The Dwellers Underground, the Beneath are simultaneously the most enduring and fragile of the tribes. As the name suggests, they live almost exclusively underground in caves, caverns, and extensive buried ancient ruins. They are very well protected from all that lies outside, but are also entirely dependent on the outside for fresh supplies of food to sustain themselves. This makes trade the single most important pillar of Beneath existence, for which they rely heavily on the Merchant tribe.
Safely ensconced in their underground lairs, the Beneath are the tribe to whom the most ancient of ancients belong, those with the longest memories. They are strongly motivated by their need to protect this ancient knowledge. Long ago, they decided that ancient fortified ruins were best suited to accomplish this goal.
In a culture that celebrates endurance, security, trade, and secrecy as highly as the Beneath do, their reverence tends to fall largely upon their elders and ancestors to the near-exclusion of other belief systems. They have protocols for expressing their beliefs more than they have an organized religion as such. The more important the task they’re performing, the more they do it with a spiritual reverence.
The Beneath have colonized extremely selectively. Their holdings are always characterized by extreme defensibility; they have the ability to close up their cities and endure for decades if circumstances demand it.
Because they insulate themselves in such highly defensible locations, they’re more dependent on trade for food than any other mycel. They maintain a sophisticated, extensive system of trade networks with as many other mycel communities as they can at all times. Their people are encouraged to engage in trades and crafts producing things to be traded, while most often the Merchant mycel is contracted to ferry goods about.
They broker in information and facilitate trades between other mycels as well in the interests of maintaining friendly relations.
No other mycel is aware of the true extent of the Beneath’s dependence on their trade lifelines; it’s a secret guarded with ferocity, as though their lives depend on it, because indeed they do. The Merchants know the Beneath best, but even they don’t know the full scope of this secretive civilization’s dealings. This has instilled a deep-seated culture of secrecy in the upper echelons of Beneath society, which has filtered into their communications and networking infrastructure.
The Beneath governance is strictly gerontocratic, with the eldest among them wielding authority over the populace.
Dee is an information broker of the Beneath. Secrecy is fundamental to their job; they work constantly to iterate on security protocols for mycelial data packets that connect one of their communities to others. But so ingrained is the need for secrecy in the Beneath culture that it doesn’t stop there; Dee travels to and from work by different paths every day out of a subconscious need to any obscure knowledge of where they’re going from casual passersby. They change their living space periodically as well, and their elders likewise order shifts in their work location.
They do NOT, however, go so far as to change their actual name. They do serve their elders, after all, and though they are quite sure they’re more concerned with security and secrecy than even Dee is, they ARE elders and in some ways, at least, are still set in their ways. Dee hopes that when the time comes to join then, they’ll remain flexible of mind.
The natural caves and caverns colonized by the Beneath are home to a broad and strong species of shelf fungus that ancient Beneath bred to expand their living spaces deep underground. This fungus is a prime export of their fungal harvesters; some believe the Grandfarmers remain jealous of its widespread use throughout the mycels to this day, and that jealousy drives their industrious creativity. Of course, no Beneath would ever dream of giving voice to such beliefs around an outsider, especially a Grandfarmer. It remains one of their many secrets.
Where the Beneath have moved into ancient buried ruins unclaimed by the Ruin’Dwell, they have less need for the shelf fungus but will still employ it where necessary. Such places are prized by the Beneath for the potential secrets of the past they hold, and they put in considerable effort to hide the entrances to the ruins, leaving public areas open to outsiders that are (or appear to be) natural caverns.