A larger, twisted cousin of the lyzard, shriekan are a bloody, violent race that appear to be muscular, exceptionally broad lizardmen with crushing jaws and large, ample claws. Capable warriors, their deadly shriek is their most common weapon, able to harm enemies and warn friends.
General's Power A shriekan General is the most powerful of any in their culture. Usually, a General is the largest, strongest, and most cunning member and will fight to both gain and retain their rank, killing any opponent who may challenge them. The General's word is law, and they lead the frequent raids to nearby towns or popular roads. The sign of a thriving camp is not the number of slaves or children present, though; it is the presence of a servant-dragon caught during a raid near Arrowhead by the General him- or herself.
The General leads all raids with the aid of two or three colonels, and each is in charge of a different squad. One squad is usually in charge of securing provisions while another secures the most likely slaves and beasts of burden among the victims. Any other squads are given different tasks as the General sees fit. All tasks are completed and presented to the General for approval. Provisions seen as unnecessary are trashed, and any undesirable slaves are killed on the spot - usually by the General his- or herself. If either squad has nothing to please the General, the colonel is killed and the rest of the squad members severely punished.
Species info credited to Blazeh/Verridith, Bucketorandomness, and Skyeh.
Appearance Shriekan are very large, and very intimidating no matter their rank, descended from Rakazuor lyzards Lord Gorg'rauth twisted many centuries ago. All shriekan are tall, bipedal lizardmen who may reach upwards of eight feet in height, heavily muscled with vicious claws and teeth. Their feet are wide and padded with large talons, often uncovered by armor or footwear. Their coloration is primarily of mottled, earthy tones and rarely, blacks, silvers, and greys and they are covered in a combination of scales and tough, leathery hide. In the dark, their eyes tend to glow much like a cat's.
Most shriekan wear heavy armor, often constructed of metals, hides, and bones. The highest ranking and most powerful individuals have their armor crafted by skilled smiths, and commonly wear dragonscale and mithril. Lesser members wear the most protective substances they can forge or craft from hunts. All may decorate their armor in any way they desire, unless restricted to wearing the colors and heraldry of any army they may join to serve in.
Culture Might makes right for these fierce warriors, though they're not always the most noble of creatures. Most of their armor comes from captured elves or dwarves forced to craft within small camps hidden throughout the lands they occupy. They are a combination of temporary structures, protected hammocks, and portable fencing, all hosting the shriekan, their slaves, and their training children. Young shriekan are trained in the camps under a mentor system based on parentage. These camps are held to an intense hierarchy, starting with the captives and culminating with the General.
The greater majority of these camps are located in thick forests or tangled jungles, echoing their lyzard heritage. True shriekan cities are few and far between; most often, shriekan will avoid immovable settlements, for these tend to come under assault by their enemies and are not easily defended. They are, however, very capable of sieges - though they often either hand over captured cities and castles to other allies, or raze it all to the ground.
Shriekans usually judge one another by the strength and timbre not only of their voices, but of their iconic shrieks. Those with the loudest, deepest, most resonant shrieks naturally are thought to have ties to destiny, while those with the most control achieve the greatest ranks aside from winning through sheer force alone. Females with the most melodic, magical calls are sought after as mates and consorts, while those with raspy, rough voices are thought to be able to see the future.
Either due to fate, biology, or unjust standards, the higher ranks of shriekan are populated mainly by males. The females of the race are usually above the slaves, but only just. They are tough fighters and fiercely guard the camp, but some are relegated to broodmares devoid of armor. Many resent their lot in life, and though there are rumors of some fleeing to their more peaceful lyzard cousins, either they don't stay there or they aren't allowed to. Some resort to brutally attacking the males above them, but this rarely ends well for the female, although sometimes she'll be able to bring down a few males before they stop her. Those that do rise in the ranks, and gain power over their fellows, are as well honored and well respected as any male - perhaps more, as they are quite rare.
Abilities A fighting force to be reckoned with, legends in the ancient Millirandian Orders of Knights never to fight a shriekan beneath the trees - for they are possessed of incredible speed and agility, utilizing the forests of their home to utmost advantage. They are resilient to physical and mental attacks and often use brute strength and melee weapons to accomplish their goals. Shriekan have few weaknesses, and those that face these evil creatures must know them before a confrontation - or they may very well die in the attempt. The softest scales are those of the throat, around the eyes, below the stomach, and where limbs meet the body - most shriekan are protected by hard scales or thick hide everywhere else.
However, the thing that makes them most deadly is not physical; it is an ability all shriekan share, and it is the main factor in their name: the shriek. A targeted, sonic assault, the shriek is a vital attack feature and measure of power in shriekan culture. Young shriekan are taught how to modulate their pitch to achieve a desired result, and adults are tested on their control as part of their means to identify rank. When modulated one way, the shriek can travel for miles, typically used as a signal or fall for help when the shriekan is leading a charge or in deep trouble, respectively. When used offensively - and pointed at something they are not particularly fond of - the sonic blast may deal incredible damage based upon the user's strength, vocal prowess, and the state of his or her voice at the time. Helmets and chest plates may reverberate and amplify the sound, causing important blood vessels to pop where metal prevents tearing. As impressive as this feat is, it's effective range as an attack is much shorter. Thus, the typical shriek is somewhere in the middle: not so powerful that it does no harm, but strong enough to tear the skin off an unprotected target.
When in close combat, some shriekan may bite targets and use their envenomed fangs that carry hallucinogenic and calming properties. Typically used to make slaves easier to move and contain, it can also be used to distract enemies during a fight long enough to dispatch them. Not every shriekan is born with this, however, and - oddly - this special venom is more likely to manifest in the female half of the population. If one is afflicted and has the mind to remember it, reiastu or light based magic can cleanse the body of the venom, although it resists as strongly as something alive might avoid death.
To the most powerful of the shriekan is given the gift of terrk'nor, a power that rarely surfaces at some point during adolescence. This most deadly weapon is not a sword or sharp teeth, but a strange ability to latch onto the mind of another and plant the seed of something sinister deep within it through sheer mental force alone. The initial contact leaves the victim unconscious, and once they wake up, their life is set on a ticking timer. Within a year, the victim will find themselves seeing more and more horrors and nightmares in the waking world. They may find certain movements impossible, and eventually become paralyzed. The victim will frequently fall unconscious in the days to come as the sinister seed grows and corrodes their mind from the inside. The most sinister of shriekan inflict this horror on their slaves to watch as their minds break. However, this may not work on all individuals; a powerful enough mage can fight off this menace, and temporary 'death' and deep sleep spells may be enough to starve the power of its fuel.
Terrk'nor, however, is known as a double-edged sword - if not honed and trained with properly, it may infect the mind of the shriekan who wields it, and curse them into an existence of living nightmare and deadly paralysis.
Long ago, the lyzards of Lizzarkyth lived in absolute peace; they worshipped the dragons who came to visit, and a handful went on pilgrimages to other Realms to learn more about their assumed deities, and offer themselves as pupils and servants. One such group of early Rakazuor lyzards found themselves in Millirand, the homeland of the dragons, but their portal had led to a desolate waste - a desert with no plants, and only vast reaches of sand and rock. The experience was so disorienting to the lyzards that they attempted to make a portal back immediately, but were stopped by a strange serpent - a serpent as large and intimidating as any dragon. The massive snake captured them and took them away, to a fortress hidden within the great, lifeless dunes.
There was a man in that fortress; a twisted man, with a body misshapen like a snake's, gifted with unique immortality. He greeted the lyzards as friends, and took away their chains; for days he fed them and clothed them, kept them healthy and clean, but did not allow them to leave. They were visited by snakekind each and every day, seemingly kind and amiable serpents… serpents they then took to be as divine as dragons, over time. But it was all a ruse, and when they had pledged themselves fully to the snakekind that watched them, they were attacked and slain.
Lord Gorg'rauth took their bodies and performed magical experiments upon them; he gave the bodies more robust builds and stronger, crushing jaws, altered vocal chords. He transformed the corpses of simple priests into those of monstrous warriors; and then, invoking the oaths the lyzards had sworn, summoned their spirits still trapped to this Realm.
"I will give you life once more," he said with a wicked grin, as the lyzard spirits looked on in horror. "And when you finally die, I will release your souls from your oaths. But first, you must bring me more of your brethren - capable males and strong females of breeding age, perhaps a hatchling or two… for you will become my shriekan, elite among my forces."
The lyzards resisted. Their spirits tried to flee, but could not; despairing, they attempted to fight, but found that they could not lift a single ghostly claw against the Lord. Gorg'rauth laughed at their feeble attempts and ordered them to come closer, to reach out and touch his open palm -
- and as soon as they did, their spirits were pulled back into the breathing, living bodies, and they awoke gasping and coughing as they struggled to attune themselves to their new forms. They were shocked and horrified, but only at first; then, an instinctive desire for violence tainted their minds, as well as the need to serve. Thus, they pledged themselves to Lord Gorg'rauth… and thus, the first few shriekan were born.
The first drew many other lyzards to the Realm of Millirand. All were taken in the same manner, all pledged to their new faith and were slain, all had their souls trapped while their bodies were changed and mutilated beyond their recognition. And all became shriekan, the horrific fighting force of the now-late Lord Gorg'rauth.
This species did not have an Ancient First.
Classification: crocodilian shriekan. Location: primarily Ristell, but in any swamplands or bogs.
A fierce, crocodilian, humanoid race of brutal warriors, newly sighted in the swamplands of Ristell. Said to be a strain of shriekan broken from the norm, these beasts are built leaner than their cousins, with thick, touch scales and long snouts holding a variety of highly visible teeth. They are stealthy and strong, wear little in the way of armor, and are fond of coming in secretly via waterways to attack an enemy unawares. Violent raiders, they are feared by many, even among their own kind.