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The Teana are another nomadic, desert-dwelling people rarely seen outside the deepest, most inhospitable stretches of the Great Desolation. They were long believed to be a part of the equally resourceful Breed populations scattered throughout the region. The distinctions between the two effectively render them two completely separate species, however.
Breeds, many of whom are outcasts from their parent races, have a social bond centered on the politics of egalitarianism. A common Breed greeting: “We are alike, for we are unlike those to whom we were born.” Their way of life is surprisingly similar to our own when their physical differences are stripped away. They have needs for survival biology did not bless them with the means to deal with, so they create tools to fulfill those needs. Whether it’s building a habitat, hunting or self-defense, Breed society revolves around our shared evolutionary experience (albeit on different planets).
The Teana consider themselves to be mystics. They still use tools as they must, but one would be hard pressed to find any such tool, piece of jewelry or beast of burden that has not undergone a series of elaborate ceremonies or rituals in its creation or use. Their physical appearances are more uniform than the Breeds', though they exhibit a broader physical variance within the set population versus, say, The People or Moncs.
The idea of Golo (“magic”) is extraordinarily important in every aspect of Teana society. Clothes are decorated with meaningful Golo symbols or woven from fibers believed to have Golo properties. The garb of choice in the searing heat is a heavy fabric robe called a Duya. Any of us wearing such clothing in this unforgiving desert would speed our own demise by hours, if not days. The Teana flaunt the Duya and don’t appear to suffer any ill effects, least of all from the heat.
Not only do the Teana wear the Duya with impudence, they are able to travel at an astonishing pace by foot without producing so much as a bead of sweat. The Teana are not the only ones who believe they are creatures of magic. Their ungodly resistance to Anomaly’s Great Desolation makes everyone else also believe they are magic. Even Dagda admits a certain lack of knowledge where the Teana’s unnatural heat endurance is concerned. I find it far more impressive the desert dwellers have managed to keep such a secret even from the likes of Dagda.
For all this talk of magic, I have another theory…
Each race of Anomaly has their physical and mental specializations that have allowed them to flourish in their respective environmental niche. The Teana’s genetic adaptions are likely those of heat resistance. Where or how this happened is anyone’s guess. I would also wager the Teana would be cold without their absurdly dense Duyas. Sounds mad, I know. But I’m quick to point out the Etanioks’ near torpor-like shutdown if they are not kept near the hellish furnaces of A’Raf as an example of such an extreme adaption. I am in no way suggesting the Teana and Etanioks are related. I am saying the Duya, at least, is less a product of mysticism than it is a practical need born from evolution.
Berbeuri, a rather personable Teana shaman, allowed me to try on his Duya. The feeling was akin to having one’s flesh being charred in extraordinarily dry heat. Half an hour in the Duya had me consuming water for the next two to make up for the sweat I’d lost. One extraordinary feature of the Duya is its superb waterproofing. One would be hard pressed to find a wet Teana, be it from sweat in the heat, or from a deluge in the lower valleys. Another is the unexpected breathability of this material…as well as some element I’ve yet to discern which prevents body odors from clinging to the robes. Berbeuri told me not to concern myself about the expected dampening of his lovely robe by my grungy self. He insisted I keep it on for the duration of my less-than-scientific experiment. When he finally let me out, he hung it on a line for some five minutes, after which even the hunting Tashari did not seem able to detect any foreign odors on the Duya.
Not surprisingly, the Teana tend to stay in the hottest stretches of desert where there is no such thing as day long cover. Rocky precipices are useless shelters for the other races unless they can be bored into, but the places favored by the Teana are even avoided by the premier diggers of Anomaly: the Nolac (aka “Cave Demons”). I once asked a Nolac why he did not choose to live in such “Erebos-proof” territories. He looked back at me as if a Linguis had suddenly spoken of The One and replied flatly,
Therein lay the accidental secret of the Teana’s survival… They are not subjected to the rigors of constant Mutie incursions and equally avoid the less violent biological assaults this planet has to offer. Aside from a handful of transient insects that periodically swarm through the area, there is no visible life in their desert habitats of choice. I cannot even discern exactly what the Duyas are made from. The Teana remain cagey about sharing what and how they acquire their food and water.
Golo imbues every aspect of Teana life, and children are taught early and often several “incantations” meant to prolong life. This may indeed be working. The Teana are indeed at the favorable end of longevity. (This is as likely from avoiding conflict as anything.) The chanting has an inexplicable polytonality about it. As a group, this is of no surprise, but to hear the individual sound like multiple voice sources was a head turner. It makes one question their hearing. I’ve been able to pick out as many as four distinct vocal entities from some of the more versed wielders of Golo. Furthermore, the incredible control of these acoustics has definite effects on the emotional states of those within its range. This may also help explain their ability to stay under the conscious radar of the other races.
This sound-centric means of life also lends some sense to the Teana’s large nasal structure. A final “trick” mistakenly called “magic” by many races is the ability to “throw” their voices. The Teana use a form of ventriloquism that is difficult to explain. Rather than the mere transmission of sound to an immediately adjacent object/area, the Teana are able to hurl their sounds (in particular, chants) across several hundred yards. Even more astounding is the ability to throw “single tones” of their polytonal arsenal in different directions. The effect is disorienting, particularly when reflected off of canyon walls. One “four voiced” Teana can easily sound like a band of 20 unique individuals in an acoustically favorable canyon. The confusing quality if wielded against an opposing army is obvious.
The use of this same talent in whispered tones also helps to explain the many “desert ghost voices” that spook even The People.