A Day in the Life: Silvatuhr, Naga Clawrider - by Fran Stewart, Writer
Naga clawriders are deadly foes. Take an elite naga trooper, already twelve feet of armored muscle and serpentine grace, and mount him on a crab the size of a tank, and as strong. The clawrider's connection to his mount is mysterious, but so powerful that the rider will die if his mount does. As to how they're connected, nobody who knows the secret has lived to tell it.
Note: Baraka scholars struggled with the naga language for decades before finally concluding that nagas just sound like they're from TERA's equivalent of New Jersey.
It's a great honor to ride crabs. You work for it, you know? When you start out, you're just a spearwyrm or a guard. Then if you're lucky and smart, and you work hard -- you work very hard, you know -- because you have to earn it. I worked for 15 years to become a rider. You have to study and practice a lot. Can't make any mistakes, yeah? One mistake and someone loses a head. Squish! It's not pretty.
We do assaults and glitzy things like that, but most of the time we're there to stop fights before we start. A clawcrab is really intimidating. Any three of us can cordon and clear a small town in minutes, even towns with garrisons. Most soldiers just drop their weapons when my claws are snapping in their face! But it's a real job driving crowds of people out of a town and off to the slave pens. Real slow and tedious.
But what do you get for all this hard work? Respect. I get respect from my broodkin, the commanders, the priests... everybody knows I worked hard to be where I am. And that's what's really important to me. I wanted respect and now I have it. Everybody knows I'm the best at what I do.
You know what they had us do as a test when I qualified to ride? They took our mates' eggs and put them on the ground and made us pick them up and put them in a nest. And they kept our mates there and made them watch. Talk about pressure!
Some of the riders quit on the spot. Not me -- I climbed on and went to it. The first five were easy. I used the mandibles. The last three were hard. They made me use the big claws. The rider before me failed. I felt for him, I really did. His mate was furious at him.
Not me. Slow and careful, and I didn't even break the skin of a single egg. You learn the light touch so that when you need it, you can use the heavy touch.
And we have that, let me tell you! Funny story -- these gula pirates we were trading slaves with, they came into the harbor like always, right? Most gulas, they're fine. The Kazuur Syndicate knows we have a system, and they stick to it. But this captain, he was angry because the Commander docked him for bringing in a bad load. Really sickly lot -- mangy poporis, elves so twiggy you could light them on fire... this one amani, his horn literally fell off when they tossed him on the dock!
So this gula got real angry. He actually threatened the commander! I couldn't believe it! Well, the commander stayed as smooth as freshly molted skin. He invited the gula crew to a roast on the beach. Gulas, they don't know how to say no to food, you know?
The gulas showed up on the beach, the captain acting like he was finally going to get his. So the commander made this nice speech about how strong people have to stick together and stick it to the weak ones, and how showing your strength is good because it shows people you have pride. The gula captain nodded along, thinking he was getting the royal treatment... until the commander lit the bonfire.
That was the signal, see? Me and the rest of the riders, we were waiting in the bay under the ship, just close enough to see the light. When the fire lit, we swam up under and took it apart. I mean all the way! The other riders started sawing through the hull. I climbed up on deck and started snapping the masts. Gulas were howling and jumping for the water. I snapped two or three of them in two before they even hit it.
After I finished the masts, I dug into the... whatever those cabins are called, at the back of the ship? Anyway, I pulled out somebody who'd been smart enough to stay hidden and snipped him up into a few pieces. Then, real carefully, I snipped off his head and threw it at the gula captain on shore.
Now remember, I was out in the bay, and the ship was on fire and sinking. And I used the big claw.
The head landed in his lap. Light touch, heavy touch. See?