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The Hypha or Ashen are a nomadic deer-like people who were subjugated by the Divine Principality during their expansion.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

While they are primarily portrayed as resembling fur-less humanoid deer, individual Hypha have been described as moose-like or with goat-like horns in place of antlers. In their initial conception they were described as having faces more akin to a skin-covered wolf's skull than a deer's.[1]

Culture[edit | edit source]

Before the Principality[edit | edit source]

The Hypha were nomadic, starfaring people who followed the Strand through space after launching the complicated patterns in the sky to guide them. The Strand acted as a sort of migratory pattern, guiding the Hypha in their travels, and would be "re-threaded" every few years to determine their course. They would arrive in clusters on nearby planets, all following the same Strand, and never too far away from the rest of the fleet. As a nomadic people they were known to carry packages and messages between planets, allowing for many planet-bound cities and groups to communicate with other parts of the galaxy.

Clothing and architecture[edit | edit source]

Their traditional clothing and ships often include stone statuettes and armour pieces on their outfits, such as an arm or leg piece. When introduced they took inspiration from concept art of the Silent Ones by Lilit Designs.[2] Hypha ships would follow a similar design principle, with large decorative statue portions covered in thick enamel to protect them on reentry and takeoff.

Inside their ships, and in large meeting areas, they often used large circles to decorate the ground. These were designed to mark where people could stand to avoid tangling their antlers with one another. Entry points to rooms were generally vertical, using elevators. Rooms were often half-globes suspended from the ceiling connected by spiral staircases and capable of moving around inside their ships,[3] and interiors would be smoothed off by the same enamel used on the outside of ships, so there were no real right angles.[1]

Chorus Bond[edit | edit source]

The Chorus Bond was initially a way for the fleets of the Hypha to attune to each other and communicate with designated Bonded members of each ship. Becoming bonded was a surgical procedure in which the antlers/horns of a Hypha are hollowed out and filled with a metal made from components of their dead. This operation provided the recipient with heightened Stratus and sensory abilities, and was from a certain point exclusively performed by teacher-medics known as Loesse. The Chorus Bond was also seen to grant other abilities; Sabil Nodra, for example, was able to project an image of herself onto a planet while she was on an orbiting ship.

Encountering the Principality[edit | edit source]

As the Divine Principality expanded they began to subjugate many of the groups and factions around them, including the Hypha. Many colonized settlements began to push out Hypha visitors, hunting antlered animals and displaying their skulls as a way to let them know they are not welcome. This caused a dive in those Hypha volunteering to be given the Chorus Bond, as they seem to be the targets of the most animosity. Some Bonded Hypha even went so far as to remove their antlers to avoid scrutiny.

This continued for a time until Unity, a Divine of the Principality, dispersed the Hypha’s current Strand. The few remaining Bonded began to use more of the Hypha remains in an attempt to push the Principality and its Divines back. This had limited success, allowing them to work with the Strand in a new way, and create grayscale “Ashen” Strand that some ships could follow, but it was not enough. The Hypha were spread further and further until their fleets were absorbed by the Principality.

Known Members[edit | edit source]

After encountering the Principality[edit | edit source]

After their encounters with the Principality the Hypha have been scattered. These smaller communities are unable to process their dead, and Chorus Bonded skulls begin to be stolen and collected by those looking to increase their stratus ability. Many of their larger ships are pilfered by the Divine Principality for tech, eventually forming the basis of the Strand Semaphore system.[4]

The descendants of the Hypha assimilated by the Principality become known as the Ashen, both because they still follow the weakened Ash Strand and because they wear the ash of the dead on their faces. Knowledge of the Chorus Bond would still be passed down through the generations among a lineage of master and apprentice.[5] Other forms of Hyphan resistance to the Principality continue, with examples including the Sable Court. Following this reformulation of identity, there is a divide on the question of whether to identify as Hypha or Ashen, with social implications for either choice.[6]

When the war between the Pact of Necessary Venture and the Curtain begins in earnest, Hyphan refugees were given the planet of Saboria to settle on by the Pact. There the Hypha secretly uncovered an ancient Hyphan catacomb and began to study it to rediscover some of their old knowledge. A new form of Stratus / Chorus Bond ability was also formed, known as the Tress. When the Pact attempted to intervene violently, the Hypha successfully fought them off, took control of an ancient Hyphan ship, and began to live nomadically once again.[7]

Some Hypha from the newly reformed nomadic fleet have been sent to the planet of Palisade to aid in the fight against the Bilateral Intercession's colonizing efforts, expressing kinship over the generational trauma caused by imperialism and colonialism. Hypha from Saboria, among them Narmine Te'ketch subsequently were shown operating with the pirates of Carmine Bight.[8]

Known Members[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]