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|Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Writer)|
|When the Empire met the Duurludirj, both peoples were thrilled, as they recognized many opportunities to strengthen each other.|
Name: Duurludirj (Rockfangs or Stone Teeth People; duurl = stone, dirj = fang)
General climate and resources: The Duurludirj live on several islands in southerly waters near the Empire. They enjoy warm weather, which provides plentiful fruits and vegetables. Tall rocks and coral reefs give some protection from sea monsters, and also contribute to their name. The volcanic islands also hold mineral wealth in the form of metallic and gem ores. Their time-bubble ran a little faster than the core of the Empire, so their history is a little deeper.
Population and technology: These smallish islands do not have room for large cities, so the population is scattered through little villages, especially near the mines. They managed to retain and rebuild a fair amount of mechanical technology (which contributed greatly to the Empire's development) including water pumps and chain-drawn railcarts plus considerable metallurgic knowledge.
Genetic features: The Duurludirj have a form of dwarfism similar to achondroplasia, which is dominant, so that most people on the islands are quite short -- which they consider normal, the few taller people being seen as giants. Normal Duurludirj range from about 3'9 to 4'6" (average 4'3") for males and 3'6 to 4'3" (average 4'0") for females. Almost all of them are within these ranges. The dwarves are particularly noted for their sensitive and dexterous fingers.
Giant Duurludirj range from 5'8" to 6'4" (average 6'0") for males and 5'4" to 6'0" (average 5'8") for females. More giants than dwarves fall outside the typical ranges; although there are fewer of them, their height is more variable because it is not bounded by a specific genetic condition. (Duurludirj are insistent that small size is a "condition" and not a disease, even though it sometimes has unfortunate side effects. To them, this is normal, and the giants are the odd ones.)
Blonde hair is the norm, although it ranges from pale gold through strawberry and rusty blondes into tawny and dark blondes. Light eye colors prevail, including green, blue, and hazel. A rare silver-gray is considered lucky, while dark eyes are unlucky. Their skin is a natural tan, which darkens in the sun.
History: The Duurludirj joined the Empire fairly early, but not right at the beginning -- in its first really vigorous surge of healthy expansion. There is little or no Purist population. The Duurludirj joined the Empire with mutual enthusiasm, unlike some other groups. The few dissidents paddled away in their own boats, never to be seen again. Any batch of southerly islands should work as a home.
Cultural features: When the Empire met the Duurludirj, both peoples were thrilled, as they recognized many opportunities to strengthen each other. The Duurludirj became renowned as metalworkers, miners, and geologists. They lose many scientists to the universities, but the islands are a haven for "small bodies with tall minds," so they get some back, plus immigrants with dwarfism. Most island houses and tools are sized for normal (i.e. short) people rather than giants. Cuisine runs to seafood and tropical fruit, often using citric acids, alcohol, and hot spices to preserve food.
The Duurludirj also have a close relationship with the ocean. Their mines, major buildings, and some house foundations are built of stone to withstand flooding from tidal waves. Many houses and smaller buildings, however have upper parts that can be taken down and used to build floating villages. The Duurludirj deal with the flood season by floating far enough out to avoid the damage, then they return through safe channels between the rocks. The Empire was delighted by their ideas for fending off sea monsters with spiked hulls, spring-wound harpoon launchers, and hooked nets ... though sometimes the monsters still win.
Conversely, the Duurludirj were pleased with the Empire's better medical services, higher education, and wider choice of resources. They are happily assimilated, but they have retained much local color due to geographic isolation (sea travel is risky) and genetics (dwarves often prefer to marry dwarves).
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