The Marukai are a race of sentient bipedal felinoids. Okay, cat-people.
No sense in mincing words about it.
Averaging 3’0 to 4’4, the Marukai are a lithe and deceptively strong race of primarily carnivorous creatures. They are known for their grace, speed, and affinity to shadow, which they can call to assit them in hiding and masking their scent. They have a natural gift that allows them to ‘scent’ magics, and can distinguish between priestly magic and fae magic. They can also detect differences in other powers, however, are rarely trained to note anything but the basics. A trained Marukai’s magical awareness differs from a regular one even as the sight of one who can read, and one who simply sees shapes before them. Marukai cannot be sworn to the [:the celyn|Sooa] unless they lose some part of their body, as the entire race is dedicated to Varuu. Weaker males will sometimes purposefully cut off an ear or a digit to allow them to channel Sa’aln and become healers.
They generally reach maturity, defined as mating age, at 13 to 14, and live about 30 to 40 years. The females experience heat cycles, which tend to be fairly regular among all in a shared truu’la’nih, once a year, near Midsummer. As a social convinience, arrangements for mates and those who shall be excluded from mating, treated with herbs to ease the discomforts of the time, are made in advance. Born cripples are not permitted to mate. Mating for all but the Damasuul is a monogamist matter, with consistent mates to whom they are ritually paired. The Damasuul, however, must change mates when her Daroolsuul is bested, for her kits, as potential leaders of the people, must be strong.
Gestation is generally about two seasons (or six months). Children are born helpless and with eyes closed, but are mobile within a week. They are named in a formal ceremony when their eyes first open. Twinning is not uncommon. Once the children are old enough to do without milk, or anyway, half-weaned, their mothers return to hunting, certain females being designated to watch the children of all.
Marukai live communally, family units often sharing sleeping quarters. It is unusual for a Marukai to ever have had the experience of sleeping alone. Privacy is no great concern among them, and though they show a stoic front to outsiders, among their own kind they are quite emotional. Deaths are mourned with a ritualistic song of mourning, a sorrowful yet grating thing, quite noisy. Lives are celebrated with their own ‘songs’. Griefs and joys are shared openly. Still, they are a race of hunters, and strength is held above all else.
The Marukai practice a special fighting form with a double-headed spear called the ekktesuul, or “greater claw.” It is a graceful style, meant for battle. To be given one’s first ekktesuul is to be accepted as an adult. They use all manner of other specialized spears for hunting and fishing, as well as practice with bow and arrow. Snares, fish traps, nets, and the like are not unknown, though they grow no crops.
Marukai itself means “The People of the Forest.” These are a tribal race that inhabit the Domari woods, their ancestral home. They once had a matriarchal system led by a distinctive bloodline called the Daughters of Vasan.
The tribes were made up of family groups, referred to as truu’la’nih, “turtle’s shell”, led by one of Vasan’s blood, called the Damasuul, or “greater mother”. Her mate, the Daroolsuul,”Greater Father,” was chosen for his strength and cunning in battle, and served as war-chief of the males when they needed fight. The Ruuhsah’lehk, gathering of the tribes, was a kind of celebration where tribes met, mates were found outside the truu’la’nih for females of age, trade was done, and matters of note were discussed.
The very structure of the tribes, however, was shattered when Mareeahu, the prophecied half-Marukai with Vasan’s coloring who would signal a time of devastation for the Marukai and great change to come in the world, slaughtered the Daughters of Vasan, all he could find of their bloodline beyond, and a good many others who stood in his way.
Now, the Marukai are scattered, clusters clinging to each other, hidden and even more suspicious of outsiders. Only one of the Daughters yet lives, a young female called Marisainel, who is currently in hiding in another world.