Name: Korat(s) [adj: Koratian; pronunciation: KOR-att(s)]
Height/Length/Weight: Korat size and build is determined by breed, which will be delineated later on under the 'Breeds' section. As a 'small' species, they range from 3-6.5' at the shoulder, though exceptions have been noted as small as 2.5' and as large as 7'. (The distance from the tops of their ears to their shoulders is approx. a third of their shoulder-to-ground height, making their full height - measured at their eartips - a range of 4-8'.) From nose to rump, Korats are 4-10' long, plus another 4-12' of tail. Their weight ranges from 250-2200 lbs. There is no gender dimorphism in size or weight, but males do have longer tails; whereas female tails are generally torso-length, males' tails are often a couple feet longer than their bodies.
Physical Description: [Note: Size, build, coloration, facial features, fur texture, and the shape/size of claws, teeth, and tailblades are all heavily influenced or directly determined by breed. Details will be discussed under each breed later, as well as mentioned in the appropriate sections.] Korats are furred, quadrupedal, mammalian predators that do not fall into any zoological family (such as canine, feline, etc); they have attributes that could be considered canine, feline, and even equine at times. They are, essentially, in a league of their own, and the term Koratian has taken on the same genre-like scope that Athian, feline, and others possess.
Korats have long-muzzled, canine-esque heads; their teeth are built to rip and shred, but their fangs are only barely longer than the rest of their teeth, and they do have a few molars tucked into the backs of their jaws for chewing-grinding purposes. Their eyes are large-ish and round-pupiled, set towards the front of their face to produce binocular vision. Their ears are triangular and held upright, similar in shape to caracal ears; they are quite mobile and can be twisted about both to funnel sounds into the inner ear and also to display emotion. Koratian necks are very long, with thick muscle enwrapping their vitals (esophagus, windpipe, jugular, etc) towards the center of the neck, which is held tightly furled in an S-shaped curve; as cubs age, a few of their cervical vertebrae begins to develop into a hinge-like shape, enabling their necks to 'lock' into place. Their necks have immense flexibility along the vertical axis, but considerably less along the horizontal; where their skull and vertebrae connect is the hinge for most of their side-to-side head movement. Korats can also 'unlock' their necks - much like popping one's hip in regards to discomfort - in a motion that resembles a striking snake, but once the strike is complete, they resume carrying their necks in that typical furled position.
Korats have a deep, barreled chest that slims up towards the hips. They are less flexible through the torso than many, seeing as they have a rib 'wall' where most creatures have a rib cage. Not actually a solid mass of bone, the rib wall is a series of widened, flattened ribs interwoven with cartilage; some gaps do exist where nerves and blood vessels thread through, as well as the muscles that weave around the rib wall to strengthen it and make it somewhat flexible. To compensate for this lessened flexibility, their shoulder and hip joints have a wide range of movement, and their tails are nearly prehensile.
Korats have slim forelegs and slightly longer, far more muscular hind limbs. Their forelegs are quite mobile and deft with a wide range of motion; their forehands are proportionately smallish and two-fingered. Both forefingers are long, thick, and strong, ending in semi-retractable* claws. (*Semi-retractable, in this case, meaning the claw is half-visible at all times, and can be extended to be fully unsheathed.) Their palms are somewhat V-shaped, as is the heavily callused pawpad that lines the bottom of their forehand. Their haunches are strong, held slightly bent at all time (rather than walking with their hips higher than their shoulders), and extremely powerful for leaping and kicking. Koratian hindpaws resemble their forehands with the addition of an extra digit, a large toe whose second joint is reversed, lifting the latter half of the digit off the ground and sporting a 'longclaw', a 6-12" scythe-shaped claw. Their longclaws are the innermost toes, and the outermost toes are slightly shorter than the middle toes. Korats also have a small, stiff dewclaw on the insides of their hind legs.
Koratian tails are not extremely long, normally measuring from nose to rump for females and a couple feet beyond that for males. As mentioned previously, Korats have muscular and nearly-prehensile tails; they make up with accuracy what they lack in deftness. The tail is the easiest way to distinguish Korat gender, seeing as both genders have internal genitalia (and the male sheath is nearly unnoticeable unless you're really looking for it); not only do males have longer tails, but they have much more slender tails, as well. Both genders have a bulge of muscle-and-bone at the tailtip; in males, this serves as the base of the scythe-shaped tailblade that sprouts at an angle from the tail itself, securely bedded into the heavy bulge. The 6-15" tailblade branches from the top of the tailtip*, curves downwards, and is sharp on the underside of the curve. (*Please note: the tailtip does not extend directly into the tailblade.) The presence of a tailblade is not controlled directly by gender, but by the presence of testosterone; on rare occasions, females will be born with tailblades. Bladed females are considered exceptional and extremely promising warriors, due to the abundance of a hormone that produces aggression; Korats are unaware of what exactly causes this to occur, but they have noted the greater propensity for violence and physical skill amongst bladed females. (Note: All Korat Originals are bladed.) Bladed females do not have longer, slimmer tails; they retain the thicker, shorter, stronger feminine tail. Even unbladed females can easily use their tails as weapons, given the strength and weight of the tail, as well as the heavier bulge at the end that can be used as a fleshy club.
Coloration: Coloration is determined, again, by breed. The four main colors are red, black, white, and tan. 'Red' can range from a dark, blackened red to a brownish burgundy to a coppery garnet to a vivid blood-red. 'Black' is pretty well black, deep and tar-dark, though sheens of blues or even violet can be seen in the right light. 'White' encompasses purely snow-white, but also ivory, light mist-grey, pale silver, and eggshell-white; the fur may also be barely tinted with blue or violet shades. 'Tan' ranges from light cream to tawny to vibrant gold to sun-orange to deep copper, including a somewhat greyish shade of tan referred to as greygold. Korat eyes can be any non-neon shade of blue, green, violet, yellow/gold, silver/grey, or brown, including rather rare variants of white, black, and medium-to-dark red. (Common folklore states that you can get a sense of a Korat's personality by how much their eye color contrasts with their fur; the greater the contrast, the more extreme and unpredictable their psyche.) Claw and tailblade color is usually greyscale - translucent, white, light-to-dark grey, or black - but can be a shade of dull gold or ivory-cream. Pawpads are either pinkish or black, noses are always black, and whiskers are either translucent or black.
Senses: Korats have a well-rounded set of keen senses. Their eyesight is attuned to both motion and static detail, has a full color range, and is excellent at longer ranges as well as very close-up. Their noses can differentiate scents both new and old, living and dead, and are keen enough to pick out individual pheromones at close range, giving them an excellent way to read into a person's current emotional state by the chemicals its body is currently producing. Their ears are sensitive as well, excellent at distinguishing soft sounds at close range and loud sounds at a considerable distance; they can communicate by howling and roaring while far apart, yet still track a heartbeat and a breathing body when it's within a leap or two. Their whiskers lend them an extra-distinguishing sense of touch along their faces, as well; their tastebuds are arranged differently than a human's and are somewhat less sensitive to nuances in flavor.
Healing: Korats have one of the most efficient and diverse immune-and-regenerative healing systems on Lavana. As is relatively widespread amongst Lavanians, Korats have extremely quick-clotting blood and a special chemical in their saliva that enhances their regenerative capabilities and guards against infection, so simply grooming an open wound will aid it in healing. Their tissues regenerate very rapidly, especially muscle tissue and skin; bone mends swiftly, nerves and blood vessels regrow, and fur sprouts over new skin. (Note: Korats cannot regenerate lost limbs or organs, but they can in many cases regenerate small chunks of flesh that may have been cut out, as well as the simpler task of knitting shut gaping cuts.) Korats can and do regenerate broken or missing claws, teeth, and even tailblades; normal claws return in under a month, longclaws and teeth about six weeks, and tailblades a couple months or more. (If the flesh around the claw/tooth/blade is scarred or otherwise too damaged to allow a new claw/tooth/blade to grow, it will not develop.) Unlike teeth and claws, tailblades can regrow from a broken half or root, rather than the entire thing needing removed in order to allow a new one to grow in its place. Korats also learn to perform a 'healing trance,' a meditative state that calmly focuses on the wound in order to direct the body's resources to that spot. Healing trances are not magic, but a learned and practiced skill, gained through effort and over time; in experienced Korats, the external senses and the ability to move and react quickly shuts down as the entire body funnels its attentions and resources towards healing often grievous damages.
Reproduction & Lineage: Being a smaller and less-specialized species, Korats have an unusually strong* drive to reproduce and continue the species. (*Unusual in comparison to other Lavanian species. Compared to humans, they are less obsessed with breeding.) Individuals of any breed may mate (though extreme size differences will cause a lot of health issues for the mother, so that's generally avoided), and any breed can be born to any parent. A red mother and a white father can also have black and tan cubs in their litter; every Korat, regardless of its breed, carries the genetics for all four unicolored breeds. Litter size is fairly small, usually ranging from two to six, with fewer cubs being born to younger parents, more to parents in the prime of their adulthood, and fewer again to aging parents. Litters are very rarely one color, though a two-cub litter where both children are the same breed is not unheard-of.
Striped genetics are slightly different from standard, unicolored, Koratian genes. Please note that stripeds are not the result of two certain colors breeding. A red father and a tan mother will not automatically produce a tan-striped red child. Stripeds are mutations whose coloration is not dependent upon their parents' breeds; two blacks can produce a tan-striped white cub in a litter. A striped cub born to a pair of unicolored Korats is also quite rare, though it is theorized that some individuals have bloodlines more susceptible to producing stripeds; a mated pair who bears one striped cub in a litter will usually have another at some point down the line, if they continue breeding. If a mated pair consists of one unicolored Korat and one striped, striped cubs will appear in nearly every litter, often more than one in each batch; two striped adults mating will produce a majority of striped cubs, but will still have the occasional unicolored child. Also, there is an unexplained prevalence of bladed females within striped ranks; there's a higher ratio of females with tailblades to females without them among stripeds than there are among unicolored Korats.
Lineage is something that Korats hold in a place of honor. A Korat is considered to be 'Of the Line' if it is directly descended from one of the Originals; Of the Line Korats take their ancestress's last name and are often exceptional in some way, be it physically or mentally. (For example, Akartis Bane and Ayrist Exilic are descended from Redwood Bane and Ana Exilic, respectively. Their son is Shula Bane-Exilic; children of more than one Line can also choose their preferred Line and take only that name.) No stripeds are Of the Line; lineage is genetically shattered in a hybrid.
Aging: Korats have a gestation period of about six months; cubs open their eyes within a day or two and manage to crawl-walk within a week. They're weaned within four months, though they can start trying tenderized meat along with the milk after the first two months. Korat cubs reach adolescence at two years and are considered adults at three years; however, they don't start speaking until half-grown (1.5 years old). Cubs are born with shorter necks that aren't held furled; as the necks grow and lengthen, they begin holding them in the typical furled position, generally settling into a lock around 1.5 years. Until they're half-grown, Korat cubs have an insatiable sense of curiosity and an untouchable bravado; they develop a sense of caution and restraint around 1.5 years and stop being such a risk to themselves. Korats are considered 'young adults' until they're around 10, 'adults' until 30, 'full adults' until 65, 'mature adults' until 85, and 'elders' past 100. Korats can live anywhere from 120-160 years, depending on climate, lifestyle, and past injuries/traumas. Korats don't tend to decline in physical capability due to aging alone, but their systems do begin a slow decline once they pass a century of life; healing slows, senses weaken, joints stiffen, muscles thin.
Red: Reds are staunch-hearted and no-nonsense individuals, preferring blunt and occasionally brutal honesty over any kind of tact or deceit. They are extremely loyal to the few people they get close to, willing to kill and die for them, and tend to be quite honorable in combat and the hunt. Though they have a reputation for being unabashedly violent and very aggressive, their temper is a slow one; they do not snap easily or quickly unless a situation is dire (e.g. cubs are endangered), and they are often willing to forgive a misunderstanding - even a bloody one - and move on. Reds do not have any problems with using force and violence when such is necessary, but they usually don't try to solve every single problem with physical power. While many consider them the least intelligent of the breeds, reds are not stupid by any means; they are very pragmatic and down-to-earth, having little care for the finer nuances of abstracts and what-ifs and the often complex social interactions that can give other Korats fits. Reds are unapologetically blunt and straight-forward, and they greatly appreciate similar honesty from other people. And just because most reds prefer a simple life does not mean they, as individuals, lack depth or emotion. As a matter of fact, reds tend to be more willing to display honest emotion - even 'weak' emotions like sadness or fear - than the other breeds. While some reds come across as being extremely somber and serious, most have a rowdy sense of humor and enjoy a good laugh. They're also the most focused of all the breeds on combat training, simply as a way of life and a method of improving oneself and one's skills.
Tan: Tans are good-natured and laid-back individuals, preferring kindness and gentleness as a way to interact with others. Considered the 'pacifists' among Korats, most tans will seek a resolution to conflict that does not involve violence or confrontation; as a result of this, many consider them cowardly. They are usually quite sensitive, both physically and emotionally, which led to the common opinion that they are fragile and weak. However, tans do not lack in personal strength or courage, and many of them are far more daring and risque than others believe. They are compassionate, amiable individuals who are happy to learn from and befriend others; though they greatly value even extended family, they rarely have any dearth of friends. Because of their physical characteristics, tans seek to use their speed and agility more than strength and endurance - and this applies to their wit as well as their bodies. Tans are quite intelligent, quick at catching onto new concepts (or adapting to new people), and they're adept with logical analysis, despite their tendency to let their opinions and emotions color their conclusions. Tans pay rapt attention to the interplay of words and actions between individuals in a social situation, and they do their best to facilitate a sense of harmony, smoothing conversation and correcting misunderstandings. Normally tactful, tans are good mediators and do very well when allowed to help others; they also make excellent entertainers and story-tellers, with a flair for acting and melodrama. Though modern-day tans have lost most of what reds would consider a 'warrior spirit,' tans in the time of the Dark Wars were no less honorable and fierce than any red or black on the battlefield, and some modern individuals still carry that fierceness.
Black: Blacks are keen-witted and socially-adept individuals, preferring to engage in mind-games and riddles rather than speak plainly and openly. Extremely mentally agile and complex, they are especially talented with languages and love to make plays-on-words to add a few layers of meaning to a conversation. They are the most social of the breeds, though they keep their acquaintances at arm's-length, rather than befriending them as warmly as tans do. Blacks are slow to allow someone to get close to them, seeing such closeness as vulnerability and preferring to keep themselves well-guarded at all times. Though they do not react with violence as readily as reds might, their tempers are markedly shorter than their blood-furred brothers; blacks are quite hot-headed and can be goaded to forsake rationality with a few well-placed verbal jabs that would fall in vain against a red. Despite their temper, blacks tend to be calm and suave individuals in most situations, capable of thinking clearly (when not under personal attack) and rationally; blacks usually make good leaders, using their social skills to read and coordinate other people successfully. While blacks can occasionally seem cold or distant, they usually radiate an appealingly savvy and nonchalant attitude that speaks of confidence and superiority to most. Of all the breeds, blacks love to travel the most, greatly enjoying a chance of scenery (and people) if they don't have any particularly strong ties to an area or a group. Blacks are also quite stealthy, quiet and graceful; they use this in the hunt and also when skirting the fringes of an unknown individual or group of people.
White: Whites are logical and stoic individuals, preferring an extreme sense of self-control to an organically haphazard display of emotions and actions. Calmly intelligent and straight-forward, whites are honest to a fault, but still capable of using their words in an almost manipulative way; part of learning self-control is studying how to remove that self-control from others. Whites are observant, analytical, and completely rational; they control their emotions and their expressions of said emotions extremely tightly, never consciously allowing an expression or tone of voice to be perceived that they did not intend to let be perceived. That said, whites are often more relaxed and casual among the handful of friends and family that they choose to trust; this kind of trust is not earned easily or quickly, but - in the coldest regions of Lavana, it makes little sense to be so guarded around your own packmates that you cannot offer or accept any kind of comfort in their companionship. Whites can do well alone, but they prefer to band together in small, close-knit groups to better combat the poor odds of survival near the poles. Whites who do not live on the tundra are considered 'soft' and usually lack the rigidity of self-control that northern and southern whites possess; whites living amongst the other Korat breeds and amongst other non-arctic races are much less steely and stand-offish, though such traits do remain remarkable to some degree. White stoicism is renowned; they can pass through physical pain and emotionally traumatic events without breaking and often without suffering negative side-effects (actual trauma) afterwards. Whites also exemplify willpower as the solution to every problem - mind-over-matter is often presented as the best path to take.
Striped: Stripeds are impossible to generalize. They combine any number of traits from their two colors into one personality; many are often paradoxical, unpredictable, or simply volatile as a result. However, modern-day stripeds who have survived to adulthood have typically learned to use the often-opposing facets of their psyche and personality to their advantage in some way, even though some do it in such a strange fashion that other Korats consider them slightly mad. Perhaps because of the combination of breeds, or because of their impure genetics, many stripeds have psychological traits that do not belong to either of their colors, and some fewer also have physical attributes that don't fit either color. (A black-striped tan, for example, having unusually long and fluffy fur - but not actual dense, layered, shaggy white-breed fur.) Many stripeds who survive to adulthood are neurotically wary of other Korats - even other stripeds, sometimes - and bond strongly to those few individuals who present themselves as safe and friendly. They are often easily spooked and are crushed by any kind of betrayal, even if they saw it coming. Some stripeds find strength in the odds stacked against them, standing up in defiance of what the world has deemed be their fate; most, however, flee from or crumple beneath the weight of the world against them.
Brown: Browns are, quite possibly, the most culturally and psychologically distinct of all the breeds. They are strong and selfish individuals, preferring to tend to their own matters and ignore everything not pertaining to them or their lives. Their social interactions are extremely limited to nominal territoriality towards their neighbors, a lingering sense of loyalty towards their parents and same-litter siblings, and a strong attachment to and protectiveness over their mate and nonadult cubs. They don't care at all about people outside their scope of influence, including other species and other breeds of Korat; they will unite with other small groups of brown Korats nearby to defend their lands and people against a sufficient threat, but for the most part, they keep to themselves. Browns have three possible social groups: a mated or courting pair, a mated pair with non-adult cubs, or a group of young-adult same-litter siblings. Since browns have small litters (rarely more than four cubs, normally two or three), none of these groups usually consists of more than five individuals (families) or three adults (sibling groups). They are intently personal, able to fully trust and open up to their chosen mates (with time; this is not a quick process), but browns rarely get extremely close to anyone else, even their children or siblings. A brown is an individual beyond all else, and as such, tends to make sure that s/he can manage just fine alone - in the hunt, in a fight, in navigating the tunnels and caverns in which they live, in moving along the terrain of the usually-rocky surface of Honshane. They are fiercely independent and individualistic, fully indulging in all the quirks and facets of their personalities that make them who they are, and get swiftly annoyed by any seeming lack of individuality in others. While most browns do not have a black-swift temper, they are not reluctant to revert to noise and violence when such is called for; hesitation to defend oneself or one's family/mate/siblings often leads to precious seconds wasted and unnecessary blood spilled. Browns are fierce warriors and do not hold back in combat, fully committing once physical confrontation is proven to be the outcome of a situation. They are a strong, proud, and hardy people, but they still have moments of laughter and relaxed happiness, though such may not be easily visible from the eyes of an outsider.
History of the Originals, Browns, & Stripeds: Korats were Created in the second millenium by a Creator who sought to make an 'average' species. It first made Kaili, a tawny and lean female, but decided against breaking her shadow to create the rest of the species; it dropped a tree on her in an attempt to kill her off, then started anew. (Kaili lived, thanks to the healing skills and care of a wandering ambassador.) The second attempt at a Korat Original was enfleshed as a beautiful black female, Ana [ah-nah, not anna with a hard 'a'] - but, again, the Creator was dissatisfied; it had made Ana as a cub instead of an adult, a rare thing for any Original, and abandoned her to try once more. (Ana was raised by a Night Cat female to adulthood.) The third time resulted in a muscular, red-furred beast of a hunter who became conscious before she was fully Created; she took the name Redwood and did not bend her iron will to the Creator's whims. She claimed Kaili and Ana as sisters and demanded the Creator take their shadows to mingle with her own, spawning the rest of the species from their combined traits. [Read more about Redwood and the First Day here.] Together, the three sisters led their race: Kaili, the mystic diplomat; Ana, the fierce mother; and Redwood, the supreme huntress. In the third millenium, the Dark Wars led Korats to seek refuge on Honshane, the third continent, and a considerable population stayed in that tunnel-ridden place after the war ended. In the sixth millenium, Redwood called upon her Creator once more to widen their race with a fourth breed: a huge, long-furred white, adapted to live in the coldest of regions where tans, blacks, and reds could not thrive. Glace was Created as the largest Korat alive, strong and as silent as the tundra, and she was given a second set of the 'First' Fifty - all whites, this time - with which to populate the arctic realms of Lavana. By the seventh millenium, the Honshane Korats had evolved into a new, distinctly unique, brown-furred breed with no Original; they remained largely unknown and separated from the rest of the world, living primarily underground in the warrens beneath Honshane's surface.
Stripeds are genetic mutations - not children of different-breed parents - that began appearing shortly after the end of the Dark Wars in the third millenium. Small, sickly, and mentally retarded, most of them were stillborn or died as infants; the few that survived even to adolescence were incapable of fending for themselves. Then as now, Korats do not like weakness. They took note when a striped managed to survive long enough to breed, only to produce unhealthy and incompetent cubs of any breed, as well as a high number of other stripeds; they took note when striped cubs endangered the family and forced the parents to neglect the other cubs in order to care for a child that died young anyways. As a matter of harsh common sense, Korats began killing striped cubs at birth - not only to preserve the genetic strength and integrity of the species, but also to save stripeds from suffering through a sickly, distorted, too-brief life and bringing their families so much difficulty and pain. It was, quite simply, mercy killing. Over the millenia, stripeds have slowly improved - in health, in mental capability, in physical ability - but the mercy killing, now a veritable genocide, did not so much as pause. (The cause of this improvement is unknown, given that natural selection would have been compromised by genocide.) By the seventh millenia, striped cubs were no smaller, sicker, or slower than their unicolored siblings, but they were still killed or abandoned to die. Some few families notice the stripeds' relative health and raise them as normal - however, the vast majority of adult Korats are conditioned to kill a striped on sight, even if that striped seems to be healthy; they remember what happens when stripeds breed. Genocide continues, waged even against the rare striped who makes it to adulthood, unintentionally resulting in physically impressive warriors (if they survive the constant attempts on their lives) and mentally troubled souls. Modern-day stripeds can exploit qualities from the two breeds that contribute color to their pelts, striking a strange combination and balance in order to survive and carve a life for themselves out of a dangerous world; many modern stripeds also range well outside their own breed standards, having a greater diversity (and seeming randomness) in build, size, strength, speed, endurance, agility, and psychological traits. They are beginning to see a more progressive acceptance, having proven their survivability to more open-minded and less-traditional Korats, but they are still a violently-persecuted minority, challenged by most and protected by few.
There is a myth that is shared in secret and trust amongst many stripeds, as well as their non-Koratian supporters - especially Night Cats. This legend bespeaks of another planet, outside the Tri-System, that they call Hope for lack of a better name; this planet is home to the stripeds as a true breed of their own, not just a rare mutation. Rumors whisper of a fifth Original, a striped female named Cawralla with all four colors on her pelt, the ultimate union of the four original Koratian breeds. Though stripeds began appearing on Lavana well before white Korats were Created, Cawralla - and some early striped cubs - is part-white, indicating that white Korats were planned far in advance - by three thousand years or more. Though Cawralla is thought to be the striped Original, her place and method of Creation is unknown to any who are willing to speak of such a thing; still, she is quietly hailed as the epitome of all that is Korat, blessed with a First Fifty of her own - all stripeds - with which to populate Hope. In this legend, Cawralla's true children - Hopean Korats - lack any trace of the sickness and malformities that once plagued Lavanian stripeds. Hopean stripeds are true hybrids, intermingling the best features of two strong breeds, finding a balance and unique combination that would surpass a unicolored Korat. Stripeds on Lavana long for such a distant paradise, a place where they will be celebrated for their individuality instead of condemned, a sanctuary away from a world where ancient mercy killing became senseless genocide.
Society & Family Life: Korats have a strong sense of hereditary culture that unites them as a species, though they lack any kind of formal or organized society. They band together in individual packs, or join multi-species packs; they have no government or structure beyond individual packs with their marked territories. Korat-only packs are fairly common, but Koratian members of multiracial packs are equally common; they are quite good at adapting to different pack structures and different hierarchies that often result when one combines several species into one group. Korat packs, when free of other races' influence, tend to sort themselves out with one pack leader and one to three pack seconds, with more 'seconds needed to help coordinate larger packs. (Gender and breed are irrelevant when it comes to leadership and ranks.) On rare occasions, two Korats will be co-leaders of a pack. Beyond the leader and the 'seconds, pack members are equal, though elders are honored for having lived as long as they have on such a dangerous world. Ranking individuals can be challenged to one-on-one combat for their positions, or they can step down in the face of a challenge, or they can eventually nominate another to take their place if they so choose. Though leaders and 'seconds are often some of the most physically skilled individuals in a pack, they need more than just brute prowess to lead well - skill in communicating with and coordinating their packmates is vital. If a pack is discontent with one of its leaders, the Korat in question will often step down to avoid a bloody challenge and potential exile - the victor of the challenge battle has the option of chasing off their opponent. While Korat packs are not democracies, pack members - especially a majority opinion - can easily factor their needs and wants into the decisions of the leaders; even the strictest of leaders are not tyrants. (Those that try to be swiftly find themselves challenged, exiled, and/or simply deserted.) When Korats find themselves in groups too small to be considered a pack - usually less than five or six individuals - they'll often band together in loose 'hunting groups' for convenience and efficiency in procuring food. While most Korats within a hunting group will sleep and live apart, they come together during a hunt or when a threat to their land approaches to aid each other.
Territories are defended by every able-bodied adult, the borders clearly marked by scent by the pack leaders and 'seconds. Trespass is grounds for confrontation, a somewhat ritualized back-and-forth conversation of identity and intent - once introductions have been made and intentions established, the trespasser and the defending Korats proceed from there. If the trespass was an accident or not malicious, the offender is usually allowed to leave unmolested; any hostile intentions are immediately met with force. In dangerous or well-trafficked regions, Korats will have individuals set on patrol or watch along the borders; otherwise, they rely on their senses to track when their borders have been crossed by a stranger. Any attempts to take parts of their territory's lands will result in pack battles that involve, again, every able-bodied adult fighting to incapacitate or kill those who would take their home. Hunting groups are normally much more lax about defending their territories and will usually allow travelers to pass through without trouble or confrontation; only if another group tries to take and hold their homes and hunting grounds will the members of a hunting group band together for true battle. Depending on the regions, a pack's territory may or may not include hunting grounds - they may share a large, open area with other neighboring packs, if that's where prey is abundant, or they may claim part of prey-rich lands as their territory and defend it against other hunters.
Koratian family life revolves around one's children, one's mate, and one's soulmates. Like many other Lavanian species, Korats separate physical lust and the act of breeding from deep, emotionally intense and intimate love. This relationship, best termed in English as a (platonic) soulmate, is extremely common amongst adult Korats; a well-adjusted adult will typically have one to three 'lai (soulmates). 'Lai are not governed by gender or even species - they can be blood-siblings, unrelated Korats of either gender, or even non-Korats of either gender. One's mate is also a 'lai, with the added facet of sexuality for the express purpose of producing cubs and raising a family; 'lai can be physically intimate in a sensual (not sexual) way, but it does not involve the sexual organs nor any implication of breeding. Sex is done only with the intent of conceiving and bearing cubs; while pleasurable, it is not something Korats engage in for fun. Cubs are raised by their parents, but the parents' 'lai often help with cubsitting, teaching, and providing food for the growing youngsters. Once the cubs enter adolescence, more packmates - often elders or the local masters of certain skills - help in training them towards adulthood and competency. Though Korats don't tend to celebrate birthdays in a yearly fashion, they do usually celebrate a cub graduating into adulthood, and often an aging adult's graduation into elder status.
Language: Korats are natural linguists; their vocal chords, jaws, tongue, and lips were specifically designed to be capable of handling a very wide range of sounds and therefore languages. Korats can make a variety of sounds, including growling, snarling, purring, hissing, shrieking or screaming, howling, crooning, humming, roaring, and keening, the lattermost of which being an exceedingly intense and piercing sound that indicates extreme distress. Korat cubs do not speak anything resembling words for the first half of their three-year childhood; they spend these first eighteen months listening to the languages that surround them and gaining a functional comprehension before actually engaging in conversation. A Korat cub raised in a multiracial setting will pick up anywhere from two to half a dozen languages without even trying. Nearly every Korat knows at least two languages: their own native Koratian tongue, and Kalash, the common tongue of Lavana. Koratian is a rough, guttural language with a number of regional dialects and a wide vocabulary; Kalash is extremely simple, less snarly, and intended to be easily spoken and understood by all of Lavana's diverse species. While Korats are naturally talented in vocal communication, they still rely heavily on body-language to convey meaning along with spoken words; they're also quite good at reading another's scent for hormonal or biochemical clues to the other person's emotional and physical states.
Training/Energy: The concept of training past one's current physical, mental, and sensory limits is relatively new-to-modern-day-Korats, resurfacing in the past half-century or so. An infamous black named Wureshi is a frighteningly skilled master who spent his youth studying under older masters, then killing them off when he was capable of doing so. He amassed a veritable army of his own progeny, finding the best females and breeding with them for the sole purposes of producing yet more cubs, which he trained to be fearsome warriors. He is as much of a dictator and tyrant as is possible for a roving warlord with no set territory.
In direct response to the threat posed by Wureshi and his spawn, Korats have begun seeking to push themselves to a higher level of ability; the last time such a unified surge of self-training occurred was during the Dark Wars of the third millennia. Exceptionally skilled Korats have become masters, some well-rounded and others specialized, and these masters are taking students to help them train to a similar level of excellence. (Note: When I refer to training, I refer to activities above and beyond the standard learning-to-hunt and combat-training that all youths engage in as a part of learning how to survive on a deadly planet.) Current masters are listed towards the end of this page under Korats To Know.
Some basic skills and talents have been known for centuries, if not longer. Telepathy, while not common on Lavana, is certainly understood and widely used by many different races; Korats, being linguists, are especially proficient at this mind-to-mind communication. The range of telepathy and the intensity of mental voice varies with the user's expertise, but many times emotions can be passed along if the link is strong enough; it's also possible (if not exactly easy) to telepath to more than one individual at a time. Telepathy can be learned by anyone, though it may take more effort with some than others to master.
One of the rarest and most difficult to initiate and learn techniques is the Olde Kusani. Named after the old, well-known legend that claims that the Phoenix of the Flame (not Creators) made the Tri-System and its inhabitants, including the first kûsani tree that grew out of the Phoenix's heart, the Olde Kusani lies latent in a select few Korats' veins. When discovered, huge black, leathery, draconic wings sprout from the Korat's flanks and spine and are proportioned to be able to lift the individual, no matter breed or weight, into the air for flight. These wings are never 'left out', so to speak, but reabsorbed into the body once they're no longer needed. The 15-second process is painful, requires intense concentration (often aided by a mantra, chanting, or a simple wordless roar), and cannot be done many times in a row due to the immense energy that it requires. There are rumors that there's a hybrid form of the O'Kusani with grey, thinly-furred draconic wings, but this has never been proven; theoretically, it's learned by only the most powerful Koratian masters and does not require being born with the skill.
Sensory techniques are both old and new. The concept itself dates back to the Elder Days, before the Dark Wars, but techniques are constantly being modified and created to better serve this purpose. Stripeds are especially adept at these types of techniques, as through keen senses they can stay alive by avoiding those beasts who would slaughter them for being two-colored. These techniques have three purposes - to hone all senses in a natural, alert mindset; to hone one sense to supremity when in a trance-like state; to expand all senses in a trance-like state to become hyper-aware of one's surroundings. The first and last purposes are usually accomplished by working at the second. Concentration and willpower play a major role in beginning simplistic exercises that, once repeated over some time (months at least) will begin to sharpen each sense. As these exercises are continued over the years, there has been no limit yet to how keen each sense can become… though there are some logical limits to stop at, considering with a light trance-like state (akin to what Korats use to do major healing) can further increase sensitivity and range. Often, through using these techniques, a Korat will find their sixth sense (intuition) greatly increased.
Though present for centuries, energy techniques were little-known until Wureshi came to power as a racial threat. Though it's an accepted fact that life-force can be manipulated by willpower (as evidenced by Erauqs, Jrix, and a few other Lavanian races, as well as various individuals of many species), few Korats have ever mastered the art of either using their own energy (internal, limited energy) or gathering and manipulating energy of nature and their surroundings (external, unlimited energy). Atumi is one of the most proficient Korats alive with both internal and external energy, able to draw from any natural object and possessing a great store of personal energy as well; his keen mind is easily able to form and direct such power for various effects - often used in battle. Energy attacks can take many forms, though most commonly are used as a blast or bolt from the mouth or a ball formed in the forehands. There are various ways to learn how to use energy, but in the circle of those well-versed in its usage, it's a well-known fact that drawing too much from internal power is often deadly, as most individuals have a set amount of energy and no more. An advanced technique involves drawing from one's own energy and letting one's body absorb new energy from the environment, thus creating an energy flow. Energy tends to have life-lengthening properties and the more and better one uses it, the younger they appear and the longer they probably live. (For example, Atumi is in his 50s and appears about 20. Similarly, Wureshi is in his 70s and appears about 35.)
Mysticism & Philosophy: Korats are, overall, extremely realistic and pragmatic creatures. For the most part, they have little care for abstract mysticism or philosophy; religion is not something they engage in*. However, two well-known Korats have kept both mysticism and philosophy within the species' culture: Kaili Cadaver, tan Original, was the first Koratian mystic, and Erashun Brumal, a white master, is a renowned philosopher. (*Some exceptions exist: there are some few Korats who follow the Phoenix of the Flame legend and treat it as fact, which is as close as a religion as they have. Even that is closer to a way of living than an abstract belief system.)
Koratian mysticism has nothing to do with any kind of religion or belief system, but is a particular way of perceiving the world and how it works. Rather than imagining a deity or a plethora of intangible spirits, Koratian mysticism urges an individual to observe the world very closely and draw one's own conclusions about what is there and how it all works. In many cases, this leads a Korat to see an underlying pattern to life and the world; often, an individual will begin treating all life - not just sentients - with more respect and care, having watched so carefully to see the tiny miracles that make up the existence of even mute creatures and flora. There is no dogma in Koratian mysticism - simply the command and desire to perceive the world as deeply and as detailed as one possibly can - but it often leads to a sense of purpose, a greater skill with energy (especially healing; Kaili is renowned for her healing skills), and a heightened ease of movement and navigation through all sorts of terrain. Nearly all Korats who are Phoenix-believers are also mystics.
Koratian philosophy has little to do with distant abstracts, but guides one's actions and interactions, as well as one's path in life. Where mysticism is perception-based, philosophy is action-based. Many different philosophies exist, often based on certain breed characteristics or even other species' attributes, but most of them urge an individual to figure out the most natural, true-to-self way to live and then follow that path, not allowing oneself to be led astray by outside influences. Another important facet of Koratian philosophy governs how an individual interacts with others; in general, a sense of respect and acknowledgment for the other's individuality is encouraged, along with a lack of judgment or irrational bias. Philosophers are often fantastic diplomats, able to understand and honor other people without debasing themselves; in a similar vein, their ability to perceive another person's truest nature (a skill born of learning to perceive their own) enables them to read and react to opponents in combat with incredible accuracy and speed. Many Koratian masters are also philosophers for this very reason.
Interaction with Non-Korats & Technology: Korats are generally unbiased towards other races, though they hold some disdain for Sub-Korats and generally consider bipeds - especially tool-using ones - to be weak. Traditionally, they get along especially well with Night Cats and Nigias and markedly less well with Blood Cats and Maned Heifias. However, unlike many Lavanians, Korats hold no racial blood fueds or mortal enmity with any other species. They give respect where such is proven to be due, peace in exchange for peace, and they generally try to understand and communicate with most people who cross their paths. Korats raised and/or living in multiracial packs are especially good at working with different species and will often have close friends or even 'lai who are non-Korats. In the specific case of striped Korats, they will often find much more safety and happiness with companions who are not Korats.
For the most part, Korats strongly dislike technology (from simple stone-and-wood Nila spears to Olashi spacecraft and laser-weaponry) and, by association, detest the smell of metal. (However, some few Korats have gone into the Olashi space program, overcoming these cultural biases to see the stars up close.) While most can see the practicality and usefulness of tools and constructed weaponry, Korats tend to infer that the tool-user's own body is inferior or weak if they must use tools to get by. They do acknowledge the ingenuity and intelligence behind such objects, but - unless proven wrong - they'll generally assume that the tools are strictly necessary, rather than simply convenient and beneficial. This leads most to have mixed feelings about Taroks, who are physically adept but still choose to be tool-users on the same level as Olashi. Being that Taroks are genetically related to Korats, many Korats feel a sense of kinship to them, but their unnatural origin (genetic engineering by the Jhee) and their tendency to be spacers sets many Korats on-edge.
Korats To Know: This list is not, by any means, a complete character list. These are simply some noteworthy names that one might wish to remember.
- Kaili Cadaver, vesefir aorri, tan female. The first Original. About 4' high with golden-tawny fur, pale crystal-green eyes, light-colored claws, white tailblade. Kaili is the oldest Korat alive and has delved deeper into Koratian mysticism than most; her healing skills are unsurpassed and she often acts as the soft-spoken diplomat.
- Ana Exilic, korofir aorri, black female. The second Original. About 5' high with blue-sheen ebony fur, vivid sapphire eyes, black claws, white tailblade. Ana is the 'fierce mother,' a warrior and huntress in her own right, who does everything she can to guide and protect her people.
- Redwood Bane, sidifir oerri, red female. The third Original and progenitor of the race. About 4.5' high with deep brick-red fur, icy pale-blue eyes, black claws, silver tailblade. Redwood is a supreme huntress, the unstoppable force, the figurehead and will behind the Koratian race.
- Glace Brumal, ladafir oerri, white female. The fourth Original. 7' high with long silvery-white fur, dark blue eyes, white claws, white tailblade. Glace is the recluse, the silent-and-strong leader of the whites in their cold, lonely arctic home.
- Cawralla Paragon, quadri-striped female. A legendary Original from Hope; if she exists, she'd be the fourth Original and Glace would be the fifth. 5' high with tar-black, snow-white, blood-red, and sun-gold striping, one sea-green and one yellow eye, greygold claws, coppery-red tailblade. Cawralla is the mythical epitome of all four breeds and the mother of the stripeds as a breed, rumored to exist outside of Lavana and the Tri-System.
- Wureshi Exilic, black male. 5.5' high with tar-black fur, white eyes, black claws, black tailblade. Wureshi is a frighteningly skilled master who spent his youth studying under older masters, then killing them off when he was capable of doing so. He amassed a veritable army of his own progeny, finding the best females and breeding with them for the sole purposes of producing yet more cubs, which he trained to be fearsome warriors. He is as much of a dictator and tyrant as is possible for a roving warlord with no set territory. His biggest threats are Atumi and Erashun, both of whom he's fought several times without a decisive victory on either side.
- Akartis Bane, tan male. 4.8' high with dust-cream fur, pale grey-violet eyes, black claws, silver tailblade. Akartis grew up on Terole, ensconced in trying to wrangle and protect it from itself and outsiders, and was forced to return to Lavana when the Drakka conquered it. Something of a tortured soul, he's seen too many lives wasted and opportunities lost; he stays with his mate, black Ayrist Exilic, and keeps going mostly because of her. He is Redwood's son and Shula's father.
- Shula Bane-Exilic, red male. 5.2' high with rust-red fur, mahogany eyes, steel-grey claws, black tailblade. Shula is a renowned master with a striped-friendly pack whose members are constantly in flux; people come to be trained in the warrior arts and leave as new adepts and masters. Shula is one of the Four Masters; he is Akartis's son and Redwood's grandson; his close lineage is obvious in his physical prowess and mental capacity.
- Atumi Exilic, black male. 5.3' high with blue-sheen black fur, teal eyes, black claws, velvet-grey tailblade. Atumi is one of the Four Masters whose physical and mental skills are nearly unsurpassed in all the people; he is Ana's son, Erashun's 'lai (soulbrother), and Jysulen's mate.
- Erashun Brumal, white male. 6.5' high with pure white fur, blue eyes, white claws, white tailblade. Erashun is one of the Four Masters who specializes in philosophy without neglecting his physical strength; he is Atumi's 'lai (soulbrother).
- Tew Cadaver, tan male. 4.8' high with vibrant golden fur, robin's-egg-blue eyes, black claws, coppery tailblade. Tew is one of the Four Masters whose speed and agility rivals that of the master tans when the breed was still young and undiluted.
- Drael Exilic, black male. 6' high with pitch black fur, silver eyes, black claws, white tailblade. "Black Drael" is a renowned warrior (but not master) who is Redwood's current mate and Akartis's father.
- Jysulen Exilic, red female. 5.3' high with deep burgundy fur, yellow eyes, grey-black claws, no tailblade. Jysulen was a student of the Four Masters and later became Atumi's mate.
- Ehez, white male. 6.5' high with off-white fur, red-brown eyes, grey claws, black tailblade. Ehez is an older wandering master, one of the few to survive Wureshi's method of learn-then-destroy; he is extremely skilled, but takes very few students.
- Shucho Kaw, red male. 5' high with blackened red fur, one jungle-green eye and one milk-white (blind) one, coppery claws, black tailblade. Kaw was a master before Wureshi became well-known, so his skills lie in sensory perceptions and physical prowess, rather than anything energy-based; he was pack leader until Wureshi slaughtered his people, at which point he took the name Kaw. Atumi was born in (and then kicked out of) Kaw's old pack.
- Jisz, red male. 5.2' high with rust-red fur, dark brown eyes, black claws, white tailblade. Jisz is a formidable warrior and Ana's current mate.
- Edrik Cadaver, tan male. 5.5' high with dark bronzed fur, red-gold eyes, antique-gold claws, rust-copper taiblade. Edrik is an unusually strong and enduring tan; he's Kaili's current mate and devotee.
- Kachima, tan-red female. 5' high with antique-gold stripes against vivid red fur, seagreen eyes, silver claws, grey tailblade. Kachima is a Hopean striped who manages to get to Lavana, trying to prove to her own people that unicolored Korats do exist; she meets up with Ecase and begins traveling with him, trying to spread the world that the legend of Hope is no longer mere myth, but confirmed fact.
- Ecase, black male. 5.3' high with black fur, gold eyes, grey claws, black tailblade. A talented and passionate young black, Ecase meets Kachima when she arrives and helps guide and protect her.
A Few Koratian & Kalash Terms: Koratian possessives are commonly used and are formed by saying "my friend" (mri'fao) or "your mate" (ta'kai), etc. Below are the list of pronouns and common nouns.
my = mri'
hers = el'
his = li'
yours = ta'
ours = nu'
theirs = re'
its = ti'
fellow Korat = kar
kindred = kym
respected acquaintance = fa
packmate = tha
companion = thao
friend = fao
loved one = la
(platonic) soulmate = lai
lover/consort = lao
mate = kai
blood relative = cha
cousin = chao
child/cub = chai
son = chiri
nephew = s'chiri
brother = siri
father = miri
uncle = m'siri
grandfather = m'miri
daughter = chey
niece = s'chey
sister = sey
mother = mey
aunt = m'sey
grandmother = m'mey
student = dyn
mentor = qua
elder = quai
leader = nohs
The following are some commonly-used Kalash phrases and curses.
"Botsa ze cha." - Peaceful greetings.
"Botsa." - "Hello."
"Cha nu kayl." - "Peace, prosperity, and understanding."
cha - peace
ze - and
nu - prosperity
kayl - understanding
"Tain gdip." - "Good luck."
"Rere fare farebs." / "Refare." - "Go in health and strength." / "Goodbye."
quyz-tai - trees
kûsani - the golden-leafed song tree / a song / a tree
"Baaaiiii!" - a call for help
"Raaaaiii!" - a cry of challenge
"Ese aane tain." - "This is bad."
pelash - minute
chirrling - cub, little one, small one, youngling, youth
btsa - hell
diamen - shit
dyone - damn (verb)
dyone'd - damn (adjective)
dyoned - the damned (noun); rarely used
esh - ass, literally translated to 'undertail'
frante - very heavy insult; use with caution
cresh - a casual, slightly derogatory term for an individual, in the same vein as 'dude' or 'chick'