The deserts are a land of intense temperature fluctuations and sparse resources. As we already saw with the tlincalli, deserts birth races willing to forgo what many would consider basic morals in return for an increased chance at survival. The thri-kreen are another example of this strive to survive, resulting in an interesting group of sapients with a hands on approach to life and a less than ideal worldview on anthropophagy.
Thri-Kreen are bipedal insectoids, with aspects of both human physiology and mantid/ant physiology. They have three pairs of limbs, with the first two pairs used for manipulation and the hindlimbs used for locomotion. The middle limbs are the smallest of these limbs, and are specialised for fine manipulation due to their smaller claws and more dexterous joints. The forelimbs are used for wielding weapons, as well as for moving large and heavy objects. The heads of the thri-kreen consist of a pair of mandibles, two large eyes, three small ocelli, and a pair of segmented antennae. The ocelli are used to detect changes in light levels, giving them a clear indication to the time of day, as well as a good sense for potential overhead threats.
The physiology of the thri-kreen explains much of their basic values and practices, even amongst different cultural variations. For example, their lack of vocal chords means that most communication is visual, with the usage of antennae position and limb placement to convey ideas to one another. For more specific information, mandibles may be used to produce a clacking sound, which can be used for specific words, names, or as a form of punctuation. As with many races with distinct physiology, communication between thri-kreen and humanoids is limited due to this method of speaking. It is common for thri-kreen in humanoid settlements to learn to understand their languages and use sign language or writing to communicate, as it is hard to express antennae positions and mandible code with only arms and a mouth available.
The thri-kreen also have an omnivorous diet, and as such they highly value the presence of any food sources available. Whilst plant matter can be eaten, they have a strong preference for meat due to its protein content, and as such thri-kreen have also developed what is considered by many to be their least appealing trait: most thri-kreen cultures have few to no ethical issues with consuming the flesh of a sapient creature. To the thri-kreen, all resources are to be used to their upmost potential, including the meat of others. Their ability to ignore the sapience of their meat is aided by the difficulty involved in being able to empathise with organisms that are so dissimilar to them physically: just as a human may have no issues eating an octopus or locust, the thri-kreen see no issues with eating a human.
The consumption of humanoid flesh is, in some regions, used ritualistically, with annual hunts of nomadic peoples to capture on of their population and feast on them. In other regions, the thri-kreen forgo their anthropophagy due to the abundance of other food sources, or due to the importance of humanoids for trade or protection.
This consumption of sentient flesh extends to their own kind as well. Thri-kreen have short lifespans- ranging from 10 to 20 years- and produce many eggs when they mate. To avoid the overconsumption of resources, thri-kreen will often eat the eggs and larvae of late developing infants. This also gives much needed nutrients to the mothers, which will spend much of their energy in order to produce these eggs. This cannibalism is believed to have resulted in the fast development of thri-kreen larvae, as the sooner one can be big enough to be not eaten or fast enough to avoid being devoured, the better.
In general, the thri-kreen seem to keep to themselves. Many of their tribes believe, as with their consumption of meat, that all resources should be used fully. They also believe that these resources should only be taken when necessary, as overconsumption of food in a desert environment will quickly lead to starvation. Thri-kreen are known to judge others based not on their words, but how they treat the land around them. Those that return what they reap from the land are seen with respect, whilst those that take from the land without tending to it are seen as wasteful and greedy. This leads to a general distrust of heavily industrial regions, as well as an increased likelihood of strong relations with farmers and druidic peoples.
The thri-kreen lifestyle in their native deserts and scrublands heavily rely on hunting, which is done through the usage of traditional weapons. These weapons are produced through secreted substances from the mouths of adult thri-kreen, which solidify soon after coming into contact with air. Weaponsmiths are known for their fast work, often using moulds and templates to construct these weapons. These traditional weapons include the Gythka– a double bladed polearm- and the Chatkcha– a sharp-edged boomerang. These weapons appear as if made out of glass, and are effective at cutting into prey items. Whilst not as sharp as steel, they are still a useful weapon. Some thri-kreen make their livings from selling their native secretions as jewellery, as well as exotic weapons for nobles and warriors that wish to distinguish themselves. These secretions are very resource intensive, and as such large bladed weapons- such as swords- are typically made by multiple well fed thri-kreen over a long period of time, with the secretions being broken down and reshaped as more of the secretions are produced.
Thri-kreen culture isn’t well known due to their reclusive nature, beyond their hunting and love of visual art. As their vocalise little and rely on being seen for communication, there is a strong preference towards using body paints and visual artwork to decorate their home territories, which often consist of naturally sheltered regions. History and knowledge is passed on through artwork, which alongside their short lifespans has led to various changes over time in their perceptions of their ancestors and traditions. The thri-kreen are not active deity worshipers per se: they will pay homage to the land and tend to it as much as possible, but do not consider it divine. Instead, they see the land as something that they should care for, just as the land cares for them. The thri-kreen gesturing for ‘land’ is very similar to that of ‘sibling’, for siblings are expected to look out for each other as well.
The tool construction of thri-kreen is heavily limited, and they are only made if a permanent settlement has been found that provides enough resources for them to use without significantly damaging the land. It is argued by some industrial races that this respect for the earth has made them primitive and stupid; the thri-kreen would say that the same could be argued as being caused by disrespecting the earth that gives all races life.
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