|SPOILER WARNING: This article has important plot information. Caution is advised!|
|“||She was black and gray, and the sheer mass of her was enough to make Manon’s mouth go dry. Despite the size, she was elegantly built, her legs long and smooth, her body streamlined and gleaming. Glorious.||”|
Stygian Spiders, also known as kharankui, are a species of Valg that take the form of giant spiders capable of speech.
Stygian spiders are large, about as large as a horse. They come in variations of black, white and grey, and are elegantly built, rather than sturdy and hairy. Their bodies are smooth and their exoskeletons gleam.
Stygian spiders originated from the Valg homeworld, where they were created by the Valg Queen Maeve and served her as handmaidens for a thousand years while the three Valg Kings waged war. Once the world was conquered, Maeve revealed herself and married the Valg King Orcus. She was not content with him, however, and learned how to cross through Wyrdgates to other worlds. Maeve found Erilea after some searching, and when she crossed through to reach it her handmaidens followed her.
Maeve then told the spiders to stay with the Wyrdgate—which had opened in the Dagul Fells on the southern continent—and guard it in case it opened again. Those that followed her instructions were known as the Black Watch, while over time some left for the northern continent and took up residence in the Ruhnn Mountains, choosing to live more peacefully as traders of Spidersilk.
A thousand years ago, when Erawan and his armies eventually did enter Erilea and fight the armies that Maeve had raised, his brothers were sent back to their homeworld while he was trapped in Morath. After the war, the Fae traveled to the Dagul Fells and built the Eidolon Watchtowers to monitor the kharankui and the Wyrdgate. They taught the ruks to fight them as well, starting the struggle and enmity between the two species.
About three years before the death of the King of Adarlan, a merchant named Falkan Ennar bargained with the stygian spiders in the northern continent for a hundred yards of Spidersilk in exchange for twenty years off his life.
Manon Blackbeak travels to the Ruhnn Mountains to obtain Spidersilk for her Wyvern Abraxos. She encounters the same spider who bargained with Falkan Ennar two years before, and the spider tells her the story, revealing that she also received some of Falkan's shape-shifting ability, though she can't use it with magic gone. The spider muses about using the ability to someday take on human form.
Manon agrees to give the spider her beauty in exchange for the silk. Once she has it in her hands, she lies that there's an imperfection and angers the spider. Once it's close enough she has Abraxos sweep the spider and her three guards off the cliff. They fall into a ravine, though whether they die is left unknown.
Nesryn Faliq and prince Sartaq fly to the Dagul Fells to investigate one of the watchtowers after kharankui begin stealing ruk eggs and hatchlings. They are attacked by a kharankui but saved by Sartaq's ruk Kadara.
They are later captured at another watchtower by a horde of kharankui. One tells Nesryn the story of their arrival in Erilea and reveals Maeve as a Valg Queen. It is tricked by Falkan, who has since regained his abilities, into leaving, allowing Nesryn and her companions to escape.
Powers and abilities
Of all their unique traits, stygian spiders are probably best known for producing spidersilk. This material is lightweight yet extraordinarily durable, extremely strong and gleams faintly in the sunlight. Unfortunately, obtaining this precious material comes at a high cost: The spiders do not trade their silk for gold, but for much less tangible and more valuable things like dreams, memories, youth, beauty, and souls. Because of the low supply - resulting from the difficulty of acquisition - of spidersilk and its high demand, the market price for it is generally astronomical. Only stygian spiders produce spidersilk; kharankui see no need for it and look down upon their northern kin for doing so.
Stygian spiders have the ability to take abstract things from those who bargain with them. They can magically aquire things such as beauty, age and dreams.
Both factions of stygian spiders possess a venom that is stored in their fangs.
Stygian spiders are highly intelligent and are capable of human speech. They engage in business with those who seek them out and are experienced hagglers.
- All stygian spiders are female.
- Their name in Halha means "shadows".
- The areas surrounding stygian spider dwellings are filled with normal-sized spiders seeking out the protection of their large magical cousins.