"When I saw them for the first time, I couldn't believe my eyes. Tiny humans with four arms and little wings, staring up at me like I was one of the divines themselves. When I tried to speak, the boom of my voice startled them and they ran off. But I did not need to look far for more, as the butterfly I'd caught in my study, happen to also be a scared little humanoid the whole time!"Miinu Are insect-like humanoid creatures of magical origin. Each Miinu's form is based on a real world insect, which they refer as their Bug kin. They are very small and live in secretive groups deep in the forests, making them difficult to find and are considered a myth by most humans in modern society.
Basic StructureMiinu have humanoid bodies that stand upright on two legs. They possess four arms and two legs, though for some species this number can vary. They posses 3 claw like fingers on each hand + the thumb, and two sharp toes at the end of their feet. They have tails that resemble the thorax, the third and back-most segment of their bugkin. If their bugkin has wings, they will also have them. The average height of a Miinu is about 3-5 centimeters. While most Miinu seem to be in the same general height range, bug kin can influence genetics for height. A larger species will produce taller miinu and vice versa.
SkinA miinu has an internal skeleton like a mammal, which means their skin is not an exoskeleton, but rather a thick armored hide that gives them more protection. It is a malleable leather-like texture, but is stiff enough that it needs to be segmented in areas like joints for proper movement. This thick skin is resistant to piercing damage like teeth or claws, but also can absorb the impact of falling, keeping them safe if they fall long distances. A downside to their armor is that it doesn't heal well on its own. If an injury occurs that damages the skin, a new layer will grow underneath, pushing the old one off, and requiring the whole segment of old skin to be molt. Molting can take hours on their own, and usually leaves their skin soft and tender before it hardens. Miinu are encouraged to rest after a molt, as walking with soft skin can be painful. Miinu skin, like other parts of their body, can be a wide range of pigments including different patterns and markings, as long as it exists in nature. Skin patterns will often mimic the bug-kin of a miinu, but if they are a hybrid, colors can vary even more.
HairMiinu grow hair on their heads, eyebrows, and eyelashes like humans do, but anywhere else depends on the bug kin of the miinu. Some miinu can grow facial hair while others can't. Some, like moth or bee Miinu, can grow a plume of fur around their chest or on their limbs and tail. Like skin, hair can also be a wide variety of colors. Miinu hair is made of chitin and are directly connected to small nerves on the skin. This means hair can be sensitive to touch or movement. Thankfully these hairs do not cause pain if cut or shaved, but the Miinu may experience a tingling sensation.
SightTheir eyes resemble compound eyes, but are really modified human eyes. The soft tissue of the eye is protected by a hard lens covering. This lens protect the eye from the elements and can be touched without pain. The lens also aid some Miinu in navigating underwater with their eyes open. They are far larger in proportion to humans and have a hard shell to protect them. They are also often pigmented. Their eyesight is comparable to humans; the scale makes seeing objects at a distance difficult, but it's made up for in their far wider field of view. Miinu are more sensitive to movement and changes in light
HearingMiinu have large, cone-shape ears that aid in amplifying sound, meaning their ears are quite sensitive. They are keen at picking up higher frequencies than humans, while forgoing the perception of lower ones.
SmellMiinu have small noses that really only exist for breathing, and aren't as good at picking up smells as their antennae are. Miinu all have antennae that sit at the top of their head and can come in all different forms and sizes. They are very sensitive organs covered in fine hairs that can detect changes in the atmosphere. Not only can a miinu pick up smells with them, but they can also smell pheromones with them. Pheromones are complicated and can act as another language with how much they tell about a miinu. Pheromones can also be used to communicate silently, leave recognizable trails for navigation, or even determine the health of a Miinu. Most miinu have a very distinct smell with these pheromones, so miinu will often greet each other by 'smelling' the other with their antennae. This is the only acceptable platonic contact allowed, as antennae are extremely sensitive to touch. The sensation of repeated touch or stroking of them can feel euphoric to the point of arousal, thus it's considered rude and violating to excessively touch another Miinu's antennae unless you are their mate.
TasteMiinu have mouths and jaws similar to humans, but they also possess mandibles at the sides of their mouths that can expand how wide they can open. These mandibles can click together making a vocal sound unique to Miinu that is used in their language. Their teeth are sharp and sealed, perfect for tearing at meat or tough greenery. Miinu who's bug kin are sap drinkers tend to have smaller fangs, but large proboscis-like fangs at the center of their mouths that can funnel liquid into the mouth like vampire fangs. These miinu also tend to have longer tongues than usual for reaching deep into the roots of plants and trees.
Circulatory SystemMiinu have a human-like heart that pumps blood like a humans, however their blood is a dark yellow color. Their small size means they absorb oxygen more efficiently, so there is less hemoglobin to give the red color. This affects the color of their blush, their scars, and even the inside of their mouth. Miinu are still endothermic creatures, but their small size makes it more difficult to retain heat. They are sensitive to the cold and it tends to slow them down quickly. Miinu in colder climates are often forced to hibernate in order to survive the winter.
LimbsMost miinu have six limbs like an insect, but laid out in human form. They have two pairs of arms. One primary pair that connects at the shoulder, and a smaller secondary pair that connect near the lower ribcage. The secondary arms are interesting as they not only appear visually thinner than the primary arms, but they also have the ability to pop in and out of the body. Because the arms are significantly more fragile, they can be safely tucked away in a pocket inside the body. The arms and legs are protected by segmented hard shells. The legs are built to take the impact of landing or falling without being damaged, and are the safest place to land to avoid injury.
WingsMost miinu possess wings on their backs that allow them flight. These wings are sturdy and flexible, yet are still the most vulnerable parts of their bodies. Wings are usually thin with lots of sensitive nerves and blood vessels inside of them. An injury to the wings can disable a miinu and prevent flight entirely. They are fickle to heal and need to be treated with care to heal properly. Wings will not regrow, even during a molt, so a torn wing will become a permanent injury for the miinu. Being a wingless Miinu is also natural. Many miinu have a bugkin of a wingless species, as well, children often do not develop wings until they pupate into adulthood. So while flight makes life more convenient for a miinu, their society does accommodate for people who cannot fly.
AbilitesThe Miinu are magical in nature, being born, and granted magic from the Fossil Stones, which protects them from harm. They are capable of shifting into a full insect form using magic, and can use a transformation spell that causes non-magical beings to see the Miinu as just ordinary bugs. Though it's possible for humans to gain magic that negates this illusion. There are other artifacts in that only Miinu magic is capable of activating, protecting it from being abused by other beings. Miinu are also capable of using specialized Spirit Magic that comes traits from their Bug kin. This magic is often related to traits their species kin has in the wild, such as light magic for fireflies, sound based magic for crickets or cicadas, or time perception powers for dragonflies. Most magic is something very minor, like a quirk for that person. Rarely magic can be more powerful and volatile than that.
Genetics and Reproduction
A Miinu's primary reproductive system is located inside their tails. What would normally be the abdominal section of their bug kin becomes a tail-like extremity that houses their reproductive organs. Females will possess ovaries designed for producing eggs, and males will have sperm forming organs. Both of these funnel into copulatory organs that rest nestled in a pocket inside their pelvic region, only coming out during intercourse. The tail requires a lot of blood to function, thus has a smaller heart-like circulatory organ designed to help blood flow. It is attached to the spine with sturdy bone and muscle, as if it is severed it would result in extreme blood loss and death. The tail also acts as a primary fat store. Miinu bodies are not as malleable as humans, so it is more difficult to store fat elsewhere on the body. The fat also aids in insulating and protecting sensitive internal organs in the area, as well as providing nutrients for females to produce eggs. After two miinu mate, the female will produce an egg in her tail, which will be laid a week later. They are typically translucent with a thick golden liquid inside. With a light, you can see the developing embryo inside. The parents will care for the egg as the baby gestates inside. This can take a few months. During this time the egg will require warm, moist conditions to keep them from drying out or freezing. The shells are soft and delicate, so they must be handled gently. An egg is ready to hatch when most of the fluid inside has been absorbed and the infant inside will start being more active, wriggling around and stretching its limbs. It will puncture a hole in the egg and take their first breath. They will continue to chew an opening through the soft shell until they can squeeze out. Occasionally, they will need assistance doing so, but most healthy miinu can do it on their own.
GeneticsMiinu are capable of mating and reproducing with any of their kind, regardless of bugkin. However, this will not create a hybrid species. A child between two different species will end up one or the other, and may pick up some coloration from the other parent. Other traits like facial structure, body type, and genetic dispositions/mutations can be carried over. An alternative way for a Miinu to be born is for a region's spirit magic to change a regular insect egg into a miinu egg. This miinu will develop like the other method, but are at significantly higher risk of predators. They will also be in danger of being cannibalized by their non-sapient siblings. These miinu are essentially orphans from birth, with no biological Miinu family. Unless they are found and adopted by a wandering adult Miinu, they will wander and attempt to survive on their own, making them Feral Miinu. Feral Miinu are often the genetic founder of their family tree. With no biological miinu parents, they are the purest version of their bugkin and will very rarely possess any mutations. An entire genepool can begin and end with a feral, if they happen to be so unlucky.
Growth Rate & Stages
A miinu's physical development is entirely dependent on that of its insect counter part. Like humans, they have an infancy phase and slowly grows into childhood, adolescence, and then adulthood, however, their insect traits will be much different to their adult forms. Most Miinu start of with nymph/larval forms. They will often have softer, squishier bodies compared to their adult selves. Some will be pale and chubby like worms, or colorful like caterpillars. Some will have to live under water for a time, while others need to live underground or in trees. Miinu Nymphs are hungry little monsters, who will eat nearly twice as much as an adult miinu. They require a lot of food and protein in order to grow, and tend to get fussy when they are hungry for too long. Nymphs are capable of being self sufficient and searching for their own food as many Feral children have to do before they are rescued. Feral children will often act on instinct and animistic urges, and need to be carefully trained out of those behaviors when they are adopted. Much like humans, miinu a transitional stage from childhood to adolescence, much like puberty, if puberty involved shedding your skin or weaving a cocoon. At about 14-16 years of age, miinu will transition to their 'adult' forms. This is also dependent on species. Some will form a chrysalis or cocoon and sleep for a few weeks like butterflies or moths, while others will grow out of their 'child skin' and shed it to reveal their 'adult' skin, which is harder and more resilient. They are technically capable of reproduction at this age, but it is considered a major taboo to do so until they are a little bit older and more experienced. One rarer method for miinu being born is through the Rune Curse which can turn a human into a Miinu through a gruesome transformation process.
Ecology and Habitats
Miinu are found in the region of Bituin specifically. They tend to congregate around Fossil Stones, as they provide them with their magic and wisdom they need to survive. They tend to not move around much, since the stones are very heavy for them to move around. Otherwise, Miinu can live anywhere bugs can, but their magic and sentience will grow weaker the further away they are.
Dietary Needs and Habits
All Miinu are omnivores, but they tend to have preference towards specific foods, depending on their bugkin. For example, a carnivorous Miinu may have an instinctual desire to eat other insects, despite being able to survive on plant matter; where as a sap drinking imiinu may be drawn more to sweet sugary liquids. Miinu can also eat things humans couldn't normally digest, like grass and leaves, tree sap, even wood sometimes. Carnivorous miinu often do not crave the flesh of another miinu. Cannibalism is a major taboo in most miinu cultures. Feral miinu are more likely to give into their instinctual desires if they have been raised on their own. Ferals that have been known to eat other miinu are often feared and ostracized by those who live in the villages.
The Miinu will have a hibernation period in the winter, due to the cold temperatures and lack of food resources. They will usually stock up on as much food as they can before clustering together as a group in a isolated room and sleep together through the winter. Though they are mostly warm blooded, the cold of winter tends to make them a bit lethargic.
Miinu separate themselves from their insect counterparts primarily through their higher intelligence and their sapience. They have far more advanced nervous systems allowing them to learn, have emotions, feel pain and have a sense of self. They are capable of language and complex thought. Feral miinu however have a harder time suppressing their instincts without behavioral training. If the Miinu reaches adulthood, it can be even worse. When they are the stage of attacking and eating other miinu, they are considered a lost cause and people just stay away from them at all costs. Violence is not an admirable trait among miinu, and those who are aggressive and brutal are usually not allowed near major miinu communities.