Living skeletons of Chinkapin County. The bones know that they're not human (for starters, some of them have bird skulls!), but they are accused by many other Chinkapin fairies of wishing to be human... and maybe they do. They are technologically innovative but often surprisingly socially conservative. Bones share a lot more with human cultures than is entirely logical. They do a lot of things that aren’t at all necessary to their own existence, but which mimic traditions and institutions of humanity (for instance, monogamous marriage). Most bones would deny that they are in any way human, but they do seem to have a serious case of human envy going on. The bones are famous in Chinkapin County for three things: sheep, inventions, and music. Bone shepherds live mostly in the open land surrounding Twbia, and while they sell meat and wool from their sheep at various places, the high point is the annual Sheep Fair at the county seat. Bones like to build things--elaborate, mechanical things that rattle and clank. Wind, water, or manpower is fine. Steam power is great, if they can get the fuel. Pergton is a major center of clever toys such as limberjacks. They also like to build more permanent things, like bridges and buildings. Everyone in Chinkapin knows that if you want it builded right, you hire a bone for the job. All bones are more or less musical (the shepherds entertain one another with long ballads), but some bones make a living at it. They play a wide variety of instruments, but are most strongly associated with fiddles, xylophones, jaw harps, and dulcimers. Bone musicians are also songwriters and keepers of stories. They are especially fond of murder ballads. The fail state of a bone, when the augmentations of the Wisps crystals go wrong, is the shamble, a conglomerations of bones, vegetation, and other things in a monster shape.
Bones are skeleton people--living collections of bones held together by magic. With very few exceptions, they take the form of a human skeleton, although the skull may not be a human skull.
Genetics and Reproduction
Aside from being (mostly) human skeletons, the bones are best known for their curious mode of reproduction--a bone couple (for a single skeleton to reproduce is considered perverse) must fetch dragon’s teeth and plant them in the soil, in order to grow their children.
Dietary Needs and Habits
The bones do not, as far as anyone knows, require food to live. They seem to have a certain amount of life-energy when they emerge from the ground, and when this is exhausted they simply fall apart (bones can, of course, also be killed or injured; their healing involves lots of salves and soakings and sometimes mechanical repairs). They can, however, “eat” in a sociable way when sharing table with non-bone acquaintances--the food so consumed falls through their ribcage and disappears, no one yet knows where. In their own settlements, bones don’t bother with food, but are very partial to moonshine, metheglin, and tobacco as recreation.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
The bones live in three villages--Twbia, Askern, and Pergton, in the northeastern part of Chinkapin County. Of these, Twbia is the largest. This is also hob territory, and some bones also live in a mixed village with the hobs. To the north and the west lies the river, and to the east the edge of the Wolfwoods.
Civilization and Culture
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Bone architecture can vary quite widely, as the ever-inventive bones are continually adjusting their homes to suit their needs. Bone shepherds and musicians are more likely to inhabit traditional homes--usually, cruck-framed cottages and hall houses. Some are framed with timber, but a few are framed with ribs stolen from the giant skeletal snake partially buried under the county. Larger hall houses, belonging to wealthy shepherding households, often have a large hearth with a round chimney, for decorative and festal purposes (bones don’t require warmth to survive, although when temperatures get too low they may become rattly, which is inconvenient). Less well-off bones have thatch roofing on their cottages, but other kinds of roofing are common as well.
Common Myths and Legends
The bones, like several other village fairies in Chinkapin, are nominally some sort of Christian (they are, after all, in the middle of a predominantly Christian region). In general, however, religion is not terribly important to bones, and they do not have churches or public worship services. They might be best described as Deists. There are, however, exceptions. The bones in the village of Pergton practice a form of folk-religion based most heavily on Baptist theology, with one important addition: they believe themselves, and all other villagers in Chinkapin, to be the souls of deceased humans in an intermediate state. The church in Pergton is well-attended, as these bones are fairly strict about their religious observances.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
First of all, of course, there are the sheep. Their sheep, called Chinkapin Bone Sheep, have a distinctive “skull” pattern on their faces, and there are two main lines--the hornless and the horned (which can have up to six horns). Both sexes may have horns. The bones also keep dogs for shepherding--a short-tailed corgi breed known as the Skellie Dog or Skellie Herder. These corgis have black and white fur, as well as facial markings that (like the sheep) mimic a skull. Finally, some bones will grow non-human bone creatures. For this they generally use other kinds of seed--most common are hen’s teeth from the one bunce family that keeps cockatrices instead of ordinary chickens. The right seed, with the right soil and fertilizer, can produce skeletal horses, skeletal birds, and other peculiarities.