Species: Jelph

Name: jelph [JEHLF] (a jelph, the jelph, many jelphii [jehl-FEE])

Homeworld: Sizimi

Height/Length/Weight: The jelph are sizeable people, when they bother to stand totally upright. Their normal bipedal stance holds them between 6-6.5', but if stretched to their full heights, they range 7-8'. When moving about sporadically on all fours, they're generally slouched to about 3-3.5' at the shoulder and are about 9-13' long (counting tails). Jelphii weigh between 250-375 lbs.

Physical Description: Jelphii are warm-blooded, snake-skinned creatures that tend to move on their hind legs but are quite capable of bounding about on all fours. They have reptilian faces with ridged snouts, rows of sharp teeth, long forked tongues, and large eyes; they also have hair-like tendrils of tough, elastic skin that form a pseudo-mane (generally about 1-1.5' long) at the back of their skull. They have longish necks, humanoid arms, lean bodies, and muscular tails (4-6') that end in a scythe-shaped bone 'blade' (8-12"), referred to as their tailblade. They walk digitigrade and lack dewclaws; their feet are saurian with two long, thick, unretractably clawed digits and a middle toe that bears an exceptionally large claw, which is held off the ground. Their hands are similar, with the longclawed-finger being the 'pointer finger', between a clawed thumb and two other clawed fingers. None of their claws are retractable; the longclaws are 4-7" long and the normal claws are 1" and hook-like, with the claws on their toes being somewhat duller from running. They are egg-laying mammals; females have no mammary glands or visible genitalia (just a slit in the groin region), and males have internal testes with a penile sheath.

Senses/Capabilities: The jelph have excellent senses in all regards; they have precise, long-range sight (and decent night-vision, though nothing compared to a dar'hal), a sensitive nose, and a fine sense of hearing. They're very fast in movement, quite agile, and able to run (usually on all fours) up to 35 mph - as fast as a baghan. Despite their typically lean builds, they use leverage to their advantage and are deceptively strong, able to lift and throw something that is heavier than they. Their endurance is good if they are not exerting themselves much, but an intense battle or hunt will quickly wear one out. (Black jelphii tend to have greater endurance than white jelphii, whereas whites are generally more agile and deft.) Jelphii have excellent balance and are very swift, deft animals.

Coloration/Clothing: The jelph don't wear clothing, but they do decorate themselves in a variety of ways. They're fond of thin, flexible bands of cloth or hide, often dyed, to which they affix feathers, strips of fur, tails, ears, bones, claws, teeth, etc. The jelph in metal-working areas also pierce their flesh with rods or circles of metal; jelphii who do not fight bare-handed occasionally even pierce their claws with rings. Jelphii warriors do wear armor, usually only hardened leather but occasionally chainmail or even platemail; this armor primarily protects the torso, the forearms, shoulders, and thighs - head/face/neck, shins, and tails are secondary to protect, mostly because those are easiest to move out of the way. Many jelphii will wear a leather breastplate and durable slabs of metal strapped to their forearms for the purpose of blocking blows; jelphii do not use shields. Most jelphii fight bare-handed, though some will use clubs or maces, and some few will use axes or swords; many are archers. As for fur coloration… jelphii have a wide range of colors and markings, though they seem to be either light or dark in hue, rather than middling. Black, dark brown, dark grey, dark reddish, and tawny, silver-grey, strawberry roan, white are all options for both base color and markings. Markings can be stripes, rosettes, or mottling/dappling, and it tends to be a dark color against a dark color, or a light color against a light color. A dark marking on a light base color, or vice versa, is fairly rare and considered bad luck. Darker jelphii tend to have black, dark brown, or dark green eyes, while lighter jelphii have gold, pale green, or pale blue eyes.

Races/Breeds: There are two ethnicities, though they have mingled so much in the efforts to save their world that the distinctness is blurring. Simply called 'white' and 'black' jelphii, these ethnicities are based on fur color; white jelphii are the lighter ones, and black jelphii are the darker ones. Black jelphii are traditionally the taller, heavier-built ones, but build does vary widely within each race. The black jelphii were the forest hunters, while white jelphii were the plains hunters, but again, in the moving around and avoiding the spread of the demonic corruption, their traditional homelands have shifted. Children of multiracial families tend to resemble one or the other, but this is also how the rare combination of light-markings-dark-fur or vice versa is created.

Language: The jelph speak jelphan, a surprisingly smooth and easily-learned language that has lost most of its snarling, harsher sounds over time (and with interactions with humans and Lo'hês). Jelphan has a reasonably diverse vocabulary and is not complex, making it ideal for visitors to Sizimi to learn. (Ironically, many jelphii learn the dar'hal tongue to retain some privacy in their conversations around non-Sizimians.)

Technology: The jelph have little advanced technology; the Lo'hês are responsible for the intersun docks on Sizimi. Some jelphii are metal-workers, forging weaponry and body jewelry, as well as some parts to strengthen buildings; most are simply woodworkers, butchers, hunters, and tailors/leatherworkers.

Magic: Though many jelphii study the theory of magic, especially the Light, practically none of them practice it. They're also very poor at sensing and tracking magic, even demonic magic, unlike the dar'hal.

Values: The jelph are quite individualistic, despite their communal societies, and value a person's integrity and skills. They also prize physical prowess, and many hold the ability to befriend a dar'hal in high regard. An apathy towards the plight of their planet and/or a disregard for an individual's worth (no matter the species) is a quick way to piss them off.

Social Groups/Society: The jelph are fairly social, though they don't require more than two or three comrades to avoid loneliness, unlike the pack-oriented dar'hal. They generally concoct a society from segmented, semi-autonomous groups; there are groups of hunters, foragers, Lightworker guides and aides, dar'hali friends, tailors, leatherworkers, metalworkers, woodworkers, building designers, so on and so forth. Jelphii connected strongly (though not always permanently) with a few close friends, often including a dar'hal or two, and function within the greater community for sake of survival. Some jelphii have split off from towns in small groups and made a living as nomads, much like their people did before the corruption began. Most groups are democracies, with each individual contributing a fair share, but settlements and crafts are headed by the most capable individual or three.

Habitat/Settlements: Jelphii live in small settlements, which consist of a cluster of buildings (for food storage, for sleeping, and for crafting) and a swath of land around it for hunting/gathering. Most of these villages are centered in forests or plains, but some are close to marshes or seashores or the foothills of mountain ranges.

Religion/Beliefs: The jelph don't have any particular religion or belief system, though they're acquainted with the Loi beliefs and have noticed that the dar'hal seem to have their own (unspoken) religion. In general, they try to stay alive (and keep others alive) and not do damage to their world; both of these mean that they're fighting tooth and claw to keep the corruption from consuming Sizimi.

Interaction w/ Other Species: The jelph are secretive to most, but they've befriended three races: the dar'hal, the Lo'hês, and the humans (but only Lightworkers). Jelphii know how to interact with dar'hali, and the two species are more closely bonded than first glance would assume; the jelph offer their respect and aid to Lo'hês, who are the ones responsible for bringing the human Lightworkers to Sizimi. Lightworkers are treated with a mixture of formality and camaraderie, depending on the situation in which jelphii interact with them. Other races are regarded with a small measure of respect and courtesy, but a strong initial attitude of 'prove to me why I should trust you'. Upon earning the jelph's respect and trust, interactions become much easier and smoother.

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