Homuhn

The forest is not the only thing watching you

H
omuhns are bipedal, mammalian, tree-dwelling creatures. They are sometimes referred to as Speckled Homuhns to distinguish them from their larger cousin, the Long-Tailed Homuhn, that is prevalent in Isleprimoton.

Basic Information

Anatomy

H
omuhns are mammalian, but nearly hairless. In old age, they start to grow a thin coat of hair that typically has a silver hue.

Skin
Their skin ranges from deep green to light brown with darker brown spots (or "speckles"). Such spots are more clearly visible in those with green colorings.
 
Hands & Feet
Although they can walk upright, their feet are much longer than their hands, featuring three fingers and two opposable thumbs. This gives them superior grasping ability and makes it easy for them to navigate through tree tops. They have long, highly-flexible tails that are split down the middle, essentially giving them two tails.
 
Posture
When standing, their posture is slouched. They all have pot bellies caused by their four-chambered stomachs that allow them to graze on a wide variety of leaves and other flora.
 
Faces
Aside from their sallow snouts, the rest of their facial features are somewhat human. except for their second set of eyes. They deploy a wide range of facial expressions that also seem to mimic those of humans.

Ecology and Habitats

T
hey spend most of their lives amongst the great forest canopies of Excilior's massive rain forest hardwoods. They can get by for a time on the forest floor, but will typically climb the first suitable tree they can find. The bigger the tree, and the more connected it is to the branches of other big trees, the better for homuhn habitation.

Dietary Needs and Habits

H
omuhns prefer to munch on high-energy fruits, nuts, and berries. But such bounties are not always readily available and they are well suited to graze directly on leaves. Most of the nuts and berries they prefer are available in late summer and fall, which provides them with the additional energy needed for mating season.

Additional Information

Social Structure

H
omuhn society features a rich and detailed social structure. These structures are not always apparent to the casual observer, because activities considered "lowly" by humans may, in fact, be performed by the higher-ups in a homuhn troupe. But for those who have taken the time to learn the creatures' sign language and to translate their communications in the wild, it becomes clear that there is an extended structure in place that is based upon complex interpersonal relationships between all the members of the troupe.
 
Troupe Size & Layers
A homuhn troupe can be quite large - typically consisting of 80-100 individuals. There is no recognized leader or chief. Instead, there are different "circles" - each containing 3-5 individuals - who share common activities and enjoy similar status. The relative ranking of these circles can change over time, depending upon the needs of the broader troupe. For example, if they are under an extended threat from outside forces, the warriors in the troupe can find themselves elevated to the highest circle of status. But under periods of relative tranquility, those same warriors can occupy some of the lowest circles.

Domestication

A
t various points of casterway history, it has been fashionable to keep homuhns as pets. It's a stretch to say that they have been "domesticated" because the demeanor of those homuhns held captive varies little from their free brethren. Captive homuhns do not attack their hosts. Nor do they make any concerted effort at escape. However, they also do nothing to bond with, or endear themselves to, their captors. They don't make any overt attempts to aid or comfort their keepers. They don't seem to display any kind of affection toward humans. Assuming they are properly fed and housed, they basically act as though the humans aren't even there.
 
Depression
Although it is legal in most countries to own homuhns, it's generally frowned upon. The observed intelligence of the creatures leads many to believe that "owning" a homuhn is equivalent to some low-level form of slavery. It's also been observed that captive homuhns, while making no attempt to outright rebel against their hosts, are not in a healthy mental state. Captive homuhns almost never engage in construction - an activity that seems absolutely crucial to their way of life in the wild. Even when they are provided with all the necessary raw materials, they rarely show any interest in construction of any sort while they are in captivity. These homuhns are also tangibly more lethargic than their wild counterparts. Captive homuhns eat less and spend far more time sleeping. For this reason, some are convinced that captive homuhns quickly become depressed.

Facial characteristics

A
lthough they have an elongated snout and slightly-protruding incisors, homuhns are noted for their surprisingly human-like facial characteristics. Their faces can portray a wide array of emotion. These emotional displays were originally thought to be mimicry. But this theory has since been debunked, as baby homuhns have been witnessed displaying these expressions before they've ever had a chance to see a human.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

T
hey are found across the entire continent of Islemanoton, although their populations are higher in the cooler climates south of Brokeneck. They are prevalent in the rain forests of southern Islegantuan.

Average Intelligence

H
omuhn intelligence is one of their most striking features. The cognoscenti estimate that their mental aptitude is on par with a human child of 3-4 years, although some wildly-optimistic observers have come to see them as much smarter - and wiser - than that. Their intellect is best demonstrated through two remarkable characteristics: Their sign language and their propensity for construction.

Sign Language
I'm telling you, as sure as I'm standing here today, that they're talking. They're not gesticulating or entertaining themselves with pantomime. They're actually speaking - with their hands - and some of their conversations are more sophisticated than the drivel that's bandied about in our own city.
Thania Amria, Auld Cervian cognoscenti, 446 AoC
I
t's long been known that homuhns have developed their own primitive sign language. This language was not taught to them by any human. The first people to encounter homuhns recognized, almost immediately, that the creatures regularly engaged in animated back-and-forth sessions marked by rapid-fire hand gestures. These gestures were originally thought to be chaotic and random - like two drunks gesturing wildly at each other, but conveying no deeper meaning. But starting in 439 AoC, the Auld Cervian cognoscenti Thania Amria spent decades living amongst the creatures in the wild, studying their behavior and documenting her findings.
 
Vocabulary
Through this study, she was able to identify 120 distinct signs representing base concepts. Furthermore, she proved that homuhns don't feel limited to just these 120 words. By combining them in various logical, standard ways, they can use that small inventory of concepts to cobble together much more complex thoughts and sentences. The following are just some of the concepts identified by Thania:
  1. ADJECTIVE cold, cool; uncooked, raw
  2. ADJECTIVE colourful, pigmented, painted
  3. ADJECTIVE dead, dying
  4. ADJECTIVE fire; cooking element, chemical reaction, heat source
  5. ADJECTIVE same, similar; each other; sibling, peer, fellow PREPOSITION as, like
  6. ADJECTIVE sleeping, resting
  7. ADJECTIVE strong, powerful; confident, sure; energetic, intense
  8. ADJECTIVE sweet, fragrant; cute, innocent, adorable
  9. NOUN air, breath; essence, spirit; hidden reality, unseen agent
  10. NOUN animal, beast, land mammal
  11. NOUN non-cute animal; reptile, amphibian
  12. NOUN plant, vegetation; herb, leaf
  13. NOUN tool, implement, machine, device
  14. NOUN woman, female, feminine person; wife
  15. NOUN you
  16. PARTICLE what? which?
  17. PRE - VERB must, need, require, should, want, wish
  18. PREPOSITION located at, present at, real, true, existing
  19. VERB to battle, challenge, compete against, struggle against
  20. VERB to begin, start; open; turn on
  21. VERB to have sexual or marital relations with
  22. VERB to have, carry, contain, hold
  23. VERB to hunt, forage
Nonverbal
Homuhns have been observed sitting quietly for hours and doing nothing but signing between themselves, carrying on long and detailed conversations. Those conversations are almost entirely silent because the species is almost completely nonverbal. They do have the ability to vocalize a few brief shrieks, and they can laugh, but other than those outliers, they have no verbal speech.
 
Shy
This amazing proclivity for signing is almost always kept to themselves. After years of gaining a troupe's trust, it has been demonstrated that homuhns can and will sign with humans. But it is rare. They are inherently private - shy, even. They are easily startled and they won't even sign with other homuhns unless a bond has been established between them. Furthermore, there are few humans who have shown the desire and the patience to learn the homuhn sign language. There is no commonality between human sign language and that of the homuhns. And homuhns have shown no interest in learning human signing symbols. Homuhns will either use their own sign language, or they will not sign at all.

Construction
H
omuhns display a lifelong need to build. Past-and-current troupe locations are easily identified by the evolving geological structures that are built by the creatures in cooperative projects. Although the projects can grow to be large and varied over time, their base structure is always the same.
 
Tetrahedrons
Homuhns build by creating individual tetrahedrons - basically, tiny pyramids. They do this by constantly searching for, or fashioning, small branches that can serves as the frames of the tetrahedrons. They don't use any tools in crafting these frames, so they will employ their teeth or their sharp nails as a means of whittling a given branch to just the perfect dimensions. They are then lashed together at the corners with tight, stringy strands of plant fiber that can be harvested from the bark of the mighty canopeia tree. Not only does this fiber make for effective rope, but it has the added benefit of shrinking as it dries. Thus, after the homuhns have constructed their tetrahedrons with small-but-sturdy bindings of this fiber, the connections grow even stronger as the fiber dries and contracts.
Uniform Building Blocks
The tetrahedrons are made by individual homuhns. Each is too small to expect multiple homuhns to work on the same tetrahedron. And every finished tetrahedron is remarkably identical in size - nearly 7.5 centimeters on each edge. These cogs are then donated to the central troupe, where other workers dedicate themselves to lashing the small tetrahedrons into larger-and-larger geodesic shapes.   Because every project is based upon a growing number of tetrahedrons, and tetrahedrons are three-dimensional representations of triangles, the resulting structures are impressively strong and stable. The finishing touch is to lash leaves or other cover to the outer walls of the finished structures, thus creating full-fledged buildings, albeit with random and evolving shapes.
 
Unknown Function
Curiously, the root purpose of this behavior is not entirely understood. The geodesic constructions can, at times, serve functional uses for shelter or storage. But more often than not, the structures don't seem to be used by the homuhns at all. In fact, since the animals are nomadic and tend to migrate from one forest region to the next as they chase potential food sources, the resulting structures, usually anchored high into the treetops, are simply abandoned. They are left wherever they were built and allowed to slowly decay over a period of years. Other canopy creatures are known to make use of the abandoned structures. But the homuhns themselves seem to care little for their creations. In fact, if a troupe moves into a tree that was previously occupied by others, they will usually tear down any lingering structures before beginning new work on their own.
 
Dedication
They are surprisingly resolute about this activity. Homuhns engage in only a handful of activities on most days: Eating, sleeping, occasional periods of rest during the peak heat of the day, and building. If they are in the vicinity of a bountiful food source, where they needn't spend too much time searching for sustenance, it's not uncommon for them to each spend eight hours a day working on their constructions.

Civilization and Culture

History

H
omuhns have been a part of recorded casterway history ever since the arrival of Cervia Polonosa in 1 AoC. They were known to casterways even during the Age of Darkness. This is known because butchered homuhn bones have been found in primitive trash pits.
 
Consumption
It's not known exactly what relationship these early casterways may have had with homuhns, but it's clear that homuhns frequently found themselves on the menu. Even The First Mother herself witnessed the consumption of these creatures and, throughout time, different societies have taken wildly different outlooks as to the practice.
 
Ethics
On one side are those who make the simple and practical argument that homuhn meat has, at times, served as a critical food source. Furthermore, it is often hailed as delicious. It's been sought after and cherished as a main course for thousands of years. Homuhn meat has a unique combination of sweet-and-saltiness and the smell of a roasting homuhn is widely portrayed as mouthwatering.
Those who dine on homuhn would dine on anything. Maybe even... you.
Cervia Polonosa, The First Mother, 22 AoC
On the other side are those who have come to view the homuhns as highly intelligent and somewhat humanoid. To them, the consumption of homuhn meat - or even killing one for any reason - is sacrilegious. Some nations have criminalized homuhn consumption. A few have even gone so far as to afford them greater rights, ensuring that no one may do anything to disturb a homuhn habitat. The first instance of overt homuhn protection came from none other than Cervia Polonosa. Soon after the founding of Auld Cervia, she banned homuhn consumption and threatened expulsion from the colony for anyone caught harming them. She clearly had an affection for the creatures and deemed their slaughter as morally corrupt. Her bold position has fed into one of the prevailing theories of homuhns as the basis for the Watchers legend.   Citizens of the nations across Isleprimoton tend to take a much more relaxed approach to homuhn slaughter and consumption. Their viewpoints are in stark contrast to the revered opinions of the peoples of Islemanoton and Islegantuan. But this difference of opinion is largely driven by the difference in homuhn species between Isleprimoton and the other continents. Homuhns found across Isleprimoton - known as Long-Tailed Homuhns - are actually a different species. They're larger and demonstrably less intelligent. They use no sign language and appear to have no communication capabilities above that expected from any wild animal. And while they also share the odd construction habits of their eastern cousins, their creations are far more primitive, amounting to little more than an animal gathering raw materials and grouping them in mounds. For these reasons, Isleprimoton's societies tend to view all homuhns as just another food source - and one that is particularly tasty, at that.

Common Myths and Legends

H
omuhns have been specifically tied to the legend of The Watchers. Although it's doubtful that such a connection can ever be proven, it's probably the most logical explanation for Cervia Polonosa's mysterious references to a silent and undefined group that accompanied her during her period of self-imposed exile on Islegantuan in present-day Blepi.

Pronunciation HO-muhn
Scientific Name
Cacerus gigens
Lifespan
40 years
Conservation Status
Protected in Islemanoton and southwestern Islegantuan
Average Height
45-55 centimeters
Average Weight
12-14 kilograms
Average Length
50-60 centimeters
Average Physique
T
wo of the homuhns' most notable features are their pot bellies and slouching posture. This leads some to characterize them as fat, lazy, or out-of-shape - but those assessments are simplistic and flawed. Their pot bellies are a byproduct of their four-chambered stomach that allows them to slowly digest a broader array of tough plant fibers. Their posture is a product of the facts that A) their "feet", being more like hands, are not optimally suited to standing upright, and B) they spend most of their lives sitting on large tree branches and using their legs, arms, and tails to reach out for the plucking of leaves and other food sources. And anyone who has witnessed them evading treetop predators or fleeing an oncoming razer can attest to the fact that they do not lack in physical fitness.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
H
omuhn coloring can serve as extremely effective camouflage in their preferred environment in the forest canopy. Although their daily movements can betray such camouflage, when they are threatened, they are known to remain extremely still. To the untrained eye, this sometimes gives the impression that an entire group of homuhns has simply disappeared.
Related Myths

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