The Deep Nobles are a mysterious race of unknown origins that is believed to live all over Nakti, in a network of caverns strung like a web of passages and roads beneath the world, where the only light is via the glow of the life blood and secretions of the Royals. Very little is known about them by most other nakti inhabitants and they are believed to be semi-legendary creatures.
Deep Nobles view themselves as a step above all other life and make use of their personal longevity and physical robustness as proof of their quasi-divine right to rule over all other beings as best serves them. They take great care towards each other's happiness as a whole, often suffering traits in their fellows that almost any other would label as aberrational or dysfunctional. Alas for all the acceptance and warmth they turn inward in their culture the best that 'lesser' beings can hope for from nobles is pity and obsession with 'improving' the lot of 'poor creatures'. at worse Deep nobles will enact suffering on beings for their own convenience worse then death a thousand fold.
By their own word they practice a perfect Meritocracy. However in practice their cities are gerontocratic states where the eldest rule by simple fact of effectively limitless lifespans accumulate all of the wealth and connections to hold their power. The young might strive for their own station but with the ossified strata of society there is little hope of ascending any higher then your family and elders is willing to raise you.
In spite of the veritable fossilization of leadership the society as a whole is quite open to vast divergences of life style and outlook. At the heart of their values is one of 'quality' of life rather then quantity.
As such it is perfectly acceptable for the young to trade the potential for eternal life in poverty for a brief flare up of adventure ending in spectacular demise.
With family coffers filled deep with the influence and power of mighty and still acquisitive ancestor patrons it is generally easy to tidy up even the affairs of massive debts during one of these 'losses'.
On average they boast diverse and opulent outfits, ranging all across the spectrum, the only unifying theme is that of gowns , cloaks or coats of variously exotic fabrics or ornate craft. Without the burden of distinct gender lines Deep nobles make few distinctions, although this ambiguity has lead some beings to mistakenly identify Deep Noble Society as matriarchies.
Where their government in a given region is more or less static for generations Deep Noble politics seethe with deep fissures and enormous stresses. And like the fault lines of the geologic world these rifts among the leadership occasionally erupt into sudden upheaval followed by ages of altered but otherwise stable tension.
The easiest division in the Deep Noble elite is along the lines of the many city-states, within a given city the sheer longevity of your peers and the interdependence of the industries and individual scholars makes tolerance if not out right friendliness a preference. Abroad the other cities practice general independence and thus are easier targets to manipulate and exploit. But even in ones own home city a grudge can last for centuries and erupt from ages of cordial acceptance at the first sign of weakness.
The second easiest divide is over one of philosophy, in particular regarding the nature of the great royals. The undeniable power and inscrutable activities of these creatures inspires wild extrapolations of all manner of what their desires or 'goals' for Deep Noble Kind might be. There is no living memory among Deep Noble kind of a great royal acting in any way discernible as more then a simple animal or even vegetable creature But the zealous insist and cite the sheer awesome power witnessed when Royals have acted in defense of a deep noble city as proof of their divine natures, Skeptics will counter that the acts of defense are erratic and for every time that a Royal has wielded its power to strike down an invading army there is another where a royal of equal or greater age and power has simply allowed itself to be carved apart with barely a murmur of discomfort.
The debates, subversion and intrigue rage along these fractures in the cohesiveness of Deep Noble society but rarely if ever come to violence. In preference Deep Nobles work to slowly and circuitously drive their rivals to suicide by self immolation. Among the Elders the great duels of guile to maneuver the opposition to suicide is well known and considered a very intimate art, for to accomplish it you must know your enemy and your self down to the very stem.
For the most part other beings find it difficult to deal with Deep Nobles. From city-state to city-state and century by century the policy towards none-noble life can cycle from cordial if condescending envoys that bring riches from the deeps, Utter silence to the point of seeming extinction and sudden fearsome raids that leave villages or entire countrysides stripped bare of animal and plant life.
On the individual level outsiders get even worse impressions, from one Deep Noble to another the reactions they receive can be obscenely interested and affectionate, psychotically murderous, complete dis-interest or shockingly normal and down to earth. The impression when the full spectrum of discordant personalities turn up in a trade party is often catastrophic much to the annoyance/bemusement of the Deep Nobles.
In spite of their openness to personal freedom Deep Nobles hold a very strong taboo against both accidental creation of noble life and the intentional preserving of a suffering or malformed noble's existence.
It is considered scandalous that any individual would not have on their person at least a small quantity of flammables and a means to create fire to both sterilize potential 'cast-offs' (more on those later) and if called for to be used for mercy killings at the behest of distraught bystanders.
Deep Nobles are predominantly a vocal people, they do not abide the pain of a child who is mute, nor are they easily deafened or permanently impaired in their ability to speak. As such they relegate sign and body language to gestures for punctuation and conveying emotional context, as well as a means to change the shape of their breathing passages to alter timbre and pitch.
Deep Nobles speak by constrictions of their breathing tubes while cycling air through them. Since any given noble has sixteen such passages in their body they are capable of speaking with multiple vocalizations at once. Their natural voices are considered comparable to wood-wind instruments, organs or string and bow instruments like violins or fiddles, with effort they can learn to imitate other people's voices to great degree but often sound sing-song in their manner unless they work against this accent.
Most words can be conveyed with only two voices working in harmony, but this is considered emotionally and contextually flat. Generally associated with bland delivery of dry speeches. It is considered better to use between four and six such passages to increase the audio complexity.
Nearly all other people's vocal chords are actually more versatile alone then any single Noble's Breathing passage and can manage their words and sentences with training and practice, most such trained animals speak at a primitive level. With the addition of musical talent some singers can manage to emulate a civil but flat affect in Deep Noble Speech.
Gender & Pronouns
Deep nobles have no titles or individual identifications that reflect a gender or denote lack of gender. This conceptual blind spot presents Deep Nobles great difficulties when they attempt to speak languages other then their own, a common affectations are to drift in pronoun use, dictate by name when pronouns would be called for or combine pronouns and titles from both genders into compound words (sometimes by saying them simultaneously if the Deep Noble is skilled at the 'animal speech').
The only instance where ideas such as gender even exist in their language is a hand full of verb/action terms that denote very specifically the physical act of mating with another using postures of male or female.
As such the only way Deep Nobles ever think about the idea of male or female is in the forms such as:
Among younger nobles who are just becoming acquainted with foreign languages this is often considered a rather humorous if not perverse part of linguistic studies and leads those less educated individuals into thinking surface dwellers are rutting beasts with nothing on their mind but filling the world with their spawn.
Individual Deep Nobles identify most strongly by their clan/eldest ancestor as this is more or less the sole source of their own personal influence and power, these names are often two or three voice harmonies spoken together.
They are next gifted by their given name which is usually a short single voice chirp of endearment from their incubator/mother. This name becomes a sign of intimacy as a Deep Noble grows older and generally becomes one only used between those individuals whom are especially close. The revoking of the right to use ones given name from another who once was allowed is considered a grave and hurtful act paramount to disowning a child.
Last of all a Deep Noble will choose personal names both by profession, personal taste or other sources of inspiration. These handles generally become the basis for how they are acknowledged professionally and in normal conversation.
It is rare but occasionally a Deep Noble will also adopt a new family name in their long lives, such acts are generally a sign of breaking away from the greater support structure of their family and sponsoring ancestors, socially comparable to self imposed social exile.
Deep Nobles have yet to develop their own form of writing. Although individuals may quite happily learn the script of others.
Seekers of their own betterment and accepting of what in most other species would be called genius or insanity as a natural state of being the Deep Nobles can at a glance seem extremely capable with artifice and the manufacture of tools. However beneath the surface of apparent technological aptitude lies the fractures of their greatest failure as a society.The twin flaws of extreme longevity of its members and the lack of proper rigor in confirming the basis of their methods has left their kind in a frothing but more or less stagnant state for eons with little improvement.
The catch all phrase for any number of motile or sedentary life forms which have been bred, engineered, altered and amalgamated into a form suitable for the convenience of Deep Noble Society. The techniques of this are a trained profession generally considered to cover a spectrum from the lowest rungs of Deep Noble society (maintenance and proper care of Servitors) to the height of achievement (Designing and proving a method for manufacturing new Servitors in a repeatable fashion).
A Deep Noble Engineer will generally think about how they perform a task, then isolate the motions, behaviors, observations and thought processes needed to accomplish that task and go looking for organisms and animals that have those traits, cut them apart and stitch them back together in different ways until they have created a servitor.
Servitors are utilized in almost any task which is deemed too much trouble or drudgery for a Deep Noble to perform. As such it can be quite telling what the interests and personality of a Deep Noble is by what tasks they do NOT have a servitor tailored and tweaked to perform.
However in Noble engineering the quickest and simplest way to solve any complicated task is often to simply build a servitor with a broadly fitting physical framework and add more mental facilities till they can be trained to perform the task. Ideally via direct association of pain and pleasure connections to the servitor.
The raw material for such creatures is in high demand and since the breeding and care for sufficiently capable animals is problematic and intensive (they are all so FRAGILE), those communities without a sub-culture of sufficiently enthusiastic caretakers often fall back on raiding the surface or local populations for the vital problem solving kernals of other sentient species.
Servitor creation goes back through known history for Deep Nobles and is generally considered to have existed in some form since the very start of their kind with the gift of it often being attributed to the great royals.
It is also fundamentally tied to their biology, The methods of cutting and suturing organs and tissue from donors of entirely different species is crude by any observation, often painful or traumatic and would be completely lethal if not for the properties of Deep Noble Blood and the procedures they have determined for each kind of 'stock' animal component.
Purification methods of both the blood and 'stock' parts is vital part of every servitor recipe. Even the inclusion of particularly 'gifted' strains of noble blood may be required for a particular design of servitor that deals with troublesome 'parts' such as those that come from the more robust lizard races. In addition the inclusion of the terrible maladies bestowed by direct contact with Royal Blood can also be needed to properly 'tame' and 'culture' flesh before it is suitable for servitor creation.
Such methods are often found by painstaking trial and error that can require hundreds or even thousands of subjects of the component stock creatures and as often as not the theories each individual recipe go by can be completely in-congruent with the recipe of another.
This lack of unified theory of method or documentation is generally not seen as a problem as for most of any foreseeable future the designer is likely available to ask the specifics about a servitor design implementation method. However it does mean when an expert or required blood donor finally perishes entire swaths of deep noble technology become impossible to maintain.
The sole exception to the Deep Noble sense of self superiority as a culture is the truly horrific creatures they term as 'Royals'. Ranging in size from the scale of small hills to an entire mountain range the Nobles hold religious awe for these beasts and of their more zealous members claim that these beings made them as a species from the original imperfect slime of other life.
However In spite of this reverence and the stance held by the devout that Royals are vastly wise and godlike beings (often they are attributed names and personalities which suit the character of a resident city's population) the Deep Nobles practice a degree of exploitation of the properties of their Royals that is only surpassed by the misery of Flesh Fields.
The blood of the royals is near boiling to the touch and retains this holy heat long after it is collected and stored. When combined with other minerals this heat can be transmuted into the eerie green glow which is so popular to the Deep Nobles. The Royal Blood has also been constrained and utilized in countless applications and most devastating as a weapon against none-nobles.
Being even within the presence of raw royal blood causes illness in most 'lesser' beings and it is handled with great care when purified down into the more searing concentrated 'cakes'. Deep Nobles have spent ages experimenting with and utilizing the Royal's Blood and the more clever have made use of it to induce new and twisted mutations in experimental slave stock, although the survival rate of such experiments is often short.
There is a huge wealth of oral myths describing the abilities of the great royals. But they have not taken any direct action in even the substantial time frame of Deep Noble Living memory. There are whispers of melting stone til it flowed like blood, blinding light and terrible fury.
But for all observations and anecdotes directly witnessed the great royals are just particularly strange underground plants or fungi.
Deep Nobles live in caverns. Wherever there is rock, flesh & darkness they thrive like nothing else. Nestled around the bodies of the sparse royals. Twisting all life they encounter to their whims.
Deep Nobles do not appear to have an explicit environment that they are adapted too, they breath air but are as comfortable on land as in the water. They are also not particularly harmed by light itself as that they find it unnerving and the winds of a world's surface chaotic and unpleasant. These factors as well as the preference of their quasi-deities the 'Royals' are the primary factors keeping them living underground.
Wherever they are found deep nobles choose to live in cities built in rings around the resident 'Royal' this shape is more pragmatic then stylistic in choice, There are taboos with building directly upon the flanks of the Royal but such is starting to dissipate out of the convenience and some isolationist cities have even built aqueducts directly into the flesh of the Royals to facilitate easier access to the blood and its properties. Within a city stand the structures of its inhabitants, predominantly dormitories for the numerous 'young' class with a smattering of the towers and mansions of the eternal elders. The architecture of nobles is quite diverse and can range from imposingly utilitarian to flamboyantly baroque.
There is a preference for personal workshops and the occasional factory hall where mass preparation of Flesh Field products is performed. The more affluent individuals may also have lecturing rooms for apprentices, personal laboratories or studios to practice and tinker with whatever draws their own interests.
Cities tend to have personalized names that range from short poetic phrases to grandiose titles or just simple personal style names. The name of a city is almost always shared by that of its resident royal or in the rare case of a truly massive metropolis hosting several Royals the city is named after some plural descriptor of the Royals.
What Deep Nobles Name their city tends to reflect the population's perceived relationship with the resident Royal, those that perceive their connection to be close and familial will even have a 'given' short name reserved for their Royal that is forbidden to be spoken by outsiders.
Where other Civilizations will tend herds of livestock & sow fields the Nobles see no reason not to combine these actions into more efficient land utilization.
Where other civilizations will hunt great beasts for ivory, oil and bone the Nobles make what slaves they have managed to capture or breed grow to great proportion until they are smeared meters deep over acres of cavern.
Where Others choose to let their personal wastes run off into rivers or pile their refuse in landfills, Nobles see raw food stuff to feed to the hundreds of mouths or shovel into the gaping open stomachs of the Flesh Fields.
The Flesh Fields are the foundation of Noble Civilization and significant portions of a city's population is
dedicated to the care and maintenance of these tormented creatures.
Flesh fields in practice are actually a series of living creatures stiched together, there are dozens of bodies underneath the tumorous growths of the upper surface of the fields. The lower portions are used as life support,
Despite their best efforts Deep Noble cities and their Great Royals are not completely self contained. To feed their needs for raw materials the delvers make use of machinery, customized slaves and the heat and power of Royal blood to burrow through rock and stone in search of the most vital compounds they desire:
- Water to feed the Royals & Flesh Fields
- The Heavy Black Metals to Feed the Royals and Protect Slaves from the blood
- Fresh Animals to feed their industries and curiosity
To the great confusion of most Deep Nobles see little to no value in Gold, Silver or Copper as anything more then decoration. They gladly will trade the 'useless' metals for coal, charcoal, graphite and of course more animals and plants. However if they are not quite overburdened with live stock after the trade they are prone to also simply taking all of the would be profiteers as more 'raw material' and leaving the overly heavy metal behind.
While superficially similar to mollusks Deep Nobles (much to the chagrin of those that seek to undermine their self-centered attitude) are not comparable to any animal or plant, by some discourses they are closer to fungus, but their complexity and high energy metabolisms more or less negate that hypothesis.
The most obvious traits of Nobles are their gross limb anatomy, although prone to great diversity in distribution and number of sensory appendages and organs there is actually an extremely consistent limb arrangement and number for their primary locomotive branches and the predominantly tactile ones.
They all almost exclusively possess:
Seven Legs (three to a side and one 'trunk')
Seven Phalanges per limb at the extremity (which mirror in miniature the symmetry of three to a side and one primary index)
Deviations to this anatomical uniformity do exist but they are extremely rare and more often then not fall squarely into the realm of abberant deformity which is purged by merciful immolation at birth.
Noble flesh consists of smooth often scintillating skin over fibrous tissue which starts supple and relatively malleable but grows progressively more reinforced the deeper into the body it goes.
At the cores of their limbs and growing in a latticework around the trunk of their bodies is what is the stem. Not so much a discrete organ nor a framework on which the flesh is anchored the stem is more a zone of maximum saturation with microscopic mineral platelets analogous to the calcium deposits of bone.
These structures are flexible at any point but the energy to bend and contort them grows as the body stem thickens, although once bent they maintain their shape with little to no effort.
This makes the fingers of a noble relatively pliable and comparable in strength to the thumb of a strong human, but their arms and legs can seem far less mobile then their size might suggest and their core body trunk can hold up with a resistance compared to stone columns.
Vascular & Respiratory System
Deep nobles possess no fully centralized lung or arterial system, instead they possess breathing 'pipes' along their limbs and trunk in symmetrical positions. Each passage has discrete intake and output vents which superficial resemble gill slits on the intake and are usually flush to the skin except when exhaling on the output.
Nobles have arteries wrapped around each of these breathing pipes on the stem-ward side which pulse and flex to pump their blood around a breathing pipe while it is either cycling or filled with fresh air. When a pipe is not being used to breath the arteries do not initiate pumping reflexes. In this way the over all workload of the being's circulation is tied to the presence of usable oxygen in one of the sixteen breathing passages along their body.
Although it is possible for a Noble to survive using only a single passage this is found to be very uncomfortable and causes a sensation comparable to extreme shortness of breath for a Noble, by preference they rather use at least four if not six or eight at a time and will generally cycle which are in use through a day's activities.
Although many more obvious physical features are often considered defining elements of their character and bearing. To the Deep Nobles themselves the defining proof of their superiority is in their robust Immune System.
Where as other organisms depend on Immune-Responses, a fact which many deep noble scholars observe and classify with the condescension of 'passive' or 'submissive'. The Deep Noble's body are saturated with a voracious, aggressive and 'vital' phages that carry out the following functions in their bodies.
- Deploying & Creating Enzymes for Digestion
- Carrying Nutrients & Oxygen
- Isolating Pathogens, Parasites & Cancerous Cells for Digestion
- Providing Genetic Material for Reproduction
- Clotting Wounds and Supplying Stemcells for recovery
- Carrying Waste Products from Cells
When Feeding Nobles snip and masticate organic material as needed with a dense beak or beaks which develop around a convenient tube ending a pocket which is filled with their 'blood'. The beak is formed as an outgrowth of the same mineral platelets as the stem and can actually consist of several such beaks layered over one another for ideal break down of the food item.
The feeding pocket or pockets sit inside the lattice of stems in the body core, food is broken down continuously by various acids and enzymes. In the rare case where something is utterly indigestible it will often become embedded in the lining so that muscular action can use it to further break down food items more readily.
There is no known substance which is lethally toxic to deep nobles by ingestion that is not similarly toxic by contact (and of those there are very few). They tend to deposit metals or hard minerals into the platelets that reinforce their bodies, if an acid is insufficient to injure them from the outside it does little more then provide digestive aides on the inside and they have no known forms of allergies.
Deep Nobles Possess no symbiotic flora what so ever, their bodies aggressively consume and dismantle all invaders without quarter, There are some 'parasites' which survive the constant assault but this requires extremely resilient defenses usually in the form of colonies or shells, This makes parasitic infections relatively simple matters to extract (as they cyst readily). The greatest disease threat which plagues them are related to the very rare case of body rejection where by their blood consumes them from the inside out.
These unfortunate individuals are mercifully immolated on SIGHT.
Deep Nobles have no discrete sex from even a genetic level. They have no specialized reproductive organs what so ever, Their mating habits are comparatively tame and boring by the standards of most plants and animals.
It is triggered by a combination of direct skin to skin contact and correct hormonal cues between individuals. During which one individual will form a swelling and another will form a depression, after wards the swelling will end up embedded in the cavity which pinches off and closes. The result is a lump of material that will be flooded by blood from both 'parents'. The embryonic 'bloomling' will then grow within this cyst until it reaches a size deemed appropriate by the 'incubator' and is cut free.
Some unique facts of Deep Noble Reproduction :
- A given Deep Noble can act simultaneously as either a genetic donor or incubator for new young.
- Deep Nobles can have more then three genetic donors as parents.
- The gestation period can last from one month to two years depending on the investment of time and energy desired by the incubator.
- The Limit on Simultaneous Incubation is that of the food and air intake of the Incubator, and available surface area on the body.
- During Incubation the child grows in a pouch in the muscular tissue of the incubator until hatching, at which point it spills from the growth through a wound that is either cut or splits open via muscle contractions.
Because of the peculiarities of Deep Noble Immune Systems their blood brings complications and personal ramifications that most species do not even consider.
When a mammal is cut the blood flows and quickly succumbs to the elements in the harshness of the outer world.
When a Deep Noble Bleeds, if there is sufficient nutrients and water the blood persists, fights to survive and if able to secure nutrients treats the outer world as an injury. However without the subtle cues and hormones of the rest of a noble body it becomes tumorous.
Given years undisturbed this will eventually form misshapen abominations, malformed suffering creatures without the vital care of Incubation to raise them to the state of full bred Nobles and no sense of the vital basis of civilization, such feral monsters are burned on sight by any but the most depraved lunatic in Deep Noble Kind.
The willful creation of castoffs is one of the few irrefutable capital crimes to Deep Nobles, punished by the mercy of fire.
When Deep Noble Blood is introduced into the bodies of living animals the combination of hormones, immune system response and living working cells has a markedly different effect then a cast-off. The blood aggressively attacks and is attacked by the immune system causing fever like symptoms.
However in most cases this will end in the death of the deep noble cells to the host's immune system. Following this the raw materials match with most individual's intra-cellular matrix and can increase the rate of healing of bruises, cuts and prevent scar tissue from forming.
In the event of massive doses of deep noble blood (in servitor creation with mammals this is performed by direct injection into the bone marrow) the immune system of the host is completely exhausted, supplanted and destroyed, the content of the blood must then be carefully monitored and maintained through specific treatments, drainage or additional dosing or the servitor's body will die.
With variations of quantity, purity, donor traits and application methods Deep Nobles can use their blood to assemble or manipulate the flesh of others in order to create their many and varied servitor races.