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Kurun

Appearance

The Kurun are a semi-aquatic race of humanoids. They’re reminiscent of Humans or Elves in many ways, but are more akin to manta rays in appearance and physical features (they even look like such at a distance). They even possess both lungs and gills, which stretch from their necks to their shoulders and that they can seal shut when they walk on land or venture into freshwater. A slimy liquid also protects them once they leave their saltwater homes, which amplifies their healing abilities and protects them from drying out. While difficult to obtain, this liquid can be used in rare potions.

Kurun have hairless bodies and their skin color varies in shades of blacks, whites, grays, and browns, often with stripes in these same colors. The eyes on their narrow heads are black and orb-like, and allow the Kurun to see in the depths of the oceans, but their most striking features are their fins – two on either side of their mandible-like mouths and another set of two that emerge like wings from their shoulders. These “wings” are remarkably strong and rigid, even when on land, and the Kurun use these wings for a variety of tasks, from propelling themselves through the water to performing complex geomantic rites. When fully grown, a Kurun’s wingspan can be twice as tall as they are. Their slender arms and legs hide a surprising swiftness and strength. It was also recently discovered that the Kurun are genderless, with each individual capable of producing eggs once they reach adulthood.

History

The history of the Kurun is shrouded in mystery, and their only interactions with the Elves have been violent and bloody. Their first major confrontation became known as the First Massacre at Bluefort, where from 3620 to 3618 BE, an alliance of Kurun invaded the Golden Isle and the territory of Bluefort, massacring and enslaving the Elven inhabitants. The Kurun were driven off, only to return in 2880 BE for the Second Massacre at Bluefort – a much deadlier conflict that would change the course of history for both Elves and Kurun. Kurunic shamans summoned a massive tidal wave that submerged what remained of Bluefort, destroying several neighboring territories. After 15 vicious years, a coalition of Elven Princes was able to drive back the Kurun, but Bluefort would remain underwater and under Kurun control, even to this day.

It would take a long time for the Kurun to recover from such a defeat. While the Elves’ joint victory paved the way for a permanent alliance and the start of the Kingdom of Light, the Kurun tribes went their separate ways, only striking at lone ships or isolated settlements. Millennia passed before the Kurun rose again, this time during the War of Kurunic Aggression.

In 110 TFE, a band of Kurunic warlords led their people against the Elven homeland, this time with a force numbering in the tens of thousands. Towns and cities were besieged and burned to the ground, and the Elves’ initial force of defenders was annihilated thanks to the Kurunic shamans’ geomancy. They even laid siege to the capitol city of Tu’jul, surrounding it so that the rest of the Kurunic forces could defeat the Elven army. It took every last bit of strength and cunning for the Elves to defeat the Kurun, until the last of their warriors were slain in the shallows of the Bluefort Ruins. The Kurun were so soundly defeated that they never launched another invasion of that scale, and even today such a force seems unlikely to happen.

Culture

Like their history, much is unknown about the Kurun due to their secretive and aggressive nature. They seem to obey a tribal structure, and follow the commands of a chieftain or warlord, who is presumably the strongest of his comrades. Conflicting records write either that the Kurun live together, forming a semi united tribal confederacy, or in a perpetually divided state with rival tribes and city states in constant conflict against one another.

Kurunic priests and shamans, called “proto-geomancers” by ancient Elven scholars, serve the same role in society. This indicates that the Kurun pay some deference, and perhaps worship, the elements or elemental spirits. Geomancers are afforded status within the tribe, and they are easily distinguished from other Kurun by their adornment of coral jewelry, clipped wingtips and large bone staves.

Very little is known about the cities of the Kurun, save that they exist. The presumed scarcity of metal (and the means to shape it) means the Kurun have taken to using other materials in their architecture and crafting. Coral, rock, magically bound and hardened sand and bone are most common. Crafters within Kurun society are called “Shapers” for their peculiar ability to control and shape material using the heat from geothermal vents, much like the way a blacksmith on land would.

The primary weapon of the Kurun, the serrated shortspear, is typically crafted in the same way as their cities. It utilizes a bone handle, stone haft, and magically sharpened coral tip, making them devastating weapons on both land and at sea. Woven nets of seaweed and Seuv "seavine", a type of long leafed and rope-like seaweed, are used to slow down or immobolize prey as well. The only ranged weapon used underwater by warrior Kurun are a form of hollowed coral blowgun, that fire a form of spongy dart, presumably poisoned, encased in an air bubble that bursts when it reaches its target, allowing the dart to puncture the skin. They function on land, but are rarely used (presumably in favor or other ranged weapons).

Kurunic land enclaves have used a much wider variety of familiar weapons, such as swords and axes, and even the use of bow and arrow.

While the Kurun have never been known to make display of any kind of fashion as we understand it, it is not unknown. Elder Kurun have been known to adorn their bodies or wings with elaborate shells or shell patterns.

From what is known, pictographs are the only written form of communication used by the Kurun, and they communicate 'verbally', at least on land, through the use of a series of whistles, chirps, and calls that have never been deciphered or studied at length.