Chapter 12

“DRAGONFLIES!”

It was the one word that brought dread to heart of every farmer in Eizenfeng. ‘Dragonfly’ would have been bad enough, but his wife Regle had yelled ‘Dragonflies’. She knew the important distinction between the two words.

One of the six-inch creatures might only destroy a few plants, but when their numbers grew they became far more destructive. A couple of dozen could destroy a whole farm — barn, house and all. A swarm could destroy a small town. Garimet looked out of the kitchen window. He couldn’t see how many dragonflies there were, but with his entire family out in the field one was too many. The farmer rushed out the back door of the house without bothering to drop his spatula.

Garimet wasn’t sure what he could do to help his family if there were more than a few dragonflies. The fields aren’t burning; that’s a good sign, the farmer thought. He could see his two youngest boys running toward the barn with Regle urging them along. She would try to protect the barn and its contents. The family’s livelihood depended upon it. A week’s worth of harvested vegetables were loaded onto wagons in the barn. If they lost those, there wouldn’t be enough money to cover the bills.

Regle stopped running once she saw Garimet. The normally strong woman was struggling to hold back her tears. “Teravus fell when we were running from the field. I think he might have broken his leg. Jeunelux was trying to help him, but there are so many dragonflies. Please Garimet, please save them. I can’t lose another child.”

Words alone wouldn’t comfort his wife. He wanted to hold her in his arms and let her cry on his shoulders. “Get the boys to the barn. If things get too bad, make your way to the root cellar. I’ll do what I can for Teravus and Junie.”

The farmer sprinted toward the fields, searching frantically for his children. The dragonflies’ buzz drowned out his shouts.

Garimet understood why his wife sounded so panicked. In his forty years he had never seen this many dragonflies. Hundreds buzzed above the fields, working themselves into a frenzy. Instead of feasting on the plants like they normally would, the insects darted back and forth, high and low. The bugs were most dangerous when they were agitated and he knew it wouldn’t be long before these started breathing fire.

In the middle of the swarm Garimet noticed an area devoid of insects. He ran to that spot, his fatherly instincts telling him that his son and daughter would be there. One of the dragonflies swooped down and with a small puff of fire singed the farmer’s hair. Experience told him that the worst thing he could do was swat at the bug. A crushed insect would give off an acrid scent that would provoke the entire swarm to attack anything and everything.

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