The nezumi are a race of ratlike humanoids that, like both humans and rats, have proven to be very adaptable in nearly any environment.
Nezumi stand about 5-1/2 feet tall, with the fur, head, tail, and claws of a rat. It is difficult to differentiate the males from the females except when the females are nursing pups, at which time their mammaries are swollen with milk. Their fur comes in different colors and patterns, allowing an observant outsider to discern members of different packs.
Nezumi do not usually place a great importance on fashion or clothing except as a means to protect themselves from the elements or to provide a way to carry things. They wear simple clothing, therefore, but prefer loose-fitting items with lots of pockets, or even something as simple as a belt festooned with pouches. They often wear jewelry fashioned out of bone, wood, or pretty stones, though their shamans will also wear talismans for protection or to communicate with the spirits.
While the nezumi do not keep written records of any kind, their elaborate oral history tells of an island where they once had a vast kingdom, living at peace in an age of enlightenment. However, about a century before the founding of the Tamekirikese Empire, humans came to the kingdom of nezumi and made war against them taking many of them as slaves. For hundreds of years, these nezumi slaves lived in Tamekiriku under the iron fist of their owners, but many of them have since escaped enslavement, forming packs outside and under the cities as well as in wilderness areas.
Today, one is likely to see nezumi in nearly any urban area where food is plentiful, or in forested areas far from most population centers. In Tamekiriku, nezumi are forbidden to learn how to read or write, and they are not allowed to use or handle forged weapons, on pain of death. Many of them get around both these edicts by scratching patterns of marks on buildings to denote things like food sources or friendly occupants, and fashioning weapons out of wood, bone, or horn.
Nezumi live in tightly-knit packs numbering up to several hundred individuals, with each pack guided by a Shaman Mother, the oldest and wisest of the breeding females. They will often hole up en masse in abandoned buildings, undercity tunnels, or elaborate burrows that they pepper with snares and pitfalls to discourage intruders. When food, supplies, or goods are brought to the nest, they is distributed equally amongst the pack, with the Shaman Mothers and pups getting the first shares of food, and the craftsmen getting their pick of useful materials. Pups are considered mature at 5 years old, and they generally live to be 35 years old. Their language is a rapid, chattery collection of chirps, barks, and whistles, which gives them a rather repetitive, staccato dialect when speaking other languages.
They are opportunistic and have very loose ideas of what constitutes property ownership, which often leads to run-ins with local merchants. Their diet is widely varied, and due to their strong constitutions they have been known to eat things that will sicken or even kill many other creatures. Their usual fare in the cities consists of "strong meat" and "strong fruit" (spoiled meat and overripe fruit, respectively, scavenged from refuse piles), and they find things like deadly nightshade and mistletoe to be delicacies. In Tamekiriku they have been known to steal fugu from the nets of fishermen and eat them whole. In the wild, they happily hunt and gather fresh food, but will eat carrion if it should present itself.