The Binoq are a diminutive humanoid race that makes their home in the Great Barrier Range in passes that are nearly inaccessible. Their size makes them ideally suited to the terrain.
The Binoq have only one city, that of Qorfuu. Qorfuu is underground in vast caverns beneath the mountains. These chambers are linked together, with homes climbing the walls on every side. Ramps, stairs, ladders, all are typical in Binoq construction.
Binoq rarely exceed three feet in height. Two foot six is more typical. They do not grow beards until late in life. Their hair colour is often dark, though some have been known to sport a light shade of brown. Their skin colour ranges from pale to ruddy like humans, but ti does not seem to react the same way. The more they are exposed to the sun, the paler they become. The more time they spend underground, the darker they grow.
Overall, they look like short humans. Their proportions are that of normal humans, though they are somewhat stockier. They do not look like midgets, nor do they appears as classical dwarves. Similarly, Binoq men and women are easy to distinguish.
Their clothing is generally thick and fashioned from wool. Male Binoq do not wear jewelry, though they do sometimes don pendants carved with runic letters. Female Binoq will wear jewelry fashioned from precious stones, but each piece they wear marks a specific occasion in their life, such as coming of age, marriage, their first child, etc…
Binoq lifespans typically range between 150 to 250 years. A Binoq is considered to be of age at 30. Men who do not die in battle live slightly longer than the women (ten to twenty years).
In ancient times the Binoq ranged across the hills south of the Great Barrier Range. They have long been friends to the Elf, and once engaged in a great deal of trade. They have never been on good terms with humans. Before the Midlands was separated into three lands, the King of the midlands, Herouc, fought them tooth and nail, driving them back into the mountains.
Humans and Binoq have not interacted for hundreds of years, and the Binoq want to keep it that way. For Humans, the Binoq have become a bit of a legend and have even become part of nursery rhymes. One common snippet is:
White top, sky drop,
Mountains make the people stop.
No yolk, from Herouc,
Let's hide from the Little Folk!1
The rhyme refers to Herouc's failed invasion of the mountains. Herouc was the last King of the Midlands.
Since that time, the Binoq have grown insular and only occasionally maintain dealings with the Elves. Contact with outsiders is strictly forbidden. That said, they continue to maintain their tradition as record keepers.
The Binoq keep to themselves. The only Binoq who leave Qorfuu anymore only patrol their mountain passes and farm on the lower slopes. Abafouq is an exception to this, and has become something of a pariah amongst his people.
There are several common professions that most Binoq fall into in some for or another:
- Farmer/Shepherd - Exactly what it says. These grow the crops or tend the strange underground sheep that provide the city with its food.
- Miner - The Binoq are always searching for new passages or new minerals they can trade to the Elf.
- Alchemist - These few possess a scholarly interest in minerals themselves. Oddly enough, the Binoq have the world's best chemists. While they don't have a Periodic Table, they have classified and studied more minerals than even the Elf.
- Priest - The Binoq worship the pantheon, though they are not technically Lothanasi either. Their names for the pantheon are different, as are their perceptions about the pantheon's spheres of influence.
- Historian - The Binoq pride thmesleves on the extensive histories they document. In Qorfuu lies one of the greatest histories ever kept, the Walls of Nafqananok. The Walls are a spiral of menhir upon which details of events that occurred in that year are recorded.
- Soldier - Paranoid of human invasion, there is always plenty of work to be found in protecting Qorfuu and their holdings in the mountains and valleys.
The Binoq are ruled by a council of elders. By and large they maintain the status quo, though they also judge criminals to determine not whether they are innocent or guilty, but whether they are forgivable or not. Justice is different in Binoq society. Punishment is meted out for crimes, but the punishment varies on how forgivable the crime was. To be unforgivable is the greatest of curses to befall a Binoq, for it means that they must leave Qorfuu. This is generally a death sentence, for few Binoq are psychologically capable of living beyond the borders of their land.
The Binoq language is rife with hard consonants and sharp short statements. Everything they mean is packed into as few sounds as possible. In the mountains, speaking steals the warmth from your body, so their language has adapted to the clime.
Their writing is similar to Scandinavian runes, with all the letters formed by straight lines. This is because they chisel all of their writing, and a curved letter just cannot be easily done.