The Benthar(ians), known more commonly as Prawns, are a species of gigantic sapient isopods from the realm of Benthos. While their size is impressive, they depend on mechanical exoskeletons to contribute to Aesoteric society. These exoskeletons are of the Benthar’s design, showcasing their exotic architecture and culture. The exoskeleton of a Prawn is highly multi-purpose, designed to suit every need and be optimally versatile. Benthar are considered a part of the lower section of the Aesoteric hierarchy, hence their crude common name.
As natives of the aquatic realm of Benthos, the Benthar are largely aquatic; Sharing similarities to other aquatic crustaceans like crabs or lobsters. Benthar individuals can be divided into “giants”, who generally are between 8 and 15 cm (3.1 and 5.9 in) long and “supergiants”, who are between 17 and 50 cm (6.7 and 19.7 in). They most closely resemble woodlouse, their bodies are dorsoventrally compressed, protected by a rigid, calcareous exoskeleton composed of overlapping segments. Benthar, when threatened, can curl into a tight ball to protect their vulnerable underbelly. While they do have compound eyes, they are sophisticated enough to boon these organisms with superior vision to other insectoid Aesoteric.
The pereiopods are arranged in seven pairs, the first of which is modified into maxillipeds to manipulate and bring food to the four sets of jaws. The abdomen has five segments called pleonites, each with a pair of biramous pleopods; these are modified into swimming legs and rami, flat respiratory structures acting as gills for both terrestrial and aquatic respiration. Prawns are pale lilac or white in coloring.
While their ten limbs are capable of locomotion on land, they are rather slow and cumbersome. They only demonstrate optimal mobility when attached to their bionic exoskeleton or while swimming. They are also incapable of genuine combat with larger organisms, unless they gather into swarms. This swarm mentality was developed to help combat the hostile nature of their homerealm. There have been reports of Prawns slaying larger creatures single handedly without assistance, however.
Before the advent of technological advancement and Aesoteric intervention, Benthar were mere scavengers. Although important to the ecosystem, they were feeble in comparison to the leviathans that swam the waters of Benthos. They occupied a niche as generalist scavengers, inhabiting the Deep Dark. Although they could consume almost any form of biological matter, they predominantly consumed dead leviathans, fish, and squid; they also preyed on slow-moving animals such as sea cucumbers, sponges, radiolarians, nematodes, and other organisms. The hostile conditions of the Deep Dark forced the Benthar to make many adaptations, as food is scarce, they must take advantage of whatever food they have available; they are adapted to long periods of famine. When a significant source of food is encountered, they would gorge themselves to the point that they could barely move. A far cry from their modern-day counterparts.
Aesoteric bottom trawling expeditions had harvested multiple Benthar organisms before. However, they were usually released or eaten. When the Schism occurred, there was a great need for deathtroopers to support the war effort. Desperate for candidates, Aesoteric scouts searched for lifeforms suitable for the recruitment. The only species compatible were the non-sapient Benthar. With, or without their knowledge or agreement, they were conscripted in the Aesoteric warmachine.
Now sapient, the creatures failed to contribute effectively due to their small frame and weak overall strength in comparison to other soldiers. The fledgling Bentharian culture used Aesoteric resources to create metallic frames, exoskeletons, to pilot and use in combat. These agile and versatile suits allowed the Benthar to become support roles in military endeavors, and to better traverse Aesoteric infrastructure. In modern day, the Benthar use their metallic shells to partake in martial support roles, or in generalist labor. They live in the more industrial slums, and their exoskeletons have given them the ability to traverse Aesoteric structures with ease.
Table of Contents:
- Overwhelming Numbers
- Aquatic Doctrine
- Farm Animals
- Draught Beasts
Bentharian cuisine is extremely diverse, due to their origins as generalist scavengers. They will eat anything put their way, and meals created by their hand usually are simplistic, easy to store and preserve, and highly nutritious. The average Bentharian meal consists of piscine jerky, dried fruit, rice, and hot spices. Anything that can be farmed by a Bentharian is farmed by a Bentharian. Their supremely generalist diets make them among the easiest to feed. In certain periods of famine, they have even been known to practice cannibalism on their deceased.
The traditional cuisine of the Benthar consists of whatever can be put on the table. Usually, their foodstuffs are highly nutritious, easy to preserve/store, and savory or salty. Meat and grain makes up a large portion of the Bentharian’s traditional diet. Benthar cannot efficiently metabolize sugar, and as such their diet has very little of it. There are four meals throughout the day in Bentharian culture and schedule, Juul (translating roughly to: Sunfeast), Aztak (translating roughly to: Dayfeast), Gor (translating roughly to: Setfeast), and Azmakan (translating roughly to Moonfeast). Each meal is usually similar, if not the same. Consisting of dried, smoked, or salted fish; dried and de-sugared fruits; mushrooms; hardtack; fried vegetables; spiced rice; and in certain famines, deceased Benthar.
The four meals fluctuate in size, Sunfeast and Moonfeast being the largest, Dayfeast being the third smallest, and Setfeast being the smallest of them all. In the case of Setfeast, the meal may consist of sliced meat and nothing else. While Sun/Moonfeast will consist of banquets of meat and vegetables. While Benthar have adapted to be gluttonous, and gorge themselves until immobility, they no longer eat nearly as much in a single sitting. Bentharian family units will often pray to the Bejet for granting them life and a scrumptious meal.
During working hours, Benthar conform to the Aesoteric drone diet. Consisting of ground mulch-flesh and boiled insects. The diet of the average Aesoteric Neophyte worker conforms effectively with the diet of a Benthar. Which means that specific diets, tailored to the nutritious needs of the Benthar, are not required. With the single exception of the removal of sugar from the Bentharian worker’s diet. Benthar are known to cannibalize other Aesoteric workers who have been killed on site, despite social stigma.
Bentharian warriors are savage beings in combat, despite their role as lithe scouts or suppliers. In combat, they are known to savagely feast upon the bodies of enemy and friend alike. Otherwise, they are more likely to stick to the standard Aesoteric soldier diet.
Bentharians are the native practitioners of the relatively obscure religion known as Bejetism. Religious followers of Bejetism believe that their remains must be cannibalized so that their sins can be evaporated into nothingness and both their good deeds, and the ones of previously cannibalized followers, can be transferred onto the one who cannibalized them. All done in honor of the Bejet (roughly translating to warrior-king), a powerful gladiator.
The Bejet was a skilled gladiator of unknown race who practiced the traditions of his namesake religion: consuming the remains of enemies and allies alike to transfer their virtues onward and destroy their sins. It is said that in his life, he enlightened thousands of Benthar and other Aesoteric. He was slain in combat against the Belial, the antithesis to the Bejet and the spawn of evil.
The primary goal of the followers of Bejetism is to harvest enough virtues to reincarnate the Bejet in a new, powerful form. Which will then allow him to consume every follower, regardless of race, and use their virtues to create a new generation to help him slay the Belial. Who, apparently still lives in stasis beneath Benthos.
To honour the Bejet, aside from cannibalism, followers may pray at shrines, burn incense, and dance and celebrate. The day of the Bejet’s death is considered a gloomy holiday in which all followers must sleep and mourn his passing. Regardless of beliefs, it is customary for Prawns to pray to the Bejet at every meal for winning the day’s battle against death by disease, cancer, or injury.
There is often conflict between followers of Bejetism and Aesoteric Neophytes, the latter of which practicing cannibalism out of pure hunger. Oftentimes, this is mistaken for devotion to the Bejet.
The beliefs of the Bentharians often contradict with the beliefs of most Aesoteric. If they have any faith it is usually not in a God or divine figure, or, that figure is whoever is commanding the swarm-platoon. Bentharian culture is fundamentally finds use of overwhelming numbers dishonourable, the opposite of the majority of Aesoteric tradition. As such, Benthar soldiers are few in these swarm attacks, and begrudgingly following orders.
The generalist war doctrine of the Bentharian people involves systematically wiping out ground units based on their place in the command chain. Bentharian might is focused predominantly around ground or water-based combat, and they oftentimes depend on other Aesoteric technologies for aerial support. Bentharians follow a similar command system to the other Aesoteric on the battlefield for ease of communication.
Bentharians make little use of vehicles, instead using their versatile mechanical exoskeletons to traverse the environment at equal speeds to other Aesoteric martial vehicles. In a similar manner to standard Aesoteric organisms, Bentharians usually depend on surprise attacks to win the battle. Rushing at enemy troops and quickly cutting them down before themselves being shot.
Bentharians cooperate extremely well with Bio-Mechs, possibly because both are similar in that they both inhabit powerful (bio)mechanical suits.
Prawns are highly skilled in water-based combat, more-so without their mechanical suits. Benthar are known to abandon their suits to demonstrate ambush tactics in water-based environments. They will often swim in swarms, violently mauling and gnawing at enemy troops with overwhelming force. The infamous “Bentharian Facehug” is a combat-move in which a Bentharian will latch onto the face of an enemy and use their limbs and mandibles to deglove it.
Prawns will use whatever they can to create housing or structures. They are known to use gigantic conch shells, whale bones, scrap metal, and even shed carapace to create buildings. They will build anywhere with space, and use unique and powerful cement recipes to keep their structures stable. Prawn architecture often integrates the outside environment into its design, and a Benthar housing unit is usually multiple separate buildings connected via bridges or paths.
Traditional Prawn architecture consists of circular and cone-shaped buildings, usually heavily integrated into the outside environment. Oftentimes, they will be partially submerged in water or underground. Prawn structures are made from giant conch shells, bones, scrap metal, and shed carapace. All of which are held together via a type of superhardened adobe or cement. Family units often construct multiple smaller buildings, connected together via bridges or paths, for their family to inhabit.
Larger temples and cities may be made from stone bricks, dead coral, or wood.
Prawn architecture in an industrial setting is nearly identical to Aesoteric industrial architecture. With the exception of more alternative transport routes for Bentharians without their exosuits.
Bentharians have domesticated multiple creatures in their time as Aesoteric. Multiple of which inhabit entirely aquatic environments. Used for multiple different purposes, the fauna domesticated by the Prawns have proved to be of great use to their society.
Bentharians farm smaller porpoises for meat and blubber. These creatures are mostly farmed in large lakes or rivers, where they can swim relatively freely. When they breed, the males are slaughtered and the females live on to nurture the offspring. Farm-porpoises killed via natural causes, age, disease, etc, are also harvested by the Benthar.
Prawns use standard Aesoteric draught beasts, such as Ravenoids, for general terrestrial labor. While they will use Greatshrimp for aquatic labor. Some bovine draught beasts have been used for labor, although most are the first to be consumed in famines. Bentharians do not use mounts, instead depending on their exosuit for fast mobility.
Canine organisms are a common companion organism among almost every Aesoteric creature, including the Benthar. Alongside this, giant urchin and larva serve as companionship inside a Prawn community.
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