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The Çerid (sing. Çer) are a warm-blodded reptiloid species spread throughout northern Eura. Evidently of extra-Micrasian origin, they bear a general resemblance to concepts of dragons, though there are a number of characteristics associated with the latter that they do not share; they are, for instance, not any more interested in treasure than humans are, are considerably less interested in human maidens than humans are, cannot breathe fire, are not particularly prone to living in caves unless one is already the best shelter available, and so on.
They are in fact a civilized species, for a given definition of civilization. While they did not progress far beyond the Bronze Age in terms of technological prowess prior to contact with humans, they used tools, constructed settlements, spoke a complex language, and produced art and music. While their ability to manufacture modern technology is extremely limited, they adapt easily to its use where it fits their needs.
While approximately a third of the Çer population is still concentrated in the Antakian territory of Çeridgul, amidst and around the Gulf of Aqaba, populations have scattered across northwestern Eura, across the area roughly between the Gulf of Aqabah to the south, the Gulf of Susa and the Nouradin River to the north, the hills of the Aldurian frontier to the west, and the interior hinterlands of Nivardom to the east. Çerid tend to site their settlements away from those of humans, who they are aware can usually outgun them in the event of competition, and are therefore often relegated to marginal land, though migratory male bands can often be found traveling in human-populated areas, especially if the inhabitants are not actively hostile and there are things to buy, sell or trade.
Following the great western expansion of Antakia into the Razamin Desert and the influx of new human settlements into the rare patches of fertile territory there, the Çer populations inhabiting the region found themselves unable to eke out the living to which they were accustomed and migrated en masse, pushing into southern Alduria, where the New Alexandrian authorities have granted them refugee status and begun tackling the problems of trying to integrate a nonhuman, technologically backward population into the economy and social life of the nation.
The Çerid are a warm-blooded, scaled species, generally of a brown, yellow, or red coloration, with six limbs: two wings, two hindlimbs that serve exclusively as legs, and two forelimbs that serve either as legs or arms. When traveling over long distances, they walk on all fours, on the knuckles of the forepaws, but they can also stand and walk on their hind legs if carrying or manipulating something with their forelimbs. Their wings permitted them to fly easily on their homeworld, but resisting the heavier gravity of Micras is a more difficult prospect; any healthy adult can glide for a considerable distance from a height, but sustained flight now requires one to maintain a certain physical condition. Fliers are male by an overwhelming majority.
Gender differences and behavior
This is due in part to the fact that females are the larger sex - and are more frequently too heavy to fly - and also the more territorial, so that once they have established themselves in an area they think of as theirs, they are less likely to travel far from it. In human legal terms, females are the holders and transmitters of real property. They tend to form unstable pecking orders with other local females, depending on personality, available resources, and luck; the highest-ranking ones may parlay their influence into large holdings for their families, while the lowest-ranking ones may be left with little or nothing in that area and may have to move elsewhere to advance. Adult females all have approximately olive-colored markings on their faces and across their backs, which darken with one's self-perceived social rank.
Male Çerid are smaller and more wiry, more numerous (by about 2:1), more gregarious, and less territorial. They often own personal items or sometimes portable wealth, but rarely own territory, and if they have a permanent residence it is generally under a female's aegis - classically as a mate or husband, but sometimes for the purposes of chores or employment. A significant fraction of the male population has no fixed abode, and wanders the landscape, usually in groups. Often these are temporary, a way of conveying members to new opportunities of marriage or livelihood, but some have attained a semistable identity, maintained through internal rituals and active recruitment of new members to replace those who leave or pass away.
Çerid have a tendency toward polyandry: it is frequent, though not universal, for females to have multiple husbands. This, combined with some female control over their own reproduction, makes the determination of biological paternity by anyone other than the mother effectively impossible without an understanding of genetics, and indeed the very concept is not acknowledged at a societal level. If a female with more than one husband bears children, the latter are said to have more than one father; the question of which one is the "real" one does not arise except in the context of being significantly closer to one father than another.
The visible spectrum for Çerid mostly overlaps with that of humans, although the Çer eye is able to perceive some near-infrared wavelengths that the human eye cannot. Çer vision is, however, much more sensitive to low-light conditions due to the presence of a tapetum lucidum in the eye. Çerid have forward-facing eyes with binocular vision, and therefore capable of depth perception.
Aside from the main eyelids, xtauh have a transparent, sideways-closing nictitating membrane. Among other functions, it protects their eyes from bright light and flying particles, allowing them to see even in adverse conditions.
The Çerid hear through the long, stalklike antennae curving to either side of their heads, beginning above the eyes. The antennae pick up sounds in a range that is downshifted to lower frequencies compared to human hearing; they can hear noises of a lower pitch than humans can, but are insensitive to a certain range of high-pitched noises. In water, the sensitivity of the antennae is much greater.
Smell and taste
The Çerid have a greater sensitivity to meat- and protein-related smells than humans do, and are able to make finer distinctions between the quality and types of meat and other organs; otherwise their sense of smell is comparable to that of humans. Their sense of taste also does not differ greatly, although they are more likely to experience sourness as a pleasurable sensation.
A distinctly nonhuman sense that the Çerid employ is empathy: the ability to psionically detect the state of feeling of another being. This sense can pick up some finer shades of feeling but is most sensitive to the most primal: hunger, fear, arousal, weariness. This sense can perceive direction, but has no "depth perception"; that is, there is no way to distinguish between a weak signal close up and a strong one at the limits of detection, except with the assistance of the other senses and by deduction.
Its sensitivity depends on the strength of the feeling, the distance at which it originates, and the capacity of the mind for feelings; in general, the smaller the organism and the less complicated its brain, the weaker the signal is. For practical purposes, the limit of detection is 15 meters or so from the Çer's head for other Çerid and for many types of land prey, but less for fish; insects are barely detectable except at very close range.
The empathic sense is passive, like hearing; unlike hearing, it cannot be blocked by any action or device of the possessor, though it is possible for a wandering mind to cease to pay attention to it. It is possible, however, for thinking minds to "muffle" their own feelings so that the empathic sense cannot detect them easily. Çerid frequently do so for reasons of privacy, though it is also fairly common for them to specifically avoid doing so when they wish to announce and emphasize how they feel. The fact that humans generally do not muffle their empathic output, nor in fact understand the need, is a perpetual source of annoyance; given that the same tendency is found in animals and in very young children, it leads many Çerid to assume that humans are intellectually stunted.