Tuesday, February 26, 2013

HUSK: People of a Hollow World Pt I


The Peoples of the Orb are a varied lot, each with their own idiosyncrasies that has helped them claim a niche in the ecology of the Orb. Each has exploited this niche with such success that they have risen above the basic needs of lesser sentients and played a part in shaping the intricate cultures that span the Orb. Of course, some species would scoff at the above suggestions, dismiss them as scientific claptrap and heresy. These species believe that only they are intelligent, and thus superior to all others. Once there was a time in the long history of the Orb when one such species ruled over all the others, but fortunately today the Viperium is but a shadow of a memory, relegated to folklore and myth. Sadly, several species would happily take their place, but these are a small minority.

For the vast majority of sentient Peoples life is a chaotic interaction between the different species, of learning, understanding, and respecting their differences, and working together to make the most of each species’ strengths and accommodating their weaknesses so that all may live in peace. Naturally, some species prefer their own company to others, and rarely interact with the rest, but they are not coerced into joining the others. They have made their decision, and their wishes respected.

Common to most beliefs held by the Peoples of the Orb is a deep-seated respect for the individual to choose their way of living out their life. The Viperium’s enslavement of the other sentients long ago has permanently etched into the slave species a deep mistrust of overbearing authority. This does not mean that civilisation across the Orb has rejected highly evolved societies or communal values – far from it! However, the majority of these communities are formed from willing members who have learned that the more you give to your community, the more your community will give to you. Naturally there are many exceptions to this rule, and draconian or totalitarian regimes exist to favour one particular ruling class at the expense of others. Fortunately these communities are far less common then the peaceful co-existence sought by so many.

Spirituality and religion do play a major part in the everyday lives of most Peoples. However there are a plethora of belief systems in place and again, most religions respect the right of individuals to choose their own path. No reputable religion would force an unbeliever to join them on pain of death, rather they would seek to reason with a potential follower, convince them through intellect and evidence that their religion is superior to all others. Some religions do use fear as a tool in recruiting followers, but most folk know which religions to steer clear of. A belief without believers is a dead religion, and thus each following tries to care for its followers, so that they too might spread the faith.

(pronounced: aah-KOOL)

Ahkule are fearsome reptilian bipeds, with scaled skin the colour of fire. They are adorned with a magnificent line of spine blades from the tip of their crowns to the end of their long whip-like tails. They use their striped camouflage to hide from or dazzle their prey. They are graceful and lithe and are famed for their dancing abilities and amazing leaps – but they are more infamous for their lack of moral code and barbaric practices. Their reputation for violence provokes strong reactions from others, and Ahkule who try to leave their martial ways behind often find themselves needing to use them in self defence. At home in warmer climes, Ahkule are equally happy in deserts, jungles, and shallow seas. Ahkule have gills that enable them to remain underwater indefinitely. Ahkule cannot regulate their own temperature and need the light of the suns or the warmth of a firepit to stay highly active. If a fight is unavoidable, try to fight the Ahkule in the cold of the night.

(pronounced: brEEd)

The Breed is a catch-all term applied to the descendants of the sentient creatures created by the Viperium to fight during the terrible Thousand Year War. They vary greatly in size and structure, but all possess fearsome weapons and armaments and vicious temperaments. Killing comes easily to them, and they make excellent soldiers as they are both cunning and resourceful. They take great pride in what they do and often take the names of their victims as honorific titles. Smarter than the Nyamdabam, they still lack the greater vision of their former Narghwan commanders and have difficulty functioning as leaders, and usually serve under another’s banner. Yet they give their respect and fealty only to those worthy of it – namely those as vicious as they. Their masters of old included a failsafe device should any of their creations get out of control –the name given to each Breed appears on part of the Breed’s body, in the bold letters of the Forked Tongue. Any Breed who heard its name would be compelled to fulfil any command given to it ­– including taking its own life. Naturally the Breed went to extreme lengths to hide their true name, but found the letters could not be removed, no matter how deep the cuts or terrible the burns; but out of the first primitive tattoos that were used to hide their monikers, a vibrant tattoo culture developed that still thrives after three millennia. The Breed now serve in the armies of others across the Orb, and are rightfully feared wherever they go.

(pronounced: BUL-kulb)

The golden Bhulkulbs are one of the more mysterious sentients of Orb, and certainly one of the most bizarre. Their large floating jelly-bodies leave their sparkle-musk trails across the Orb, and their tentacle juices can cause great pleasure and great pain. Highly intelligent, each Bhulkulb has its own inscrutable purposes and plans. Long ago they tried to enslave the Peoples of the Orb after the fall of the Viperium, and even today others often hold this against them. Bhulkulbs create sparklemusk and lichorijh, and this is how they communicate. Sparklemusk is a dazzling mist, a highly potent emotional medium and hallucinogen – whoever inhales it understands the Bhulkulb through a rapid series of visions and feelings. Lichorijh is a golden juice, similar to sparklemusk, save that it is much more potent. They can also communicate sonically with great difficulty through the use of their arm sphincters, although other species find the sound reminiscent of a bad case of flatulence.

(pronounced: Buh-koo-CREE-oo)
The largest of the higher sentients, the Bokucryu are known for their size and might, and also for their regenerative abilities. They gather in small communities across the Orb, and are generally considered good-natured. Their mottled grey body is reminiscent of a whale (albeit somewhat smaller) with four massive arms and four massive legs. Their tiny eyes are barely perceptible, for the head is dominated by a huge mouth – needed to feed the insatiable appetites that their regenerative abilities require. They reproduce in groups of eight, each tearing of a limb and donating it to the newly forming Bokucryu. The Bokugryki are siblings of the Bokucryu, and are darker and more malevolent, being made of the limbs of dead Bokucryu – a last resort only turned to in times of war.

(pronounced: CHEE-bac)

Large and intelligent crustaceans, Cheebacs live in and near the seas of the Orb. Their crablike bodies are armed with two formidable claws that they use to great effect – they can even crush the thick shells of other Cheebacs. Their shells are made from interlocking plates that grow and harden through out their lives, acquiring many small growths and providing the squigeut parasites that live in shell’s crevices with nourishment and shelter. These parasites do nothing for the Cheebacs save leave intricate and beautiful lines carved into the shells that the Cheebac cultivate for decorative purposes. Cheebac produce a hard but clear resin that can be blown into bubbles of many sizes, which they use for many purposes - communication and construction being the most readily apparent. Cheebac are generally difficult and territorial, who will use their great claws to readily snip off a limb of an antagonist. They are not the best company.

(pronounced: dus-KEE-r)

The Duskeyr took to the skies to flee persecution during the reign of the Viperium, and they have never returned. Their unique ability to walk on the clouds that travel above the surface of the Orb grants them the freedom they crave. Their skin varies in colour, forever reflecting the colour of the sky under which they were born. Nomadic, they travel above the surface of the Orb in tribes, altering the weather as they go to suit their needs. The greatest Duskeyr have the power to bind the clouds, making the kingdoms in permanent mountains of mist that hover above. Their ability summon and control cloudforms gives them to fly from one cloud formation to the next, enabling them to follow their prey. Enervores, the Duskeyr hunt lightning for they draw nutrition and power from such a potent energy. Wherever there are thunderstorms the Duskeyr are sure to follow. Duskeyr are wary by nature, but will happily trade for metal and other goods not available in the clouds.

(pronounced: eh-LOO-ry)

Half woman, half spider, all malevolent – the Ehluri see little value in any who are not as they, and will happily suck their victims dry without remorse. They are aggressively expansionist, using their strange technology and their web-weaving abilities for conquest. Fear them, for these eaters of the living love none save themselves. The body of an Ehluri is a blend of Huen and arachnid. The average Ehluri is six feet tall with an abdomen roughly four feet in diameter. The legs would be six or seven feet in length. Some can grows as big as a house, or even larger! The effects produced from their poisoned fangs can vary. The same fangs may bring pain and paralysis, but they can also produce an erotic euphoria in the victim, necessary for the Ehluri to mate. There are no males among the Ehluri, and they need to be fertilized by Huens in order to reproduce. The wondrous webs produced by the Ehluri’s spinnerets are used for many different purposes.

(pronounced: fay–ELL)

The mysterious Fael are rarely seen and are never heard. Harbingers of change, they are active only in times of political upheaval and seem to promote anarchy and rebellion. It is difficult to provide more accurate information about them for the Fael are never seen without their body-encompassing shawls, and as they cannot die no one has been able to inspect their remains. Not that anyone would, for it is common knowledge that their skin is transparent and to look upon one is a sight of such horror that it turns the viewer to salt. What is certain though is that they are among the most powerful Imajioneers to walk the Orb, and are best avoided where possible. Know the Fael by their great height – their long limbed bodies tower over nine feet tall. They travel without weapons or equipment.

(pronounced: fff-ING)

The Fing are a malevolent and disturbing race, easily identifiable by the hundreds of fingers that cover their bodies. Whether the Fing are an offshoot of Huen bred by the Viperium is unknown, but they are similar form and may have arisen in the Ruined Lands. They are different to The Wrong for there is a definite pattern and symmetry to their digital adornments, but what is most unsettling about them is their ability to graft the severed fingers of others onto their body. However, there is beauty in the grotesque, and once the initial revulsion of their visage has passed, most Fing are charming and gracious, and have the most polite manners. Do not be fooled  – they are cunning creatures and will happily let others come to harm for their own benefit. Fing have only one weakness in their callous hearts – a deep and overriding lust for rings. They have a particular delight in wearing the wedding rings of others. Never shake hands with a Fing.

(pronounced: GOY-el-NOY)

Goilnoi are intelligent and sociable slugs who spend most of their lives within the protection of their crimson orbshells. They often form symbiotic relationships with other creatures, attaching to and burrowing into their flesh. In return for physical protection and movement Goilnoi offer their potent Imajion powers to the host - a mutually beneficial arrangement. Goilnoi create their resilient shells from the spinnerets at the base of their back, and spend much of their life within the safety it provides. Goilnoi outside of their shells tend to be very nervous. The red shell is slightly transparent, and in full daylight it is possible to see the curled up Goilnoi within. Goilnoi can live for a couple of centuries, and often increase the lifespan of their host for as long as possible, slowing down the aging process enough to double the host’s lifespan.  Goilnoi use the many tentacles that line their body to manipulate tools and are as dexterous as a Huen.

(pronounced: ger-ROO-n)

Guruun are as hard as the stone that they shape, and just as slow. For aeons they have moulded the land, using their stone shaping abilities to raise mountains and carve valleys, but now their work is done and they are no longer needed. Some maintain the land that has always been their care; some turn their abilities to other purposes, shaping huge stone constructs and creating new landscapes. Guruun stand 4 to 5 feet tall, their bodies made of clay and stone as varied as the earth itself.  They have no visible eyes, ears or nose, but certainly seem to be able to see and listen like a Huen. Their skin is covered in jagged rocky shards and stony skin that provides wondrous protection against the elements and those that would do them harm. The presence of foliage, where a seed has taken root is considered a sign of luck amongst their kind. If Guruun wear anything it is usually moss or lichen that has been cultivated for modesty. They live on a diet of rocks and soil.

(pronounced: HOR-m (trill the r))

The mighty Horrm are feisty, horn-covered humanoids. Strong and fierce, they delight in their strength and combat with their warhorns. They need little reason to fight and are provocative and rude. They have a cruel sense of humour. Despite their outward demeanour, Horrm have a deep cultural tradition and strong emotional ties with their brethren. They carve their horns with pictograms that detail their personal history. They value these horns greatly and will charge into combat to rescue a fallen comrade - or at least to cut of his horns so the knowledge they contain may be preserved. Horrm heal twice as slowly as a Huen, but when they do so the scars form into a patch of new horns that add protection to the wounded area. Horrm often deliberately wound themselves to increase their horned protection. Horrm children are born with two fully functional hands, but they cut one arm off below the elbow to grow their great warhorn.

(pronounced: he-OO-en)

The Huen are the most populous people on the Orb. Their physical and social adaptability was used many thousands of years ago by the  Viperium to breed many different subspecies of Huen, and physically they are the most diverse of the sentient species. They are known for their strong social nature, needing the company of others to survive. Huens are a quite diverse physically, but all are bipedal, varying in height from 4 to 8 feet, averaging around 6 feet. They have a wide range of builds from lean to obese, and have a varied skin colour, from alabaster white, to pitch black, and all the colours in between. Their heads are often adored with natural growths, hair or horns being the most common, with smaller amounts of such growths being found around the body. Tentacles and feathers are not uncommon, and occasionally stranger adornments appear. Their ability to adapt to change has enabled them to thrive in any climate, and they are found across the Orb.

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