My mind snapped back into reality.
The earthworm passed right by me.
Something is being crushed!
I don’t want to see it.
But I saw.
My children, they are being devoured by it.
With a squashing sound, the earthworm ate them.
Something welled up inside of my heart.
But I desperately repressed it.
I have to give them instructions.
『Second unit, help the injured first unit! Third unit onward, keep your distance and shower it with your acid juice! 』
The ants did as what I say.
But it’s too late.
The earthworm spins and repels the acid juice.
Eating them one after another.
Slow. Why are they so slow!?
No, that’s not it.
They already went all-out.
It’s the earthworm that is too fast.
This is the difference between the lower-class and intermediate-class.
I was appalled by the gap in power.
No matter how much power I received from Jiryuu-sama, our basic specs are totally different.
Even if the dungeon was finished on time…
Even if I had more power…
Will it make any difference at all?
It’s useless, so I have thought.
More of them are being eaten.
The children that were only recently born.
They got eaten by it.
Oh, I see.
Now I understand.
The thing that wells up inside my heart.
It is “fear”.
I can feel it again.
My first battlefield, my first fight.
That’s not it. This is not a fight.
For the earthworm, it is but a one-sided slaughter.
It’s just hunting.
I now realize the difference between us.
It’s not the same as when I encounter Jiryuu-sama, Accurate Crow, and White Wyvern.
At that time, even though I should feel fear due to a significant difference in power, I didn’t feel afraid.
However, the earthworm is different.
Intermediate-class. A single class higher.
A slight difference.
Hence, the kind of difference I could understand well.
I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared…
I can hear my own footsteps.
When I notice it, I had unconsciously fallen back.
I hear a voice. My voice.
—–Are you going to run away again?
—–Just to live without being needed by anyone?
—–Or do you prefer to die?
『 No! 』
I……. I swore.
For him! I promise to live for Jiryuu-sama sake!
He saved me! He depends on me! He needs me!
I need to repay him!
Yes, I won’t.
『 I won’t run away anymore! 』
Escape, and I will die! Hesitate, and I will die!
That’s why I can only move forward!
Get rid of that fear!
Throw it away!
Just watch the children being eaten, stop being a coward!
Throw away the fear!
Don’t throw away the trust!
I ran towards the earthworm disregarding the consequences.
Fangs and claws, I pour everything on the earthworm.
It twisted its body to dodge.
But I still manage to land the hit.
Hit, dodge, hit, dodge.
But it dodged.
The earthworm’s mouth distorted.
As if to ridicule me.
—–What’s wrong, that’s all you got?
Suddenly, it disappears from my sight.
Then, on the right side.
I could see the full view of the earthworm’s mouth.
It quickly went around to my right.
It’s as if the earthworm is telling me so.
I knew it was going to dodge.
I’ve been waiting for this!
While pretending to attack, I will bite you!
The earthworm’s teeth sunk into me.
It hurts, but my body is different from other ants.
Thanks to the power I received from Jiryuu-sama, my exoskeleton is a little bit more —TOUGH!
The exoskeleton screeches. It’s cracking.
But I persist. I shall endure.
『Gah……. GaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!! 』
I did the same in turn. I bit the earthworm’s flank.
The earthworm screams.
Indeed, it never thought I would bite back.
I put more power into it.
However, it’s a little— dull.
Ptooey, I spit out the flesh contained in my mouth.
Then, using everything I have, I fire the acid juice onto the exposed flesh.
It didn’t cover the whole thing.
It’s an acid juice spear concentrated at one point.
A concentrated firing of super-high pressure acid juice.
I came up with it when Jiryuu-sama gave me a magic stone.
It was at that time when he fakes a breath, causing the ceiling to shake and drop the magic stone.
In other words, “compressing” the magic before releasing it.
Shrink and condense the attack.
I wondered if it’s possible to do the same with Killer Ant’s range attack, 『Acid Juice』.
And by squeezing the muzzle to the extreme, the hydraulic pressure increased. Thus, I succeeded in obtaining the penetration power of a spear.
However, it has a low hit rate, and above all, it consumes a considerable amount of magic.
Naturally, it’s not a skill that can be put to practical use.
Still, the spear of acid juice managed to penetrate through the body of the earthworm.
The earthworm’s bite weakened.
I twisted my body to escape from its mouth.
It seems to be in pain as it wildly flails its body.
If possible, I want to penetrate its monster core, but unfortunately, I can’t.
But it’s still a success!
Biting into it, I bite off its flesh.
However, it bit me back!
A part of my mandible breaks. It has been completely blown away.
The legs were bent and broken with the antennae crooked too.
But, so what!
『Don’t miss this opportunity! Together at once! Bite the earthworm to death! 』
I command the soldier ants to attack.
The ants immediately rushed toward the earthworm.
With the earthworm being wounded, there’s no escaping from the large army.
My body is battered and bruised.
But for the first time, we manage to beat the intruder.
Everyone ate earthworm meat.
Since a lot was injured, it’s necessary to secure foods with a lot of magic even if it’s only a little.
I want to sleep. That was tough. It hurts.
After commanding the soldiers, I collapsed.
Body fluids gushed out from the damaged parts.
Crap, I might die at this rate.
Even if I won, it has all came to naught.
I thought I could be useful to Jiryuu-sama….
Suddenly by chance, my eyes caught something peculiar.
It was Jiryuu-sama molted skin.
I dragged my body closer to it.
Just as I expected.
For someone like me who is Jiryuu-sama’s subordinate, I can absorb a little of magic emitted from this skin.
Ah, I can feel Jiryuu-sama warmth….
Warm and gentle magic permeates into me.
Still, even so……. This is not enough.
The magic necessary for recovery is not enough.
Slowly, my consciousness is…. dark…. sinking….
『—-Wah! What’s going on here?! Why are ants increasing so much?! 』
…….A voice …….I can ……hear it.
『Why don’t you come here for a moment?! Wait, where’s Ann? 』
…..Jiryuu-sama, is that you?
Ann……… Ann is……… I am…… right here……
『Hmm? What is this? This girl. Is she sleeping while wearing my molted skin? You- WAAHH! OhMyGosh! The ants are swarming at my feet! 』
Not long after that, I heard something being thrown.
THUD, they fall on my head.
Are these….. magic stones?
Crunch Om Nom Nom Munch…. Gulp
My body is speedily recovering.
There’s no doubt. These magic stones are similar to the magic stone I received when I first met Jiryuu-sama.
Super-high purity. A special-grade magic stone that can heal even from the brink of death.
With my broken jaw, I desperately chew it.
My body is healed.
My desire is fulfilled.
As I thought, you are the only one I can serve.
I love you, Jiryuu-sama.
This Ann will always be together with you.
No matter what kind of enemy or hindrance it may be, Ann will defend you.
I will protect you.
So, Jiryuu-sama, please let me stay beside you.
Forever and ever.