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(May 2nd, 2012)
Meet the Tribes of Tanglebrook: The Skaema!
      by Callista Skip

The Skaema are well-known throughout Tanglebrook as the Drachin servants. These unusual lizardlike creatures walk on two legs, balance with no tail, and have no fur to speak of. The stories tell of a series of caves connected with rocky paths and high-hung rope bridges in Bottomswell, the foothills of the Drachin mountains, where the Skaema skitter about, bringing water or food as the dragons demand it.

Art by Fishyboner

If it weren't for the Skaema Envoy that visits with every tribe once every three years, it's possible that Tanglebrook would lose faith in the dragons. But like without fail, a richly dressed Skaema travels through the jungle, heralded by every tribe, and respected by even the most sully leaders -- for it is this Envoy that takes back important news to the Drachin, information that might win their favor and protection for another three years.

It is said that the Envoy that comes to visit today's Elders is the same Envoy that has visited for generations. No one knows how long a Skaema lives, but it is said that they must live as long, if not longer, than the dragons they serve, in order to be the best at their duties.

The Envoy has a power, though, one that is said that all Skaema must posses. When this smooth being, a creature with no apparent sex organs at all, lays with a chosen member of a tribe, it takes on the form of its partner. This allows the Envoy to speak to the tribe in a comfortable appearance, as one respected member to another. It is a great honor to be chosen as the Envoy's partner, though such an honor is only bestowed once in a great while -- the Envoy keeps its specific form until that partner has been laid to rest, at which time a new person is chosen.

Art by Hebrew

All of those likenesses, stored up in one creature, capable of taking on any number of configurations: that fact alone inspired great respect amongst the tribes. And with good reason, considering that the Drachin would hear everything they told the Envoy, and most things they didn't mean for it to hear or see.

Yet even with that careful respect in place, the Envoy was never overbearing or rude to the tribes. In fact, the Envoy seemed to take great pleasure in meeting with the Elders and eating the ceremonial offerings.

Art by aries84

Each tribe had their own way of receiving the Envoy, some more seriously than others. It is said that the Murodians make a great show of protecting the Envoy from the threats of the jungle, though they themselves are usually the aggressors. The Haidar scoff at this, as they consider themselves to be the grand peacekeepers of Tanglebrook, and they receive the Envoy as a fellow judge. The Alphus refuse this pompous route, bringing the Envoy to eat with everyone, celebrated commanders and scouts alike. The Lutani, though, are merely eager to prove that they are consistent with the Drachin's original appeal: that the waterways are clear, the watering holes groomed, and the river fairly run.

Some tribe members see the Envoy's penchant for gluttony, and pass stories about the debauchery they expect might happen in the Bottomswell caves, of changeling rats mingling with lions, of strange otters on top of wolves, and dragons slinking between them all.

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