Monday 23 October 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #277: The Golden Hive of Shuddud

Moving due west of Eryptos, we find ourselves eleven hexes northeast, four north of Alakran.


For many centuries the Golden Hive of Shuddud has the pride and comfort of the province of Eryptum. A small group of Mitraic priests tends the Hive in a tall red brick shrine not far from the provincial capital, that looms over a barren stretch of ground. The Hive’s bees make a honey that empowers mighty remedies.

The following rumours, not all of which are true, buzz around the Hive.

1. Many years ago, in the most wicked reign of the tyrant Ushum-gallu, the honey of the Hive turned black. And when in defiance Ushum-Gallu ate of it, he sickened and died within a week.

2. The priests have a fine legend about the Hive. But if you go far back enough in the royal chronicles, you simply find that the priests found a magic beehive near a hole in the ground, built it larger, and put the shrine walls around it for protection.

3. Sages think it no coincidence that the Hive was established a slow day’s walk from the ancient holy grounds of the old god of insects, Apshai.

4. The honey of Shuddud has power even over death. It has revived two kings, two royal heirs, a queen, and countless people of lesser importance.

5. I know someone, who knows someone, who has seen the Hive. It is enormous; a person could easily stand in it. And covered all in gold!

6. The toy mantises in the hands of children are from a festival that protects farmers against insect pests, which was last week—the only time people here hold Apshai above Mitra in their hearts.

7. A good thing they’ve forbidden the old Apshai place. A child was playing near there and got stung by a wasp. When he tried to swat it, it cursed at him and threw a splinter in his face!

8. Never are bees seen outside the shrine, and those who have seen inside say there are no flowers. How is the honey made?

9. It is said of the honey of the Hive, a person may receive its blessing only once in a lifetime. Thereafter, it lies bitter on the tongue, sickly in the belly.

10. The priests of the hive learn the language of bees, which is a kind of a dance.

11. According to the scrolls of the keepers of the Hive, it descended from heaven in response to the prayers of priests during a plague, giving honey to cure the sick and even revive the dead!

12. Sacred texts tell us that of all insects, the bee was the only one to leave the old god Apshai and acknowledge the truth of Mitra. The Hive was given to humanity in honour of the bee’s wisdom.

The Hive was also the site of one of the Band of Bronze's strangest adventures - but that story awaits to be told another time.

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