Group: Tribe (Other Kosaire) / Clan (Bonded/Shinies/etc)
General Info: Imposing in spite of their generally serene nature, Kosaire tend to be among those shinies who Whazzitians respect for their ability to cause harm. Indeed, it would be foolish to cross a creature who stands anywhere from four to seven feet tall at the withers, all muscle and thick skin. They are deeply spiritual creatures, outspoken but generally gentle creatures. Not afraid to share their opinions, a Kos tends to be firmly set in its' way, difficult to ever sway: if they abhor violence, they will likely always abhor it; if they're prone to biting before asking questions, they're just not going to change. For all of that, a Kos is an incredibly helpful and useful creature to have around; their knowledge of healing or cooking herbs is legendary, and the sensitive pads of a Kos' paw can detect the properties of what they prepare. Their dexterity is surprisingly good in their forepaws, which sport a semi-opposable thumb. Though they spend a great deal of their time studying, reading, or communing with nature and the universe, most will drop just about anything in order to help those of their tribe or clan. Their mental communication skills tend to excel, though there is natural variance in the species between those who prefer not to speak to those who don't shut up.
As mentioned, they are bears: large, generally shaggy-furred four-legged beasts. Even the smallest reach the torso of most people when quadrupedal, and some of the largest tower over all but the very tallest. Say nothing of when they rise onto their hind legs! Ask any mother Kos why they grow to be so large and she'll tell you: their diet! The way to the heart of any of these bears is through their stomach, but junk food just won't do it. They prefer healthy nuts, berries, greenery and the noxious-smelling teas that they brew along with all of their healing concoctions. They do eat the meat that they hunt, but mostly as cubs who need the extra nutrients to grow. Natural colors shade their fur, rarely overly bright or prone to sticking out in their environment. You just won't see a hot pink Kos all that often, but one the color of a meadow or mountain range? Yes. With their dexterous paws, they occasionally indulge in painting one another with ceremonial designs created of natural dyes — and Scouts almost always sport intricate designs that help them blend into their terrain.
Mating Info: The mating ritual of Kosaire is not particularly complicated. Perhaps slightly long-winded, it is nonetheless at least useful to the tribe or clan as a whole. When the female deigns it time to bear cubs (for, all females do), though she may not call it so but once every five years or as often as once a year, she will call males of neighboring tribes — never her own, they will not mate with kin — to her favorite clearing or other meditation-spot. After a period of quiet meditation to clear their minds, the female will ask the males who have answered her call to gather herbs, spices, other plants in order to make some sort of concoction: she may require a specific type, or she may allow them to make their favorite recipe. Most commonly, she will ask for some sort of medicinal tincture or potion so that she might be prepared for the raising of her cubs, who will be quite prone to injury. She will sample each recipe, and choose her favorite after some discussion of the benefits and properties with the males. Whomever she chooses will sire her cubs, assist her in their rearing, and usually dig or build a den for her to do so within.
Bonding Info: After a female Kos' cubs are born, she will be incredibly protective of them for the first month of their life, not exiting her den except to stretch when she really must. Any one female may birth up to five cubs, though the number very rarely reaches that; generally, twins are most common, with three or four cubs not rare. The male Kos will bring her food and water, and she will keep her brood safe and away from the prying eyes of even her bonded. After about a month, she will begin allowing her young family out more and more, much to her and her mate's general displeasure. At this point, she will regularly teach her cubs the medicines which she slathers upon them to stave off infection from giant cuts or to ward off stomach issues after one manages to consume a fruit they weren't supposed to. When they are weaned at roughly three months old they are well-versed in how to take care of themselves and the duties that come with their rank. They have also generally managed to break a myriad of bones and scuff each other up to a great degree, since baby Kosaire are incredibly rough-and-tumble. Thankfully, due to their incredibly health-conscious diet, they tend to heal up rather quickly.
When the mother and father Kosaire decide that their cubs are ready to find those they will call their bonds, they will summon them to their den via their bonded or one of the other jungle creatures. Though the cubs have generally been instructed to be on their best behavior and the parents will keep an eye on them, it is not uncommon for them to mouth at humanoids or their siblings or romp about as children will. There is no special ritual to bonding a Kos, nothing that is universal to sway the cubs or the parents. When a cub chooses a human, the bond is cemented by the parents who will give the human the cub's given name and ask them to add on to it. The combination of their Tribe-given name and their Bond-given name is symbolic. First they were of the tribe, and then were taken into the humanoid clan. Kosaire see this as a 'coming of age', and will frequently take an addition to their name in the wild at around the time they form their own tribes. Generally, the given-name is only one syllable, as a Kos has little patience for long names when they have many cubs to care for, but it's up to their bonded how long their name ends up.
Kos ranks are determined by where they fall in their society — a rite that only takes place after they come of age, or bond to a humanoid or other Kosaire. Ranks are not determined by birth, but by ability; and most see them only as a formality. They respect those who deserve it, and even the highest-ranked can and will find themselves ignored if they are fools. Only Matriarch and Shaman Kosaire are gender-specific in rank, being female and male only respectively.
Generally one who would have been a Priestess for their heightened connection to the Gods, or perhaps a Huntress for her skills providing for her own, the Matriarch of a Kos tribe is almost always the wisest. She is taught her skills by the reigning Matriarch from the time she is very young, and while they certainly appreciate their charges as individuals, the elder Matriarch almost always manages to instill some sense of decorum in her charge. She may be born to any Kos, and is a woeful being as a cub; for she spends more time learning how to lead fairly and properly than she does romping with her siblings. In the end, though, a Matriarch is expected to start her own tribe as soon as she reaches the appropriate age, so this early training is essential to her long-term success as a leader in her own right. This is difficult for some, but most will work their issues out given enough time and patient guidance from their elders. When they do, a Matriarch is a marvellous thing to behold, truly!
Not to be confused with a Shaman, Priest and Priestess Kos share a divine connection with the Gods; which Gods, you ask? All of them, of course. Whatever your ideas on a Higher Power are, you'll probably find them lurking somewhere within the all-seeing eyes of this oddest rank of the Kosaire. They do not entirely choose their path like a Scout or a Scholar might, these Holy Ones. It Chooses them, when they come of age, and they may choose to accept it or not; but acceptance comes with great sacrifice. One who can commune with the Gods does not have much use for Earthly wants, after all, so they must undergo an additional (and unseen to any but another Priest or Priestess Kos) ceremony which blinds them and leaves them seemingly frail, pale and wraithlike. Make no mistake, though, these Kosaire can make or break your connection with their species — so do not underestimate them, no matter how gentle, or how frail.
Hale and hearty, the Shaman of any tribe of Kos is always a well-respected figure. Who wishes to offend the healer, the prophet, the mouth of those who walk in the spirit world and guide those who are not, after all? The second and final gender-restricted role in the species, Shamans are males alone, and they take on many roles within their tribe. They may hunt with the others, may defend their own, may teach the young — but what sets them apart is their proficiency at certain magics. Divining the future, healing the sick, invoking the Spirit Guides of the Kosaire, all of these and more are the daily duties of a Shaman. He excels in these even before he is taught, but once taken under the wing of another Shaman or, in a pinch, a Priest or Priestess, he is quite impressive... if not dangerous, perhaps moreso than any other in his tribe, and not just to your standing among the Kosaire. Offend a Shaman and your life and spirit may be doomed.
Scout Kos tend to bear the brunt of jokes by other Kosaire; 'The Hunter who does not Hunt' or 'The Cowardly Warrior' they may be called in jest, but they are prone to taking these as just that, jests. Not prone to temper tantrums or obnoxious displays, a Scout is generally a dependable creature, one who excels at their job — it means the ultimate safety of the tribe, after all. It is not the Warrior who warns when something is coming, it is not the Hunter who has to worry about his fellows falling asleep on their job and allowing something dangerous too close to the young and the weak. It is the dutiful Scout, who always watches, who always sees more than he or she lets on. The smallest detail, the most minute signals for danger, none are lost to the sharp eyes of these observant devils, and you would do best not to cross them. For all that they tend to bear the lion's share of the poking and prodding by their brothers and sisters, no other would allow one of their Scouts to be injured without dire retributions.
Likely more eloquently termed 'Hunter-Gatherer', the Hunters and Huntresses of a tribe of Kosaire do just that. Their ranks have more variation than most — most of those who gather berries, roots, herbs tend to run more along the Scholarly line, while those who track and kill game do tend to be more Warrior-like in nature. Hunters still associate themselves into one cohesive group, though, differences aside. One very determined beast of this rank could easily supply their tribe (or clan, since they are very useful to a human bond, too) for a week during the course of their daily wanderings, a fact which they are very proud of. Thrifty and jungle-wise, these Kosaire are careful not to over-graze their domains and keep careful tabs on their prey and patches of vegetation. They also tend to bolster these, by either providing safe habitats for the prey or planting new areas when the time for either is appropriate. If given the time, a good Hunter or Huntress for a tribe means never starving, never going hungry — and that is a very valuable thing.
Male or female, it matters not to those most adept at protecting the tribe, for a female Warrior has just as much if not more reason to protect them — those who watch and help raise her precious cubs. Though rarely battle-minded, any Warrior undergoes strict tactical training and must keep themselves in top shape; thankfully, this is not hard for a Kosaire, since they are a healthy species already. As peaceful in nature as the next, for the most part, a Warrior will still rip you in half if you make any sort of threat upon their people. It's in their blood, their training, and their spirit: they protect. They serve their clan or tribe proudly, and maybe sometimes this comes out in the form of brash behavior or cocky parading about, but honestly! They deserve praise, for the most part, for their troubles. A Warrior would gladly lay their life down for their people, but not before all other options are exhausted. After all, what good are they to them dead? That is why they spend so much time drilling, so much time training, and that is why they are quite impressive among their own.
Among a species of physically imposing creatures who look like they might eat you but wouldn't generally dream of it, it's not hard to tell the Scholar apart from the others. Certainly, they can be as tall or muscular as any other, but when your average Kos spends no less than an hour studying an odd leaf or painstakingly dissecting an unfamiliar beetle — well, it's odd, right? Generally spending equal amounts of time learning and teaching, these Kosaire spend their lives on a quest for knowledge, and are at the spirit of what it is to be a Kosaire, truly. Others may spend their time doing other things, but inside each of the other ranks lurks a Scholar, lurks the patient mentor who teaches younger the Cubs about the stars and the sea, or calmly explains some foreign concept to a stubborn Warrior who refuses to listen. All others simply do not answer that call, they allow other whims to take them, or are called to their own destinies above that of a simple lover-of-all-things. At least they are as well-respected for this choice as any other; never mind that they tend to think their path of life is the best.