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Engyvian

Human Subtype

/ɛŋ'giviɛn/

There are no children in Engyf.
-Engyvian Proverb

Overview

The proud and rugged people of Engyf, Engyvians learn hardship at an early age and are forced to mature quickly. Fiercely survivalist and stubborn to a fault, they often come across as brash and arrogant to those outside their culture. More accurately, they have an acute grasp of their capabilities and unwavering confidence in their ability to overcome adversity against all odds. What's more, they're usually right.   Engyvian culture tends toward a collectivist mindset, with any given member serving as an accurate representation of the whole. This perception is exemplified in the original Engyvian language when there was no singular form of the word "you." They maintain a tightly woven social structure, with marriages perceived as broadening a family rather than forming a new one, and firmly disbelieve the notion of spare parts. In part, this structure derives from the necessity of shared living in a harsh environment. More profoundly, however, it comes from belief in the Breath of Tal, the universal source of Engyvian life which exists as one entity shared across a multitude of hosts.

Basic Information

Anatomy

Although they share the same archetype as the rest of humanity, Engyvian design bears several critical distinctions from other subtypes. The first and most significant of such differences, for which the Engyvian people are recognized and take great pride, is the presence of distinct fangs in the place of the typically subdued cuspid teeth. Secondly, whether by design or by adaptation, the Engyvian skeleton is abnormally dense to support a higher average muscle mass, leading to a handful of exaggerated misconceptions regarding Engyvian strength and durability. Lastly, and of significant curiosity to outsiders, is the presence of discreet scent glands along the inner cheek known as "tei'zaukla" /teɪ'zɔkla/ [Engyvian, lit. "breath mark"]. Although the tei'zaukla primarily function as emotional indicators, their scent bears enough individual distinction to be recognized as one might recognize a face or voice.

Biological Traits

"If you're gonna kill an Engyvian, make sure that you do a damn thorough job."
-Anonymous
  Life in Engyf is hard, and the brutality of the desert breeds a remarkably resilient people. Engyvians are especially well adapted to extreme temperatures, with summer weather peaking as high as 150°F (65°C) and winters dipping as low as -100°F (-72°C). While these extremes can easily be fatal, Engyvians have far better odds of survival than most. In more temperate climates, Engyvians typically wear light and casual clothing throughout the entire year.   Their environmental adaptation also extends to internal processes, with Engyvians hosting a profound resistance to a wealth of native toxins. While venoms tend to have a more potent effect than poisons, both are easily survived with proper treatment. Should such treatment be unavailable, there remains a roughly one-in-three chance of defeating the toxin naturally.   Although no identified biological process has yet explained it, a pronounced statistical trend reveals that Engyvians are disproportionately adept at shrugging off fatal injuries long enough to receive medical care. Combined, all of these traits serve to inspire a fearsome image of an indestructible people. While such claims are wildly exaggerated outside of Engyf, there remains some truth to the fable; Engyvians are notoriously hard to kill.

Genetics and Reproduction

Despite the proceedings of Engyvian reproduction presenting nothing unusual, fetal development and childbirth occur remarkably fast, averaging only 30 weeks from conception. Although technically compatible with other human subtypes, such unions rarely happen, and the disproportionate development rate of an Engyvian fetus typically ends the offspring by miscarriage. Furthermore, Engyvian half-bloods are exclusively sterile. Records of surviving offspring also indicate that the development of fangs ties directly to the female chromosome. I.e., an Engyvian mother will always produce fanged children, while an Engyvian father may only produce fanged daughters.

Growth Rate & Stages

In keeping with their rapid gestation period, post-birth development is likewise accelerated in Engyvian children, slowing down near adolescence but remaining ahead of other subtypes. By age 1, most Engyvians can fully run, understand basic instructions, and even speak a few words. Within 4-5 years, they can grasp basic abstract concepts such as time and money, and they often develop a large degree of independence around age 10. Typically speaking, girls enter puberty around ages 9-10 and conclude at ages 14-16; boys begin around ages 10-11 and end around ages 15-17. While some measure of mental and emotional development remains unfinished, this marks the beginning of Engyvian adulthood.

Additional Information

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Engyvians possess a keenly perceptive sense of smell, consistently able to identify and differentiate individual scents, even discerning through "masks" such as perfume. In conjunction with their tei'zaukla, this perception allows for a limited degree of olfactory communication via one another's breath. Furthermore, most Engyvians eventually learn to "read" the different scents inherent in other human subtypes. The simplest of these scents to recognize are alarm pheromones, quite literally enabling Engyvians to smell someone's fear, and sex pheromones, an intense and often nauseating experience.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

An Engyvian's given name typically derives from the circumstances or timing of one's birth, such as Ahrui [Dawn], Saisli [Shadow/Eclipse], or Viisai'maa [Full Moon]. In addition to a given name, children are further identified by their respective parent's given name, carrying from father to son and from mother to daughter. E.g., Ahrui, daughter of Talya, and Tama, son of Tane. If the identity of a boy's father is unknown or undesired, he will be called a son of Sand. Mature Engyvians will commonly change names at least once in their lives, usually in marriage, where they may choose to be identified by spousal association rather than their parental name. E.g., Kiri, wife of Koh'ra, and Koh'ra, husband of Kiri. Given names change more organically, often stemming from nicknames associated with personality, physicality, or achievement, such as Kiri [plural form of "Speak"], Diimahl [Little], and Suukteh'lahko [Gave Peace]. Foreign names occasionally enter into Engyvian culture via travel or study, most typically from interactions where Engyvian pronunciation proves difficult for others. Raeslan names are a common choice. Notable examples include Sarai, Tama, Kiana, and Na'omi.

Average Technological Level

Hosting an abundance of oil beneath the sands of Engyf, Engyvians were primed for success at the onset of the Diesel Age. Almost overnight, Engyf went from a forgettable blip on the southernmost corner of the map to becoming an industrial juggernaut. For nearly a century, Engyf was the definitive manufacturing entity in the world. Although the rising development of nuclear and solar technology initially posed a threat to Engyf's technological dominance, their innovative spirit took a quick hand to incorporate modern solutions into proven designs. The advancement of solar technology in specific proved exceptionally useful in Engyf's desert climate. However, they insist on the rugged merits of mechanical design over the lighter and weaker electrical constructs of modern engineering. Only time will tell.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

The Rite of Fangs
As yet another expression of their rapid early development, Engvyian children will shed their cuspid baby teeth by the age of 8 and begin growing in their adult fangs. This milestone is first celebrated publicly with feasting and dancing, an Engyvian standard, but is continued in private by acquiring and presenting the child with their fang knife. This knife is meant to remain in the child's care, clean and sharp, for the rest of their life. There is, however, an exception to this rule:

Proposal and Marriage
In contrast with the typical presentation of a ring, Engyvian marriage proposals are made by offering a knife or dagger to one's intended partner. This gift will, if accepted, take the place of the childhood fang knife. Likewise, the partner will acquire a replacement for the proposer's fang knife. Symbolically, this transition represents the lifelong commitment to care for and tend to each other, a grander expression of the fang knife's required dedication. As with most other occasions, marriage itself is celebrated with feasting and dancing, then publicly marked by the branding of each other's wrist with a uniquely paired design. Modern practice allows for the preference of tattoos.

Lunar Festival
Roughly every three years, both moons will be full in conjunction with each other. Following the belief that Tal set the moons in place, their fullness represents complete attention from all the heavens. Engyvians celebrate this "Twin Moon" by offering their thanks and reflecting on the previous three years. Participants typically dress in somber white robes (the skeletal color of death and decay) and spend the festival's opening hours grieving for what was lost. After this quiet meditation, they will submit the past to Tal by releasing fireworks with all that was lost written upon them. From then on, they enter into the celebration of blessings and accomplishments, coating one another in various dyes, pigments, and powder paints, symbolically overcoming the white past with a vibrant future.

Funeral Rites
When laying Engyvians to rest, their bodies will be returned to the desert with honor and pride. The wind is believed to reclaim their breath (spirit), and their empty frame serves to continue the cycle of life for wild scavengers. Family and friends will give thanks for their lives and their final, sacrificial gift to the circle of life. After the formal proceedings, a voluntary watch is placed to ensure the body is not buried by drifting sand or dragged away by larger beasts. When at last the body is reduced to bones, these will be returned to the family. The surviving offspring will generally inherit the deceased's fangs, while the skeleton receives a diverse range of treatments. Sometimes, this might be for display in a shrine, typically until joined by a surviving spouse, after which they both pass into other ends. One of the more common outcomes is to be ground into powder for bone porcelain. While other cultures might shudder at the thought of drinking from a cup made with ancestral bones, Engyvians view it as a beautiful expression of life's cyclical nature.

Common Taboos

Although modern Engyvians tend to hold a relatively liberal stance towards The Way, there are a few traditional ideals and practices that remain deeply rooted in the overall culture. Stemming from the understanding that an Engyvian's breath is the outward expression of the sacred soul, the act of "sharing breath" (that is, a kiss) is considered a highly intimate expression of oneness and is therefore only practiced in private. Similarly, that which does not breathe air or grow above the surface is not considered fit for consumption, excluding fish and root vegetables from traditional Engyvian diets, to name but a few. Lastly, one's fangs must never be used to kill. They are a sacred distinction of Engyvian design and a blessing of Tal. Such animalistic behavior would be nothing short of defamation.
Origin/Ancestry
Tal's human race, sculpted from clay and breathed into life
Lifespan
64 years
Related Ethnicities

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Cover image: by ZillyOtter

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