I approach the half of the centipede after the Ianians leave. I place the tip of my nose up against the cut section and sniff it.
It smells like, how do I describe it… rotten fish. Not enough to call it intense, but definitely like rotten fish. It would probably make someone vomit if they were to attempt to eat this.
It resembles the smell of the slugs from the swamp. This thing is totally not something meant to be eaten. It’s no wonder the Ianians spat it out and ran off.
The ball rabbit approaches the cut as well and licks it. It makes a face then eats some sand. I presume it’s to get the taste out of its mouth. It would seem that it simply is that bad.
I drag the half of the giant centipede to within the vicinity of the red ant’s colony. I then cut open and hollow out some of the centipede with my claws and roll it up into a dumpling. It is as grotesque as one would expect it to be. I regret not being able to come up with a better plan.
The smell is much stronger and disorienting. It is impossible to hold back tears now.
The ball rabbit is reluctant to help me make dumplings, but it helps me anyways. It knows this has to be done if we are to even have a chance at saving Nina. Using both ears to knead, it expertly makes dumplings at a rapid pace. Its ears are precise and dextrous. In fact, it’s making dumplings faster than me.
Hm, I wonder… how many pieces should I make? If I recall correctly, the number of ants in a colony can range anywhere from a few dozen to millions, depending on the species. If the red ant colony’s population is over 10,000, then I don’t feel like I’ll be able to rival them with my meager ability no matter how hard I try.
Basically, it is said that there is a tendency for the average strength of an individual ant in a colony to be inversely proportional to the size of the colony it’s from. However, I do not know if my common sense will actually hold true in this world. In the first place, if the ants’ numbers were proportional to their strength, then the entire colony would hilariously be comprised of a single Queen Ant.
When I first entered the red ant’s colony, there were, what, twenty ants attacking me? There were also about thirty ants swarming the centipede. So, what, we’ve already confirmed fifty ants just from that short encounter alone?
But since only two ants came to scout at the beginning, maybe fifty really is the colony’s total number of fighting forces? Well, that’s what I want to think it is. Considering the size of the ants’ abdomens, I’m certain that not a single one was a queen. Since I’ve never seen them outside of the nest, I must consider the possibility that there are somewhere around a thousand ants.
…Well, I’m gonna be optimistic and say that there are around a hundred ants.
So let’s go with making a hundred dumplings out of this huge centipede here.
Oh crap… some centipede got in the gaps in my claws. Damn it! I can’t take this anymore! They already smell like rotten fish. What if the smell sticks around even after I evolve? Oh, maybe I can get the ball rabbit to use [[Clean]] on my claws to get rid of this stench.
Adofu doesn’t seem to understand what we are doing, he just stares at us with his mouth slightly agape.
“What exactly is it that you’re doing? Are you going to eat that?”
I want to tell him ‘Hell no’, but considering there’s seemingly no one else around to make these for, it’s understandable that we’d be misunderstood. So ball rabbit, if you could explain, please?
[Poison dumplings, make. You help]
“Um, uh huh…”
Adofu shows a face of disgust, but eventually he consents and begins to help us make dumplings. I was able to befriend Nina quickly, and I can order Adofu around; this is all thanks to the ball rabbit’s strong social skills and high-level telepathy. It’s ironic to think that something called an “Evil Dragon” is protecting all three of them. From an objective perspective, that last one would be the most amazing. I guess you can’t unreservedly judge someone’s heart based on their appearance or the name of their species.
After an hour of work, we finally complete all one-hundred dumplings. Adofu and the ball rabbit’s eyes look completely lifeless at this point. Mine probably do as well, but we did it. We finished making all of them. The only thing we have to do now is to carry this to the red ants’ nest.
…At this point, it still smells strongly of rotten fish, but will the red ants really eat this? They look horribly grotesque. Even licking such a thing could induce vomiting. After spending so much time between the three of us to transport the giant centipede and to make dumplings, it’d be no laughing matter if it all ends up going to waste in this situation.
…Hmm? That’s right, just making regular dumplings is pointless. There’s no point unless I use [[Poison Fang]] to add poison to them, one-by-one……
Each centipede dumpling is made by forcibly kneading the hard body of the giant centipede. To be honest, its body was overly tough, so they’re pretty misshapen.
Well, I guess I’ll just have to bite into them one at a time. I can’t think of a better way right now. I’m going to have to firmly bite into these so that they’re soaked with poison.
T-This thing already looks poisonous even before I bite into it. I’ve just got to tell myself that I’m going to be okay. No, I’m most definitely going to suffer by going through with this. I don’t even have to bite into it to figure that out.
…Well, let’s try eating one of them first. If I get some kind of anomalous status from this, then I won’t have to bite the rest of them.
I close my eyes and squeeze my nose shut with my right hand. I proceed to pick up a dumpling with my left hand and toss it into my mouth.
[N-no way!? Why eat!?]
There’s a time when a man just has to do it, little Peach Ball Rabbit.
The taste of the centipede dumpling is clearly the worst. Even with my nose plugged, the peculiar rotten fish-like flavor was overwhelming my mouth. It felt like it was just trampling my tongue to death.
Looking back, I have eaten quite a variety of things since I’ve become a dragon. Among them, this definitely has the most foul odor and taste by a long shot. It was the most awful of awful things I’ve ever tasted, the king of awful tastes.
It was mysteriously astringent and it made my tongue recede into the back of my throat. I knew it, this thing absolutely must already be poisonous. I can feel the contents of my stomach starting to come up. I hold my mouth firmly closed and desperately try to bear with it.
Can I just spit this thing out already? No, unless I try it myself, I won’t know if these things are toxic enough. I swallow the dumpling in one large gulp and check my status.
[[Irushia]] Species: Evil Plague Dragon
My status was completely normal. I guess I have to use [[Poison Fang]] on these after all.
I eliminated every unnecessary thought from my mind and proceeded to bite into the centipede dumplings one by one.
I feel like I could fall over at any second at the tenth dumpling.
I’m starting to delude myself into thinking that they are delicious at the twentieth.
I realize that it was just my imagination at the thirtieth.
I’m approaching enlightenment at the fortieth.
My consciousness is waning at the fiftieth.
I’m starting to see the other world at the sixtieth.
I somehow remember a saying about going through intense hardships at the seventieth.
The taste has become completely incomprehensible at the eightieth.
At the ninetieth, it feels like I’m just doing it out of habit.
The moment I bite into and finish the last piece, tears begin streaming down my face.
I did it… I finally did it… With this, all that’s left is to bring them all to the red ants’ nest.