Species: Nefithian

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Physical Description — Nefithians are nothing so much as
large lizards or salamanders. They have qualities of both in their
physical appearance. A Nefithian has a long, slender
body with very flexible (but strong) bones. They have long tails,
some of them with a cartilaginous ridge on the top and bottom
(depending on area of origin; more southern Nefithians are river-
dwellers). Their limbs are longer than would be proportionate
for salamanders and either toughly muscled (northern) or rather
weak (southern). They have four total fingersone opposable
thumb, one semi-opposable last finger, and two in between which
aid in grasping (much as human midfingers do)
on each hand and
the same setup for each foot, although the last "fingers" on the
feet aren't semi-opposable and the "palms" are larger. Nefithians
can walk upright (if they curve their spines), and most choose to
when dealing with other races; however, they only stand about four
feet in height, which they find very annoying. Among other
Nefithians, they usually lower to all fours; a Nefithian measures
about eight feet from nose to tail. Most Nefithians are black,
greenish- or bluish-black, or dark grey; the females have a white
underbelly and the males anywhere from pale yellow to fiery red.
Nefithian eyes range from brown to yellow to green, but are usually
green or greenish.

Nefithians are not terribly quick, by the standards of Omyri, but
they can travel about ten leagues (thirty miles) per hour on all
fours and a third of that at a run on foot. In water, however,
going downstream, some can manage up twenty leagues per hour. Their
endurance is fairly good in water, all right on all fours on land,
and not very good at all on two feet on land. They are more
dexterous and agile than strong.

Temperament — In temperament, Nefithians are extremely self
-interested but extremely community-oriented at the same time. They
have no scruples about cheating one another, although they take
offense at being cheated. Nefithians love to acquire things—
money, property, items, and all and sundry other things that catch
their fancy. They will complain about anything, especially
perceived or real injustice; a Nefithian without a grudge has not
lived long in this world. Nefithians take immense pride in who
they are (as an individual and as a species) and what they own.
They will often band together (in indignation) at the first sign
of a threat.

Internal Culture — Nefithians are, next to humans and kassigers,
the most closely-knit species on Jémit. They form into loose cities
and have a governing council with representatives from all areas
of Omyri and probably some special-interest delegates who trade often
with the kassigers. They tend to be argumentative in governing,
but they will not make a decision unless every delegate is satisfied.

Nefithians do not believe in gods or magic. It isn't known precisely
why this is, but the common theory is that gods would swiftly be
accused of favoritism and become the new target for every Nefithian's
grudge. Magic is probably considered "cheating" in some way.

Nefithians love to make things—it is considered above even
buying as a form of acquisition. Furthermore, they like to trade
those things that they make, turn a profit, and use the profit to
make more things. Their games are mostly of the snatching and
hoarding kind, and scuffling is not unheard-of when one youngster
(or adult …) feels cheated.

Nefithian families are not terribly close; Nefithians lay eggs,
which means that they are not subjected to that mammalian "birth
bond" … and they prefer it that way. The community as a whole
raises those few younglings who manage to hatch (as Nefithian
fertility isn't very high), and so the young Nefithians are never
in want, but the younglings will scrap over those handouts provided
by any one community member at any one time. They may attach
themselves to a few close elders, but generally they assimilate
the culture through flat-out shock. By learning skills (which
any elder will gladly teach), a youngling gains the skills needed
to acquire things and so acquires both pride and status through
material success.

Nefithians live about forty years. They begin as younglings and
are addressed simply as "gakka," the Nefithian term for "youth,"
until they have achieved some form of success in the world and
chosen a name. One's accomplishments rather than one's physical
appearance show maturity to Nefithians. But a Nefithian isn't really
physically mature until about age ten, when the underbellies of the
males have taken on colors and the females have begun ovulating
(which occurs about once every two years). As a Nefithian ages,
his or her underbelly gradually goes toward dark grey and his or
her eyebrow ridges go to white. This makes the aged Nefithian easy
to spot from both the water and the air and is an evolutionary
device meant to keep the elderly from weighing down Nefithian
society. There is considered to be a "peak" which occurs around
age thirty, and one's relative distance from that peak marks how
one's physical health is considered. In today's society, though,
physical state is second to financial well-being.

The Nefithian language is heavy on nouns; a blue fruit always has
a different name from that of a green fruit. They don't like
"general" terms for anything. Nefithians don't have naturally
flexible lips, so they have a limited range of sounds if they don't
practice the common language strenuously. Usually, Nefithian
language use the letters a, c, d, e, f, g, i, j, k, l, n, o, r, s,
t, u, w, and z; they prefer the gutturals and the sibilants, but
"important" words (such as common place-names) are a bit more
difficult for them to pronounce.

In this new multicultural society, names are beginning to follow
the human pattern more and more often; the original form of a
Nefithian name is a self-chosen first name and a self-chosen last
name which is the Nefithian equivalent of "the clever" or "the swift."
"Ka," the Nefithian word for "the," is slowly leaving the names,
though, and middle names are replacing it. Human sounds are also
entering Nefithian names; for instance, Kromm takes not one but two
m's in his name, and it's in no small part from his pride at being
able to pronounce the difficult lips-closed sounds.

Habitat — Nefithians originally hail from the jungles and
riverland of western Omyri. Their ideal habitat has a lot of rocks
and rivers or streams; even the northern (non-aquatic) Nefithians
enjoy some time in the water. The southern Nefithians have cities
built on docks and pylons, including the "capital" (oh-so-creatively
named Nefith). The northern cities tend to be collections of
shallow caves, sometimes natural but sometimes created by piling
rocks or even carving into large walls of stone. City life tends
to be very casual; any Nefithian will be accepted into any dwelling,
although the Nefithians are very possessive of their home dwellings.

Most Nefithians, however, have expanded beyond the environs of
their origin. They love gadgets and contraptions and intricate
mechanisms; they are strong swimmers but are equally happy on ships.
They are happiest in warm, moist environments, but they are warm-
blooded and so can survive in other climates as well. They adapt
quickly. They also have a very strong desire to acquire everything
that they can. This has resulted in their expansion into almost
every inhabited part of the world.

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