The mayor sorrowfully wrapped up the document with his name stamp; when the mercenaries return after eliminating the vermin scourge, he would have to hand over the farmland the townsfolk had managed for generations. The crop had served as the currency the town had used both to purchase resources and to hire soldiers for wars. These fertile lands fulfilled their every need, and sustained them for ages.
One day, a patrol on the field witnessed a swarm of scourge engulfing their forest. The mayor hurriedly contacted the mercenary leader, hoping to combine the forces of all to eradicate the scourge in collaboration. They hatched a plan to exterminate them with fire and then advanced into the area; yet, when they arrived, they were horrified to have discovered that the number in the swarming scourge had multiplied. Soon, their forest was engulfed. The scene startled all those present; it was not difficult to imagine that even a dragon would be instantly devoured should it near the scourge, let alone a Human. Therefore, the mercenary leader demanded a preposterous price: unless the mayor was willing to give them their farmland, they would not risk their lives eradicating the scourge.
“You greedy monsters! That’s like asking us to give you our whole town!” “It’d be better! We welcome any free gifts!”
The townsmen and mercenaries stood against one another, neither side willing to back down. Less than a few days later, the forest was turned barren, and the swarm of scourge moved to a forest closer to the town. Irked, the mayor gathered volunteers and proceeded to the rim of the forest. They loaded the horse-cart with flammable items and ignited them. The frightened horse dashed into the forest, but the sheer mass of the scourge suffocated the fire soon, leaving the townsmen in despair. Their peered at the fading forest, their ears seemed to be able to hear the reverberating buzz.
At his wits’ end, the mayor could only agree to the mercenaries’ demands. The mercenary leader had already contemplated: as soon as he gets the farmland, he will sell it at a high price to the army. That way, he can exploit the chaos to gain a fortune, and enjoy a life of wealth ever since.
The mercenaries arrived at the ravaged forest. The glittering shells of the scourge engulfed every tree. Wizards channeled their power and conjured a protection sphere lethal to the scourge. Under the wizards’ protection, mercenaries helped by killing the scourge with fire. They proceeded slowly from the outskirts of the forest when their leader caught a glance of a figure between branches faraway. He hastily ordered his men to follow that individual. However, the farther they went, the more peculiar the scourge’s movements were. As if able to sense the sphere, the scourge stepped back as the mercenaries advanced. They began to feel something was wrong: even if they are clever enough to avoid the fire, they could not possibly be able to evade the sphere. Nonetheless, it was too late. A crowd of scourge swarmed up from within the earth itself and flew at the wizards. Before the mercenaries could recover from shock, thousands of peculiar scourge had already swarmed their bodies...
Mercenaries who managed to retreat informed the townsmen about the devilish scourge, but their tales were deemed mere excuses to justify their failure. The next night, the scourge flew to the town, devouring everything in sight. The townsmen retaliated with fire, but these were extinguished by the raging scourge. Their defences were futile; their town were left in ruins.
Those who escaped became refugees, their hunger serving as a constant companion. The economy did not fare well either; the loss of a significant agricultural sector worsened the food shortage across the area. Losing his sanity, the mayor always murmured that when he charged into the swarm, he saw a female directing the scourge. She flapped her wings while yelling, ‘Humans! Recall the pain of hunger!’