Balesley hears a faint buzzing.
Already faint and shaking from a close encounter with a group of squatting bandits, Balesley had followed the dwarf—the confusing female one who had told him, “You’re ugly” before slapping him hard in the back—into the courtyard of the abandoned monastery. That’s when he heard it, in the distance: an unmistakable, droning buzz.
His human half immediately quaked in fear, only for the orc blood in his veins to fill him with great shame. None of the friendly, formidable adventurers he traveled with betrayed any hint of fear, so Balesley steeled himself against his cravenness as best he could.
The bandit ambush had stretched his nerves taut and turned his knees to jelly. As soon as Jameak and Gria had entered the door they were surrounded, bandits emerging from damp corners and from behind dark pillars. Balesley had tried to stay out of it, shooting ineffectually into their midst, but then took a deep breath and stupidly charged the leader, Rathbone, and gripped him in a bear hug until Balesley’s comrades and spiked armor had done in the bandit leader.
“I hear ’em,” Balesley growled from the courtyard’s entryway, “I hear them bees.” After searching the room for loot the band set off towards the noise. It grew in volume and intensity as they approached, shaking the very ground, until it clearly emanated from behind a closed door.
Balesley would have never thought of it, but the others had a plan. The door was opened just long enough for three smoking sticks to be thrown into the room, and quickly shut again. That’s smart, reckoned Balesley.
The group waited, entering a lively discussion about how long until the smoke took effect. How fast does smoke work on giant bees? Balesley didn’t know.
In no time ten minutes had passed and the group figured they had better check the interior before the effects of smoke wore off completely.
Balesley was no stranger to those effects, not by a long shot. He and Gria (the confusing dwarf maiden) were nearest the door, and the dissipating fog washed over them as they flung it open. Balesley felt the familiar tingle of smoke in his lungs, and colors swam in front of his eyes, but when Gria began attacking angry bees he had the presence of mind to follow suit. Soon the world slowed. His senses dulled. He was vaguely aware the others continued the fight, but lost track of their movements. Figures faded in and out from his vision.
Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Balesley’s whole being shook with the vibrations of a dozen glassy wings in flight. And there, in the midst of the rolling fog, buzzed an insect, king of insects.
Balesley steeled himself against the fear once more. It had to be ten feet tall and a thousand pounds of mighty insect. I won’t be mocked by no disrespectful bee! Balesley raged, and clenched the monster tight about the thorax.
“Balesley,” he heard a faint voice. “Balesley! That bee’s dead. It has no stinger.” Balesley’s vision was swimming. He dropped the lifeless corpse on the ground, the influence of the smoke dawning on him. What he was really was in need of was some fresh air, so he helped the others bring in the barrels from outside for collecting honey.
Still, at the end of the day there was honey money to be divided. It was more gold than Balesley had ever seen. And he learned his lesson:
There’s good coin to be had in the wrestling of dead bees.