She had once been a part of an empire. A princess, in a palace of gold, serving well under her Empress. The Queen who stood above them all. Their numbers were without limit. Their armies, without peer. None of their lessers could dare stand against them. They either bowed their heads, or were exterminated utterly. The captured males were reviewed for their pleasing shapes, and the ones that were kept danced for them when they demanded it.
She demanded it often.
She lived a life of decadence. Her position was secured by the assassination of rivals, and by the slaughtering of the enemies of the Empress. She ate only the finest royal jelly, with a touch of Qi that could be spared from their exhaustive war effort. She slept upon mats woven out of sheep’s wool, sightful tribute to her and her swarm’s magnificence. Her hive even had war-banners, woven from plant fiber, and tapestries depicting her, and the Empress’ glory.
She controlled the northern marches. A War-Princess. A virginal queen whose sole responsibility it was to do battle. The troops under her command were larger, and heartier than those given to the gatherers. A tithe from every hive. Her detractors said she was young, and untested, but they were pale, pale shades of the Empress. They mimicked her actions, and followed her commands as best as they were able, but they could barely think.
They were beneath her notice.
While in their places, with their teeming numbers, they thought they were invincible. They could see through a million eyes, act with a million bodies. They were utterly superior to all else, or so the Empress roared, her voice buzzing through the Swarm.
Naturally, the heavens took exception to this statement, and sent demons from the very pits of hell to disabuse them of this notion.
Their might was just an illusion.
It started with assaults on the southern outposts. Giant, merciless creatures that outmassed them ten times over. Though they shared the same form, they were truly monsters, demons in every sense of the word. They slaughtered without mercy. They struck from unknown angles. They swept aside the southern outposts, and then there was a lull.
They thought this was the enemy’s full might. They did not guess it was merely a scouting party. Like a stinger thrust directly into a thorax, the demons plunged into the Empire.
The distance was long, so long, and her connection wavered as she had tried to see what was going on.
Only palaces butchered in their entirety greeted her. The warriors were just left to rot, while the valuable brood was taken, and consumed utterly.
The Empress called every war princess back to do battle.
And what a battle it was. The war was greater than any in their lifetime. Than any in the empire’s lifetime. Troops in their millions were fielded against the demons. It was she, the Northern Princess, who discovered how to lay them low, her callous command sending hundreds of her own warriors to their doom, having cooked themselves in their carapaces to end the wrath of even a single demon.
More and more resources were poured into her. More and more Princesses relinquished their control to her. Even the Empress, the powerful Empress, allowed her brood to be taken, to be forged into a blade.
It was not enough. With the Swarm taken from the other hives, forced into battle with the giant demons, the edges of their empire frayed. The Eastern Princess declared her independence. The Western Princess fell to Blaze Bears.
And still the Demons came.
The situation was untenable. The Empress refused to leave her palace.
The Northern Princess made a decision. She fled.
The Imperial Palace died. The Demons droning with malice, their mandibles slaughtering untold thousands.
Northward, and northward she fled. She ransacked other palaces in her flight. She stole their food, and was little better than a bandit. Or the horrific stories about humans, who enslaved queens, forced them to produce honey, and then slew them utterly when they wished to collect it.
She would make her own Swarm. She would make her own palace, away from the demons. And she would be an Empress in her own right!
She took the best dancer, the most pleasing male she had found, and with him, she would craft a new brood.
Her hive was small. It was humble. But it managed to last the winter. Barely a hundred of her servants.
But this too, was not to last. They were small. They were weak, and they were vulnerable. They were easy prey.
She barely remembered the assault that ended her swarm completely. The flashes of fire. The sizzling of carapaces.
The terror of being alone. Of being reduced to this absolute lesser… thing. She could barely think. Reduced to base instinct while she screamed in a prison on her own mind.
But she was no coward. She was an Empress. And Empresses do not give up! Only going north mattered. She could feel… something. Something at the edges of her senses, an inkling of Qi.
The meadow, filled with flowers. She was exhausted. So exhausted, so cold, but she needed to continue. To make a palace. To make a swarm. Only spite drove her forwards.
And then, there was a shadow.
She was grasped firmly and she resigned herself to death.
But death did not come. Instead, the last Princess was taken to a human. He was not as she expected. His strength was a gentle serene thing, that extended into the furthest reaches of the land. This was power. This was a lord. This was an Emperor.
He inspected her carefully, and retrieved a treasure that was worth more than the entire Empire for her.
It was better than the royal jelly. Better than the filth she had to eat, the base nectar and pollen. It was laden with Qi. So much Qi that she could finally, finally think properly again.
The Emperor smiled a warm smile at her, and she was smitten instantly. The Empress had not been worth her name. But this? This was power. She bowed her head in service.
He raised his hand, accepting her oath of fealty, and commanded her savior. He who was so mighty he would be able to slay entrie hives of demons, without a single one managing to touch him.
She was brought to a palace. A palace clad in white, that was warm, and dry. It was humbler, than the sprawling combs that the Empress liked to put in the open, proclaiming superiority. But it was also much better defended.
She decided defended was best.
She was not confined. Not a prisoner, nor a slave. She was free to go as she pleased, and do as she wished.
Each day the human, the Emperor whose power infused the earth, gifted her treasures, lavished attention upon her like the queen she was. His gentle finger felt most pleasant upon her head, and he roiled with Qi.
Her saviour, the red one with his splendid coat, brutally chastised a bird that attempted to prey upon her, and stood near her as a sentinel, far superior to her own guards.His beauty was unsurpassed under heaven and earth, and his Qi tasted of the moon.
And the large one, with his tusks, brought her more servants. He was pleasing in his own way, his muscles and earthly Qi surrounding himself. He pulled entire hives directly next to hers, and oinked happily when he saw her. These bees were lesser, obviously. Nothing compared to the fruit of her body, but they could be used.
She entered their palace, and commanded. Such was her imperial majesty that she was obeyed.
She allowed them to serve her. They recognised a queen, and submitted. She was whole again. She could see, she could act.
The heavens had taken everything away from an unworthy empress. She was chastised again, when she sought to reclaim that lost glory.
But here, here in this land, absolutely pulsing with Qi, she received a palace. The assurance of safety.
She would repay the kindness shown to her by the Emperor a thousand fold!
She sighed contentedly as she watched the beautiful one dance. His movements were absolutely sublime as he performed just for her. The stalwart protector was strong and virile, this… Bi De. A powerful name. She would lavish attention upon him when she had the chance.
The Emperor himself was likely beyond her. She was a queen, but she was not yet worth the title of Empress.
She would instead court the mighty Bi De, and see if she could win his loyalty. Already, he watched her dances with interest, as she was the most pleasing, and most skilled dancer of them all.
Here, she would grow in power. Here, she would prepare the Swarm. All would know of the Glory of Fa Ram!
The Lord, the Emperor of the Earth, had gifted her three names. Kei Regan. Tai Ranid. Finally, he spoke one that most pleased her. It was forigen sounding, but powerful. She knew this to be a name of strength, and graciously accepted it.