First found within the shadowed groves of Rao Ze, the mantid colonies represent both a remarkable opportunity and a growing threat to trade and travel. Built below the waves to keep them hidden from casual travellers, the colonies have developed in both construction and complexity at a rapid pace (testament to the ingenuity of the mantids they house).
The first colony discovered was a re-purposed wreck, a relic of a bygone age gutted to make room for simple living and sleeping spaces. The inhabitants were hostile, unintelligible, but fiercely protective of their little kingdom. They were left alone, their location marked on maps and charts as a place to avoid. And in truth they were largely forgotten for a time, at least until the first mantid ship was sighted – a bizarre semi-sentient hybrid of wood and chitin dragging itself through the waves with oversized foreclaws, loaded with curious goods and heading for the nearest trading port.
The mantids, in their years of isolation, had been busy.
Mantid culture is an intriguing area of study for the braver sort of Wildsea scholar. Highly formal and densely ritualistic, visitors are rarely welcome in their now-grand homes. Those that are bring back reports of staccato poetry, wordless duels and impressive alchemical metal-working.
The true danger of the colonies is a familiar one – the desire for expansion. More and more often in recent years their ships have pulled themselves up to the surface on missions of pillage and war, setting up blockades and raiding settlements for their metal and stone.
And there are rumours, now, of something being built in the shadowed tangle of the lower waves. Something jade and white. Something that snaps its claws. Something that moves like a newborn god.