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Nekos are a humanoid species possessing feline traits such as large, triangular cat-like ears on top of their head, and long, sleek furry tail extending from their spine, just above their buttocks. They sometimes possess slitted pupils as well. Depending on the species, however, the ears and pupils may be rounder, and the tail shorter. In general, nekos are lithe and slender, standing slightly taller than humans in stature, although some species are taller and brawnier than others. Nekos possess long canine teeth, and their fingers and toes end in small, sharp, claw-like nails. These claws are typically not strong enough to be used as weapons, though some specimens, either by quirk of birth or from years of honing, may use them to deadly effects. Other features may include a coat of soft fine fur on some parts of their body, usually their forearms, stripes, or whiskers. None of these last traits are universal though, and both hair and eye color vary greatly.
While clearly humanoid, the skeletal structure of a neko differ quite a bit from humans. They are not only capable of walking and running on all fours just as efficiently as they can on two legs, but they are also remarkably fast and nimble when doing so, able to leap great distances in a single bound, climb up trees in the blink of an eye and tumble safely. Furthermore, their spinal cord is unusually flexible compared to that of other humanoids, allowing them to arch their back much more than humans with no ill effects. While nekos are more agile and sometimes stronger than humans, they however have rather poor endurance. Unlike inus, a neko's blood circulatory system is virtually identical to a human's, and pushing themselves to their limits for extended periods drain their stamina extremely quickly. As such, nekos learn to conserve their energy and to only use the most of their abilities in short bursts if possible. Some nekos take short naps after particularly strenuous activities to restore their strength. The term "to take a neko nap" has started to appear in cities like Negav to refer to either resting by sleeping for a very short while or to sleep on the job. Just like cats, nekos possess an incredible sense of balance, allowing them to walk or even sprint along a half-inch rope like it was a wide stone bridge. Moreover, nekos are known to reflexively twist their body during a fall to right itself and land on its feet, provided it has enough time to do so.
Nekos have excellent night vision as well and can see at only one-sixth the level of light required for human vision. In levels of low light, a neko's pupil expand to cover most of the exposed surface of the eye, increasing the amount of light in their retina. While this improves their ability to see in darkness, they have lower visual acuity on average than humans when light is abundant, as their pupil close very narrowly in bright light, effectively reducing the amount of light in their retina. Like inus, it rarely matters in everyday life and nekos can make for good marksmen with dedicated training. The hearing of a neko is very acute and among the best of any humanoids species. While it is similar to humans on the lower end of the scale, they can hear frequencies up to 64.000 Hz. Their extremely sensitive hearing is their most important sense when hunting, their large ears both amplifying sounds and helping them sense the direction a noise is coming. Their mobile ears can independently point backwards and forwards and even sideways to pinpoint the source of the sound, and once it has located it, the ears swivel in that direction. Nekos have a stronger sense of smell than humans, and while not to the level of inus, it is nonetheless powerful enough to pick up even faint scents of spoiled or hidden food.
Unlike humans, nekos are carnivores with their diet consisting primarily of meat. They can consume fruits and vegetables, but they do so generally only in small amounts to supplement their diet, as their digestive system isn't adapted to process large amounts of plant material. Onions and garlics, are particularly hated as they are very noxious to their health. They also have an aversion to theobromine, commonly found in chocolate products, but since this isn't as commonly known, nekos tend not to view having a chocolate product thrown at them as insulting as inus do. Despite this, nekos are generally very fond of plants that contain high amounts nepetalactone such as catnip, and some tribes even cultivate such plants for use in certain... rituals.
Nekos are highly sociable and are able to live in a wide range of environments. They are known to use several vocalizations in addition to language to indicate how they feel, such as purring, growling and snarling or hissing. Nekos also often subconsciously indicate their mood through body language, particularly using the position of their tail and ears. For example, a raised tail while greeting denotes friendliness, flattened ears indicates hostility, and raised fur on the tail means anger or stress. Humans sometimes believe that inus and nekos are natural enemies, which confuse both species as they generally have no innate enmity toward one another. In general, nekos are about as proficient as humans when it comes to magic, but less so with technology, preferring to rely on their physical abilities and instinct instead. Nekos living in human cities like Negav, however, are used to using technology for solving their problems and tend to adopt the style of clothes, livelihood, and cuisine as humans, though their diet remain primarily meat-based.
Wild nekos form tribes around a source of food, with one neko usually being dominant over the others but how they are organized, however, differ immensely from species to species. They tend to prefer hunting in very small groups to stay as stealthy as possible. Wild nekos tend to look down on their civilized cousins, seeing them as much weaker from years of "taming" by humans. Being called "domesticated", i.e. having grown soft, lazy and/or complacent, in such societies is regarded as one of the biggest insults imaginable. In human societies, nekos are famed as some of the best scouts there is, particularly Nekomurans, earning the respect of even isolationist colonies such as the Delurans. These claims, however, are often contested by some of the more prideful elf clans, who view them as nothing but barbaric beastfolks.
Nekos often fight against one another for a variety of reasons. Feral males to win the heart of a female -although sometimes the opposite is also true- contending for dominance over a territory, as a training, or just for simple competition. Young nekos are encouraged to fight with their friends and siblings in order to build strength, acquire the skills needed for real combat and hunting, and reduce any fear associated with launching an attack on another creature. Neko fighting is very similar to wrestling, as it involves a lot of grappling, throws and pins and the occasional claw swipes once the opponent is on the ground. Serious damage during such fights is rare, as they last only for a short duration with the loser surrendering with little more than a few scratches to the face. Intense rivalries, on the other hand, tend to last longer and often result in much more severe wounds to both participants.
Neko reproduction is very similar to humans, with pregnancy lasting about just as long. Contrary to popular belief, nekos don't give birth in litters; they usually have only one or maybe two babies at a time just like humans. Mothers are notorious for being very protective of their youngs, especially when they are newborn. Some nekos believe that one of the most terrifying things that can happen is to invoke a mother's wrath. Neko kittens are well known for being very playful and lively, rarely standing still without playing some sort of game with their friends or their parents. During infant-hood, they primarily communicate through vocalization and body language, and move around on all fours before learning how to talk and move on two legs.
An interesting behavioral trait of nekos is that they are used to swallowing tiny living preys like mice, goldfishes, canaries, and even Tinies whole and alive. Even nekos who live among humans find it difficult to resist eating tiny preys in this fashion. This is a source of unease and sometimes tensions with humans when the latter realize they are essentially dealing with mini-predators. Compounding this issue, there exist rumors of rare giant nekos in the jungle who wouldn't hesitate to gobble humans whole, of whom one at least is confirmed to exist.
=== Known Nekos ===
== Nekos Sub-species ==
== Neko Tribes ==
=== Vithe Nekos ===
The Vithe are a tribe of cita nekos who lead a nomadic lifestyle in the Great rocky fields. They often rely on being athletic enough to catch fairly large and nimble prey, and to escape from predators. As a result, the Vithe hold physical prowess above anything else, regularly training their lean, edgy bodies to survive the harsh conditions that the Rocky Fields throws at them. The Vithe Tribe emphasizes speed in their culture, loving to race each other as a competitive sport. This activity serves both as a training exercise and as a way to show off one's physical prowess, the competitions commonly helping to decide a Vithe's ranking and duties.
They create housing out of the greenish blue grasses that grow in the Great Rocky Fields, making their huts easy to assemble and disassemble quickly. It also gives them some protection, as the structures blend in with the grass, hiding them from the zone's flying predators, such as harpies. The Vithe are particularly well known for their habit of frequently moving around, as if they just can't stand to be in one place for very long. Some individuals, driven by the need to remain on the move, even leave the tribe to wander aimlessly throughout Felarya. Often, such individuals become couriers, selling their natural abilities to deliver messages, news, and warnings quickly. Many a tribe has been saved from a predator's stomach by the timely arrival of a Vithe with a friendly warning. Negav has several nekos of this tribe in its employ, and they can occasionally be seen racing through the streets to deliver their messages punctually.
Of course, some of the nekos who leave the tribe end up running straight down a predator's throat, so to speak; others simply wander around Felarya aimlessly for as long as they live. Nekos of the Vithe tribe who have survived are typically well-traveled and have seen a lot. If you could ever get one of them to sit still long enough to talk to you, who knows what they would tell of the things they have seen during their travels!
=== Selneit Tribe (destroyed) ===
Located on the northern side of the Frost Peak Mountains, this tribe was utterly destroyed by Felaryan predators a few years ago. The only known surviving member of this tribe is a female named Shallandra, who has currently taken refuge in the jungle Bowl.
=== Scorching Claws Tribe ===
This tribe lives in the Sandfall maze. Their name comes from their powerful fire-imbued weapons and claws, which are very painful. Even a giant harpy quickly learns to avoid contact with their long whips and combat staves. While Scorching Claws nekos still often end up in the bellies of the numerous harpies who inhabit the zone, the nekos have make pacts with a few of the harpy tribes. The pacts are an agreement that the nekos will feed the harpies the much more tasty human travelers they manage to capture in exchange for those harpies not eating the nekos. Surprisingly, the pacts have been upheld by both sides without fail for several years, which has allowed for some very odd (but solid) friendships to form between harpies and nekos.
=== Broken Hill Tribe (destroyed) ===
This neko tribe was unusual in not only being nomadic but also in its connection to the spirit world. It is (or was) their tradition to send aspiring shamans out alone into the jungle to contact their spirit guide. This spirit guide is usually the spirit of a deceased member of the tribe who connects to the shaman and shares the benefits of a lifetime of experience with them. Sadly, sometimes a shaman is contacted by a different kind of spirit entirely. It’s not uncommon for shamans to be possessed by malicious spirits, and to sometimes turn into creatures of great evil. Some say a few of these creatures are still roaming around.Sonya is the only known surviving member of the Broken Hill Tribe. The tribe became weakened by repeated assaults from predators, until one day the naga Crisis went on a feeding frenzy and ate what was left of the tribe.
A neko community situated in the eastern part of the continent, a day's walk west of the coast of the Topazial sea, half a day's walk east from the swamps, and south of the Jewel river. Rosic nekos are said to be the origin of the best music that’s ever come out of Felarya. Their village has surprisingly few defenses and they live on the ground, rather than up in the trees. They have developed a very original way of protecting themselves: they use music. They can fight almost as well as the average nekos, but they only ever fight animals, deaf predators, or ones that are too hungry to care about pretty music. Most intelligent predators however, and quite a few of the unintelligent ones too, will look for a different meal in exchange for a song or two. In fact, many of the local predators around the tribe protect the Rosic nekos from the more voracious ones. They don’t want their favorite musicians to become lunch! It’s like the saying goes: "Music soothes the savage stomach" ^^
This has allowed the village to prosper amazingly well. Of course, in order to keep up the high standard and reputation the village has, when young nekos reach maturity they have to pass a test: the Rosic test. On many worlds, in many cultures, youths are sent out into the wilderness to prove themselves. The Rosic test is exactly that: The young nekos go out into the jungle, either by themselves or with a band of friends, and look for a predator. Once they've found one this troupe must use their musical talents to prevent themselves from being devoured. As proof of their deed, the young musician(s) must take a memento from the predator: a naga’s scale, a harpy’s feather, a notch off a mermaid’s fin, etc. If victorious, the youth comes back and begins a career as a neko musician for hire. If the neko fails to impress the predator, they end up making a different kind of music in its stomach. In this way, the tribe weeds out the unskilled, and makes a reputation for itself among the nearby predators... or at least keeps them fed.
- Credits to Shady-knight for writing the revised description, to SilentEric for the design and idea of Rosic nekos and the Vithe tribe, to Fish for the Vithe tribe, and to Zoekin for the Broken Hill tribe.