25 October, 2015

#Drawlloween #Inktober 22 - Candy

Sugar is a delicacy in the Darkhive. There are no sugar canes or beets to harvest and refine for honey, and since the majority of plant life in the hive is non-flowering there aren't even many bees to produce honey. Most foods are fungal, or meat derived, with a few lichen and edible ferns scattered across the hive, and therefore most food is generally savoury. The most common sweetening agent in the hive comes from harvesting specific types of ants (some of which have been genetically modified to large sizes). These ants accumulate sugars in their abdominal sacs, natural ants often die when the sugars are squeezed out of their sacs, while the larger genetically modified ants (often over 2-3 inches in length) may be "milked" weekly. The techniques for producing sweet Ant-honey are carefully guarded secrets, where revelation may often be punishable by death.

Due to the lack of sugars, anything sweet is considered a rare delicacy. Such things are completely unknown in many settlements, or may be traded as exceptionally valuable commodities. Even in areas where the Ant-honey is produced, the sweetened foods produced with the liquid are only consumed during festival days. More than a half of all fresh Ant-honey is used as a trade commodity, a quarter is used as a fermentation agent, and the remainder is used in cooking. After a few trades, most Ant-honey ends up being used in an even mix of fermentation and cooking, but like honey from bees it does not spoil if properly stored. There are stories of clay pots filled with Ant-honey that have continued to be trade items with a recorded history of over a century in mercantile transactions.

Since most sweetened foods are considered a delicacy, candy is considered pure decadence. Apocryphal tales speak of hidden candy recipes passed down the line of alchemical guildmistresses. The candy produced with these recipes is worth it's weight in gold, and the tales have mentioned that certain wars across the hive were actually fought over sugared delicacies, rather than the traditionally accepted narratives of land claims or religious conflicts.

Not surprisingly, when new arrivals become stranded on the hive, they find that any sweets are among the first things traded from them.
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