Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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The Six Races: The Beneberak

This is the bonus material for the December 3, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It's the latest installment in describing the six races of the series A Conflagration of Dragons.  Begin with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

The Beneberak

Beneberak means "sons of lightning."  Like the other names from this race, it derives from the Bible.  The corresponding elements are Fire and Water.

The capital city Demas was built around an area of hot springs amidst fertile grasslands. Read about its destruction in "The Ballad of Zaavan's Revenge."  Beneberak territory was the breadbasket of the world, before the dragons came. They make use of the hot springs and steam power for much of their technology, making great work in transformation and change. Agriculture also plays a role in their culture, as do restoration and healing. On the whole they are moderate in terms of the expansive/insular, extroverted/introverted, and solitary/gregarious spectra; but individuals have a mercurial tendency to switch between extremes. They have multiple forms of marriage, some of them temporary, but no divorce.

Beneberak have average height and build, about 5'8" to 5'11" for males or 5'6" to 5'9" for females. Their lifespan is about 65 years. They have curling ramlike horns set to the sides of the head, growing forward and then down, slightly smaller on females. Their sexual dimorphism is average, so they tend toward moderate variation in body shape. They have a sprinkling of small rounded or diamond-shaped scales along the backs of hands and forearms, tops of feet and shins, and more rarely across the cheekbones or other parts of the face. They have average hands with slight extra webbing that does not reach the second knuckle. Their dominant senses are vision and smell/taste. They have average noses, occasionally with a "saddle" notch above the tip, that can close to keep out water. Their ears are smallish, somewhat mobile and closeable, rather like those of an otter. Eyes are narrow and tilted. Common colors include blues, greens, and hazel. Uncommon colors include burgundy, violet, and amber. Rare colors include copper and grey.

Skin tones include cool and warm shades. Usually the dorsal side is cool and the ventral side warm; by far the most common is a dusky bluish-grey on the back and a tawny peach or light gold on the front. A distinct edge divides the two, often smooth, but sometimes deckled or spotted. In particular, some people have spotting around the edge of the face.

Hair is curly to nappy. Sometimes it is streaked, in people with a deckled or spotted edge where their colors meet. Common colors include light to medium blonds and slate. Uncommon colors include black and white. Strawberry blond and other reds are rare. Streaking, if present, always features lighter streaks against a dark background color. Reds are more common as streaks than as background color. True white appears almost exclusively as a streak color, but often paired strikingly with slate or black.

They can breathe water. They can tolerate minerals in water, but not much mud as the Hachi can. They are equally comfortable in humid or arid environments. They are resistant to heat. They prefer long soaking baths, the hotter the better. They also enjoy steam baths. When traveling away from their homeland, they will go out of their way to find or make hot baths rather than tolerate cold water.

Beneberak (Fire/Water) are the most virile and most fertile of the races, therefore quite numerous. They tend toward large families and connected clans. Children enjoy many peers; it is usually easy for them to find friends of similar age and interests, so that they run in affinity groups.

The primary magic of Beneberak is alchemy, with an emphasis on cleansing and purification.  Alchemy uses magic to combine or separate things. It is not quite the same as the potioncraft of healing or the artifice of boundary magic, but it works well with both of them. It can create magical, inorganic consumables such as explosives. Amalgamation particularly involves the making of alloys or other combinations (whether magical or mundane). Elaboration can restore poisoned or otherwise damaged supplies of food or water, heal sickened earth or other environments, and remove toxins from living subjects. Corruption can do damage to living or unliving subjects. Like healing, alchemy can affect fertility, though in a more mystical and mechanical way than in an organic way -- so they get different results sometimes, and can treat somewhat different underlying causes of infertility. Most people and animals find that the effects of alchemy feel unpleasant, or at best neutral. Alchemy can affect both the immaterial and the material. In fact, impregnation can create not only substances but specific objects and even quasi-living things. Some aspects (such as explosives) can affect unwilling subjects, but others (such as those for enlightenment) can only affect willing subjects. The range is usually short, as alchemy often requires contact with specific substances; but some materials can have quite a significant area of effect. Duration averages moderate, but there are short-term and long-term effects in different areas. Alchemy requires material components for best effect. Many spells cannot be done without them, although some amount of cleansing and purification or other mystical effects can be done with energy alone.

Beneberak are influenced by psyche/passions and soul/intuition, so they are very driven by feelings of all kinds. They are hedonistic toward sex and sensuality, also enthralled by luxuries in general. While prone to conflict, they later cool off and practice compromise though mediation. If a dispute breaks out, it is therefore wise to let them vent and then walk away, rather than trying to resolve the matter immediately; it will always go better after a break. Beneberak balance stimulating and soothing qualities, useful for cycling between activity and rest, or supporting other people with whichever mode would prove most helpful for the occasion. They are expressive about public life and interests, but secretive about private life and regrets -- a barrier that can frustrate the development of intimacy, especially with people of a different race. Their dominant modes of communication are blaming and placating, which means they tend to attack those of lower rank but kiss up to those of higher rank.

Beneberak catch a lot of freshwater fish in the streams and lakes that water the grassland. They gather aquatic plants such as watercress. They do some farming of grains. They keep yeast as a supplement and starter. Sometimes they hunt plains buffalo for meat. They make very spicy soups. They like pungent foods such as wild chives and horseradish. They also enjoy sour flavors and use many tangy herbs such as lemon balm and lemongrass. They ferment many foods. They love buttermilk, cheese, clabber, fish sauce, kefir, kumis, pickles, sauerkraut, sour cream, sourdough, vinegar, and yogurt. They brew very sour beers. They get honey from honeybees and make mead. They have no common food allergies.

They raise warmblood horses for transportation. They use lurchers and scenthounds for hunting. They keep a few milk cows.

Beneberak prefer fitted, practical clothing. They love bright, saturated colors in both warm and cool tones. They also use medium neutrals such as tan, wheat, and ash gray. Often they combine durable materials like leather, denim, or broadcloth with something lightweight and flowing such as seasilk. They tend to avoid landsilk because it comes from the Shu (Earth/Air, forest).

Preferred weapons include crossbows, harpoons, lassos, longswords, marlinspikes, morningstars, and nets. They also build steam cannons which can fire projectiles or a superheated spray. Beneberak are the most prone to using weapons based on chemistry and/or engineering rather than pure muscle power. For music, they favor horns and strings. They like simpler horns than the Eofor do, such as bugles; but they get quite elaborate with strings including twelve-stringed guitars and hammered dulcimers.

After the Conflagration, the substitute currency of Beneberak (Fire/Water) is smokes, both looseleaf and rolled into cylinders. The most popular are the relaxing and stimulating blends. There are also hallucinogenic smokes, and various other kinds.  (Cigarettes have been used as commodity money in multiple contexts.) Since few of the elaborate instruments survive the fall of Demas, they switch to body music and improvised instruments such as blowing blades of grass. With help from the Hachi providing the reeds, they invent the harmonica.

Shu (Earth/Air) and Beneberak (Fire/Water) hate each other and conflict frequently. Beneberak (Fire/Water) do not have tight allies. The closest they come is an agreement to share part of the grassland with the Hachi (Earth/Water) for farming. Beneberak just don't work and play well with others.

Virtues: bold, eager, faithful, forgiving; testing; conscience, conviction, initiative, peace, production, rejuvenation.

Vices: insecure, intense, jealous, out of control, sly, unpredictable; drama.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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