The musors are a strange race from a distant star. The name “musors” is an Earth coinage, as their name for themselves is unpronounceable by humans due to their polyphonic language. (The name for the language itself, commonly written Âö, is coincidentally pronounceable. Correct pronunciation requires that the <â> is a quarter tone higher than the <ö> - 63 cents, to be exact.)
From a human perspective, the musors are somewhat tall and gangly. The core of their body is octahedral, due to the underlying skeletal structure. The octahedron is irregular, with the vertical axis being the longest while the front-back axis is the shortest.
A head is “welded” on at the top. There is no neck - the head looks much like a square pyramid stabbed onto the octahedral torso. One side of this pyramid bears a trio of eyes, and beneath the “chin” on the same side is a small tube-like protuberance which serves as a mouth. When not eating, this is usually tucked up beneath the chin, out of sight. The two sides not opposite to the face each bear a flared horn-like protuberance which serves as an ear.
Three legs are attached to the base of the vertical axis. Each leg is about 80cm long and jointless (apart from the three-toed foot). Walking consists of lifting one leg at a time, starting with the forward leg, and moving it forward.
An arm is attached to each end of the middle axis. Each arm has two joints and is tipped with a hand consisting of four fingers. Each finger has three joints, and they oppose each other in pairs, like a claw. There is no palm.
In the middle of their chest, a little above the tip of the short axis, is a small hole through which they breath and produce sound. They have several sets of vocal chords, enabling them to produce multiple pitches simultaneously, but the single exit point means they can only produce a single vowel sound.
Most of a musor’s body is covered in soft golden-brown fur. The fur is thicker on the head and back. Musors do not wear clothing as such, though they do drape strips of cloth over their bodies for decoration.
Musors have very few obvious cues to gender, and most of what there is are not detectable to humans - subtle scents or faint sounds produced by the body. However, it is possible for a human to determine a musor’s gender by close inspection of the shape of the ears.
Note: Time periods like “years” or “days” here are given in terms of the musors’ home planet, which has a day around 30% longer than that of Earth, and a year approximately 50% longer.
Musors take a communal approach to sexuality and reproduction. There are technically seven distinct genders, though not all are needed for reproduction (to be more specific, there are several viable combinations). An adult musor becomes fertile around once per year (as measured on their home planet), for a period of nine days (again, as measured on their home planet).
During this period, musors socialize with others who are also fertile, often in places specifically devoted to the purpose of mating (and overseen by trained specialists). During this time, they shed their fur and begin to exude various substances from their skin. Once the period has ended, and their fur has regrown, they simply go back to their daily life.
The result of a mating spree is several rather squishy eggs, which must be kept warm and hydrated (usually they’re stored in shallow water). Moving newly-formed eggs is dangerous and will most likely destroy them, but after seven to twelve days, they form a hardened, rubbery skin which makes it easier to handle them.
The embryo within develops slowly over approximately 400 days (including that initial period where the skin is hardening). By the final quarter of this period, the form of the infant is readily visible through the translucent skin. Within the last ten to fifteen days, the infant becomes large enough that the skin of the egg deforms to fit its body, right up to the point when it bursts open and falls away.
The newly-hatched children (each about 60cm tall, or around 1.5ft) are already fully capable of walking. For several days after hatching, they must be fed on only soft food (usually ground into a pulpy mash), but after that they can eat normal food. At one year of age, most musors are sent to live with one or more of their parents.
Musors slowly grow larger over their lifetime, up to an average of 185cm (around 6ft) by around age 45. There is no clear adolescent period; the fertility cycle begins around age 30, after which they are considered to be mature.
Musors can live up to three hundred years, though the average is closer to 160 years. Their fur usually starts to lose its colour around their hundredth year, slowly turning silver. Barring disease or other unnatural factors, the death itself is usually abrupt. It’s not uncommon for a musor to die mid-sentence, even when they were speaking quite capably.
Musors eat mainly fruit and other soft foods. They do eat some hard foods such as tubers, as long as they can be broken up into pieces that are small enough to swallow whole (since they have no teeth). They don’t generally eat leaves and other vegetation, though there are some exceptions.
Musors have not only very fine hearing but also quite a sharp sense of smell. Despite their three eyes, however, their sight is not categorically better than that of humans. They do have better depth perception, but their perception of colours is more limited.
In small groups, musors are able to focus sound waves into a form of limited telekinesis, lifting objects no heavier than the combined weight of the group and directing them to new locations. This ability is often utilized for their construction projects. It has a limited range of around 100m, though exceptionally large groups can extend this range if they work well together.
Musors also share one rare ability with humans - innate telepathy. Unlike most species (but like humans), with training they can establish telepathic contact without the use of magic. Their telepathy is less versatile than that of humans though, as they must be in a sleep trance to use it.
Musors also have the ability to sense when their death is imminent.
Society and Culture
Musor culture emphasizes society over the individual. For the most part, musors do not have personal possessions. Material possessions are seen as being for everyone’s use, and it’s common for things like books to circulate through many families. Sharing is the general rule. Poverty is unheard of. Capitalism was never thought up. Even though many resources are scarce (or perhaps in part because of this), musors will almost always willingly share them with their neighbours.
Authority comes with age for musors - the elders are accorded respect matching their wisdom and experience, and tend to fulfill important roles in the community, or even negotiations between communities. Musors don’t really form organizations that can be recognized as sovereign states; each town, city, or village is largely autonomous apart from any agreements with neighbouring communities.
There is a Council of Elders, a group of the oldest musors from the biggest communities, which meets twice a year (or as needed, in case of emergencies) to discuss large-scale (sometimes global) issues, but the result of their talks usually just leads to recommendations to their communities and the surrounding unrepresented communities.
Musors are nocturnal, typically retiring to their homes once the suns rise. During the day, most musors fall into a sort of restful trance, which is basically their form of sleep. Musors sleep upright, sometimes leaning on a wall or other sturdy object. They dream for around ten percent of their trance.
When a musor is near death, their friends, family, and acquaintances hold a party honouring their life. They time the party so that the musor will die surrounded by friends and family. Even after the musor’s death, the party usually continues awhile longer. After the party, the musor is buried, and a cairn is built over the grave bearing only the date of the burial. Graves may be reused after a certain period of time has passed.
Musor religious beliefs are so varied that the term “religion” doesn’t really apply. Most communities have their own set of beliefs, some of which involve revering a god or small group of gods, while others revere important ancestors. The latter is generally more common than the former, and even in communities that have a god or two, they have usually have roots in a distant ancestor.
It was in approximately 1938 that musors first detected a strange burst of radio signals from a distant star. After surmising that it might be another sentient species, they spent over fifty years* attempting to decipher it, all in vain. However, this discovery also greatly motivated their space travel program. Although they never developed any form of FTL drive on their own, their drive and resourcefulness would be enough to make contact with Earth late in the twenty-first century*.
[^1] According to “simultaneous” Earth time.
Âö, the language of the musors, is a polyphonic consonant-free language. The polyphonic element renders it unpronounceable by humans, though some words can be pronounced, such as the name of the language itself. The set of meaningful notes in the language are drawn from the first 15 overtones in the harmonic series, ignoring those that are essentially multiples of lower fundamentals.
There are two native ways of recording the language. There is an alphabet of sorts, where each symbol represents one note and diacritics indicate vowels and other details; symbols are stacked vertically for chords or laid out horizontally for sequences. The language can also be recorded by using a system of knotted cords with attached charms; this system is actually older than the writing system.
Âö is a fully isolating language. There are no inflections, and word order is very important. Most words can be classified as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, or postposition. The rest are conjunctions and a few function words. Syntax follows a VSO order, and complex sentences are not supported – there are no relative clauses (at least in the sense that they exist in English and similar languages), and conjunctions aren’t permitted to join full sentences.
I’m keeping this section short because I intend to write up a more detailed article about the language later. If you’re interested in that, stay tuned.