We have sown the seeds of our own destruction. . . quite befitting for sons of Axen.
In the early infancy of the world, the god Axen created orcs. His sister Beatrix created dwarves. And then Axen coupled with Beatrix, and their created races followed suit.
The result is a hybrid race carrying the aggressive and destructive nature of Axen as well as Beatrix's strength of thought and strategy. In many ways, the orvon race represents a tug between two forces. Building and destroying. Attacking and defending. The list goes on, but to most of the globe the implication is the same: the union of such opposing forces is unnatural, and so the offspring born of it must be as well.
Physical AppearanceIn general orvon are considered slightly smaller and leaner counterparts to their orc ancestors. They retain many of the obviously orcish characteristics—green-tinted skin, horns, elongated canines—however the overall physical structure more closely resembles a 'common' stature.
Orvon are also considered to have better constitution in comparison with most other races. Compared with common men, their bones and muscles are denser and their skin thicker, which enables them to retain built strength and muscle, and better weather a wide range of elements.
Reproduction/Sex-DeterminationOrvon have a ZY sex-determination system, where homogametic YY chromosomes code for males and heterogametic ZY chromosomes code for females. This means that the Z chromosome, and the female, determines the sex of the offspring—the inverse sex-determination of common men and dwarves.
A number of genetic mutations make it difficult for orvon to reproduce, which has led to the endangerment of their population as a whole and the possible future threat of extinction. Scientists and researchers aren't entirely sure what has led to such abundant mutations and difficulties in reproduction, however their evolution is such that female orvon have increased risk of dying from menses, pregnancy, and childbirth. A large part of the Brickard Trade Agreement focused on the development of medical research to find solutions to this issue, however not much has been done so far. Thus, the orvon population currently is predominantly male, and many both on the reservations and at Brickard are strongly opinionated about the issue.
Both males and females develop body hair as a secondary sex characteristic, however this trait is also correlated with body temperature, and both sexes will actually shed or grow thicker body hair depending on the season/environment. Horns are typically a male sex characteristic, usually developing during adolescence to curl over the back of the ears; the horns in females often don't develop past stubs, but it's not unheard of for female orvon to have semi-developed horns. The same is true for the deepening of the voice during puberty—while this is predominantly a male trait, many females express a slight deepening as well.
Secondary Sex Characteristics
Orvon and common folk are genetically and physically close enough that they are able to viably reproduce together, however there are certain caveats. An orvon egg will not accept an X chromosome, meaning that an orvon female (ZY) has only a 50% normal fertility rate with a common male (XY). An orvon male (YY) can fertilize the X chromosome egg of a common female (XX), however in the case of a X chromosome egg the sperm cell essentially 'eats' the X chromosome and instead copies its own Y chromosome in its place.
Furthermore, even if conception and pregnancy are successful there are still complications with the childbirth. The genetic species coding for orvon is in the Y chromosome, so the offspring will always be an orvon. Orvon pregnancies typically last about three months longer than those of common folk, and the fetuses are typically bigger and heavier by the time labor is induced. This means, especially for common women giving birth to orvon offspring, the newborn child is likely to break the pelvis during delivery and these women usually die during childbirth.
ImmunityAn orvon's strongest asset is usually their immune system. Several genes in the orvon Y chromosome are related to immune functioning, and orvon even go through somewhat of a 'second puberty' in their early twenties during which a couple things will occur: immune responses are somewhat sporadically triggered for no currently understood reasoning, and the lymph nodes grow slightly larger.
Science Explanation (meta)Still developing this idea.
Several of those Y chromosome genes include information on past generational pathogens that are then coded into several types of cells in the orvon's immune system. During this 'second puberty' the immune system will sporadically create 'mimic antigens'—basically hodgepodged molecular structures based on those coded pathogens that aren't really antigens but that resemble them—and trigger an immune response. The mimic antigens aren't that strong and act as a sort of vaccine for made-up pathogens that, through random chance, sometimes happen to be real pathogens that the orvon hasn't yet encountered.
A few other orvon attributes are also designed to improve upon the immune response. Their nose shape and an extra dermal layer in particular make it difficult for pathogens to enter the body, as well as providing protection from other external forces.
“You’re alright?” he asked. “You don’t feel poisoned?” Ast shook his head, and Evander absently wiped the shoulder of his jacket where it was burned through and sheened. He rubbed his thumb over it and then sniffed the residue.
“Thicker skin,” Ast mumbled.
History and EvolutionEstimates place the emergence of the orvon race at approximately 600 Prior, however because the timeline of the first age is so vague, their population may have begun developing as early as 740 Prior—the tail of the Orc Wars of Liberation—or as late as the decline and seclusion of the dwarven race around 100-40 Prior. As there is no reference to orcs from the First Aveaan Empire, it is assumed that the more primitive orc race had mostly died out by the rise of the Empress.
The other major question concerning the emergence of the orvon race is as to what circumstances orc and dwarven cultures even associated with one another for any length of time. Orcs, as far as scholars are aware, were relegated mostly to Jzarmille up until the Wars of Liberation, and even after they tended to stay north of Mount Lune. Contrarily, dwarven civilizations have always centered around the more mountainous areas of the globe, and several accounts leftover from the Lune stronghold (the closest dwarven stronghold to Jzarmille) suggest that the dwarves saw little reason to associate themselves with their northern neighbors.
The Autumnal BastionThere is one notable account in The Autumnal Bastion that relays possibility for dwarven and orc intersection, though the theory is far-fetched at best. Among the lengthy descriptions of Clan Kavidar's pilgrimage to Mount Lune is mention of annual trade with the orcs, a single day of their journey each year where they stop for rest in the orclands, and drink and barter for a full day and night.
Aside from the excerpt to the right, the translated phrase, "rested sword in sheath under this honeyed night," several paragraphs later is often used to argue that the two groups did have intimate relations during this intersecting, however only the Pastigarde translation supports this.
. . .and on the thirty-fourth day is Gorvvndunh Hall, iron for███████████████████████████████████ depths beyond be a land of flat sand and little remorse, but it is a sure sight for our thirst and pockets. Sons and daughters of Axen! we cry for courtesy, and Gorvvndunh himself is a giant among his men; the geese fly faster from his rumble and the lop-eared beast bows its tusks in accedence of his welcome. . .
Orvon typically have either green or blue-tinted skin, depending on the atmosphere in which the fetus and newborn develops—those typically exposed to different environmental influences during their rudimentary stages of development have a more blue-tinted skin tone. What these exact influences are, or the exact mechanisms of pigment alteration, aren't known for certain since there are so few orvon with any conspicuous degree of blue-tinted skin, and scientists have also pointed out the possibility of the blue tint being a result of blood variation as opposed to melanin variation.
Skin Coloring and Variation
All orvon employed by the Beourjen Army or acquiring citizenship within the BC must be sterilized. In places like Fort Brickard, where most soldiers are raised from childhood, men are given a hormonal treatment as well, which prevents their horns from growing during adolescence and thus identifies them as Beourjen citizens.
BC Sterilization Effects
Orvon physiology and circulatory system supports a wider variance in body temperature than those with eldermen genealogy. They can comfortably function with an internal temperature anywhere between 85-110 degrees (29-43 celsius), but their bodies are also simply better at maintaining a stable body temperature than most other races.
Considering the strong immunities of orvon, it is unsurprising that their diet should be so diverse and yet so amenable to whichever environment they happen to inhabit. Like all Common-variant races, orvon are omnivores, though they usually prefer a diet relatively high in meat and protein. Historical and archaeological accounts suggest multiple centuries of orc culture that ate predominantly raw meat, and while traditional orvon culture still reflects this dietary habit, orvon living under the Brickard Trade Agreement express little preference for either raw or cooked meat. They also don't seem to suffer any adversive effects for eating raw versus cooked meat; this leads most Beourjen and Ethanian researchers to believe that their traditional tendancy toward eating raw meat is more an act of laziness and value of quantity over quality than anything else.
Interestingly, orvon seem to have an equal, if not greater, propensity toward seafood and in particular deep-sea, freshwater fish. In fact, they have shown to be able to differentiate between variants of similar fish, as well as whether a fish is sick or healthy, by sense of smell alone. This is incredibly perplexing when taking into account that orvon sense of smell is otherwise generally blunted, and that as far as history recounts orcs were never seafarers.
. . . Is that orcs (and later orvon) predominantly stayed rooted to Jzarmille, in the land that is now known as The Reservations; this area was first the exact eye of the storm during the Wars of Liberation, and then was brutalized again in war during the Northwestern Passes. Thus, the majority of orvon history beween the two periods has been rebuilt over.
The Problem with Studying Orvon Evolution. . .
The other issue is that whatever history might still be hidden in Jzarmille is protected from outside inquisition by the Brickard Trade Agreement. Part of the Trade Agreement states that their land will remain occupied by the orvon warlords there, and that as long as they provide adequate soldiers for the Beourjen Army, Beourjen will both defend their borders and not touch their current culture and traditions.
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