by Chris Wayan, 2006
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Witweets look like big-eyed hybrids of poodles and teddybears, but with a furred membrane like a flying squirrel's between all four legs and the curled tail, which straightens into a stingray-like spar nearly as long as the torso. This large membrane allows them to glide from tree to tree, ride updrafts for long distances, and flap short distances, though unassisted flight over 100 m is still beyond most.
All four feet are designed to grip branches, not flat surfaces, and all four have opposable thumbs.
Omnivores, witweets eat bugs, seeds, fruits and leafbuds in the rainforest canopy. Like most other canopy-dwelling peoples, early on they discovered the benefits of tending and selecting their trees; today their forests look wild but in fact are haphazard orchards.
Witweets evolved in treetop-villages in the temperate rainforests of Trillia, in the northeast corner of the Ak'hai'i Cluster.
But in recent centuries, settlers have risked sea-passage to the somewhat drier forests of nearby Akhai'i and Hroai, on boats sailed by soka; so far, witweets haven't built their own, for they fear the water; their gliding-membranes make them poor swimmers who chill quickly. These treetop villages are doing well; they envision eventual settlements in the Rorvans and other wooded southern lands, though it'll take centuries just to settle all of Ak'hai'i's woods.
Despite their big eyes, this gentle, amiable people lives in a world shaped by scent and sound more than sight. They export herbs, spices, perfumes and incense.
Their music is lovely, intricate, and subtle, but it doesn't export well. No one else can play it! And witweets don't play foreign music or study abroad, probably for a physical reason: their acute hearing, vital in the dense forests of Trillia, makes them sensitive to loud or ugly noise. While they love their own music, they find most other races' vocalizations unpleasant and loud machinery intolerable. Cities, and especially boats and harbors, with their creaking, are cacaphonous to a witweet.
Noise-intolerance may be the real reason they travel so little and have spread so slowly. Not that they'll admit it. It's not shameful in witweet culture to dislike the sea; but for a witweet to admit finding other races and cultures sonically ugly would be a deep insult--and witweets are so passionately polite that the truth may never be known.
On the other hand, maybe they really are clannish. Certainly witweets were one of the last peoples to concede that Lyr was not flat. They couldn't ascend themselves to great heights to test this, as most species could (Lyr is flatter than Earth, but even such a big world has enough curvature to hide ship-hulls and coastal cliffs of distant islands at ground level and reveal them as a flier rises.) But it is true that flightless cheetaurs and bos accepted the evidence from winged travelers, much earlier in their history.
Maybe witweets just don't want to be bothered with other intelligent species. If so, they're the only one of the sixteen discovered so far on Lyr who are true narcissists.
Hmm. I was about to be rude and say truly human.
Good thing I stopped myself.
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