Along the shores of the Sea of Deep Wisdom, around the islands of the Southern Sea, even in the harbour of Llaza, one can find the fish-like people known to humans as 'Gloppies' after the click-pop sound of their language. The gloppies call themselves 'Ti-Kop', a click and a pop (also rendered !()) that means 'The People'.
The ti-kop are humanoid, slightly smaller and finer in build than the average human, with large eyes, webbed hands and feet, a pronounced dorsal crest and gill slits in their necks. They are typically green-blue in colour, although red and orange variants exist. They have little use for clothing and commonly wear a simple belt or bandolier with pouches for useful items and loops for weapons. Body piercing is a common form of decoration. They are equally able to survive in and out of water, although they find becoming too dry to be uncomfortable.
The ti-kop trade with humans, buying tools and metal items in exchange for pearls, fish and shellfish, coral and a wondrous substance known as seabone. Pearlescent in colour, smooth in texture, seabone is a mysterious material that can be made into any shape, any flexibility. It has a strong affinity to water - if not immersed in sea water daily it will dissolve away, but an item made from seabone hampers a swimmer less than items made from other materials. Services are also traded - the ti-kop can be valuable members of the crew of any ship, able to perform underwater repairs, to scout and to act as ambassador to other aquatic races.
For the most part, the ti-kop have good relations with humans although there are clashes in areas where fishing is the major industry. Ti-Kop perform yearly mating rituals where they find a secluded beach and engage in a series of competitive games to determine who pairs with whom. Bonds are formed and eggs are laid, and the ti-kop prefer to return to the same location each year for this. Quite often they end up in a trade agreement with the local land-dwelling community for unhampered use of these beaches in exchange for goods and services.
The Ti-Kop language is known as Tik (or Gloppyspeak). This comes from the ti-kop name !'k, meaning 'The Language'. Some attempts have been made by human scholars to produce a notation system for recoding Tik, although the truth is there are many nuances to sound that the human ear cannot distinguish (tlaxu can discern more). A palative click, made with the tongue on the roof of the mouth, is rendered !. A click further back in the throat is rendered K. A soft pop made with the lips is written (), a harder pop with more breath behind it as P. A low frequency series of clicks is written rr or even kk for very low frequency. A high frequency is written ee. The length of these sounds is reflected in the number of repeats of these syllable. Thus 'ee'ee'ee'ee' represents a long squealing sound. Ti-Kop usually translate their personal names into Low Imperial or the local language for ease. Tik has no written form amongst the ti-kop. Some ti-kop learn the skill of Farsinging, where they are able to broadcast songs in Tik over many hundreds of miles underwater.
Other species or sub-species of the ti-kop are known, or rumoured, to exist. Amongst them are those the humans call Wild Gloppies, nomads who follow the wanderings of their herds of sea slugs and Deep Gloppies, said to live in the lightless abyss with the power to glow in the dark. Once there were River Gloppies but this freshwater variant is believed to be extinct following centuries of competition with humans.
(c) 2007 The Creative Conclave.