The Ovinex are an archipelago-born species of aggressive, bipedal, sentient creatures evolved from an unknown species of sheep.
An Ovinex ranges in body volume from about half to three-quarters that of a human; nevertheless, an Ovinex's bones are far more dense than those of a human. Ovinex appear to be wooly sheep evolved for bipedal locomotion, with arms and legs talling into a rostral-caudal orientation when at rest (as in humans) instead of a dorsal-ventral orientation (as in most quadrupeds). Ovinex feet remain hooves, the creature walking with a digitigrade gait. Ovinex hands have two meaty fingers and two opposable thumbs, each digit ending in a horny cap reminiscent of the hooves from which they evolved; a keratinous layer continues down the back of each finger or thumb to the second knuckle, making Ovinex fists hard for striking. Most Ovinex have curly white wool and dark grey skin, though wool colors can also come brown, black, or reddish hues, with wool color either consistent throughout or blotched with other valid colors. Wool color is determined by the ancestry of the individual. Ovinex eyes are almost universally amber or green in color. Male Ovinex have a massive pair of curling ram's horns, while females of older bloodlines have vestigial horn nubs; Civil Ovinex families lack horn nubs in females, and males have largely forgotten how to use their horns in combat outside of competition to attract females.
Genetics and Reproduction
Ovinex enter rut in early winter, with males (rams) becoming more competitive out of an ancient drive to attract female (ewes) attention. An Ovinex female typically gives birth to one to four lambs in late spring. Around equal numbers of males and females are born in a given group of Ovinex, with around 1% being born freemartins (sterile, masculine chimeras). While an Ovinex female can give birth every year from the age of maturity onward, the frequency of productive estrus decreases with the size of the apparent population of Ovinex in a female's herd's territory; this appears to be an adaptation to scarce resources in the mountainous island homes of the Ovinex herds. Male Ovinex used to pursue different females every year in the winter, but modern Ovinex have adopted a harem-based mating strategy - or sometimes even the monogamous attitudes of their Rostran peers.
Ecology and Habitats
The Ovinex originate from the mountainous archipelagoes of Rostral C1, a habitat that once put them at odds with the Rostrans of Rostral C over territory and fishing ranges. Ovinex spend most of the year in the mountains, but many herds climb down to the coast in the winter to fish in the ocean instead of relying on caches of grass and other vegetables buried in the snow.
Dietary Needs and Habits
While Ovinex are evolved from grass-eating ruminants and possess multiple stomachs, their diet has diversified in the intervening years to tolerate most any form of vegetable matter soft enough to chew. In addition, the Ovinex retain the ability to digest lactose into adulthood and have developed a taste for fish due to their island environment.
Ovinex are descended from herd grazers, and the social structures they make for themselves (i.e. Native Ovinex society) reflect this fact. Dominant males, often the oldest, craftiest, or strongest member of the tribe, function as tribal chieftains. The cheiftain's harem, children, and close male friends serve other important roles within the tribe, with the harems and children of the chieftain's friends making up the remainder of the tribe. Females wield a surprising degree of influence over the male leadership of the tribe, as they usually outnumber the males by significant margins. A tribe of Ovinex fiercely maintains its own turf, though alliances can be formed through an exchange of females between groups. Older and larger tribes often cast out enough Ram Rex to passively enforce territorial boundaries, though the presence of such roving, illiterate highwaymen can also spark conflicts between neighboring tribes.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
Ovinex wool is a popular export for both the Ovinex themselves and their Rostran administrators. Ovinex milk and dairy products are well-regarded in culinary circles around the Manifold, though some quail at the idea of drinking the animal byproducts of a (marginally) sentient creature. The Rostrans consider the Ovinex to be "family" in the way a human might consider a primate to be species-genetic family. This cultural understanding means that Ovinex meat is illegal in Rostral C by local authority. Nevertheless, some Voxelian traders have acquired a perverse taste for the exotic "lamb chops" of Ovinex, claiming the genuine distress of a being smart enough to know the end is coming lends the meat a certain gamey tang.
While the Ovinex are sentient in the academic sense of the word, they are by no means as intelligent as modern humans. Ovinex do have a simple language, Ba'a, that can convey fairly complex concepts (i.e. planning, recursion, simple math, and the concept of other minds existing outside of the individual). Native Ovinex technology is only marginally more advanced than that of neolithic homo sapiens, with simple apparel spun of their own wool, agriculture, animal husbandry, ironwood melee weapons and tools, limited copper metallurgy, crude food preservation methods, and some artistic and religious pursuits. Nevertheless, an Ovinex can be trained to use more advanced tools and techniques, making them more useful and endearing to their Rostran overseers than a simple dog or beast of burden, and the social life of the tribe is markedly more complex than those of simple herd grazers. Ovinex have notably more intense emotional states than humanoids, but they also seem to possess a high resistance to depression. An Ovinex can be happy, angry, or sad, but they are unlikely to remain sad for long. Furthermore, while the Ovinex lack the full humanoid intellect, they compensate for this with a proactive nature, strong collective sentiment, and an implacable sense of wonder about the world around them. Any technology at or above the level of advancement of a steam engine is regarded by the Ovinex although it is magical and exciting, regardless of how long the Ovinex has been exposed to it. Because the Ovinex oral tradition dates all the way back to the "Curved Time," Ovinex are remarkably accepting of the notion that the story of the Manifold Sky is one of fantasy rather than science fiction, as well as the Forgist notion that reality is a creative fiction to begin with. Indeed, more intelligent Ovinex will often remark that they are saddened by the fact that humanoids appear to have lost their sense of wonder at the universe because of their insistence on "ground-think" (cold, calculated realism).
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Ovinex have keen senses of smell and hearing, allowing them to detect other creatures (especially carnivores) at extreme ranges.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
The Rostrans share Rostral C with the Ovinex on Rostral C1. While these two species were once fiercely opposed to one another, the Ovinex slave-taking tribes were eventually defeated by the superior naval prowess of the Rostrans. Instead of driving the Ovinex to extinction, however, the Rostrans chose to 'domesticate' the 'sheeple,' originally employing the captured Ovinex for their wool and as workers to tend to ironwood harvesting, fishing, and trade spice (especially salt) cultivation. While the herds of the Ovinex who were captured during the Rostran-Ovinex war are no longer independent societies, the Rostrans treat them relatively well, considering the 'kinder and gentler' modern strain of Ovinex to be more like less intelligent social peers than chattel. As the generations wear on, the Ovinex become both more intelligent and more tightly integrated into the everyday lives of Rostrans.
Civilization and Culture
Average Technological Level
Native Ovinex (i.e. those Ovinex which have not partially or completely integrated into Rostran Society as a result of the Rostran-Ovinex War) are toolmakers who possess a knowledge of agriculture and a limited knowledge of metallurgy (mostly copper). This puts them at a technological level roughly equivalent to that of Humans just before classical antiquity.
Ovis Erectus Sapiens
The Ovinex are conserved by the the Rostrans. As the Ovinex are not (generally) worldly enough to handle their own geopolitical affairs beyond attacking non-Rostrans who enter their territory, the Rostrans seek to protect them from Voxelian exploitation or ecological dangers from Rostran industrial development. Rostran experiments in "uplifting" the Ovinex intellect are ongoing.