Shadow was out gathering food for the nest. He did this often, it was his main duty as a member of the nest. But today, something was different. Unlike most days, the air seemed heavier, harder to breath. Shadow knew he should head back to the nest, as it was going to rain, but he didn’t want to return empty handed. So Shadow continued to search. As he traveled, he left behind the normal territories, curious to know what was beyond his little nest and it’s little forest of grass, which was sadly dry and parched after the long dry season. Shadow was thinking about how dry it was, and how much this rain would benefit his nest, when he came across a vast wasteland, a mighty jet black plain that stretched far in front of him. He looked to the right, then to the left. The plain stretched out as far as he could see in both directions. The plain seemed to be radiating heat, lots of heat. Shadow turned back towards his home, to see how far he had come. It was so far, he couldn’t even see the great tree anymore. Shadow turned back towards this plain of shadows, interested and curious. He had never seen it’s like before in his life.

As Shadow moved to start crossing this plain, however, he heard a dull rumble. The rumble rattled him, and he spun, trying to find it’s source. And there, right in front of him on the massive black plain, was a mountain! But this mountain, it was moving! It had to be at least as tall as… well, Shadow had never seen anything as tall as that! The mountain seemed to sense him, slowing down and turning onto an extension of the black plain that Shadow hadn’t noticed before. He reprimanded himself for not seeing it, missing something could equal death for a little ant like him. The massive mountain came to a halt, and a moment later the rumbling stopped as well. Shadow sat there, frozen with terror, as the mountain opened up and released 3 giant, strange looking… things. Shadow didn’t even know how to describe them, they were so strange to him. So he just called them “the strangers”.

These “Strangers” moved away from him, away from his small nest, and he sighed in relief, happy in the knowledge that his nest was safe from them. Shadow turned back toward the black plain, and the proceeded to cross. It was not as flat as it had looked, in reality it was covered in little mounts and bumps and crevasses. It was a wasteland. The Black Waste, Shadow decided to call it. It took him ten minutes to cross the entire waste, but he arrived on the other side. But there was nothing over here, just a vast, empty white plain, similar to the Black Waste, but with smaller bumps and hills. He crossed that as well, and then finally found himself safely in a grass forest. Ah, now that was similar. Shadow passed under the mighty boughs of grass high above him, and decided that this was just as safe as his home. Shadow then noticed a strange smell, like of another nest. But unlike a normal nest, this one seemed to be more active, more riled up. Shadow crept up toward the smell, and then climbed up a grass tree to see what he could of the strange smelling nest.

It towered above him. Shadow saw thousands upon thousands of ants, many red, of all colors, but some black ones among them. He watched in shock as the red ants forced the black ones to feed them and build up their nest bigger, all on pain of death, he noticed after a violent battle between a black ant and a red ant. The black ant lost, and was ripped apart and added to what seemed to be an endless line of food. This food was always headed towards the center, up and into the top of this massive nest mound. Shadow wondered how many queens that must have, to be so massive a colony, then realized that he was no longer alone. Sitting next to him on his branch was a large beetle, a lady bug. “Quite the sight, isn’t it, little ant? They’ve been here for some time now, growing and growing and growing. If you stay, they’ll find you too, and add you to the ones they’ve already taken. I will help you, just to spite those monsters, but you must promise not to attack me, okay?” Shadow promised, and the lady bug let him crawl onto her leg. She took off, taking him over the massive nest, which Shadow saw now was just one of several mighty mounds. These ants must humber in the millions, at the least, he thought.

The lady bug brought him down a distance away, and partially up another grass tree. “They’ve already been though here today, they won’t come back until tomorrow. Run, little ant, run as fast as you can. Otherwise, they will capture you and kill you as well.” Shadow turned to leave, then stopped. “Wait, what’s your name, lady bug?” The lady bug turned, and then said “Ritasha.” Shadow nodded, and then said “Well, Ritasha, I thank you for helping me. Do you think you could do one more thing for me?” “Depends” “Can you tell me what those ants are planning, or at least where they’re heading?” “Sure. They came from that way” Ritasha points in the direction they had been flying “and they’re headed that way.” Here Ritasha points back towards Shadow’s nest. Shadow nashes his jaw in fear “That’s where my nest is! I have to warn them!” “Sorry, little one, but by the time you get back to your nest, they may well have already taken it. I wish I could help you, but I don’t fly over the Blackfire Wastes. Too dangerous.” Shadow nudded, he understood, “Thank you, Ritasha, for you help. I’ll warn my nest somehow, you just wait. And then I’ll come back and say hi again, okay?” “That would be nice, little one. If you are successful, I shall see you when you return. You can find me almost anywhere this side of the Blackfire Wastes.”

Shadow thanked the lady bug again, then went off along his way. He needed to find another path home, to warn his nest of the dangers to come. Shadow came across an immense wall of stone, pale white in color, and scripled (ant word for fizzy) up on it's surface, like foam frozen in time. Shadow looked at this, and despaired, for he saw that it stretched into the sky as far as he could see.

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