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December 17, 2012 / Philip Athans & Mel Odom

The Nihlex

The nihlex are a species of highly intelligent winged simians who are so fully adapted to life in the Fathomless Abyss some people (including some of the nihlex’s own clergymen) think they actually evolved there naturally. This fuels the nihlex belief that the Abyss is their world, and everyone else, especially these arrogant humans, are invaders.

A great nihlex queen from the deep levels journeys in a constant caravan with all her wealth and court up from the lower reaches of the pit to trade and sort of “show the flag.” The Nameless Queen then makes her way back down in a cycle that simulates a “year” for the people of the Abyss. Her arrival in Watershed is greeted as if it were a new year, anyway. The queen does not speak to anyone, and refuses to reveal even her name. Her courtiers carry her in a decadent palanquin, and praise their queen as they travel. The courtiers engage with the villages, trading and gossiping, but none are permitted to reveal the name of their queen.

Rumors abound that the Nameless Queen isn’t really a ruler at all, but the whole thing is simply a bit of elaborate theater to intimidate newcomers to the Abyss. Still, no one has really gathered the nerve to put the Nameless Queen and her court to the test.

A nihlex caravan camp described by J.M. McDermott in his story “It’s Mine”: “. . . roosting along shrub-lined walls. Their great tents were hooked with claws of bone and steel and rope pulleys to keep their many tents attached, like insect nests, upon the rocky walls. The serfs and servant men, all colors and sizes and ugly and dirty, hung from their feet by rocky outcroppings and grazed upon the hard, turquoise leaves of the shrubs. The women in the tents, and their chosen males, would never come out until it was time to fly again to new pastures, new trading . . .”

The nihlex serve, too, as the mailmen of the Abyss. Teams of nihlex messengers routinely pass through all the known towns and cities, carrying news and information, and ferrying goods.

 

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