CH 1: Giant Crickets of Doom
Drawing from Zephy’s field notebook: Ruta Gigas or Great Rue Flower. Parts labeled.
Uses: Bane potion. Just add a piece of whatever you want to keep away!
Notes: smells like old boots. DO NOT GET ON SKIN! Raises blisters.
Normally, I liked rainy weather just fine. But today it might be death of me.
I wasn’t bothered by the wet or the cold. My black military uniform had been treated with Geckoskin, and I'd pulled the sage-green hood up over my untidy dark curls - so the water rolled right off me. I had on tight black gloves and tall black leather boots, so I was more or less dry-ish. And I actually liked the sound of raindrops and the clean smell of dirt and prairie grasses after a storm.
So really, it was the giant Armored King Crickets killing me that I was worried about.
“Zephyra!” Grandmaster Amestra called over the patter of rain and the creepy clicking sound the bugs made as they chomped at her. “The pump sprayer!” Her steel-grey hair, soaked with rain, had begun to unravel from its perfect bun tight atop her head, and she was fending off the two horse-sized, black-and-red spiked insects with her saber – a sure sign that the battle wasn’t going our way. Potioneers fight with potions.
“Yes, ma’am!” I shouted, already starting back towards the trees where we’d left it. I grabbed the steam-powered machine by its handle and started dragging it back into the muddy clearing. It bumped and rumbled awkwardly on its wheels through the high, rain-slick prairie grass.
The problem with the rain was that it had washed away all the Bugsbane Potion we’d spent half the night spraying to herd the bugs back away from the town of Esk. Armored King Crickets mostly minded their own business off in the desert – but they’d recently been caught sneaking into town to steal animals and, worse – the farrier’s youngest daughter. Which was awful. We’d been sent to Esk on other business, but part of a military Potioneer’s job was to help protect the people of Iostria. We couldn’t just sit there and let giant crickets eat the townspeople.
The Grandmaster was dodging and slashing for all she was worth, patting down her uniform with her free hand, probably trying to take stock of what she’d slipped into her pockets the prior evening. There isn’t a lot in the Potioneer’s inventory that works well during a rainstorm, though...