“They call this creature the Mana Cricket, even though it’s really more of a grasshopper,” said Spinelli. “It feeds off of arcane essence ethereally siphoned from other living beings.”

The insect alighted on Gibbons’ arm and began crawling around. “Hey! That tickles!” she squealed.

“Now, one Mana Cricket obviously isn’t going to do much, and is easily squashed,” said Spinelli, adjusting his uniform cap. “Happily, they’re rarely seen in groups of less than 1,000.”

Dozens more large blue grasshoppers descended on Gibbons, causing her to emit a series of shrill not-quite-screams, not-quite-laughs. They crawled over her, apparently benignly; she didn’t reach for the pistol in her holster or attempt to summon a fireball.

“Of course, even a thousand–or hundred thousand–Mana Crickets can’t kill you,” Spinelli said.

One by one, the grasshoppers alighted, leaving Gibbons alone and swaying. “I don’t feel so good,” she moaned.

“But what they can do is drain you so completely that it will take days for your natural arcane essence to rejuvenate, and in the meantime…”

A door in the arena opened, revealing an immature ghast which promptly charged Gibbons, its knuckles dragging through the dirt. She gestured with her arm, apparently expecting a fireball to spring from her fingertips; when none was forthcoming, she could only utter a startled “Ugh!” as the ghast tackled her.

“Don’t worry, it’s been declawed and defanged.”

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