Always keep an eye to the skies when you pass the Hives.Blood Bugs are not insects, but blood-sucking isopods that are native to the Ucurum canyon. Though capable of short bursts of flight, the Blood Bugs hunt by launching themselves from the canyon wall and gliding silently upon prey.
The Bugs body are covered by overlapping plates that the isopod can split down the middle to extend its wings. Their shell range in color from a earthy brown to almost black. It is light and relatively flimsy, with the Blood Bugs weighting less than it would seem. The Blood Bugs wings are translucent membranes stretched across bone-like extensions and span about the isopod's body in length. While in flight or climbing, the isopods many clawed limbs stay tucked to its body, but they are able to extend them about a meter to wrap around prey.
Although not their primary way of hunting, the Blood Bugs claws are more than capable of inflicting lacerating wounds, but break easily.The Blood Bugs "mouth" consist of numerous slender tendrils that it use to feed as well as sniff the air. Each one is tipped with either a stinger or a proboscis. As far anyone has been able to tell, the Blood Bugs do not grow old and feeble - they barely seem to change at all, though certain creatures warp and bloat from overfeeding.
There might be worse ways to die, but I'm not taking that bet.Blood Bugs are ambush predators. They either jump from a cliff or use their wings to get airborne before gliding upon unsuspecting prey from above. The Bug's mouth-stingers contain a powerful venom that they use to immobilize their prey, before they begin to drain their blood. The Bugs will wrap themselves around a victim and after the initial assault, they will plunge the rest of their tentacles into the prey.
The effects of the Blood Bugs venom paralyze the victim from moving, but once a sufficient amount have flooded the prey, it seemingly allow the bug a rudimentary control over their prey. Victims who have survived it find it difficult to describe and most remember very little. The Bugs will guide their prey into some dark place and force them to curl up inside, so they can feed in peace.With their ability to scale the canyon walls with relative ease, the nest of Blood Bugs are placed high on the canyon walls. The Bugs secrete a sticky glue from their abdomen that turn into a rough, grey-ish mass similar to a wasp's nest. The same mass is used to cover the cocoon of their young. The Bugs display little in the way of cooperation, though their nests tend to be clumped together in one area. Fights between Bugs are common, but not particularly fierce.
When it is time to lay their eggs, one of the Blood Bugs stingers bloat and swell. Next hunt, the Blood Bug do not kill their prey from feeding but instead inject them with the bloated stinger, which detaches from the bug and burrows into the unfortunate host. After that, the Bug begins to cover most the host with the same material as their nest, leaving them breathing but restrained.
The stinger-egg contains enough venom to keep the host sedated until the brood has hatched, but not always. Some awaken from their stupor and even manage to free themselves from the cocoon.The brood of bugs begin to grow inside the prey and feast on their blood until they are the size of a fist. As many as a dozen Blood Bug broodlings can nest inside a single host, but too many will kill the host and force the broodlings to emerge before they might be fully ready. Before they hatch, the eggs become fused to the flesh of the host like cancerous tumors. If removed from a host, the eggs quickly shrivel and die. Only the most skilled surgeons has a chance of saving the host's life, although the Deva of Thânh are becoming quite proficient at the procedure.
Blood Bug eggs, extracted from a host.
Blood Bugs are common horrors in the Ucurum canyon and explorers know to keep an eye towards the sky. Stories of unfortunate travelers waking up from an ambush, coated in the Bug's resin and something still trying to wiggle into their flesh are popular tales of terror in Ucurum. Most will take any chance they get to kill a Blood Bug, even if their flesh is inedible and the carapace of little use. Some collect the husks still, as trophies of good deeds performed and it is not uncommon for bounties to be paid out for them. Few things bind communities in Ucurum quite together as their loathing for the Bugs.
Death From Above
The stingers are adept at wiggling through openings and gaps, and more than able to pierce through clothing. Travelers in the Wound often wear helmets with tightly-fitted gorgets to try and buy themselves precious time to get an ambushing bug off of them.Others have a more practical view. While the bugs are of little use by themselves, a nest of Blood Bugs can be effective at keeping other animals away. More sinister organizations might cultivate a brood to use for punishment or to harvest their venom for their own use. In either case, the Blood Bugs are scattered throughout Ucurum and few places are truly free of their presence.
Ucurum, the Wound Across the World A canyon that spans a continent, Ucurum is an oasis in the surrounding wasteland. It provides shelter from storms and Blight, as well as ample hunting grounds. Humanity's hold on the great rift is fragile and limited, with many of the canyon's inhabitants viewing them as prey. Read More About Ucurum
Predator and PreySize is of little deterrence to the Blood Bugs, who are willing to attack almost anything. If a creature's armor is too thick and the Bugs can find no gaps, they'll attempt to escape. If they are not, even large and vicious beasts with a Bug hooked in where they cannot reach will eventually succumb to their poison. Blood Bugs are in turn prey to a variety of creatures, like hanging snakes that lounge on the isopods in mid-flight or Snatcher-Claws.
A Slow DeathDespite the potency of their venom, Blood Bugs rarely kill their prey quickly. They drink slowly, while their venom keeps their prey sedated and paralyzed, but completely aware. Depending on the size of the prey, the process of lethal exsanguination can take days.
The Blooded It is all too easy for a victim of the Blood Bugs feeding to go mad. With limbs that won't obey them, forcing them to crawl into some godforsaken darkness while the skittering claws caress their body and the blood slowly drains from their veins. For days, alone and devoured. Those who survive are rarely the same. Some come out of this darkness with reborn - having found revelation soaked in venom. The Blooded cult use Blood Bugs to initiate new members, to bring them to heights of despair and the enlightenment found there.