Updated: Mar 5
“It is like a web, fear. If you use it as a weapon, you become a predator in the world of flies and grubs. But, one false step, one hesitancy, and it will ensnare you.
“To be afraid is to be human, so I’ve opted not to be…”
- Timora, Spider Queen, Archetype of Fear
Fear of Fear Itself
Frighders are the embodiment of fear, the ‘source material’ by which our beating hearts and racing minds are influenced in meat space when our flesh or identity are threatened. They are ancient predators alongside the Rahgnithaur that take up a complementary niche to their raging brethren. Where Rahgnithaur charge violently into the hunt, blasting prey with fire and hate, frighders wait patiently to ensnare their victims in the heavy, choking tendrils of their web.
These webs are made of the same sticky tar in which Rahgnithaur are covered, but it has been processed by the frighder’s thorax to possess unique properties. Prominently, frighder silk is regarded throughout Cognia as Choking Thread for how it wraps and tightens around its target when an unfortunate creature or adventurer stumbles into it.
The Webs we Weave
An adventurer from meat space is likely to encounter many frighders. Not only the population subservient to Timora, but also wild frighders hunting honestly throughout the jungles and valleys of Cognia. These encounters will be, well, scary! And, while it will make sense why we fear the frighder itself, it may beg the question why would such a thing exist? How did the existence of such a monster prove beneficial to meat space and, thusly, cognia?
The answer, it seems, is counterintuitive. When one is afraid, they experience an uncomfortable, compelling set of emotions and sensations. This experience is labeled as ‘bad’ because it; frankly, does not feel ‘good’ - but this is the nature of the beast.
If one were to pause and consider every stimulus from which their fear is invoked, it might soon become obvious that the things that inspire fear are things to be avoided (i.e. weapons that may harm us, relationships that may break us, people that may attack us). This allows one to make sense of fear: it does not exist as an arbitrary source of suffering, it is meant to protect us from the truly dangerous things!
It is in this way the frighders, left to mull about Cognia honestly and organically, actually serve the ecosystem in which they live, and the meat creatures who need the fear they produce to compel them to be safe.
An example of this can be seen when a Wyrld Treigh is adorned with a frighder’s web. This will seed fear into the meat creature at the other end of the treigh, and, just as the meat creature may avoid a dangerous environment, the frighder’s web will serve to capture all the smaller pests by which sufferings such as regret might burrow in - while also keeping out other pests that might distract the meat creature from focusing wholly on its own preservation.
Whisps and Whispers in the Dark
A frighder’s body is ethereal, partly, and composed of shade matter - a wispy, gaseous form of darkness. Frighders evolved this ability to quickly scuttle into the darkness - becoming the night itself - in the face of the greatest threat to themselves: Insigrihfs.
Frighders also use this ability to hunt and stalk livelier prey that manage to escape their webs by expelling clouds of choking darkness that serve to disorient and blind their prey. Oneironauts who’ve stumbled into a frighder’s web often report a deep, existential sense of dread and fright when being hunted in this way - with some reports concluding with the demise of a young, naive student of haber.
Timora, regarded ignobly as The Spider Queen, is just that: a ruling entity over the Frighders - a title which she aims to earn and demonstrate regularly against her foes and those who would oppose her. It is thought that, before the events of The Cognic Annex, Timora was a victim of great suffering, made to feel less than she deserved, made to feel scared that her next breath might be her last.
She speaks not of those days, but, it would seem whatever her origins, her deft ability to identify her fear, and dismiss - to be cold, heartless, and unwavering in the face of danger - has given her a powerful edge over the frighders in such that they have become the utensils of her agenda, her pawns in the greater web she is most certainly weaving.