The tales of the leechkin date back millenia, but only a few of the elder leeches can still recall those days.
As they remember it, Polaqu belonged to the leeches, and they fought the dry races incessantly to defend their homes. In the end, a powerful rite performed by the dry magi brought salt into the world. The leeches greatly feared this new matter, and were pushed back to their most ancient fortresses in the swamps. As the dry races fought among themselves, the elder leeches patiently awaited the time to pounce. Scouts were sent to the battlefields to observe the battles and learn the tactics of their enemies. After many years, the leech tribes decided to reclaim the settlements that bordered their swamps. None of the dry races had expected the primitive and feral leeches to strike, and many villages near the marshlands were lost.
After the initial successes however, the leechkin tide was halted by their own tactical sense. The wisest of the elder leeches knew that a few swampland settlements were of no importance to the dry race leaders. However, if the leeches were seen as a clear and present threat, they would probably be destroyed outright. With this in mind, the offensive was halted though not all leeches agreed with this. Some argued that the delay would enable the dry races to gather knowledge of the leechkin ways, as the leeches themselves had done. As it were, the elders were adamant in their decision and no attacks have been reported since.
Carnivorous by choice if not by nature, leechkin live in tribes that live off the land in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. This is mainly because leeches do not farm, and do not preserve food. Their first encounter with agriculture came at the hands of the Kel-Par, many of whom were forced to grow food for the leeches. Eventually the Kel-Par gained their independance from the leeches, though leechkin history tends to overlook this fact. Each tribe will have one elder, who attains the post simply by being the oldest. The number of leeches in a tribe vary widely, from a dozen to hundreds. The elder is in charge of making decisions and keeping records of other leech tribes. This is important to ensure that leech tribes to not trespass on each others property. Elders from various adjacent tribes meet from time to time in order to discuss matters that affect leechkin as a whole.
Depending on the tribe's tradition, the elder may be either a fighter (for particularly warlike tribes), a druid (for isolated tribes, entire tribe shares druid mindset), or a cleric (majority).
The head of the established Leechkin pantheon is Sanglintah, the colossal leech that drained the light out of the stars when creation was young. Sanglintah's clerics were instrumental in initiating and halting the Leechkin crusade. The more independant leeches worship whatever deity suits them, if any at all.
Leechkin villages consist of wooden structures that are crude by any standard, but are fairly sturdy. Young are hatched from eggs, and a leech mother may lay as many as five at one time. Depending on the tribe, the mother may either care for the young herself, or leave that task to those too old to hunt. For the latter, the mother will normally hunt alongside the others by day and see the young when she returns (to see if they are still alive).
The Leechkin language, Leech, is a combination of rasping and hissing noises. Leechkin writing is in the form of symbols that, if imaginatively examined, resemble what they represent.
As the still-controversial directive took effect, leeches reluctantly decided to open up to other societies. The stated purpose is to learn the ways of their enemies, but some leeches are genuinely fascinated by the dry races and their ways. Elders discourage this sort of behaviour, but leech scouts can range deep into civilised areas, far away from their tribe.
Leeches stand out like sore thumbs outside of their habitats, but they camouflage well in swampy areas. Their hides are usually dark brown or black, depending on their ancestry. The brown leeches possess probosci that are used to suck the fluids from their prey. Black leeches possess jaws like other humanoids and usually bite to release the fluids and subsequently drink. The two groups appear to get along well, and there appear to be no intermediate jaw structures among the leeches. This either means that brown and black leeches do not pair together, or that the young will display one of the jaw structures regardless.
Leeches possess a pair of eyes that are on either side of their heads. The pupils and iris are indistinguishable from the rest of the eye, so the eye resembles a dark disc. The size of the eyes mean that leeches are quite dependant on vision.
Tools are rare in leech society, with the result being that most warriors specialize in brutish unarmed combat. Probosci and jaws are used in lieu of axes to cut through foliage where neccessary.
The Present SituationEdit
Today, the leeches serve either as explorers in a war-torn world, or savage mercenaries. Either role serves the purposes of the leechkin, as they continue to learn the ways of their enemies and sharpen their skills in battle against the dry races. For those who possess arcane skills, the goal of banishing salt from Polaqu remains the unattainable prize. They can be found in almost any swampland.