T'was a simple mission: ambush some beastmen. Mole planted and stations manned, nothing else to do but wait. The trap was set in the shambles of some forgotten city, dead for decades it seemed. Despite the absence of people, the town seemed void of the plant life of the region. Perhaps some calamity befell this poor town, poisoning its soil and warding away all but the most primitive of life.
Hiding behind a ruined and grimy stone wall, I tried to keep my mind sharp. I went over the plan a dozen times in my head, making sure to include all 5 of the contingency plans. Unfortunately, a plan that consists of "Spring, Surround, Extort, Arrest" doesn't take long to go though. Especially when the contingency plans are all the same, "Knock heads." Realizing that for all my "preparation" only half an hour had passed, I kicked myself for not bringing a bit of chock. If only I had a bit of chock I could use my new stone pillow to draw the area and make a diagram of the plan. Surely that would have taken up at least another 10 minutes.
It wasn't long after that, I resorted to singing old drinking songs in my head. At which time I realized that "O, that maiden in her grave" is a fine drinking song, but is rather gruesome sober. My train of thought completely derailed, I found it hard to focus. I resigned myself to watching the comings and goings of the insects around me to help the hours pass. Ant drones roamed here and there looking for the bounty of the night. A crumb of bread or discarded flesh from some animal kill would cause a sensation for their tiny kingdom. "Feasting for all!" Their queen would announce and a great march would emerge from their mound to claim the prize.
I thought over what this might mean for me if their treasure was found near my cold but otherwise comfortable slab. "Well," I thought, "at least there would be something to entertain me, all those legs dancing about would make for an energetic but quiet show." I considered dropping them a bit of jerky from my pocket. Which got me thinking on how jerky is a wonderful stakeout food. Keeps for ever and if you portion it right, a slice will keep your energy up for hours. "Not to mention its delicious!" piped up my stomach, who until now had been patiently waiting for a midnight snack. Only problem was midnight was an hour past.
I dug beneath my breastplate and pulled a cord. Out the bottom slipped a folded cloth. I glanced around just to be sure I hadn't made any noise to be detected. Safe, I decided. I unwrapped the dried meat and gripped it in my mouth. I gnawed on that same corner for what must have been 5 minutes before it finally came loose from the rest, the sign of superb jerky. The smokey flavor filled my mouth with the bite of pine and pepper. An odd combination, to be sure, but these back water towns must make due with what they have.
My stomach calmed and my mind suddenly refocused by the sharp sting of pepper in my nose, I reconsidered the ant drones around me. Turns out they didn't need me at all. One was dragging back a small seed... a glowing seed. A faint glow, but a glow for sure. "What trove of wonders do these simple creature posses?" I whispered to my-self and possibly to the ant as well. It was then I noticed that the seed had been twice the ant's size but a moment before, but now was only half the size of the drone. "Why would the seed be shrinking?" I pondered. A speck darted by and caught my eye. This speck was another drone, and a realization dawned upon me. It wasn't that the seed was shrinking; the ant was growing!
I was wonder-struck and terrified as my mind played out the events after this drone took this seed into its lair. My imagination conjured up images in quick succession. First of the queen, so benevolent and just, offering the seed to her champions, Then of those champions becoming too greedy and growing to a size well beyond the confines of the colony. Those over sized warriors of the dirt bursting out of the ground. And finally a most horrific image, one of the void-spawn insects, smelling the jerky, piling on top of me biting at my clothes for the delicious meal that would feed their kind for weeks!
My path was clear. I knew what must be done. For the good of the world, and all the races of Eorzea! I broke silence, drew my dagger, and with the hilt crushed the ant's head. Its body squirmed, and its brain juice dirtied my glove... Yet I sat still for a moment; for in that instant I knew I had won a great victory. I had saved the world from a sinister evil yet to be.
When Ifrit Fell: An Ant's Tale
by Grimm Stronghammer on Jul 26, 2013 at 12:28 AM}