"Tonight we raise our voices to the skies! Honored ancestors, hear us!" "Never trust a stone with a song."- Brunean aphorismUp in the mountains, the melodies of the stone-singers can be heard intermittently throughout the day. On chilly nights they sing continuously, bringing serenity and sleep without nightmares. Some voices carry familiar songs, others hum in ethereal accompaniment. The villages of Brune and Rubea swear those beautiful voices sound like everyone they've loved and lost; there is no way to know for sure without joining them on the other side, though, so they have named the voices "rochecanta" as a courtesy. Their song is strongest in Esclarmonde, and no one is quite sure why. For their part, Esclarmonde gladly joins their voices to those of their ancestors. This does not mean the Gray Village is incautious. Not all the ancestors are remembered, and there is no telling what the forgotten might do to jog the memories of the living.
Stone-singers are spirits. They were never human, but Esclarmonde's custom of complete mummification gives them bodies to inhabit, along with partial access to the memories and soul energy of the deceased. The incorporeal stone-singers have difficulty controlling these bodies, though, and so far have limited themselves to blinking or static poses on the rare occasions they occupy them. The rest of the time they are content to drift through the ambient magic and soak into the rocks. Though it is possible to do so, no rochecanta so far has tried to possess the living.
Genetics and Reproduction
New rochecanta coalesce out of the ambient magical energy and miniscule consciousnesses of all the creatures who have ever died in the mountains. When a human dies in the mountains, the resulting burst of soul energy can be strong enough to trigger coalescence, birthing an intelligent stone-singer.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Stone-singers feed off emotion. They may siphon it off from regular experiences of day-to-day life, stir feelings with their song and drink deep, or sing to encourage deep slumber and steal dreams for the sensations within. Someone who frequently has their dreams eaten tends to develop more stubborn emotions, which then require increased attention from the stone-singer to prune.
Many rochecanta are barely sentient. These singers still enjoy music and song, enchanted by the simplest clapping rhythm. They do not have the physical means to join in, though not for want of trying. Many a bored villager in the mountains has been startled by a stone singer intruding on their impromptu clapping game, seemingly attempting to mimic claps, stomps or drums with just their voice. Rochecanta who were born of human death, consume the soul energies of seven people, or absorb 77 nights' worth of dreams are awakened to sapience. They are capable of replicating any tune and voice in their memory, directing and coordinating their mindless brethren in song to ensure nourishment for all. However, their sense of identity is not much more solid, as they dip into and out of memories living and dead as they please. They see themselves and their fellow sapient stone-singers as the primary driving forces of a collective mind, and genuinely believe themselves to be the deceased while inhabiting a dead body.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Stone-singers have sharp hearing, and can focus in on the breathing of the smallest mouse in a busy forest with an effort of will. This is their main sense along with a capacity for detecting clusters of magic or soul energy. This latter sense is expressed through their song, through which they are capable of detecting emotions and reading minds. A select few can manipulate emotions as well, and all three abilities can be honed to reach greater levels of nuance and detail. Humans, of course, would be able to at least sense emotions and read minds without vocalizing. Magic enhancing mundane senses to unusual heights is not unheard of, and often comes with the ability to return to normal ground at any time. With their ingenuity, humans may even find uses other than nudging emotion for a magic-infused voice. Alas, humans have far too little personal reserves to fuel such powers, at least by themselves.