People

'Normal' humans

The Gehennese local race of humans are of no great stature: a typical man in his physical prime might be 165cm tall, a woman 155cm. The Gehennese have a great predilection for exercise, however, and tend to a lithe athletic build. Insofar as they compare themselves to foreigners, they pride themselves on their agility and litheness. This is not to say that there are not some very large and robust Gehennese.

The Gehennese have skins of a warm, slightly reddish brown, which darkens slightly on long exposure to sunlight (no rare thing). Their hair is black, rather coarse, and varies from straight to very wavy. Curly and frizzy hair are most uncommon.

Gehennese eyes are usually some shade of brown, with the paler russet to topaz shades being thought attractive. Green eyes are most uncommon and are greatly admired.

Divers

Divers are an amphibious species, capable of breathing either water or air, provided that the same fluid fills their lungs (they will 'drown' on land if they cannot cough up the water in their lungs). They tend to a thickset, barrel-chested type, and readily put on a thick layer of subcutaneous fat. The easiest way to tell a diver from human is by his or her cat-like eyes. Divers are capable of interbreeding with 'drowners', as they call 'normal' humans.

Even with tools and weapons, divers cannot compete with sharks and dolphins as predators. They live as largely reef-bound hunter-gatherers, with a few crops on the smaller islands, but mostly trading fish and shellfish, pearls, shells, murex, and salvage for their land-derived needs. Divers eat and sleep in villages on beaches and small islands, where they are safe from sharks and hypothermia.

Divers need more food than humans, and do not thrive where they must compete on equal terms with them.

Divers in Gehennum have the same range of colouring and such racial characteristics as the ordinary humans.

Flyers

Flyers are a species of short, slight humanoids each with a pair of enormous eagle's wings. An adult flyer may be only 160 cm tall, but he or she will have a wingspan of nearly eight metres. Even when folded, these wings are an enormous encumbrance to their owner, making him or her unable to swim, lie on his or her back, or fit into moderately small places. Flyers lack the muscular strength to beat these monstrosities enough to fly any great distance. On the other hand, flyers can glide and soar for hours without effort.

For the most part the flyers of Gehennum live in the mountains, though a few come down onto the littoral to earn wages as couriers and scouts, or to go into business as peddlers, or mintrels and troubadors. Their children, oldsters, and pregnant women live in inaccessible eyries, of which the largest and most famous is Oreopolis, the 'City in the Mountains' on Bethany. Flyers must do a little gardening, but they leave such labour to the landbound among them, such as the elderly, the very young, and the pregnant. Flyers despise work, especially anything agricultural, and prefer to live by their nets and bows, taking birds and monkeys out of the treetops.

Flyers have a reputation among the other species for want of honesty and chastity, and for a fact, do seem to seek out unwinged partners for sexual variety. Such unions are never fertile, and marriage between flyers and other folk are not considered possible.

Given the lack of interfertility, it seems odd that Gehennese flyers have the same range of coloration and other racial characteristics as the human Gehennese, but they do. Their feathers are almost always a glossy black, like those of a crow. Flyers from other parts have feathers that tend to match their hair colour.

Leshy

The leshy, whose homelands are in Elusium, occasionally visit Gehennum. They are a beautiful and talented race, capable of excelling humans at most endeavours, and are immune from the ravages of age, but they are not very fertile, and tend to become languid as the centuries slip past. Nowadays they are exceedingly rare, most having shifted to the Shee, a mysterious otherworld of bliss, terror, and perpetual Indarian-light. Once they were more common, and they have left traces of their presence over all that face of the World of Isles where Indarian shines.

According to legend one leshy, Alkinous the Last Unborn, survives from that day, almost fifty centuries ago, when all the people of the World of Isles awoke, naked and without chattels, free of memories, but having a common language, and let history begin. Some Gehennese philosophers think even the event legendary.

The leshy are fair-skinned, but tan readily and deeply in the sun. Hair and eyes of all the usual colours may be found among them, except, of course, that their hair does not go white or grey with age. Their skin is always free from blemishes- even their worst scars fade in time- and their hair is as sparsely-distributed as that of a human child.

Half-leshy are known of, and presumably leshy/diver hybrids are possible, but liaisons between leshy and ephemerals are rare (the leshy do not think well of such affairs) and of low fertility. Half-leshy are very long-lived, but age and die eventually.


Copyright © 1989—2004 Brett Evill. All rights reserved.


Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.