Swamped Chapter 51 Page 6

“Well. If they’d been in a deposit of dung, it would suggest they’d have been excreted by the tunneler, or at least brought along with it. But by themselves… well, it calls to mind a tactic the Aedran empire once used to suppress a rebellion.”

Razor gives Dean a look that suggests he’d better skip the boring bits.

“Right. The Empire knew that blood beetles could kill greblings, but they also realized that releasing a large number at once into the food supply could cripple even a human army. The rebels were struck by sickness, and two days later when the Aedran forces came for the actual attack, they were severely dehydrated and easily overpowered. Ironically, since the Aedran soldiers hadn’t been informed of the tactic in order to prevent word from reaching the rebels, many of them looted the food store afterwards and came down with sickness themselves…”

Razor starts glaring.

“But that’s an entirely separate story about paranoia towards your own soldiers. The broader point is, if the egg sac is just there, it suggests someone might be trying the same tactic. Although, I can’t see why they’d just toss them down a hole, considering our main meal is swampleaf… you’d either go directly for the food reserves, or poison the parts where your target scavenges.”

“So it’s likely hostile action?” Razor says. “And I don’t suppose you can tell us who might have caused it.”

“Well… they aren’t exactly a common creature. It’s hard to find any outside of the northern forests of Kandria. And even there, it’s not as if you’re likely to run across them accidentally. The adults tend to keep to dark and damp places.”

It’s hard to notice, but for just a moment, Razor’s usual gruff expression is replaced with one of pure rage. Not surprising. Kandria’s not exactly his favorite country in general.

“Thank you for that information,” Razor says, sounding exactly as upset as he usually does. “How do you recommend disposing of the eggs?”

“Crushing them is risky, as you might miss one that’s already hatched. The larvae are very small and hard to notice. Fire is reliable, but not really safe in the swamp. There’s also depriving them of moisture, but again, difficult to do in the swamp…”

“What about freezing?” you say.

“Oh, that should work. The main reason they thrive in Kandria is the mild winters.”

“Great. Someone, not me, should get that thing to Keeper as soon as possible, then.”

There’s an uncomfortable silence from the assembled officers.

“Look, you cowards, it’s just a real bad stomachache for you. For me it’s life and death.”

“Before we deal with that,” Razor says, scowling, “I still want to know if anyone would care to dispute this Bogknight’s story. And, of course, on what grounds.”

Figures. Razor’s not one to drop a subject easily.

You take a good long step away from the jar and watch the crowd for a response.

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Nobody says anything.

Greblings aren’t the best at reading human body language, not that you don’t get it, just that you interpret things differently.

For instance, Greblings take comfort in their scars. A healed wound helps give them confidence that they can survive, over come obstacles and weather the storm.

It took you a while to realize that humans touch their scars when they feel vulnerable, it’s an unconscious reminder of their frailty.

Just like how Claws is rubbing her namesake markings now.