Tufties are small, settled colonies of long-eared rodents that make their homes in stone faces in hillocked areas like the region of Tor, where there most significant population exists.
Their ubiquitous presence denotes the primary reason for the infamous status they hold, though their intricate pranks played on members of their hovel is perhaps the most notable facet of the furry rock dwellers.
Because they are most often found in tight-knit groups, even a single animal may be referenced as a "tufties", when the non-pluralized form is actually just a "tuft".
Most tufties prefer rocky areas for shelter. Recent reports however claim large colonies of tufties living throughout forest and plains alike, with a seemingly massive exodus of the creatures spreading across the Orb. Most locals classify them as an invasive species due to there prolific presence upon the Auld, and any elder old enough to have seen more than one thousand cycles of the moon will insist that "back in my day, the furred squeakers weren't nary a none of them in any corner to be seen." The likelihood of a spontaneous godly creation has been dismissed, and a more practical theory of children bringing them as pets on voyages to other regions could be linked to the seemingly instantaneous spread of the cute varmint.
PhysiologyEditTufties tend to grow about mortalfolk's foot long with a body skinny enough to fit into the grasp of a large hand. Their coloring is a plain as stone, ranging from grey to gray, with highlights of black, white, and ruddy umber. They live up to a child's fruit-bearing age and ween in as little as a moon or two. Their landspeed doesn't beat that of a capable runner, though their deft maneuverability makes them difficult targets of chase for even agile hounds. A tuft trapped in an attic stumbled upon by a milking maid has been described as "a frenzied little ball of terrified chaos."
One remarkable aspect of the tufties is their stunningly short gestation period, all of half-a-moon, meaning that from conception to birth the reproduction cycle's set is speedy. The female of the species then needs the other half a month before the next fruit of its looms becomes ready for fertilization once more.
This observation leads to many references in colloquial conversation, with woman after childbirth declaring "I'll need more than a tuft's rest after that" and children often remarking "in the time it takes granddad to finish a story, two tufties could've been born!"
Peculiar among animals, tufties have very close families which appear to be constantly feuding. Though not often regarded as bearing high intelligence and having very poor memories, the scale to which they can plot and prank members of their commune is nothing short of genius. These can include acts like: setting up branches of trees to be easily broken when walked on; rubbing edible mosses on certain mushrumps before giving them to relatives, causing swelling of the buttocks; collecting clam juice in a leaf and dumping it on siblings, turning their fur purple; and luring predators to sleeping dens of family members.
It is said that folks' children, "learn to be good from their parents and learn to be bad from the tufties."
Their misdeeds against kin are so renown that multiple mummers groups of traveling performers have intro and intermission skits full of slapstick designed around these goofs in a segment called simply The Tufties.
Tufties & SpooksEdit
Rarely are the pranks played within families of tufties fatal, but rarely still means it happens. There has been strange sightings, however, when a fall or triggered trap resulting in the death of a tuft, which has miraculously gotten back up to run off and start planning revenge pranks. This includes tufties who have fallen from tall trees to rocky a death sprinting off moments later, or tufties crushed beneath rocks, blood and all, somehow squeezing out appearing just a little dazed.
The connection, though unverified, comes from lesser unidentified spirits known as spooks. They have minor powers, if any, but said to be among them is the ability to bring small animals back to life.