Thursday, March 26, 2015

A few inhabitants of Yaghan

Cassandra

Cassandra is a native from the Archipelago. She has webbed feet and lightly webbed hands (just a very thin layer of skin). Her hair is blue, even though it doesn't serve a real purpose and the mutation seems useless, it could be a side effect of the expression of one other gene, or just a cosmetic effect due to the belief of people that mermaids have blue hairs and things like that. Remember, on Yaghan, where magic is real, belief is sometimes more important than cause and effect.

She is a fisher on board of a small and fast fishing boat. The waters of Yaghan are dangerous with numerous large predators that could be compared to Earth's dinosaurs, and of course, the ever present menace of the morlocks. There are relatively few morlocks at sea and they are mostly solitary (except on one of the islands of the Arhipelago, were it is said that there is a whole horde that lives mostly underseas). The morlocks encountered at sea can be thought of as sharks, solitary hunters that are extremely dangerous.

Cassandra can swim very well thanks to her adaptations, and she has a pair of gills behind the ears. Those are not sufficient to breath indefinitely underwater, but it does help her staying under longer (ten to twenty minutes), also thanks to a third lung in her chest. It is a small organ that actually stores oxygen providing a sort of secondary, emergency supply. She mainly dives with her brother Kahmel, they take turns watching each other's back. They rely on their last ability, a kind of sonar, that enables them to detect unusual movements around them. They are extremely well trained, and know the movement patterns of most sea creatures, which is how they know when a morlock is nearby, because they give off a weird "signal".

She mainly fishes precious crustaceans and algae because her boat, that needs to be very fast to escape predators, can't haul much cargo. She fishes a kind of shellfish that has a large round  shell that is extremely hard and well suited to build shields and to add armor to structures. She also tries to find "knifeshells" a kind of long crustacean that cuts extremely well and is about 10 inches long by one inch wide, making great daggers that cut better than most steel weapons. Finally, she fishes "lemon seaflowers", a kind of algae that is shaped like the flower of a rose, tastes like lemon, and has great curative properties for a variety of diseases. She also fishes "spiderwebs", an algae shaped like, you guessed it, a spider's web and that is very resilient and suited to make lightweight cordage that doesn't degrade because of salt water.

 Cassandra loves the sea, despite the obvious dangers, and she loves the fact that she gets to sail around the globe selling her products to the coastal colonies of Petrel's Rock, New Ergane, and sometimes even the Living Cities of the Rainforest. She dislikes the Callistan Magiocracy with a passion though, because they are extremely racist towards mutant humans, and will never sell to them even if she can make a great profit. She is a solitary soul, that enjoys the long hours being alone with just her boat, her brother and their friend, captain Leon Griffold. She'd like to settle one day and dreams of a family with numerous babies, but her love of the sea has been greater so far.

Gwern Ronces

Gwern is a middle-aged mercenary that comes from the Thorn Forest, in the northern part of the Great Rainforest.

The Roncians are a peculiar people. They have evolved a particularly weird way of protecting themselves from the morlocks: they have turned into living brambles (note: yes, there are similarity with the blood elves of Earthdawn. This is meant as an homage).

Gwern's skin is rugged and thick, the color and texture of the bark of an old oak, with lots of hard cysts and nodules that make it even tougher. But the most striking of his features are his hair. They are tousled, messy and disheveled. They used to be a nice, deep black but he has more and more streaks of grey and dark green as time passes, like the color of dark bramble leafs. It is not the only similarity with brambles though: they are very thick and quite unpleasant to touch I must say, and their tips are hard as steel. In fact, Gwern can actually harden them as will, turning them in a literal crown of thorns. This is why Gwern's skin (and his people's), is as thick as it is, to prevent puncturing it with his own hair.

This peculiar mutation has enabled the Roncians to live in the thick of the forest, where normal humans would constantly get stung by all the nasty plants. Instead, they build cities using the magic known as "Tree Shaping", like in the Living Cities on the southern part of the continent, to mold trees into walls, fences, gates and houses. Their ramparts are inextricable meshes of thorns that are as strong as they  are impassable.

The Roncians are a simple people, they are mostly hunters/gatherers. Their living cities do not need a lot of maintenance, so they can leave them for weeks at a time, and they usually go from one to the next as they follow their quarry. Because of that the morlocks tend to ignore them, as the monsters tend to attack anything that is not natural. The Cities of Thorns tend to blend in and thus are, most of the time, left alone. Also, the fact that the Roncians are all tick and thorny makes them quite unpleasant to eat, and the morlocks like normal humans better.

Gwern has started traveling, like most, because of a desire to see the world. He is torn between the simple, close-knit community life and his need to see the greater world. Unfortunately for him, the Roncians are seen as simple people, almost barbaric, and he has faced the prejudices of many communities. He especially hates the Callistans and will refuse to work for them whatever the price (not that they would hire him anyway). He feels torn between his need to see his family and the communal life of the Roncians, and the freedom of travelling. So far, wanderlust has been stronger but one day, he might settle and bring back his tremendous military expertise to his city. The unfortunate thing is that he is now very  different from his kind, and might come back a stranger in his own land.

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