SummaryIt is said the story of the ilansu is one of tragedy, though not even they remember it well. Old legends speak of their people once stretching across Veltrona, at harmony with all others. Then came the vile ichor, and they were lost to its tide. When the tide receeded, not one ilansu could be found, and so many wept for their loss. They faded into history, all but dragonkind coming to forget them. For the dragons, the ilansu were among the few they counted as genuine friends. They mourned for them always. Then came the time of the Great Darkness. When those centuries of sunless days ended, the ilansu had returned to Veltrona. Upon their homeland of Immensio they walked once more, but none of them harkened to the days of old. Word of strange, metamorphic beings soon spread, drawing all sorts of attention. Naturally metal-aspected, the ilansu are a rare breed that offer untold opportunities. As the greater powers in and around Immensio came to hunt and capture them, word spread even faster. It would be, upon reaching the ears of the draconic lineage of Kar, however, that dragonkind began to move. Alongside the Kar came the Ron, Su, and Ra lineages in numbers so great everyone feared war would break out. They scoured Immensio, gathering up the primitive ilansu tribes. The four lineages sorted the tribes between them, and so upon their wings took the ilansu across Veltrona once more. Though their friends did not remember the old alliances, the dragons would yet honor them still. So it came to be, the ilansu found their feet once more within the venerated homes of dragonkind. They would receive the most gracious of hosting, tutorship, and opportunities that could be afforded to them. In time, this arrangement would become the kickstart to their growing civilizations, albeit in a much different form. Some would, eventually, desire to go out and establish lands of their own. A division in the ilansu ensued, with those staying within the cultural realms of dragonkind, or venturing off on their own. It wasn't a separation of war or even disagreement, and all the sides yet remained harminous with each other. They all sought to return to the world's stage, but what sort of future they had remained a mystery. Still, a youthful, energetic vigor defined their hopes and dreams, even against the advisory warnings dragons offered. Given their circumstances, the ilansu do not have much for a broader history. What they have forged over a few thousand years is a tapestry of their own efforts intermingling with many others. Successes, failures; boons, and woes, all alike come together as the ilansu carve out somewhere for themselves. A fate that often finds them in the company of others, though it isn't something they mind. They're a sociable people, in spite of how much others covet them.
Even with all that which Orjania destroyed, traces of our old world yet remain. How very heartening.
Due to their metamorphic nature, ilansu can take on an incredible diversity of appearances. Why they do so is a combination of cultural, environmental, and personal preferences. While most normally maintain a humanoid figure or resemblance thereof, some can diverge into truly bizarre forms. The following is an attempt at describing a 'very common' form the ilansu may take up. An ilansu's central body is humanoid, consisting of a head and complete torso. Their arms are disproportionately long, with elognated fingers that can almost touch the ground when at a full stand. They have two legs with normal thighs until the knee, from which their lower leg/foot terminates into a jagged, rocky 'blade'. These thick blade-legs give them a swinging gait, and ilansu use a combination of balance and magnetic control to properly move. At the arms' shoulder socket, and the legs' hip socket, their bodies terminate into rounded, sharpened, or otherwise edged 'growths'. Appearing like mountainous rock formations, these magnetic joints glimmer with metallic reflection, showing the most dominant metal types in their body. An ilansu's arms and legs magnetically connect to their central body at these joints, either in direct contact, or very shortly hovering nearby. Unlike other forms of life, ilansu usually do not have a single continguous form. Their limbs are the most often changed aspect of them, allowing them to modularize and adapt as they need. For example, one may have two sets of arms, one with normal five-fingered hands, the other with swords or knives instead. However, this is expensive to do, as they are still burning up the energy to maintain that extra set. Some cultures believe in 'storing' extra limbs in their cold, inert states, while others feel only using what is needed as appropriate. Regardless of how, the ilansu don't have regular organs or internal physiology. It would suffice to say that ilansu can, somehow, distribute and operate their vitals throughout the entirety of their form, even the 'disconnected' parts. Some sort of order does dictate what they can do, as most of their organ-analogues end up in close proximity. The humanoid torso is one good example of a 'central container'. An important rule to them is the conservation of energy. Larger body mass means more energy required to live, so a 'large' ilansu is not only very well fed, but supplied enormous amounts of energy. The smaller stature and stout physiques they prefer is a way of maintaining an equitable balance. They may cheat with the rules sometimes, such as having longer, disproportionate limbs that can make them seem bird or spider-like instead.
AppearancesAppearance wise, they do have soft-tissue skin which covers most of their bodies. Metallic growths, appearing as rock, smooth metals, or some combination thereof, adorn them. These, like arthropod monsterkind, favor growing on the 'hard' parts of their 'skeletons', or in places of inflexible firmness. For example, on the hips, ribs, elbows, knuckles, knees, shoulder blades, and similar are common areas. Places where limbs may connect are almost entirely metallic, as they're magnetic joints. As a whole, their metamorphic nature means that their weight is actually quite deceptive. Through the usage of metal magic, they can move and behave with incredible ease, but they are still extremely heavy beings. The density of their bodies compounds this. A 'big' ilansu and a 'thin' one can actually be the same weight, but they do not 'look' like it at all. Their facial appearances are usually informed by some nascent idea of being 'cute'. That is, ilansu don't prefer to appear hostile or unwelcoming, but those exact definitions can vary. Larger, rounded eyes with beautiful clarity to their irises doesn't mitigate the uncanny, distorted proportions of their bodies. In fact, to some it's even more disturbing. Nonetheless, they often reflect and establish a cute appearance similar to other species from where they grew up. They have no hair on their bodies, but they may mimic the appearance of it. These dull, non-reflective strands, strings of metal, and otherwise are deliberately made by them as a form of beautification. Most simply start and stop with arranging their head hair, but some go farther, even trying to appear furry and fluffy. Any kind of sexual dimorphism in the species is informed almost entirely by cultural norms. Ilansu reproduce through using magic, with partners only distinguished by 'contributors' and 'the one carrying the young'. It can be analogious to females and males, but they don't readily view it in that light between each other. Hence, appearing more distinctly 'female' or 'male', such as enlarged breasts, wider hips, etc, is an individual's discretionary choice. Their color ranges embody all metals and rocks, with outside colors being indicative of hybridization to some extent. Ilansu soft tissues tend toward rocky colors, such as stony whites, grays, gemstones, and so on. It is remarkably similar in nature to how the petrakin appear. The metallic portions of their bodies appear closer to the purified and refined version of the metal. For example, ilansu with iron in their bodies take on the grayish appearance of iron, rather than the reddish of hematite. Mixed metal bodies can produce truly fantastic color combinations. Ilansu eyes are universally glass-like, possessing crystal clarity. Their sclera is reflective of their body's metal content: gray for iron, dark red for copper, and so on. The iris appears like cut and perfected gemstone, being visually resplendent and beautiful. The actual color is random and has no special distinctions; eye color is one of the most unique things an ilansu can have, so they take pride in it.
Metamorphic – Ilansu can change their bodies, transforming into different shapes, appearances, and physical makeup. This requires tremendous energy to do, depending on how much and how complex they change their form. As a result, they tend to develop preferences for certain fixed appearances, and modify themselves on a 'per need' basis. Supramagnetism – Possessing instinctual ability and a unique relationship to metal magic, ilansu command power over almost all kinds of metals. Their magnetic powers can even interfere with other magics directly, making them extremely formidable in battle. This magnetism also serves a vital function in keeping their disjointed, multi-part bodies in 'harmony'. Disrupting it is, in a way, a potentially lethal attack on them. Exotic Physiology – The physiological makeup of this species is so incredibly unique, there are few comparable examples to be found on Veltrona. Although they can appear superficially similar to others, how they arrive at common answers like 'digestion' completely defies expectations. Manavore – In addition to other forms of consumption, this species directly consumes mana as a form of sustenance.
Civilization and Culture
Ilansu prefer stable social circles, emphasizing known quantities and what they can possibly bring about. It can seem paradoxical, as it creates an opaque and impenetrable measure by which they judge others upon. The core of it is closer to the fact the ilansu hate duplicity, and desire honesty even if it's uncomfortable. Lies and dishonesty are chaotically dangerous things that undermine the fundamental structures most ilansu cultures live on. One could argue they're 'truthful' beings as a result, but even they have their means of deception. The finer points of it are headache inducing for most everyone else, though. Thus, the foundation of a proper ilansu relationship begins with crystalline clarity. If one has something they wish to keep private, it is made known, so the unknown can be 'quantified' properly. Ilansu often do not ask unnecessary questions as a result, for asking the question means accepting the burden of the answer. It's an intense game they play as they feel out potential partners, and establish boundaries. As was described by a nebusah priestess, "Each ilansu lives like a fortress of many secrets and possibilities. To be welcomed inside, and to invite within one's own fortress, is itself how they regard such intimacies." While it isn't a wholly correct understanding, people grasped its meaning much better than the reality of the situation. When ilansu become comfortable with their partners, their attentiveness shows itself much more readily. They can be playful and energetic, wanting to explore all the possibilities and discover how the relationship will 'work'. It's a complete 180-change from their prior behavior, and the first signs of a more recognized relationship being established. In essence, how an ilansu acts indicates where their social or intimate standings are. Because they prefer to be accommodating, ilansu can end up with truly diverse partners. So long as all things are kept in a sane, expectable manner, they'll mould themselves and their partners into a good arrangement. It gives them surprising resilience to sudden outbursts or hardships, such as financial woes, making them unyielding and reliable. However, even metal can break if it is put under too much pressure. Ilansu pushed to that sort of point often (metaphorically) explode like an overheated steam boiler.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
If there is one unifying trait to the ilansu cultures, they love to eat. They must, after all, eat a lot in order to sustain their high-maintenance physiology. The ilansu crave delicious foods, but also abundant energies, particularly mana. What kind doesn't truly matter, for they are durable enough to endure even the most disagreeable of meals. They're sometimes disparaged as 'voracious', but the ilansu aren't menacing nor destructive in their eating habits. Only one starving to death would go that far. It is this nature of theirs that made them very agreeable company with dragons, both presently and in ages past. The ilansu soak up excess mana around themselves, absorbing it with terrifying ease. The extreme power of dragons, as a result, became very attractive to them. Dragons, in kind, had good company that not only endured their presences, but served to help balance the local environment. In essence, ilansu were answers to the problem of manaesia dragons frequently induced. Other powerful beings, too, drew the ilansu to them. Areas of extreme energy are their favored locales, though high temperatures would become a problem. It is, ultimately, why they prefer windy places over the likes of volcanoes, as the wind gives abundant energy without metal-melting heat. Hence, outside of Immensio's windswept lands, they're found among high mountains, narrow valleys, and other places wind naturally gathers. To live in places that lack wind, abundant manas of other kinds are required, as well as rich foodstuffs. Ilansu are orderly beings, perceiving the universe through the eyes of its intricate systems. It's an analytical inclination, and can make them seem cold and calculative with how they regard things. This structure-based understanding, though, plays very well with the likes of veltron and metal magics. They're able to assemble all sorts of creations, shape exotic structures, and create things truly alien and fantastical. These works are so bizarre and informative, many scholars venture far to study them. The mertakan, in particular, get on well with the ilansu as fellow engineers. To the ilansu, new and unexpected information that changes their understandings is something to be celebrated. Rather than be angered their assumptions were wrong, they're fascinated with seeing how things 'change'. To discover all the possibilities of what that change brought, and then assemble new structured understandings from it. Even minute, and otherwise ignorable, ideas can be highly coveted by them for the perspectives it can offer. Hedonism, for example, is not only something to do for enjoyment, but for study and possible breakthroughs in their thinking. It's an inclination that lets them get on well with both dragonkind and jiuweihu. It's worth noting that size is, itself, an indication of status and power amongst the ilansu. A larger body means more resource consumption, meaning the ilansu has the ability to secure such resources regularly. Ilansu nobility, as a result, are two or three times the size of other 'average' ilansu. Their leaders are often the tallest among their kind, as it is a very easy showing of their power. Most powerful ilansu average around the 'large' size category: 6.5-10ft / 198-304cm. Ones that are bigger than that are truly legendary or goddess-like beings, and command power deserving of such reverence.