The centaurs vary in color from light palomino to deep black, with the head hair being the same color as that on the body except for some Appaloosas. Solid colors are more common than patterns, and darker colors more common than light. Skin colors range from medium brown to very dark brown.
Centaurs are garrulous and like company. Anyone reasonably polite will be welcome to stay in the Plains for as long as they want. They are philosophers by nature, and enjoy a good discussion, as well as craving information on a vide variety of subjects. They generally clothe only the human portion of their bodies, and during warm weather may leave that bare. This, unfortunately, adds to their reputation among other sentients as being licentious. The truth is that being large animals they retain heat better than something human sized.
The society of the centaurs has evolved rather than being deliberately designed. This is not to say that many of the features of their culture were not purposefully chosen, but rather that Marian Holst and her family and friends were content to see how things developed on their own, without constraint, only altering the pattern of development when that seemed necessary. Fortunately, not only was Marian an intelligent and well educated woman, but she also wasn't afraid to consult experts when she encountered a problem.
The initial population of centaurs after the Gifting was quite small, consisting solely of Marian. Within twenty years it had tripled, as one of her sons chose to become a centaur, and a woman who fell in love with him also elected to transform herself. By the time of the Great Fall, roughly three hundred years after the Gifting, this population had increased to nearly fifty. However, most of these were genetically altered humans, and were not compatible with Marian and her son and daughter-in-law. By this time, Marian had borne two more offspring, one of whom (a daughter) elected to become a centaur. Additionally, Marian was now a grandmother five times over, with three children from her centaur son and two from her centaur daughter. Most of these grandchildren were either born as centaurs or elected to change later.
After the Fall, Marian and her descendants decided to alter their genes to breed true, so that it was no longer necessary for their offspring to physically alter themselves through manipulation of their Gift. Now they would be born as centaurs. This was done only after much research and consultation, and with the aid of both Gifted and non-Gifted experts in magic and genetic engineering. While there was less work involved in this effort than would later occur with the Bluegrass and Mountain Elves, it was still a major project. Most centaurs say that the results justify the trouble; even without the benefits of their Gifts, the Plains Folk are strong, robust creatures, far more resilient than normal humans.
Marian and her descendants, as well as a few others who joined from outside her family, decided to settle in the western portion of Kentucky. There they began the work of creating their world's first non-human culture. The area was chosen because of its flat terrain, a mixture of open plains and forests, which was deemed ideal for centaurs. They decided to call themselves the Plains Folk. At the time of the story Empire's Fall their population stands at 312.
Given the initial small population, incest was inevitable during the early days. Since there are no dangerous recessive genes among the centaurs, there were no biological reasons for banning incest. Understanding this, and that pregnancy is voluntary, it can be seen why incest- though frowned upon- is not forbidden. However, it should be noted that centaurs define the term "incest" somewhat differently than most humans do, and do not consider sex between cousins to be included. Relations between anyone more closely related than this are most definitely not tolerated. In this sense, there is no incest among the Plains Folk, though outsiders may not see things this way. Children are instructed in sex from the time they first express interest, which includes demonstrations. While they are taught that sex is a natural and pleasurable activity, they are also taught that a preoccupation with pleasure is wrong. The result is a population whose members enjoy sex from what many humans think is a scandalously early age, but are not obsessed with it. Many actually become voluntarily celibate for one reason or another.
It should be noted that few centaurs show any sexual interest in members of other species, especially anything as small and fragile as a human. In spite of this, they have a reputation of seducing and raping human females among humans who do not know them.
Centaur society is founded upon the concept of total equality for all sentients. They respect life, and the values and opinions of others. The most common reason for travel outside the Plains is curiosity about other ways of life. There is a great deal of personal independence, with few marriages or other long-term relationships. Since females only bear young if they want to, it is assumed that any mother literally asked for her child, and should not complain unduly about having to tend it. Gestation lasts ten months, and single births are by far the rule.
Though the Plains Folk do not use much technology, they are far from ignorant about it's use. They are a race of scholars, dedicated to learning both for the simple pleasure of doing so and for the practical benefits it brings. Recently, the centaur Burrtail - after much research and exploration - uncovered a valuable treasure of ancient technology. This was a nanofactory, a semi-trailer-sized device used to manufacture a specific type of powered armor and its attachments. This he turned over to the Illuminati Committee, a group dedicated to restoring a technological society to Earth. As a reward, the factory was used to create for him a much-modified version of this powered armor.
This work is Copyright 1998 by Rodford Edmiston Smith,
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