just greater life than others. It is the tides of destiny, the depths of life that you can experience. The more power of your own soul, the less someone else was born with. It is the law of equal exchange, for one to be born greater, one must be lesser. For each born into this world, there is their Soul partner, the person with the second part of their soul. It is to also say, that for the entire duration of one’s life, you will never meet, nor hear about this person. Your destiny, and perhaps even the world, prevents this occurrence from ever happening…”



---Ridlis pauses again, but only for a few seconds to sigh



“The next part is about the growth of one’s soul… Our world is the ties of exchange, if one were to grow, many must fall, this is one of the few laws of our reality. Once you reach the peak of your own body, of your own soul, transcendence is the ‘Fact’ of this world. Transcendence is rebirth, it is all and everything. One is limited by their birth, there is a limit to how much of your spirit can be bound to your vessel, and as such, you become a greater being when you reach the pinnacle of your species. Less to more, small to great, weak to strong. The price to pay for this is grave indeed. To transcend your current shell, you must walk the path of a reaper, to scale the mountains of death itself and leave entire nations in ruin. That is the price of transcendence…”



---After saying this, Ridlis hesitates



“Go on Ridlis…”



“Yes… To transcend… One requires a great soul affinity. This is gained through the conquest of other life’s very soul. To live is to be, to be is to exist, to exist is to have a soul. One’s soul is energy, it is their fact, their existence, their fate, their power, their fact. To gain soul affinity… One must deny another of their soul… To steal the energy of this world granted to that being and grow past their destined place in this world. To do so goes against the very nature of life. It is a great evil, but it is also part of life. To take, to grow, to kill, to steal, to want, to lust, to desire to be more. It is life itself to have these desires, yet it is to have these desires, that goes against fate. Fate is the want of our world, and to want ourselves, we deny our world it’s only desire. This desire is peace. Something that life can never obtain, no matter what is ever done, no matter who takes power, eventually, life will return to it’s natural state, to reject the desire of the world. Transcendence… Is our world’s acceptance of our very nature, it grants our desire for power, for better lives. The world cares of all life, it is our creator, and our sustainer. While we will forever harm our everything, it will continue to care for us, and sustain our life, our desires. So long as we fulfill ourselves, it will never find us lacking. We will never be forsaken…”

---Ridlis lets out a “Hmmm” and ponders for a moment, it is not hesitation, only wonder



“There are three principles granted to life from our world. The first, is a blind transcendence, it is to cast your soul to the sake of the world, and to be granted what is desired by our world unto you. You can never know what this fate is, it shall always match your soul’s affinity, but there is no decision as to what you become next. To understand the flow of our world’s desire is to understand the laws of the universe itself, it is something that cannot be done. There is the second path, open to very few who comprehend the laws of transcendence. They can choose their own path by using their bodies affinity as a guide. To use this path of transcendence is to take on enough of the soul energy from a specific species, and to during transcendence, use the majority of the soul there to break from the guidance of the world and to flow into a new path. It is to force your will over the world, and to rebirth your body from that of your own choosing. Now, I suppose I should tell of the cost of transcendence…”



“Cost?”



“Indeed, the world may have given us the freedom to change our fate and our beings to something greater than the world’s intention, but to hold such power is to disrupt the flow of the world. It is such that our world established the very law of exchange. To transcend, you use all of the soul affinity that you have accumulated, and set it all ablaze. You cast your soul to oblivion. The second path allows you to point yourself at a specific path, but the result is the same. You are choosing to be reborn, there is no guarantee that you will retain everything of yourself. There is even the chance you are fully lost if you chose the second path. Our world is not a kind existence, it is not just. It seeks balance and peace. When an individual of great evil that seeks to disrupt the flow of the world arises and undergoes their transcendence. If they do not choose the second path, they will be cast out by the world. Their soul split and divided amongst a thousand hosts, dispelling everything you are and destroying you forever. The second path still holds such risks, but by breaking from the guidance of the world, you secure that you are not destroyed…”



---Ridlis suddenly becomes troubled, he looks to be in deep thought



“Right… There is the third option… But I cannot be sure what it is really. All I know are the basic concepts of the third path. I have been passed this knowledge from my predecessor, who in turn also could not understand anything of it. it goes… ‘When two become one, and one become two, in times of toil, be made anew’ “



[Beep]

Hmm…? did I just hear something… Later…



“Well… In any case, the point is that in order to transcend, you cast off a great portion of your soul as ‘fuel’ for the process. This cost you pay is recast into the guidance of the world and becomes new life. As such the cycle continues without disrupting the flow of power in this world. To become strong, weakness is born. When strong pass, new strong is born. It is the flow of this that maintains the balance of this peaceless world of ours… Oh yes, that’s right. There are special beings that have been born that are able to instantly transcend multiple levels at the beginning of their birth. These are those that the world tried to break apart, but ended up passing through it’s control and being born with far too much affinity for it’s body. These beings either die instantly, or undergo transcendence very early in their life. During this, it is possible for them to skip several levels of transcendence. I believe this knowledge is passed from the existence that was the Primarch of the Tree ant species. Of course, this sequence will burn through the entirety of the excess affinity within the body. It is impossible for whatever the soul had been, to return to the same level of what it once was…”



---A moment passes, then the silence is breached by Ridlis



“Well Are, if I may take the initiative, I believe you had been quite curious about the state of conflict within this world…”



“Eh? Ah… yes, I will admit as much. Whatever information you possess, I will accept it and use it to my utmost Ridlis.”



“Very well then.”



---Ridlis begins walking again with Are following suit



“This world, as I have said previously, is always in conflict. There are places of peace, places of prosperity. These places often find themselves under siege from those with less, those at war, those who fight. In the past during our ignorant times, before our realization of transcendence, wars were fought over resources. Territory was used for reproduction and securing the central point for our Queen ant. We do not hold much information about the greater species, such as the humanoids and beyond that point. All we know is that during the second Matriarch’s time, the existence of soul affinity and transcendence was revealed to all life. It was as if we all just suddenly remembered. At least, that is what the information passed to me had detailed, I cannot be sure myself. That was many years in the past, something none of us could hope to live through. Now, now wars are fought over the energy of the soul. Warriors take to the battlefield to defeat opponents, grow stronger, and hope they are one of the few that will reach the point required to transcend their life to something better. When one suffers, they almost always begin to walk the path, their goal for transcendence, to escape their destiny placed upon them by the world. The leaders of each of the species of this forest each hold the soul affinity, or soul energy of hundreds. The difference to many is the fact that they pass the entirety of their soul to a successor when they near their end. This is the ability each of them holds known as [Sacrifice]. The reason it is called this, is because they produce an empty vessel, and instead of it just being flesh, they pass their entire life force into the husk. It is almost like a reincarnation, though they are a different person. They hold many of the past life’s memories, but can only look at it as if it was a story told unto them. They are not who they were. As time goes on, however, the power of these leaders increases. As their servants pass on partials of their power unto the leader, over generations, these leaders can become very wise and very powerful. Though as of yet, not a single leader holds the soul affinity to transcend. When I inquired to Ant Queen about this, she said that she required something ‘more’ before that process could occur.”



---Once more, Ridlis stops walking and pauses




Jeze, how many times is this little… scholar going to pause. I don’t care about sentiments, just tell me the information and cry about it later…



“Can I pass on some information to you Sir Are?”



“... What is it that you want to say.”



“The Firebreed is in danger of extinction. We are of the first races of this forest, our line goes back to when this forest was only a dozen trees and a few plants. It was our home before all others. Over time, the other species began to take root here. At first we allowed them here. Then after a time, they began to take hostility to us, and engage in conflict. While they were stronger species, we had vast numbers over them. This cycle continued for some time. It was around the time of the third matriarch that the Tree ant race was born. The conflict between us and them initiated the decline of our race. They took a majority of our territory, raiding our forces from above. They are dominant against us in all ways other than number. It has been a great deal of time, but over the generations, we, the Firebreed, have been pushed back to our last bastion. We have no further outposts, nothing at all. Our origin, our starting place, the central hive itself, now receives raids. Within the year, we may no longer exist. If there is anything you want to do, there is probably nothing we can do to resist you. You should be able to do just about whatever you wish with the remaining forces. Before, the Tree ant patriarch indoctrinated a few hundred of our central hive and left. He then mated with the several females from the nursery and established his breed. It would only be a day or so before you discovered this, so there is no point in hiding it. The fact you also said you intended to aid the Firebreed also builds my confidence in sharing this information. What are your plans Sir Are?”



---In this instant, Are froze in place, a thousand things flowed into his head at once due to this question.




Wha…. what…? What is this? I… I need to concentrate… My mind is scattering due to all of this information pouring down at once… I… What am I really? What is this world… Ahh, my head. No… No more… What is life… What even is death… It’s… so much different than my own world… Why… why is this happening… why am I in this world… Why can I still think… I DIED… there shouldn’t be a reason that i’m living here at all… WHY AM I AN ANT… this world… fighting.. reality… No, must think… but what is reality… resources… not important… why not… not important… tools… but for what… why are they important… only the soul should be… thats reality… but what is reality… it shouldn’t… be anything at all… but what is it… why… who… WHAT AM I… my head… I can’t even THINK… why… is this happening… these aren’t my thoughts… who else is I… there must be another… who… must concentrate… must… no circle of life… power… through the generations… power is the only factor of certainty… focus on it… must not be lost to the hailstorm… slow the cycle… close the gaps… erase this other existence within my mind… thats… it… slower… slower… this is merely a concept I must accept… this must be what Ridlis mentioned… It is a fact of this reality that one may not comprehend the flow of this world. All I must know is that everything is important. I cannot be side tracked by being led by the nose with this new factor of the soul. Manage the resources, build forces, slowly expand while management of more powerful groups. This is the concept that I developed with my own mind, in my own world. Life is not that different, only the reality of the world is different. I must not get confused here, to lose my concentration is the same as death. I think a partial of what just happened is that my mind unlocked it’s limitations to expand across the gap of the question. What is life… Dangerous topic I guess. I’ll avoid getting too deep into philosophy from now on with this place. I’m just going to keep on carrying on.



---In reality, it was in this moment that Are’s mind had attempted to understand the reality of this world, that the world itself lashed out against Are. He is a fact of existence that should not exist, and it is this entity that is known to life as the world, that sought to end Are then and there. If it wasn’t for Are’s control over his mind, meaning if he was not any less than himself, his mind would have been shattered.



Life will always continue through sacrifice. The fact that all deities desire death and destruction is a fact. I don’t care what this ‘life’ of this reality believes, the fact that all greater powers desire their ‘children’ to fight themselves is a given. No person with great power wants others to climb to his perch. Those below you will always climb their way up to you, but if you include those that will pull others down to climb, then no one will ever reach your highest of perches. Even then, those deities can climb higher, but if they do, then other life will follow them. It is for this reason that prevents these ‘gods’ from becoming more powerful. They are prevented from growing in power because of life, and life is that which they draw their power from. Such a humorous design of existence, i’d love to just throw a hammer into it. To watch everything fall apart and watch what happens after the cycle of rinse repeat is lost.

Hmph. To conquer is a boring task, that much I have learned from standing at the pinnacle. There is no meaning to life that stands above all else, there is no enjoyment. If you cannot look foward, but only back at those trying to follow, you become blind to your own world. To serve, however, is to look both ways. It is to always look forward, as well as looking back. To keep the distance between both close enough you can reach out your hand, and push those in front, and pull those behind with you. There is nothing in life that holds such satisfaction. Perhaps, this is something that only those deities can understand, now only when they can no longer go back.

To climb too high, only to realize you can no longer go back down.

I think i’ll avoid making such a mistake. If i’m going to climb, i’m bringing others with me. No… Let’s bring the whole party with me, that will leave plenty of interesting things for me to experience in this life. I’ve gotten a second life, regardless if it’s real or not, i’m going to enjoy it until this ends.



If I can live longer, that doesn’t matter. If I can keep this party of mine living for a long time, that’s something worth fighting for. To go alone means to one day find yourself in the void that is life.

Perhaps one day I will lead these friends and brothers in arms of mine into what life can never achieve…

Peace.




If one goes alone, perhaps they will one day find themselves as one of these beings that I know as deities. Perhaps if I had been left alone in my own world, that might have been where I ended up. Those with power, those who can think beyond what others can, they often find themselves worshiped by those below them. If I were to go alone again, I doubt I’d have a choice in the matter. Sounds boring, I think i’ll pass on that.

In the past, my version of humanity was one filled with all manners of corruption and greed. Vices always outweigh virtues in this regard. War is just a thing that life does, it’s not a matter of what species or what world, it’s in the very nature of life. Oh right… I almost forgot…



“Status”



[Blip]



---Are looks at what appears and pauses for a moment




“Hmmm… So that’s it hmm?”



“What was that Sir Are?”



“Hmm? Oh nothing Ridlis. As for your question, well… I suppose i’ll just wing it from here and see what happens!”



---The two make their way back to the Royal chambers



[Ant Tensei - Chapter 4 End]

AT Chapter 5

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