There are many types of wood in the Shining South, but the cedars and pines of the Aushjar Forest, in the foothills of the eastern bank of the River south of El-Andrel, are by far the most important. These forests, which stretch from within site of the Eagle's Eyrie in Maram to the edges of the foothills in the east, where they give way to the savannah and desert, are the home of the Mumuye. Mumuye (pl. Mumuye) are humanoid elephant-men that stand between 7 and 9 feet tall. They have thick, gray, nearly hairless skin, massive, bony heads with thick brows, eyes that are almost black in color, large ears that they can control at will, and a long, flexible trunk that reaches down to their abdomen. Mumuye are stout, thickly muscled and very strong, but can also move quietly if they wish. Many males sport large ivory tusks that they can use quite effectively in combat, which they often decorate. They have deep, rumbling, sonorous voices.
The Mumuye and the forests are forever linked, one supporting the other. In the distant past, the Mumuye were nomadic, roaming the South in small herds in search of food, perpetually starving and warring with each other. They were ruled by their emotions and suffering because of it, and they had no place to call their own. This changed when one of their own, a wise Mumuye named Sadaa, came up to lead them. The heavens, seeing the Mumuye's plight, sent them a God-King of their own. Sadaa was perfect: strong, wise, patient, and loving, with marble tusks and a golden hide. He taught that, through self-mastery and denial of one's baser urges, the Mumuye could come to master their emotions and become strong. The Mumuye listened to this new leader, and watched as he gradually inspired the herds to join together and follow him to the cedar forest. Here, the Mumuye could thrive. They had plenty to eat, and enough raw materials to make a comfortable living. The great Mumuye race, originally many, became one.
But mankind was jealous of the Mumuye's success. While man's pharoahs were always fighting off men from the North, West, and East, and battling the roaming Talvyr clans, the Mumuye lived together in peace. And man coveted the rich, strong woods of the Mumuye's new home. They demanded that Sadaa hand over the forest to them to be churned up by their despoiling logging crews, but Sadaa refused. So they sent an army, armed with iron weapons and led by the bloodthirsty Bull, to take the trees by force. The Mumuye were not going to give up their new home, though, and they fought back, banding together as one race for the first time. Their strength flattened man's warriors and crushed his legions, and the Mumuye were victorious. But Sadaa, the Mumuye's Perfect Leader, their God-King, was slain in the battle, by the Bull itself. He was mourned greatly, and buried in a shrine in a center of the forest. There, it is said, his body turned the trees into gold, so that they would always reflect his glory.
Man's cruelty is so great that they would not even admit to the crime of deicide. They charged, instead, that Sadaa had been driven insane by ingesting the poisonous blood of The Beast, causing him to lead an army of male Mumuye in a blood frenzy. They further claim that the Mumuye had been regular elephants before this event occurred and only adopted humanoid form after drinking beast blood themselves. These claims have been rightly dismissed by the Mumuye as ludicrous (though it's worth noting that most people in the South, having met Mumuye before, find this explanation plausible).
Since this event, the Mumuye have been an insular people. They remember man's greed, his bloodthirstiness, and how he killed their god, and so they did not let him have their forests. It was not until the one called "Torchbearer" came to show that men had changed that the Mumuye's opinion improved. Gradually, through dealings with the city of the Torchbearer, the Mumuye became more open to mankind and began allowing them to enter the forest, though any discussion of Sadaa and his grave were kept secret from man's probing ears. The Mumuye began trading with men, exchanging pine and cedar for metals, jewels, textiles, and knowledge. They are still suspicious of outsiders, but the Mumuye have come to realize that the outside world cannot be ignored if they wish to keep their home safe.
Mumuye villages typically consist of several large, domed-roof buildings made of cedar and pine and covered in thatching of grass and leaves in which the Mumuye live and work, surrounded by several clearings where the Mumuye practice agriculture. They typically have a large, communal longhouse for eating, sleeping, and meeting, and several other buildings for food preparation and storage, wood and metal working, and housing for traveling guests. Mumuye can often be seen moving between buildings as they do their work, wearing robes and tunics made of woven plant matter or, more recently, flax and linen. Village work is specialized for increased efficiency, and Mumuye can work in a wide variety of jobs, such as woodworking, carpentry, childrearing, farming, waste disposal, and so on. These villages are governed by matriarchs and other old, experienced females who can lead and protect their charges, and are supported by a council of elders. This council functions like a rudimentary republic, with each elder being chosen from a different aspect of village life. Decisions are made by discussion and deliberation, with final approval being given to the matriarch. In times of trouble, though, the matriarch typically seizes control of the village to act unilaterally to defend her charges.
Mumuye males are more rarely found in villages than females, as their more aggressive and combative nature can cause problems for the village. Instead, Mumuye males wander between the villages, enforcing tribal boundaries and hunting down intruders, returning to the villages to gather food and collect young males who are of age. These young males are selected by adult male Mumuye as apprentices and trained in specialized trades or in the arts of survival and warfare. Encounters with Mumuye males by outsiders are often a frightening ordeal, as these large, aggressive elephant-men emerge from the underbrush, seemingly from nowhere, wearing fearsome wooden masks and armor and armed with massive staves, clubs, and spears. Even worse is a male who is in the Mumuye's seasonal blood rage. During this period, called "musk", males become extremely aggressive, lashing back violently at perceived insults and fighting with each other for Mumuye maidens in incredibly destructive dominance battles.
Mumuye society is strongly rooted in the ideals of loyalty and duty. The Mumuye place as their ideal a guardian of the forest who is always faithful, always mindful of his oaths, and who keeps himself bound by honor and loyalty. According to the teachings of Sadaa, self-mastery is achieved by realizing that one's duty to others and to oneself overrides selfish and destructive urges in favor of upright action. The Mumuye ideal is a bull who is strong because of the chains of loyalty he wears, not despite them, because he knows that these chains bend him to turn his destructive nature to constructive uses. By contrast, Mumuye who break their oaths are treated with contempt, seen as murderers and heretics who spit on everything that it means to be a Mumuye. Groups of Mumuye bulls will often band together to hunt down such oathbreakers, whom they execute on sight. The Mumuye do not believe in forgiveness, especially in cases such as these, which sets them at odds with the soft men of the River. Such groups can sometimes be seen far beyond the forest, hunting oathbreakers who have managed to escape onto the plains. This is seen as abhorrent and barbaric, but some El-Andrel scholars have started to argue that it is a necessary evil for a race with such inborn destructive potential.
Typical Male Names: Damaju, Ganam, Maro, Obo, Purulem, Tanadem
Typical Female Names: Burah, Inireh, Manah, Numule, Odojah, Sedah, Semereh