Long ago, Rabben followed shortly after Fel to become one of the captive slave-races of Man, held to serve as gardeners and cooks. Men had quickly discovered that, though the Fel were swift on their feet and useful for many other tasks, the only decent dishes they could cook consisted of fish and fowl - things suited to their own taste. Vegetables were turned to mush, burnt, or not made at all. As for their gardening skills, Fel simply didn't get the concept of "stay still and plant this" no matter how the humans tried. So in time, they came to seek out the Rabben: expert gardeners with a sweet tooth for celery. They became cooks and outdoor caretakers, and were found to be much more placid, calm, and easygoing than the Fel, and also less likely to participate in rebellion.
At first, Harren were also captured and sold to be used as larger, stronger workers that could do heavier field work and travel greater distances. But with size came more aggressive temperaments, and the Harren were deemed a danger to human society and not worth the effort to be kept as servants, and abandoned in favor of the more agreeable Rabben.
Today, Rabben are still used in kitchens and gardens throughout the human world, and are relied upon heavily in some areas to oversee agricultural duties. Those in captivity are selectively bred to perpetuate their unassuming, obedient natures, so most captive Rabben are quite docile and obedient, content enough with their lot in life. Those with burgeoning plant magics are most prized by the agrarian class to tend the massive fields that feed larger human populations like that of New Timbervast. When one witnesses them at work, these slave-farmers are often observed to be in a somewhat trance-like state, caring for nothing but the care and health of the plants they tend to, day in, day out.
Freed Rabben have branched off in smaller numbers in their own villages, or find work amongst other furrs. They tend to be more independently minded and ambitious than their captive cousins, and are a busybody people, always on their feet, and restless without something to do. Their interests span a wider focus to include crafting and trading as well as agriculture. The Harren tribes are smaller in number than the free Rabben, and retain their more aggressive nature. Warriors can be found among the Harren, and even a hunter or two in some tribes, providing raw materials for crafting and meat for trade.
Physique & Appearance
Rabben and Harren hold traits of their lappir ancestors - tall (or long) sensitive ears, wide, sharp eyes, and strong back legs, all of which provide the sharp senses needed to evade a foe with ease. The squirrel-like tails of the lappir have been lost in their furr-cousins, resembling more the tails of the rabbits and hares of Earth.
Browns, whites, blacks, tans, and greys, usually with patchy or spotted markings, but patterns can vary widely. Rabben do not fur-paint, but Harren do dye their fur with minor markings signifying trade or rank, usually in dark colors or black. Most captive Rabben have a branding mark on their hip.
Captive Rabben are always garbed in rags, unless their trade is as an entertainer. Tribal Rabben and Harren usually craft their own clothing, from fabrics they make themselves, or sometimes fabrics they trade for. Tribal Rabben shun fabric made from animal hides and use fabrics woven from natural plant fibers, but Harren will use tanned hides sparsely. Garb for both races consists of simple tunics, drapes, and soft-stitched tops, sometimes cotton dresses. But Rabben and Harren NEVER wear full bottoms, as those restrict movement. All clothing is loose, never form-fitting, whether captive or free. Women of both races adore necklaces and belts of beads and stones. Harren decorations are more likely to represent a personal achievement or guardian spirit, while Rabben decorations are most often simply decorative. Both races favor talismanic charms.
Religion, Beliefs, & Dwellings
Both Rabben and Harren are worshipers of Draiah, and have close ties to the living world through their plant magics. Their respect for nature is ultimate, and wherever they choose to live, they attempt to do so with as little negative impact on the surrounding environment as possible. The largest Rabben village is renowned for its spectacular Warren, crafted from living trees and shrubs into airy above-ground domes clustered together in family groupings. The excavated underground areas are expansive and intricate, reinforced by the roots of the trees above. Harren have a similar method of crafting their villages, though instead of an obvious grouping out in the open like the plains-dwelling Rabben, the forest-dwelling Harren will conceal their homes within the trunks and branches of individual trees, so skilfully that outside visitors might not even be aware they have stepped into a Harren village.
Society & Traditions
Rabben, as the more agrarian of the two races, live their lives tied closely to the seasons for planting and harvesting, and hold a heavy focus on community and cooperation. The pinnacle of their leadership is often a male well versed in communicating with outside communities and a skilled trader, with their Shaman or Healer holding the highest in spiritual ranks, a position of great influence in the community. Believing that Fog is the harbinger of Spring’s arrival, towards the end of the Winter months, the Shaman determines the perfect time to beckon Fog back to their lands. The festival begins with a gathering of the best of the remaining food stores, as well as braided ropes woven during the winter from dried plains grasses. The braids have been soaked in sweet-smelling herbs, and are placed, wet, into smouldering fires. The tenders waft the sweet-smelling smoke and steam that results out across the plains to the East, hoping to entice Fog into their midst. Feasting is cautious to show their thrift, but exuberant to show their welcoming spirit as they sing and dance for three suns, beating out calling songs with their feet and drums. If the shaman was successful, by the fourth day (no later than the fifth) Fog creeps in along the ground, signalling the beginning of the thaw and the near arrival of Spring.
Harren place a higher value on personal achievements of the individual, rather than communal accomplishments. Individuals are marked with ornaments, and sometimes paint, as signs of their achievements, trades, and ranks within the tribe. Being skilled as a warrior, while uncommon, is highly valued, and often involves embarking out into the world alone for months, or even years, at a time to undertake intense personal training. When the individual returns, with tales of their testing and their obtaining a guardian totem, they are awarded special arm bands that mark their journey. The greatest of warriors among the Harren have multiple arm bands, signifying many journeys, further into the world and deeper into their own psyche. Having three arm bands marks them as being prime for a leadership position, and these warriors are often the chieftain (or chieftess) of their respective tribe, wise in the ways of battle as well as ruling fairly. They also rely upon their shaman or healer for spiritual guidance and advice.
Single-word tribal, based typically upon appearance and trade (ie, Brighttail, Longwhisker), is the Rabben preference, while the Harren have a tendency for long, jumpy, consonant-heavy names. (Rakkatag, Hissavikir, Habbagot)
Growth & Aging
Plant magics (Drey Magic), most commonly increasing the growth speed and vibrancy of everything from root vegetables to bushes and small trees. Specialists can also manipulate the pattern of root or branch growth, which can be applied defensively to help trip up or ensnare a pursuer. The highest level plant mages are valued for their ability to direct the growth shape and size of even trees, and are the “architects” of the great Rabben warrens. The most advanced mages are able to direct and animate plants much like puppets.
Added & Edited by Stryde 21:05, November 17, 2011 (UTC), Written by Kemi & Dreysong