An Old Man in a Harsh Season Edit
Barad Ygor and Soul Je have a problem. By completing a task that the Wasps failed to (confirmed by Word of God as being the capture of Kymene), they have earned the enmity of both the Empire and the natives of Myna. Ygor sets off to ask Hokiak for help in leaving, but is interrupted by a group of Scorpion-kinden turning up planning to kill the old man. Teaming up with another disappointed customer, Mordrec, he plans to protect Hokiak from his enemies in exchange for an escape. Their plan to free slaves to help them backfires when it turns out there is only one prisoner, and gets worse when Rekef Captain Lyker turns up to ask what's going on. With the Rekef officer dead, and the prisoner fled, they decide that their only chance is to go through with their plan, despite being out-numbered 3 to 1. Things get slightly better when the prisoner, Dal Arche, returns to help. Ygor decides to also involve his 'wife': a giant female scorpion the size of a large dog. Against expectations, they manage to defeat the Scorpions as the ambush of Hokiak takes place, but are chagrined when it turns out Hokiak had the same plan, and ten times as many allies. Despite this, he decides to help them.
Along with his companions from before, Je is working as a bounty hunter in the Commonweal. They had tracked down Corde Liantes to the settlement of Fiol at the far northern border after three weeks of pursuit, killed him, then preserved his head in salt. And the head had been stolen.
The group track the thief, a Dragonfly girl named Lirien Aell, deep into the steppe, but find increasingly odd behaviour amongst the inhabitants and are constantly told to turn back. Eventually they track her down to a village, where she tells the group that she has hidden the head, and if they want it back, they'll need to help protect them.
What follows is a siege by hundreds of Grasshoppers, sent mad by the Locust Madness, that results in the village being ruined, many of the villagers killed and nearly all their possessions destroyed. But some survive, including Aell and all four of the hunters. She takes them to where she buried the head and they dig it up, to find that it had been mostly eaten by beetles.