The common red paca, also commonly collectively addressed simply as pacas, are residents of the upper canopy along the green belt, living in a more serene area on the Ava apart from most of the happenings on the surface. Prized for the beauty as gems of the forest and often kept as a show of status, the paca is more famous still for its innate ability for human speech.
Not just speech of memorized phrases by rote in pursuing leaved bread snacks, mind, but full conversational abilities. It has been proven that red pacas can learn speech faster than any mortal breed. Their cranial capacity, however, is still lacking when compared to the potential of their abilities. Pacas are capable of coherent, intelligent thought. However, they are prone to short attention spans and quickly lose interest, or may begin speaking of unrelated and inane subjects at a whim. Speech capacity is assumed to be from a long-ago trained ability bred into their familial line from the old world and evolved more pronounced over time spent in isolation in the trees, where mortal speech was passed around without meaning for many moons. The competence of pacas is, in comparison, lacking. Extremely intelligent examples have been noted. For the most part, pacas are a parlor piece or good company for children.
Red pacas are about two measured hands tall at full size, and take sixty cycles of the moons to reach dudehood.
Their feathers are primarily red on the body and blue on the tail. Color variations occur with rogue births and the rare change with achieving older age.
They have no special abilities outside of speech, with an as-you-would-think makeup of bones, meat, and beak.
Their diet consists mostly of things smaller than them, be it plant or insect with the occasional meaty supplement.
On a note of their language, because references to the old world are mentioned, their language ability is not considered the result of a mutation, the like of which could have been caused by the Great Whump.
Known Color VariantsEdit
With variations in color, some common threads of personality or behavioral differences have also been observed.
- Green - Not to be confused with the smaller population of a different breed-strain of paca, inbred until that line lost its ability for speech, the natural rare green paca are born a dark shade of green. The difference between the breed con be distinguished in the tail, which remains blue where as rare greens of inbreeding are yellow. These 'green-blue' pacas tend to be calm and better spoken, though do not ascend the ranks of paca social strata, and live more isolated avian lives.
- White - The rarely occurring color of white is attributed to a lack of pigment in the coloring of feathers. A complete absence of melanin in the animal also strips it of eye color, interfering with conal color core light receptors, rendering it blind as well. These strange rogue births are quickly expelled from the flocks their born in, presumably seen as an abomination of their ranks. Without the support of their group, these specimens die quickly in the wild, and those who manage to survive never develop the speech abilities of their common paca brethren. It is not know at this time whether this is a further genetic fault, or some kind of decision made by the animal due to its rejection. Due to their rarity, they are prized as a kept beast status symbol--an irony as they achieve no status among their natural fauna breed. Even among mortal speakers they, white pacas do not acquire speech skills. Some more sensitive to the waves of the cosmos have said there is a great sense of foreboding around these birds, for what they might say one day. This is often repeated, though stands no more than idle rumor.
- Gold - The red-gold paca is thought to be the result of rogue biology. Who made the crossover is not known, but the belief is someone skilled in the sciences took trace DNA evidence to create a kind of 'artificial virus' to infect the rNA replication process of an unborn red paca. The DNA they crossed over was from none other than that of a golden ohbocho, or if not the real thing, than a skillful imitation. From this successful breeding experiment, a boom in the popularity of owning a gold paca quickly led to a market for those who cold successfully multiply examples of the bird. Because of these crudely created origins, it is not believed that the gold paca is a naturally occurring variation, but escaped specimens have reintegrated into the wild and occasionally breed among other like members to create an offshoot of wild gold paca. Ohbochos have no capability of language, and this has carried a hampering effect to gold pacas who have more limited speech. Basically, they're pretty but dumb. Good temperament though, nice birdies.
Due to their elevated level of speech being the most defining factor in this breed of fauna, the well-spoken among them tend to rise in social rank. Curiously, perhaps because the language was learned from mortal beings, they possess similar values to common dudes, demonstrated in their speech. Those who make big promises or talk big smack tend towards being social climbers while those timid and shy will be followers of the flock.
How this social ranking is done remains unknown, but the most basic observation notes that red pacas talk incessantly in their treetops, often well into the night making them an absolute menace to live near. Their groups prefer solace and avoid civilized areas, meaning travelers are most likely to be bothered by the constant chatter.
Another peculiar point to the animal--again focusing on language use--is that red pacas rarely talk about their own experiences. Scribes confirm that their lexicon of known speech is a mutually aggregated collection of words passed down from many generations back, possibly dating clear through history into the old world.
For this reason, some patient researchers or scribes--and the occasional bent fortune teller--have caught and kept red pacas to make records of their speech, hoping to find clues back into the old world, attempting to trace similarities of descript objects from then still here. Significant evidence has been obtained to impart that gaulyms and something called "tinkers" had a large effect during the final days of the old world.
Each red paca also has their own name taken from the collective of known words. Some old hags of fire see this as the personality of the deceased living on in the words of pacas.
To put it simply, red pacas talk a great deal, though have no idea what they may be saying yet still form a social strata based on who lives these assumed personalities of words best.
Outside of the Green Belt, kept red pacas are looked at favorably as companions of bright nature and easy upkeep.
Red pacas can be domesticated well and take to captivity much better than most beasts of the wastes. Citizen and bandit alike may take to having a kept paca with them at home or on travels. Breaking the blabbing habit of adults is hard but possible, though those imprinted on human parents before opening their eyes at 10 moon cycles will be significantly less chatty than their wild adult cousins. Young pacas raised this way retain their speech abilities, and learn from the environment around them.
Due to previously mentioned limits of cranial activity because of a small head structure, most pacas talk a great deal of nonsense, though in time they will develop a personality (influenced by words and environment) and choose their own names. This choosing of a name is a particularly intriguing phenomenon, as some birds will choose names their owners may never have spoken before, leading to speculation that pacas may have some kind of inherent internal memory.
The most envied children of the wastes are those who come to own their own red paca. If raised from the imprint stage with the child still young, the paca will grow to be something of a brother or sister. Pacas raised this way with children have been shown to be more coherent, better thinkers than their adult cousins, somehow linked to the bond they share with their young master. Many stories are told of children helped out of tricky situations from the support of a loyal paca able to seek aid if befallen by trouble.
The Day of Double Red MoonsEdit
Red pacas have been in good favor with the dudes of Ava. There is, however, one disturbing story in the annals of history. Some say it never happened, others say it didn't, and others still ensure they had an uncle who knew a guy who was nearby when it came to pass, some thousands of moon cycles before now.
The story goes that the moons went red. Stray lights and reflections from the Ava playing colors on the shining space balls is not uncommon, but this was told to be a deep crimson, a blood red moon. It's enough to rile up dingle dogs when celestial activities occur, but no one thought the biggest threat would come from tens of thousands of red pacas leaving the Green Belt and flying across the tectonics. Even those caged and domestic changed to a ball of red fury, beating themselves bloody against their bars until able to find release and join the swarming flock, or expire from their aggressive effort.
The winged bird beasts have no great strength, and thus posed no physical harm, but their power of voice, grown and swollen in the density of massive flocks, began to echo words and incantations of a language long forgotten, all in unholy synchrony, at such a volume that those for leagues around would hear the echo off the surface of the world.
Those in earshot got chills and felt strange, it is said, however individuals directly below the below of the flock were near instantaneously driven mad, and entire cities were returned to the state of chaos known as sprawl. Cities and townships crumbled in a night where the hosts of pacas passed, and in the morning the birds has disappeared from the sky and those who lived through the madness found their homes burned and families slaughtered, some likely by their own hand. Many would never recover from the impact of that night, were thrown back into the swarms of sprawl.
...It is, however, just an unforgotten story, with no solid proof past hearsay. But those who have heard it and believe it to be true are unsettled by the 'red demon speakers'.
Most kids just think that sounds funny. Stupid kids. Silly birdies.