Thursday, January 3, 2008

Godtouched Races: Sphinxes

Sphinxes are creatures wise and powerful, but normally passive. They can be curious, and while human beings are convinced sphinxes are horrible creatures who wish them ill, in actuality sphinxes consider protecting humans settlements to be one of the most noble things one can do. Because they enjoy their solitude however they do not put forth any effort to correct mankind's mistaken assumptions about them, and will not always aid a village or settlement in a time of need.

Sphinxes have the bodies of lions of twice the normal size. They have slightly longer necks, and a head and face that are more human than lion, however they retain a lion's nose, and often have manes, whiskers, and large tufts of fur on the faces. Female sphinxes have no fur on their faces, nor manes, however their ears are more catlike than the males', and their jaws slightly longer. Sphinxes also have a pair of feathered wings above their front legs, which they can use to fly. A sphinx's feathers are normally brown, and its fur golden, though sphinxes with red fur are not uncommon.

Sphinxes have front paws with a sixth digit that acts as an opposable thumb, which they can use to hold tools and manufacture items. Sphinxes are in fact quite fond of woodworking, and almost everything found in one of their dens is made out of wood.

Sphinxes are usually 12 feet long from snout to their haunches, with their tails trailing another 5 to 6 feet. They have a wingspan of 30 feet, and a sphinx flying high overhead can be mistaken for a lone gryphon flying at a lower altitude. They can weigh anywhere between 1 and 2 tons, depending on their overall size and muscle. Sphinxes live for quite a long time, and their average age of death seems to be eight centuries. The eldest sphinx on record lived to be 1200.

Sphinxes treat mating as a casual affair, and usually mate with whoever is convenient, though sentimental attachment to certain mates are not uncommon. A female sphinx only goes into heat once a century however, and when she gives birth it is a littler of 1 to 3 cubs.

A sphinx normally lives in a den hollowed out into a hillside or mountain. Their dens are sparse, with bedding of hay and the occasional piece of wooden furniture or ornament. They are fond of rugs, and will often weave fabulous tapestries out of their own shed hair, dying the fabric with the colors of local berries. They occasionally socialize with one another in order to propagate their species, but for the most part they are solitary creatures.

Sphinxes are creatures similar to dragons in lifestyle, but quite different in disposition. Sphinxes were born of Maswe, the goddess of wisdom and protection, to be her heralds and help guide her will. During the war of the gods, the sphinxes attempted to dissuade the other godtouched races from warring against each other, but their pleas mostly fell in deaf ears. This rejection was not unexpected. After the war of the gods ended, the sphinxes decided to become passive observers. They would be protectors of knowledge and experience. Instead of proselytizing, they would only share their wisdom with those who themselves had the wisdom to seek it.

For thousands upon thousands of years, the sphinxes kept themselves out of the attention of the other godtouched, and many thought they might have been driven to extinction. It was during the rise of man however that the sphinxes reappeared as a race, aiding the naga in their attempt to protect mankind from the other godtouched races. Soon after, when the naga were appointed the holy emissaries of Jennin, the sphinxes began to set up dens in and around human settlements.

Sphinxes are known for asking riddles, and it's said they will "spare the life" of those who answer correctly. However, the riddles the sphinxes ask have no set answers, and any answers given are more a reflection of the character of the one who is answering. Bandits are a favorite prey of sphinxes, though sphinxes will often toy with them and allow them to leave unharmed, but only if bandits have been given a good enough scare to abandon their outlaw behavior. This is in fact beneficial to the sphinx, because leaving survivors after scaring them half to death cements their reputation as evil monsters, and helps keep humans away from their dens.

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