The Vlektso are sentient species of herbivore mammal who often live near forests or other wooded areas. Represented by the Vnirkh Empire in most human’s minds, it should be noted that not all Vlektso people follow their traditions or disdain for humans. However, Vlektso typically seek places away from other sentient species or large settlements in order to commune with nature.
Physical DescriptionVlektso stand on two legs at 157 cm - 175 cm tall. However, when running or needing to move quickly, they are able to get around faster when on all fours. Their fingers and toes are unusually long compared to humans and they have fully prehensile toes. As a result, Vlektso will rarely wear shoes unless in extremely cold climates, which few enjoy staying in for long. Vlektso are experts at navigating through treetops and as a result will often live near places where they’re able to travel by tree. In addition to this, most Vlektso still prefer some sort of gathering method when collecting food. Living in forests allows them to easily consume their daily nutritional needs through agroforestry. However, the Savgit Federation of Vlektso in southern Anacora use modern agricultural methods. Vlektso range in skin tones similar to humans and they have a wooly mane which spreads across their shoulders, upper arms, and down their back. It often comes in colors of white, red, brown, and black. If sleeping in a ball, the Vlektso look very similar to the brar—which humans often refer to as the flying sheep. It is thought that Vlektso evolved with similarly styled hair in order to ward off predators, as the brar are extremely toxic to eat. The pupil of Vlektso people’s eyes are horizontal, rather than rounded. Their teeth are wide and flat and they have a similar facial structure as humans, save their large rounded ears. Their saffron bloodtype gives the resistance to most diseases and sickness. As a result, they typically live 25-50 years longer than the average human.
Relationship with Nature and BeastmarkVlektso people tend to be very in tune with nature; many seem to care more for flora and fauna than other sapient beings. Most refer to the native phasma in their area as Khvashna or “children.” Although the majority of Vlektso hold the khvashna in high regard, the Elef of the Sunniva rainforest are the only who worship the khvashna. Their beastmarks allow them limited telepathic communication with animals. Some are even able to feel the emotions of plants, although Vlektso describe it as a distant whisper which only the most talented of their kind can discern. Those with greater telepathic powers are able to exert limited control over animals. Vlektso people are unable to process meat. Although some choose to eat a small amount of meat around other company if trying to facilitate trade or alliances. Those that do become ill soon after. However, there is an additional power that few Vlektso possess that does require consuming meat. By means humans cannot understand, some Vlektso are able to become shifters after the ritual eating of a non-sapient creature. In order to do so, the Vlektso must eat the flesh of the creature, raw, within three days of its death. After which, they burn the organs and the head. Vlektso collect these ashes to wear around their neck and fashion the animal’s hide into clothing. The bones are buried in a secret location known only to the Shifter. It is purported that to steal a shifter’s bones is to gain control over them.
Social Norms and MoresEating Meat Killing animals or eating meat in front of a Vlektso is considered highly offensive. Even so, there are many Vlektso who would rather ignore what their dinner guests are doing rather than to confront them. Some Vlektso will even be offended if somebody needlessly tramples through a flower grove or cuts down a tree. Aversion The vast majority of Vlektso cultural groups will do everything in their power to avoid any confrontation with other sentient species, particularly humans. The obvious exception to this is the Vnirkh Empire. It is unknown as to whether Vlektso avoid confrontation because of predisposed genetics or if they developed this norm after the rise of the Vlektso Empire. Many humans believe this is their way to show humans they need not be threatened by their presence.
Views towards Outsiders and Interspecies ChildrenVlektso rarely interact with humans. Although there was a lot of headway made early after humans arrived on Phasmatum, the endless Noomar Wars — which began and expanded the Vnirkh Empire made most cultural groups wary of human interactation. Whether for fear of perceived retaliation or silent disdain of humans is not known and varies among individuals. Once the Vnirkh began capturing human prisoners of war and selling them into slavery throughout their empire, even some of the most sympathetic human outsiders began stereotyping all Vleksto. Although the human settlement of the Turtle Island Nations continues as allies with the Vnirkh Empire, their relationship was much more strained. Vnirkh Empire's agreement to grant any slave that escaped to the Turtle Nations automatic freedom greatly improved their relationship. Currently, humans are no longer allowed to be captured and sold into slavery, as the treaty between the Phasmatum Council and Vnirkh Empire states — with representatives from the Turtle Island Nations mediating. However, there are many illegal raiding parties who will capture humans on the Noomar continent with the sole purpose of smuggling them into underground slave markets. The Vnirkh Empire uses human concubines to help increase their population. If a woman gives birth to a child with the beastmark, her child is automatically granted citizenship and she gains her freedom — albeit as a second-class citizen. If she bears a child without a beastmark, this child will be raised by her as a slave. Beyond concubines, slaves work as personal servants and guards. Some have even joined the Vnirkh army. Other Vlektso rarely form relationships with humans; most are comfortable with their low-birth rates as they prefer to keep their settlements small. However, the Savgit people have many interspecies relationships and offspring among their population.
Notable Cultural Groups
Vnirkh Empire The Vnirkh Empire is the largest settlement of Vlektso people in Phasmatum. Located on the Noomar continent, the empire stretches from the west to east coast, expanding down into the central plains. In addition, they have several autonomous colonies on the Sunniva continent. Their primary ally is the human settlement of Turtle Island Nations, who aided the Vnirkh near the end of the First Noomar War when the humans feared the Vnirkh people would be disseminated. During the Second Noomar War, the Vnirkh Empire began capturing prisoners of war and selling them to citizens of their empire. Although the empire no longer captures humans to sell as slaves, the humans of the Vkuela mountains are still under the empire’s control. Humans there have freedom within their walls, but limited rights in regards to travel and trade and are banned from using magic. Beyond the Noomar Wars, the Vnirkh empire is most known for the Vkuela, which they ride into battle. The Vnirkh people form lifelong bonds with them. The slaughter of these creatures by humans was thought to be the cause of the First Noomar War.
Savgit The Federation of Savgit is a Vlektso-ran settlement located in southern Anacora. Unlike most other Vlektso settlements, they do not have a “gather what you need” mentality. Rather, the people created a thriving agricultural-based country with many fruit and vegetable exports. They are most known for their Savgit plum, in both fresh and dried form, as well as the countless sauces and jellies they have created from them. Savgit is a multi-cultural and multi-species country, although the founders wrote in their constitution that only a Vlektso person could be elected to lead or own land. Savgit’s capital city is known for its tall and tightly-packed buildings. Although humans will often walk on the sidewalks provided, the Vlektso swing through the sky to get to locations quicker. Elef The Elef people are located in the rainforest of the Sunnivia continent. Although they may travel to nearby settlements in order to trade, they tend to be resistant about interacting with other species beyond the trade. The Elef are notable as they are the only Vlektso cultural group which worship the khvashna.
Gender Roles Although there are some exceptions, most Vlektso cultures practice monogamy. Males and females typically have access to the same jobs and careers. However, once a female becomes pregnant, she is expected to spend most of her energy caring for the child. Vlektso have a difficult time conceiving; as a result, mothers are held at a higher level of respect. Even if they are sequestered to their homes. Names, title, and inheritances are passed matrilineally; after a woman has a child, she is able to inherit from her parents. Clothing Many Vlektso do not believe in wearing clothing that was made from animals. Primarily, this only includes the slaughter of animals. However, some Vlketso believe it is inexcusable to raise animals in order to use their wool or drink their milk. Although most will wear clothing made from cotton, hemp, or bamboo, some Vlektso prefer to wear clothing weaved from their own woolen hair. The belief behind this is that it is the only way they can be certain no animal was harmed in the creation of their fabric. Vlektso also have varying views on whether it's appropriate to fashion jewelry or accessories out of wood, as it's needless harm to trees. However, many may fashion their own wood jewelry from fallen branches. A popular style of clothing for Vlektso is to wear open back shirts or dresses. In this way, their back is left open so people can admire their hair, the shirt or dress snapped at the neck and waist. It is a rare Vlektso that wears shoes, as they prefer to leave their feet free for picking up things. No matter how many people tell them it's a faux paus to do so, Vlektso always have trouble remembering not to use their feet when distracted.