Cliff Dwellers

Cliff Dwellers

Cliff Dwellers belong to a family of mammals known by Konish scientists as Mountain Flyers (Family Genellanus). Mountain Flyers, amber-eyed, gray-furred, relatively small (30-35 kg/130-150 cm), are flight-capable social omnivores, found on all continents of Genellan. Athough Mountain Flyers use fire and make tools and weapons, they are primative beasts with no immediate prospects of technological advancement.

There is one remarkable exception to this species assessment, a peculiar, bifurcated sub-species known as Cliff Dwellers (Genellanus Hunter and Genellanus Guilder), found only on the continent of Cambria, endemic to the cliffs of Hudson's Plateau.

This species is unique in human biological experience -- a genetic schism predicated on social function within an intact species. Hunters protect and provide; Guilders build, manage, cultivate, and govern. As a result of this functional specialization, Cliff Dwellers evolved into a well-ordered, pre-industrial society while surrounded by a threat-filled, primative world.

The focal point of the Cliff Dweller culture is the family. Relationships are monogamous and marriages, without exception, last until death intervenes. Their animistic religion celebrates the spirit of their world, with godliness attributed to all natural things: to the winds and waters, to all plants, all animals, and to the very rocks and mountains.

The two branches of Cliff Dweller society are elaborated below.

Hunters

The cliff dweller Hunter is larger than its more prevalent mountain flyer cousin (averaging 40 kg or greater in weight and in excess of 150 cm in height), with antracite-black eyes and typically a patch of white chest fur on a silky pelt ranging from charcoal gray to pitch. Although not truly a flying animal, Cliff Dweller Hunters, like all Mountain Flyers, have the ability to soar to prodigious heights on thermal updrafts. Likewise, they are excellent swimmers and catchers of fish, which is their principle protein staple. Keen of sight and hearing, Hunters also possess the ability to echo-range and to communicate ultra-sonically.

On the Corlian Steppes, predators abound: giant eagles, murderous growlers, great bears, slinking rockdogs, buffalo dragon, and many others. Hunters guard the cliffside abodes and hunt the meat of the musk buffalo and steppes gazelles. Hunters gather salt, the lack of which is always a threat to the Cliff Dwellers and their families. The Hunters provide the Cliff Dweller colony with food and security. Cliff Dwellers are surrounded by predators and exist in a cruel environment. How the race is further divided is more of mystery. The Hunter, in protecting home and family, can be a cruel and relentless warrior.

Brappa (Tonto)

Guilders

While the Cliff Dweller Hunter diverges significantly from the Mountain Flyer species, the Cliff Dweller Guilder is a true mutational anomoly. Much heavier (55-65 kg) and taller (155-175 cm) than Hunters, Guilders' heads and necks are covered with charcoal to black fur, but where Hunters have only a patch of white on their chests, Guilders' body fur is uniformly cream-colored. Whereas the crown of a Hunter has a marked protuberance from which emits their sonar, Guilders' heads are much larger and more rounded.

Over the eons, the echo-ranging abilities and flight membranes of the larger Guilders atrophied. Guilders became taller, heavier, more skillful, and in many ways more intelligent. Hunters would say guilders were less brave.

That Guilders became a unique sub-species of their own race is attributable to their unique environment -- a massive volcanic plateau. Magma chambers and geysers provided access to heat and energy. Heat and energy provide unique advancement opportunities -- accelerating and escalating social needs, real and perceived. Where Hunters provide forage and security for the plateau colony, Guilders provide leadership and social infrastructure.

Cliff Dwellers are governed by a council of eleven elders. The council of elders comprises the oldest of all the Cliff Dwellers. The governing council consists only of guilders since hunters invariably live harder lives and die much younger.The eldest of the elders is the Facilitator, the colony's chief administrator.

At a young age Guilders are apprenticed into one of four disciplines:

Stone Carvers -- The oldest of the guilds. Stone Carvers cut caves and terraces from the basalt and granite of the plateau's precitious flanks, making homes where no other creature could live. Stone Carvers mine sulpher, gold, silver, and a multitude of other jewels and minerals. Stone Carver elders wear rubies and diamonds, and corundum of surpassing hardness.

Fishers -- The Great River thunders beneath the plateau of the Cliff Dwellers. Working with stone carvers, Fishers create stone wells and fish tanks perilously close to the thrashing white waters. Fishers capture the river's spawn and farm the fingerlings, raising and controlling the river's bounty. Fisher elders wear green jade.

Gardeners -- Gardeners raise vegetables and herbs. The physicians are also part of this discipline. Vestigial flight membranes are surgically removed upon declaring for the guild. Gardener elders wear necklaces of beaded emeralds and garnets.

Steam Users -- Engineering specialists responsible for maintaining the steam generation capabilities. Their specialties include magma chamber cleaning and operation and maintenance of the steam lifts. Elders of the Steam User guild wear rubies and white jade.


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    Gier Genellan 1996-2000 Scott G. Gier