A Solitary God In A Dark Multiverse Chapter 93: Eyes & Ears
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Even minutes after joining the strange hive-mind that was the swarm the insects in it displayed a terrifying efficiency. The orders the insects received were not argued against or questioned, nor did they stir resentment or fear. Instead the orders were obeyed.
In Puerto Rico about a tenth of the ant population began to trek towards Iredale. The tenth of the Althonians who began to creep towards their new home did so silently. They trudged through the underground labyrinth of ant tunnels that led them to Libertad, and then out of the hole that allowed the ants to explore the town. And when the ants reached the ocean they dove into it.
The residents of Libertad watched this, curiously. The stream of insects were polite and non-aggressive even when they bumped into someone in Libertad or when a child began to cry at the sight of them. They walked in a single-file line and their formation was perfect and uninterrupted.
The ants that dove into the ocean immediately began to benefit from the powers of "Aquatic freedom", the ability their god possessed that let them breathe underwater and move freely even while submerged. The ants used it to begin a trek through the ocean-floor.
They walked past the Althonian temple their god had created for himself, and then into the open-ocean and were left alone. This was because their god charted a path for them that led them through uninhabited parts of the sea, and even the few animals that did try to attack them were prevented from doing so by Althos' intervention.
Ocean currents carried them across the sea at an incredible pace, contributing to their ability to cross the several hundred-kilometer distance that separated Puerto Rico and Iredale smoothly and over the course of a few hours.
On the other side of the sea, Althonian insects were hard at work building their first communities. Kilometers of shoreline and adjacent regions were taken over in an instant by the alien-dominated swarm. Ants, wasps, and bees weren't supposed to work together but since they did and they shared a consciousness they were terrifyingly good at it.
Althos played an active part in this early and aggressive success. He did so by issuing odd commands to some of the insects under his control.
To the ants, he ordered that they spray their stores of acid onto the floor at their feet. His ants obeyed him, not mindlessly but in full-faith that their god knew what he was doing. He didn't disappoint. When the ants sprayed their acid, Althos animated and awoke the puddles of the stuff, transforming them into oozes that immediately began to serve the ants who made them.
He ordered his massive wasps to conduct patrols. Perhaps the most direct thing he himself did was build nests for the creatures under his command, especially the wasps. He reached out with his mind and quietly terraformed areas suitable for his massive worshipers, rending the ground at their feet and creating tunnel complexes in an instant that were suitable for creatures of their size.
He was gentlest with the bees. There was no particular reason for this, he just was. Perhaps it was some sense of unconscious kinship he felt with them that he didn't feel with the others. After all, the bees were the ones with the most human-like transformation.
The bees had become Thriae. Thriae looked highly human but possessed multiple pairs of arms, two sets of eyes, one human and one compound, had insectile wings and possessed the enlarged abdomen and intimidating stingers bees were known for.
I felt a sense of gratitude towards my insectoid minions. They were efficient creatures, who took my orders without complaint and because of that I knew that I could leave Iredale's coast to them.
I knew that these creatures were efficient beings because of my interactions with the original members of the swarm, the ants who'd become myrmekes and would inhabit portions of Puerto Rico's subterranean region. They had worked hard, despite me not giving them any orders, and billions of them still kept portions of the underground safe, areas including my tower and the settlement I had built next to my tower.
I spent an hour working with the insects to get them prepared for colonizing the coast of Iredale. While doing so I began to devise ideas for how to best use their abilities. I intended for the Thriae to become the diplomats of the swarm, insofar as the swarm needed or used diplomats.
The Thriae looked human. I could use that to my advantage and I intended to do so. The wasps were just massive and thus terrifying-looking wasps, and the myrmekes could be compared to centaurs but with an ant's lower-half instead of a horse's. I could use the ants and the wasps to achieve other ends, while using the Thriae to establish communications with other species when possible.
For now my plans with the Iredale colonies were to let them develop naturally. I wasn't hugely focused on Iredale just yet. And I knew that wouldn't change anytime in the nearish future.
That said, I was grateful for all of the practice commanding large swarms of creatures. I figured, since I had already started commanding large swathes of creatures, I might as well keep that up.
I reopened my not-so-mini-map and began to fiddle with the filters. After a few moments, I had selected an entirely new group of creatures that I suspected would be incredibly useful in their own ways: vermin and parasites.
I had come to life possessing the first tier of influence over a nebulous subdomain: the subdomain of vermin. At the time it was regarded as an ominous power. And I hadn't ever really used it to date. That said, it was upgraded as thoroughly as my other powers were.
Over the course of my life, I had earned two overall boosts to my power. The first one was when I finished the tutorial and the second one was when I rescued the enslaved creatures. In both cases, I had received boosts to my powers over vermin and parasites.
At the time I hadn't made use of those powers. I chuckled as I mentally reviewed those powers and found that many of them were very similar to the Hymenoptera powers. They included domination, awakening, and even forced-evolution powers, as well as a number of offensive powers.
One of the more intriguing passive powers did cause those bitten by parasites to fall under my influence, which was incredibly neat. Another empowered my parasites to learn a bit about those they bit or otherwise infested. That, coupled with my ability to awaken them, gave me an amazing tool: spies. And something that I could tell I would use in the future was a synergistic ability that let me target humanoids and force them to take on the shapes of parasites and vermin.
The active powers were a bit more interesting as those included a number of offensive and mind-related abilities. One of them included transforming those bitten by parasites into the form of parasite they got bitten by, and another was a powerful sound-based attack that caused parasites to focus on a specific target.
That said, my not-so-mini-map revealed something fascinating to me that I hadn't known ahead of time. The majority of the parasites and vermin I could detect, especially in Puerto Rico, were located in the city. Which was something that immediately made me feel stupid for not utilizing these powers earlier.
After pondering my silliness for a few moments, I entered the minds of the simplistic parasites and vermin that could be found throughout Puerto Rico, in the ocean, and along the coast of Iredale. This act permanently transformed these creatures and granted me eyes and ears in places I hadn't had them before.
Though parasites and vermin could naturally be found all over Puerto Rico, they were concentrated in one particular area: the city of San Gerardo. The city was a sprawling mess populated by tens of thousands of humans and their closest relatives.
Rats, cockroaches, hookworms, ticks, and more could be found in abundance throughout the city. And because of this, the number of eyes and ears Althos gained were immeasurable. He chuckled, underwater, as he gained these eyes and ears and all of the knowledge that came with them.
Althos quickly and quietly explored how he could evolve these creatures, and whether or not it was worth it. He skimmed over information alerting him to creatures like the Colo-Colo, a surprisingly handy evolution of rats that could eat energy and leave people lethargic, to cockroach humanoids who tended to become rogues, assassins, and stealthy classes, and was delighted.
This both further annoyed the god, who felt as though he ought to have been more fully and creatively using his powers, and also excited him. The god fell into an introspective state of mind while silently assessing which of the awakened animals he would transform. And he began to scheme.
"I should transform... Maybe a quarter of the mice, and a twentieth of the cockroaches. It's a shame none of the others here have any particularly interesting abilities though." I admitted, after a few moments of introspection.
"That said, if I am strategic and use the Colo-Colos to their maximum potential I could make either capturing the city or fomenting the right types of wicked cults there an easy task." I muttered. I was now alone in my undersea temple and free to scheme.
My mind was flooded with new messages, many of them newly awakened creatures thanking me for entering their minds, and others quiet prayers to my eerie and unholy glory. The part of me that was tasked with gathering information was amused by the awareness the parasites seemed to possess of themselves or of me. They either knew they were disliked, or they knew me as a dark god.
When I tore myself away from the messages, I refocused. My worshippers were swelling, but I wanted to be worshiped by more than just insects and animals. And I wanted to build renown in more than certain sections of underground cities, or in small settlements I myself made.
The truth was that I wanted to become known throughout the world. I always had. I was ambitious and it fueled my actions in various ways. But for now that ambition allowed me to carefully and clearly focus on my next target: the city of San Gerardo.
San Gerardo was the capital of Puerto Rico. At least for humans. It was a massive city by human standards, and very possibly the largest frontier community in the world. San Gerardo was the last bastion of human civilization in the furthest most eastern portion of the world.
I had learned from Isodora's uncle that it was led by a colonial governor who was directly appointed by the queen of the empire. I didn't particularly want to visit the city, but I did want to come to influence it, which put me in a fascinating position.
To date all of the areas I had taken over I had done so through direct action or by creating those areas in the first place. A part of me wanted to test my less direct capabilities and learn to trust my followers, even those I had never met.
I wanted to create cults that took over the city without me directly entering it. And that would test my subtly, my ability to corrupt, and my leadership. And it'd be fun.
I was never more thankful for the multitude of powers at a god's disposal as I was right now. Because thanks to those powers I could reach out and begin to learn about the city's many inhabitants.
I focused on the area of Puerto Rico I knew to be San Gerardo, and I smiled. I could detect thousands of lives there, all of which I wanted to reach out and touch. But I wasn't foolish or arrogant. I knew I needed to be methodical if I wanted to build something that would last.
I toggled filters and began to gather information on which people were which alignments. I took it in order, starting off with who all was lawful. I was a bit impressed when I saw that over half of the city's inhabitants were lawful individuals. I then applied an extra filter: I added that I was searching for lawful-evil people.
Lawful-evil people and creatures were people and creatures who wanted to take advantage of laws, customs, traditions, and other systems to advance their own selfish interests. Lawful-evil people were willing to back tyrants so long as the tyrants promised and gave them power, and they were orderly individuals who didn't want to buck the system.
When the system was done applying that filter, the total population of the city that remained was about six percent. It wasn't a bad number, and I knew that if I needed too I could change it.
I reset and then applied a new set of conditions to the not-so-mini-map. I began searching for chaotic individuals. About two-thirds of the remaining population of the city were outed as chaotic individuals. I chuckled at this.
Chaotic individuals had no respect for authority or governments. They valued freedom and spontaneity, and they were useful. If I wanted to undermine the city, I'd need the help of both chaotic individuals and lawful ones.
I added the additional filter of searching for chaotic individuals who were also evil and found that only two percent of the city's inhabitants fit that bill. That was disappointing but unsurprising.
My final two inspections of the city for fun qualities I could manipulate were a bit different. The first of them was for a specific type of personal vice: lust. A city was the perfect place for me to build a cult of corruption, and I wanted to see who all would be susceptible to lust-based temptations.
I was delighted when I saw that almost nine percent of the city were extra vulnerable to lust. That meant that with the right preparations I could at least use the place to house a decent number of succubi and incubi.
Out of curiosity, my final inspection of the city was to investigate to see who all hated either the governor or the Reconquista empire itself. I didn't find many people at all who felt that way, which was a bit disappointing. It would have been fun to test the governor's capabilities to resist a rebellion against either his administration or the Reconquista empire itself.
That said, night had now fallen over Puerto Rico. I had spent the day scheming. And now that the night was falling, I had work to do. Foundations to build, people to meet, and worshipers to gain in the most conventionally godly of ways: through dreams.
[Dual domain details:
The domain of trickery and the subdomain of enchantment are two handy areas and have similar interests.
Trickery is the domain that governs all deception. This includes lies, falsehoods, tricks, enchantments, and more. It is a neutral domain that cares not what end results are brought upon by dishonest means but only that dishonest means help produce them.
The subdomain of enchantment is a magical subdomain that governs illusions, enchantments, and other falsehoods created by magic. This powerful subdomain allows those who make use of it to trick others. Gods who influence it are masters of deception who use both magic and mundane means to trick others.
Dual domains passive powers:
Custom magical effects: You can use magic to create specific desired effects so long as you possess one tier of influence over the domain that governs the sort of effect you'd like to cause. This is a synergistic power that requires influence over several magical subdomains in order to be earned.
With this power you could disguise an army of the undead as an army of golden holy knights, or kill someone using evocation magic while pretending to heal them in the eyes of anyone who would be watching. This is a terrifying power for a trickster like you to possess.
Divine illusionist: Illusions you create are not magical in nature. This means that they are not dispelled by anti-magic fields, and greater illusions are even capable of limited interactions with the world around them.
Aura of normalcy: You can bend reality around you in such a way that people are not capable of sensing why you shouldn't be in a place at any time you opt to activate this power. People affected by this aura sense something is off, but they can't pinpoint it.
Divine invisibility: You can become fully incorporeal and truly undetectable. Normally outsiders and a few mortals, as well as various undead can detect incorporeal creatures, but this divine invisibility is the strongest invisibility, that can only be detected by another higher-being.
Divine enchanter: Your enchantments are buffed, and can even be contagious. Depending on the enchantment, so long as you've cast it if someone suffering from an enchantment of yours interacts with someone who isn't then the enchantment may also begin to affect them. Your enchantments also can't be dispelled unless you allow them to be.
Sense manipulation: You can directly assail the senses of mortals. This power doesn't work on the undead or extraplanars, yet.
Projection: You can project an illusionary version of yourself that can fully interact with the world around it. This is a projection with all of your powers that you control directly. Attempts to attack it reveal it as an illusion and if it is hit it vanishes or explodes, your choice.
Class acquisition and granting: You earn the rogue and assassin classes. These are classes that epitomize the tenants of trickery, stealth, and deception. And you can grant these classes as well.
Trap mastery: You gain the knowledge needed to make traps related to your domains and subdomains. You can also automatically detect and disarm traps.
Steal: You can steal things from those who oppose you. These things need not be physical. You can steal stat points and redistribute them, steal beauty, steal abilities, or even steal memories and personality traits. You cannot copy these things, you can only steal them.
Drug mastery: This power synergizes the trickery and deceptive domains and subdomains, the mind domain, and the alteration subdomain. With this power you can create drugs, and manipulate them. You can also now ambiently cause their effects to take hold in people you select.
Dual domains active powers:
Reasonable: You can persuade someone to take action once per day. This power only works on a single target, and the action cannot be something that would directly harm themselves.
Mesmerizing aura: This once a day power activates an hour-long aura that prevents creatures from being hostile towards you.
Enrichen the illusion: Once per week you can create an illusion of something inanimate and make it real. Or once per month you can turn an illusion of a living thing into a true lifeform.
Dual domain blessing and curse details:
You can bless someone with the trickery domain and make them more persuasive, easier to be comfortable around, and better at theft. If you curse someone with it then they become less glib, more unsettling, and worse at theft.
By blessing someone with the enchantment subdomain you boost their beauty and magical power. Your ambient control over magic has gotten strong enough that your blessings alone can allow someone to use magic, and that is the case with this subdomain and all magical subdomains moving forward. If you curse someone with this subdomain you make them uglier and drain their magical energy.]
I smiled as I began to extend my divine, arcane, and eldritch tentacles and influence across Puerto Rico and towards the most remote bastion of humanity: San Gerardo. I knew they had no idea what was coming their way.
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