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The word "tinies" is commonly used to refer to the diminutive humanoid races of Felarya such as tomthumbs, neeras, ariformids, and efrii. They measure about three inches tall on average, forming secretive, cautious communities and living mostly hidden, save for neeras who can be quite adventurous at times. It's hard to determine their number but they are usually considered pretty uncommon, which is an erroneous belief. They just do a very good job at remaining unnoticed. Some of them managed to create remarkably complex and rich societies, with refined and unique cultures that would amaze many people. This prudence is necessary though, as tinies are obviously at the bottom of the food chain in Felarya and often fall prey to nekos, their main predators, all sort of animals, and sometimes even humans!
Neeras are a species of tinies often referred to as mouse people. They usually measure between 2 and 3 inches tall, with some slightly larger existing species. They are distinguishable primarily by their mouse-like features such as large, rounded, furry ears, a hairless mouse tail, and sometimes paws in place of hands, though still possessing thumbs. They typically have brown or black hair. They're an intelligent race, just as much as nekos and humans, but they remain very secretive. When venturing outside, Neeras can be bold, opportunistic and audacious but they will almost never reveal the location of their community to anybody. Unlike tomthumbs, most Neeras avoid human cities. There is still a pretty sizable colony established in Negav, but you will find most of them in the deep wilderness, in small hidden villages scattered throughout the jungles of Felarya that are nearly impossibly to find. Most of them are situated in Chidokai forest, as the twisted trees and complex root system create endless nook and crannies that are just perfect to hide in. Some neeras of Chidokai have become very good at taming muris, the large green rats carrying and protecting them.
Efrii are a rather large and uncommon species of tinies, measuring between 3 and 6 inches tall. Their most remarkable and obvious features are the four arms they sport and a third, smaller eye on their forehead. They form a secretive, slighlty paranoid, fierce and proud society of warrior-like tinies. They have a huge dislike of anything large, but unlike other tinies who prefer to hide from a threat, Efrii tend to engage it head on, recklessly and with usually limited success. They especially hate nekos, who seem to have a real taste for them and consider the tiny four armed beings a delicate and rare treat, cute when they try to act tough. When scared, an efrii's body releases pheromones, which, when looked at from an evolutionary perspective would seem to be a defense intended to instill a sense of love for the efrii in the predator, thus dissuading the predator from killing the efrii. The strength of the pheromones corresponds directly to the strength of the fear in the efrii. Unfortunately sometimes, especially with nekos, the pheromones only instill a sense of horniness. Go figure.
A tiny tauric race that dwell in large hives, ariformids possess lower bodies which resemble insects such as termites or ants. They also commonly possess antennae, and retractable pincers hidden in their mouths. Even though ariformids look perfectly human from the waist up, their body structure is actually more like an ant's. They have a sub-dermal exoskeleton on their humanoid part. This exoskeleton gives the ariformids immense strength for their size. Appearance, attitude and abilities differ widely between the hives of one area and another. The hives themselves vary a lot, some being made of large subterranean networks beneath towering spires, while others may be built on the limbs of trees. Ariformid societies are the most organized of the tiny races: the efficiency of their hierarchies and specializations are widely respected by beings of similar size, and they also make rather interesting research subjects. However, to balance out their often massive numbers and larger resources requirement, ariformids are among the smallest of the tiny races, usually about one and a half to two inches tall. They are strong however, with most being able to lift two times their weight with ease.
The Queen of the hive is a deal more imposing than the others, towering above them at four or five inches tall, with a lower half geared more towards reproducing than moving about much. There are also the 'princesses' of the hive, fertile females of which one may take the place of the current Queen should something happen to her, or possibly serving to begin a new colony with a drone from another hive. The workers and soldiers are typically males, and more uncommonly infertile females. Exclusively male are the drones, who sport fully functioning wings and a lighter build.
The burden of a drone is not of earth or food, but the weight of the future. It is his duty to ensure genetic variation of future generations of his race. From birth, drones are treated with more respect and care than the average ariformid, being fed more and better food, and being educated in etiquette, self-defense, surviving off the land, and most importantly, wooing ladies. When the drones reach a certain age however, their situation abruptly changes, as they are cast out of the nest and into the dangerous Felaryan forests. Once they're on their own, most of the drones end up being killed off by predators and circumstance. However, those lucky and skilled enough to stay alive for any period of time set out to look for another colony, which would be suicidal for a worker or warrior, but not quite as dangerous for a flying drone. Still, the journey isn't really a cake walk for a poor drone once he finally finds another nest. He has to earn at least a grudging respect from the workers and warriors, as they'll be quite happy to dismember him if he seems unworthy. Many ariformid nests have devised their own ways of testing prospective drones, such as a dangerous obstacle course, a battle of the minds, or a test of strength, depending on what sort of attributes are valued most in that particular nest. If the drone survives his initiation into the new nest, he finally gets to do what he was born to; make some babies with the Queen, or one of the Princesses.
Ariformids usually have very limited relations with other tiny races, as hives can usually supply whatever they need, and strangers of a different race most likely aren't going to be seen as useful to them. It's possible for some other tinies to live among ariformids, however, especially if they have helped the hive in any way. Ariformids are usually seen as poor and not very tasty prey by Nekos and other sentient predators. They are extensively preyed upon by animal predators, though.
Herodontes are a species of ariformids who live on the northwestern slope of the Ascarlin mountains. Their hive is relatively large and built into a shear vertical cliff on the mountainside. It's a relatively unusual location for an ariformid nest, though it has its benefits, as few predators can reach them here and the sturdy rock of the mountain walls shelter them from the elements. They must, however, leave the relative safety of their home daily in order to gather necessities, such as food and water, through excursions into the danger-filled jungle below. Herodontes are easily identifiable by the golden complexion of their lower tauric halves. Their exoskeletons are also bulkier in appearance and are comparatively stronger compared to those of other ariformids. Appearance is not all that separates members of this hive from others though. Herodontes have an unusual affinity for gold and will go to great lengths to acquire it. "Miles" worth of tunnels, at least compared to them, have been dug out just to mine this most precious of metals. What is more interesting, however, is the fact that Herodontes seem to have no use for the gold they collect, and instead just pile it up in great hordes within specialized chambers of the hive. Any that attempt to steal it, though, is met with spears and arrows.
There are rumors that the above mentioned traits are not the results of isolated evolution, as some have suggested, but instead something far more "artificial". Some believe that the ariformids of this hive have been altered, likely through magic, to be better "miners" and to be instinctively compelled to gather gold in all its forms; a wizard's attempt to get rich, similarly to the supposed origin of the pearl anemone. Whatever its origin, the hive is currently thriving, trading the various minerals and precious stones they've mined (except for gold) in return for supplies from the nearby miners of the ascarlin and diamond mines. A word of warning to the wise. Some miners in the region have reported that their belongings - golden watches, necklaces, etc... - have vanished. While no culprits have yet been found, many of these "disappearances" have occurred within proximity of this hive.
Tomthumbs are ubiquitous yet discreet tiny peoples. Located squarely at the bottom of Felarya's food chain like other tinies, they do their best to keep out of everyone's way, but can be found almost anywhere in the known continent. From the hostile Ixtapal marshes in the south, to the savage Jungle of perils in the north, or the human city of Negav, tomthumbs might be small but their habitat reach far and wide. They look very similar to humans in appearance and, like them, they can adapt to a variety of climates an environments. They tend to be highly social, relying on one another to survive. Scholars often apply the blanket term "tribe" to their communities, but the latter are fairly diverse, ranging from societies grounded in strict hierarchies to loose associations of autonomous individuals. Settled in Felarya since times immemorial, tomthumbs have developed an amazingly wide variety of social organizations, customs, practices, values and religious beliefs. Some of these tribes are thriving and prosperous, sometimes dividing into smaller ones. Unfortunately, however, sometimes entire tribes are wiped out by hungry predators or the various hazard of Felarya. The life of a tiny in Felarya is a very harsh one.
More on Tomthumbs here.
- credits to Haar for the idea and design of the Efrii, to Reptillian, Fish and all those who participated in the discussion in the forum for the Ariformids, to Melancholy-Melody13 for the Neeras, to Ravana3k and French-snack for the Tomthumbs, to Jasconius for the Herodonti.