The Jupa is one of the more favoured denizens of the rainforests of Shar in Nybelmar. Popular due to their natural cheeky character and unnatural cuteness, Jupas are attracted to the homes of the Krean in many different ways; the most common by planting itís favourite food, the keelo tree, in their gardens. Seen as more of as a natural amusement than a stealing pest, Krean have enjoyed the company of these animals for generations and probably will for many more.
A Jupa looks a lot like a naÔve child (except with a lot more fur and a tail).
Jupas are around a fore and
a half from head to tail, the older males being a few
nailsbreadths longer. Most
of the Jupaís skin is covered in fur; although this is predominantly a light
grey the chest and underbelly are a snow white (where it has a spilk smooth
touch). The only parts exempt from fur are the Jupaís hands, feet and face,
which have a dark, dusty grey skin on them. Its tail, which it uses to perform
itís renowned acrobats, takes around half of the Jupaís entire length up, the
males having a black tip.
Jupas have quite small faces, which always seem to have a surprised look on them. Like most apes, the mouth area of a Jupa protrudes, like a combination of an overbite and an Ďunder-biteí. These creatures have adorable little noses, which are pinkish at a young, but become a distinct purple as a Jupa reaches old age. These apes, especially the younger ones, have quite large eyes, which are a sparkling amber colour. They also have brilliantly sharp, fanglike teeth, which, although small, can tear through the hardest of materials. These are mainly used to break through bark or scare other animals.
The hands of a Jupa share many similarities with that of a human (excluding the fact that they have no thumbs). The fingers, of which a jupa has five, are very long in comparison to that of human, although the Jupaís hands are smaller. Jupas also have very sharp nails that have the appearance of bleached, weathered bone. They do not use them in a hostile manner though, but to gain grip on tree trunks.
Special Abilities. Besides their incredibly charming appearance Jupa Apes possess many abilities that would cause envy in other apes (if that is possible of course). Among these are th following:
Jupas are said to be amolng the most acrobatic creatures in the whole world of Caelereth. Thanks to their incredible leg power and advanced sense of balance, Jupas can dart across the branches of trees at breakneck speed. There are some who try (and succeed) to train Jupas to perform a variety of tricks, such as daring jumps from great heights and swinging from tree to tree using nothing but their tails, but this ability has more uses than entertainment. Jupas utilise this ability in two main ways in the wild, escaping, as well as a part of their mating rituals.
No matter how cute an animal is, animals always make a good meal for the predatory creatures of the rainforests. Since Jupas can rarely ever hold their own if they end up in a fight, they have developed a simpler method: to run away. Once a Jupa finds, or is alerted to danger each of them runs straight to the their "Danger Tree" (as it was named by Hurikra Ashan, the main researcher on them). There are many stealthy and quick hunters in the rainforests such as the lukrinam snake that would make a meal of it, and so speed is incredibly necessary for the little creatures' survival. If this tactic fails or isn't a viable option, the Ape may attack using its sharp claws. By kicking and scratching in a way uncharacteristic of a Jupa, they will either incapitate or scare away their foe. This is rare spectacle and is frequently recorded:
The lukrinam stealthily slithered around the tree, stalking the oblivious monkey. Just as the isolated Jupa was about to be sprayed by the snake's acidic saliva, it noticed the predator was dangerously close to it. With a strange battle-cry of a scream, the Jupa dived towards the snake. In a flurry of scratches, kicks and disturbingly high pitched screams the Jupa managed to create numerous wounds on the reptile. When it realised it was too weak to chase it, the Jupa fled, presumably to go and tell his tale to the rest of his group.
-- Hurikra Ashan: "The talking Apes from the Shar", p. 63.
Jupas are immensely intelligent animals. They have developed a very advanced form of speech, although it sounds quite brutish and primitive, which they use to plan evasive manoeuvres or even "battle tactics". They can communicate with each other with great efficiency, surpassing that of an animal and almost becoming that of a sentient being.
They are also good at judging situations and estimation. A Jupa knows what berries are poisonous and what branches will hold his weight without having to endanger himself, which is a very useful ability. They know when to run, and which way to go, as well as when to stand their ground.
Jupas are therefore proficient tricksters. Combining the two attributes above, they can work out how to deceive, fool and in rare cases, steal and then execute their plan well, improvising where necessary.
Jupas are famed for their unparalleled cuteness. Although in no way malicious, Jupas have found that they can use this to their advantage. By tugging a few heartstrings they can get food out of anybody (except maybe one of those stone-hearted Marmarrans).
Jupas have currently only been found in the rainforests of Shar (probably
because they know that the Krean will
happily give them their leftovers). Jupas live on the very edge of the
rainforests, very close to Krean
settlements. This gives them both the advantages of quick access to a dependable
food source, as well as retaining the protection and food sources of the jungle.
Habitat/Behaviour. Jupas are very social animals. They live in groups of around twelve to fifteen individuals, consisting of few families. In these groups every Jupa seems to know every other and although most of them arenít blood related, they regard them as their family. Jupas are, like the Krean that they have befriended, very hospitable towards unchastely creatures, especially their own kind. If a wounded or sick Jupa is found they are nursed back to health, where they are accepted as a part of their new community, like a distant relative. A Jupa community is centred over their habitat. An average Jupa congregation claims around four dashes as their territory. Each and everyday, a detachment of males investigates their territory whilst the females tend to their young, before returning home to participate in social activities. If territories overlap and the detachments meet up they will normally converse with each other, sharing the information they have gathered from their investigation.
No matter what age a Jupa is, they will always enjoy a game of chase, darting from tree to tree. Older Jupas though, tend to prefer things like grooming, when another Jupa picks all of the parasitic insects from the otherís fur. This process is essential for mates, as it allows them to learn about their partnerís body, making them feel safer and more at ease with each other.
Jupas are very cheeky creatures. They will occasionally (normally after dark) venture into Krean gardens and steal their fruit. Many Krean do not mind if their plentiful sources of food are sparsely depleted, but this has become a great cover up for some more unsavoury characters in Krean society.
Diet. A Jupaís diet consists almost entirely of fruit. Although they are not fussy, they prefer sweet, sticky fruit such as keelofruit, which grows on the exotic keelo tree. They are however known to eat from other sources. Many have sighted Jupas eating leaves, most notably that of the kitjuran tree, and in some rare cases, small insects. Some Jupas also depend on the food they are given by the tribes that inhabit the rainforest, which are normally a lot more elaborate than raw fruit and dry leaves.
Mating. When a Jupa reaches maturity (about four years for a female, five for a male) they begin to choose their mates. These mates will be their only partner and when one dies the other will never select another. Therefore, these mates are selected with incredible care. The most common, and normally most effective, way of choosing a mate is for them to undergo the mating rituals. Although various groups of Jupas have developed specific rituals such as high-pitched screaming and strange dances, the most common is the "Falling Ape".
The "Falling Ape" is a near suicidal feat that many Jupas attempt in order to impress their mates. The tallest tree in a Jupaís territory is chosen before it can begin. The males then climb to the very top of this normally gargantuan tree before the real danger can begin. The males then release their vice-like grip from the tree, allowing them to fall with great velocity to the solid ground, navigating through the branches at breakneck speed. When a Jupa loses his nerve he clutches a branch to stop him from falling. This test of nerve, agility and quick thinking represents all things that a good Jupa male should be, so the male who is closest to the bottom gets first pick of the females, the second follows, until all of the females have been claimed. This test of nerve, agility and quick thinking represents all things that a good Jupa male should be.
Two months after mating a small Jupa is born, but on rare occasions the birth of twins (or even triplets) may occur. These animals are incredibly small, only about the size of manís palm. They are born with brilliant white fur, but closed eyes. They spend the first month of life helplessly clutched to their motherís stomach. After this their eyes begin to open and they develop the grey fur that Jupas are famous for. Soon after this, the young will leave their motherís stomach, where they will be tutored by their father on how to navigate their way through the trees, work out which trees will hold their weight and the dangers and treasures of the exotic jungle. After this child is four years old, the pair will mate again. As Jupas have a life span of about twenty to twenty five years, they can be expected to have at least four children in their lifetime.
Myth/Lore. There are tales that are circulated by the Krean (and everybody who hears them) of a very special bunch of Jupas. This single family of Jupas live on the Tree of Ages, the spectacular throne that the High Priestess of Ankriss, a god-like being, sits upon. These Jupas have brilliant white fur and all of the males have peculiar, long moustaches. Legend says that these silent Jupas are mentally linked to High Priestess of Ankriss in a similar way to that of the Petals.
Some say that the High Priestess controls them, sending them to gather information for her and then transmitting it telepathically. Others say that they even advise her on which Petal to choose her successor. A popular belief though is that these Jupas are immortal, dying only when the High Priestess is destroyed.