If a human came along and out of awe and/or curiosity, began to ‘play’ with one of the keelish’es tentacles, … idk how ‘appropriate’ it is for humans that don’t know each other at all to go about starting touching each others hair, but it would be weird. Inappropriately weird. Though we feel our tentacles about in the same manner than humans feel hair, even though the tentacles are made of flesh, they don’t have any nerves. And if we happen to loose any of them at any point, which we do, they do regrow.
That is a cultural trait from the beginning of keelish civilisation. When we were a young race still playing with wooden and stone tools, the hellspawn incursions that come in from the west were devastating to us, as where we are somewhat weaker physically to humans, the hellspawn are stronger than humans. Without any good equipment, or and fortiffications, we had to rely on our numbers to survive, and many keelish died every year at each incursion, forcing us to do everything in our power to prepare for the next one, including teaching children how to fight.
Eventually when our military prowess grew, our equipment got better, after we began building forts and castles along the frontier, and the advent of gunpowder, things have become significantly easier for us, but the ‘‘train kids from when they are young’’ bit stuck. Now considering that children are taught how to defend themselves from an early age, them needing to serve in the army for at least a few decades, and keelish having a very long lifespan over which they could have fought against many incursions, you can begin to see how all this time, pressure, and dedication could lead to the perfectly honed soldiers that Kleriel boasts we have.
Also, yes, what we lack in mass we make up for in agility, and keelish possessing a higher intelligence also means that our tacticians and generals are no pushovers either.
As i said, the tentacles are redundant, they don’t feel them any more than you feel your hair. You could imagine them to be a sort of a filter (more like a tentacle pest that gets in their way) to keep insect life and such away from their primary breathing organs, as well as shield them from the elements somewhat, as i am sure you’ve noticed, they lack a nose.