Chapter 458 Mutated Queen Bug
Greem was silently examining a black sphere inside the stone tower.
It was the strange object that Mary had left behind along with her note, and Greem hadn't been able to figure out what it was after half a day.
[Beep. Deep scanning process completed. Report being produced….]
After a moment, a stream of data surged into Greem's mind. The black sphere's internal structure displayed in front of him. Greem couldn't help but shout when he saw the familiar cross-section diagram of the biological structure, "The Carrion Beetle Queen!"
This black sphere wasn't an item; it was a living being. Moreover, it was a strange creature that had left a deep impression on Greem– the Carrion Queen Bug!
Acteon's original talent and potential were extremely ordinary. There was no way he would have advanced to adept. However, his luck was reasonably decent. He had succeeded in assimilating a Carrion Queen Bug when he was still an apprentice. It was this unexpected yield that allowed Acteon to break through the limits of his talent and successfully overcome the threshold of becoming an adept.
In all honesty, Acteon was a top-tier adept even among other First Grade adepts.
Even veteran adepts would have had to run away from him if he had managed to raise an army of carcass beetles. After all, not every adept could raise a thousand-man army like Mary. Not every adept could use that army to wear down his beetles, and not every adept could bypass the swarm of bugs to strike at him.
Sometimes, there was no solution against an army of carcass beetles paired together with Acteon's immortal body of bugs!
However, now that the Carrion Queen Bug had landed in Greem's hands, it wasn't hard to imagine what had happened to Evil Bugs. To think that Mary had killed Acteon on her own in the Knight's Plane without any support from himself. Just the thought of how difficult and dangerous that had been sent shivers down Greem's spine.
Now that Mary had left the Queen Bug in his possession, she was hinting that Greem could do as he liked with it.
Just as Greem stared at the black sphere and started releasing a murderous intent, the black sphere moved and slowly opened up.
It wasn't actually a black sphere. It was the Queen Bug curling it's body into a ball. The exposed black layer was only the Queen Bug's tough shell!
Perhaps because it sensed Greem's murderous intent, or maybe it knew it could no longer hide, the Queen Bug had opened up on its own. It once again turned into a black beetle.
It was a peculiar lifeform with a thick black shell. It had a pair of large rainbow-colored eyes on its head. Multiple, smaller compound eyes surrounded those two eyes. A lotus-like mouthpart was at the front of its head, and one could see the pair of knife-shaped jaws on the front.
A dark black shell that gleamed with a particular brilliance was at the beetle's back. The chip's scans indicated that the shell was as tough as magical alloy. This kind of toughness was enough to endure a full-strength blow from a berserk swordsman. In fact, the swordsman wouldn't even be able to leave a scratch. Only blunt weapons could cause enough impact damage to the soft organs under the shell.
Even though the beetle had multiple blade-like limbs on each side, it's tiny size probably made it hard for it to defend itself.
While Greem silently assessed this strange Queen Bug, it raised its head and let out a sharp screech at Greem.
[Beep. Detecting foreign lifeform requesting mental connection. Requesting instructions from host. Connect?]
Greem's mind filled with innumerable noisy and foreign bug screeches.
The tone and pitch of the screeches slowly morphed and adjusted until a clear stream of consciousness finally made soft contact with Greem's mind. A set of slightly incomprehensible mental projections were transmitted.
The Queen Bug wasn't human. Consequently, the way she thought and communicated was remarkably different from how a human would. Still, both parties were able to communicate via the use of keywords.
"You want to obtain my protection by exchanging contracts?" Greem could only guess at the Queen Bug's meaning through the Chip's 'translation' of specific keywords.
The Queen Bug nodded.
"It's unfortunate. I really care about my human bloodline. I won't try and assimilate some strange foreign bloodline." A sense of disgust rose in Greem's heart when he recalled Acteon's ugly appearance.
The Queen Bug's lotus-like mouthpart started moving even more rapidly as if Greem's nonchalant attitude had terrified her. Her screeching voice was complete pollution of noise. Although the Queen Bug continued to screech without stop, Greem only heard three words through the Chip. Understand. Powerful. Obey.
"I only keep servants useful to me. Ones like you…" Greem tapped the table lightly, looking at the Queen Bug in dissatisfaction.
Adolescent carcass beetles or carrion beetles were adept-level magical creatures that lived in groups. Their shells were sturdy and durable. More importantly, they were capable of flight. With some slight modifications, they would be decent magical servants. However, their greatest weakness was their slow flight speed, along with their severe lack of long-ranged attacks.
That caused them and their large numbers to be useless in a fight. It was easy for an awkward situation to arise, where the enemies couldn't beat them, but they also couldn't catch up to the enemy.
The Queen Bug started shrieking even more frantically, like she was desperate to sell herself.
Greem listened carefully for a while. He then closed his eyes and contemplated. Finally, he spoke.
"I don't desire the kind of inferior immortal body of bugs that Acteon had. That is why I will never consider assimilating with you. However, I can refer you to a few other candidates. If you can assimilate with one of my subordinates, then I can allow you to continue living. Otherwise, I would have to wipe away the last marks left behind by Acteon on this world."
The Queen Bug screeched and wailed for a long time before ultimately lowering her head in helplessness.
"Since you've agreed, you should open up the defenses of your soul. I'll leave a soul contract with you." Greem struck while the iron was hot and tried to settle this potential aide in the shortest time possible.
The Queen Bug might have been an intelligent lifeform, but she had no choice but to do as commanded in this situation. She cowered on the table and slowly opened up the defenses of her soul.
Under the Chip's control, Greem's Spirit pierced into the core of the Queen Bug's consciousness like a hot needle. Greem's soul brand was left in there.
In doing so, the Queen Bug could be considered one of Greem's magical servants. It didn't matter who it would assimilate with in the future. This soul brand would always remain and would be a necessary method for Greem to control her life and death.
The Chip took the opportunity to scan the Queen Bug's mental consciousness and the form of her soul. Soon, the Queen Bug's attributes projected into Greem's mind.
Queen Bug. Assimilation-type mutated magical creature.
Does not possess offensive abilities on its own, but can provide the host with the unique ability of hatching combat bugs. Host's talents will decide traits of hatched beetles. However, the primary form of the bugs will always remain as beetles.
Bodily attributes: Strength 1 | Agility 1 | Physique 3 | Spirit 2
Hatched combat bug count: Determined by Spirit. Every point of Spirit allows control of twenty combat bugs. The current limit is forty bugs.
Hatched combat bug speed: When provided sufficient flesh and blood as nutrition, five larvae can be hatched each day with a growth cycle of twelve days.
Greem slowly went over the Queen Bug's traits and silently estimated its combat ability.
The Queen Bug herself couldn't fight at all. She had to rely on the hatched combat bugs to protect herself. With the speed at which she could hatch bugs, Greem could obtain five adept-level beetles daily after twelve days. Of course, this required feeding the beetles sufficient blood and flesh. The stronger the creature the meat came from, the better the effect. These bugs could be used as consumable and disposable soldiers, constantly thrown into the battlefield as cannon fodder.
From a particular perspective, the Queen Bug could be a moving, living biological den of beetles if she were utilized correctly. She could perpetually churn out soldiers for Greem's faction.
However, the Queen Bug couldn't do this by herself. She only gained this fantastic ability once she had assimilated with another being. That was why choosing a proper host became an important factor after the Queen Bug submitted.
Greem's scan confirmed that the Queen Bug still retained adept-level abilities, despite being severely wounded by Acteon's death. That meant that any apprentice adept would be able to become the new 'Evil Bugs' in a very short time, as long as they were properly trained!
Moreover, the existence of the soul brand in the Queen Bug's soul meant that Greem had a certain degree of control over the new Evil Bugs.
Thus, Greem decided to share the tower's control authority with the Queen Bug and allow it to make contact with all the apprentices in the tower stealthily. The Queen Bug could then make a list of individuals who could assimilate with her.
Greem had expected every single apprentice to be included in the list. However, he was surprised when he saw the list provided by the Queen Bug.
Weren't these too few names?!
It was important to note that two dozen apprentice adepts were staying in the tower at the moment, including pseudo-adepts like Sabrina and Morse. However, there were just three names on the list provided by the Queen Bug. In fact, there wasn't a single pseudo-adept among them. None of Greem's four disciples were included in the list either.
Greem only recognized one of the three names.
Beginner Apprentice Billis!
Greem couldn't understand this result. It wasn't until after he communicated with the Queen Bug that he finally got it.
It seemed the Queen Bug didn't choose her host based on power. Instead, she decided based on their talent.
The Queen Bug was a dark-attribute magical creature. Thus, she especially favored lifeforms with similar talents. Billis might be the weakest, but his innate affinity was extremely compatible with the Queen Bug.
In fact, his soul compatibility with the Queen Bug was far superior to that of the previous Evil Bugs, Acteon!
Greem repeated this name as he narrowed his eyes.
It was worth trying!