A whole greater than the sum of the parts.
That is the essence and heart of what a
hiveling is. We don’t know why
or how they do it, though we delight in coming up with reasons. For a creature
so scarcely seen, there are a great many stories. Maybe it’s because they look
like us, flattering our imaginations by moulding themselves into better,
lighter, freer versions of ourselves, like enchanted, mocking mirrors. Possibly
it’s simple vanity that prompts these thousand stories and songs and snatches
half remembered from long-ago-times. Maybe it’s because they take an interest
in us, and do such strange things, such familiar things that we think they must
be like us – they dance, and watch, and even try to speak with us. They seem to
have emotions, as well, to be capable of compassion and terrible rages and even
love, if you would take the word of this collection of stories. Yet all of this
is made out of tiny, thoughtless creatures, most often insects. Sometimes the
vilest sorts of insects, parasites and predators and damned bloodsucking
nuisances. [The remainder of the passage heavily scratched out and marred by
remains of a dead moss skeetoh.]
But nevertheless there are stories from everywhere that hivelings could possibly occur. This collection represents but a handful of these, seeking to convey the diversity of viewpoints surrounding the mythical, inscrutable creatures.
Prevalence. Wherever there are winged creatures in sufficient numbers, there can be hivelings, and therefore there can be hiveling stories, songs, poems, paintings... from impermanent sand-drawings done by the people of Aeruillin, representing the horse-hivelings that occur there, to northern tales of hivelings as messengers of the gods and rewarders of faith, there seem to be few corners of the disk where the word hiveling, or its local equivalent, will not yield some work of imagination and folk-memory.
The kind of tale told, though, varies greatly depending on location. Often in
harsher landscapes the hivelings
are regarded as emissaries of the gods – the
Remusian tale of "The Trial of
Ugrahadze" is a good example, where the Fisah-eck-Shanno hiveling is depicted
unambiguously as acting by the will of Nechya. There are other examples though –
in the bleak marshes of the Galumbé, where the Mullogs dwell, the hiveling is
seen as an emissary of the Ancestors. The Ciosan
founding myth also has a hiveling as emissary of the goddess of the sea. It
seems that when people are in need of reassurance, a
hiveling becomes a useful
In other areas, however, the depiction varies. Sometimes hivelings are sinister figures, representations of wilderness and mystery. The popular Sarvonian tale of "The Bee’s Gift" seems to straddle the border between hivelings as emissaries of the gods and inscrutable phenomena of nature. The hiveling in question seems to act simply out of compassion, with possibly a note of mischievous pleasure in confounding authority. On the other hand, there are areas where hivelings, far from representing the beneficence of nature, are real threats, as reflected in the cautionary "Tale of the Nohopuku", or the "Ballad of the Headless Hiveling". There are even stories of hivelings falling in love with people, though these tend to be old and fragmentary and understandably fuzzy on details. But the echoes of such tales can perhaps be seen in ones still told today, such as that of Ewyn’ine and the Aek’ash.
In a few stories, mostly barely-remembered fragments, they are something altogether older and more furious. Links to the titan myths, and to the horror-stories surrounding dreamlike infestations, seem to abound, without it ever quite being made clear what these links are. The fragment of story known as "Dronomin and the Losthane", or sometimes the "Box-lid tale", is the closest scholars have come to an explanation of what hivelings really are, rather than what they do.
Importance. A peoples’ mythology defines and unites them. Having stories which everyone knows is as important as a shared history or flag or language, and is a part of all those things, it binds a collection of individuals into a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Hiveling myths are unique to the people that tell them, but they also stretch further, because everyone knows a story about a man made of bees, or birds, or skeetohs. Is it possible that this kind of common experience can push past boundaries of tribe and race? Probably not, given what happened when the Ice Tribesmen I was staying with found my notes on orcen storytelling. But you never know. Certainly there is something that catches the imagination in the very idea of hivelings. As the Antislar say, “Skeetohs bite, men fight, ‘tohwights do neither and never alight.”
 The gods save them if they do. Damned flies keep getting inside my hood! [Back]
 A local dialect word for hivelings made of moss skeetohs. [Back]