The island of Sanctuary, even before the Blight, was long thought to be a myth, though by most accounts by those who did claim to find it, the name was a misnomer. Said to be a place a fearsome beasts and ravenous animals that would stalk intruders with relentless ferocity, and an untamed wild place where civilized people had no place. While many explorers and would be adventurers before the Blight sought such a place, the advent of the near end of the world lead to the place being all but forgotten, a rumored location likely swallowed up by the events of the cataclysm. Unbeknownst to those that sought it in the past, was the vibrant and rich culture that thrived there, hidden in the thick forests and treetops of the island. The Sahahimu People thrived in isolation. While keeping a detailed oral history, the true nature of their origins remains a mystery shrouded in myth and legend. The claims of their elders is that they were the first people to walk the world, granted autonomy and freedom to set their path wherever they like by the grace of the world itself, they believe themselves to be an aspect of creation made possible by the sheer nature of life itself, springing into being without divine direction or intervention.
The Sahahimu Peoples are unique in that, while outwardly appearing very human, they are not. Each individual is tied both spiritually and physically to an animal, one associated with their tribe of origin. This bond is a powerful one, adn one that links them directly to the anima of the world itself. In this manner, each Sahahimu is capable of shifting their conscious experience from their humanoid body, to that of the animal they are linked to, allowing the perspective to shift and awareness to focus on the singular form. While remaining passively aware, each of the two creatures functions independently of one another, though always aware of the other's whereabouts and general state of being. Once shifted, all faculties come into sharp focus, granting certain aspects of sensory perception and awareness across the two forms. While focused on the humanoid, the Sahahimu's sensory abilities and physical prowess is heightened to reflect the spirit of the animal that has melded with their own. If the shift goes the other direction, the animal is granted the cognizant awareness, knowledge, and often other abilities and characteristics such as communicative abilities and the like, depending on the physical limitations of the animal's physiology. In an emergency where one or both are threatened, or if the need to protect and defend others is great enough, both the Sahahimu and the animal have yet one more ability that they share, though it comes at a potentially terrible price, so it is only utilized rarely. Which this the two creatures merge entirely, both physically and spiritually becoming a powerful amalgam of the two creatures, empowered and ferocious, driven by a far more powerful and primal dictate of their actions. When doing this the Sahahimu will enter a blinding rage, lashing out at anything it deems a threat with its new physical form. This form will be a direct reflection of the animal and humanoid's abilities, heightened and enhanced on all sides. This form will encompass the two for only a short time, and when it passes, the Sahahimu and the animal they are bonded to are forced apart and left exhausted for a time. Any wounds sustained while in the alternate form will be spread across the two as well, leaving them both potentially injured. The true danger of the use of this is that the Sahahimu and the animal form alike run the risk of not being able to break free of the primal rage, and through use of this ability over time, the line between them and the division of friend and foe can become blurred in the mingling. There are many cases, especially during and after the war with the Bonedancers where a number of the Sahahimu were lost to this enticing rage and forced to either be put down, or left to wander unpopulated areas of the island.
While the Sahahimu Peoples look and act remarkably human, nothing could be further from the truth. It is postulated that they do share some common ancestor with humanity, but that link is long removed. Generally darker skinned with eye colors that range from browns and greens to the more rare yellows and oranges, and universally black hair barring any genetic anomalies, the Sahahimu's common ancestry is evident physically. They do tend to range in height and weight dependant on tribe of origin with the tribes such as the Pitsooti , Honauwa , and Sowi'yngwa having the larger and taller members of their kind, and the Angwusi and Leetayo holding the common smaller. The remaining tribes, the Osomahtin , Moosa , and Kwewu generally following closer to human standards. These variances are a direct result of their bond with the animal forms that they are associated with.
The tribal communities of the island of Sanctuary are unique from one to the next, but tend towards a generally similar structure in some ways. Family units are almost always monogamous and tight knit, but the aspect of child rearing tends to be more a communal effort allowing for a very close community. Each tribe answers to a chieftain, and in turn these chieftains hold regular councils to discuss the well being of the entire species and their home, and to dictate policy and direction.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
The Sahahimu People are found exclusively native to the island of Sanctuary , and appear to have not only began there, but have entirely evolved and remained there throughout their existence, undiscovered until recently and allowed to progress through their genetic and cultural development in an isolated manner throughout their existence.
These people are extremely intelligent, though their intellect is one of practicality and need rather than the more common forms found on the mainland cultures. They have developed in virtual isolation and as such have developed a sapient quality that reflects both their need and cultural identity.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Even in their normal, passive state the Sahahimu have slightly heightened awareness, their hearing, olfactory, and vision superior to humans slightly. These senses are heightened even more so when shifted, though the extent of this lies with the animal spirit itself.
Civilization and Culture
Average Technological Level
Generally the technology used will differ from tribe to tribe, but shared technological advancements in the fields of agriculture and medicine are common, as well as several exemplary feats of engineering. Raised bed farming, crop rotation, and sympathetic farming dominate their agricultural endeavors, creating healthy, plentiful, and sustainable crops throughout the island. They have also discovered and perfected the means of processing and utilizing rubber and several medical achievements as well, though these are mostly holistic in nature. They have developed several anesthetics both topical and internal, and an ingenious method of interveinal delivery of these. In the area of engineering and mathematics, they rival even a great many of the Becht scholars, seemingly to be able to master complex computation without the need for machine or device to assist them in the act. With this uncanny knack they have managed a great many constructed wonders on their island from the massive pyramid that they use as a central meeting place, to the numerous suspension bridges and floating islands they have constructed, as well as a small number of small observation points at which they study the heavens.
Common Etiquette Rules
Sahahimu culture is one of great respect for the land and one another. Trespassing is seens as a gross violation of etiquette,a dn to disrespect a member of a tribe is to disrespect the tribe itself. They believe less in the concept of wrong doing in the sense the the other mainland cultures generally do, and more as a sense that the tribe has failed when one of their own goes astray, creating an air of need to recover them from the depths they have fallen into.
The Sahahimu Peoples are not wrong in their belief that they are the first people of Cairne. Having sprung up from the primordial remains to Vrokhanna after she was torn apart by her offspring, they were created by no intention or divine hand, and no divine creature claimed or guided them in their growth and development. In isolation they were free to expand and explore their identity as a people, free of war and oppression aside from the occasional tribal conflict. This led to a society that revered nature in both the physical and the spiritual sense, seeing the world as a living entity, rather than just an inanimate thing upon which they live. They hold a tactile faith, owing great respect to every part of their world's spiritual existence and honoring that concept by remaining frugal and sustainable in what they take from it. They place tremendous importance on these core principals and focus on the aspects of life that they feel matter beyond all others, these being the sanctity of life, the preservation of the world they live in, and the well being of their tribe and greater community. While this may seem fairly simple, from it has sprung a freedom to explore and understand the world at large that has come to encompass complex mathematics, agriculture, meteorology, astrology, medicine, and more. For centuries these pursuits have been applied in much the same way their spiritual beliefs are, in a practical sense, utilizing these things in ways to reinforce their way of life, and to create fully sustainable ways of life and farming that have served their needs very well. It took some time for the effects of the Blight to fully begin to affect their home, though they were aware of something happening of tremendous magnitude and the negative impact it had to have been having elsewhere. Unfortunately they had no way of estimating the true scope of the destruction it caused. Scouts of the Angwusi were sent out in their kayaks to try and seek answers on the islands to the north where they had for some time observed another species working the lands, a species they knew little about aside from their arrival coinciding with a cosmological anomaly they could not explain. Their scouts were met with a horror they could have never anticipated as they encoutnered the Bonedancers still in their early stages of transformation, violent and eager for raw materials to continue their own metamorphosis. The first contact was a bloody one, and led to an invasion by the Bonedancers, as the Sahahimu came to call them. The Bonedancers, thinking the Sahahimu to be simple were caught off guard by their ferocity, their naval superiority, and their abilities to shift consciousness between themselves and the animal they are bound to. The fighting was intense and the losses on both side great, but in the end, the Sahahimu drove the Bonedancer from their home, having done significant damage to them in the defense of Sanctuary. After a time, a treaty was agreed upon by the two cultures and an uneasy peace born of need more than desire came to be. While this peace allowed both small nations to repair and replenish, it did not satisfy the questions of what was happening to their world, but for them both, the world was about to get much larger as an exploratory vessel belonging to the Hiversteadians stumbled across their island while on an excursion outward attempting to expand their knowledge of what lay beyond. The physical similarities and the respectful nature of the Hiversteadians allowed enough of a pause in the Sahahimu's normal defensive stance and mistrust out outsiders that talks were able to be had between the captain of the ship and the chieftains of the council. While initial communication was difficult, the talks bore fruit and the Sahahimu were invited to the mainland as ambassadors to discover the truth of what had happened and to open up the mainland as a means to trade, explore, learn and share.
Common Myths and Legends
While the Sahahimu know little of the former gods of Cairne, they do have a shared story of their people standing up from the fallen tears of the moon, created in the shimmering reflection of light that shone from them. This is a reflection of the truth behind their creation, as they were a result of a small portion of the body of Vrokhanna falling to Cairne and being forgotten. The essence of the divine, the most powerful of them, having morphed over time into the living and unique creatures they would become.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
While they remain untrusting of the Bonedancers , their peace holds, the Bonedancers not willing to risk losing any more of their precious few numbers in another open war and the Sahahimu not willing to risk their home and way of life to their relentless nature either. To the Hiversteadians they feel a loose kindred nature, and the natural proclivity of them to be respectful and polite went a great distance towards earning their respect and the beginnings of trust.
4' 5" to 7'
The Sahahimu tend towards lean, muscular builds as a reflection of natural and healthy diets and a very active lifestyle.