The Groshmite (also referred to as the "Giant Woodboring Mite") is only distantly related to mites. Rather it is an airborne insect, with no more than two to four nailsbreadths in size. A Groshmite might not pose a threat when encountered alone, but can be a deadly danger if a whole swarm attacks, which unfortunately is the rule. A swarm is a group of Groshmites existing collectively as an airborne pestillence containing hundreds, in few cases even thousands, of individual insects. Though peaceful in general, the swarm should definitely be avoided to be stirred up. Groshmites exist around the countryside mainly in Santharian regions around and north of the Hèckranian volcano until the foothills of the Tandala Highlands. They can mainly be found at the borders of various forests, sometimes also in the vicinity of swamps, forming up to 10 ped sized clouds of insects.
|Image description. An unfortunate Gob-Oc orc having stumbled into a Groshmite swarm. Picture from the game Mystical Empire™, used with friendly permission. Illustration drawn by Quellion.|
The individual Groshmite is approximately
between two and four
in length and has a body no thicker than half a
The latter is
divided into ten individual segments,
which are arranged in C-shape, so that the insect's head is at the same level as
its most dangerous weapon, which is located
at the bottom end of the insect. All of
the individual segments bear the
colour of a muddy brown. The
Groshmite has three pairs of legs. It possesses
minute translucent wings, like those of a beetle, and the
already mentioned pointed stinger like protusion at the end of the body,
known as the "Groshtooth". While this Groshtooth
neither contains any kind of poison nor is it exceptionally harmful, it does
add to the confusion of a victim having to discern
whether a swarm of hornets or mites is attacking.
The swarm itself is seen as a loose cloud from the distance, appearing to be a group of fast-moving brown dots, usually consisting of a few hundred mites, sometimes up to even a thousand. A larger central dot however will move before the rest of the cloud and is difficult to track - the "Grosh Queen". Generally it is easier to find the aftermath of the mites than the beasts themselves, as they are rather rarely seen out in the open.
A Groshmite is capable of ingesting almost any organic material, which makes it
so special and dangerous at the same time. A swarm of several hundred mites can
utterly destroy fallen trees or tree trunks, parts of corn fields or plants,
which are to the insects' liking. Groshmites will move collectively to avoid
being eaten by larger creatures, attacking ferociously once the Grosh queen
feels threatened. As a group the mites are almost unstoppable.
Territory. Groshmites exist in the United Kingdom of Santharia, selectively at the border territories of forests around and north of the Hèckranian volcano, like the Goltherlon, the Bolder, the Calmarios and in forested regions of the vallies in the Allsiscaey Mountains to the northwest. Every now and then the insects will venture further south in the summer but this is seldomly seen, and the swarms that do appear to be smaller and are not seen anywhere south of New-Santhala. They are more prominent to the very north of the kingdom, but do not travel further than Dragon's Maw at the center of the Tandala. This behaviour is supposed to be directly related to the temperature in these kinds of region, so that the Groshmites don't venture in any spots, which are too hot or too cool for them.
Whole Groshmite swarms however migrate often temporarily to the south during the winter months where they hibernate, eating very little and becoming near impossible to find.
Habitat/Behaviour. Gorshmite swarms are constantly on the move. They never make permanent homes like nests, but rest in tree holes or stick close together high up in trees, forming a sort of protection with their bodies. They attack people or living beasts only if threatened, using the combined forces of their moderately hurtful Groshteeth to hurt opponents. Groshmites however don't venture out one by one, but stay together in swarms, which can be of any size, from dozens to several hundreds. The larger the swarm, the deadlier an attack can be.
When they move, a Groshmite swarm always moves around a central insect, which is larger than the others, the Groshmite queen. Per swarm there is only one queen. This queen will move before the others and appears to be their leader and also the key to the swarm's reproduction. Decisions for the whole swarm, where to move, what to feast on, where to attack and what to leave, are obviously all made by the queen, though the queen will avoid dangerous situations herself in general. She might lead an attack when threatened, but back off, staying and observing in the distance, leaving the field to the rest of the swarm. Only when she leaves completely, the swarm will follow and abandon the prey.
It is interesting to observe that a Groshmite swarm will avoid bodies of water of more than 3 peds in diameter, but will go around the water whenever possible, or fly only in very high distance over running waters, but most often they simply go another way. The safest place to be once a Groshmite swarms attacks is in the middle of the nearest pond, and splashing water over the insects will add a serious blow to any attacks. Water seems to cause the insects' wings to glue to the body, making it impossible to fly and navigate. Groshmite also seem to avoid fire, however small the flames may be, so grabbing a torch when being attacked by a swarm might be a good idea to get rid of the nuisance.
Diet. Groshmites are completely omnivorous, anything organic, living or dead is on its menu, textiles, wood, plants and flesh are all free for eating. However, this being said, the mites tend to feast on wood and crops, as the other forms of food generally envolve having to kill first. Abandoned cadavers in the wild are therefore preferred, and it rarely happens that a Groshmite swarm enters buildings, causing havoc. Nevertheless there are reports of Groshmites having destroyed hermit huts or having killed living cattle for one reason or the other, some farmers have really shocking stories to tell!
The signs thet Groshmites have been at work are usually obvious. Very little is generally left whole, rocks and stones will stay unscathed, crops however will be destroyed as if by wildfire, attacked buildings will be empty of life, fabrics with holes and chunks torn out of them are signs of Groshmites. Sometimes quite horrible scenes reveal themselves to the eye when looking at a Groshmite caused devastation: One might see half eaten corpses of both people and animals, trees striped bare of their leaves and bark, chunks torn out of the wood. Entire swathes of land can look like veritable wastelands.
Mating. Due to the aggression of Groshmites towards researchers, it is difficult to observe mating behaviour, so no precise details can be given. What seems from sure however is that Groshmites reproduce similar to orms, where the queen produces eggs to guarantee reproduction of the swarm. There are times of the year when Groshmites don't move at all, but seem to be busy with reproducing. Soon after that it might happen that a swarm splits up, obviously when another queen, or even several, have been produced, the latter seems to be quite rare though. Around each queen a small swarm gathers, which will leave with the queen, and thus it goes on.
The most dangerous times for humans to venture near a Groshmite swarm is when the leading queen has died and the swarm needs new guidance, but hasn't produced a new queen yet. Usually such Groshmites try to find another swarm to which they subordinate, though if that is impossible for a longer period of time, their actions can be quite unpredictable and should be avoided at all costs.