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Hiver

“The natural selection of traits in species cares not one whit for your delicate sensibilities. What works, works, and what doesn’t dies. The Hiver may be horrific, but it is also horrifically effective.”
– Illaest, the Laughing Sage

Also Known as: Flying Hives, Swarmers, Ukovan
Habitat: Mires, Rivers, Crevices, Cenotes, Jungle
Hazard Level: High

Summary
The Hiver is a highly dimporphic arthopod monstrosity that lurks in mires and caves across Aeldos. Female Hivers grow large enough to crush an armoured soldier in their claws, while much smaller males trade crushing claws for razor sharp mandibles and barbed stingers equipped with a paralytic venom. The species gets its name from the fact that female Hivers act as mobile living nests for swarms of smaller males. Hivers are scavengers and opportunistic predators that are able to overwhelm small groups using their uniquely toxic biology.

Description
Hivers are a sexually dimorphic species with two forms, the larger female Hiver and the smaller male Swarmer.

Hivers grow up to 4 meters in length and have four crab-like legs for locomotion and two large and extremely powerful claws. Despite their considerable size they have four winged limbs spanning up to 10 m in size which can be used for short bursts of flight. The head of the Hiver consists of four compound eyes on stalks, two pairs of sensory antennae and eight grasping and barbed tentacles that are used drag prey inward and crush it before consumption. Hivers use both their claws and tentacles to capture, crush, and dismember prey for consumption. The Hiver’s body consists of three serpentine body segments covered in a barbed carapace made of hardened chitin. The carapace bulges irregularly across the sides and stomach with fleshy textured orifices and crusty growths, within which the males of the species nest, with a single female able to host up to a dozen of the much smaller male Swarmers.

Swarmers grow up to 20 centimeters in length and have a significantly modified physiology, with a smooth carapace, a pair of barbed stingers on the tail, much slimmer limbs, and a set of four sharp mandibles in place of tentacles. Swarmers are agile flyers and work in concert to harrass and cripple prey for the slower Hiver to finish. While Swarmers are omnivorous and feed on nectar, fruit, insects, and small animals, Hivers are carnivorous and prefer larger prey. If insufficient prey is available or if a male becomes ill shows any lack of fitness it quickly becomes food for the others in the ‘hive’.

Both Swarmers and Hivers are venemous. The Swarmer is able to deliver a paralytic venom through its sting, while the Hiver able to emit a poisonous fog from sacs in their carapace which triggers severe respiratory distress in most mammals.

Hivers and Swarmers are rarely seen apart and act in a grouping typically known as a colony with the dominant Hiver apparently able to exert some level of control over her Swarmer passengers. Colonies can be found near mires and rivers across the continent but are more frequently seen in the south than the north.

Colonies are a considerable danger, even to skilled and armed travellers. In the typical pattern of attack the colony’s Swarmers will descend on potential targets, lacerationg easy prey with their claws and mandibles, leaving them to bleed out while saving their venom for more dangerous or difficult targets. Once prey has been sufficiently weakened or disabled the Hiver descends to finish the job and feast. Colonies demonstrate a limited and phermonally driven intelligence; the death of Swarmers seems to trigger a frenzy in all members of the colony which overrides any sense of self-preservation. The result is that most encounters with colonies tends to end in either dead prey or a dead colony.

While the species is an adept predator, they are also prey for other creatures which have developed immunities to their toxins such as Atrox, Gluthor, Wyverns, and Tyrn.

Hivers are rarely hunted but when killed they do provide an ample supply of tolerable meat. The larger parts of a Hiver carapace can be used to create a light and durable armour and venom sacs can be milked as well.

Rumour and Lore

  • There have been some reports of an even larger form of Hiver, colloquially known as a “Mother-Hiver”. According to these reports these forms are dozens of meters long and is large enough that it hosts Hivers and their nests within itself. These reports are dubious at best
  • The Ossandrian Legionary Manual advises the creation and use of smoke-oil bombs when facing colonies as the thick choking smoke seems to interfere with the colonies ability to operate. Astute legionaries have pointed out that said smoke also significantly interferes with a units ability to operate but the feedback has not led to meaningful revision.
  • Some colonies have been known to “collect” rare minerals such as magnil and platinum within the body of the Hiver. Current theory speculates that this is a biproduct of their arcane digestive process.