33 Mermaids Knot

The Situation

The village of Magda stands on the slopes of Wint Mountain. On a high plateau above it is an ancient and terrible pond, home to the chalk mermaids. Under the mermaids’ direction, the village has grown strong and prosperous.
It is also unjust and cruel. Every year, the mermaids’ need for sacrificial victims grows.

Backstory

Centuries ago, a dradkin flesh-weaver named Vmnn fled from his people and established a laboratory not far from where the village of Magda stands today. Vmnn created the mermaids Bubuligua and Cissick, half-troll half-lungfish hybrids, who went on to become flesh-weavers themselves. About a generation ago, the mermaids created a hydra ("the Mermaids' Knot") and a freakish flesh-weaver guy Avorask. The hydra is enormously powerful.

The mermaids somehow reached an accord with the humans of Magda village: in exchange for (still living) sacrifices, the humans will be given mindless slaves. This exchange is mediated by a cult of priestesses of Suvuvena. The human sacrifices are turned into "chirpers" - people with Alien-style locust larvae incubating in their lungs. The chirpers serve the priestesses until the locusts erupt. The locusts are then collected and fed to a hydra in the nearby lake where the mermaids dwell. (The locusts' young is used to seed humans and turn them into new chirpers.)

Lately the Wives of Spring, a mystery cult, has infiltrated Magda, seeking to undo the perversions of nature that occur there.

Open Questions

What the hell do the villagers get out of this? The opening situation makes it sound like the people of Magda, and the priestesses, are conspiring with the mermaids in a sinister plot. They are, I guess: they're deliberately turning outsiders into bug-monster slaves and then feeding them to a pet hydra. But the ordinary people don't seem to get much value out of it, other than religious devotion. And maybe that's it: this is a cult village. The priestesses make up 10% of the total population, and the high priestess has some pretty awesome magical powers. Presumably she uses these powers for the village's benefit, in return for scooping up interlopers and feeding them into the procedure. Luring people into Magda and then ganking them is the price people gotta pay for Suvuvena's magic.

Why do the priestesses, who are powerful, put up with the mermaids? Because the mermaids are performing the work of Suvuvena. Yeah, ganking people sucks, but holy moly, look what the mermaids have goin' on in there.

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