When the air is as still as necropoli, and the fauna disappear from sight, a despairingly familiar shadow may be seen encroaching on the horizon. Soon, distressing cries will leak from villages and half-ravaged carcasses will litter the ground as the Mantisar Swarm wreaks its havoc. But with their will bound to a black-hearted Empress, many believe that these creatures are mere vehicles for their leader’s unquenchable thirst for destruction. Even so, the devastation the Mantisars inflict has led to many destroyed landscapes and many more bodies to lay beneath the sod.
Mantisars of Erendorn
In Erendorn, even insects can be formidable predators, especially when they are thousands strong and as big as Humans. Despite their size, Mantisars are the embodiment of strength in numbers. When they travel in their Swarm, they are capable of inflicting unimaginable devastation. Lightning fast and incredibly accurate, Mantisars use their spiked legs to snare and skewer victims, while their unmatched reflexes allow them to easily outmanoeuvre an opponent. When they are not exercising their lethal combat skills, these creatures may appear primitive and even insentient; but Mantisars actually have a complex hierarchical system within their underground nests.
Hierarchy Among the Mantisars
Led by an all-powerful and unforgiving Empress, all control over the Mantisars is possessed by a single individual. The Empress is the strongest living Mantisar, enormous in size and soulless in nature. Living deep underground, where she is protected by the heart of the hive, the Empress has total control over the Swarm.
A mobilised fleet of Mantisar forces, the Swarm must unequivocally obey every demand the Empress makes; and, with her wicked mind and their combined strength, this often results in bloody battles and total devastation for other races. Meanwhile, it is the role of the Queens to breed for the Swarm. There are several Queens within the Mantisar hive. These are the largest breeding females, the strongest of which will assume the role of Empress if the current sovereign passes. However, if there are multiple Queens of equal strength, a vicious fight will ensue. No matter their stinging wounds or broken limbs, Mantisar Queens will not stop their savagery until a successor has been named.
Blood of Pride
Congregating in gigantic nests, Mantisars have an impressive population that can quickly double or even triple if left unchecked. These creatures ravage the scapes of Erendorn in search for resources, and often have no regard for other races. But when it comes to their own, the blood of pride runs thick. Mantisars tend to stay very loyal to the nest and in battle, this fidelity makes them a force to be reckoned with.
But this race is bound by more than blood. Mantisars possess telepathic links with each other, allowing this speechless species to communicate. As the Swarm swells with increasing numbers, these telepathic links also strengthen and instil each Mantisar with greater power. Long ago, the ancient leader of the Mantisars recognised the potential of these telepathic links and how they could be used to establish the race as a formidable force in Erendorn. And so, for centuries since, Empresses have exploited the telepathic capabilities of the Mantisars, using them to control the Swarm and bind the Mantisars’ will to their own.
The main mystery that surrounds the Mantisars is the Empress’ influence over the Swarm. After years of being tormented by these beasts, many races have noted that they appear to obey extremely specific commands almost mindlessly and always without hesitation; and yet, in all the hundreds of onslaughts inflicted by the Mantisars over the years, the Empress herself has never been present. While it is known that some form of telepathy is involved, exactly how the Empress is able to control the Mantisar Swarm has been an enigma for many centuries. In fact, only recently has her secret been discovered.
Unravelling the Mystery of the Mantisars
The relationship between the Empress and the Swarm has been shrouded in mystery for as long as Erendorn has breathed, but one thing is certain: Mantisars have an unequivocal obedience to their sovereign. While it is known that this species possesses telepathic links, the way in which Mantisars unflinchingly carry out their attacks has led many to believe that the Empress’ connection with them goes far beyond mere telepathy.
In recent years, groundbreaking studies have not only revealed how the Empress controls the Swarm, but have also shone a light onto the Mantisars’ only weakness. After centuries of targeted attacks on their settlements, the responsibility to end the Mantisar threat has fallen on the Humans, who harbour a hatred as thick as blood.
Humans and the Mantisars
Many times have the Humans fought the Mantisars, who relentlessly target their settlements and cities. While some of the greatest warriors have emerged from the Human Kingdom, their strength appeared to be weakening with every battle fought against the vicious Swarm. Thousands of the Kingdom’s most elite Knights, Guards, Mages and Soldiers have fallen to the Mantisars. Over the centuries, the earth has become so riddled with graves that the Humans' only choice now is to empty their carrion into Eredorn’s swamps where voracious monsters devour the bloated bodies.
With their resources rapidly declining after each Mantisar attack, the Human civilisation could withstand no more devastation. Following an underground attack on the Kingdom’s main city, in which over 3,000 Humans were brutally massacred, Queen Annka ordered the Kingdom’s most skilled informant, Rufus Gelton, to bring forward information on the Mantisars so that the savagery they brought on the Humans would finally cease.
Rufus Gelton told of the telepathic systems that the Mantisars possessed, but this was not enough to defeat the Swarm. The only option they had of bringing down the Swarm was to sever its ties with the Empress; but with little knowledge of how to do this, the Mantisars continued their reign of terror. Finally, years of tracking the Swarm, battling their onslaughts and burying the dead were finally rewarded when, following a devastating ambush, the Humans managed to salvage a Mantisar corpse from the bloodstained fields.
Studies of their anatomy led researchers to realise that the two horn-like appendages that protrude from the top of a Mantisar’s head are in fact their telepathic receptors. At last, after many months of laborious analyses, the Humans discovered what they termed to be an obedience gland positioned within each receptor. Through this gland, they concluded, the Empress was able to control every single mind within the Swarm, using the receptors as a way of stripping them of independent thought.
With this discovery, the races of Erendorn finally knew of a method that could, over time, defeat the Mantisar Swarm. By cutting off the receptors on the tops of their heads, it is possible to sever the link that binds a Mantisar to its Empress. Since this knowledge has spread forth from the Human Kingdom, hundreds of Mantisars have been captured over recent years with intent to remove their receptors; and, once this has happened, the results are astonishing.
Without their receptors, Mantisars behave as docile creatures. While wary and untrusting at first, a symptom of their newfound freedom following a lifetime of enslavement, liberated Mantisars are soon able to assimilate to society. Their minds now free, many leave to roam Erendorn and admire its beauty rather than destroying it. Some Mantisars stay in the settlements where they were freed, offering their labour as gratitude for their liberation from the Empress.
Mantisars who choose not to return to the hive have become known as the Renegades. But while many were able to become civilised creatures of Erendorn, there are those who never found that solace. Some liberated Manitsars, still haunted by the memories of their past deeds, often wander the lands in torment, trying to grapple with their inner conflict that both mourns their home and resents it.
These individuals are often led by their sorrow to the dungeon depths, a place as dark as their dejection. But liberated Mantisars aren’t the only members of the species who walk the twisting tunnels of the dungeons. Recently, the Empress has been commanding smaller groups of Mantisars to enter the depths of Erendorn for reasons that still remain unclear. Whether they are searching for some of the famed powerful objects that could help to solidify their dominance, or avenging their Empress by executing the vulnerable Mantisar Renegades that wander alone, these Mantisars are likely to attack anything they see and are dangerous beasts to face in the depths.
With the Renegades’ betrayal, the Empress has become even more maniacal in her control of the Swarm. Her vindictive nature is manifested in the increased level of savagery that the Swarm inflicts on settlements, travellers and everything in between. It is crucial now more than ever to not only end the tyrannical reign of the Empress, but to also entirely disband the hive of the Mantisars so that no future Empress can ever enslave their minds again.