Kaja are anthropomorphic felines. The race is somewhat diminutive, but is quick and agile, and is dangerous enough to demand certain respect. They come in a variety of color schemes, which helps to segregate them by clan.
There are special sects of Kaja that are treated as royalty. These include the Jaeg’Yuar clan, the Pan’Thar clan, and the Saberclaw tribe.
The average lifespan of a Kaja is between sixty-four and seventy-six years old. Members of the Jaeg’Yuar clan usually live the longest, some surpassing one hundred years of age.
Clothing and Adornment
Because of their low weight and small build, most kaja refuse to wear heavy armor. It is not uncommon for them to wear leather clothing as their heaviest choice. They often go without gloves or footwear, as it makes it difficult for them to travel or be stealthy. They hide their tails and faces, along with their ears in stealth situations, as they believe it helps others distinguish their motives.
Piercing is an honor to the kaja. Each piercing is like an individual medal for a task or service. The most common place for piercing is upon the ear, which is also a reward, as most kaja believe a pierced ear will hone their senses.
It is important to note that if a kaja is pierced without merit, it can have terrible downturns. Lies are severely punished, and false honor is one of the greatest shames a kaja can bring upon oneself.
Relations to Other Races
Kaja look like cats, similar to the way kobolds look like dogs. However, the resemblance a kaja shares is much less notable. The kaja possess combined human features, such as mouth and nose, although the teeth within the mouth are all feline, and the nose is much flatter than a typical human’s. The eyes are strikingly similar to a cat’s, both in shape and color scheme. The ears and tail are the biggest relation to the cat, appearing almost identical to the small critter. Hands and feet are more in tune with a human’s, although claws are hidden within the fingers and toes.
The kaja are a finicky race. They are not often accepting of outsiders, and, if threatened, will run (unless they believe they are able to be the victor, in which case they will fight). They are sneaky and cunning, but also curious, often finding themselves in trouble they had not accounted for. They do not let previous mistakes prevent them from trying something a second time. They are known to preserve their own lives rather than trying to take the life of another. With that in mind, they are prone to run quickly, and find a hiding spot even quicker.
Kaja do not have permanent mates. Because of the fatality rate of kaja in the wild, they are more concerned with random procreation, the preservation of their race. A male kaja will mate with one female at a time, and until she has delivered her children, will remain close by her side. But once her gestation period has ended, the male will leave, often never making a connection with his offspring.
Children stay with their mother (queen), until they are of age to go out on their own. The queen provides her offspring with food, shelter and safety as best she can. It is said that the females of the race are more deadly than the males because of the instincts they build while caring for their young. A queen would rather die than let harm come to any of her children.
When they come of age, males will leave the family, while females stay close to the mother for a while longer.
Groups of kaja form clusters that move from one area to the next. They do not depend on each other for food or services, and are rarely seen within proximity of each other. Rather, they rely on each other for protection. When danger is present, it is not uncommon for members of the cluster to reinforce whoever is in peril.
The kaja are a nomadic race, traveling throughout Warus without settling in any specific place. Unfortunately, this also has them in close proximity with close enemies, the gnolls and the kobolds.
Some kaja have found the constant movement of their clusters to be foolish, and have settled beside lakes or rivers, where fish are plenty. It is much rarer to find a kaja who knows how to ranch or sow a field.
Behavior toward Other Races
The kaja do not outright call any race an ally. They are timid and skittish, and it takes a great deal of patience, service and bribery to earn their trust. As such, most people simply dismiss friendship with the kaja as a waste of time.
The kaja hate the gnolls and kobolds, seeing no difference between the two. The gnolls, however, are the aggressors that cause much turmoil for the kaja race. Because the kaja are nomadic, and the gnolls are imperialistic, the kaja are quickly running out of land to hunt on, and the gnolls are frequently closing in around them.
The battles with the kobolds are an unfortunate result of the kaja’s normal behavior of trusting no one.
Because of their distrust of most races, the kaja are not fluent in any tongue but their own. It is very rare to find any kaja who can communicate effectively with the other races.
Due to their nomadic nature, the kaja do not often have time or need to dabble in writing. However, they do maintain a primitive marking system that they employ on trees, and, to a lesser extent, rocks, to alert others of their race of impending danger or changes in plans.
The kaja are an agnostic race. Truly, if they had ever seen a god, they would likely flee at the sight of them just because they could. They believe in no one but themselves.
As with most of the anthropomorphic races of Tellest, it is believed that the gods were disappointed with the greater races and opted to show them that even primal beings were able to cohabitate with each other. As such, the kaja became one of those races, having been crafted from the common cat. However, because of the kaja’s defiance to the gods’ existence, many believe that the kaja came about from some other method.
Myths and Legends
There are legends of stable clans of kaja that live in and around mountains, the coasts of Draconis, and several tropical islands. These clans are said to have been the original members of the race, and supposedly have great knowledge and wisdom, along with great power and even greater treasure.
The kaja are a very primal race. They do not employ tools, opting instead on using their keen bodies and martial prowess to achieve whatever they need.
Within kaja clusters, it is not uncommon to find a respected elder who can practice some magic. While the spells these elders can use are not very potent, they are still very wieldy if used correctly.
The more stabilized clans of legend supposedly passed down the knowledge of magic to the nomadic clusters on the mainland. It is said that the clans’ variety of magic is much more impressive, and therefore much more dangerous.
Kaja do not actively participate in a military. Rather, they have a strike and run approach to combat. As such, it is very difficult for the kaja to permanently dispose of an enemy.
Anyone within a cluster will come to another kaja’s aid if it can. However, depending upon a balance of numbers, it is plausible that the other members in the cluster will forgo rescue of their companion altogether to maintain their own safety.
Weapons and Tools
Kaja do not use melee weapons, finding their claws to be enough of a damage producer. They are not powerful enough to use weapons effectively anyway. However, the kaja do sometimes use nets and bows to hunt, and if they are equipped at the time of an encounter, will not be hesitant to use those tools as weapons.
Wars and Enemies
What the gnolls see as a war, the kaja sees as pure genocide. The catlike people will never openly stand against the gnolls, opting to run instead, leaving behind whatever land, food or treasure they must for survival.
The kobolds are treated in much the same way, despite their neutrality towards the kaja.