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Fengaks (pronounced fwen-gayks) are a race of pygmy cannibal frogmen1 native to the jungles of the Dorniala region and best known for their wide variety of colored skins and poisonous secretions2. Although only ranging in height from 14 to 20 inches, the common acceptance that the Fengaks are “pygmies” is technically inaccurate since a larger variety of the race does not exist. Fortunately, their small stature is compensated for by their poisonous touch and wickedly barbed tongues that they flick out, whip-like, to catch prey or defend themselves.
The Fengaks were first “discovered” by the Humorless, circa 780, when an adventuring party was charting the then unexplored jungles of Dorniala looking for gold, gems, and other riches to take back to their homeland. When the Humorless first saw the Fengaks their first thoughts were that they would make wonderful pets. This notion was quickly dismissed, however, when, after catching the first one, the captor quickly died from the poisonous coating on the Fengak's back.
The first serious study of the Fengaks was accomplished by Dornialan alchemist Lyr Porili. After a decade long study running from 814 to 824, Mr. Porili published the definitive work on the Fengaks, “A Rainbow of Toxic Flavors”3 in 829. Unfortunately many beakers were lost to prove the title of the book. Since the book is over 2000 pages long, it cannot be duplicated here. However, much of the content herein summarizes parts of this book.
The first study of interest is the social hierarchy of the race. The skin coloration of the individuals runs the gamut of the rainbow, from red to violet, and most have several different colors. Social standing among the race is determined by the color of one’s skin. For those with multiple colors, the majority color determines social status, as well as how much of that color makes up the majority. Red is the most common color, and therefore the lowest class, and violet is the rarest, making it the highest social standing. The hierarchy follows the colors of the rainbow between red and violet (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet), and even among a color the various shades will determine standing amongst that color. The system is very complicated and much of Mr. Porili’s time studying the Fengaks was spent documenting these complex social interactions.
Another fascinating study on the Fengaks deals with their mating rituals. Females can only produce eggs every 10 months and stay fertile for only 14-16 days. During the time they are fertile they emit a hormone that causes competition amongst the males in a very unusual way. To eliminate their competition for the female’s attention the males will eat their opponents. The last male standing at the time of selection by the female is allowed to mate with the female. There have been recorded incidents of a fertile female walking into a group of 20 or more males who have gone into competition for her attention and only left one male standing. The documented record for a single male Fengak eating his competition currently stands at eight opponents4. It is this mating ritual that has come to label the Fengaks as cannibals. Although the label is technically true, the label has led the uneducated person to believe their diet consists exclusively of their own kind, and not occurring only as part of the mating competition.
The poisonous secretions of the Fengak have very interesting properties as well. It was not in vain that Mr. Porili lost so many beakers for the various colored Fengak do indeed have different flavors. How or why Mr. Porili first discovered this remains a mystery5, but his aptly named book has a very detailed listing of the flavors and the amount of dilution required for each to make them palatable without the side effect of death. Flavors include cherry, root beer, and taco salad. The real confusion here comes from the contrary color/flavor combinations. One would expect the red skinned Fengaks to be cherry flavored, when in fact they are avocado flavored while the green skinned Fengak are the cherry flavored variety. Once "A Rainbow of Toxic Flavors" became a Welstead Times best seller for 8 weeks straight6, many Fengaks were taken into captivity and their dermatological excretions harvested for soda fountains around the world.
In 1002, the International Organization For the Civilization of Peoples (IOFCP) liberated the Fengaks from their years in forced captivity. The IOFCP then took it upon themselves to integrate the Fengaks into Dornialan society. Since that time many of the Fengak have become successful business owners, many selling their secretions to soda fountains around the world. Amongst successful business owners a new hierarchy for social status has appeared to replace the social status one earns at birth by the color of one's skin7. For those able to afford it, prosthetic tails are purchased and adorned anytime the Fengak is out of his home. The elaborateness of the tail then sets the Fengak's status. Tails may range from simple carved wooden tails to fully automated gnomish-made tails8.
1As will be discussed below, the terms "pygmy" and "cannibal" are really misnomers.
2These secretions have been found to be useful in many applications including ninja stars and dessert toppings.
3The book was actually published under six different titles but this one is the one that reached the Welstead Times best seller list.
4According to the Ingenius Book of World Records.
6From Ling-Ling 830 through Zanzaby 831.
7Fengaks with money were taught by the IOFCP to think of themselves as better than those without money.
8The Gnoxic Gnomes have come to make quite a living off Fengak tail orders.