PEOPLES OF LYR
by Chris Wayan, 2006
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Here's a bestiary--no, a sentiary, a chart of known sentient species on Lyr. Click on a species for a detailed article.
Winged antelope grazing scattered islets in the dry and Mediterranean belts. They have long, forked tongues, usable as a sort of hand.||
Native to the veldt around Rhys Bay in southern Gaiila, but they've spread east via Corona to the Fiery Islands, south to Nyanza, and west to southern Diomedes and the Polesotchnic Strip.||
Shy, sensitive people, with minimal material culture, but rich inner lives. Antels are famed for their delicate emotional perceptions, depth psychology, love poetry, and aerial courtship dances.
Flying mammals using sonar, but not exactly Terran bats--Lyran baps have a 3-meter wingspan, excellent eyes (they're diurnal), an omnivorous diet including a lot of fruit, and small but extremely efficient brains, rather like scaled-up Terran ravens.||
The vast rainforests of Troisleons, plus Wold and Grib to the northeast. Their flight-membranes are sensitive to cold, so they haven't spread further north. Sunburn similarly prevents their settling the southern savanna.||
Baps, relying on sonar, live in their own perceptual world. They're all jazz nuts. Of course, they call it ziZIIIII', but it's jazz all right--improvisation, dense chords, flat sevenths, syncopation. But bap-time is twice as fast as ours, and high notes go ultrasonic, so to human ears it's squeaky and manic.
Bos are scaly, fork-tongued, saurian... mammals. You can be sure of this because they flaunt their breasts at the slightest provocation (yes, the boys too). Their long tails and large ears are quite bovine.||
Subtropical brush and open woods in northern Flandry; they evolved on Merseia. Bos browsed fruit, grubs and leafbuds at ground level; today they garden and trade as well.||
Bos are psychologically astute, with a strong sense of the absurd. They make canny traders and superb actors, singers and clowns. They adorn their bodies with woven stuff called "clothing."
Gracile, rather cheetah-like centaurs common on Lyr's veldts, with somewhat equine heads, manes and tails, kangaroolike paws not hooves, four-digit hands. Coats vary greatly, from spots to stripes to plain, by region and tribe. Originally carnivores, but tool use and trade has broadened their diet greatly.||
Veldts and savannas like the Kurro Desert in western Larsum. Liberal cheetaurs are now found in racially mixed communities, even off the veldt, in (warm) woods.||
High-strung, playful, beautiful and well aware of it. Prone to religious visions and ecstasy. Fond of poetry, song, stories, music, dancing, sex--better yet, all of them at once. Not violent, but hot-tempered; cheetaurs claw if teased.
The biggest people on Lyr. Elaffes are herbivores of the forest floor, who use a prehensile trunk to strip leaves, buds, and fruit from trees up to 7 meters up. As the name suggests, they seem half-elephant, half-giraffe.||
Elaffes, like most quadrupeds on Lyr, evolved in Troisleons. 18,000 years ago, a tribe rafted to Scania; they're now a shaggy, cold-tolerant subspecies. The tauraffes of Diomedes look related, but aren't--pure evolutionary convergence.||
Elaffes never had natural enemies, so they're slow to anger and nearly fearless. They exude calm and reassurance. This is partly due to their slower perception of time (possibly a function of their size; like Terran elephants and whales, they're very long-lived).
Six-limbed mammals resembling a large red fox with hawk-wings stuck on. The forepaws are handlike. Dogsized, omnivorous but preferring meat. A new, highly variable people still climbing from ape- to human-level intelligence.||
Open woods, canyons and desert crags along the Polesotechnic Strip--wherever lone trees or cliff-caves provide safe nests.||
Floxes are outgoing, affectionate, appealing creatures, but as the Lyran proverb warns, "Pet them, play with them, but never lend them money."
Griffets appear to be smaller relatives of gryphons, but aren't. Pure parallel evolution! Winged, cat-sized, they're the lightest intelligent species on Lyr.||
They evolved in the forests of Lokon, south of Corona, but spread north via the Fiery Islands to warmer forests throughout Ythri, Oronesia and Gaiila, and to the southeast via the lush Kraoka Islands to the Polesotechnic Strip.||
A people in progress. They use few tools and have simple grammar, yet have words for emotions, abstractions, even time. No "I"--not yet. Or maybe it's taboo--seen as bragging. Griffets love novelty, and compete for mates with song, dance, drumming, and body decoration.
Winged lions with hawklike beaks, much like heraldic griffins, though their forelegs are more leonine than avian. The digits are more separate than in any Terran cat--not as deft as human hands, but able to manipulate large objects. They're the biggest fliers on Lyr, and the biggest predators.||
Native to forests and steppes in the Roland Group--the coldest of the major landmasses. They've spread to the cool rainy uplands of Li, in Oronesia. Gryphons are probably so big partly for heat conservation.||
Impressive, dignified, slow and thoughtful, Gryphons are the purest, most austere intellects on Lyr. However, do not do lunch with gryphons, unless you like splatter films.
(images banned by treaty)
A six-tentacled molluscoid (up to 6 meters, tip to tip) with several armor plates--not a complete shell as in Earth's nautilus, but not as shapeless as our octopi either. Voiceless, they use sign language; a few grasp some spoken Trade. Their philosophers use six-valued logic.
Hexanauts live in houses on reefs around the tropics. The only settled, territorial sea people known. Complex federations. Reef usage is decided by consensus.
While they lack fire, hexanauts use parabolic dishes to concentrate solar heat. They trade in powerful organic glues, medicines, paints, solvents and resins. Their sense of smell/taste is the best on the planet.
Lightly built humanoids with hollow bones and 5-meter wingspans. Their large, catlike, directable ears give them limited sonar. Owlish eyes, outsized by human standards. Icari can fly many hours at 90-100 kph, though they're too heavy for long, annual, interclusteral migrations.||
Icari evolved in T'kela, in the Diomedes Group; eyries 9000 years old still cling to coastal cliffs in the Shanga Desert. They've spread through Diomedes. Warm fur let them colonize subpolar southlands.||
Icari, sphinxes and lebbirds fill similar niches and share many traits: all three are curious, playful, and sensual, defusing tensions with grooming, petting and sex play--winged bonobos? Many icari are fishers, farmers, traders, and artists.
Jungle canopy dwellers resembling a hybrid of Terran parrots and cockatoos (feathering, crest and feet), primates (fur, build, face, mixed bipedal/quadrupedalism) and cats (eyes, ears, claws). Koreens are omnivores, mostly eating fruit, buds, and nuts which they crack with a stone carried in a small marsupial pouch.||
The rainforests of Diomedes--Lannach, Holmenach, Daurnach, Kilnu and the wetter parts of T'kela.||
Superb weavers. The first on Lyr to invent writing and (wood) sculpture. They find color a turn-on and often dye their feathers. Music: tale-ballads like a rap-classical fusion, or whalesong. At dances, huge woodwinds send players into a hyper-ventilation trance. Their visions guide villages.
A deep-diving, toothy, long-necked giant, finding food via sonar and huge staring eyes. Like a hybrid of squid, sperm whale and plesiosaur--but even bigger than that suggests.
Deep seas, wherever nutrient-laden currents upwell.
Nomadic hunters whose culture is probably oral. Little is known about them.
Lebbirds, sphinxes and icari aren't related; they evolved 30,000 km apart. A leopardlike frame, with wings, and handlike paws. Omnivores, not exclusive carnivores. Nearly leopard-sized, lebbirds are far more delicate: hollow-boned.||
From the jungles of Wersgorix, lebbirds have spread to southern Troisleons and west along the Polesotechnic Strip. Some live in treetop- and cliff-villages, but most prefer mixed company.||
As sensual as leopards, but gentler, due to their fragility. They excel in dance, bodywork, seduction, sex, scents and herbs. Cliff-fishers, orchardists. Actors, dancers, musicians. Intensely curious, loving puzzles, they make fine therapists, shamans, and scientists.
Pegasi look much like the Greek myth, but they're really much smaller--the size of a Terran deer, and considerably lighter. Instead of hooves, all four non-winged limbs have handlike paws.||
Evolving on the prairies and open woods of Ythri's Shield Islands and Scania. They've settled the opener parts of north Troisleons and Roland.||
Pegasi are extremely affectionate, if rather nervous--but even this generalization fails for some. They're highly (and stubbornly) individualistic, like zebras.
Soka are omnivorous insectoids--somewhat mothlike. They're small--standing only 1.2 m at full height, with a wingspan of 2-3 m, and extremely light, massing around 10 kilos. Voiceless, they speak in signs.
Forests of Besar and Starkad, in the Flandry Cluster. Open forest and veldt. Common on coastal islands, too--the best sailors on Lyr. Not that the competition's stiff!||
They hunt small game, snare birds and fish. Root-digging and berrying led to the earliest agriculture on Lyr; many tropical crops are Sokan. Today they're diverse--farmers, fishers, traders. Just not singers.
A cheetah frame, with wings, hands and a humanish head. Omnivores, mostly ethical vegetarians today, except for fish (sphinxes crave seafood). Leopard-sized, sphinxes are more delicate: hollow-boned!||
Gaiilan species now common around the north. Most sphinxes like mixed company--icari, soka, even antel. Sphinxes resemble lebbirds but are unrelated.||
The most social and most sensual felines, excelling in dance, bodywork, seduction, sex, scents and herbs. Cliff-fishers, shamans, actors... and researchers! Sphinxes are as intensely curious as their mythic counterpart.
A porpoise with an octopus on its nose--a boneless hand, but useful. The six tendrils can stretch into quite long feelers, augmenting sonar in muddy water, or pull in to stubby, muscular fingers to carry objects and use tools. When not in use, the hand curls into a rubbery "fist"--and a bulbous in-line prow adds no drag at all--streamlines, in fact.
Coastal waters, large rivers and lakes. Earth's higher salinity forced our dolphins to speciate to handle fresh- and saltwater habitats, but Lyran dolphins are one diverse-looking worldwide species
These fast, tireless swimmers are nomadic; indeed, great travelers. While every band of starnoses has one or two members knowing at least a few words of Trade, real communication is limited by the great difference in perspective.
Tauraffes are wingless forest giants who strip leaves, buds, and fruit from trees up to 5 meters up. They resemble giraffes except for a pair of extra arms up near the head, used to grasp and strip branches and pick fruit, much like a giraffe's prehensile tongue or an elephant's trunk.||
Natives of Lannach, tauraffes spread through Diomedes. They resemble the elaffes of Troisleons but are unrelated; similar environments bred similar size, habits, and shape.||
Tauraffes are the sweetest-tempered people on Lyr. Calm, reassuring, trusted by all in mixed communities, they often work in arbitration and public safety--and of course construction.
Witweets look like treetop poodles with a furred membrane like a flying squirrel's, allowing them to glide from tree to tree, though true flight is still beyond them. Opposable thumbs on all four feet, a teddy-bear head. Omnivores, mostly seeds, fruits and leafbuds in the forest canopy. ||
Treetop-villages in the forests of Trillia, in the Ak'hai'i Cluster. In recent centuries, witweets have sailed to nearby Ak'hai'i and Hroai, settling along the rainier coasts.||
This gentle, amiable people live for scent and sound. They export herbs, spices and scents. Their acute hearing, vital in the rainforests of Trillia, makes loud noise unbearable; while they love music, they find many races' vocalizations stressful and loud machinery intolerable.
For a broader look at Lyr's multispecies society, see culture.
TOUR LYR! Climb volcanoes, swim seas, meet weird creatures. First: survival tips! Then, pick a region:
Ythri -- Polesotechnic Chain -- Troisleons -- Roland -- Oronesia -- Gaiila -- Flandry -- Diomedes -- Ak'hai'i -- Averorn
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