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Women on RIGHT
side ONLY. Men have tattoos
on LEFT side of body
ONLY. Short hair
The People are consummate warriors, born and bred for battle. Their disposition for the war arts places them as modern day Spartans in my eyes and those of my crewmates. This is particularly true of the Red Clan. They are the elite among an already formidable group. The People are a homogenous population and easily the closest to us as humans. They also exercise a kind of selective breeding program which ensures the propagation of characteristics that serve their battle-shaped society. Emotional attachments are strong, but noticeably less celebrated than are physical toughness and a frightening sense of duty to one another. They are considered superior fighters with an enviable record of victory over superior numbers and forces.
Apprentices must wear their hair cut very short. They are allowed to grow their hair long only after completing a brutal test of skills known as the Trials1. It is worth noting that most of the adult People possess long hair. Those who do not pass the Trials are typically maimed or killed by any number of “tests” used to confer the mantle of “warrior” and entry into adulthood. Some fighters will shorten their hair as a practical matter, however. People handicapped during the Trials (or from battle) will often choose suicide or an honorable execution by one of their own than be considered anything less than a full warrior. Training in preparation for the Trials (and the battles to follow) is therefore not only desirable, but necessary for longevity in this society.
Ceremonial tattoos are etched into Trial survivors as the former apprentice is granted full Clan status. The ink is a peculiar compound derived from an amphibious, cuttlefish-like creature from the Northern Marshes called the Amnatshi. It is a truculent, fast-moving thing with the spindly legs of a squid, speed of a gazelle and the disposition of cornered Rondo. That The People can capture such an animal is a testament of their conditioning. (Especially true given that they live in these harsh desert lands.)
The tattoos are both a symbolic and a literal history integrating elements of the recipient’s life and accomplishments into the final design1. The entire left hemisphere of the body is tattooed in the males. Right for the females.
Interestingly, the tattoos, rather, the ink, has the ability to disappear into the skin upon final application. They reveal themselves with increasing fidelity depending on the individual’s physical and/or mental state. In the heat of battle, for example, every detail of the tattoo would become visible…and red. Outward tattoos vanish while the individual is sleeping or merely going about their day.