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Gisilu: The Ant Host.

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  • Gisilu: The Ant Host.

    Hey all, it's been awhile since I have offered content to the Werewolf forum, and I felt that you all would appreciate these little monsters; they have taken a great deal of my time on and off for the past couple years, but now I feel like I definitively has gotten them to a point that I am comfortable in sharing what I do have with all of you. Enjoy! Like always, don't be shy in letting me know what you think!

    ________

    Gisilu- The Ant Host.
    "A single-file army of ants biting a mammoth tree into uniform grains and hauling it down to the dark for their ravenous queen. And, in reply, a choir of seedlings arching their necks out of rotting tree stumps, sucking life out of death. This forest eats itself and lives forever." Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible.

    Ants are one of the most populous creatures on the planet, outnumbering humanity many, many times over. It is both fitting and terrifying, then, that one of the most dangerous and aggressive species of shartha is borne from them. Gathering in massive colonies that extend across both sides of the Gauntlet, the Gisilu exist for a singular and self destructive purpose: the indiscriminate eradication of living creatures and other spirits in order to render the Hisil and the World of Flesh barren and lifeless- at least until a new world of their own design comes into being. With the ability to co-opt the spiritual energies of loci into their cycle of reproduction and the alarming tendency to produce hybrids at a faster rate than nearly any other Host, if left unchecked the Gisilu very well could overrun the earth and choke the planet in a endless tide of nightmarish abominations in a matter of decades.

    Despite this incredibly violent instinctual imperative and their large numbers in comparison to many other Hosts besides the Azlu and Beshilu, the ant shartha are not that well known among the People - thanks in great part to the efforts of the Hunters in Darkness. The Meninna in those parts of the world that possess large populations of Gisilu are relentless in their extermination of the ants, waging an almost endless campaign of genocide in order to keep their numbers to manageable numbers and limit their spread, for the ant-Hosts possess methods of reproduction that nearly defies what many Hunters know about the shartha in general - a fact that sets those who know of this species of Host on edge immensely. As a result, the Gisilu are largely limited to a few regions around the world, safely contained in the few colonies and nests that are carefully watched, barricaded, or destroyed without mercy- for if this status quo were ever to change in favor for the ants there would be little the Meninna, or the Uratha as a whole, could do to stop them.



    Origins- A War Without End.

    The current state of affairs has certainly not been the case in the past, and this semi successful culling of the Gisilu only began several centuries ago in response to one of the greatest disasters in the history of the People native to South America, when three gigantic colonies of ant-Hosts came in contact with each other and attempted to consume the others - a stalemate that is rumored to continue to this day. The Hunters in Darkness endeavored to ensure that such colonies would never again emerge, and through extensive use of long lost rites, spirit couriers, and apocalyptic songs sung to the Lunes themselves in the hopes that Luna's servants would carry their message to others ( they did, surprisingly), this warning was spread to the tribe as a whole in order to prepare them for the dangers the ant shartha represented - a warning that has been well heeded ever since by many protectorates.

    But the origins of the ants extend much further back like all Hosts do - with Pangaea and the fury of Mother Wolf.

    In the time where Gods walked upon the earth and spirits were more free stalked a Pangean of great power, a symbol of warfare, destruction, and rebirth who reveled in the relative chaos of the primordial world. This creature waged war on it's fellows and their lesser spirit vassals and destroyed a great many lives in it's wake for eons; but where it wrought death it also brought forth new life. This Pangean was an engine of renewal, tearing down that which was old and overgrown and offering fledgling life to flourish and take root. To better facilitate this task the great Warrior spent most of it's time as not one entity, but a legion of them; many hundreds of bodies all directed and controlled through one titanic will and anchored to a central form to maintain cohesion and retain identity.
    And for a time all was well, the Warrior continued it's ways within the borders set by the God of Hunters, Urfarah, and was largely left alone save for those who resisted against it, and everything was as it should be. Unfortunately all good things will come to an end, and the end came several ages later as the great Warrior noticed a small, yet notable imbalance beginning to gain momentum in the universe. The tiny beings known as man had long been a source of resonance for Essence to accumulate around as did all things, but as time passed and humanity grew more numerous, what had been an abnormally potent influence upon the world of gradually became greater and more severe in it's alteration of the shadow world that was Pangaea and its inhabitants, and the Warrior did not like that at all. While sustained through acts of war and carnage, the Warrior was also a spirit of regrowth and rejuvenation, but as the humans gathered in greater numbers and their wars became larger and fiercer, the time the world and creatures to recover grew longer – which of course caused mankind to fight with new vigor in order to secure new resources, which in turn delayed the growth of new life even longer and so on.

    Humanity was still disperse and their numbers still comparatively small, meaning that it would require generations upon generations of mortals to overtly affect the Warrior in a negative fashion despite their greater influence upon that which was ephemeral, but to a particularly lucid immortal such as the Warrior, it began to feel the first inkling of an alien emotion brush against it's thoughts: fear. In the Warrior's mind if left unchecked, this upstart species would utterly devastate the equilibrium that it represented and thus endanger it's existence, so the Warrior made a decision. The world was not solely dependent on man to persist, and the Warrior itself had been around since before the mortals had even crawled out of the mud, therefore it decided to nip the problem in the bud and destroy humankind forever – it was the only way to preserve the world as the Warrior knew it, for better or for worse. And so for the first time in it's memory the Warrior crossed the Border Marches in order to unleash it's fear fueled wrath upon any and every tiny village and proto-city it's legion of bodies could find, and many of the mortals perished between the Warriors' thousand jaws and beneath innumerable blade- like legs.

    This was a mistake.

    Almost immediately the God of Wolves and his Firstborn descended upon the Warrior with unmitigated fury. Urfarah was not yet weakened by the siring of his Uratha children and the mortals still were a hunter-gathering people by a vast margin, thus the Great Hunter was near the pinnacle of his virtually unlimited strength. Likewise the Warrior was similarly mighty; it was not some wayward spirit to be chased and harried like a hapless deer- it was a God. Thus where others would turn and flee, driven before Mother Wolf towards inevitable slaughter, the Warrior stood it's collective ground and instead charged to meet Urfarah in a clash like no other before. Fangs and claws that could sunder mountains and dredge up new seas collided with steely mandibles and razorsharp limbs that could do much the same. Flesh was torn open and great clumps of fur and fat joined shattered chitin and fell scattered upon the earth like obscene snow or hail, only to be washed away again and again by by torrents of hot blood and viscous ichor as Father Wolf and his brood savagely battled the vast host that was the Warrior. It is unclear how long the Warrior and Urfarah were locked in deadly combat; years, centuries, millennia, or possibly only a few short days – what is known is that the Warrior ultimately could not prevail. Despite it's immense strength and advantage of numbers thanks to it's constitute bodies the Warrior in essence was still only one being, while the God of Wolves had an entire pack-army of divine offspring at her flanks, always ready to exploit any weaknesses presented to them.

    So after an eternity, or perhaps only a mere moment of battle, Urfarah and his children cornered and tore the primary body of the Warrior apart- thus shattering the keystone that held the gestalt that was the God of Ruin and Rebirth together. And for any other being that would have been the end of it; the prey would be dead and Urfarah would move on to engage in another Hunt, but something unusual happened. The few bodies that were not destroyed by the Wolf God and her cubs in their haste to strike at the Heart of the Warrior did not die with it, but rather lost cohesion and dissolved, spreading their life essence among and lying dormant within the creatures the Warrior most resembled: ants. Whether or not Urfarah attempted to hunt down and destroy these lingering remnants before they unraveled is unknown, for it is said that Luna soon began courting the Wolf God not long after the Warrior was defeated, leading to the genesis of the Uratha and the beginning of the Great Hunter's own undoing.

    Other creatures would similarly escape Urfarah's judgement, two of the most well known being the Spinner-Hag and the Plague King, and after Mother Wolf died and the Gauntlet was raised the end of Pangaea lead to the the birth of the Hosts. Alongside spiders and rats, shards of the great and powerful Warrior awakened within a certain number of queens among ant colonies around the world – though instead of being united by a single will a chorus of nascent minds emerged, all of them consumed by a all-encompassing imperative:

    Tearing the now doomed world apart and starting over from scratch.

    Thus began the existence of the Gisilu, and ever since they have been striving towards the mad goal of finishing what their progenitor started, and anyone or anything that stands in their way best either get the fuck out of it or at least have the courtesy to die screaming along with everyone else – for the ant shartha are relentless. The never tire, they will never retreat, and they will not stop until every last living creature on earth is dead or the Gisilu themselves are utterly destroyed.

    It's already too late for this world, but the next one will be better.

    So the ant Hosts promise.



    A Mad Purpose- To Bring About Extinction.

    The Hosts, one and all, possess some sort of alien drive that urges them to do what they do. Spiders weave, Rats gnaw, Snakes are said to sleep( among many other things) and Locusts are rumored to eat. The Ants have a similar purpose: They destroy. Imagine for a moment a colony of African or South American legionary ants: long columns many hundreds of feet long composed of hundreds of thousands to millions of ants inexorably moving forward. They sweep over anything in their path and everything unfortunate enough to be caught by these massive trains of insectoid death are pulled down and torn apart with unfeeling efficiency to feed the colony and more importantly the queen – leaving behind nothing but bones or other inedible husks. The Gisilu do much the same, they are an engine of death and ruination that if it had its way would march across the whole of the Gurihal and the Hisil until nothing was left, wiping the canvas clean for.. something new, something better. At least that is what the Hosts say in their chittering tongue and bloody droning. It is thanks to the Hunters in Darkness and many other creatures that populate this world that the ant shartha are still a long way from accomplishing this nihilistic instinctual imperative, though that does not bother the Gisilu overly much. Steady, inexorable advance is the way of the ants; no matter how long it will take or how many shards are lost or subsumed, sooner or later the ant shartha will march over the corpses over all who try to stop them from completing the purpose their half forgotten progenitor began. To the Gisilu, to hold back their colonies is like trying to hold back the ocean's waves with one's bare hands- sure one can obstruct a pitifully tiny amount of water for a moment.. but in the end the tide will still wash over and around them. The Hosts are that tide, and the Uratha who think they can keep the Gisilu at bay forever will someday will be washed away like all the rest, all that is required is patience – something the ants possess in spades.

    As terrible as the desire to kill every thing that walks, flies or swims is, this desire is not borne from any true malice. The Warrior began it's campaign of slaughter against the humans not out of hate, but out of fear and a desire, however right or wrong, to maintain a status quo for it's existence and the rest of the world by proxy – a sort of twisted sense of duty to preserve the harmony of the universe. This is true for the Gisilu as well; they really do believe that what they are doing is right, that they are correcting an imbalance that only the ants can rectify. To these shartha, the world has been slipping further and further away from what it should be and that drastic measures are needed to set things right. Unfortunately the Gisilu also believe that simply returning the world to how it once was before the loss of Pangaea is impossible; and the only true way to bring balance to this diseased world is reduce everything to a zero sum, all beings in the world of flesh must die and every spirit must be destroyed – it is the only way the world can be rebuilt anew, free of the weight and corruption that plagues the current planet. Do the ants realize that this will more than likely end in their destruction as well? Yes. Do the ants know that the world really will be reborn after their task is finished? Not entirely, though their queens do have some sort of nebulous plan to ensure that it does.. maybe. Regardless of whether or not they can bring about new life to Earth is ultimately irrelevant; the Gisilu cannot be anything other than destroyers any more than the Azlu can resist thickening the Gauntlet or the Beshilu can resist tearing it to bloody tatters. Destroying is what they do, and they will continue to do so until there is nothing left in this world to destroy.

    It must be noted that despite their lack of malice concerning the slaughter of living things and spirits, where Uratha are concerned they are a solid exception. The Warrior's last moments were locked in a hopeless, disastrous conflict with Urfarah that directly lead to it's death, it's thoughts consumed with anger and hatred towards the God of Wolves and her blind stupidity. Did she not see how dangerous those fleshy things known as men were? Did she not feel how the ebb and flow of Essence warped and changed like quicksilver in response to the actions of the mortals? But no, Father Wolf would rather turn his fangs upon the Warrior instead of humanity, who were the truest violators of the Border Marches- the injustice of such obliviousness giving birth to impotent rage and hatred in the Warrior's million hearts. Pointless objections to be sure; Urfarah could not deny his nature any more than the Warrior could, but the sheer unfairness of the particulars of it's defeat burned itself into the fractal soul of God of Ruination and Rebirth.

    As a result like with all Hosts, the Gisilu possess an instinctive hatred and fear of the Great Hunter's bastard descendants, and the normally unemotive ants will employ surprisingly brutal and cruelly imaginative ways to make the werewolves suffer whenever an opportunity presents itself- all with a mask of false impassivity. It is not uncommon for the Gisilu in a pack or protectorate's territory to almost exclusively attempt to wear the faces and bodies of friends and family, to force the Uratha to make a sadistic choice: either tear apart the now dead husks of people they knew in order to stop the ant shartha, or be hounded by their former loved ones until no more remain or the werewolves are driven off or killed. It's only fair, Urfarah cruelly destroyed the Warrior and doomed the world, the Uratha should be made to pay for her crimes. So when the end finally comes, the werewolves will be the last to finally go.. though the ants will make sure the Uratha do not leave the mortal coil without screaming in agony and misery.

    The only exceptions to the Gisilu's all-consuming need to kill and raze everything around them ( however temporarily) are their fellow Hosts. This is not some sentimental kinship or fondness on the ant's part – it is pragmatism. Like how some species of ants will capture and effectively enslave competing colonies, the ant shartha will attempt to do the same with non ant Hosts. Spiders and Rats are the most numerous shartha aside from the ants, and possess abilities that manipulate the Gauntlet in ways the Gisilu find useful – having a very stunted ability to alter it themselves aside from Reaching. Azlu can spin webs to thicken the spiritual barrier, an perfect way to make it more difficult for their enemies to cross it, and the Beshilu can gnaw gaping holes within it so the ants can easily move between worlds. The Rat Hosts are frenzied and psychotic creatures, but at their core they are ultimately frantic cowards; so though the Beshilu invariably resist initially the superior strength of the ants combined with the promise of a continued existence all but ensures cooperation with the Gisilu – however temporarily until the madness of the rat shartha overwhelms their ability to be useful to their conquerors.

    While it is no great challenge in coercing and bullying the Beshilu into gnawing the Gauntlet to tatters ( in fact the Gisilu have no problem semi peacefully convincing the rats to do so, the Gauntlet is just one more aspect of the world that needs to go from their perspective) for ants' benefit, the Azlu are another matter entirely. Being more powerful and more solitary, the Azlu are fiercer and far more aggressive that the fearful and paranoid Beshilu are in battle – blind panic can carry one far, but fury is a quality the rats possess little of in comparison to their arachnid cousins. One would think that the fact that Azlu congregate in smaller numbers and are less likely to run when confronted would make them easier to isolate and force into service, but this is not the case. Azlu are virtually perfect ambush predators and are masters of misdirection and subterfuge( to a point at least), traits that the blunt and linear thinking Gisilu are sadly lacking aside for their queens. This coupled with the greater willfulness of individual Azlu and their natural abilities to thicken the Gauntlet and entrap those attempting to pass through it turns what should be an easy conquest into a grueling guerrilla war that can wear on even the tireless ant Hosts. On occasions some Gisilu colonies are capable of simply pushing into Azlu territory and forcing their cooperation like with the rat shartha, but the effort involved more often than not either destroys the Azlu in question or robs the ant shartha of their own hybrids that could have been better used elsewhere – either option depriving the Gisilu of the prize they were seeking. More often, the queens of most colonies wishing to make use of the Azlu rely on a different tactic: Negotiation. As such the relationship between the Azlu and the Gisilu, when it isn't violent, is very much like a contractual business agreement in determining how and where the Spiders will spin their webs for the ever advancing machine of the Ants – though the odds of the Azlu turning on or abandoning their “partners” are highly likely should the children of the Spinner-Hag decide they no longer will be bought by “lesser” creatures.

    It is unclear how the Gisilu make use of the other lesser known Hosts, they typically being of much smaller numbers and often infesting areas the ants themselves currently do not, but should they encounter their rarer cousins, it is likely they would attempt to make use of them in some fashion or another.

    ___

    Upcoming: Explanations detailing the Gisilu's life cycle and the establishment of their colonies, as well as how a ant-shartha infestation operates.
    Last edited by Korogra; 05-07-2016, 06:06 PM.

  • #2
    I am looking forward to reading more about the Gisilu.


    Freelance Writer: WtF Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon
    United States Sailor, First Responder,Ally, Bad Speller, Book Hoarder and all around Nerd.

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    • #3
      Damn. This is another terrifying Host thought up. That said, I am very curious how their interactions are with certain Hosts. Especially the Razilu (who are feared by both Azlu and Beshilu immensely). I am having a hard time rationalizing how the Ant Hosts could possibly 'conscript' Hosts which spend a good deal of their time eating other Hosts. At the very least, though, they could probably 'steer' them in the direction of Shartha that are being problematic to their expansion attempts.

      On a semi-related note, another homebrew Host came to mind after reading this. The bee-like Bharsalu. And something tells me that they could be another reason why the Gisilu are kept at manageable numbers, in addition to the Hunters in Darkness.


      "My Homebrew Hub"
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      • #4
        fun thing- yesterday, while my sister worked on her computer in her room, she noticed that her cat has started to jump from place to place in panic. She looked at the floor, and noticed a lot of ants going everywhere in her room- on her sheets, the floor, on the computer itself. She has started to clean all of those ants, looking everywhere from where they may come from- there was no swarm on the floor, or bellow the door, or even on the walls. And then, while she was cleaning, one of the ants fell on her computer, and so she looked up.

        dozens- if not hundreds- of ants covered her ceiling, crawling upon each other like a black, clicking mass. She could just stare at it at panic- while her cat just ran into the deepest corner in her closet.

        Long story sort- I've almost wrote an ant host down today before you did, so thank for saving me the work :P


        Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

        "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

        I now blog in here

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Deionscribe View Post
          Damn. This is another terrifying Host thought up. That said, I am very curious how their interactions are with certain Hosts. Especially the Razilu (who are feared by both Azlu and Beshilu immensely). I am having a hard time rationalizing how the Ant Hosts could possibly 'conscript' Hosts which spend a good deal of their time eating other Hosts. At the very least, though, they could probably 'steer' them in the direction of Shartha that are being problematic to their expansion attempts.

          On a semi-related note, another homebrew Host came to mind after reading this. The bee-like Bharsalu. And something tells me that they could be another reason why the Gisilu are kept at manageable numbers, in addition to the Hunters in Darkness.
          I'm glad you find them so terrifying, ants are scart creatures man.

          Well In my setting, the Razilu do not feed on other shartha, they slumber for years at a time between brief periods of activity where they cause disasters, feeding on the chaotic Essence flows and then going back to sleep -much like proverbial sea monsters attacking a ship or coastal village. And the ants would likely do that, use the Snakes as "atomic bombs" with problematic areas.

          I do use a Host for that purpose actually, though it isn't Bees

          When I have my weekend off this week Ill add the life cycle and junk as promised, hopefully you find terrifying too!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LostLight View Post
            fun thing- yesterday, while my sister worked on her computer in her room, she noticed that her cat has started to jump from place to place in panic. She looked at the floor, and noticed a lot of ants going everywhere in her room- on her sheets, the floor, on the computer itself. She has started to clean all of those ants, looking everywhere from where they may come from- there was no swarm on the floor, or bellow the door, or even on the walls. And then, while she was cleaning, one of the ants fell on her computer, and so she looked up.

            dozens- if not hundreds- of ants covered her ceiling, crawling upon each other like a black, clicking mass. She could just stare at it at panic- while her cat just ran into the deepest corner in her closet.

            Long story sort- I've almost wrote an ant host down today before you did, so thank for saving me the work :P
            I have had something like that happen at my place, and it inspired a Dread Power for the Gisilu lol.

            Well... glad to be of service I suppose xD.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by rx781a View Post
              I am looking forward to reading more about the Gisilu.
              When I have the time this weekend, You'll get to do so

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              • #8
                Awesome stuff so far, Korogra. Looking forward to the rest of the write-up.

                Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                fun thing- yesterday, while my sister worked on her computer in her room, she noticed that her cat has started to jump from place to place in panic. She looked at the floor, and noticed a lot of ants going everywhere in her room- on her sheets, the floor, on the computer itself. She has started to clean all of those ants, looking everywhere from where they may come from- there was no swarm on the floor, or bellow the door, or even on the walls. And then, while she was cleaning, one of the ants fell on her computer, and so she looked up.

                dozens- if not hundreds- of ants covered her ceiling, crawling upon each other like a black, clicking mass. She could just stare at it at panic- while her cat just ran into the deepest corner in her closet.

                Long story sort- I've almost wrote an ant host down today before you did, so thank for saving me the work :P
                ...that's not terrifying at all. D:


                "Pay no attention to the man behind the Storyteller!"
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                • #9
                  I am not too keen on the "rebuild the world from scratch" part, but everything else is super cool! I especially like how they can co-opt the Gauntlet effects of other Hosts and use diplomacy. Their Dread Powers could use the Swarm Exploit and the Infestation Atavism as inspiration. They should also have a Dread Power that represents a very efficient hive-mind. Perhaps they count any of their "anthills" as a Home Ground with Eye Spy?

                  As a side note, this Simpsons scene is very relevant.


                  Let Him Speak.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GibberingEloquence View Post
                    I am not too keen on the "rebuild the world from scratch" part, but everything else is super cool! I especially like how they can co-opt the Gauntlet effects of other Hosts and use diplomacy. Their Dread Powers could use the Swarm Exploit and the Infestation Atavism as inspiration. They should also have a Dread Power that represents a very efficient hive-mind. Perhaps they count any of their "anthills" as a Home Ground with Eye Spy?

                    As a side note, this Simpsons scene is very relevant.
                    Well, they do not know if they even can rebuild the world after they kill everything. They think that they can and have lots of ideas on how to do it, but it's unlikely that any of them would work. It's like the Azlu surviving the world dying from the total separation of flesh and spirit. They are confident that they will, but they don't have any real way of doing so aside from unproven rumors.

                    As a hint, they do have a Hive Mind Dread Power

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                    • #11
                      Infuriatingly due to a storm knocking out power to my house, I can't get on the internet with my laptop to post the second section, but tomorrow I'll be somewhere with proper internet, so you guys will get it ( for reals this time)... assuming weather doesn't turn to complete shit and I get home ridden
                      Last edited by Korogra; 05-16-2016, 07:49 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I'd like to point out that you can also given them a hive-mind through Telepathy 5 + the Aggressive Meme, Seek and Pathfinder Numina. They would get a discount on the Essence/Willpower required to activate them if they are contacting each other. Other Hosts might be able to intercept their communications with a Clash Of Wills.


                        Let Him Speak.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GibberingEloquence View Post
                          I'd like to point out that you can also given them a hive-mind through Telepathy 5 + the Aggressive Meme, Seek and Pathfinder Numina. They would get a discount on the Essence/Willpower required to activate them if they are contacting each other. Other Hosts might be able to intercept their communications with a Clash Of Wills.
                          Useful, but I already have a hive mind Dread Power for them. I like it though.

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                          • #14
                            Though it's very much overdo, here is the second part of the Gisilu write up! I apologize for the delay, life decided it wanted to be very bitchy to me for awhile as it often does for many people, but hopefully this makes up for the long pause! It's a little shorter, but that is because this section is actually very, very long.. and I am not entirely done with the second half. But anywhooo, here it is for you guys, like always left me know what you think and offer constructive advice!
                            __________


                            Methods- The Trembling Earth ( Part 1)

                            The life cycle of the Gisilu is in many ways similar yet different from many of the Hosts werewolves are familiar with. Similar in how the ant shartha begin as mere creatures who, should they survive long enough may meld with a human vessel and mutate it into a hideous hybrid monstrosity and when their vessels are killed they dissolve into tides of vermin – ants in this case. They can merge with other shards to grow stronger and require incredibly rare “brood mothers” in order to reproduce like other Hosts – it is in the details that the Gisilu begin to diverge from what the Hunters know about the Hosts.

                            It is known by some Uratha ( most of those being elder Meninna who know their shit concerning their Sacred Prey) that the Shartha can reproduce, but it is typically only the oldest, most powerful, and vilest members of the species possess that terrible ability. With the ant-Hosts this is fact is inverted, in a fashion. While the Gisilu's methods of reproduction are limited to only a incredibly small number of their race, those individuals possess the ability to generate new shards from the time they are born to the time they die. These individuals, also known as Hidden Queens by those Hunters who know of them, are the keystone that the entirety of the species depends on for continued existence – logically making them very high priority targets in areas that are infested by the ants. This coupled with their small numbers and the fact that new queens are only conceived when an existing Hidden Queen has reached a certain age and level of power has helped lead to the current successes of the Meninna in keeping the ant shartha under control – for now.

                            As important Hidden Queens are, in the beginning of an infestation it is very difficult to even notice that one's territory even plays host to one of these monsters. The Queens fittingly begin life as a shard that is carried by a different caste of Gisilu that exist for the sole purpose of depositing it's precious cargo to a new Locus, allowing for the species to propagate and expand as it continues it's quest of omnicidal aggression. These drones ( for lack of a better term) are small, flying ants with enlarged abdomens, and once they reach a locus sufficiently far enough away from other Gisilu colonies ( which would prove to be a grave threat to a newborn Queen) they then deposit the larva shard and quickly die, providing energy for the infant shartha to burrow into the shadow side of the Gauntlet. Once there, the Queen quickly builds a small nest for itself somewhere in the radius of the locus – ideally near the epicenter – and then creates a cocoon of saliva, dirt, and Essence in order to pupate.

                            The pupation process lasts an entire day and during which the Queen's own Essence reserves intermingle and entwine with the font of spiritual power that is the Locus in an insidious manner that is frighteningly similar to the methods Hosts as a whole utilize when infesting a human or animal, though unlike with such mortal hosts a Locus is not destroyed by this merger. The affected locus essentially becomes the queen's body in a limited fashion, and while at first this would seem to be a surefire way to announce to the world that the locus has become infected by a demonic ant monster, the opposite is true for several reasons. The first reason being is that this infestation is actually incredibly subtle; the Queen is essentially immobile and possesses virtually no ability to manipulate the locus aside for using it's energies for reproductive purposes, so for the initial few days or even weeks of melding with the locus, the Hidden Queen's presence is so minimal it is almost non existent. Second, the act of melding her Essence to that of the Locus effectively masks and diffuses it, making it's resonance indistinguishable from the resonance of the font itself while allowing the Queen to remain largely unaffected by said resonance, though not entirely ( leading each Queen, and therefor each colony of Gisilu to develop unique minor characteristics related to the spiritual resonance of the Loci the Queen is tied to.)- a particularly aggravating characteristic to those who foolishly believe they can discover the ant-shartha matriarch through scenting her Essence alone, as they are for intents and purposes the very Loci they infest.

                            As stated before, the process of melding with the Locus does not destroy it, in fact such a process does not even damage it's ability to collect Essence. In fact the presence of a Hidden Queen is ironically beneficial for a Locus. Just as mundane ants aerate soil and help it maintain cohesion and nutrient content, a Hidden Queen lends a level of strength and resilience to it's Resonance, making it more difficult for the Locus to be shifted to a new resonance or negatively affected by outside influences. For those who know what to look for this resiliency is a notable, if subtle sign of the beginnings of an ant-host infestation, but for most this increase of resonance strength is only slightly noticed. Spirits embody concepts related to the resonance gather in more numbers than normal, typically not in amounts that are overly harmful, and should a Uratha pack lay claim to the locus they might find this alteration to be quite beneficial to whatever territory shaping project they may try to implement – complacency that at first appears to benefit all parties involved until the ants start appearing.

                            While the Hidden Queens have little ability to overly affect Loci themselves, they are more than able to make use of this spiritual power in order to spawn new shartha. Many, many new shartha. How this process works in not well understood by the Hunters in Darkness, but from what has been learned through careful and life threatening study, it has been learned that a Hidden Queen relies on a steady flow of Essence and the metaphysical strength of the Locus itself. The potency of a locus relegates how many shards that a Queen may spawn per day, and the more powerful the a locus is the greater the danger a Gisilu infestation poses – should the ants be left alone from too long the odds of destroying all of them or killing their queen grow slimmer exponentially to the point of becoming practically impossible.. if one is truly foolish enough do sit by and do nothing. Though this process of reproduction rarely leads to a locus being drained to a point where it cannot support a colony, many Queens are surprisingly strategic when it comes to spawning new shards; many who expect that the Hidden Queens simply generate shartha mindlessly, acting as nothing but biological factories are woefully disappointed. While the ending stages of a Gisilu infestation may indeed see the birth of dozens of shards daily; in the beginning the matriarchs of this race are much more discreet, spawning shards carefully in order to first to secure a stable colony, the assembly line style of spawning occurs only when resources and territory permit such frivolous action.. or if the Queen is in danger.

                            Out of all the Gisilu race, the Hidden Queens are easily the most intelligent and self-cognizant of their kind and possess a very pragmatic, almost nonchalant view regarding their fellow Gisilu, other shartha, and all life, both spiritual and material. Everything must be torn apart and ground to nothing in order for the new world to come into existence, save for themselves. Therefore it doesn't matter how many of the lesser shards are lost or how many allies or enemies die, they are merely stepping stones and building blocks for the great Ruination. As long as the slate is clean for for the Queens to bring about new life, any act or strategy is permissible.

                            But this is but just one variation of the species, as integral as the Hidden Queens are, and likely to never be seen by any but the must devoted Shartha hunter. No, the most common Gisilu any pack will likely encounter are one of three ( actually four, but more on that later) worker-soldier castes : The Workers (Unil), Foragers(Theghul), Fodders(Ezthum), and Bone-Breakers(Hirfathra-Dunfathul). When an infestation begins to take root, it is the Workers who are spawned first, harbingers of the unending tide to come. Where as some Hosts manifest as single creatures or large swarms of vermin moving as a coherent whole, Workers are instead a small clump of a dozen or so ants acting in rough concert with each other, often walking single file one after the other from one destination to the other. For the most part the Workers stay in this base form, carefully excavating and building extensions onto the initial nest the Hidden Queen dug for herself as well as carrying Essence that they consume to her in order to supplement her diet. Eventually these ants will turn and devour other Worker clusters at the Queen's direction in order to meld together, leading to the next caste of Gisilu: the Foragers.

                            Foragers are the caste that the Gisilu rely on in order to truly add momentum to a colony's expansion. Slightly more powerful and willful than the near mindless Workers, Foragers are the shartha who carry out the Queen's will on a much, much larger and ambitious scale than her tiny eyes physically see, and are the initial Hosts who are true to their namesake – possessing humans for the purpose of forcibly collecting materials and sustenance for an ever growing colony. Like other Hosts the Foragers will locate a human ( preferably sleeping or likewise prone and unmoving, but not always) and will burrow single file into the potential host, making their way to the heart, Once there, the dozen ants will then release a potent toxin that quickly kills the human in question in a matter of seconds, after which they then settle into every valve and chamber of the vital organ. Over the course of several minutes hundreds of ants begin streaming from the heart; using blood vessels like pathways throughout the entire body, infesting the host's musculature. Finally the now infested human open's it's eyes, regarding the world and all it's wonders with an expression of bored neutrality.

                            The Gisilu, Foragers or otherwise, are poor at playing the part of the people they possess. Gisilu are not emotional creatures by nature and at best are seen as either being blunt and humorless at best or emotionally stunted and sociopathic at worst, their interactions with people being rigid and almost robotic in comparison to all but the most jaded and sedate human. Compounding this is the fact that the Gisilu are not adept at displaying non verbal examples of emotion either; The ant shartha infected hosts gaze upon the world either with a thousand yard stare or a dour scowl – a rare expression hinting at the natural aggression of their species. Another problem that makes social interaction a challenge is the difficulty of recognizing individuality among humans. Though every shard is an individual being, the Gisilu are a communal, hive-minded species where each and every shard of a particular colony is connected to each other and their queen, and as a result the ants see mortals in terms of their role in a group rather than a discreet individual. These factors are very clear indications that something is not quite right with the individual, though few would ever attribute this wrongness to the fact that the person the host used to be is long dead and their corpse is being puppet ed by hundreds of ant demons.

                            Unfortunately, despite their external lack of emotion the ant shartha are incredibly quick to resort to violence should they find themselves confronted with situations in which they are not intellectually equip to deal with through non-violent methods. Should an ant-host warn a human to leave them be and to stop speaking to them, it is highly unlikely that the same warning will be given a second time – instead the Gisilu is much more liable to cave that person's head in with a brick ( or their bare hands) and then calmly walk away. This is especially dangerous as should an ant-host decide that it is better to simply kill a problematic individual, they will do everything in their power to make sure that person or creature stops breathing – and no amount of fighting, begging, or reasoning will deter them. There are rare exceptions to this violent behavior, though they are almost invariably due to the Queen ordering them to pursue differing actions.

                            This isn't to say that violence doesn't have it's uses. As stated before, Foragers are the caste that performs much of the heavy lifting in a Gisilu colony. They are the ones that prepare the mortal side of the Gauntlet for the upcoming storm. They are the ones who collect corpses and living people as food and puppets for their sisters and Queen, the ones who work to weaken the surrounding area in order to allow for later waves to more easily crush resistance. An most importantly of all, they are the ones who are the first to scout out the strength and disposition of any Uratha packs that may be in the area.. and the ones who often waste little time in making the hated bastards of Urfarah pay by possessing their loved ones and throwing their corpses upon the claws and broken bodies of the wolves. They will fight tooth and nail without hesitation nor remorse, only retreating to find more humans to puppet in order to continue the fight or to carry their precious soul shards back to their nest in order to merge with more siblings in order to become stronger for future battles.

                            Combat against Foragers ( or the Gisilu in general for that matter) is not a pleasant affair. For one they very rarely are encountered alone unless they are scouting new sections of the territory their Queen claims, and will attack in large groups with an alarming ferocity that belies their calm voices and disinterested expressions, seeking to tear any enemy they can get their hands on limb from limb. In addition while weaponry use is not an uncommon trait amongst Hosts in general, the ants are unafraid of using any advantage they can get their hands on in a life or death situation. Pipes, shards of glass, knives, vehicles, automatic weapons- all are freely utilized in order to destroy opposition should they be avalible. Like the Hidden Queens, the lesser Gisilu shards are firm believers in that anything and everything is permissible when it comes to accomplishing the colony's goals.

                            But even then, there is only so much the human form can offer the ants on it's own. There eventually comes a point where mere mortal meat-puppets cannot benefit the Queen or her colony, and instead more drastic measures are required. More shards must be consolidated together and host bodies must be improved in order to be useful. Eventually the warrior-workers of the Gisilu must.. evolve.

                            _____

                            Next up: Evolved/Hybrid forms and examples of later stage infestation.

                            Hopefully the next section will take much less time to write and put up here for you guys. I can't make promises of an exact day, but I am shooting for later in the week.. hopefully!
                            Last edited by Korogra; 09-25-2018, 03:05 PM.

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                            • #15
                              As promised, here is the second half for you guys!! I will confess something though, I have had to break up the Trembling Earth into three parts, as I felt that combining the hybrid forms with the particulars of a late stage infestation would simply be too long for a single section, and my work schedule this week does not afford me that kind of time. Having said that, I will hopefully be adding the third part of this section up during the weekend or possibly early next week. In the meantime; enjoy these horrible monstrosities!! As always ( and especially for this part), let me know what you think and offer whatever constructive suggestions you can! Thanks and have a beautiful day!
                              _____


                              Methods- The Trembling Earth ( Part 2)


                              Just as the Gisilu are separated into a number of distinct castes, it is no surprise that the hybrid forms of the ant-shartha would also be divided into more than one variation in order to accomplish specific tasks. This makes the Gisilu rather unique among hosts as while the hybridized forms of other shartha share characteristics, it is rare for any two hybrids to appear fully alike or even possess the same sets of skills and evolutionary adaptations. Now there are exceptions ( such as the Red Ministers' ability to essentially craft the soul-shards of their brethren to their own mad designs) to this, though they are quite rare in comparison to the almost.. manufactured hybrid forms of the Gisilu. Designed for highly specialized roles, there is comparatively little variation between two hybrids of the same type unless the Queen decrees that there is need for more diverse adaptations for any specific goal. This makes the Gisilu predictable and fearsome in equal measure, for while it is very likely that if one particular hybrid in a group possesses a certain supernatural gift it's comrades will possess it also, should any of the hybrids possess highly dangerous powers it very well could lead to disastrous consequences. The insectile nature of the Gisilu also lends a level of strength that can rival or even surpass the primal power of the killing form, and more than one Uratha has entered the Garu state thinking that it's savage fury will win the day only to be torn apart and reduced to nothing but raw essence – more fuel for the warmachine that are the ant-hosts.

                              This isn't to say that the path towards evolution is without effort or accumulation of power, but thanks to the unique reproductive characteristics of the Gisilu and their utter loyalty to their Hidden Queens once enough lesser shards have been born it is only a matter of time before they are commanded to devour each other in order to meld together en mass – though in small clusters to allow for multiple stronger shards than simply one or two very potent shartha ( Such shards have their place on occasions, but as a famous Russian dictator once said; “Quantity has a quality all it's own.”). Just as Worker shards can be merged together to form Foragers, Foragers can either merge together to form proper warrior shards or instead may attempt to possess a human body and transform them into a fusion of man and insect that is the expendable worker-soldier hybrid caste, a Fodder.

                              To do this, a sufficiently powerful Forager first infests a mortal and then finds a safe place in order to begin the metamorphosis. Ideally the Forager will return to one of the colony's nests in order to properly pupate, as they often possess special Essence rich incubation pits for the Foragers to immerse themselves in, greatly accelerating their evolution. For those who are less fortunate and unable to reach the safety of their nests the process is more lengthy and carries greater risk and in response they normally will either attempt to find a secure subterranean space such as a basement or storage cellar, a windowless room, or will simply burrow into the earth and hope that nothing will find them during the transition period – at which point they will construct a makeshift cocoon of whatever physical or spiritual detritus is available and fall into a comatose state once fully enshrouded.

                              Regardless of which process is followed, the result is the same. After the incubation period ( two days for a Forager caught outside of it's nest, a frighteningly quick 12 hours for a host within a incubation pit) the newborn abominations open their eyes and tear themselves free of their now sodden cocoons, stretching newly altered appendages and shaking themselves awake, ready to do the Queen's bidding. Despite Fodders being relatively low in spiritual power in comparison to the warrior hybrid caste, their appearance is much more ant-like than humanoid. The basic body structure of a typical Fodder hybrid is a horrific union of a roughly humanoid upper body and the abdomen of a man sized ant – complete with four insectoid legs and spindly, mostly human arms. This gives the Fodder a very low profile, almost entirely horizontal, though they are able to “stand” upright for short periods of time like a invertebrate centaur. If that were not vile enough, the Hybrid Gisilus' visage still retains recognizably human characteristics, though they are nightmarishly twisted by the hybridization process: Pallid antennae sprout from the creature's forehead and their eyes have bloated and swollen obscenely, nearly taking up a third of the poor victim's face while remaining disturbingly human-like. The Hosts' mouth remains largely normal, though their cheeks have ripped open to allow room for a pair of large and bony mandibles. Fodders and other hybrids are covered in a chitinous exoskeletal layer that is often either an ashen variation of the human victim's original skin tone, a grey-white, or a shiny brown or black – typically being stronger that its relative thin appearance suggests.

                              While ungainly seeming, Fodders are frighteningly quick and monstrously strong for their stature, capable of performing feats of strength and agility far beyond what would be possible in an unaltered human corpse. The Gisilu's innately aggressive nature seems to be amplified in their new form, as they will attack and kill ( or try to kill) most non ant-shartha on sight unless ordered otherwise by their Queen, and will even try to attack other shartha breeds with very little provocation. Needless to say, Uratha are even more hated than they were while the Fodders were mere Foragers, and the desire to kill the children of Father Luna and Mother Wolf is nearly strong enough to override a Hidden Queen's ability to control them – almost. This doesn't mean that the Fodders are stupid. Yes they are essentially expendable soldiers who are meant to wear down and choke enemies with their numbers, but they are surprisingly intelligent and strategic when it comes to the act of slaughtering the enemies of the ants. Fodders work seamlessly in tandem with their siblings and in groups the Gisilu employ tactics complex enough to give even seasoned packs of Uratha pause. It is not uncommon for Fodders to lure enemies into a false sense of security with their apparent bestial ferocity, cleverly leading arrogant opponents on for an extending period of time before springing traps and ambushes of breathtaking genius.

                              Fighting and killing are imperatives heavily ingrained into the psyche of a Fodder, and this fearless drive serves them well in their purpose. Fodders are soldiers of the colony, but they are also expendable; the swiftness of their incubation period and the sheer numbers of shards who are chosen to assume this hybrid state means that for the first few days that a colony is able to produce hybridized monstrosities Fodders are tirelessly working to destroy weak targets and wearing down stronger threats until the Gisilu are ready to March out and decimate anything that is in their way- no matter how many Fodders are ripped apart in the process.



                              But these are only the hybrid forms of the Foragers, powerful as they are, and they are but faint reflections in comparison to the other recombiant horrors the Gisilu are capable of creating. As stated before like Workers, Foragers are capable of melding together in order to essentially “ evolve” into a higher caste of worker-soldier. These warrior ants differ from their fellow shards in a number of small, yet notable ways. The first being rather a small clump of ants like Foragers and Workers, these stronger shards manifest as a single legionary ant the size of a cockroach. The second divergence from the former order of things is that these ants are quite dangerous even outside of a host, their mandibles strong enough to cut deeply into flesh and stings poisonous enough to seriously sicken even Uratha, inflicting the Poisoned Tilt. Unlike normal poisons however, this venom is supernatural in nature and can only be properly be treated through magical means, though mundane medical can help mitigate the effects somewhat. Finally, what makes these shards so different from previous “versions” is that they are capable of autonomous actions not dictated by their Queen. They are unable to disobey their mother any more than the weaker shards can, but they are much more intelligent and possess far greater freedom and personal initiative in comparison to their only moderately cognizant brethren. These traits are highly valued by the Hidden Queens; the ability to quickly adapt to unexpected situations and act accordingly without requiring the Queen to make micro-adjustments to her orders in response. This allows for far greater tactical and strategic fluidity that Fodders, Foragers, and Workers cannot easily perform, while sacrificing none of the instinctual loyalty and devotion towards the Queen ( Again to reiterate; this isn't to say that the other castes are mindless automatons. They are intelligent beings, they can be incredibly intelligent.. though their biological programming towards uncompromising loyalty and their linear, aggressive personalities make it somewhat difficult to recognize that intelligence.). This isn't an entirely seamless affair; the greater level of intelligence and ability to analyze orders, coupled with a broader capacity of interpretation can occasionally lead to these warriors to question directives, however benignly at inopportune moments – such is the price for superior soldiers.

                              Regardless of any minor hiccups, these warriors are highly effective weapons, and their genesis often marks the beginning of serious expansion and the first steps towards eradicating anything that offers even a token resistance. But in order to be of use the ants must first acquire bodies in order to warp and malform with their vile presence. These warrior ants infest mortals in much the same way as their weaker siblings, and the preparation of their stolen bodies is likewise similar- though it takes several days longer ( four days without the aid of an incubation pit, one whole day with it.). The difference lies in the outcome. The man/ant monstrosity that emerges from the cocoon is a far different beast than a Fodder, though it is just as alien and horrifying.

                              Whereas Fodders possess the body structure and posture of natural ants, these warrior-hybrids are much more human-like, being huge bipedal ant men. With two long legs and four chitinous arms, the hybrids already seem more suited for combat than their brethren, capable of engaging in the familiar bestial fury of the Fodders and more refined forms of battle more favored by humans and other sapient creatures. The other ant like features of these monsters are more natural – as ironic as that may sound – and fluid, blending aspects of ant and human more smoothly. The head, while still nightmarish, is more ant like: long antennae gracefully emerge from the forehead and a great pair of compound eyes dominate a large portion of the face, blood red and ( mercifully) inhuman. Razor-sharp, tong-like Mandibles grow from insectoid mouth parts, their edges glinting with a strange metallic sheen. Completing this monstrous and formidable ensemble are a relatively small abdomen growing from the creature's lower back and a sturdy, pale flesh colored exoskeleton. Another most obviously alien characteristic of these hybrids is that they are massively tall; easily the size of an Uratha in Garu form if not a little larger. Though tall, these creatures lack the hulking mass of the killing form, being freakishly slender and spindly, almost appearing to be stick like in comparison to the ultimate form of the Uratha – which also serves to make them appear to be even taller. Despite looking almost comically fragile and frail these Gisilu are anything but; they possess immense power and fearsome durability and endurance, just one of these creatures are easily a match for any single werewolf, possibly even a pack if one is not careful. These are the true soldiers of a Gisilu colony; living weapons of such terrifying strength that even the most powerful Rahu of the Hunters in Darkness would wisely hang back and combat from a distance – These are the Bone-Breakers.

                              When the time has come from the Gisilu to put subtly aside and finally fulfill the purpose they are born to perform, the Bone-Breakers are the spearhead of every conquering swarm, the hammer that smashes through the heaviest of resistance in order for their siblings to pour through the gaps and finish off the twitching remains of anything unlucky enough to have survived the initial March. They are the commanders of hunting columns, directing their fellows in their Queen's stead, acting as much need intermediaries for the burgeoning Hivemind as the number of shards reaches critical mass. And above all Bone-Breakers are the ant hosts' greatest weapons against the children of Father Wolf, living avatars ( however faintly) of the splendor that was the Warrior at it's peak. And when the Uratha come in force to vainly attempt to crush the now rampant colony well.. they best bring lots of friends along with them, for all it takes is one lucky grab for a Bone-Breaker to rend a poor werewolf to pieces with laughably little effort.

                              These two are not the only variations of Hybrid forms among the Gisilu, there are often many different types utilized for different purposes within the colony, often formed from the corpses of animals or humans unfit to become Fodders or Bone-Breakers. Nevertheless these two types are the “default” evolved forms of Gisilu shards and the primary instruments for destructive and constructive purposes that the ant-shartha employ, and they perform their functions very well.
                              ________

                              Next Time- The later stages of an infestation and the March.
                              Last edited by Korogra; 06-06-2016, 01:47 PM.

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