Insects Changed by the Magical Landscape of Elanthia

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Insects Changed by the Magical Landscape of Elanthia is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

Insects Changed by the Magical Landscape of Elanthia


The ecosystem of Elanthia is an ever-evolving, ever-changing landscape. Much like the cultures and races that intermingle throughout the lands, the flora and fauna have all adapted and changed as well. Episodes of divine influence, magical eruptions, and demonic interferences have tapped into the natural order time and again to cause changes in their surroundings.

Examples of these types of instances can be seen in the way that the influence of Ghezresh has changed the animals that once lived on Caligos Isle. Other examples are the Bleaklands of what used to be Talador, where the entire area has become twisted and changed by the magic there.

Though many find them to be nuisances or pests, various bugs, spiders, worms, and insects have often been changed by the bizarreness that touches our lands.

Lands to the East

Due to the magical explosions in the battle of Malshyvee, much of the area is an utter wasteland, but two distinct insects have come out of the area. They are the ravaged Maelshyvenne stickman and the luminous Maelshyvenne ghostwing.

a ravaged Maelshyvenne stickman
When quiescent, the stickman resembles an ordinary branchlet from the illthorn tree. Knobby and gnarled, it is covered in tiny scales, but in motion, it resembles an animated runestaff. Its belly, when not flat against something, glows with slightly luminous and incredibly tiny runestones.

a luminous Maelshyvenne ghostwing
Limned in a type of phosphorescence usually only seen in certain specimens of cave moss or fungus, the ghostwing is Lepidoptera. Though it is difficult to tell if the creature is a moth or a butterfly, its wings resemble tattered and frayed gossamer that leaves trails of ichor green or violet light in its wake.

  • Though rare, these insects have been known to haunt Old Ta'Faendryl.

Ta'Vaalor is not without its own peculiar and magic-riddled insectoids. Many of the surviving Legionnaires that returned from the great Battle of Maelshyve carried with them residual traces of the magic that was used in that great battle. Though no true Vaalorian will admit to their magical nature, two creatures are common within their walls.

a wyvern-faced crimson weevil
Believed to be a relative of the rhinoceros beetle, the female weevil is rather ordinary. Small, slick, and crimson in hue, they have been known to have either dark or light banding upon their carapace. Males, on the other hand, can be quite impressive. The body of the male weevil in this genius is a burnished crimson hue, and when the chitinous pieces of its carapace part they reveal golden wings. They are almost jewel-like in their appearance. Twin horns, edged in gold, rise out of the tops of their heads, while a complicated set of almost gnome-like gears fill their mouthes, which hide beneath a beak-like protrusion.

a gold-haired legionnaire ant
Sporadically dappled in gold hair, the legionnaire ant is a predatory insectoid of larger than average size. Ranging in hue from sardonyx to carmine, it has a stout body and is never seen alone. In fact, part of the reason for its name is due to the fact that it marches in groups of nine to sixteen and doesn't march in single file like many of its cousins, but in actual formation. If one legionnaire ant falls, then its flanking partners carry it between them, and the entire platoon returns to the nest. Never kill a legionnaire ant, as the entire platoon will turn on you after making a stridulating sound, akin to a horn blast, and attack. It is said that the bite of just one legionnaire ant can incapacitate even the staunchest warrior for days.

The Shining City is not without its pesky little secrets either. Insects have been known to attack the libraries due to experiments gone wrong, and as a result experiments involving insects are no longer allowed within the city's walls. In the distant past, there was an experiment to discover why locusts could swarm, and the hope was to find a means of satiating their appetites without destroying entire crops. These experiments involved keeping quantities of locusts within specially designed atriums on the outside wall of the upper floor of the Library of Aies. One sunny day, a failed warding barrier interacted with the propulsion system of a passing airship, causing the windows on the upper floors to blow out. Everyone was so busy trying to ensure the safety of those below or near the glass that they failed to see that the locust enclosures were also broken and that they were laced with uncontrolled magical energy. The results caused a year-long pest control campaign within the library, the resulting ban, and a strengthening of the artificers' preservation spells.

a winged Aies parchment acariformes
Exceedingly bright white in hue, the Aies parchment acariformes is a soft-bodied mite that can grow to be an inch long. Harmless to the warm-blooded, the pest is interested in anything crafted of wood pulp and treated with dyes. Tiny barbs on their hind legs allow them to burrow through the covers of books towards the precious pages beneath, while their secretions create a kind of glue that acts as a protective seal around their feeding forms. The best and only way to remove them is with fire, unfortunately taking their snack with them much to the woe of Illistim scholars.

Though not a pest, but also an anomaly of the Library Catastrophe of 4722, some locusts did successfully cast off their ferocious appetites and gained almost ethereal forms. Frequently referred to by airship travelers as, "the Watcher Bugs," these locusts remain airborne feeding off whatever the winds bring them.

a zephyr-winged colorless celiecust
The wings of the colorless celiecust are wispy and grey at their edges, fanning out from their hard chitinous body in mimicry of stratus clouds. Their legs are translucent with a mild pearlescence, while their abdomen frequently reflects the hues that surround them in a type of camouflage that rivals the chameleon. The only thing that remains dark from their ancestral forefathers is their antennae, which range in hue from dark brown to charcoal grey.

Delicate and beautiful, the flora of Cysaegir is a balance of the old world being reclaimed by nature. Imaera's grace is felt upon its landscape, and it has become a haven for the fragile wonders of both this world and others. Two nearly extinct species of insect live within the sanctuary of its wilds, one with a slightly tragic story.

a watercolored praying grantris
Commonly mistaken to be a demon, the watercolored praying grantris is actually a mantid. After the battle of Maelshyve, the poor creature was mistakenly believed to be from one of the valances and was erroneously named a grantris; a demon from the Lorae'tyr valence. What is even more bizarre about the circumstances of its naming is that grantris actually resemble centipedes and look nothing like mantids. However, the name stuck, and with it, so did fear. As a result, the creature was systematically destroyed and would have become completely extinct were it not for the wilds of Cysaegir. The mantid is actually quite lovely and is dappled in pastel hues that represent an artisan's watercolored painting. Like many of its brethren, the praying grantris has petal-like protrusions over its arms, and when it arranges itself in supplication, resembles a flower.

a bluegrass shaggy caterpillar
Believed to have migrated from the area surrounding Maaghara's Tower, the shaggy caterpillar has many names. The Indigo False Dandelion, the Imitation Spiky Teal Salsify, and the Counterfeit Turquoise Thistle, to name a few. This is due to the caterpillar's unique eating habits. Roaming the tall grasses in the wilds of Cysaegir, the shaggy caterpillar feeds on mostly mulches and leaves until bugbanes, rose marrow, elecampane, and sneezeweed lose their flowerheads at the end of summer. Then the spry little caterpillar climbs their stalks and curls its body around the tops to feed on the sweet pulp stored within. As they feed, two transformations take place. The first is that feather spiracles resembling thin blades of bluegrass grow out of their body, helping to disguise themselves as flowers, while the second is that they lay the single egg of their life cycle. Once a proper cocoon is formed around their egg, one filled with flower nutrients and their own proteins, the caterpillar hardens into a shell-like structure that is teal. This usually happens just as the first winter snows are gracing the lands. Their offspring will be safe during the winter months, erupting with the crocus and starting their own cycle.

Lands to the West

Changed by the magics surrounding the calamity that befell the Long Snow, a pair of beautiful insects can be found in the Hinterwilds. It is unclear how these creatures, their ancestors from tropical climates, managed to take up residency in the arctic climate. Perhaps they were specimens in an explorer’s possessions, or perhaps they hitched a ride on an explorer departing from Mist Harbor before venturing into the Long Snow. Whatever the case may be, they were transformed and now live in harmony with the land.

a latticed azure frostwing
Transitioning from cobalt blue at the base of its abdomen to pale azure across its thorax and head, the frostwing is a relative of the butterfly. Crystalline antenna and legs decorate its winter-paled form, the appendages transparent and seemingly fragile. Latticed like a snowflake, and just as individual and unique, the white wings are four-barred and swallow-tailed with the lower edges culminating in teardrops of sapphire blue.

a twilight hoarfrost nymph
Part of the anthropod family, the hoarfrost nymph is a distant relative of the leafhopper nymph. Translucent tarsi transition to coral near the base of the thorax, which in turn becomes a gradient from pink to rich plum at its crown. Thin, waxy filaments extend from its posterior in a splay of violet, fuchsia, and tangerine hues and resemble incredibly thin plant stamens.

Our next insectoids bring us to the arctic climate of the Summit Academy and the famous Rumor Woods.

an iridescent agan beetle
Though we feel that the Scholars of Summit Academy have covered the topic quite thoroughly, we would be remiss if we did not mention the agan beetle, lately of Atan Irith, but currently residing in the hidden location of the famed surita tree. Living in a symbiotic life with the tree, the creatures have ancestors that were once bark beetles, but the strange magic surrounding the creation and care for these trees has warped their physiology completely out of anything resembling that of their forefathers. Their life cycles are incredibly short, and even in death, the irreplaceable service that they provide goes on in the form of aganjir and shadarl.

  • As noted in other studies, these were once common bark beetles forever changed by their attention to the surita tree. Their bodies soften perceptibly and they age within days and weeks instead of their normal life cycle.

a segmented (color) isopod
Less commonly known is the segmented isopod that lives in the rich soils around the surita tree. Unlike the bark beetles that first began feeding on the trees, the isopods do not actually feed on the trees but live in the soil beneath and around their roots. Utterly harmless to the delicate ecology of the arboreal beauty, the earthly denizens are nonetheless changed by the magic it exudes. Tiny, iridescent crystalline structures form within their carapaces, causing them to take on the various hues and colors of the specimen that they live beneath or around.

  • Various experiments have been done on those isopods that rise to the surface before expiring, but all that can be found is that their body completely gives over to the crystalline attack. They make for beautiful jewelry pieces and little else.
    • The varieties are: a segmented storm isopod, a segmented aura isopod, a segmented dusk isopod, a segmented dawn isopod, a segmented ocean isopod, and a segmented summit isopod.

Nothing will prepare you for the horrors of the insect kingdom like a visit to the vast wastes of the Bleaklands where carnivorous insects will ravage the flesh of anything in their path; from plant to bark, grass to gravel, and humanoid or bestial flesh. It is highly recommended that you simply don't visit these lands.

a hovering lampric leechling
Half the size of a leech, the lampric leechling is a chitinous insect that is tubular in shape. Ranging in hues from dusky grey to dusty brown, the leechling has the mouth of a lamprey and is filled with over a dozen rows of obsidian teeth. It is able to hover in the air without wings or any visible manner of propulsion due to the raw magic it has absorbed. Contact with one requires a combination of fire and ice treatments to prevent it from burrowing into the bone. If this happens, then the only way to stop the leechling from injecting its poison into the marrow is to delimb the animal or individual to prevent full-body paralysis and eventual death within six hours.

  • Due to losing two researchers in the Bleaklands, we decided to not pursue any other studies of the insects there.

In a hypocritical stroke of genius, or madness, Jantalarian scholars used divine magics to tamper with the natural order by using a combination of blinding faith, zealotry, and mandis crystals to create an insectoid that they could send into areas without physically having to go there themselves. The resulting creature is so mundane looking that it passes for a household item, but its intent is rather nefarious.

a crystalline mandis phasmida
Resembling nothing more than a simple twig, the mandis phasmida is roughly a foot long and was purposefully altered to resemble an Aldoran divining rod, which is a common enough item found in households of the Empire. In sunlight, it does take on a slight iridescence. However, its primary purpose is to infiltrate an area and leech it out of mana, which it is very effective at doing.

Destroyed by a magical explosion in 4565, Toullaire fell to hubris and chaos to become known as the Wizardwastes. To make matters worse, the Demonwall was not erected along its boards soon enough to stop the wild and demonic magics from comingling. The resulting transformation of one species was deadly.

a scarlet Toullaire hellgrammite
Believed to be the unlikely mating of some kind of small demon and a dobsonfly, the hellgrammite hails out of what once was called Toullaire and is part of the horrors that encroach upon the Demonwall. Enormous wings of dappled browns decorate its slick black body, which is covered in spiky scarlet protrusions. Its face is dominated by twin pincers that bind its prey in place while its proboscis injects a liquifying acid into its meatier parts, which it will slurp out later on. The hellgrammite is uncaring of the size of its victim and has been known to cling to the back of a wall defender by clipping onto its armor and weaseling its proboscis between the armor pieces. What makes it truly horrifying is that the sting of the hellgrammite has a numbing agent, and frequently victims don't know they've been attacked until they collapse, and by then, it is too late.

  • Local myth has it that one can grow large enough that a defender on the wall can appear to his comrades as if he is wearing a cloak.

Perhaps one of the more peculiar circumstances of modifying an insect in the history of Elanthia, the concentrated divine energies used to stave off the attacks of the Horned Cabal on the Walls of Elstreth produced two little known creatures that are actually revered by locals.

a shield-backed niveous leafhopper
Imbued with divine energy, the niveous leafhopper of Elstreth fairly glows with suffused holy light and is welcome in almost any home. Its name is due to the odd morphology of its head plates, which create a classic tower shield shape that descends across its back. Unlike its non-divine cousins, the leafhopper is carnivorous and attacks any flesh-eating bugs. Though rare, it has been known to clap its wings in a call that will summon others to it when it notices a locust or mosquito swarm.

a spectral mourning bug
Though not as well-loved as its counterpart the leafhopper, the mourning bug is equally imbued with divine energy, though not as comely. Its ancestry places it as part of the cicada family, and it loosely resembles a lantern bug. Its chitinous plates allow waxy filaments to extend from its body, resembling the loose threads of a woman's mourning shroud. Thus, where it gets its name. Since the bug is so sensitive to necrotic energies, locals use it as a warning sign if they notice groups of them moving in the same direction. Typically, those not prepared to fight the undead will move in the opposite direction. It is considered a bad omen to have one or more roosting on your home and has certainly led to more than one false trial or accusation of being a necromancer in those parts.

Islands of Elanthia

Much of the creation of Teras Isle is tied to the legend that the Greater Elemental Avregol created it, and the same is true of one of its most honored insects.

a flame-edged cinereous mantid
Resembling the fabled, robed image of Avregol, the Terasian native is part of the mantis family. Granular textures mark its entire body, which is cinereous and lithe. Enormous black eyes crown its angular head, and unlike the common mantis that neatly folds its wings against its back, the cinereous mantid keeps them slightly flared, which is what gives it a robed appearance. Heatless flames that ripple with blue and white hues drip from its form almost constantly.

The wilds of Mist Harbor are filled with a bounty of tropical wonders. Many exotic plants, colorful birds, and primitive creatures reside within its knotted jungles. While color is prolific in this location, there is one insectoid that stands out amid the others: the illusive glasswing that resides within the Saewehna Jungle.

a stained Saewehna glasswing
Leaf green hues decorate the body and limbs of the Saewehna glasswing, whose wings are transparent like those of its brethren, but framed in jeweled tones. Ranging from nacreous to garnet, sapphire to amethyst, and the various shades between, the edges of each wing maintain a shimmering pearlescence to them. Unlike other butterflies, the Saewehna glasswing enjoys the night and has adapted the light-emitting characteristics of the common firefly. However, unlike the flashes of white and green produced by the lesser insects, the Saewehna glasswing produces colors that match the frames on its wings, making their presence at night a colorful display. Often, the insects have been mistaken for will-o'-wisps, which are the fabled expulsion of spirits at night.

Two other species of unique insects can only be found within the Iyo Grove, which has only recently been granted access to travelers.

a great purple hairstreak butterfly
The diminutive gossamer-winged butterfly measures a scant inch and a half across, but its delicate coloring easily draws the eye. Dusky tones adorn the extremities of all four of its wings, but a gradient cerulean pattern becomes evident as the wings approach the butterfly's body. The body itself has an ethereal quality, with light cyan and grey streaks intermingling to form a two-toned shade reminiscent of dappled moonlight. The underside of the wings features a dramatic golden pattern at the lower extremities, projecting an illusion of a much larger, more dramatic presence to stave off would-be predators.

a purple hairstreak butterfly
Rich purple tones define the wings of the diminutive butterfly, resplendent in a slight gradient tone that darkens to inky black at the extremities, but softens to a faint lilac hue when it approaches the butterfly's body. Everything between the two extremes is a vibrant, dappled purple, striking when laid against the ever-present greenery at the heart of the jungle, yet perfectly suited to melt into the heavy shadows that come with nightfall in the rainforest. The underside of the wings features bold golden lines streaking across their surface into an irregular shape at the lower extremity, creating a useful illusion of a much larger target for any would-be predator.