The akhlut are creatures that resemble a mixture of wolf and orca, and may come in a variety of different appearances split between a quadrupedal and a bipedal shape. They are known to be a violent race, heavily focused on their traditions as a species, and often travel in pods and live along the edges of waters, traveling far inland to hunt.
Average Lifespan:: 3000 years
Average Height:: 5ft at the shoulder; 8ft in bipedal shape
Average Weight:: 2-3 tons
Location Found:: Abroad, preferring territory near coastlines.
*all statistics based on averages; extremes in any direction, or found in odd locations, are always allowed.
Loners and Exile Madness Uncommonly, an akhlut may find themselves exiled from their initial pod. These akhlut are often covered in deep, scarred gashes and found rampaging throughout the lands, maddened by the loss. As these akhlut fall to madness, they do not live their full life expectancy due to being hunted down, ultimately ending their destructive path. However, in younger individuals, the madness may be recoverable - but it is almost always all-encompassing to older akhlut, set in their ways and traditions.
Even more uncommon is an akhlut who has willingly left the traditions of their own, choosing to either be alone or with others not of their kind. These akhlut generally have a calmer temperament towards other species, and their forms alter to accommodate their new family. These, unusually, do not suffer from the exile-madness, perhaps due to accepting the change on their own. It is far easier for young akhlut than older individuals, who might fall to the madness anyways.
Jewelry The single, large, and colored rings are crafted from gemsteel smiths, and different colors translate to roles among the pod. Other colored piercings are gifted when an akhlut has performed a particularly fantastic task, worthy of being shared among others. The jewelry is often piercing the akhlut's dorsal fin. It is rare to have an akhlut with two colors, and even rarer for three. No living akhlut has ever had more.
It is possible to lose jewelry, and losing such rings is considered a blight upon the akhlut's worth. Often, if a gemsteel ring is lost, the akhlut must re-earn their place, and obtain a new piece; however, this may be averted if the ring is found within a few days of initial losing.
The colors known to be associated with rank are found below.
Amethyst; purple: - Pod Alpha; the Elder
Ruby; red: - Pod Beta; the Sage
Topaz; gold: - Healers; Shamans
Peridot; green: - Warriors; Zealots
Sapphire; blue: - Mages; Magus
Those without rings are simply known as podmembers, and are restricted to hunter/gatherer positions, rearing young, or taking care of elders.
Species info credited to Couvina and Verridith.
Appearance Both: Akhlut are unique creatures that appear to be mixtures of wolf and orca; land mammal and sea animal. The common akhlut's body is mostly black, with patterns or blotches of other colors which can be any hue. A signature marking for the akhlut, no matter their pattern, is a bright blotch of any hue right behind their eyes which look like faux eyes to children. It is possible for an akhlut to sport multiple bright colors with little black, however this is seen as a defect, and the akhlut could be outcast or even banished in some pods. Likewise, being a single color throughout, no matter the hue, is seen as a curse. Most mono-colored akhlut are killed upon discovery. If an akhlut can grow fur, it will be the same color and pattern as the skin underneath, and this fur may be found anywhere on their bodies in either form.
Their bodies are a healthy blend of pure fat and pure muscle, allowing them to survive in cold climates with ease. An akhlut in warmer climates will have less fat than their cold living family, giving them a lean appearance and lighter weight. Both forms have a blowhole to help breath with, located just behind their head.
Quadrupedal: This form is what a common akhlut will spend the majority of their life in. Appearing as an orca whale with wolf traits, such as canine legs and fur growing beneath their tails. Between their long toes is a thick webbing, used to help steer or propel themselves through the water. Some akhlut can grow extra fins of dense tissue on their forearms, shaped the same as their dorsal fin. Rarely, an akhlut can be sport finned wolf ears in this form too; other wolf traits are rarely found. Their mouths are lined with sharp teeth to sustain their carnivorous diet. In warmer climates, their dorsal fin may flop or bend to the side. They can often be found in this form either in bodies of water or along shorelines.
Bipedal: Akhlut take this form when they find themselves far from the immediate comfort of water, though some individuals feel more comfortable on two legs. Standing over eight feet on average, this form looks more like a worgen with aquatic traits, such as fins and the aquatic tail. As with their quadrupedal form, they have multiple whale teeth in this form as well, sporting the same crushing jaw strength. It is common for akhlut to at least adhere to dressing on land, though most don't wear anymore than a simple loincloth. Some akhlut who choose to stay on land may adopt more extravagant cloths, though they favor jewelry the most. There have been rare and terrifying cases of an akhluts in full suits of armor who have fully embraced a life with other species.
Culture Akhlut live in pods, most commonly found bordering the sea in colder regions - though tropical pods have been noted before. These pods operate much like tribal wolf packs, led by a single alpha - called the 'Elder' - who is the oldest and wisest among them. Immediately beneath the Elder is the beta, or 'Sage', who is the strongest akhlut in the pod, and who is tasked with keeping the Elder safe at all times. Beneath them are healers, called shamans; then warriors called zealots, and mages called magus. All other akhlut are called podmembers, and have no rank or station in the pod, restricted to lowly tasks and no jewelry of their own.
Each ranked member, however, earns a colored ring by the end of adolescence, and this ring shows by its color what rank the akhlut has in their pod. All other jewelry matches the color of this ring, and two colors are unheard of except in the Sage and Elder, who retain their previous color when they take the rank.
Other than gained wisdom and physical prowess, their rank and potential in the pod is dependent on the length of their fur, but the respect they obtain is dependent upon the number of jewels piercing their fins. An akhlut on the brink of death with shaggy fur, decorated in jewels is more respected than a prime aged warrior with short fur and few piercings. Akhluts are very strict that their traditional values stay the same, and take great value on orally sharing their histories. To witness a live storytelling is a true delight.
Among themselves, an akhlut pod holds its members close. Courtship between two akhlut is very ritualistic, and pairbonding is to be blessed by both Sage and Elder before young are reared. Small portions of meals are released back into the sea to thank the spirits for their sustenance, and the making of new rank-rings for young akhlut is a widely celebrated occurrence.
Some pods are very hospitable to their own kind, where others are much less so. It's not uncommon for fights to break out, though it's rare for an akhlut to truly kill each other. After such fights, shamans mend their kind on both sides, and the Elders will meet to discuss business with each other.
Abilities Akhlut are immensely physically gifted; they are strong and fast in both forms, and posses powerful jaws and webbed claws to rip and tear at both enemy and prey. Their tails are strong enough to crush stone with a single swipe, and their heads are thick enough to ram and charge like a bull. As most akhlut are also equipped with a layer of blubber across much of their bodies, and though their hide and fur is little protection against physical harm, this does provide a buffer against blunt trauma and various physical blows. Those in warmer climates do not have this protection, as they do not have the layers of fat required by their more northern cousins.
It is rare for an akhlut to be magically gifted in an element other than water or ice. Even with magic, the akhlut are more keen to hunt and fight physically than magically. Many, however, learn to enchant objects with various effects; these are often used in the creation of gemsteel rings and jewelry, or on weapons and armor. As with most species that may take a bipedal form, they are fully capable of wielding weapons in their webbed hands when upright, and often may be found with spears or harpoons.
Akhlut that live warmer lives are actually somewhat weaker than the average akhlut, but they are faster. Large lungs allow the akhlut to remain underwater for ten to thirty minutes at a time, and some mages cheat this by bubbling their heads for extra breath, thus a longer dive time. As all akhlut have blowholes, some mages use this orifice to focus dangerously focused streams or blasts of their element. A well-trained mage could probably strike a medium-sized dragon out of the sky with enough skill in aiming, and a lot of luck.
Many years ago, there lived a clan of muta atlanteans who grew proud and strong off the coast of Sud'rlund. But they were hungry for more than the ocean had to offer; they had driven away much of their prey and even other sapient species that dwelt beneath the waves with them. Expanding across all the northern waters had not helped; and thus, the whales turned to the gods.
However, these arrogant leaders of their clan did not pray to the gods for mercy or help. They called upon Sago, Lord of the Waters, with a demand: give them more power, give them the ability to landwalk, and they will bring glory to his name. On one blissfully clear night, beneath the bright light of the shimmering stars, their summons was answered; Sago descended from the sky, smashing into the ocean with such force that a tsunami crashed upon Sud'rlund's western coast, washing several miles inland before withdrawing.
"You do not want this power that you seek," the god warned, curving his neck around to look at the assembled atlanteans with great, piercing eyes. "You do not want what the land has to offer."
The clan's leader - an older whale with iridescent purple, and broad white markings - was not cowed by the god's presence. As the others shrank away, awed and afraid, he swam closer. "But we do!" he called, voice ringing with arrogance. "We have become strong and powerful. But we must be able to rise above. We must be able to walk on the land, and take what is rightfully ours!"
The god considered this. His great, shimmering form undulated under the waves, scales and tendrils flashing with beautiful light. "If I give you, and your clan, what you seek," he intoned, voice sending ripples through the water that became waves to crash along the icy beaches behind him. "You cannot go back to the way you were before. You will be different - and you will never be able to call yourselves by the name atlantean ever again."
"We accept. Give us the ability to landwalk, O lord; allow us the freedom of the earth!"
And thus, it was done. Every muta atlanean in the great northern clan was changed - they gained legs and fur, becoming more canine than cetacean. At last, they were able to wander the land and breathe the air freely; they traveled far, far inland, and met the jotuns with the ferocity of wolves. However, though their pods won victory in those earliest days, the denizens of Sud'rlund fought back and drove the new creatures to the sea. They were named by those arctic giants 'aykhlu-ut', which was said to have meant 'terror-fin' in an ancient, forgotten tongue. In the present day, that term has been shortened to akhlut, and its meaning forgotten except by the jotuns and their deep mythology.
It was not long after that the leaders of the clan called upon Sago once again, after many vicious losses and abandoned crusades. "Change us back!" they cried of the god. "Give us what we lost! We do not wish this anymore. Take the landwalking away!"
In answer came a storm. A storm the likes of which Millirand had rarely seen. Rain lashed the waters and snow scoured the earth; lightning crackled with the gods' booming laugh. The clan was stricken by that storm and scattered, many taking to the deep ocean and being dragged far from currents thought to have been guided by the Ocean Lord himself. Now, the akhlut are truly scattered - and the arrogant clan that once was is no more.
This species did not have an Ancient First.