Tarnish Wasps Species in Vreathe | World Anvil
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Tarnish Wasps

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Tarnish wasps are a group of solitary parasitoid wasp species that lay their eggs inside of gem spiders, though in the absence of these spiders, they will lay their eggs inside of any crystal they can get close to, and if there are no crystals around, they will even go after people.

With their bright and shiny, often colorful bodies, they resemble cuckoo wasps or mud daubers, other families of parasitoid insects. How they adapted to prey on magic is not known, and they are infected with a form of aetheric corruption not native to Vreathe. Because of this, they are thought to be an invasive species from another world.

The size of a tarnish wasp is proportional to the amount of magic it drank as a larvae growing inside its host. They can range from tiny in size, barely more than a nuissance, to gigantic terrifying insects that could easily impale a man with its stinger. Tarnished wasps are pests that must be killed on sight and infected crystals must be smashed on sight as well, even if it means destroying the gem they are growing inside of.
Scientific Name: Chrysidini Obscurin
Length: 4 - 200 cm long
Wingspan: 4 - 200cm
Weight: .01 g - 2.5 kg
Lifespan: 2 years
Age of Maturity: 1-3 weeks

Varieties

Onyx Wasp

Onyx Wasps have an unusually thick exoskeleton and larger specimens can withstand the direct impact of a warhammer and not suffer so much as a scratch. They have no resistance to magic though and a concentrated spell of any element is often enough to kill it.

Their favored prey are Obsidian Spiders. When they can't find these spiders, they will lay their eggs inside of any type of glass they can find, including waste from Magma Ducks.

They have been known to even prey on Phoenix birds if they can manage to avoid the fire magic. Onyx wasps born from a phoenix are among the largest insects on Vreathe and at this size are a deadly physical threat to humans and elves.

Ruby Wasp

Ruby wasps are immune to all but the most powerful magic spells, but they have very thin exoskeletons and can be easily killed with enough physical force. This variety seems to be able to cast magic in a limited capacity and the power is proportional to the size of the creature. Most spells they cast involve trapping or paralyzing a creature in some way to make it easier to sting them and lay their eggs.

Ruby wasps are found in great number on the Island of Rosika, and they can be found even deep in the aethercite mines there. They prey on all manner of gem spider and other crystal insects. They also threaten Rosika's economy because in the absence of the crystal insects, they will start laying their eggs directly into aethercite crystals and quickly multiply out of control. Rosika has an entire taskforce of soldiers whose only job is to find and kill these creatures.

Emerald Wasp

Emerald Wasps are found in the Nikria Cliffs and Green Mountains of Northeastern Cassel, as well as a few isolated locations across the Boiling islands. They don't have very thick armor or resistance to magic, but they occur in greater numbers than the other varieties. Despite normally being solitary creatures, if one is injured or killed, it will release a pheremone that enrages all other emerald wasps in the area. They will seek out the injured wasp and sting any other living thing in the area.

Their favored prey are Sapphire Spiders, a crystalline tarantula that hides under leaves and in the water. When they can't find these spiders, emerald wasps most readily seek out other living creatures to sting and inject their eggs inside. Humans are their usual target in this case. The Lamia of the boiling islands usually capture these creatures alive, and they even let them sting them on purpose...

Habitat and Range

Three varieties of Tarnish Wasps are found in isolated locations across the Kingdoms of Cassel and a large range of climates that do not seem to affect these creatures in any meaningful way. This includes the volcanic Red Towers, the forested Green Mountains, the sheer Nikria Cliffs, and the arid island of Rosika. They are found in smaller numbers in other locations.

The thing these locations share in common, with the exception of the Alma Plateau, are the presence of gem spiders, which naturally occur in areas of the world with large concentrations of Aethercite Crystals. These creatures are also seen in human and elven cities looking for jewelry to lay their eggs in. Their search for something suitable for their eggs will often take them quite far from their natural ranges.

While they are found on the Alma Plateau, they are all actually frozen in the ice and are not active there. They function perfectly normal when thawed and this is the only location where their ranges overlap. Some researchers have their theories.

Black - Onyx Wasps, Red - Ruby Wasps, Green - Emerald Wasps

"In the center of the Alma Plateau in Gladio, there exists a Silver Age city and research facility that performed magical experiments on a wide variety of magical creatures. Some of my colleagues even think that the Silver Race created entirely new species up there. The city has been abandoned for tens of thousands of years though and what little writings I could find doesn't mention much, so we'll probably never know!"
- Lidia Valentine

Lifecycle

The life of a tarnish wasp begins as an egg injected inside of an object. Usually this object is a crystal in some form. This egg is injected directly by the stinger and is microscopic in size. Other than ruby wasps, tarnish wasps don't have the capability to paralyze their victims so they must be quick with their stinging so they can flee.

On hatching the larvae almost immediately forms a crystal cocoon around itself and enters the pupal stage. This cocoon is often visible inside of infected crystals as a small black dot. This cocoon will then start to absorb mana and aether from the surrounding crystal.

As more magic is absorbed, the creature starts to grow and the cocoon starts to change color based on the mana it absorbed. Fire magic will turn it orange for example. The discoloration in the crystal starts to become quite apparent at this stage.

Eventually the tarnish wasp is ready to break free in a fully developed adult form. It does this by releasing any magic that it built up inside its body. This magic is infected with an unknown form of aetheric corruption that only tarnish wasps are known to have. This wave of magical energy causes the crystal to dissolve and break apart into useless dust. This completely obliterates gem spiders.

If the egg is inside something else like soft human flesh, then a similar process will happen. The larvae immediately forms a cocoon and starts absorbing magic from the surrounding tissue. Eventually the egg will start to replace the sorrounding tissue. At this point, an obvious crystalized dot should be visible and should be removed immediately.

A sapphire spider. The favored prey of the emerald Wasp. These spiders are actually pretty valuable as their bodies turn into several sapphire gems of various sizes on death. Different types of gem spiders exist that turn into different gems on death.

This is ruined by the eggs of a tarnish wasp though which will eventually destroy the crystals.


A large chunk of Tarnicite.
Most humans and elves dont have the mana capacity to fuel the growth of a tarnish wasp. The wasp will die to magical starvation, leaving behind an infected gemstone that can't be used as aethercite. Instead, it forms an entirely new class of magic destroying crystals known as Tarnicite. The site of the crystal cocoon often forms a permanent scar that reduces the person's ability to cast magic.

In experienced mages and in large magical creatures like a phoenix bird, the tarnished wasp will continue to grow, eventually killing its host. The eggs can grow very quickly overnight, and unsuspecting mages have been stung only to see a quickly growing ball of infected crystal the next morning where their arm used to be. If they are stung in the chest or head, they will die by the next day unless immediate action is taken.

When a tarnish wasp emerges as an adult, its only purpose is to find a male to mate with and then find a new crystal to lay its eggs in. The creatures wil occasionally pause their search to find food, which is almost always flower nectar or some kind of sugar so it can keep flying. Once the wasp finds a crystal, it will quickly dart in, inject a single egg, then fly away to find another.

The egg can hatch as quickly as a few hours, but sometimes it can take several weeks. At this point, the cycle starts over.

Using Tarnish Wasps for Jewelry

Lamias will allow themselves to be stung on purpose to create temporary body jewelry. They are immune to the magic destroying capabilities of these creatures, likely due to the aetheric corruption of Xiralgus the Nova, an ancient Dragon Lord.

In order to do this, the Lamias hold the wasp with a pair of tweezers and carefully guide the insect to specific parts of their bodies to be stung. Lamias then cast magic at the sting sight to encourage the cocoon to grow to a certain size. Once they stop casting the magic, the cocoon quickly dies, leaving behind a small rounded gemstone.

Paradoxically, the corruption of Xiralgus inside the Lamias cleanses the corrupted aether of the wasps, leaving behind a pure crystal that can be used to store magic, as if it were naturally occuring aethercite. The crystals stay embedded in the skin for a few days before falling off, leaving no mark behind.

The most common time that Lamias do this is during wedding events. The bride especially can be stung dozens of times and have elaborate patterns of crystal temporarily embedded in her face. When the wedding event ends, the crystals are turned into a beaded necklace and given to the bride's first female child.

"Wow, she's beautiful! I'm just going to forget the part where she had dozens of bugs literally growing inside of her yesterday..."
- Myles

Comments

Author's Notes

  • These Wasps technically, though indirectly craft two things: magic destroying Tarnicite, and body jewelry for Lamian weddings. They're more destroyers than anything...
  • This article is an entry into Crafting Creatures unofficial challenge by Strixxline:
  • Crafting Creatures 2024
    Generic article | Apr 5, 2024


    Please Login in order to comment!
    Mar 27, 2024 01:02

    Shinny scary things, they are :D   It's cool how there is a use for them, not despite the scary and the nasty but because of them.

    Mar 27, 2024 19:54 by David Worton

    Really interesting species you've documented here and a really nice article. Love the wedding custom, that could be a good scene in a longer story.

    Mar 29, 2024 14:31

    What an interesting (and terrifying) creature! :o

    May 20, 2024 02:44

    I swear, if i ever see one of these coming at me, im not gonna be a happy camper, im telling you!

    -Creator of The Multiverse, Most notable in which are The World of Yanu & The World of Velen-