This month's story is a delve into the history of Collegium and the Beetle-kinden, taking place a generation before the events in Empire in Black and Gold. The world of Empire is the immediate product of the world shown in this story, from the advances of the Apt to Collegium's burgeoning conflict with the Ant-kinden of neighbouring Vek and their alliance with the Sarnesh.
You can find the story here
There is also something of a subtext to this story that has nothing to do with the world of Empire per se: this story was written for my writing group, the Deadliners, whose tradition is for twice-yearly short stories to be written to a particular set of rules. The rules this time were that each member would have to produce a children's story, and then write an adult story that mirrored or included the children's story in some way. The results were… interesting. Needless to say one frequently sat through the kids' piece squirming with the knowledge that Unspeakable Horrors were waiting just out of sight. Also, our resident gentle-humourist-in-chief, produced one of the most stomach-turning pieces of horrible stuff I've ever heard read.
However, as a very special Christmas present, the unplumbed depths of my children's piece can be found here complete, yea verily, with illustrations from the author's fair hand. Enjoy.