- Professor Tibald Grenth, Living Among Beasts
The Caidhe species prominently show some bestial characteristics, such as having claws on hands and feet, feline eyes, sharp ears, and fangs from their mouths. They are lean of shape (particularly noticeable in their thin waists) and shorter in stature than common humans, and they show some common structure akin to the general fauna of the Pandoran continent, such as having bone protrusions coming from the sides of their knees and elbows. Odd birth-marks in the shape of spirals are predictably noticeable on their shoulders, back, chest, hips and knees, which gradually become more visible as a Caidhe child grows. Causes for why these shapes are always predictable is unknown.
Despite all this, it is commonly agreed by the College of Natural Philosophy that Caidhe are inherently human in nature. This they determine from years of anthropological studies and extensive dissection of Caidhe bodies. The usual physiological and biological processes of consumption and reproduction are more or less identical to typical humans, with the exception that Caidhe are capable of digesting raw meat, although not entirely.
Typical Pandians are difficult to define physically, as they are a general selection of clans that don't necessarily have much in common with each other. However, unlike other Caidhe Chlanns, a Pandian tends to be somewhat shorter in stature with smaller claws and fangs, and their skin-tone is that of a slightly reddish complexion. Their hair-colours range between dark-black to dark-brown (sometimes dyed in blood-red highlighting), and they keep their hair tied together in a long tail; never cutting it from the day they are born. Pandian eyes, more specifically the scleras, are dominantly yellow in colour.
As a choice of clothing they prefer several often sewn-together fur cloaks wrapped around them, but leave their hands and feet bare. Jewelry made from bone are carved in the iconography of the Moon, a wolf, or a raven, though other motifs can also be found. They tend to decorate themselves sparingly with white paint on their skin; typically when hunting, performing rituals or when they're on the warpath. Some clans tattoo their skin in their clan's patterns, and dress in feathered leather clothing or headpieces.
Tuathi seem to have adapted thicker skin to survive the colder climates of their territories. They are taller than normal Caidhe, about the same height as a normal human, and their skin ranges from a tone of darker grey or a tone of pale white. Tuathi hair colours are almost exclusively silvery, with the occasional darker haired one every now and then. They tend not to cut their hair, but also don't braid it or tie it together, letting it instead hang loosely. Tuathi have larger claws than normal Caidhe, and their eyes are typically white or silvery-blue in colour.
They dress themselves in thick, snow-white fur cloaks; covering most of their skin to maintain warmth. They often wear bearskins, with the bear's head reserved for their shamans, and their other decorative jewelry is also made to resemble that of bears. Tuathi dye their apparel white to blend in with the snows of their territories.
The Caidhe known as the Aosi seem more bestial than other Caidhe Chlanns, much like the beasts of the jungles they typically reside in. They sport sharper fangs and claws, and eyes of emerald green or ruby red. They are shorter than most Caidhe, and much slimmer. Their skin bears the tone of light brown and sometimes a faded shade of orange or blood red. Aosi hair is brown to dark, with varied styles that are based on the clan they belong to. Some shave the sides of their head and leave a standing tuft running down the middle, and some shave their heads entirely. It is possible for Aosi to sometimes grow horns; likely an extension of their typical bone protrusions.
Aosi are often entirely naked, with the odd clan here and there dressing in plant-based attire, or in armour made from bark. They cover their naked bodies in golden or blood-red paint, and sometimes they are covered in nothing but mud. They carve bone amulets that they wear around their necks, arms, waists and legs. Aosi warriors tend to wear wood or bone masks, perhaps as a scare tactic against their enemies.
Xuluki feature sharper bone protrusions that they decorate in blood. They have sharp teeth, equally sharp, lengthy claws, blood-coloured eyes, and long, unruly black hair, which they sometimes dye in blood. Their reddish skin is further decorated in bloodpaint, and they wear the skulls and skins of their slain enemies as clothing, although most of the time the Xuluki are nude or choose to only wear loincloths.
They have thin bodies, almost skeleton-like, that clearly show their bone-structure, and they exhibit additional bone protrusions from their faces and on their arms. Of all the Caidhe Chlanns, the Xuluki perform the most self-mutilation, having cuts on nearly every part of their bodies.
The Moontouched Caidhe are much leaner than other Caidhe, and often a little taller in their stature. Their skin-tones range between light-blueish, brown and faded-gold. They lack bone protrusions, which is unusual for other Caidhe Chlanns. Their fangs and claws aren't as defined, and they carry fewer scars from self-mutilation, which they practice much less than their other Caidhe brethren. Also unlike other Caidhe Chlanns, the Moontouched can be born golden-haired, although it is still rare, and most Moontouched are dark in hair-colour.
They fashion clothing from Ma'muut and Lygorn skin, which is very similar to the skin of elephants and lions. These hides and furs are sewn into robes, which are often dyed blue and gold. They decorate themselves in very little else, occasionally taking to wear bone-carved necklaces or other jewelry; made in the imagery of, naturally, the Moon, or even stars.
Caidhe history is mostly mired in myths and legends. There is very little actual recorded history in Caidhe society save for a few vague cave paintings, and most of what they know of their past and creation comes from oral history; retold throughout generations, and so not necessarily very accurate for a historian's quest for the definite truth.
according to what the Caidhe themselves say and believe, their people
date back to what they refer to as the Eternal Night, which is estimated
to be sometime before the Age of Light. Before the Caidhe came to the
world, there were the entities known as Mother Wolf, Mactíra, and
Nathaír the Shadow. Nathaír ruled the Eternal Night, and had supposedly
created it in his image. Mactíra had come from another world, and fought
Nathaír to claim his own world from him.
despite her power, was eventually slain by the gargantuan Nathaír. But before Mactíra
died, she used her final strength to banish Nathaír into the skies,
where he became the veil of the night-sky, and his shadow creatures his eyes; the many stars.
Mactíra's last breath became the wind, her eyes the Sun and Moon, her
claws and bones the mountains, her sweat and spit the seas and rivers,
and her fur the grass and trees.
From her womb she cut out three cubs, who became the First Spirits, and from their blood came the Caidhe people and the animals of the land. The First Spirits protected the Caidhe from the shadows of the Eternal Night, and taught them how to live off the land, and to respect it. In time the Eternal Night, absent of Nathaír's grip, lost its darkness and was faded by the light of the First Spirits, and thus ushered in the coming of the Time of Flames (which we refer to as the Age of Light).
The first Caidhe encountered by modern colonists and explorers were the Moontouched Caidhe in Pangolia. They were first found five years after the initial discovery of the Pandoran Continent in 1621 AL, and this meeting triggered the coming events of the War of Twelve Clans. The war ended sixty years later with many lives lost on both sides, but with an inevitable defeat for the Caidhe, who had lost the majority of their ancient territories over the war's duration. The continuous expansion of the colonists forced the Caidhe clans to flee further inland, to lands not yet mapped by modern explorers, and lands considered far more hostile than the ones near the coasts.
Today there stands a delicate peace between most of the Caidhe clans and the colonial settlements, although there are those who still seek to reclaim their ancestral lands, and those among the colonials who wish to conquer more from the Caidhe.
The Tuathi supposedly became one Chlann during the continent's divide in the Time of Flames. Having fled the desolation caused by the Flame Spirits, the Tuathi's ancestors were met by a bear spirit, named Artíoa. She had wandered the lands in search of someone to aid her in an upcoming battle against Tugorn, one of the Shadowbeasts from the Eternal Night, who had managed to remain after Nathaír's banishment.
She reached out to the Tuathi's ancestors and begged, and offered to provide them shelter from the flames if they agreed to help her. With nowhere else to go, they followed Artíoa to the northern mountains, and together they defeated Tugorn. With Tugorn's passing, the lands, once black and covered in sot, saw the return of winter and snow. Artíoa, grateful, sacrificed her own pelt to give the Tuathi warmth in their new land. She also taught them how to dig, and granted them her claws so that they could empower their own.
Or so the legend goes.
Following centuries saw the Tuathi create elaborate tunnels and cave-settlements in the mountains, although most of them have now been abandoned, possibly due to wars between the Tuathi clans, or because of depleted local resources.
Tuathi have kept mostly to themselves, even as the colonists arrived, preferring to hide in their mountains. Very little else is known of them, as they are particularly solitary. They have sometimes traded with Hagen colonials in New Haag and Kaldeen, and on occasion they encounter Cadian colonials in Hunton and Norton during their hunting trips.
Aosi tales seem to indicate that they have always lived in Lower Pandora. Apparently their ancestors were born savage beasts, resembling animals more than common Caidhe. Legends speak of a panther spirit, Tiogaír, who approached the savage Aosi and taught them how to control their beastly instincts. Through Tiogaír the Aosi learned how to hunt with weapons, write and build homes. They found a respect for the jungle, and knew now how to receive its blessings without harming it.
After Tiogaír gave the Aosi his teachings, they went on to conquer the jungle and vowed to protect it. Over the centuries many Aosi nations formed based on different interpretations of Tiogaír's teachings. This led to many wars, the most spoken of known as the War of Burnt Tigers.
During this war, three dominant Aosi clans (the Kulakhu, the Arurshu and the Vazataku) fought each other to establish the true teachings for all Aosi. The most extreme of these three clans were the Vazataku, who believed that the jungle needed to be burned down so it could begin anew. The war was won by the Kulakhu and the Arurshu, who banded together to defeat the Vazataku, and forced them to retreat further south near the Sea of Scales.
The Arurshu claimed the most glory and gained the most power, and took the Kulakhu as servants. Over the coming centuries, the Arurshu built great cities throughout the jungles and founded a great empire. The Kulakhu established a smaller kingdom to the southeast, which, while not as equally powerful as the Arurshu Empire, controlled the local clans of that region. But come the arrival of the Norlesian and Castian settlers, the Arurshu Empire would rapidly begin to fade away.
Shortly after the War of Twelve Clans began, newly arrived settlers from Castia encountered the Arurshu. The Castians sacked several Arurshu settlements and laid claim to the city of Crann Nava, which was later renamed Navine by the Castians. The slow conquest of the Castians and their steady flow of new soldiers from the Old World saw the Arurshu eastern empire fall within a decade, much thanks to an alliance formed between the Castians and the Kulukhu Kingdom, who sought to survive the colonials' onslaught by offering military aid to the Castians. The western half of the Arurshu Empire would meet the same fate with the arrival of Norlesian settlers, but the Arurshu held on for thirty years before the Norlesians eventually managed to completely annihilate them.
While the Arurshu Empire has fallen and its people have diminished into nothing, the Kulakhu Kingdom still holds on, having managed to form a temporary treaty with the Castian colonials, who are forbidden from entering Kulakhu territory. Given Castia's current war with Cadia, it is in their best interest to avoid opening another front to the Pandoran theater. In the meantime lesser Aosi clans have banded together with the reborn Vazataku Empire, and frequently raid the settlements of the Norlesian east Pandoran colonies.
Not much is known of the Xuluki's history. They don't write down their stories, and they don't seem to tell it either. Based on what other Caidhe Chlanns say of them, the Xuluki were cursed some thousand years ago by a Shadowbeast named Xul. The details are unspecific after this point, but supposedly the Xuluki accepted Xul into their blood and have since been his servant.
The first Xuluki were encountered on the island of Antilla. Castian settlers explored the island jungle and came into contact with a Xuluki clan. Only a few returned to the initial basecamp, explaining that the rest had been killed or captured, and eaten alive. Eventually the island was pacified, but other islands throughout the Pandoran Sea are known to be inhabited by Xuluki clans, although as of recent history most of these Xuluki clans have been wiped out. The few that remain are either found on yet to be discovered islands, or they're hiding within the deep jungles on islands that have yet to be fully explored.
Tuathi sightings are few, much because of their presence in the northern mountains of the Pandoran continent, and because they know how to hide within them. Tuathi are nomadic, but in a lesser capacity when compared to other Caidhe Chlanns. A Tuathi clan will claim a mountain and begin to dig out its caves until they create a larger network of tunnels. A typical Tuathi clan will do this with two mountains, and then move between these homes as the seasons change.
Unlike other Caidhe the Tuathi hibernate over winter, leaving only a handful of their strongest warriors to guard the rest until the snows melt. These warriors will hunt and gather food for the rest of the clan, to prepare for spring and their awakening.
Tuathi take on the appearances of bears, and often imitate their behavior, as is evident in their tendency to hibernate. Their Elders dress in bear furs; typically from the bear they themselves killed. Cubs from these bears are taken in by the Elders to be tamed and trained for companionship.
Aosi are dominantly tree-dwellers; preferring to establish small villages in and around the massive Krule trees of the Pandoran jungles. However, they never directly harm these trees, and instead choose to recover fallen branches and leaves, which they then use to build their homes. Aosi are one of the few Chlanns who build permanent settlements, and the only Chlann to establish ruling kingdoms and empires.
Aosi nations consist of many lesser clans and a ruling clan at the top, much like how Pandian Nations do things. The difference lies in the fact that Aosi kingdoms are ruled by a king or queen, descendant through noble bloodlines. Thus they are the only Caidhe who have a defined ruling hierarchy based on purity of noble blood and wealth.
Their kingdoms cover vast territories, and their cities can become quite large. A highly developed and ancient Aosi city will consist of a large Krule tree at its center, with smaller trees planted around (for housing) and connected together, with the occasional stone structure here and there for stability and protection. Such cities tend to blend in well with the surrounding environment, which acts as a sort of natural camouflage.
The Aosi Caidhe thrive best in the jungles that they dominantly inhabit, having learned to survive the often toxic plantlife and viciously merciless wildlife. They lead lives that are highly religious, worshiping the gods of the jungle as well as the spirits that dwell there. It is a common practice that they perform blood sacrifices to please the gods and spirits.
The Aosi have the largest pantheon of deistic entities amongst the Caidhe. While they also pay respects to the ancestral and natural spirits, they mainly conduct themselves religiously by worshiping a select few gods of the jungle. But unlike other Caidhe gods, the Aosi remain certain that their gods are reborn as Caidhe every few decades. These vessels often become leaders, such as kings or queens, and in some cases prophets and oracles.
Temples are erected in the name of the Aosi gods, and as such the Aosi are the only Caidhe who build lasting places of worship, which are led by priests instead of shamans or druids. The various Aosi kingdoms don't necessarily agree on how many gods there are, and so the number of temples vary between the kingdoms, and sometimes between disputing clans.
Aosi pay respect to the spirits and the gods mainly through rituals of sacrifice. Typically such sacrifices only involve the offering of animal blood, but there have been a few rare occurrences where Caidhe lives have been offered to the gods. Most Aosi clans forbid the sacrifice of Caidhe, as it is often associated with the worship of Nathaír or the Xuluki god, Xul.