Artificial insects



Your Excellencies my lords and ladies of the Senate,

In your name, I have had the high honour of conducting the investigation into the incident that has recently occurred in the Southern Estates.

From my investigation, I have concluded that the troubles originate from a new kind of craft whose existence has not been reported before. As new, uncontrolled magics are highly dangerous and the senate has been created to regulate such magics, I have, of course, immediately focused my investigation on those artefacts.

Here is the content of my report.
— Investigator Narlone

Table of Contents







Report parchment writing.jpg
Investigator Narlone, by AmélieIS with Unsplash

Item

  A craft that once activated allows for the materialisation of giant insects who consume magic.

Name

 
Heir Jean Partesse
Heir Jean Partesse, by AmélieIS with Artbreeder
        No official name has been given to those crafts or the creature they invoke. The individuals who have encountered them have called them "parasites" or "magic-sucking insects". In the words of His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse:  
What? What do you mean, how are they called? Do you think we took the time to stop and politely ask the perpetrators? As soon as we found them, we killed them and destroyed the crafts to make all those parasites disappear.
— Heir Jean Partesse


History

 
No one knows who created those crafts or to which faction that person belongs.   The crafts came to the attention of the Senate and of the general population of the empire when thousands of those insects suddenly appeared in the Southern Estates. The fact that both Light and Dark Estates were targeted is peculiar and of great interest, as it suggests that another player is getting involved in the tension between the two factions.   This has led to a lot of speculation, as attested by His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse:  
Well, of course this is the work of the Dark Lord or of one of his minions! I do not care that he was targeted too—did you see any actual damage in his Estate? This was obviously a trick!
— Heir Jean Partesse
         
Map regions affected by insects
The incident affected a vast region, here represented in pink, by AmélieIS with Wonderdraft


Description

 
     

Craft bracelet used to invoke insects

One of the crafts used to invoke parasitic insects, by AmélieIS with images from Pixabay and Vecteezy

The crafts themselves usually take the form of a piece of jewellery, although different kinds have been reported, including a bracelet and some pendants. As once again reported by His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse:  
I did not get to see one up close for long before we destroyed them, but this was very obviously cheap jewellery, fit only for commoners.
— Heir Jean Partesse
          As many other crafts such as location pentagrams, they appear to be made through a combination of different hollow 2D metallic patterns that are stacked together around a common central point.  

Example of patterns used in the manufacture of crafts

Example of patterns used in the manufacture of crafts, by AmélieIS with images from Pixabay

         
                    The crafts are used to make some magical constructs appear next to their holder. Those constructs take the form of gigantic insects, always of the same kind. If it is modelled after an existing species, it has not yet been identified. Nevertheless, they have been noted to bear some similarities with praying mantes and locusts. They are almost the length of a tall man and their mandibles are longer than an arm. Once hurt, they release a green substance, potentially an equivalent to the haemolymph of real insects.   While they are not directly targeting humans, they can be violent once attacked. Their preferred targets are magical crafts, raw materials used in the fabrication of crafts (e.g. crafting logs and wool), and plants soaked in the magic of the Land (e.g. fruit trees and trees whose wood will be used as raw material). The insects eat those objects and consume the magic inside of them.
Insect eating craft
One of the parasites eating a craft, by AmélieIs with an image from Unsplash
     
Lady Annabelle Alyssenne
Lady Annabelle Alyssenne by AmélieIS with Artbreeder
    To the few individuals in the empire with some degree of magic sensitivity, the insects ooze an aura of wrongness. We have here the invaluable testimony of Her Excellency Lady Annabelle of House Alyssenne on the subject:  
The magic of the insect registered on my sense as a feeling of wrongness. It was similar to the buzzing sound of an insect in the background that one nevertheless can instantly feel crawling all over oneself. A profound instinct warning one of something disgusting, potentially out for one's blood, carrying all kinds of diseases.
— Lady Annabelle Alyssenne


Usage

 
The information presented here is conjecture based on similar crafts, as none of the parasite crafts are freely available for study.   The parasite crafts are dormant until they are activated by their owners pushing their magic inside of them. An insect will then take a few seconds to form next to the mage, at first appearing as a shimmering shadow suspended in the air. The invocation of one insect is presumed to require a moderate amount of power, and so this could easily be done by most mages in the empire.   The mage will then be able to continue invoking more insects, each one taking at least a similar amount of magic, possibly a little more every time. Thus, it is inconceivable that many mages would have the level of magic required to invoke a few hundred of the insects, let alone the thousands that were reported. The current theory is that rituals are performed by several individuals so as to enhance the capacities of the crafts.   As reported by His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse:  
A lot of our people have been missing since the attack started. The perpetrators of the attacks have obviously kidnapped them to power their nefarious rituals and invoke more insects!
— Heir Jean Partesse
    It is thought that the crafts themselves allow some degree of control on the insects invoked, since some of them have been used for self-defence by the perpetrators of the attack once they were identified. How much control is possible, especially when one craft is linked to more than one insect, is unknown. It is also unknown how long the insects can stay in a physical form after their invocation and whether this requires a continuous magical cost. However, if they are any costs, they are probably offset by the amount of magic the insects consume.   Despite this occasionally use of the insects as a personal self-defence weapon, this does not have a great value for mages with any real battle skills. The interest of the craft lies in their number and their ability to consume magic, as these transform them into a sweeping horde that can be released on enemy Estates where they will devastate resources.
         
man invoking insects
A mysterious person invoking an artificial insect, by AmélieIs with images from Pixabay and Unsplash


Strengths and weaknesses

 
                 
Lord Véridice Lyrienne
Lord Véridice Lyrienne by AmélieIS with Artbreeder
The magic of the insects is focused in their mandibles and bellies, presumably to help in cutting and digesting the magical items they are ingesting. A very strong field of magic is also distributed on the surface of their carapace in a uniform layer. Thanks to this, they are protected against attacks from magicless weapons and individuals. A weak point in their armour is the juncture at the neck between the scales of their carapace.   Killing one insect is possible for mages of average power, and it is very easy for mages of above average power. However, the insects have always been spotted in hordes of a hundred to a few thousands, thus subsuming the defences of any Estate almost instantly.   The only effective manner to deal with them is for the lord or lady of the Estate to activate the full effect of the wards of the Estate, or for them to call on the help of the Land in a ritual—both of which requiring an enormous amount of magic. Since the insects appear to need to eat a physical material in order to properly digest it and absorb its magic, they are powerless against such wards—although their sheer number overwhelms any lesser ward.   As attested by the leader of the Dark faction, His Utmost Excellency Lord Véridice of House Lyrienne when asked how he dealt with the incident:  
After assessing the situation, I carried out a ritual to invoke the defences of the Estate and expel all intruders. They had no resistance against such magic and were not able to cause any trouble after that.
— Lord Véridice Lyrienne
       
        However, the Light having come to disapprove of rituals in recent decades, their lords and ladies have instead attempted to push the insects back through rigorously coordinated manoeuvres of their full army. That tactic has encountered limited success, as confirmed by His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse:  
Do not be ridiculous! There is no way we would use some horrible Dark rituals and sacrifice the lives of our own people just to get rid of those parasites! Anyway, it's not as if they are that dangerous! What, just a small flick of the hand and they are dead already. Really, no problem at all!
— Heir Jean Partesse
Legal definition of rituals

A ritual is a magical practice or ceremony that is so called because it contains ritualistic elements:
  1. A connection to the magic of the environment, such as ceremony during which the ancestral magic of the Land is invoked.
  2. Temporal and planetary patterns, such as ceremonies taking place over a defined period of time, or during solstices, equinoxes, or full and black moons.


The case of the Estate of Partesse


           

Insect eating crafts

Insect eating crafts and trees, by AmélieIS with images from Pixabay and Vecteezy

One of the Southern Estate targeted by the attack was the Estate of Partesse. Lord Partesse is a member of the Light faction and as such staunchly refused to perform any ritual or to let any of his neighbours perform one. This has resulted in the destruction of nearly all crafting materials and half of the farming products in the Estate, leading to an important crisis.   In addition, when attacked directly, the insects have turned aggressive. However, they were clever enough to scatter through the Estate and to avoid the Partesse army. Instead, they turned their focus towards the members of the Partesse population with no magic or weaker magical abilities. This has unfortunately resulted in a few hundred casualties. Here is what His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse has to say on the subject:

Of course, we did not have any problem getting rid of the parasites, who do you think we are? Some new House newly come into their Estate and not knowing how to go about things? Look around you: no insect in sight!
— Heir Jean Partesse
     
                As a consequence of those events, the rule of House Partesse in their Estate has been contested by many of its bereaved inhabitants, as attested by His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse:  
What do you mean our rule is contested? Keep those odious rumours to yourself and get out of our business! If our trade suffers because of you, we will make you regret it!
— Heir Jean Partesse
Insect over body
Parasite caught in the act, by AmélieIS with images from Unsplash


Concluding statement


Your Excellencies my lords and ladies of the Senate,   I hope that this report has proved thorough and useful. It is my conviction that dealing with this incident should be considered a matter of urgency given the amount of damages that has been caused and can still be brought to more Estate, and the investigators' apparent willingness to attack anyone regardless of political affiliation.   Unfortunately, no member of House Partesse is present today to provide further statements. However, their Excellencies Lady Annabelle of House Alyssenne and Lord Véridice of House Lyrienne can assist the honourable members of the Senate with any further question they have.

I will now leave Your Excellencies the duty of drawing a conclusion from this report and of deciding what judgment shall be passed upon the culprits and what shall be done to identify them.

It has been an honour to conduct this investigation in the name of the Senate. Thank you, my Lords and my Ladies, for listening to my report.
— Investigator Narlone


Comments

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9 Mar, 2021 14:26

Great article! I also love the pictures that you made, especially the different patterns! :)

Feel free to check out summer camp overviewif you want to see what I am up to!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
9 Mar, 2021 14:49

Thanks :D I had lots of fun making/finding those images!

17 Apr, 2021 17:21

I really love the layout of this article! I love getting to see how people compose things once they get rid of the sidebar and start moving things around on their own. This is lovely to look at. Never mind all the awesome pictures to go along with the content.   It did take me a moment to figure out on the map that it was the purple part that the insects infected - at least, I think it is? I'm assuming. That was the only bit that left me a touch confused. It's a lovely map! But because it is so colorful and there wasn't anything in the key about it, I just wasn't sure... I just assumed. \o/   I really like all the different quoted testimonies in here. All these characters sound like they'd be absolute ass-hats to be around. Their personalities really shine through in their brief statements and make the article more entertaining to read, even though the very idea of giant, magic eating insects is already pretty awesome.   Does this mean they'd eat the magical, mean flowers? >> Cause they might be a solution to that disappearing ballroom floor of terror...

What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark?
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
17 Apr, 2021 17:33

Nooooooooo! Don't touch the flowers!   The insects are controlled by specific people - their identity is a spoiler for the book :p - and they were more interested in targeting specific places than going into the Black Forest and wasting magic, so my sweet little flowers are safe :D   You're right, I forgot to add that the purple zone on the map is where the attacks occurred!   I had fun making Jean Partesse just for this :D Though now I'm tempted to keep him around...   Thanks for the comment! I'm happy you like the article :D

18 Apr, 2021 08:20

Very interesting, very indepth article, with a great sense that this is going to lead to a lot of trouble for people down the line. :D   "A craft that once activated allows for the materialisation of giant insects who consume magic."   Well, that's gonna be trouble in a world where magic equals political power, isn't it? :D   "The crafts themselves usually take the form of a piece of jewellery"   'Craft' is an unusual name for magical artifact - how did you settle on it? :)   Heir Jean sounds like a real... Nice guy...   I'm curious about two pieces of information here: First: "To the few individuals in the empire with some degree of magic sensitivity,"   But later, the tooltip says that 70% of the population are mages? Is magic sensitivity something different from being a spellcaster? :)   Are the crafts commonly available now? In the article, it reads like these insects popped up and were then destroyed. There's even the bit about how most of this is probably conjecture, but some of the information reads more definite than that.   Ex. "Despite the insects having occasionally been used as a personal weapon for self-defence, this does not have a great value for mages with any real battle skills."   That reads more like people have tried it out :)   "However, the insects have always been spotted in hordes of a hundred to a few thousands"   This is interesting, because earlier in the article is is suggested that doing so would be impossible without some ritual shenanigans.. The plot thickens!   "After assessing the situation, I carried a ritual to invoke the defences of the Estate and expel all intruders"   Carried or carried out?   Also, it's a little strange that creatures who exist for eating magic can't eat wards. How come? Because they are not physical things? Can't eat ethereal ward energies? :)   "However, the Light having come to disapprove of rituals in recent decades, their lords and ladies have instead attempted to push the insects back through rigorously coordinated manoeuvres of their full army, but that tactic has encountered limited success, as confirmed by His Excellency Heir Jean of House Partesse"   This is sentence is a bit on the long side, at 49 words. I would consider splitting it up.   Since they are immune (or resistant?) to mundane attacks, how common are magical weapons? Or the use of magic in the troops? If it's 70% of the population, I imagine armies are constructed very differently!   "However, they were clever enough to scatter through the Estate and to avoid the Partesse army. Instead, they turned their focus towards the members of the Partesse population with no magic or weaker magical abilities."   So once attacked by anyone, they turn aggressive against all humans?   Awesome stuff :D

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
18 Apr, 2021 10:34

I think I chose "craft" because "artefact" can be both a magical and a non-magical item so I wanted to differentiate that in this setting.   Yes, magic sensitivity is very rare and only a few families have it, I'll add a tooltip with that info.   "There's even the bit about how most of this is probably conjecture, but some of the information reads more definite than that." I'll have to check that, I might have forgotten to change some stuff when I did the rewrite. The idea is that there were a few individuals that initiated a vague of attacks. They are now either dead or they disappeared. The crafts that were captured were destroyed, but that was not all of them. So there are still a group of people out there with those crafts, and also the person who organised the attack can make more of those crafts and hire more people if they want to do the same thing again in the future.   "Also, it's a little strange that creatures who exist for eating magic can't eat wards. How come? Because they are not physical things? Can't eat ethereal ward energies? :)" The insects need to physically eat the object so that they can then digest it and extract the magic.   "Since they are immune (or resistant?) to mundane attacks, how common are magical weapons? Or the use of magic in the troops? If it's 70% of the population, I imagine armies are constructed very differently!" Almost everyone has magic, but at different levels. Crafts and magical weapons are more expensive, and can also be more or less efficient depending on the price you're willing to pay to get them. Lords and ladies and their families are at a totally different level from everyone else, which is how they are able to claim and maintain their political power. I have an article on geography and demography in the location category if you want to see the repartition of magical power in the population. And I've been planning to write about the military "at some point".   "So once attacked by anyone, they turn aggressive against all humans?" yes, one they turned defensive it's best not to get too close.   Thanks for this long comment :D It gives me a few things to add to the article :D

Grandmaster AzounIV
Luca Poddighe
20 Apr, 2021 11:10

I like that you have a lot of 'evil' jewelry in your world. It gives a very nice twist!

Transform your quirks, in your strength! Join the revolution and visit Phaldorya (Eng)
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
20 Apr, 2021 11:18

Non-magical jewellery is such a waste :D   Thanks for the comment!

9 May, 2021 00:32

Ooooooo, such cool and intriguing insects! I love the "wrongness" feeling that those with magical sensitivity can notice. It's really interesting to have these things made out of magic also seemingly feeding on magic, too!   And great formatting + image usage overall, I really liked the scroll with the "Legal Definition" text on it! Super cool!

Cathedris, the world of God-Husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
9 May, 2021 09:54

Thanks for the comment, I'm glad you like it :D   This scroll gave me soooo much problems! I'm still not sure I did it the best way since it doesn't resize when the page does and so the text gets outside of it on mobile, but that was the best I managed...

7 Jul, 2021 14:12

Oh wow! When I saw this article and began reading I didn't expect them to be THAT big! Jeez! Awesome article though, I really like the images you used!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
7 Jul, 2021 14:19

Thanks :D The article wasn't that big when I first posted it, but then I had to add quotes everywhere :p

7 Jul, 2021 14:25

Oh no! I didn't mean the article! I was surprised by the size of the insects!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
7 Jul, 2021 15:25

XD That wouldn't be fun if they were not big enough to eat people, now would it? :p

Thicc Shrek
Thicc Shrek
22 Jul, 2021 22:56

Nice.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
23 Jul, 2021 01:47
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