A Poison Eater may, from far-off, seem human, or hominid, at least. They are shorter than the average person, generally around 5 feet tall. They have long arms and legs, and walk with a hunched, swaying gait which is very ape-like.
But a closer look reveals that they are nothing of the sort- a Poison Eater’s body is composed of countless thousands of vines, all intertwined into a semblance of a humanoid body. It’s hands and feet are masses of swaying, sinuous vine-tentacles, the termini of the body. A Poison Eater’s head is cluster of triangular leaves gathered into a pointed, beaklike mass (perhaps looking like a pointy rosebud). Poison Eaters move in a jerky, swaying fashion and never seem to be still- their vine-bodies constantly twitch and writhe.
Poison Eaters speak in a language of rustles, hisses, pops, and piercing whistles, created by the shifting of their head-leaves and body-vines (imagine two very taut ropes chafing against each other, leaves rustling together). With practice they can learn the languages of men and beasts, imitating them with clever movements of their leaves and vines, though they inevitably sound as if they are speaking in a sibilant whisper.
Poison Eaters see the world in vibrations and movement; beyond this vibratory sight, they also possess a sense of hearing. However, their senses of taste and touch are poor, and they have no sense of smell at all.
The Poison Eaters dwell only in the jungles of the Ushaika, taking in water from the marshy soil. They are carnivorous, and have a diet of insects and animals much as the more humanoid inhabitants of the Ushaika do. However, Poison Eaters do not hunt with spears and artificial objects (in fact, they shun any artificial thing); instead, they hunt in a manner befitting their name- their heads can bloom outward to fire an arrow-sharp poison pin made from resin which their body secretes. Many Poison Eaters will gather together to hunt in this manner, chasing their prey through the dark depths of the jungle and encircling it in carefully grown tree-trunk pits, and then communally firing dart after dart into it until it is dead.
Poison Eaters are sexless, and reproduce through spores- generally, two Poison Eaters will impregnate each other. Only 4 are allowed to be pregnant at any one time. Poison Eaters begin as a spore-based seed which grows in a designated parent’s torso area, expanding into a hard sphere like a nut (which gives a pregnant Poison Eater an appearance not unlike a pregnant human). At the appropriate time, the parent’s body splits open and releases the sphere (along with a quantity of sap-like inner resin), which cracks open into an immature Poison Eater, a tentacular mass of pale shoots which gradually toughens, darkens (and eventually turns a purplish-green), and expands into a proper Poison Eater shape over a course of several days; birth defects are common, and misshappen Poison Eaters are generally destroyed and used as food.
As a Poison Eater ages, it becomes more and more tough and stiff. This process happens more or less quickly among different Poison Eaters, but eventually, all Poison Eaters will grow to be immobile and as tough as solid wood. At this point, the Poison Eater’s head-blossom will wither and drop off (these are crushed up and fed to immature Poison Eaters), and the being is dead.
The Poison Eaters Tribe is ruled democratically, there is no chief. Periodically, the various splinter groups gather at Poison Mother, the origin of the Poison Eaters, a massive, intricate, and exotic blossom in a deep hollow in the Ushaika; here, they make group decisions.
The Poison Eaters despise humans and apes, and kill any they see in their territories. Poison Eaters compose frequent war parties to raid other sections of the Ushaika. They are fierce and unusual warriors, agile and very quick, who bash, choke, and whip their enemies, and poison them with their darts.
Poison Eaters despise artificial things, and destroy them on sight. They fear fire, but beyond that are very difficult to kill- the vines composing their bodies are tough and require hacking and sawing to cut through; only the total destruction of their head-blossoms can truly kill them.