Deep below her feet, a low, rhythmic scraping could be felt permeating through the layers of stone. There was a pause, and another scratching began, fainter this time and from a great distance away. The two unseen folk communicated in this way from some time, in a language yet unknown to the eavesdropper in the tunnels far above them.
The Yirid are a race of Deepfolk that inhabit the vast layers of stone in Mid Deep. They are completely blind and rely on their other senses to navigate and communicate. They are called Stonemovers and rockfolk by other Deepfolk due to their strong hands and claws which can cut away stone as if it were butter.
Seldom Seen, Never Seeing
Yirid are relatives of the Talpidae, and share some features with their Upper Deep cousins. However, there are many differences between the two species, and anyone lucky enough to encounter a Yirid head-on can easily spot these differences. The Yirid are completely blind where the Talpidae have very minimal sight, and in fact do not possess eyes at all. They instead navigate entirely by other senses and are as such not bothered by bright light as the molefolk are. There is a small indentation on each side of the snout where the eyes are thought to have one been placed. Yirid also do not possess the same star-shaped touch organ as the Talpidae, and instead have a great number of very sensitive whiskers, which range from thick and wiry to nearly invisible.
The most obvious differences between these two Deepfolk, however, is that the Yirid are completely furless. Similar to Sapients, the Yirid are covered only by a sparse layer of thin, short hairs. Although the Deep is a sunless and generally cold place, the Yirid can survive these cold temperatures and are quite resistant to it. They do not typically wear clothing, and their skin is very tough, able to withstand the battering of fallen rocks from their tunneling.
The other names given to the Yirid by Deepfolk come from their ability to slice through stone almost effortlessly. They have short, sharp claws made from iron compounds and very strong keratin. These claws are meticulously cleaned and honed to a deadly point, which allows them to dig into solid rock and create their long networks of tunnels. They also have a set of large, protruding incisors, which are also reinforced with metal compounds. These teeth are used to gnaw through stone and other obstacles in the Yirid's tunneling path. The gums behind the teeth seal shut to prevent debris from getting into the mouth. Both the claws and teeth can also be used in combat, and even a Yirid with no other weapons makes for a challenging opponent.
Although the Yirid are seldom encountered because of their tunneling lifestyle, they can be very territorial. Strangers are generally met with a cautious aggression, and most experienced Deepfolk will give areas where the Yirid are tunneling a wide berth to avoid the possibility of an unpleasant encounter.
A Tunneling Folk
The Yirid are most well known for their tunneling. Unlike most other Deepfolk, the Yirid avoid travelling by way of the natural tunnels that network through the Deep. Instead, they prefer to create and use their own pathways. To the Yirid, this is the best way to avoid encountering something deadly even to them. It also allows them to keep better track of their orientation and location; it is thought that each Yirid has in its memory a map of every tunnel they have created and where they twist, turn, and connect to one another. It is easy to know when one has encountered a Yirid tunnel because of their characteristic appearance and clear difference from natural tunnels. Yirid tunnels are generally thin, only about as wide as the creator's body, and tend to lead in straight lines. It is not advisable to enter a Yirid tunnel, especially one that is recently built, unless one knows for sure that the Yirid who made it is nowhere close by.
Yirid live alone or in small groups, which are generally comprised of two parents and their not yet fully grown offspring. They are territorial with one another and with other Deepfolk, and it is generally best to leave their tunnels alone. Territories are usually marked with a set of signature scratches dug deep into the stone outside each tunnel's entrance, and these markings are detectable even to the blind Yirid. Territories can range several miles, both deep and across, and the size depends on both the quality of the resources available in the territory and the territory holder's strength and fitness.
Scraping in the Dark
Because of the territoriality of this folk as well as the inherent challenges of communicating in a dark world full of stone, the Yirid have developed a rather unique way of communicating over long distances - one that can travel through solid rock. Although tunnel walls present a barrier to airborne sound, vibrations generated on the surface of the rock can travel great distances through solid material. By taking advantage of this, the Yirid are able to communicate with one another over the long distances of their territories without needing to be in the same tunnel.