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Featuring Meridith, with thanks to Wyeth


Lady Meridith Darrow never wanted to see a mushroom again.

The surprisingly clear water the mage was standing in was only knee-deep, but she was already soaked head to toe. Her normally fluffed mop of teal hair hung in dripping clumps over her glowing yellow eyes, and the cloth of her bright-blue "working" tunic clung unflatteringly (or flatteringly, depending on one's tastes) to her bony frame. Meridith was a pyromancer, and normally she would simply dry herself in a puff of steam rather than stalk about like a drowned cat. Here in Zangarmarsh there seemed little point; she'd just end up soaked again within a minute anyway.

It had seemed like a beautiful place for the first few days, before all her clothes started to reek of swamp, before she had been unceremoniously assaulted by naga, before she discovered the provisioned armor that was surprisingly effective but made her look like a court jester, before that unfortunate mold on her skin from being wrapped in soaked fabric all the time. Cute as those little spore-people were, she had decided they could have the place and made her way south to the drier climes of Nagrand. Then Wyeth's letter came, and she knew, like it or not, she was going to have to make a trip back.

The ground squelched unpleasantly under her feet as she waded through the water, thinking it was for the best that she had asked Munio to make her some new boots as these, hideous as they were, would surely be ruined. She peered through her hair into the near distance, listening for the sound of the enormous wasps that inhabited the marsh. It was one of these wasps that had stung her friend Wyeth, and she'd come here to get a sample of their venom in hopes of concocting an antidote. In a way she had been glad to hear from the old Grimtotem, as the former Overlord of Curse - may he rest in peace - had made things somewhat difficult for her, and Meridith had worried that she'd never hear from her again. The mage did, technically, still owe her a favor for that whole business with Baron Rivendare, as that last attempt to call it in had gone so poorly. But - and she would never admit this, most certainly not to Plagos - it didn't hurt that she had a certain fondness for Tauren, and a respect for Grimtotems specifically. Even if she didn't owe her a favor, she'd happily come to this horrible marsh to help her anyway.

A loud buzzing caught her attention, and Meridith turned (her hair slinging water in a halo around her head) to find one of the offending insects, big as the girl herself, flying lazily toward the water. It resembled a strange cross between a wasp and a firefly, with a long, tapering, glowing rear ending in a rather terrifying stinger. Just looking at the stinger, imagining the kind of poison that could lay someone like Wyeth low, was enough to make Meridith glad she was already dead. She shifted slightly, careful not to startle it, and balled her fists. Summoning fire, even in a damp place like this, had become second nature to her, and without even having to mouth the incantation for the spell her hands were crackling with flame as she created a ball of fire to kill the creature. Once the glowing orange ball was large enough she gave it a nudge, sending it toward the unsuspecting insect.

The wasp made a shrill, alien shriek as the fire hit it. It turned on Meridith as the flames caught on its brittle body, launching itself at her with wings that were beginning to singe. Instinctively, the mage took a quick step back, then braced herself and began summoning another fireball. She finished the incantation just as the wasp reached her, adding to the fire consuming it as the creature rammed into her and knocked her off-balance and into the water. She sat up quickly, sputtering water from her mouth as she pulled her staff from her back to fend the burning creature off. With a sharp crack the wasp's exoskeleton gave way under the blow from her staff and with a last fluttering of its charred wings it fell to the ground twitching. She narrowed her eyes and snarled at it as she reached out toward the smouldering bug and released one last blast of flame, finishing it off. The mage sighed heavily as she sat in water nearly up to her shoulders, catching what was left of her breath. Finally she planted her staff in the muck and used it to pull herself back to her feet, thankful for about the millionth time for the preservation spell she had cast on the roses tied to it. Taking a dagger from her bag she approached the dead wasp. She nudged it with the toe of her (quite certainly ruined) boot, making sure it was dead, then plunged her dagger into the crackling body near the venom sac.

A moment later, still soaked from head to foot and now covered to her elbow in wasp ichor and ash, she held the burnt, useless venom sac in her hand. She sighed again, set her jaw, and tossed the blackened mess into the water. "Maybe Munio has the right idea with the ice..."

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