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Author Topic: Vubuaz: big mean Tharianized hornets.  (Read 9207 times)
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seth ghibta
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« on: 25 January 2010, 01:17:12 »

The Vubuaz
Categorization: bestiary> animals, smaller> insects> Vubuaz

Any traveller in some of the northern forests of Santharia stumbling upon a tree apparently swamped by strange, papery boils, so that only its branches poke through the mass of bubbling growths, might be inclined to pause and investigate, especially if, as sometimes happens, they find themselves among a whole grove of such oddities. This would be a grave mistake indeed, and by doing so they risk attack from a pack of growling beasts whose ferocity and cruel power inspire fear among the bravest of people. The fact that said beasts are, though larger than many insects, still only a few nailsbreadths long is no reason to underestimate them – the Vubuaz is an insect as dangerous as it is fascinating, and it is very fascinating indeed.

Appearance:
The Vubuaz is a large insect, and heavily-built, with the females measuring around six nailsbreadths from  the head to the tip of the abdomen. Males are usually a couple of nailsbreadths shorter, and a good deal more slender. Both males and females have long, slender transparent wings, but females have a much larger, heavier body, and so fly with less grace. Males fly very fast and with great agility, making a characteristic growling noise through the vibration of their abdomen and wings, hence the common name Vubuaz, (pronounced “voo-boo-ahz”) a literal imitation of the noise they make.

Among the most recognisable traits of the adult Vubuaz are the males’ prominent sting and impressive, serrated antennae and jaws, which pack a notable nip, even if you don’t get stung. Males and females both have massive mandibles, but males’ are so exaggerated that they can’t close them – they are incapable of eating properly and have to be fed regurgitated birchsap by females. Both male and female also sport the long, heavily serrated antennae, which give them the name “antlered fly” in some areas. These antennae appear to be an important sensory tool for Vubuaz, and they constantly wave them around, a little like the unending waving of tree-branches in a light breeze. Vubuaz are very active insects, moving with obvious efficiency – females walk more often than flying, on long, sturdy legs that hold the body a little above the ground. In their scuttling movements, they are somewhat reminiscent of giant winged myrmex.
 
As with the common wopse (their smaller, less sociable relatives), the breeding females have a clearly visible egg-laying-tube, which is often mistaken for a stinger, an easy mistake to make, but a mistake nonetheless, as only the male Vubuaz is so armed. Male Vubuaz have a large, thorn-shaped stinger, much easier to see than in their southern cousins, the wopse.

Both male and female Vubuaz are armoured in a pale gold exoskeleton, much thicker than their southern relatives, and very shiny and reflective – the Vubuaz is a conspicuous insect that stands out from a long way, if the light hits it. With few natural predators, it benefits from looking distinctive, as most animals learn to keep away from them and their nests.

The nests are perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the Vubuaz – much like wopses, they raise their grubs in large galls, which are formed in the bark of birch or pine trees. Unlike the wopse, however, Vubuaz build their galls communally, massing their individual constructions into one giant conglomeration which can swamp an entire tree. The galls themselves are smaller than wopse “bircheggs”, and rounder, forming delicate papery bubble-shaped globes, each about the size of a dove’s egg, on the surface of the bark. As each individual Vubuaz adds its egg to the nest, the bubbles mass on top of each other, growing by a layer every year, until they form the bulk of the tree itself.
The grubs inside are unremarkable in appearance – pulpy white and fat, with large, strong jaws, usually around three nailsbreadths long.

Special abilities:
Males produce large amounts of potent venom, delivered by means of their sting at the slightest provocation. They attack in small groups of three or four, risking as few individuals as possible whilst still assuring that several stings hit home – enough to discourage all but the most determined intruder on the nest’s territory (though this territory generally stretches no further than the reach of the nesting tree’s branches). Though Vubuaz do not usually lose their stings when attacking, as malise do, they often attack with such vehemence that they are injured, or simply run out of venom. When this happens they tend to land on the intruder (if it hasn’t managed to run away yet, which is somewhat unlikely given the encouragement they receive from the stings) and bite with their mandibles, which are sharp and barbed enough to pierce all but the thickest skin. However, male Vubuaz mandibles are mainly for show, acting as a threat to other insects, and when used offensively, they occasionally cause the Vubuaz to become pinned to its victim, unable to open its jaws wide enough to escape.

The effects of Vubuaz venom are potent, and though rarely fatal, are severe enough to be extremely dangerous to anyone who rouses the anger of a nest. This account from a Kuglimz hunter illustrates the risk:

“I’d set out after anything I could catch; I was hoping for a deer or some such, maybe a young fawn, and that would have made a fine quarry. So I headed for the forest, where I knew the mothers sometimes took their young to hide whilst they went out to feed. I hadn’t gone far when I heard a low buzzing growling sound. If I’d any sense I reckon I shoulda run then. But I was concentrating on looking for signs of deer, and I passed it off as a stream nearby. I didn’t realise how close I’d come to the nest till I could actually see it: a round, pale bubbly kinda shape on the trunk of a great big pine, like the foam that builds up round waterfalls. Took me a good few minutes to work out what the thing was, as Vubuaz nests aren’t something you often get to see very close. I stayed still a while and nothing happened – the insects were flitting about as if they couldn’t care less about me. I figured I’d be fine, so long as I didn’t get to get too close, and turned back to the business in hand.

Couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the hind – between me and the nest, she must not have noticed me ‘cos I was so still. There was that long moment of perfect silence you get, when you can almost see the line connecting your spear to the quarry, and then I let it loose, to find its mark.
If I had only hit her square on, everything would have been fine. As it was, she moved at the last moment; I struck a glancing blow on her flank and she was off, into the distance. Of course, I was angry at myself, for missing such a perfect target, and I suppose that’s why I headed straight towards the nest to pick up my spear, which had stuck straight through those bubbly warts on the Vubuaz tree. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do, and I began to realise that as soon as I noticed, with my hand already closing on the spear, that the buzzing was suddenly very, very loud.

And then the first one stung: I didn’t see it, but by Sur’Tyan I felt it, like someone had rammed a hot needle deep into my neck. And I saw the Vubuaz fly past, out of the corner of my eye, and felt the wings brush my cheek. And suddenly there was another one, and a third, all stinging, on my neck and arms, the back of my hands. The pain was horrible; I could actually feel it spreading, I remember, like fire clinging to my skin, and burrowing deeper. I ran, as fast as I could; I doubt I’ll ever run faster, and certainly hope I’ll never have such cause for haste. They kept stinging and stinging until I yelled out with pain, and when I swatted them with my burning hands they bit at me with their mouths.

Eventually they seemed to give up, but there was still one: I’d swatted it and it’d latched onto the skin of my hand, hooking itself on so it couldn’t get away. The pain from the stings didn’t die down, but seemed to drain away all my strength, as it spread inside me, and my hands shook like an old man’s and I couldn’t breathe properly, my breath came shallow and too fast. The pain was literally blinding – all the colours of the trees and their new leaves seemed too bright, and blurred together, and I fell down... I couldn’t stand anymore, couldn’t think, even. All I remember is how much it hurt, so that I yelled out the Gods’ names in the forest, and the feel of that trapped Vubuaz wriggling and drumming its wings against my hand, as if it were trying to get my attention.

They found me by following the screams, I’m told – I don’t much remember screaming – I couldn’t hear anything over all the pain... Does that make any sense? That’s how it felt. I remember their shapes bending over me, thinking this must be Lier’Tyan come to take me away, because surely I’m dead now, you can’t hurt this much and not die?

But I suppose I was wrong; they do sometimes call Vubuaz poison “the cruel water”, because it makes you wish you would die but you never do. I was stung nine times, and the pain lasted for five hours, before I could think or keep still enough to rest. The stings are gone, healed away like the most innocent of cuts, but I’ve still got the one that trapped itself in my skin: here, I put it in a bottle, to remind myself, and as a good luck charm.”
--Knut Igdergva, Kuglimz hunter.

Aside from this most notorious ability of the male Vubuaz, the females have the remarkable skill of building the spectacular nests which wanderers in the northern woods have learnt to give such a wide berth. The exact process by which a female Vubuaz persuades tree bark to grow into strange, papery thin bubbles filled with soft edible tissue, is unknown. Possibly they secrete some chymical that alters the consistency of the bark, or, as some researchers have suggestd, they may carry some disease which brings the tree out in convenient boils, which the Vubuaz have learnt to make use of in rearing their young. In any case, Vubuaz nests are strange and eerily beautiful sights to behold as, unlike their southern relatives the Wopses, they nest communally, returning to the same tree for many years. Each generation of Vubuaz builds its nursery-galls on top of the previous year’s remains, which will have formed thin papery bubbles of living bark. Thus entire trees slowly become swamped by a seeming froth of these “bubbles”, leaving only the topmost branches poking out. Often the tree will eventually die, whereupon the entire swarm of Vubuaz will have to hurriedly relocate to a nearby tree and try to start again before winter, as they rely upon the living tree to nourish their young. In this short window between nests, Vubuaz are at their most vulnerable and most dangerous. Males become even more aggressive, in their need to protect the females as they search for a new nest. There are some areas in the most uninhabited forests where wide groves of trees have been suffocated under Vubuaz nests and abandoned. Such areas are eerie places indeed, with all the trees leafless and swollen with egg-shaped growths, and always the threatening growl of Vubuaz wings nearby, reminding the traveller that somewhere the hive responsible for this still lurks. This process takes a very long time, however, as it may be fifty or more years before a tree succumbs to the galls. So Vubuaz never entirely kill off an area of forest – the slow growth of their nesting areas gives plenty of time for new trees to grow in place of the dead ones.

Of course, to build and maintain such nests from generation to generation requires a level of cooperation between individual insects that is quite remarkable in its own right. The social structure of a Vubuaz hive is not as complex as, for example, that of a silverwood bug colony, or on such a scale as that of the myrmex. What marks it out is its perfect adaptation to the short summers of northern Santharia, and the need to prepare as many grubs as well as possible for the ensuing winter. The entirety of a Vubuaz’s adult life is dedicated, depending on its gender and status, either to protecting the nest from any and all intruders (a duty carried out exclusively by males), forming, nurturing and maintaining the year’s crop of nursery-galls (the role of all females who have mated), or finding food for the males , who are unable to feed themselves, which is the job of those females who have not mated. By this strict segregation of roles, every generation of Vubuaz ensures, barring catastrophes of climate or other interference, the safety of the following generation. Thus Vubuaz nests are often among the most stable landmarks within a habitat, even occasionally being marked on maps.  

Diet:
Unlike their southern relatives, Vubuaz are capable of eating when in their adult form, and indeed require regular sustenance to survive. Grubs live off the flesh of the galls in which they spend their young lives. Adults, however, rely on hunting small insects and foraging fungi (mostly would-be parasites on the nest) and “milking” sap from neighbouring trees. Only females can directly eat like this, as the males’ overdeveloped mandibles prevent them from eating solid food. Males feed, therefore, by visiting certain specialised females (those who did not mate on hatching from their galls) who, instead of tending the galls, spend all their time hunting, and then regurgitate a liquid “broth” in large droplets which the males can then swallow. These forager females are the most vulnerable of the adults, as they must often venture outside the territory protected by the males. As such, they are often picked off by opportunistic corbies or gynnia birds, or even by foxes, if they are quick enough.

Territory:
Vubuaz are exclusively a northern insect, dwelling in the great forests of north Sarvonia. The furthest south they have been found is at the northern reaches of the Shaded Forest, where they favour evergreen trees with their thicker bark which seems better to support their nests. Their northern range is limited by the length of the summers – there must be enough time for the adult Vubuaz to hatch, mate, and rear new galls large enough to sustain the grubs they contain through the winter. Thus, any further north than the Mantle Woods they are unknown except as occasional lost individuals. The population resident in the Mantle Woods appears to have altered to better cope with the extreme cold, being generally smaller, and a darker colour, almost like brass or tarnished bronze. They appear to be hardier than other Vubuaz populations, with the adults even surviving occasional frosts with no obvious adverse effects. There is also known to be a handful of nests in the Wood Forest,  though the precise number and locations of these are a closely kept secret of the Kaaer'dár'shín people. Even in the best habitats, they are never common, with widely dispersed nests, usually in areas removed from people.

Mating:
Breeding takes place upon hatching in the first few days of spring – as soon as the snow melts off the galls. Males hatch in the early hours of the morning, often burrowing through frost still on the galls, helped by their larger mandibles. Once emerged, they dry their wings in the first rays of firstflame, before locating galls containing un-hatched females. They appear to find these by scent. Females hatch once the injera is properly up, by which time the males are ready to mate. There are always a good deal fewer males than females, so every male will, in all probability, find a mate easily. Once every Vubuaz has hatched, the immediate work of running the hive begins, and the only direct relation between male and female will be when the males come to un-mated females to be fed. It seems that males are more likely to mate with females whose galls are particularly large and clear of obstructions such as frost and moss, making the role of the mother in clearing her grub’s gall and choosing a good site all important.

Habitat/Behaviour:
Immediately after hatching and mating have finished, the adult Vubuaz begin the work of building their nests – in their northern habitat, summers are often short, and so they must race against the coming snows in order to ensure the safety of their young. Females who haven’t mated (usually around a third of the overall females in a generation) begin finding food to feed the males. Mated females also find food, but only for themselves, and begin clearing any vestiges of snow and new twigs from the hive tree, so they can start building their galls on top of the remains of those they’ve just hatched from. Males patrol the area around the hive tree, protecting it from anything and everything that comes too close. In this way, they will dedicate the rest of their lives to nurturing next year’s generation. Once mated females have finished preparing the nesting tree to receive this year’s batch of galls, they each use their long egg-laying tube to implant a single egg into a crevice, either in the bark itself, or between previous galls if no more space on the original bark remains. Even though it may already have been forced to grow into paper-thin boils during previous years, the bark will somehow maintain a flow of nutrients and sap so long as the tree is alive, so galls can be layered upon each other almost indefinitely, and still receive a supply of the nutrients which feed the grub and maintain the gall. It seems to be understood that the females keep a margin between their galls each year, allowing the bark to heal and not be chewed through all the way round, which would kill the tree.

Once the egg is implanted, the female Vubuaz chews a circular ring around it in the surrounding bark or old gall-tissue. It appears to be something in her saliva that triggers the growth of the gall , which she will then nurture and tend to for the rest of the summer, keeping it free of any moss, fungus or parasitic creatures.

Male Vubuaz are purely hive guards, using their vicious stings and ridiculously exaggerated mandibles to warn off any creature, be it as small as a butterfly or large as a packox, that comes within the span of the nesting-tree’s branches. They patrol their territory in loose groups of four or five, returning occasionally to visit the unmated females, who will regurgitate food in a liquid form which they are able to swallow, their impressively barbed mandibles being too large to allow them to ingest solid food. Should any creature come too close, the nearest “patrol” will unhesitatingly dive on them with loud, angry buzzing and vicious stinging. If for some reason the intruder does not leave, more patrols will be attracted by the buzzing, and attack repeatedly until the intruder is seen off. It is a method of defence which seems rarely to fail, as the pain inflicted by Vubuaz stings is fierce enough to leave a lasting impression even in the stubbornest creature.

When the snows become too heavy for the females to keep their galls clear of it, the adults will die, killed by the drop in temperature that accompanies the snow, leaving the young ensconced in their nursery galls to live and grow through the winter.

Myth/ lore:
The powerful stings of the Vubuaz, and their unflinching loyalty to certain areas, which they slowly transform with their cumulative papery nests, makes it understandable that they should command considerable respect and fear among the people who share their forests. Though the name Vubuaz seems fairly ubiquitous, as an accurate representation of the growling buzzing that denotes the presence of the insects, they have many other names. The Melád’rhím elves call them tán’avá (Styrash lit. "angry ones"), the orcs Hnk’arq (Kh'omchr'om lit. "biting attacker"), and among certain Kuglimz (it is a rather old term and not often used in common parlance), they are called Aek’ash, which means loosely “rabid insect” in Kuglimz'Seitre. Such fearsome titles are a clear mark of the power attributed to these little insects.

Despite the pain they can cause, though, they are often afforded a certain respect by those who live nearby. It is true that if a nest looks like being too close to a settlement, or a particularly important hunting area, they will occasionally be burnt down in the winter, when there are no adults present to fight back. This is a rare occurrence, though; partly because the Vubuaz are not often found near inhabited areas, but partly also because, especially among some northern elven tribes, they are deemed to be protectors of their forests, creating clear barriers to remind people of their place and to keep out those who would damage the area. It’s easy to see why the long-lived elves would see Vubuaz as less of a threat – once they know the location of a nest, it is easy to skirt around it, and thus it becomes harmless. To a stranger, however, they are easily stumbled upon and thus more dangerous, hence their perceived role as protectors or sentinels within a forest. In reality, the fearsome reputation of Vubuaz may be deserved, but it comes with the caveat that, like most wild creatures, they are only dangerous if you give them reason to be. Visit the nests at night, in the winter, or simply take care not to get too close, and there is relatively little danger.

There are, however, less favourable stories about the Vubuaz, among the humans and orcs, where they often take the form of retribution for some slight against the Gods. Grisly stories of human prisoners being tied up near Vubuaz nests by Losh-Oc, and left to lure their companions into the trap with their agonised cries, are often used as evidence of orcen barbarism, though the truth of such accounts is dubious, as the Ashz-Oc tell similar stories, which have it that a cunning human prisoner lured his captors to a Vubuaz nest. These stories have many variations, all intended to show the tellers in the best possible light. One version told by Kuglimz living near the northernmost borders of their territory, though, is a little different from the others, and a little more unlikely.

The myth of Ewyn’ine and the man of Aek’ash tells of a raid by the Losh-Oc on a Kuglimz village. the orcs burned and pillaged the settlement, taking the women and children prisoner and retreating before their menfolk could react. The Losh-Oc, or so the story goes, noticed one woman among their prisoners whose beauty was obviously exceptional even to their eye. This woman, whose name was Ewyn'ine, they decided would be the ideal bait for a trap which would draw all the surviving men of the village to their deaths. Putting the other prisoners to death, they blindfolded Ewyn'ine and marched her to a Vubuaz nest, dormant as it was still night. tying her to the tree, they left her to be attacked when the daylight woke the creatures, her screams at which would bring the men running to the same fate. But when daylight came, she was met by not vicious territorial stings, but instead the entire swarm, face to face, and hovering in the shape of a human figure, who seemed almost as scared of her as she was of it. It lingered for some time, trying to get her to leave. When it realised she was tied there, and that it could not free her, it left in the direction of the Losh-Oc. Soon after it left, Ewyn'ine was overjoyed to see the men of the village approaching. They were reunited with much joy and relief, but could not understand what had hapened - why Ewyn'ine was tied up next to an Aek'ash nest, but no Aek'ash were in evidence. Puzzled, Ewyn'ine returned to the village with her father, whilst the other men continued after the orcs. Not long after, they returned bringing news that they had found the orcs - but something had already got to them. They were all prostrate with the agony of thousands of Aek'ash stings, and begged for the Kuglimz men's swords.

Usages:
The strong Jaws of male Vubuaz mean they are sometimes used as temporary stitches, much like the Blue Myrmex, though in the Vubuaz’s case the use is much less common, as they sting so fiercely, and even when dead, the barbed jaws are hard to remove cleanly.

There have also been a handful of attempts, mainly by more secretive peoples such as the Melád’rhím elves, to attract Vubuaz into building their nests around a settlement or other area that needed strong protection from outsiders. By carefully removing parts of a nest tree just before the Vubuaz are ready to hatch, and attaching this “graft” to another tree, it was hoped that the Vubuaz, on hatching, would build their galls on the new tree. These experiments have had only limited success, with most of the Vubuaz simply dieing when removed from their tree and the nutrients that it supplies to the gall, but a few have reportedly survived, presumably because they were transplanted at just the right time, and have gone on to create new nests, so in theory such relocating methods could be used to build a formidable defence around a village; impenetrable to strangers, but, by means of gaps left between the nests, easily navigable to those who know the area.
By and large though, Vubuaz have only one real use, and it is a particularly unsavoury one, though they are perfectly suited to it, in many ways. The venom produced by the male insects is collected by certain individuals, who have learnt to approach the nest just as the males are hatching, before they can fly. The collectors are mainly of human descent, such as the Antislar people, and their descendants the Kaaer’dár’shín half-orcs, who use the venom to gain a vital advantage over their enemies. The dark elves are skilled in the tricks of Vubuaz harvesting as well. The Vubuaz thus collected are killed, and the venom sacs within the abdomens retrieved, dried and powdered. The venom is then sold to specialists, who greatly value its effects – in that it causes unbearable, debilitating pain even in small doses. Yet it is rarely fatal, unless administered in extremely concentrated form, or to someone already otherwise weakened. Grim though it is to contemplate, this makes it the perfect tool of torturers, and thus they will pay very highly for “cruel water”.  
« Last Edit: 21 March 2010, 16:32:05 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: 31 January 2010, 07:30:20 »

Another beautifully imagined creature! I like the myth in particular.

As usual, I only have minor comments, which will be in orange, along with praises and mutterings.

Spelling, grammar and style suggestions in yellow.


The Vubuaz
Categorization: bestiary> animals, smaller> insects> Vubuaz

Anyone stumbling upon a tree apparently swamped by strange, papery boils, so that only its branches poke through the mass of bubbling growths, might be inclined to pause and investigate, especially if, as sometimes happens, they find themselves among a whole grove of such oddities. This would be a grave mistake, and by doing so they risk attack from a pack of growling beasts whose ferocity and cruel power inspire fear among the bravest of people. The fact that said beasts are but a few nailsbreadths long is no reason to underestimate them – the Vubuaz is an insect as dangerous as it is fascinating, and it is very fascinating indeed. (Please mention their territory in the Overview.)

Appearance:
The Vubuaz is a large insect, and heavily-built, with the females measuring around six nailsbreadths from head to abdomen. Males are usually a couple of nailsbreadths shorter, and a good deal more slender. Both males and females have long, slender transparent wings, but females have a much larger, heavier body, and so fly with less grace. Males fly very fast and with great agility, making a characteristic growling noise through the vibration of their abdomen and wings, hence the common name Vubuaz, a literal representation of the noise they make.

One of the most recognisable traits of the adult Vubuaz is the males’ prominent sting and impressive, serrated antennae and jaws, which pack a notable nip, even if you don’t get stung. Males and females both have massive mandibles, but males’ are so exaggerated that they can’t close them – they are incapable of eating properly and have to be fed regurgitated birchsap by females. Both male and female also sport the long, heavily serrated antennae, which give them the name “antlered fly” in some areas. These antennae appear to be an important sensory tool for Vubuaz, and they constantly twitch (If I may permit myself a personal observation: I notice that a lot of your animals and characters have something about them that is constantly twitching (normally ears, and now antennae). You’re not overdosing on coffee, by any chance?) and wave them around. Vubuaz are very active insects, moving with obvious efficiency – females walk more often than flying, on long, sturdy legs that hold the body a little above the ground. In their scuttling movements, they are somewhat reminiscent of giant winged myrmex.
 
As with the common wopse, the breeding females have a clearly visible ovipositor (the tube through which they lay their eggs), which is often mistaken for a stinger. Unlike their more southern relatives, though, male Vubuaz have a large, thorn-shaped stinger, much easier to see than in the wopse. (It's not entirely clear here that only males have a stinger, although it does become so later. Might be better to avoid ambiguity from the start.)

Both male and female Vubuaz are armoured in a pale gold exoskeleton, much thicker than their southern relatives, and very shiny and reflective – the Vubuaz is a conspicuous insect that stands out from a long way, if the light hits it. With few natural predators, it benefits from looking distinctive, as most animals learn to keep away from them and their nests.

The nests are perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the Vubuaz’s appearance – much like wopses, they raise their grubs in large galls, which are formed in the bark of birch or pine trees. Unlike the wopse, however, Vubuaz build their galls communally, massing their individual constructions into one giant conglomeration which can swamp an entire tree. The galls themselves are smaller than wopse “bircheggs”, and rounder, forming delicate papery bubble-shaped globes, each about the size of a dove’s egg, on the surface of the bark. As each individual Vubuaz adds its egg to the nest, the bubbles mass on top of each other until they form the bulk of the tree itself.
The grubs inside are unremarkable in appearance – pulpy white and fat, with large, strong jaws, usually around three nailsbreadths long.

Special abilities:
Males produce large amounts of potent venom, delivered by means of their sting at the slightest provocation. They attack in small groups of three or four, risking as few individuals as possible whilst still assuring that several stings hit home – enough to discourage all but the most determined intruder on the nest’s territory. Though Vubuaz do not usually lose their stings when attacking, as malise do, they often they attack with such vehemence that they are injured, or simply run out of venom. When this happens they tend to land on the intruder (if it hasn’t managed to run away yet) and bite with their mandibles, which are sharply barbed enough to pierce all but the thickest skin. However, male Vubuaz mandibles are mainly for show, acting as a threat to other insects, and when used offensively, they occasionally cause the Vubuaz to become pinned to its victim, unable to open its jaws wide enough to escape.
The effects of Vubuaz venom are potent, and though rarely fatal, severe enough to be extremely dangerous to anyone who strays too close to a nest. This account from a Kuglimz hunter illustrates the risk:

“I know it sounds stupid but I swear it wasn’t there last time I’d hunted in that part of the wood. But I’m told again and again that a Vubuaz nest can’t grow up overnight, and I suppose that’s right. Still, it wasn’t a very big one...

I’d set out after anything I could catch – I was hoping for a deer or some such, maybe a young fawn, and that would have made a fine quarry. So I headed for the forest, where I knew the mothers sometimes took their young to hide whilst they went out to feed. I hadn’t gone far when I heard a low buzzing growling sound – if I’d had any sense I suppose I should have run then. But I was concentrating on looking for signs of deer, and I passed it off as a stream nearby. I didn’t realise how close I’d come to the nest until I could actually see it – a round, pale bubble-shape on the trunk of a great big pine, like the foam that builds up around waterfalls. It took me a few minutes to work out what the thing was – Vubuaz nests aren’t something you often get to see very close. I was curious, so I stepped closer – it looked quiet; I could only see a couple of the insects scuttling around on the outside. I was within a ped or so of the nest when I realised how loud the buzzing noise had gotten.

And then the first one stung – I didn’t see it, but by Sur’Tyan I felt it – like someone had rammed a hot needle deep into my neck. And then I saw the Vubuaz fly past, out of the corner of my eye, and felt the wings brush my cheek. And suddenly there were four or five, all stinging, on my neck and arms, the back of my hands. The pain was horrible – I could actually feel it spreading, I remember, like fire clinging to my skin, and burrowing deeper. I ran, as fast as I could; I doubt I’ll ever run faster, and certainly hope I’ll never have such cause for haste. They kept stinging and stinging until I yelled out with pain, and when I swatted them with my burning hands they bit at me with their mouths.

Eventually they seemed to give up, but there was still one – I’d swatted it and it’d latched onto the skin of my hand, hooking itself on so it couldn’t get away. The pain from the stings didn’t die down – it seemed to drain away all my strength, as it spread inside me, and my hands shook like an old man’s and I couldn’t breathe properly – my breath came shallow and too fast. The pain was literally blinding – all the colours of the trees and their new leaves seemed too bright, and blurred together, and I fell down – I couldn’t stand anymore, couldn’t think, even. All I remember is how much it hurt, so that I yelled out the gods’ names in the forest, and the feel of that trapped Vubuaz wriggling and drumming its wings against my hand, as if it were trying to get my attention.

They found me by following the screams, I’m told – I don’t much remember screaming – I couldn’t hear anything over all the pain – does that make any sense? That’s how it felt. I remember their shapes bending over me, thinking this must be Lier’Tyan come to take me away, because surely I’m dead now, you can’t hurt this much and not die?

But I suppose I was wrong – they do sometimes call Vubuaz poison “the cruel water”, because it makes you wish you would die but you never do. I was stung nine times, and the pain lasted for five hours, before I could think or keep still enough to rest. The stings are gone, healed away like the most innocent of cuts, but I’ve still got the one that trapped itself in my skin – here, I put it in a bottle, to remind myself, and as a good luck charm.”
--Knut Igdergva, Kuglimz hunter. (An evocative story, although the dramatic narration suggested more than nine stings to me! Goes to show how painful they are I suppose. One stylistic thing: you’ve got an awful lot of dashes in that story. That may well be deliberate, but in my insignificant opinion a full stop or semicolon would do the job just as well in at least half the cases. Used sparingly, the impact of the dash – the slight pause that raises the suspense – is very attractive. Used too often, it loses that impact, I think. You may shout “Emily Dickinson”, of course. It’s partly a matter of taste, I suppose.)

Aside from this most notorious ability of the male Vubuaz, the females have the remarkeable skill of building the spectacular nests which wanderers in the northern woods have learnt to give such a wide berth to. The exact process by which a female Vubuaz persuades tree bark to grow into strange, papery thin bubbles filled with soft edible tissue, is unknown. Possibly they secrete some chymical that alters the consistency of the bark, or, as some researchers have suggestd, they may carry some disease which brings the tree out in convenient boils, which the Vubuaz have learnt to make use of in rearing their young.   In any case, Vubuaz nests are strange and eerily beautiful sights to behold, as, unlike their southern relatives the Wopses, they nest communally, returning to the same tree for many years. Each generation of Vubuaz builds its nursery-galls on top of the previous year’s remains, which will have formed thin papery bubbles of living bark. Thus entire trees slowly become swamped by a seeming froth of these “bubbles”, leaving only the topmost branches poking out. Often the tree will eventually die, whereupon the entire swarm of Vubuaz will have to hurriedly relocate to a nearby tree and try to start again before winter, as they rely upon the living tree to nourish their young. There are some areas in the most uninhabited forests, where wide groves of trees have been suffocated under Vubuaz nests and abandoned , as the hive moves to the next tree (Not necessary, I think. You’ve just explained that.). Such areas are eerie places indeed, with all the trees leafless and swollen with egg-shaped growths, and always the threatening growl of Vubuaz wings nearby, reminding the traveller that somewhere the hive responsible for this still lurks.

Of course, to build and maintain such nests from generation to generation requires a level of cooperation between individual insects that is quite remarkable in its own right. The social structure of a Vubuaz hive is not as complex as, for example, that of a silverwood bug colony, or on such a scale as that of the myrmex. What marks it out is its perfect adaptation to the short summers of northern Santharia, and the need to prepare as many grubs as well as possible for the ensuing winter. The entirety of a Vubuaz’s adult life is dedicated, depending on its gender and status, either to protecting the nest from any and all intruders (a duty carried out exclusively by males), forming, nurturing and maintaining the year’s crop of nursery-galls (the role of all females who have mated), or finding food for the males (delete space), who are unable to feed themselves, which is the job of those females who have not mated. By this strict segregation of roles, every generation of Vubuaz ensures, barring catastrophes of climate or other interference, the safety of the following generation. Thus Vubuaz nests are often among the most stable landmarks within a habitat, even occasionally being marked on maps.  (They are? How long does it take them, then, to kill a tree with their galls? Your description above of a clearing made by Vubuaz moving from tree to tree and killing one after the other seems to suggest less stability?)

Diet:
Unlike their southern relatives, Vubuaz are capable of eating when in their adult form, and indeed require regular sustenance to survive. Grubs live off the flesh of the galls in which they spend their young lives. Adults, however, rely on hunting small insects and fungi (They hunt fungi? I’ve got an image in my head now of panicked mushrooms scurrying into rabbit holes, trying to escape the fierce vubuaz. Maybe you want to rephrase your sentence slightly. Bagsy those mushrooms, by the way! ;) ). (mostly would-be parasites on the nest) and “milking” sap from neighbouring trees. Only females can directly eat like this, as the males’ overdeveloped mandibles prevent them from eating solid food. Males feed, therefore, by visiting certain specialised females (those who did not mate on hatching from their galls) who, instead of tending the galls, spend all their time hunting, and then regurgitate a liquid “broth” in large droplets, which the males can swallow.

Territory:
Vubuaz are exclusively a northern insect, dwelling in the great forests of north Sarvonia. The furthest south they have been found is at the northern reaches of the Shaded Forest, where they favour evergreen trees, with their thicker bark which seems better to support their nests. Their northern range is limited by the length of the summers – there must be enough time for the adult Vubuaz to hatch, mate, and rear new galls large enough to sustain the grubs they contain through the winter. Thus any further north than the Mantle Woods, they are unknown except as occasional lost individuals. Even in the best habitats, they are never common, with widely dispersed nests, usually in areas removed from people.

Mating:
Breeding takes place upon hatching in the first few days of spring – as soon as the snow melts off the galls. Males hatch in the early hours of the morning, often burrowing through frost still on the galls, helped by their larger mandibles. Once emerged, they dry their wings in the first rays of sunrise, before locating galls containing un-hatched females. They appear to find these by scent. Females hatch once the sun’s properly up, by which time the males are ready to mate as soon as they emerge[/color]. There are always a good deal fewer males than females, so every male will, in all probability, find a mate easily. Once every Vubuaz has hatched, the immediate work of running the hive begins, and the only direct relation between male and female will be when the males come to un-mated females to be fed.

Habitat/ Behaviour:
Immediately after hatching and mating have finished, the adult Vubuaz begin the work of building their nests – in their northern habitat, summers are often short, and so they must race against the coming snows in order to ensure the safety of their young. Females who haven’t mated (usually around a third of the overall females in a generation) begin finding food to feed the males. Mated females also find food, but only for themselves, and begin clearing any vestiges of snow and new twigs from the hive tree, so they can start building their galls on top of the remains of those they’ve just hatched from. Males patrol the area around the hive tree, protecting it from any and everything that comes too close. In this way, they will dedicate the rest of their lives to nurturing next year’s generation. Once mated females have finished preparing the nesting tree to receive this year’s batch of galls, they each use their long ovipositors to implant a single egg into a crevice, either in the bark itself, or between previous galls, if no more space on the original bark remains. Even though it may already have been forced to grow into paper-thin boils during previous years, the bark will somehow maintain a flow of nutrients and sap so long as the tree is alive, so galls can be layered upon each other almost indefinitely, and still receive a supply of the nutrients which feed the grub and maintain the gall.

Once the egg is implanted, the female Vubuaz chews a circular ring around it in the surrounding bark or old gall-tissue. It appears to be something in her saliva that triggers the growth of the gall , which she will then nurture and tend to for the rest of the summer, keeping it free of any moss, fungus or parasitic creatures.

Male Vubuaz are purely hive guards, using their vicious stings and ridiculously exaggerated mandibles to warn off any creature, be it as small as a butterfly or large as a packox, that comes within around ten peds of their nesting tree. They patrol their territory in loose groups of four or five, returning occasionally to visit the unmated females, who will regurgitate food in a liquid form which they are able to swallow, their impressively barbed mandibles being too large to allow them to ingest solid food. Should any creature come close, the nearest “patrol” will unhesitatingly dive on them with loud, angry buzzing and vicious stinging. If for some reason the intruder does not leave, more patrol will be attracted by the buzzing, and attack repeatedly until the intruder is seen off. It is a method of defence which seems rarely to fail, as the pain inflicted by Vubuaz stings is fierce enough to leave a lasting impression even in the stubbornest creature.

When the snows become too heavy for the females to keep their galls clear of it, the adults will die, leaving the young ensconced in their nursery galls to live and grow through the winter.

Myth/ lore:
The powerful stings of the Vubuaz, and their unflinching loyalty to certain areas, which they slowly transform with their cumulative papery nests, makes it understandable that they should command considerable respect and fear among the people who share their forests. Though the name Vubuaz seems fairly ubiquitous, as an accurate representation of the growling buzzing that denotes the presence of the insects, they have many other names. The Melád’rhím elves call them tán’avá (angry ones), the orcs Hnk’arq (biting attacker), and among certain Kuglimz (it is a rather old term and not often used in common parlance), they are called Aek’ash, which means loosely “rabid insect”. Such fearsome titles are a clear mark of the power attributed to these little insects.

Despite the pain they can cause, though, they are often afforded a certain respect by those who live nearby. It is true that if a nest looks like being too close to a settlement, or a particularly important hunting area, they will occasionally be burnt down in the winter, when there are no adults present to fight back. This is a rare occurrence, though; partly because the Vubuaz are not often found near to inhabited areas, but partly also because, especially among some northern elven tribes, they are deemed to be protectors of their forests, creating clear barriers to remind people of their place and to keep out those who would damage the area. It’s easy to see why the long-lived elves would see Vubuaz as less of a threat – once they know the location of a nest, it is easy to skirt around it, and thus it becomes harmless. To a stranger, however, they are easily stumbled upon and thus more dangerous, hence their perceived role as protectors or sentinels within a forest.

There are, however, less favourable stories about the Vubuaz, among the humans and orcs, where they often take the form of retribution for some slight against the gods. Grisly stories of human prisoners being tied up near Vubuaz nests by Losh-Oc, and left to lure their companions into the trap with their agonised cries, are often used as evidence of orcen barbarism, though the truth of such accounts is dubious, as the Ashz-Oc tell similar stories, which have it that a cunning human prisoner lured his captors to a Vubuaz nest. These stories have many variations, all intended to show the tellers in the best possible light. One version told by Kuglimz living near the northernmost borders of their territory, though, is a little different from the others, and a little more unlikely:

Ewyn’ine and the man of Aek’ash

(Ooooh, everything’s screaming ‘Hiveling’ here! Am I right? Am I right?)

The Losh-Oc are evil creatures. They came a long time ago, as the snow was thawing, to this place and burned all, put all to blade, attacking first and cruellest the women and children, taking them away before our warriors could fight back. They ran into the night, dragging their prisoners behind like an Argrothin bear with its prey, running to the forest to devour it in private.

Beautiful Ewyn’ine was among the prisoners, young daughter of the strongest warrior of the tribe, Lor’ine. The Losh-Oc saw her beauty and her pride, and thought thus: “She, surely (add comma) is the greatest treasure of our enemy. She, surely, will bring them running if they hear her screams. She, then, will bait the cruel trap that we will lay for the menfolk.” Ewyn’ine, then, was chosen. The other prisoners cut down like sheep slaughtered. We remember them here. (Masterful, Seth. Four words, and you’ve got me hooked and believing that this tale comes to me directly from an oral culture. We remember them here.  Beautiful.)

Ewyn’ine wept to see such cruelty, and was filled with fear at what her captors must have planned for her. They tied her hands behind her, and covered her eyes with a hood of animal hide, and they attached a rope to her neck, to lead her stumbling through the forest like a blind, frightened animal. She was frightened indeed, and wished that they would reach where they were taken to, so that she could only know her fate, and meet her end at last, instead of this terrible darkened journey. It seemed forever that she was led like a lame horse through the forest, and all she could hear was the mutterings of the hateful Losh-Oc. They argued, it seemed, bickered and nagged at each other in their barbaric snarling language, and a tentative hope flowered in Ewyn’ine’s heart. Were they anxious because they were pursued? Certainly, they seemed to move ever faster, and though Ewyn’ine was near exhausted by the relentless march that dragged her through the darkness, she clung to the hope that they were pursued, that her father and all the other men were chasing her, would rescue her soon and kill every one of the murdering Losh-Oc.

Her hope soon vanished as she was pulled to a halt, dragged roughly to a tree, and heard the rope knotted round the trunk. She felt the sickening, rotted-meat smell of orc breath as one of her captors pulled at her hair, forcing her to bend so that he might speak directly to her face. The hood was roughly pulled away, and she saw his yellow eyes, she smelt his awful breath, and heard him speak one word; “Vubuaz”, before they left her, alone in this silent clearing. She shuddered with a sudden cold fear, knowing suddenly what the Losh-Oc planned for her. She was tied only peds away from a great, ancient nest of Vubuaz, the Aek’ash whose sting brings unbearable pain. When the sun rose they would waken, and descend on her with their fierce stings, so that her screams would bring the men running, and they too would be attacked, fall in helpless agony, where they could be butchered by the Losh-Oc as easily as a litter of newborn piglets. (How did the orcs intend to protect themselves from the Vubuaz?)

It was yet three hours until daybreak, yet try as she might, she could not loosen her bonds. She sank to the ground in desperate prayer to Lier’tyan, and lost herself for a time in grief; for herself, for the women and children already slain by the Losh-Oc, and for the men who would soon die by her screams. It seemed an age she lay weeping in silence, but there came suddenly upon her a realisation – both that it was light, at last, and that her low sobs were not the only sound in the clearing. She shuddered, not daring to look up, as she realised she had been hearing for some time the dreadful growling buzzing song of the Aek’ash. She dared not look up, for it seemed so loud it must be that they hovered close above her – she lay still and barely daring breathe, frozen by the awful terror of suspense, until she found herself only wishing they might strike, and end the agony of her waiting with the real agony of their stings. She looked up, into the face of her death.

It looked back down at her, and it was not the face of many small insects, but the face of a man. Ha! I knew it! It shimmered and buzzed, sculpted from a great swarm of Aek’ash, yet it did not strike, did not seem in any way to be the bringer of death she expected. For a long moment she stared up at the blank face that shimmered before her in pearl and gold flash of wing and stinger. It was a swarm, but not a swarm, more as if the Aek’ash had poured themselves into the shape of a man, and taken on his mind and soul as well, for it did not strike but simply looked on her, without eyes, seeming by the slow tilt of its head, by the hesitant set of its buzzing shoulders and shimmering hands, to be watching her with a certain wonder. It watched her and she watched it back, for many minutes, before it moved – tried to reach out its hand towards her, drew back, almost as if scared, when she flinched at this movement. It stood up, suddenly, waved its insubstantial arms at her, as if to show her she could leave, the buzzing of its many wings rising and falling with every movement.

But Ewyn’ine could not leave – she was tied to the tree still, her hands bound behind her. She could but watch in uncomprehending wonder as the man of Aek’ash gestured towards her, then away, towards the safety of the forest’s edge, of her distant home. “I cannot go! I am tied here, a sacrifice for you to consume!” she cried, not expecting the creature to understand her. Yet it did, for it went quite still, suddenly, watching her again, as if astonished by this news. Again it approached her, but this time it inspected the ropes that bound her, reaching down almost to touch them, before withdrawing the hands made from buzzing, venomous Aek’ash. It could not touch the ropes to untie them, it seemed, not to break them. Watching the strange man-shaped swarm, Ewyn’ine thought that to touch it would surely be to break the spell that held it together, and thus to unleash the Aek’ash with their fierce stings. This was a gentle creature, she thought, made out of many small vicious ones. It was, she thought, very beautiful, shimmering as golden as her own hair, lighter than air, graceful as grass that ripples in the wind. She wished she could talk to it more, even if it could not reply, even if she could not be sure it understood, but suddenly it turned its faceless head, towards some sound, and was gone, half drifting, half running through the forest, away in the direction the Losh-Oc had gone.

Ewyn’ine did not have long to wonder after its sudden departure, for she soon heard the same sound she had (<-- Something is missing here!), and her heart lifted in sudden, wild joy – the tramping of feet, the shouting of men talking to each other in her own tongue! She cried out to her father, and familiar voices answered, came running and cut her fetters, carried her to the arms of Lor’ine so that they could embrace, be sure and thankful of each other’s safety. It was only now, though, that the men saw the great swollen Aek’ash nest, and began to back away hurriedly, for fear of the terrible stings. It took all of Ewyn’ine’s patience and persistence to explain to them that the Aek’ash themselves were gone. She tried to tell them her story, but as she did not understand what had happened, how could she expect the others to? Her father took her back to the village, whilst the other warriors continued their pursuit of the Losh-Oc, hungry for vengeance.

Work had barely begun in repairing the orc-wrought damage when the warriors returned, wearing expressions of wonder and amazement. Lor’ine greeted them, asking “why do you return so quickly?”

Most were silent, but one answered “we found the hateful Losh-Oc barely three hours further on from where Ewyn’ine was tied.”

Lor’ine smiled at this news, and asked eagerly “you battled, then? I see none missing from your number, none wounded – you bested them?”

Again, the one answered, seeming hesitant in his words, as if not sure whether what he spoke were the truth; “it was no battle – they begged for death – even in their barbarous tongue we could well understand their piteous pleas. They writhed like worms, their foul skin pockmarked all over with a thousand welts... welts just such as those left by Aek’ash stings, though they were near no nest, and no Aek’ash were in sight. We butchered them as they asked, and returned. Our Ewyn’ine spoke the truth, I think. Some vengeful creature hunted down those orcs, and left on them the marks of Aek’ash. I know not what to think but that she spoke truth.”

Usages:
Vubuaz have only one real use, and it is a particularly unsavoury one, though they are perfectly suited to it, in many ways. The venom produced by the male insects is collected by certain individuals (By whom? Kuglimz? Orcs? Elves? Others?), who have learnt to approach the nest just as the males are hatching, before they can fly. The Vubuaz thus collected are killed, and the venom sacs within the abdomens retrieved, dried and powdered. The venom is then sold to specialists, who greatly value its effects – in that it causes unbearable, debilitating pain even in small doses. Yet is rarely fatal, unless administered in extremely concentrated form, or to someone already otherwise weakened. Grim though it is to contemplate, this makes it the perfect tool of torturers, and thus they will pay very highly for “cruel water”.

Aura for entomological imagination. Next up is the bedbug hiveling, then? ;)
« Last Edit: 31 January 2010, 07:32:05 by Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang » Logged

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seth ghibta
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« Reply #2 on: 31 January 2010, 08:08:50 »

Quote
(If I may permit myself a personal observation: I notice that a lot of your animals and characters have something about them that is constantly twitching (normally ears, and now antennae). You’re not overdosing on coffee, by any chance?)
ye gods it's entirely true.

that would never have occurred to me, but you're absolutely right! i'll try to restrain the twitching creatures in future.... but there's no way i can survive on any less coffee. ;)

i'll get to work on those brilliant suggestions tomorrow, thanks Shaba.

and of course there will be bedbug hivelings! imagine waking up to find one sharing with you.... evil
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« Reply #3 on: 31 January 2010, 22:17:44 »

i think that's everything - Shaba's corrections in yellow.
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« Reply #4 on: 01 February 2010, 00:27:36 »

Give me a day or two and I'll go through this Seth. :)  Not sure if I can read it tody.
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« Reply #5 on: 02 February 2010, 00:15:14 »

thanks Alt - no rush though, i've started back at lectures so by rights i should problly spend less time playing here...
in theory, anyway. grin
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« Reply #6 on: 02 February 2010, 02:24:37 »

I am also looking to check this entry, seth. At first glance, I am not sure how it would fit where you have placed it. They seem to fit better in a more remote area. I'll post feedback asap.
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« Reply #7 on: 02 February 2010, 06:13:34 »

I read this and enjoyed very much. :)

Feel free to mention the Antislar people in usuig the venom for torture.

One thing I might suggest;  During the times that the Vubuaz are in search of a new nest, I would think that this becomes a time of heightened danger, that they are more unpredictable and aggressive at this time.  But, this is simply a suggestion.

Great work. thumbup
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« Reply #8 on: 02 February 2010, 10:07:00 »

Nasty venomous hornets...Awesome!!!!! This is the purest genius ever!!!!!!!!
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« Reply #9 on: 02 February 2010, 19:24:17 »

why thankyou sir! it's always nice to see someone who appreciates the small and wriggly things in life. grin
@Alt: those are fantastic suggestions - i'll try and incorporate them some time today.
@Azhira: i wasn't too sure about the territory myself - that's why i tried to leave it as wide as i could without making invinsible cold-impervious killer bugs. ;) any advice on that would be muchly appreciated. heart
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« Reply #10 on: 02 February 2010, 22:34:48 »

Ok, I am no bestiary expert by any means, so I only offer a few suggestions. I am still working on the territory stuff.

- The Overview states that any traveler to the northern forests of Sarvonia...are there any specific forests that Vubuaz live? If you mean to have them in every forest, that may present problems in Caaehl'heroth with the delicate established ecosystem in the Themed'lon.

- You mention the word Vubuaz is a translation of the noise they make. Perhaps mention what the translation is and from what language, maybe in the Overview.

- You compare the Vubuaz with the wopse and myrmex, but a first time reader may not know what the wopse or myrmex is. I would explain a bit about them before going into your comparisons.

- The word ovipositor is a contemporary, scientific term. Perhaps simply say the "egg laying tube" or something similar.

- Does the Vubuaz have predators? Are they hunted and eaten by other creatures? They seem very powerful with little to fear from other creatures. If that is so, that creates problems with ecosystem balance. And by giving them territory in every forest, you'll have several tribes that would have to contend with them somehow (Hovel Frond and Shaded Woods for example). The elves especially need to know what to do about nests of Vubuaz.

- The Vubuaz are greatly integrated in forested areas, so I won't suggest moving them out. I was going to say the Stone Fields of Peat would be perfect for such a nasty, but there are no trees there. If I were to suggest a forest with few inhabitants and tribes, I would say the Wood Forest just south of Caaehl'heroth. The Vubuaz would provide a nice defense against others who may come up from the south into Kaaer territory. The Kaaer could even use them somehow.

- I guess what I am trying to say in all of this is that the Vubuaz are powerful and aggressive with few enemies. It creates an imbalance in all of the forests that now many tribes and creatures have to deal with. For a creature to have such a large impact, perhaps making sure it was a good idea with the other devs would have been a good idea. That way we could help find a place for them. I love your beasts, Seth, but I can tell you that there is no room in my area for them as they are written now.  :(
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« Reply #11 on: 02 February 2010, 23:11:14 »

I'm good with the Mantle Woods. :)
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seth ghibta
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« Reply #12 on: 03 February 2010, 04:18:05 »

sorry Azhira, i'm a bit short on time, so i'll only pick up on a couple things here. the overpowered thing - i didn't mean them to be tarrors of the forest. i think i've overblown that aspect a bit, and i'll look it over - i tried to work in ways to limit them that iknow from what little zoology type stuff i've learnt. vubuaz are a self-limiting species - they only have time and resources to raise a limited number of young per year, which are confined to a limited space, which can only rarely get bigger or smaller, by the inevitable good years and bad years that nature throws about. the idea was that they'd be widespread but rare within they're range - you could get a single nest confined to a very small area of forest, and that might not move significantly in centuries. in the myth/lore area i tried to outline how different races tend to see them as a potential risk, but fine so long as you know where they are - the elves especially see them as protectors against strangers, who of course wouldn't know where they are. and if they're a problem you could just wander over in winter and set a fire around the nest tree.
i think a lot of this i need to say more clearly, and elaborate on a bit more - by glossing over it a bit i've made them look too dangerous, i envisaged them as a bit like hornets - you really wouldnt want to upset a nest of them, but generally they're fine as long as you treat them with a little respect.
most of the other stuff you said is fine, and if i've anything to add i'll stick it in when i integrate stuff. of course if you still think they're too dangerous or disruptive i'm entirely open to suggestions, and i agree with you that at present they read as overpowered. a rewrite is needed.
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seth ghibta
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« Reply #13 on: 09 February 2010, 01:07:04 »

right, I'm still not entirely happy with it, but it's getting better.
does that solve any of the problems, or is there more needs doing?
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Azhira Styralias
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« Reply #14 on: 09 February 2010, 22:16:17 »

Ok yes! This is better, seth. Now, your Vubuaz can venture into my territory.  thumbup

- Would it be possible to make a different variation for the Mantle Woods? That area is pretty far north in the snow regions. Maybe a variety that is smaller, or a different color and adapted to the snowy cold.

- Feel free to place a few nests in the Wood Forest (the big forest south of Caaehl'heroth). That forest is largely undeveloped and the Vubuaz would fit there now.

- Speaking of uses, my Kaaer tribe would have a use for the venom. It would give them an advantage against the orcs they are at war with. Should the Vubuaz be found in the Wood Forest, the Kaaer would simply have to go down there and harvest some. Since the Kaaer are also descendants of the Antislar, that could be how the Kaaer learned to harvest from the nests.
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