In the forming of the world, before the arrival of the Original Beings and the creation of their Immortals, there were Spirits, who created Dragons as their physical envoys, the first guardians of the world. Their bodies were crafted in strength, so that they might conquer the untapped wilderness and hold dominion, but though they were granted intelligence, they remained fixed to their purpose, stubborn and arrogant. Soon, this lead to the creation of the Shay, who might invent, advance, improve. From then on Spirits, Dragon and Shay existed in harmony. Until the Original Beings arrived.
War ensued. Immortals were created from the flesh of the Original Beings, some with the specific purpose of becoming living weapons in the battle. Ethelynda was created in time to see the Shay betray the Dragons and Spirits, worshipping the Original Beings and turning their backs on their own creators in their time of need. She made a secret pact with the Verses and steal away the souls of the fallen Dragons from Famula's lamp and the schemes of all Immortals, though the Shay, as dishonourable creatures in her eyes, fell beyond her protection, just as their worship could not influence her, and so were left to their ultimate demise. When the time finally came, Luesco rose the last islands containing the Induk Idalos and the last remaining dragons into the sky, and Ethelynda erected a shield preventing any Immortal or Original Being from setting foot there.
The Great Shattering came and passed. Ethelynda sequestered herself among small clans of humans, living a simple and nomadic life, finding herself unable and unwilling to claim worship from them as her fellow Immortals did. Lost without her Original Being and unsure of herself. Feeling every inch of grief and regret for the part her kind played in the invasion and subjugation of this world.
The Immortal War begun, and the clans she had lived within died in the conflict, eventually forcing Ethelynda herself into the conflict and resulting in the deaths of countless more mortals. In the wake of the disaster, seeing the world begin to crumble without the aid of the Great Spirits so thoughtlessly killed, and the petty childishness of her own kind, Ethelynda returned to the Induk and attempted to forge a new agreement with them. Lacking the power to recreate new bodies for the Dragon souls, she would use the fallen clans as vessels for the Dragon souls, merging them together and allowing them to return to the world once more, though they would never appear as they once did. The Induk agreed on the condition that through the transformation their nature remain untampered.
What resulted became the Ithecal. Their wings removed, their bodies sculpted to resemble lizards more than dragons, their bodies were imperfect but serviceable. The only change that could be made to their minds, was - the erasure of their memories, wiped clean so that they may start fresh without fear of the other Immortals tracking the down and killing them all. The rest of their minds remained intact however; their true strength came in their stubbornness, refusing to obey any that they did not respect, including the Immortals, all the way to Ethelynda herself. In their hearts they were still the protectors of the world, and so they conquered the humans beneath them, but they also protected them and guided them as well as any king would his servants. They were, and always had been, natural-born rulers unheeding of all authority bar one. At first, Ethelynda struggled with a fierce battle of wills with the Ithecal, struggling against her pact with the Induk to resist subjugating them so that they would follow her grand design and become what she had envisioned for them at their creation - protectors of the world acting beyond the petty wills of the Immortals in the interests of the world at large.
Ultimately, of the clans that she had created, many left to conquer and take back the world for theirs, forming their own nation, Dynaash, led by the Warleader Ras. Others scattered across Idalos, vanishing from sight and memory, hidden away in their own little backwaters, slowly losing themselves to despair or disaster. Those left behind agreed to respect Ethelynda's vision of an Idalos where all races came together to work as one, instead of forcing others to their will. Before they left, Ethelynda met with one of her chosen followers, Kin. The first-born son of Ras. He swore that above all else, he would protect his people from total destruction.
Those clans, under the banners of Ras and his son, hunted across the land taking villages and towns for their own, subjugating their people and ruling over their newfound domain. Inevitably they found Raskalarn herself and her still-growing Empire and became embattled in a fierce war. One of the fiercest seen of its time, with both sides driven by supposed divine will and birthright, unwavering.
Ethelynda attempted one last time to coerce the misguided Ithecal into returning to her, by bringing her cousin Ziell. To them he offered a grim prophecy. "Ambition divides what promise created. Any warrior of Dynaash to storm the fortress of the Conqueror, will be no more."
They charged through her battlefields inch by bloody inch, striding across her land, until they were storming her very castle... but when Raskalarn herself stepped onto the battlefield and drew her blades, unveiling her plan to surround them within her fortified stronghold and crush them inside its walls, their armies were soon broken. Ras himself brought to kneel before the tip of the Immortal's spear.
"Throw down your arms and swear your allegiance. Then, and only then, will your people be spared. Refuse, and not a one among you will tell your story," she told them simply.
Ras refused vehemently, spitting blood at the Immortals feet and declaring that he would sooner see them all destroyed than ever fall under her will. That declaration ended in a gurgle, as Ras stared, shocked, at the length of a blade protruding from his chest. Kin, his eldest, eased his dying father to the ground and took his crown of scales and claws, fashioned as a symbol of power among their people, offering it to the Immortal from where he knelt. "In the name of Dynaash, I accept your surrender." In that moment, their city was subjugated under Raskalarn and they became citizens of the Eternal Empire. In time, Raskalarn learned how unruly and resistant the Ithecal could be to her orders, but at the same time, she learned how clearly their paths aligned with hers. Together, they would take over the world... if not for Ethelynda and the remaining clans, standing in her way.
Appearance and Physiology
As a whole, Ithecal appear reptilian humanoids with occasional clear resemblances to the existing reptiles of Idalos, complete with scales and bestial-like bodies with muzzles pushing from their faces and inhuman, reptilian eyes. However, combining with human bodies led to a wide degree of variation, honed and sculpted by Ethelynda into three distinct 'variants' which subsequently split into their various tribes and families. Males and females are defined, if not exactly clearly to those who do not know what to look for; the differentiation is made through many small but altogether obvious features. Key variations include females often displaying a more slender muzzle, slightly more prominent eye-ridges, longer tails and the vague shape of breasts, though they do not have nipples nor do they produce milk, while males show wider, shorter jaws, as well as longer claws. Females also are more often to display brighter colours and even brighter shades, while males are more murky and dark.
The most physically imposing of all the variants is that of the Thiussum, which have been seen at upwards of 9' tall and never dip below 7'. Their thick, cracked skin of varying dark greens and browns is much more resilient to the daily cuts and wounds of a human, and even the weakest of their kind display thick arms and legs, wide shoulders and barrelled chests, with evenly-distributed dense muscle for streamlining. The pointed v-shaped muzzle jutting from their face is filled with teeth, and their characteristic overbite leaves most of them exposed even when their mouth is shut. Their long, thick tails are hardly useful for anything more than balance, although the more muscularly-gifted have managed to use it to knock opponents off their feet in the past. Though claws do appear on their hands and feet, these are more suited for grabbing and use in difficult terrain like mud and sand over use as natural weapons... although some are still known to sharpen their claws artificially, their strength is more comparable to overly-thick fingernails, which can make intricate tasks more difficult as they get in the way.
Where their heritage becomes most apparent is in two key sets of characteristics. Between their clawed fingers and toes is a faint but not insignificant amount of webbing, making them natural swimmers, surprising many given their sheer bulk and weight. Combined with their bulky tails, their manoeuvrability in both deep and shallow waters is nothing to be sniffed at. As well as this, their powerful jaws hold a powerful crushing grip, capable of exerting well over ten times the biting pressure of a standard human jaw. Like crocodiles, they cannot exert the same amount of force when opening their jaw... but unlike them, the Thiussum's jaws will take more than an average human's strength to hold them shut as well. Lastly, being a uniquely cold-blooded species, hot environments are highly preferred and extreme cold is very detrimental to a Thiussum, with the truly freezing Oscillus rendered almost inhabitable without special heat-generating equipment.
A stockier and sturdier build, the common Paltharnum stands somewhere roughly somewhere between 7'6-8'6. Their hide comes in shades of deep green to brown, dusty orange and black, sometimes appearing two-tone or with vague natural patterns - and is thick and durable enough to shrug off light blows and deep cuts, designed as natural armour against both combatants and the harshest of the elements nature has to offer. Musculature is spread less evenly and more focused around the arms and legs, producing characteristically narrow torsos with pinched waists and thick-set limbs. Wider u-shaped muzzles carry much less of a bite, but carry teeth as strong and plentiful as their larger counterparts. The claws on their hands and feet are longer, sharper and altogether more dangerous in hand-to-hand combat, making for short but impactful natural weapons capable of dealing serious damage in extreme close ranges. However, unlike cat claws, they cannot be retracted, so special care must be taken to avoid accidental injury or damage on a daily basis. Longer, more whip-like tails can also be utilised efficiently in combat, though they lack the strength and dexterity of a true fifth limb.
Hailing from heavy-set ground lizards like that of the komodo dragon most notably, their body excels at temperature regulation, both in terms of extremely hot and very cold, though it is more uniquely tailored to that of hot environments. Because of this, they can survive in almost any environment in Idalos, as long as they have the skills to do so, without being hindered like that of the Thiussum. Also like larger ground predator-lizards, they are capable of short-distance sprinting at high speeds to either chase down a fleeing enemy or escape from a disadvantageous situation, doubling their average running speed (which is dependent upon their various physiological skills) at the expense of wearing themselves out faster for a period of time. This ability can be trained, allowing those who hone their talents to maintain such a state for longer periods of time. However, this ability will not transfer to swimming, climbing or any other means.
Ranging from seven to six feet tall, the Wyvarnth is the smallest of the three variants, but makes up for it in other ways. This is the only variant to lack any kind of claws on their hands and feet, losing grip in tough terrain but giving them a higher level of dexterity in their fingers that allows them to perform complicated and intricate tasks with more ease than their counterparts. Their bodies are streamlined similarly to that of the Thiussum, with musculature developed evenly across the body, slightly barrelled chests and shoulders at a similar width to hips. Their skin is the thinnest of the three, more reminiscent of scales than the cracked skin of their cousins and coming in a much wider variety of shades of green, yellow, brown and black with much more prominent natural patterns and designs that act as natural tattoos at birth, with similar patterns passing down generations. Their tails are the longest of the three and not only the strongest but the most flexible.
This sense of flexibility is carried forwards to much of the rest of the Wyvarnth physiology. The joints of their arms and legs are double-jointed to allow a much larger range of flexible movement than that of any other counterpart, and many humans short of the acrobatics-inclined contortionists. Featuring naturally flexible spines and a tail acting as an ideal counterbalance gives them a natural-born grace visible in both combat and day-to-day activities. Though their mouth is filled with pointed teeth, a pair of slender fangs hide in the roof of the mouth and fill tiny gaps between the canines and the premolars, filled with a dilute paralytic venom capable of stunning a large human within seconds. This venom cannot be spat and will take about two trials before it can be used once more with any noticeable results, and five trials before it will reach its full potency. The final interesting trait of the Wyvarnth variant is that they seem to be the most keenly intelligent of the three, although this is often disputed and put down to a cultural difference than any physical difference, with a tendency towards calculating and preparation due to their diminutive size. Some hypothesize that the Wyvarnth are the closest to a true cross-breed between dragon and humanoid, while the other larger variants express more of their dragon heritage.
The Ithecal mind is much as it once was, left untarnished by Ethelynda throughout the rebirth, as per her contract with the Induk. Though living through the lives of ordinary mortals, their minds have become open and more accepting of their new reality, though there remains certain key patterns heralding back to their ancient draconic nature.
All Ithecal remember their purpose for their creation, and contain some measure of ancestral memories of their times long ago when they carried out these purposes. They are the guardians of the world, the physical envoys of their creators, the Induk. They are the stewards of the world, created to control it and keep it whole. However, the means for which one is willing to go through to achieve this, and what it means to keep the world whole, differs from one Ithecal to the next. The most influence comes from two Immortals in particular. Ethelynda believes that the world can only be truly repaired by forging alliances with all the other races of the world, creating peace between Immortals and allowing the world as it is to live in harmony. Raskalarn, however, believes that such an alliance is impossible, and if it were to happen, it would only be a matter of time before chaos and ruin fell once more; the only course is to take over the world by force, uniting the nations of the world under one singular banner to prevent further war. Still others believe that the only course is to kill the Immortals and wipe out all races on Idalos bar their own, so that they may return to a time before the Immortals and Original Beings stepped on this world, though these are rarely mentioned. Overall, these small differences would not be of any significant mention, if not for one other common trait of the Ithecal:
As a species, they are incredibly headstrong and stubborn creatures. Small, even unintended insults have been known to spark blood feuds spanning generations with neither party ready to admit their wrong-doing, even when it is clearly presented to them. This, combined with their complete unwillingness to listen or follow anyone that they do not respect has caused immense problems in ruling and leadership, with poor leaders quickly finding themselves immediately ousted of their positions regardless of bloodline or birthright. Such feuds and petty squabbles have held back their progression as a race significantly, reducing them to such infighting that they would split their entire race in two. To the Ithecal however, this is both a curse and a blessing, as in some very rare cases it has directly affecting the Immortals, with the most headstrong of their species outright refusing to follow the direct orders of Immortals even if it results in their deaths. Though it is incredibly rare to see such a thing, as the preservation of their species is considered a paramount importance, their stubbornness to refuse backing down has resulted in charging head-first into impossible odds in nothing more than refusal to believe that they are wrong... and in the case of capture, they have killed themselves so as to not give their enemies the satisfaction of torture, or mentally manipulating them.
Perception of the World
Whether siding with Ethelynda, Raskalarn, or neither, or something else entirely... there is one absolute truth. The Dragons were made to rule the world, and the Ithecal shall one day do the same. Whether that be through forming alliances with the new races and other Immortals, making peace with the world that has formed in their absence... or forcing the nations of the world into submission and unification, whether they agree to it or not... or through burning every other race to ash, killing the Immortals themselves and returning to the ancient times of Dragons, Spirits and Shay... it will happen.
Opinions on Outsiders
The other races of Idalos are more often than not the mere puppet-slaves of their creators, things to be pitied. There are a few exceptions of course, such as Humans, but many races are openly treated with distrust. Rather surprisingly, the Aukari and the Lotharro are perhaps the most positively-viewed races, regardless of their obvious infatuations with their respective Immortals and utter devotion to their creators and their causes, like the good little puppet-slaves they are. Their raw passion, rage and in cases primal fury is something to be admired.
That said, all races are treated with equal measures of distrust and unease.
Opinions on Magic
Magic, the handling of the alien materials left in the wake of the Immortals, is a very strange thing indeed to an Ithecal. Few will ever find such a transformation into an alien being appeasing, especially as it mutates their untarnished souls and destroys their connection to the world they were built to protect. Magic is not necessarily an evil, in the same way that the Immortals themselves are not, but it is certainly not a good force of the world, nor is it helpful. However, there are some who claim that by claiming these powers, they will become the next god-like beings to challenge the world and reshape it to their whims, much like the Original Beings did when they first arrived in Idalos...
Society and Culture
Despite being one of the earlier races to develop in Idalos, following just behind the end of the Immortal War, the Ithecal have hardly changed as a species in terms of their societal advancement since their formation. They remain a collection of primitive clans, prone to bouts of infighting over menial disagreements or even simple misunderstandings. Grudges have the potential to last several generations as their stubbornness is legendary; they retain much of their traditional beliefs, including those that have long become obsolete and pointless, simply for the fact that they have done it for so long. These backwards ideals have stymied any true advancement in many decades, to the point that their entire species became separated into two factions waging war with one-another over the decision to join the rest of the world, or burn it and start over.
That said, the strength of these beliefs have never changed.
Diet varies greatly, but there is a certain tendency towards varieties of meat and fish, cooked rare as a delicacy and offered in large quantities, even in the smaller varieties. In preparation, importance is placed first upon the meat's quality first and its seasoning and preparation second, with the key distinguishing factors between a common chef and a true master not always being in their ability to choose a poor meat and make it taste good, but to avoid choosing poorer selections in the first place. It is unknown whether it is because of their frequency of consumption or if it is an in-built trait, but there seems to be a certain sensitivity to an Ithecal palate allowing them to immediately distinguish, with a high chance of success, which animal they are consuming, how old that animal is... and even if they have never tasted it before, they can sometimes deduce vaguely which species it may have originated from. Worryingly, though the chances of success are significantly diminished, this can sometimes include sentient species, such as humans.
Wheats, oats and dairy products are considered secondary and never served on the same plate as meats. Fruits and vegetables are consumed in moderation for the sake of maintaining a balanced diet, but rarely add anything to a dish and in some cases can even become a hindrance, deducting from the experience. However, their value for fast growth, longer lifespans and easy storage makes them a tolerable pack-food to be consumed when little else is available, and Ithecal are capable of surviving solely on vegetable matter if their situation is dire, although it is not a pleasant experience and can lead to feelings of nausea and low energy, especially in larger breeds who require more food to sustain themselves.
Technology, Religion and Worship
Ithecal technology is, by itself, feeble in comparison to many other technologically-advancing races. Many Ithecal are resistant to change and find the simplest methods the most reliable, preferring them over more complicated alternatives even if these would result in superior results. That said, it is not impossible for an Ithecal to overcome this resistance, but it is uncommon, and without the help of human ingenuity, it's widely believed that the Ithecal would have quickly fallen back into primitive times, living in huts and hunting with spears. That said, perhaps their one saving grace is when it falls to combat, where modern advancements in weapons such as the crossbow quickly eliminate those who do not change to meet them.
No truly organised single religion exists within the Ithecal, especially since the species as a whole have become disconnected from themselves. There exist many pockets claiming worship to a number of Immortals, namely Ethelynda and Raskalarn, but they are valued more for their strength and their devotion to their values than their obvious powers. Other notable pockets include those for Ilaren, Karem and Qylios for their alliances, though these are more often offshoots of the original two. There is, however, a deep-seated respect for the spiritual world and the preservation of nature as it is, though this is not necessarily devotion to Ashan or Moseke, but some would call it an ancient ritual from long ago that none remember the beginning of, and is practised today because it has always been practised, without necessarily knowing the reason why.
Reproduction, Aging and Death
All Ithecal have a lifespan of up to 100 arcs, depending on their lifestyle choices of course, with a fairly standard maturation period on par with most humans, reaching full maturity at 18 and reaching their middling arcs around 40, however, this is only their bodies. It is unknown how long a dragon might survive, or whether they truly die at all, but while the Ithecal body takes the cycle of the average human, the Ithecal mind becomes fully matured around their tenth arc and never wavers until death. It is believed this is caused by an imbalance between the strength of the soul and the strength of the body that it is placed within.
When death does come, the soul is immediately returned and reincarnated into the next Ithecal body by means of a feedback loop to prevent Famula from returning them to her lantern - something done by Ethelynda covertly copying Thetros' methods with the Lotharro. There is, however, no known possibility for an Ithecal to remember anything of their previous lives, though it is entirely possible that such memories could be stored somewhere.
Reproduction is fairly similar to humans, with copulation identical given their humanoid frames. The key difference is that five months following copulation, the female will lay eggs, about three-to-four on average. At this point the eggs will need to be kept warm and safe for a further five months, upon which time the child will emerge. Child Ithecal emerge from their eggs already able to see, crawl and eat for themselves, though it will take a number of arcs before they will be able to talk, read and write; skills which will develop at a similar pace to that of the average human.
Language, Script and Names
The Ithecal never developed a language amongst themselves because of their close interaction with all other races from an early age, both due to their geographical placement and at Ethelynda's insistence. Therefore, a wide variety of languages is spoken, with Common being the most regular, and the many families spread across Idalos taking the language of their city as their native tongue. Likewise, their script has never advanced beyond that of a common usage, however the average Ithecal's handwriting is crude at best, due to their claws disrupting proper pen usage. Wyvarnth, however, have no such issue.
Names are considered incredibly important in Ithecal society and are almost always heavy with regal overtones. Most commonly ending in 'ia', 'ius', 'ium', 'um' or 'ila'. For example:
Antonia Lucius Marcia Maximus Saturna Septimus