Kaia-Tani, the Wild Scholars

Know and be unafraid

Things have lived here before the first human ever ventured here and they'll remain after our last city crumbles.  
— Talavāra, Kaia-Tani
  Kaia-Tani are Kaia who specialize in the wild and often dangerous life in the dark and deep caves. From docile Khtam to ravenous Chiwara, there are countless weird and wondrous creatures across Araea. Each one capable of aiding an expedition or cutting it short; it is the Kaia-Tani who make sure their team does not end up as meals for some hungry beast.      

Responsibilities

 
Unlike us, animals are honest things. Dangerous, hungry, but honest.  
— Talavāra, Kaia-Tani
  The Kaia-Tani are rangers and scouts, advising their team on the wildlife they encounter and help the other Kaia of their make decisions. They are the party's eyes and ears, able to identify the kind and number of animals by signs of scratched stone, tracks in the fungi-carpet, or scat. A good Kaia-Tani can extract an seeming impossible amount of information from the smallest clues, while a bad one can lead their team right into a Chiwara nest.  
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When the Kaia come face to face with any sort of beast, the Kaia-Tani lead. They know how best to act to frighten or at least not antagonize animals that aren't looking for a fight, and how to dissuade more aggressive predators from attacking. When the Kaia hunt, the Kaia-Tani build lures, sound gongs to flush out animals, or know which one can be blinded by light. Together with the Kaia-Heoa, the Tani decide how to hunt their prey.   To the Kaia-Tani, wildlife is just another hazard of the deep that can be studied and understood. They sort through superstition and folklore for the truth. Most of them come to form deep bonds with animals and the wild, with few are able to appreciate the beauty of wild caves quite like they - perhaps in part because they can survive it.
  The Kaia-Tani are also responsible for training and taking care of any animal the Kaia themselves are employing. They bandage wounds, feed and water the beasts, and direct them through the caves and in battle. More than one Kaia group owe their lives to their untitled, bestial companions. Wealthy teams of Kaia even keep kennels where new creatures are tamed and trained. Other Kaia-Tani specialize in hunting and killing - it is an practice particularly common in Dhanû.  
Together with the Kaia-Kaora, the Tani extract remedies and helpful tonic from animals both living and dead, with each Kaia's understanding of human or animal complementing each other.
  Each Kaia-Tani approach their craft differently. Some have a deeply spiritual view on their interactions with the wilderness. Others have a pragmatic or even domineering attitude that sees animals as tools and resources rather than creatures.      

Equipment

  The Kaia-Tani uses a wide range of different equipment, depending on both the area they operate from and their path to becoming a Kaia. Nets, traps, and lures are commonly found among the Tani on expedition. When faced with a specific quarry or venturing into an area with some particular threat, the Kaia-Tani will do what they can do prepare appropriately. As with all Kaia, their inventory is half pain-staking preparation and half on the spot improvisation.  

Though no Kaia would venture into the deep without being armed, veteran Kaia-Tani learn to turn their knowledge into an arsenal on its own. Poisons and toxins from any number of creatures can coat arrows or spearheads, while fungi-spores can be launched from slings in small pouches.   The Kaia are nothing if not inventive and the Tani can find a myriad of uses for a single creature, from distraction to destruction.
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by AspectusFuturus
Some go a step further still and accept symbiotic monsters into their own bodies, giving them unusual and powerful weapons at the cost of their humanity. Even among the Kaia, always pushing the boundaries, it is considered extreme.   In addition to their personal gear, the Kaia-Tani sometimes operate kennels or ranches, breeding beasts for sale or use. These can become elaborate, sprawling complexes with multiple caverns dedicated to whatever creatures the Tani have caught and broken. Particularly successful operations run the risk of forgetting that they are Kaia and reminders from their team can be harsh.      

Becoming Kaia-Tani

 
I came from honest labor, but I sure don't miss it.  
— Talavāra, Kaia-Tani
  Almost all Kaia-Tani come from a background that sees them interact often with animals and the wild. Insect ranchers, hunters, Khtam trainers and Fungi-Eel riders have all trod the path of the Kaia-Tani. They understand animals and the feral instincts that drive them. A rare few are raised to become Kaia-Tani, the children of existing Kaia or of wealthy families wishing for glory. To the egalitarian Kaia, the whiff of an elite breed causes many to view these Kaia-Tani with disdain and distrust.  

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Inside the Hive-Tree by Vance Kovacs

  Most become Kaia through invitation from an existing team or through the mentorship of a retired Tani. Others seek the path for themselves, either together with friends and comrades. Kaia Guilds like the Seekers offer another way, for those with the contacts, the ambition or the money. A few start as servants and hired caretakers of a Kaia guilds animal stock and work their way into the difficult position as a full Kaia.  
In Ahumahi, the Kaia-Tani are respected above all other Kaia. Tani from the City-State of Plenty are often well-versed in mycology and fungi to a greater extent than those elsewhere. The harvest must always come in.
  No matter how they start, the Kaia-Tani face a difficult apprenticeship. They must master all the survival skills expected of a Kaia, from foraging to navigation through the caverns and tunnels, to finding water and light. Apprentices often end up working the very same tasks they have tried to leave behind, taking care of animals, facing fangs and claws, and always shuffling dung. Many would-be Kaia-Tani are tasked with raising some sort of creature throughout their apprenticeship and are judged by their care. The bonds formed during the time last for a life-time after, with the Kaia-Tani venturing into their life as a Kaia together with the companion they raised.      

Wild Scholars

 
So little separates us from the wild beast. A season of hunger, an impulse to fight or flee... If we are better, it is only through our labor - so put your back into the work.  
— Talavāra, Kaia-Tani
  Kaia-Tani are not a common addition to the Kaia team and their numbers are low. Competition between them can be fierce and a number of the less adventurous often find ways to parley their skill in another, less dangerous field of work. Ahumahi host the largest concentration of Kaia-Tani, with Dhanû the smallest, but they can be found anywhere. With so much of Araea still an untamed wild, there is always a place for a Kaia-Tani.  

One of Many

  Successful Kaia are those that work together. The Kaia-Tani's duties frequently see them aid the other Kaia in their roles. Every Kaia-Tani knows - packs hunt together.  

Kaia-Tene

  The main point of interaction between the light-tending Kaia-Tene and the Kaia-Tani are in caring for any light-shedding animal. The Ahi Bug are the most common and simple enough to care for that the Tani need only occasionally advice when something goes wrong. Other teams are fortunate enough to have found animals with vibrant bio-luminescence or radiant fungi, care of which the two share.   When it comes to light, the Tani usually advice and the Kaia-Tene lead.

Kaia-Ahere

  The Kaia-Tani have the least interaction with the Kaia-Ahere. Mappers and navigators, they have few uses for the Tani's knowledge about wild animals and their pets. As a result, their duties seldom overlap. On occasion, the Kaia-Tani's animal companion might possess some ability to track or follow previous trails, making them useful when the Ahere has died or become incapacitated.   Such redundancy is considered prudent by most Kaia, least a single accident leaves them stranded in unknown darkness.
Explorers of the Deep   Kaia are explorers and adventurers, daring to go where others fear to tread. Even with all the time that humanity have spent in the caverns, most of Araea is still shrouded in mystery in darkness. The Kaia-Tani are one of the six distinct roles that make up a full team of Kaia.   Read more about the Kaia - The Explorers of the Deep
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Animal Companions

Many Kaia-Tani form close bonds with the animals they breed and raise, or even some that they encounter in the wild. These creatures become as much part of the team as the Kaia-Tani themselves, often able to perform feats beyond any human. Even in a tight-knit team of Kaia, the animal companions of a Kaia-Tani often demonstrate an unshakable and incomparable loyalty.  
He won't bite. Well, he won't bite me, I mean.  
— Talavāra, Kaia-Tani
       

Claw And Carapace

The monsters faced by Kaia are often armed and armored better than any human warrior. With carapace harder than steel and rending talons that cut through the same, the beasts of Araea sport formidable arsenals. Kaia-Tani often make use of this, working with the Kaia-Heoa to craft more exotic equipment from slain monsters. Old, battle-scarred Kaia-Tani sometimes appear more beast than human, clad in gear made from corpses from a hundred felled foes.   Read More About Cadaverurgy    
Among Kaia-Tani from Dhanû, many either loathe or sympathize with the the Sōtari - a cult of warriors that emulate monsters and wild beasts. Of all people, the Tani understand such an impulse with painful clarity.
   

Example Kaia: Talavāra

Born to a family of spider-ranchers, Talavāra spent his youth tending to arachnids of every size and color, with the scars to prove it. Talavāra suffered the bite and sting of his family's wards so often that he will joke that it has made him immune.   Talavāra's journey to become a Kaia was almost incidental. He wanted to understand more about the spiders they were raising and began early experiments with ways to discourage them from biting him. As he became more knowledgeable, others sought him out for advice or employment. It was when he met a Suryō Spiders that he put his theories to use in a life or death situation.   Impressed by his survival and quick thinking, Talavāra was invited to join a local team of Kaia, where he has served since. He respects the creatures of the wild and despite their many abuses, still favors spiders above all others.    
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by Daren Horley
   

Old and New

Like most Kaia, the Tani don't put much stock into rank and title. The old are respected for their knowledge and survival, not because of their grey hair. Amateurs of any rank are scorned or tutored, depending on the Kaia they encounter.   Among themselves, the Kaia-Tani often display the results of their hunts and their companions. The more rare and valuable the display, the more glory to the Tani, as long as the display does not become impracticable. The Kaia have no use for a knife that doesn't cut.    
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In a well-balanced team of Kaia, every role depends on and work with the other. Each Kaia is made whole when their efforts are united and each member's expertise aids the other in their task.

Kaia-Heoa

  If it is the Kaia-Heoa's duty determine when the Kaia should fight, it is the Tani who advice them on the best approach to fight any bestial foe they might face. When the Heoa decide that such a battle is best avoided, the Tani know how to drive away animals without confrontation.   The Tani's wide range of expertise is always useful, no matter what conflict might threaten.

Kaia-Gai

  Like with the Heoa, the Gai and the Tani often work together over a quickly cooling corpse. The Gai are responsible for the Kaia's food stores and the Tani are best suited to aid them in replenishing them.   From hunting to foraging, to knowing what beast is edible and which is toxic, the Gai often rely on the Tani to supplement their own knowledge and make the most out of any meal.

Kaia-Kaora

  The Tani often rely on the Kaora to help them tend to their animal companion when they have been wounded. The Kaia healer in turn trust the Tani's advice when it come to extracting medicine from the things encountered in the wild, from pain-killing venoms to plague-eating parasites.   Such advice can also be preventive, as the Tani know best which animal sport terrible venoms - or worse.
 

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Comments

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16 Feb, 2020 14:46

I love your Kaia, and these seem like a particularly class. I look forward to more Talavara quotes elsewhere.   As a note, your animal companions section ends rather abruptly and mid-sentence.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
16 Feb, 2020 14:47

Particularly *interesting* class, rather. Would help if I didn't leave out the adjective.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities