Way of Living
Longears are mammalian creatures with a life expectancy of around thirty-five to forty years.
Individuals that have lived to be fifty years exist but make up a minuscule fraction of the species.
Longears of high age (Forty and plus) have generally succumbed to disease and sickness and require the continuous aid of their tribe to survive.
Habitat and Housing
Their preferred area of habitation are thick forests, located near a human settlement of some kind. They primarily use caves and abandoned buildings created by humans as shelter.
In the absence of the aforementioned two, primitive huts which they create themselves will serve as an alternative. Tree crowns that are high up are also used.
The species is predominantly carnivorous but will eat anything if they get their hands on it.
They have no specific prey. They hunt and will simply capture, kill and eat any mammal they encounter. Some tribes eat humans, too.
Their legs are highly developed, giving them enormous jumping capabilities, enabling them to traverse the trees of their dwelling and stalk whatever prey they have set their sights on, without letting themselves be seen or even noticed.
In most cases, the initial attack will be a leaping strike from above, which will often have a lethal outcome for the prey.
Longears are capable of shapeshifting. Their original beast-form is a bastard hybrid between a wolf and a grossly overgrown rabbit.
They also possess a humanoid form which, in modern days, is widely preferred among the species' individuals. In this humanoid form, traits of their real nature are still present, namely, their long ears remain, which coincidentally is where the common name for the species, Longear, originated from.
Their shapeshifting is advanced to the point where they can shift parts of their body at a time, making them excellent hunters that are deadly in close combat. Despite their high intelligence for being animals, their primary weapons are their large claws.
The shapeshifting process is not without it's risks as it causes excessive strain on the body and immune system.
Shapeshifting itself only takes a few moments, minutes when they shift their entire body. During the shifting, longears experience pain, as they break and deform their bones, muscles and entire body structure.
After years of shapeshifting, issues including chronic pain, numbness, light paralysis and various other symptoms will arise.
Longears have taken on the misguided belief that putting bandages on their extremities will delay this deadly process. However, the bandages only offer a temporary and mild pain relief.
Living in the group
The common tribe is based around a hierarchical structure with a minimum of ten and up to thirty members.
This small society is centered around a dominant leading figure who assigns roles to every member of the tribe, examples being hunting and distribution of produce and reserves.
Longears are very social animals who are shown to be capable of empathy, kindness, compassion and sensitivity towards members of their own group in contrast to their crass aggression towards unfamiliar individuals.
One tribe consists of several families, but blood relationship doesn't matter to the individuals, they consider the tribe as a whole as their family.
This mentality leads to them bonding over various activities such as sharing meals, cuddling, taking baths together or braiding one's hair. The display of platonic physical affection between individual tribe members, no matter their relation, age, or sex is normal in their everyday life. It is also common for a tribe to share one sleeping space for everyone together.
They value comradeship highly and disagreements between individuals are not tolerated and usually get silenced by the group's leader or a high-ranked longear.
The life of the traditional Longear is very simple. However, each tribe participates in recurring rituals of their own.
Ranks determine the superiority among the Longears outside of the clear leader structure. These ranks are established by tattoos. The placement of the tattoo decides the rank of the individual.
The leader bears it on the face while their direct subordinates have theirs on the torso. The next lower rank has the tattoo placed on their arms and the lowest rank among the tribe bears theirs on their legs.
The rank plays a major role in determining the daily duties of each Longear as well as their privileges and their position in the hierarchy.
Ranks are chosen by solely the tribe leader, with several attributes playing a role in the decision. For example, the behavior in the group, strength and agility in a fight, as well as strategic competence are factors... And how much the leader likes the longear who is to be ranked. Life's a bitch sometimes.
Behavior between different tribes
Longears are highly territorial, so when 2 tribes encounter each other, it is mostly due to the fact that one has the intention of increasing their territory, and thus provoking a fight.
These fights happen regularly, and only end if one leader gives up and has his tribe retreat, making their opponent the winner and handing over the piece of land.
If neither leader gives up, they fight until one of them dies. The survivors of the defeated tribe are usually given the option to join the winning tribe. In other cases, they can be chased away, forcing them to find a new home or even be slaughtered.
However, there exist various locations at which Tribes meet for friendly trade and banter, most comparable to a marketplace of some sort. These areas are accessible to all tribes equally and their locations are well guarded. Longears primarily trade information, food, and clothes. Many tribes simply attend to participate in the always ensuing consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Religion is mostly prevalent In northern areas, several tribes there have their own deities which they worship, hoping for mild winters and other positive influences.
Being spiritual is not the norm for longears though.
Appearance is really important to Longears and they make use of almost anything they can find to make themselves stand out.
They wear clothing made by humans that they altered to their own liking, and decorate it and their hair with jewelry, feathers, bones, flowers, chains, anything. Really, anything goes.
It goes without saying that there's a wide variety of different hairstyles.
Their outer appearance is used to impress members of the opposite sex. Males especially have to try hard to win someone over.
High-ranked longear are more likely to wear a lot of decoration, which can also be used to impress and intimidate longears from other tribes.
Upon turning sixteen years old, a Longear is considered an adult member of the tribe. This is celebrated with a festival the tribe puts on which lasts from dawn until late at night. The initial rank assignment for the now adult Longear by the tribal leader happens during this celebration, and the work on their tattoos gets started as well. It is considered to be one of the most important moments in one's life.
Longears chose only a single partner all their life which makes them strongly monogamous creatures.
Sexual maturity is reached some time before they are officially recognized as adults by the tribe.
The process of choosing a partner is entirely separate from all other tribal matters such as the hierarchy, duties or age.
A lone Longear will start to actively seek out single individuals of the opposite gender after reaching full sexual maturity. This point in time varies between individuals but happens some time after being recognized as an adult.
This process is driven by their instinct. Due to their low life expectancy and slow growth into adults and sexual maturity, the time window to care for their offspring until they can care for themselves is limited.
Longears of different tribes getting together is really rare, and if it works out, one of them must decide to leave their tribe for his partner's.
Same-sex attraction is not looked down upon. However, there are plenty longears who are completely unaware that it is a thing.
Behavior around and towards Humans
Longears are natural predators and stand at the top of the food chain. They are the only natural enemy of humankind. In recent years, this hunting behavior has changed considerably.
In the past, cattle was the prey of choice. Humans themselves were also hunted, killed and eaten due to their lack of capability in fighting back and protecting themselves.
In current days, Longears have started to use their humanoid forms, with their ears concealed beneath a hood or similar apparel, to lure humans into a trap. This tactic is mainly employed by the children of the tribe, whose strategy revolves around pretending to be injured or lost.
Once the prey come too close, the adults close in and the often unsuspecting humans become the tribe's next meal.
Travelers, especially traveling merchants, are the most preyed upon humans in this case. Clothes, valuables, spices, drugs and food are all taken from the humans before they are killed.
Small villages, located near a forest, are also often the targets of the Longears.
However, in recent years, humans have developed weapons for use against Longears and created strategies to protect themselves from their predators. Small parts of the military are even specialized on Longear-hunting by now.
Even though humanity is technically more advanced, and Longears are unable to make and use tools, they still perceive them as inferior, pathetic creatures who have no worth apart from being exploited.
Yeah they are very prideful creatures.