|Official Name||Stone Bee|
The Stone Bee represents a species rendered extinct by the arrival of the alien Dakkar into the subterranean world beneath Ellador. Previously an insect that lived in balance with the strange, semi-necrophagic worm, the Knûrka-Vørak, they could not adapt to the rapid changes the Dwarves unwittingly unleashed onto their realm, just as they had done with the surface. Considered lost from the world by 150 AC, and going unfound in the decades of exploration efforts since then, they have become a significant symbol in Dwarven Society for all that they have lost, but also stand for nobility, justice, and honor, all things they never received at the hands of the Dakkar and the Knûrka-Vørak.
The Stone Bee is a creature associated with honor that has a long history with the Dwarves, going back generations. Their existence came even before the origin of the First Hold, Olovomm, however, it was with the onset of records that the Dwarves wrote extensively about this creature and its symbiotic relationship with the Knûrka-Vørak. Vørak larvae would be laid within the mosses and other vegetation that existed in the caverns of Ellador, where the Stone Bees would then consume them, or carry the food source back to their larvae. As the larvae would grow, or the adult perpetuating, the Knûrka-Vørak would grow, before in a period spanning mere hours, fully mature into an adult and explode out of its victim, consuming it afterward. In the case of larvae, spun into their stone cocoons, the Knurka adolescent would be forced to make use of its unique ability, and excreting its body compounds, eat through the stone encasement, and escape the hive. In their natural state, however, while they were a threat to Stone Bee eggs, they never numbered enough to wipe out a hive, and the Stone Bees, in turn, hunted enough of them to keep the population low. Dwarves fell on another in the cycle, serving as food for either the Knûrka-Vørak or the Stone Bees, but overall it was a stable system that was only slightly affected by the spread of the Dwarven Holds. Hives of Stone Bees were occasionally cleared out for this expansion, but they easily found purchase again, and some even existed in a symbiotic relationship with Dwarven agricultural efforts.
But it was after the Cataclysm and the emergence of the Dakkar that truly spelled doom for the creatures. Always susceptible to heat, and with the Dakkar as beings of pure magma and fire, the Stone Bees did not survive the spread of the Dakkar throughout the tunnels of Ellador. Unlike the Knûrka-Vørak, which did not openly attack the Dakkar and instead benefited from the corpses they left behind, the Stone Bees attacked these strange intruders, who in turn often sought out and destroyed their hives. By 100 AC, the creatures were considered endangered by the Dwarves, but they could do nothing to stop them. The animals were turned from a symbol of determined combat, and honorable warfare, to near martyrs in the Dakkar-Dwarven conflict much like any other Dwarf themselves. By 150 AC, no Stone Bee nests were known to the Dwarves, and in the decades since, exploration through Ellador’s caverns has only revealed the remnants of Stone Beehives, yet no living specimens.
Stone Bees were some of the largest insects known to Aloria in their time. They were capable of reaching up to five feet in length, larger than Dwarves, and their queens often reached sizes of at least double that. Their bodies were covered in extremely durable chitin, the color of the rocks and minerals around which each hive developed, granting them a range of dark-toned colors. Their heads were sharp and angular, with two large, deep red compound eyes and a pair of thick antenna protruding from the crown of their heads. They also had large, sharply curved mandibles “inlaid with Diamonds,” which were capable of crushing and shaping stone along with a similarly grinding mouth. This is connected by a short head to their bulbous thorax before reaching the truly bulging abdomen. Three pairs of segmented legs sat attached to the thorax, and the front two were known as the piercers. Not just made for resting on surfaces and allowing the Stone Bee to climb on surfaces, the piercers were sleek and sharp at the very tip, capable of shattering through thin rock, and were the method newly hatched Stone Bees used to escaped their stone cocoons. Their two sets of wings were wide, reaching upwards of a fourteen-foot wingspan, and had octangular ends rather than smooth, curved ones like surface insects. The end of their bodies had a stinger, a sharp, almost jagged rock-like protrusion that instead of killing the Bee once removed, could grow back within a few hours. Their bodies, covered in rock-like chitin, were also said to be capable of sustaining plant growth and could look rather natural with mosses and such hanging off their legs and along their backs.
Stone Bee populations had the standard division of genders most beehives possess, with many female worker bees supporting a caste of male drones that then serve the female queen. Divisions of these groups varied greatly over a Stonehive’s lifespan but were generally seven workers for every one drone.
Life Span and Development
Stone Bees were born as pale pink eggs about the size of a fist, which then hatched into small, similarly pale pink larvae, with soft features. After a few days of feeding the juvenile animal both Stone Honey, a strange, largely inedible substance to Alorian Races, and simple vegetation, the larvae would be sealed away with an oblong, egg-like cell crafted by the Stone Bees. In this cell, they would mature, and ultimately emerge, though perhaps one to five were infected and then consumed by a Knûrka-Vørak. This entire process took a total of three weeks, with the least period existing with them as eggs and larvae, pupas existing for nearly two weeks. After being born, their lifespans varied, with workers living several weeks to months before dying, while drones lived for perhaps as much as a decade in some legendary cases. Queens were thought to be immortal by the Dwarves, but most imagine their lives lasted several decades before needing replacement.
Stone Bees were capable of little more than eating, building, and reproducing, dedicated to the preservation of their Stonehives. They rarely hunted other creatures, though were omnivorous and did eat meat when it was presented to them. Only when a Stonehive struggled would they aggressively attack others with both drones and workers participating in these efforts. Their ability to build their ornate, and uniquely formed Stonehives is also of note given how many were often unique in placement, sometimes sitting halfway up a sheer cliff face, or attached to the ceiling of a cave, with a few even sitting on the ground. They ultimately proved to be a slave to their instincts when the Dakkar came and, unlike the Knûrka-Vørak, were unable to adapt to suit the changing underground ecosystem.
Territory and Groupings
Stone Bees were capable of crafting Stonehives, structures of sometimes towering proportions that could sit in any number of underground areas. The material of these structures was a stone-like material the Stone Bees were capable of producing after grinding up and consuming rocks and other forms of stone. Not Stone Honey, but perhaps a similar product, this past was easily malleable by the Stone Bees in their work. Individual Stonehives at the peak of their population, roughly considered by most to be 100 BC, could easily number a thousand members, but in the era after the Cataclysm, they often sunk to between six and nine hundred. They had no set territorial borders, though Stonehives were never built close to one another, and only rarely existed close to Dwarven Holds.
- Some believe that Stone Bees were not mundane creatures but Magus, representing a highly natural creature artificially created to resemble stone on purpose.
- Stone Bee iconography is prominent on many objects associated with the Dwarven nobility, from crowns to crests.