Cecaelia, also known less accurately as Octopus People, are a race of aquatic people found only in Lake Yaju. They are physically human from the waist up, but with the body of an octopus or squid.
Cecaelia are, in torso, head and arms, mostly human in appearance, but the lower body consists of the tentacles of an octopus, or more rarely of a squid. Cecaelian tentacles are typically a black, dark blue or dark green color, which permeates the rest of their skin, though often to a slightly lesser degree. They are somewhat large, with most cecaelia being around ten to eleven feet tall, with the tentacles making up the majority of that size, the upper torso being only slightly larger than that of a typical human. Cecaelia have ink sacs in the center of their tentacles, which are activated by special nerve endings on the tentacles, which, upon contact with something, fire out special electrical signals. These signals can only be conducted by living nerves, or metal. Contact with either will cause the signal to return to the cecaelia and activate its ink sac. A number of cecaelia can produce acidic ink as well.
Cecaelia have several variants besides the generic octopus person. A common mutation, which has permutated the population and become a recessive trait, is the squid form, which surfaces in one in every fifty cecaelia. These cecaelia have thinner frames, a pair of feeding tentacles, and their head is capped by a squid's arrow-shaped head and mantle. Another source of variation is a form of avatism, in which cecaelia revert to their ancestral type. It is theorized that cecaelia were originally a number of distinct breeds, which interbred until a generic species was produced. In atavistic cecaelia, they revert to the specific form of their ancestors, taking on the form of a specific species or type of octopus.
In hybrids between cecaelia and humans, the only known species they have interbred with, hybrids are viable but not sterile. Their eyes are gray, similar to all cecaelians, and they seem to possess some gene that causes the recessive trait of the squid head and mantle to appear consistently. They have a mantle-like tissue on the side of their arms as well, and a hole on either wrist through which a feeding tentacle can extend. Cecaelian hybrids are also semi-aquatic, becoming malnourished if they are not hydrated once every few days, and can only breathe air directly for a few hours at a time. People with diluted cecaelian ancestry, typically with varying degrees of cecaelian features including dark blue mantle-like tissue and a blue or green tinge to their skin, do not have these aquatic necessities. These people are known as homocecaelians, and the homocecaelian society is dominant within the Circle, though the cecaelia themselves are not politically active within the larger Circle.
Cecaelia live only in the south of Higashi, in Lake Yaju. They are found all over the lake, but their two primary habitats are in the Northwest and Southeast, at the dropoff of the lake, where the depth increases dramatically, and shelves around it.
Knowledge of Cecaelian culture is somewhat limited, because of the relative isolation of the Šarratum Circle from the rest of the world. However, it is known that they are not particularly isolated within the Circle, having somewhat lesser contact with others by virtue of their aquatic lifestyle, but maintaining contact and in some cases relationships with other societies. The most significant known piece of Cecaelian culture is the fact that specific traits dictate the position of a cecaelia in society. Squid cecaelia are gathered into the clergy, which they form exclusively, while atavistic cecaelia, including atavistic squid cecaelia, are recruited into the royal guard, the only real form of military that the cecaelia have, although the majority of cecaelia are warriors and can be recruited into the militia if need be. They may or may not have their own ancestral language, but their current primary racial language is Šarratian.