"THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH..."
In the lands of North-East Africa a village of collective tribes, blissfully ignorant to the world above them and the Egyptian rule to the East, called the Hayawani-Teule, tap into Magic for the first time. Devoid of greed and ambition, these people, whom have not encountered a material more powerful than rock, learn to purify water and create fire without kindling. Unwilling to use this newfound power for anything other than survival, the village comes to expand beyond the sandy hills of the Serengeti.
Without the fierce lions of the Serengeti, the village becomes a small city. With this expansion, comes ambition. Although forbidden by the city's elders, splinter tribes begin practicing darker magics -- more specifically, enslaving the predators of the Serengeti. Within a few years, scores of lion prides fell under the thumb of man's domination; becoming mere pets to be farmed for those who could afford. The Serengeti was tamed of its bestial dangers... at the cost of greed.
Tribes began to harness the more destructive sides of fire and water, coercing others to give up land. Not long before the coming of the Changer's War, the tribes had merged and split to become two warring factions: The Water Mages and the Fire Mages. Neither was spared Man's desire, and thus went to war. A stalemate, however, halted the two factions: the Water Tribes could summon tidal waves to engulf the Fire Tribes, and the Fire Tribes could ignite the Water Tribes. To settle their quest for power, they used their lion pets as pawns.
Reliant on these creatures, the tribes sowed spiritual bonds to better control their beasts of war -- unaware of the price soon to be paid. With the Changer's War, their spiritual bonds became unstable; the tribes painfully transformed into creatures from myth: the tribes became part man, part lion. The creatures the tribes enslaved either died or ran deep into the Serengeti.
Each tribe blamed each other for the transformation. Without their war beasts, the tribes picked up weapons or learned spellcraft. The Hayawani-Teule's re-emergence of magic came at a heavy cost: because the tribes were so willing to embed their souls with magic to enslave the lions, the Hayawani-Teule were forced to sacrifice for power. With death afflicting both sides, the need to for children was dire -- spellcasters, at the cost of their magical power, sacrificed their fertility.
"THE MERCIFUL SHALL OBTAIN MERCY..."
War turned the Hayawani-Teule into a scattered people. Despite continued hostilities, the once-united people agreed to end war and put a stop to magic. They divided into nomadic tribes, each given a single mage of water. Some, however, weren't settled with the idea of sacrificing magic, and fled beyond the Great Scar -- their fates, unknown.
We come to the present: The Hayawani-Teule remain divided Nomads, occasionally traveling to Semerkhet for trade. Magic remains strictly forbidden, specifically Fire, except for a single Mage of Water. To keep the people from dwindling out of existence, the tribes meet at a specific location, on a specific date, to pair. Young women are paired with older men, and vice versa; it is rare to have a young couple. Mages, near infertile, are polygamous. If a woman is impregnated, she remains bonded with her partner and joins their tribe. If a female is not, the two part ways and must wait until the next gathering to be re-matched.
Despite their transformation, the Hayawani-Teule retain much of their humanity. Their skin, formerly dark and sun-baked, have turned beige-yellow or light brown, much like the fur of a lion. Instead of limited hair, black and wiry, the people now have manes that grow on both their head and, in the male's case, jaw-line, while retaining body hair. Men have a fully-grown mane by their forties.
Sprouting up from 6', the Hayawani-Teule have stretched to 7'. A fully-grown and developed warrior can weigh well over 300 pounds. Their fingers have become thin and, with proper care, develop small claws. The people's once human heads have taken the shape of their former beasts: a proportional muzzle, sunken cheeks, sharper canines, a flat and triangular nose, and ears. Unlike the felines, however, the Hayawani-Teule have not developed barbs and retain many of their molars. From their posterior, a tail reaches down to the back of their calves ending in a thick tuft of hair. The palms of their hands, and the bottom of their feet, have thin pads -- negating the requirement of shoes.
Within each tribe, there three classes: the Mage, the Hunter, and the Warrior. The Mage is required to find and purify water sources, dedicating his life solely to this task. If a fire mage is ever discovered in the tribe, regardless of their class, their fate is decided upon two choices of action: Death or Exile. In almost every case, the fire mage is executed. The Hunter, not exclusive to but generally consisting of females, spends their life hunting and skinning for the tribe, as well as raising their young. The Warrior’s sole purpose is to build up their strength and improve fighting technique -- they also pack and unpack camp.
The Hayawani-Teule commonly dress in robes except for Hunters, who wear loincloth during hunts. It is also common to wear a keffiyeh, to restrict hair or for protection during sandstorms. The tribes don’t need footwear, unless taking long journeys (in which case, they wrap their feet). Weapons and other supplies are bought with precious stones, generally found near geysers and caves. Favoring weapons that kill or severely weaken their prey, tribes generally buy spears, composite bows, or longswords.
Death for one of the Hayawani-Teule is a tragic thing. Although having lifespans as long as 150 years (200, in the case of a mage) the people generally find themselves dying around the old age of humans, due to the demanding nature as a nomad and the lack of proper medical supplies. When one dies, he or she is cremated -- then left to scatter to the winds.
Although possessing many traits of a carnivore, the Hayawani-Teule are omnivorous.