In the sandswept deserts of the central eastern continent, some of the world’s oldest and largest monuments can be seen from great distances, cresting the golden horizon when approached from any point on the compass. An ancient civilization thrives in the Sandstone Valley, but no monument standing bears likeness of or pays tribute to any king or queen. The absence of a monarch becomes more apparent the deeper you enter the central city of the Carrybacks, a proud race of sentient insects famous for the feats of strength and endurance their little bodies are capable of. Thick blue shells marked with bands of red protect these industrious insects from the sweeping sands of their nigh-inhospitable homeland. Their most famous trait is their fantastic capacity to carry weight on their backs, a trait exploited by ware-hocking merchants and loot-hungry adventurers alike- a Carryback can haul far more gear than any comparatively-sized race on the planet. Although their relatively small size allows them to go some days without a drop of water, Carrybacks cultivate an assortment of water-drawing desert plants within their communities. Upbeat and sociable, Carrybacks are experienced craftsbeetles with members pursuing a broad range of disciplines, but of all the things they love to build it’s perhaps a story they love to craft the most.
Once, long ago, the Carrybacks lived in collective hives, governed by an autocratic Queen whose reign was recognized by birthright from generation to generation. The Carrybacks’ hardshelled bodies are famous for their capacity to carry many times their own weight on their backs with little effort, and for a long time it was believed the Carryback Queen’s bloated, gigantic soft abdomen was the sole source of vital nectar needed by the entire community to survive. Thus, holding monopoly on survival, the Carryback Queen would traditionally command her hive to build her beautiful sculpture and jewelry and construct gigantic, extravagant monuments in her honor, hauling sandy stone blocks brick by brick on their hardy backs. Life was difficult for the lowly Carrybacks, until one tired worker happened upon a discovery: the prickly plants that peppered the desert sand- long believed to be dangerous- were actually full of water! And water not only sustained the Carryback, it was more refreshing than the Queen’s nectar! Word spread quickly among the lower ranks, on up the ladder to the Queen’s own guard, and needless to say the Carryback Queen was disposed of overnight. The monuments ordered by generations of Queens were subsequently dismantled, their stones used to build tall, artful sculptures, each an expression of the Carrybacks’ freedom to create as they please, living and thriving in the shadow of no lord or master.