|Average Weight:||21.4 stone (300 lbs)|
|Significant Populations:||Throughout Elgar Forest|
|Languages:||Phet'kreean Arangothek Common|
|Major Religion:||Ancestor Veneration|
The Phet'kree have a rich and vibrant history, steeped deep in the depths of Elgar Forest. Considered brutal and savage, even sadistic to the outside world, they are a highly structured sentient race of humanoid felines. It is still unclear as to how and when the Phet'kree came to be; however, a roving scholar had once happened across a pride. His words, written in his own blood as a joke to the Phet'kree but a warning to the outside world, detailed them to as having been derived from large cats themselves. When faced with extinction, the cats gathered and called unto their ancestors and spirits. Each feline was given a spirit to them, which aid them as it saw fit. Over the generations, spirit and cat merged to become the malicious Phet'kree. When first emerged, they were used as foot soldiers and cannon fodder in wars, helping to bulk up militia ranks. Over the years, though, they turned from the affairs of the outside world, and began to form themselves into very close-knit families.
The Phet'kree language is not so much a spoken alphabet, but more a language of the body and voice. Communication through certain body movements, and punctuating sounds are the base of it. This communication is most commonly seen in animals of all sorts, but the Phet'kree have it down to a science.
The Phet'kree have only learned the Arangothek language in the last generations. At times, it comes as problematic as they have larger teeth, lips and a tongue than the average humanoid. Amongst the various prides within [Elgar Forest], the Phet'kree speak this language primarily as a means of engaging one another without combat ensuing. The Phet'kree body language can sometimes be misinterpreted amongst their own, as each pride has its own definitions of the signals for communication.
The Common tongue is also difficult for the Phet'kree. They often roll the 'r' in sentences, or will purr and growl out some words in the effort of making speech. As they are not seen in the company of outsiders much, the Phet'kree find this tongue to be the most harsh to them, and would rather not use it at all.
The Phet'kree have strong ties to one another. The society itself is based on a Matriarchal hierarchy in that the females are the leaders, and the males are the soldiers. At the time a Phet'kree is born, they are inspected by the female council, comprised of seven or more depending on which felines are to be represented. Should the newborn cub be found to have any abnormal behavior, or seem weak or sick, the cub is immediately killed and subsequently cannibalized by the mother who bore it. In this way, the Phet'kree ensure only the strongest of their bloodline exist, and the culling of this weakness is enforced nationwide. The Phet'kree come together in what they call prides, consisting of up to 20 individuals excluding any cubs they have borne. A tribe of Phet'kree may be comprised of several prides, though this action causes tensions amongst prides, as the females will often fight for leadership, and the males will brawl each other just to prove themselves the superior. Only under the highest times of war will the Phet'kree set their differences aside and come to the aide of one another. It is in these times that the Phet'kree have become most re nowned for their savage ferocity against any who oppose them. Both male and female Phet'kree have their positions within any given pride, though each one varies in station, one thing remains universal: They must engage in combat to achieve it.
Amongst the pride, there are families. A male and female will come together, and often have a litter of 3 in a single birthing. Once the litter has been inspected and placed through the proper trials, they will remain with their birth parents for another a few more seasons. When the time comes for them to leave, they will either stay with their current pride, or a group may leave to form their own. They must, however, gain the approval of the ruling female council in order to leave honorably. Should they be denied and do so anyways, all parties involved are sentences to ritual sacrifice to their ancestors, in atonement for their actions. If they are granted leave from the pride, they are given a portion of their ancestral lineage and bloodlines, and instructed to uphold the traditions the Phet'kree hold so dear. Upon leaving their pride, they are expected to claim a territory outside of any other pride's. Normally, these roving bands will approach other prides in order to gain acceptance for their newly established territory, and also to ensure that while they set up camp they will not be assaulted until their numbers have grown.
Rivalries between prides have been known to grow legendary. Though sibling prides will often side with their parent prides, they have been known objectively attack them to prove their worth to the Phet'kree nation. These particular brawls are never fatal, though. They are more a test the sibling pride initiates by roaring in unison. In some outsider's eyes, this is viewed as a game between prides, where claws and teeth are not used in lethality, but more in a fair contest of strength and mentality. These contests can often lead to greater pride formations, and in times of war, the first to be called are the sibling tribes. The sibling tribes will always fall to the rule of the parent pride, accepting the fact that they exist only because it was allowed. This kind of tribute is rare in the current times, though. Phet'kree numbers begin to dwindle, especially after the recent events of being controlled by some unknown entity. Though the Phet'kree are a race of ferocious killers, they are being milled down from their expansion amongst the region. Only in this generation has the Phet'kree dared to open trade with the surrounding cities. Their acquisition of rare were-creature bones, skins and gems has begun to make them a common occurrence in places of trade. Though, to what end is still unknown.
The Male Role
Male Phet'kree are trained at a very early age to be subservient to the females, but also hone their skills in combat. Each feline breed would have different roles within the pride, with the larger males being the brute force, and the smaller being more keen for guerilla warfare. In the cases of war, the female council will take advice from the most re-known of the Phet'kree, but ultimately make the decision. While the directive comes from the females, it is the males who must decide how best to carry out the orders given to them. Males are taken from their family within the pride when they have reached sufficient size, which can vary based on what feline lineage they hail from. They are matched with up to four others, and sent deep into [Elgar Forest] in order to prove themselves a formidable warrior. During this time, males will bond and scrap with each other in order to hone their skills as warriors and hunters. They must rely on one another in order to survive this test, and may only return to the pride when they have hunted and killed seven of the most lethal creatures in the forest. They present the carcasses to the female leadership, not only proving themselves 'men' amongst the pride, but vowing to serve them as their forefathers have. On these nights, the newly inducted males often regale the pride with the stories of the hunt, detailing each other's prowess and viciousness. It is considered the highest honor to have a fellow brother recall one's deeds rather then to recount them oneself, as this cements the idea of your prowess.
When males have reached certain standing amongst the pride, they begin to become competitive amongst one another. It is a constant anxiety to know that as you gain station within the pride, there are up and comers who want the title, even though they may not be deserving. Males achieve their stature by combat, and the ferocity they present to their opponents. The more savage the kill, the re nown they gain amongst the pride. By living through the survival retreat, and demonstrating the savage nature of the Phet'kree to any prey that oppose them, a male may come to know idolization amongst the pride. Displays of weakness are not tolerated, and when one is perceived as weak and meager, they are challenged to a brawl. Normally, any dispute between males becomes a pride affair, and an open contest is held between two males. Holding the "might makes right" mentality, the brawl has been known to end in death, although it is avoided as much as possible. The victor claims his rights over the loser via a single bite to the back of the loser's neck, insinuating that the loser is weak and not to be followed. This, aside from a dishonorable death, is seen as the most grave of insults and often takes decades to wash away, and several thrilling kills for their honor to be restored, and the memory of their loss to be washed away.
During times of war, the males come together to decide what the best course of action will be. A single nominee, based on his prestige amongst the pride, is sent to deliver the news to the female council and advise them the best course of action. Whether the option is taken or not, it is entirely the male's position to decide what best strategy is to be taken. When the enemy is known for stealth, the more stealthier of the feline lineages is consulted. When bestial fury is needed, the larger and stronger of the lineages is consulted. Amidst war time, Phet'kree rivalries are set aside amongst males, as they fall in line based on their station and ranking within the pride. Though rivalries may last between lineages and bloodlines, honor calls them to place such things aside for the better of the pride, and the Phet'kree as a whole.
The Female Role
If the male is the arm that strikes the foes of the Phet'kree, the female is the blood that gives life and strength to that arm. The females are reknown for being the leaders of the society, both spiritual and mundane. There is no action taken without the consent of the female council, nor any amongst families without the approval of the alpha female. It is said that the first among them was a woman and female lion, thus they are more revered than the rest. Weakness amongst females is much more gruesome. While males while kill one another, or leave the scarring bite at the back of the neck, females who are deemed weak in this society or subjected to a life full of scorn, disrespect and constant struggle. For a female to lose a major argument, she is maimed and made to be lame. Though it is very rare for these occasions to happen, when it does, it is nothing but legend. It is not unknown to find a female Phet'kree without a limb, severely scarred and disregarded by the pride. Family ties, though, may remain intact. The female role within the pride, as well as with all Phet'kree, is vital. All females are protected at any cost, and it is seen amongst the Phet'kree that should a male give his life for any female, he is to be idolized for all time. It's a common practice for the family of the saved and deceased to hold a part in honoring the ancestors of the family. Any future line from that male is given a much better regard by females than all others.
As with males, females are taken at a point deemed by size. The two differences are that females are weighed based on intelligence, and they are alone in the retreat. On their own, they must go into the spirit world and go on a journey that makes them the leaders they will be. Often, they are tested by ancestral spirits, poised with the same problems they had experienced, however, lost. This may take months, as a female must learn to provide for herself, protect herself both spiritually and physically as well as stave off any roaming males of any species. In this time, females often frequent high-populated cities in order to test their resolve and spiritual grounding. While a female is subjected to the horrors of other races and other cultures, it is believed by the Phet'kree that she will learn to disdain all things that contradict their values and culture. A female Phet'kree endures much more of a grievous test, as she must make the choice alone. The choice itself is simple; return to her people as a leader, or forever be banished and actively hunted down, least she give away the secrets that make Phet'kree weaponry and armor highly sought after by survivalists and rangers alike.
When a female returns to her pride from her spiritual, and cultural, journey, she is met by everyone. Males kneel at her presence, and females give her a single gift of their family, ancestral or otherwise prized. A female Phet'kree that comes to her people as a leader is regarded with the utmost respect from all on her day of return. On her return, the female comes to the council with word of the spirit world. Her interpretations, and her perceptions, as well as divinations of the future. These are often information of grander hunting grounds, future rituals and of any important events that may come to the pride. When a female returns from her journey, she is rewarded with a family heirloom that holds some mystical power to it, accentuating what their bloodline has done in the past, regardless if she is able to do so or not.
What males do not know is that all females are given an opinion as to the action that must be taken. Each female approaches their lineage's leading female and gives their own option. This is how the council is first chosen. A female who constantly gives the best advice for the situation is considered for the ruling council. When she has been approached by the leading female, she is given the option to challenge any of the council for position. A brawl between females is not as savage as it is with males. While males seek damage and superiority, a female seeks to be cunning and dominant. Through surpreme grappling skills, and a cunning strategy, a female may usurp a council member. Beyond the benefits, females constantly test themselves to keep their skills and knowledge sharp and honed. While they do not participate in hunting parties, there are too many races and beings who believe a female is not as lethal as male of their species; and they usually end up dead wrong.
The females of any pride are tight-knit, more so than the males. They are much more accepting and tolerant of one another. Though spats will happen, there is no gloating amongst them. Each female knows that the other gives them the will and strength that is necessary to keep the pride continuing, as well as keep their families together. The strangest thing of females is their duality toward each other. Though respect and honor is given to each other, they will not hesitate to capitalize on a weaker female and expose them to the pride.
Female Phet'kree set the laws and decrees of the pride. As it concerns commerce and trade, attacks on what poses threats or needs to be subdued, or breeding habits. When a law is set forth, all females of the council present themselves to the pride and speak. The only law that must be consulted with a male is any decree that deals with combat or war. As it is looked upon the male of the species to uphold their name, it is the female who must decide which avenue to take.