The Quequea have lived in the Ver'roth Red Rock Mountains since the near beginning of the Awakening age. They initially were the zu’aan of the neighboring region, but they lived in close enough proximity to where the outbreak started that they were among one of the first hundred or so kin’toni groups to form. The Quequea would have stayed in their original region, but another more powerful clan that had formed at the same time pushed them out of the area taking their previous homes. They were very self-sustaining, so while angry at losing their homes they adapted quickly and moved into the Ver’roth. The Mountains allowed them to continue with their previously isolated existence.
Their previous lives comparable to monks, they were extremely scholarly right off the bat. They’d hauled all the books and various forms of information that they had kept and brought it with them. Their learning drive continued from while being zu’aan. They built a library and school in the mountains so they could continue as they were before. They quickly became known as they would send a handful of members out to collect any books or information that they could. It was during this time that a close zu’aan settlement attacked them. They managed to fend them off, but many were injured and a large distrust of zu’aan set in. They refused from then on to have anything to do with them- including using them as food.
They promptly switched over to the creatures of the region permanently, even though they hadn’t hunted zu’aan since their arrival to the region. From collecting the various books and information about inventions around Taerel, other clans recognized their large stores of knowledge. Many started sending their younger members to learn from the clan. The Quequea accepted them on the condition that they bring information with them to learn. This continued throughout the Awakening age and they became an almost boarding school for the other clans. The Quequea often struggle for enough food for themselves in the Shattering age though, because an ongoing drought has sent away most of the creatures that they would feed on.
Because of this, they shifted from freely allowing any kin’toni to come (with the only stipulation of bringing new information) to their ‘school’ to learn and teach them, to a ‘paid’ school. The payment was essentially monthly installments of blood- enough for their clan member and a small ‘donation’ to the Quequea for teaching them. There were only a small number who refused and stopped sending their clan members. The majority of the clans continue to send members along with payment as they feel that they are centuries ahead of the rest of the world with how much information is moving inside and through the region.
Their high standing with a large number of clans in Taerel has allowed them to avoid any issue with other clans, as those with students in the region will deal with those causing problems for the Quequea.
The Quequea are a solitary type people by nature, though their yearning to learn often outweighs their other preferences. As such they begrudgingly allow others in so that they can learn what they know. They get extremely mentally taxed dealing with others though, so they keep a ‘school’ type season where there’s month long breaks for them to recoup and recenter enough to keep learning and teaching effectively. They do this biannually so that they can conduct their various religious ceremonies during that time. When they get burnt out on interactions, they struggle to retain information they are attempting to learn. In their view that is one of the worst things that can ever happen to them, so they rely heavily on the breaks they take to spare them from that.
They can be quite socially inclined if it pertains to things like intellectual conversations or being taught new knowledge. Their thought process and lives revolve around gaining more knowledge. At times learning can be to the scale of an addiction for them, as they’ll sacrifice personal health to learn more and more information. When this happens, if they’re aware of it, they speak to other clan members to pull them out of the state. They keep this secret and hidden from the other clans as they fear the judgement may result in the other pulling away and no longer providing new information for them to learn.
Being more information based and focused, they can often come across as overly blunt or uncaring as they aren’t well versed in social interactions outside their clan. They do care, at least of others’ opinions, though they do not know how to express this felling well which often leads them to getting frustrated and becoming overly short with those they’re interacting with- counter productive and intuitive to their thoughts. Due to their learning obsession, they have also developed a kind of hoarding complex. The clan manages to keep the appearance clean and tidy where the other clans can see, but in private items are stacked in precariously to fit in as small a space as possible.
They will keep and make hand copies of various books and scrolls multiple times over on the chance one copy may become damaged. Their main school’s building has a basement where most of the original copies of the various texts in their possession are kept. Its in the basement where those who have learned all they can spend the rest of their time, obsessively recreating their amounts of texts. These members especially are the ones who forget to take care of themselves, as the reproduction is their main job for the clan. The ‘neat’ culmination of their knowledge is in the school’s library on the main floor, where they work extremely hard to keep appearances of their obsession out of the students’ eyes.
In the rare cases that a member has higher neuron counts, while being extremely capable of information intake, they often cause problems with the other clan members. They usually gain minor to extreme cases of superiority complexes with their own members as their recall is much better bordering on eidetic memory.
The Quequea, upon their turning, have their brains grow larger than most other kin’toni. The growth isn’t an overall equal growth, but contained to specific areas. The specific areas that grow larger are related to information recall and storage, which allows them to learn exorbitant amounts of information. ‘Grow larger’ is relative for the specific kin’toni- for some its simply the neurons that increase in numbers, while for others it’s the segments of the brain tissue. Those who grow more brain tissue also tend to have physiological changes to the skull to account for the increased matter. This creates a bulbus look for some while for others they appear mostly the same as when they were zu’aan.
For those with neuron growth, a rare few continue to grow neurons through the entirety of their kin’toni existence. Those that do have the condition often struggle as while it allows more information intake, it also requires a higher amount food intake to offset the extreme energy use. The clan tries best they can to accommodate this, but often they are required to have a blended mix diet as there’s barely enough to go around, let alone give more to those that need it. The clan also developed a type of genetic memory between those who turn and those turned. Its isn’t genetic memory in the way one might think, where you can recall memories of those before you. Theirs is more along the lines of a natural instinct or affinity for a task or skill.
Those turned will learn those ‘remembered’ skills or information quicker than others as the information is stored in their memory but not accessible on its own. While highly useful, it has its problems. It only works for the things learned by the one turner before the one was turned. Anything learned after is not transferred after the fact, many tests ranging from hypnosis to consuming the turner’s blood or genetic material later on were performed but none gave positive or useful results. So that means the best time for a new Queqeua is when the one who would turn them is either dying or too weak to learn any other passable skills. That way the turned one has the highest boost that they can for the future.
They keep this information under wraps as they do not want other clans misunderstanding the ability as something learned and attempt to force them into teaching them. While optimal to wait, many do not in fear that something will happen to them before they have the chance to pass the information they know and that it’ll be a major loss for the clan. Because of this, there’s a yearly turning ceremony, though not everyone participates- only if they believe that they have learned a new skill since their last turning that would be passed on. Its rare for the younger turned to participate as they’re often attempting to relearn the skills of their predecessor first before moving on to new topics.
In the Quequea clan, the drive for knowledge is extremely important. It is one of the main things that they do on a daily basis. Their entire lives revolve around learning, keeping, and sharing knowledge that comes to them. They will spend hours reading or practicing new skills on just about anything. From music to writing to sciences to farming the Quequea will attempt to learn anything that’s presented to them. This creates diverse daytime activities. Groups will often form with the ones learning or practicing similar skills in the same fields coming together. These groups often become ‘study group’ like close relationships what only last as long as the skill is being learned.
These study groups were often calm interactions, discussing the various tasks or ideas. There were at times heated or frustrated discussions as members disagreed what was the better route to quicker learning. They never truly crossed into fighting territory, but those arguing would gather an audience of morbidly curious clan members who couldn’t help themselves from watching. If someone was teaching some students and passed the situation they would often stop the class to listen and watch the exchange. They are decently close to the other members of the clan, though most will not consistently socialize with a specific member outside of a mentor like older clan member and the one who turned them.
They still live in family like unit housing, though this is mainly for the immediate members who were turned by a clan member. Once the ‘age out’ and turn a member themselves they get their own living space and have their ‘protégée’ living with them. In the housing the ‘head of the house’ would mentor the younger changed to aid in their learning by showing them how to do things that they mastered. These were often smaller and easier to learn quicker tasks than the larger and more time consuming tasks that they spend the majority of the morning and day learning- like a specific technique for carving with less splits or writing without any smudges vs farming or how to build something.
With their thirst for knowledge, respecting it, and the region are extremely important to them. Their ‘break’ days from learning would be spent wondering the region and becoming more familiar with the land and its functions. These days often were right before and after special ceremony days- for their religious ceremonies as well as for those being turned. They are very careful about what is done to the region and work though as many possible scenarios before ever taking action. Their ceremonies are special all day events where they take the whole day off learning to truly relax. Most of the newer members struggle on these days as its counter intuitive to their entire culture, but they consider the day sacred and do not wish to distract from the day at all.
Its rare for any outsiders to be welcome to join in on the festivities, but if they are invited then they are as good as approved to join the clan if they ever wished to.
The Quequea’s government is straightforwardly simple while also extremely complex. The clan is run by the group of head elder members. The evaluation process for this position is what makes it complex. They have a number of requirements- first is that they’ll have reached the stage where they can no longer learn passable information. With this, they’ll have had to created the last of their direct line before being allowed to take the position. The second part is that in order to be recommended they have to go through an intensive testing program. While only older members are able to apply for the position not all of them are considered capable. Usually members who have the highest neuron count or continued growth gain the position.
The tests span across everything the clan knows and has information on. Those who retain the most knowledge are processed for the rest of the testing. From there they are tested on their self control- pertaining to both skills and those relating to their learning drive. Those that fail to overcome them are eliminated as they are unable to be present for the required meetings with other clans to keep their agreements in place. From there they’re given various health tests- they should be in good health, but not the BEST health as that would mean that they are capable of learning more physically demanding skills. Their tests continue to the hundreds, testing every minor aspect of the member.
When the final list is available, the current heads decide on one each if they do not have any that they’ll take as their student. During that time, the student accompanies the head elder and shadows them for over 5 years before the member starts giving any responsibilities. Once those responsibilities begin to be passed down the clan member is publicly accepted as a new head elder. Usually there is another 5 year transition period before the member officially takes on the role in its full capacity. Those that retire join the older clan members who failed out the elder tests and work on copying texts. This system somehow works for them without issue and the members of the clan have no desire to change the process.
To outsiders its extremely convoluted, and a few have tried minor espionage by attempting to convince some of the head elders that the system needed to change. None of them ever took the bait as they used their extensive history to refute every point made to change and saw through the attempts. The head elders make up the entirety of the region’s government. They decide the budgets, the knowledge that is shared (how vetted it is), and on the rare case of issues act as the judge/jury for the accused. They are the only ones that are present beyond witnesses, any defense members or the arresting officer. They will often rule on a case, inform the clan member’s clan and allow them to decide If they agree with the judgement, and whether or not to leave the member in their care or to take them back.
Usually the Quequea are viewed as a true neutral party so the clans rarely ever dispute judgement, though the taking or leaving of the member is split evenly.
The Quequea being a scholarly region only do the bare minimum when it comes to their military. They prefer to be learning, but recognize that being a location where many kin’toni meet makes them a target for zu’aan groups who wish to do a lot of damage to the various clans learning there. They usually wouldn’t have any fear of zu’aan but their history has left them paranoid of them specifically; their hesitancy of the larger clans faded over time when they learned they held the card in those interactions. Their military ended up appearing more like a police force or private security than a large organized fighting unit. A number of troops would be stationed around the main points that could be targeted, allowing them to check anyone that wasn’t obviously a kin’toni.
These troops were responsible for maintaining the peace between clans and overall general safety from any threats against the rest of those in the region. They had a police station like building set up near the main school and library building which is the most secure area in the region. It was rare they actually ever had to arrest anyone, but when they did they were taken there and held until the clan who’s member caused the problem arrived to either take them away or formally sign them away for whatever form of justice was deemed proper for their offense. The majority of the police force are paid for by the various kin’toni clans that are sending students to the region.
Its sent to a fund that the Quequea disperse to the fighters personally as a way to avoid any possible interference between rivaling clans buying the soldier’s loyalty. Coincidentally the majority of the fighters come from the clan that had pushed them out of their home early into their change, as the clan went through a rough economic period. They had strong fighters so the Quequea decided to buy their services. During the school breaks they will often send the majority of the forces back as they only receive payment for the military when they have the students there in their region. The agreement was made that the region would keep some soldiers there free of charge as a kind of ‘reparation’ for their chasing them away, as well as a guarantee that the Quequea would continue with a longstanding contract to aid them in recovering from their recession.
The police force was trained and carried nonlethal weapons meant to subdue any threat. The slightly larger military force located closer to the edges of the region were trained in standard battle tactics. Their weapons were also standard for the battlefield, mostly swords and bows. They haven’t ever had to actually go into battle though as the larger clans made it clear that any attack on the region was an attack on them and would be treated as such. This was enough to intimidate any zu’aan of kin’toni that thought it would be a good idea to invade the region- either to steal the information they’d taken their lived to gather, or to try and weaken another clan.
Despite what others may think, the Quequea are extremely religious. They are extremely spiritual and believe that the best way to honor their deity is to absorb as much knowledge as they can. This is because through learning as much as they can, they believe that one day, will allow them to learn enough- everything if they live long enough- to understand and be one with their god. They worked hard so that they placed all the knowledge that they had into the various clans and people, so that they would all have to work together and share their knowledge to truly know the entire universe. Biannually they would hold large ceremonies where they would at the same time recite new knowledge they had learned since the previous ceremony.
They believed that along with reinforcing the knowledge, all of them speaking it at one time would allow their deity to regain the information. While all knowing, they believed that the deity was in a slumber waiting for them to learn, and that once the knowledge was learned and sent to the deity that they would start to wake. They believed that each piece of information acted like a chain and bound them to their sleep to the regaining broke that chain permanently for those who would come after them. Usually these ceremonies are held during the ‘break’ time when the students from other clans are sent back home. Only a few times in its history have the Quequea allowed outsiders to stay for the ceremony.
These were on special cases where the student showed that they held similar beliefs to the clan and wished to participate to gain better understanding of their process. As a daily practice they’ll work at mastering or learning new knowledge. These are usually conducted morning and night, with specific topics that aren’t as quickly learned as the ones they study throughout the day. These they believe are the ‘higher knowledge’ that brings them much closer to the deity than the other pieces of knowledge. Its their belief that all the ‘lower’ information that they learn during the time it takes them to learn a single higher knowledge concept are equal and would bring them 2 ‘steps’ closer to being one with their deity.
While they held similar belief as zu’aan it was much more tame. They initially believed that learning what they could in their limited life would ‘save’ them generations later. They believed that once all the knowledge ever was accumulated that those who managed to learn it would ‘purify’ them in a sense and redeem them for being unable to learn everything in their lives. They believed it would be like a resurrection of sorts. Once they turned though, their view shifted and they believed that it was the deity granting them longer lives so that they could sooner unite with it. The resurrection like idea continued though it shifted to more of a reincarnation idea for some.
A small handful went to far as to insinuate that they were all a handful of souls reliving lives, and that the same soul could be living multiple lives at one time in order to gain even more knowledge quicker.