Kyonshis, on average, are about 10 ft (3.04 m) in length from head to tail. Their average weight is about 400-500 lbs (181-226 kg), making them considerably lighter than Rhodris. However, their strength is not to be underestimated. Though they may have a smaller mass than Rhodris, they have considerably strength, being able to haul prey larger than themselves for quite some distance.
Usually, Kyonshis live to be about 150 years old. They commonly use their magical nature to their advantage as a way to extend their lifespan, but extended use of magic can actually speed up the wear and tear of their bodies in some cases.
Like most felines, Kyonshis are polyestrous, meaning they come into "heat" several times during the year, rather than only once during a certain breeding season. However, during the colder months when game is scarce, they will sometimes not ovulate as a way to prevent a pregnancy from occurring, an event that could be hazardous to the mother if occurring during lean times.
Unlike most non-intelligent species, Kyonshis will mate not just for reproduction, but also for recreation. In fact, many females will take preventative measures, such as herbs or potions with contraceptive qualities, to prevent a pregnancy from occurring.
Typically, in opposite-sex pairings, mating is initiated by the male. However, in many areas of Kyonshi society, the female can reject his advances and will incur few, if any, repercussions.
The female, if she conceives, typically gestates for around six months before giving birth to one to four cubs, the most common number being only one or two. Because Kyonshis commonly form monogamous pair-bonds, the male commonly helps the female in raising her young. On average, it is not until the cub's twentieth year or so that it becomes sexually mature and starts the cycle once again.
Kyonshis are primarily hematophagous, meaning they drink blood to obtain most of their nutrients. While they are not entirely dependent on fresh blood to survive, unless they at least obtain fresh meat frequently, their health will start to suffer. However, blood is certainly their preferred and most beneficial food source.
Kyonshis commonly use trickery and stealth to hunt their prey. Typically, they are solitary hunters, but can bring down even large prey without help. They achieve this by using their innate ability to shapeshift into the same species as their prey, using mimicry to allow themselves to get close enough to shift back into their hunter form and pounce.
Because of this common method of hunting, Kyonshis are rarely trusted around any of the intelligent species. However, Rhodris have had to grudgingly tolerate them more in recent history.
Unlike most species, Kyonshis also like to feed on the auras of others. Auras are the often unseen energy surrounding an intelligent species. With training and practice, Kyonshis can not only see auras, but they can "read" them in such a way that they can read the thoughts and personality through someone's aura. Healthy auras are particularly appealing to Kyonshis, and feeding on them often gives Kyonshis a boost in magical power as well as a more detailed view of their prey's memories and knowledge. However, feeding on fellow Kyonshis is strictly prohibited in all aspects of Kyonshi society and it is a crime punishable by death.
Significance of GemEdit
Every Kyonshi is born with an organic gem mounted in the center of their forehead. It is not simply for decoration, but is much of the source of a Kyonshi's innate magic. A Kyonshi's body practically runs on the use of magic, so the gem is essential to not only a Kyonshi's health, but to his or her very life.
Should the gem be shattered or even cracked, a Kyonshi will die as its magic bleeds out. No amount of restorative magic or medicinal healing thus far has been able to prevent this. The most either method can do is ease the Kyonshi's suffering (which is very great to begin with) and perhaps prolong his or her life to a few days, rather than hours.
There is little correlation between color of gem or any sort of special power, especially as gem color is often subject to genetics just as all other traits are, but there are still Kyonshi superstitions involving their gems. The highest Kyonshi priests and leaders, as determined by divination, most often have their gems magically changed to a gold or silver color, denoting their high rank. Males generally choose gold because of their alignment with the sun, whereas females generally choose silver, because of their alignment with the moons.
Kyonshis highly value their family and often form tightly-knit family groups to survive. While Kyonshi settlements exist, they are not as common as Rhodri settlements, as Kyonshis don't place quite as much emphasis on building and crafting that Rhodris do. Often extended families will live together as a group, sometimes accepting other local families into the group as well. Kyonshis prefer not to live in very large groups as a way to not draw attention to themselves. Kyonshi settlements or dens are often very hard to find by non-Kyonshis because of their skill at hiding and camouflaging the signs of their presence. Solitary Kyonshis, though rare, will often work their way into Rhodri settlements by shapeshifting and living amongst them as a Rhodri. However, this can be dangerous, especially in a small village, so most Kyonshis prefer to live amongst at least a few of their own kind instead.
Kyonshi leaders are determined by divination by the shaman of their group. Most often, in Kyonshi settlements of reasonable size, a village is led by two individuals (one male and one female) in joint leadership, along with a council of three head shaman. All five will generally convene together to make decisions for the group as a whole. These groups often will stake out their own territories and defend them from intruders, either intelligent or non-intelligent.
Above the local leaders are often regional leaders, that often lead several groups together. These larger groups are slowly starting to become unified again, but much of their previous unity fell apart after their loss in their war against the Rhodris and Nebulions. Many Kyonshis are slow to trust leadership much higher than a local official, afraid of being led into another losing war.
Relations with other intelligent speciesEdit
Kyonshis generally prefer to stay out of sight and out of mind from the other species, but often they are driven to living near Rhodri settlements as a way to find prey. Originally, Kyonshis were normal, meat-eating predators like most of the other intelligent species of Aisling, but during the war against the Nebulions, the Nebulions engineered a plague that would make the Kyonshis bloodthirsty and (hopefully) turn on each other, thus ending the war. While their strategy initially worked, as Kyonshis suddenly found themselves craving each others' fresh blood and auras, the Kyonshis were able to regroup and work on controlling their aggressive urges for bloodshed and violence. The plague is bloodborne, making it pass from parent to child and often through wounds. Frequently, Rhodris and other intelligent species bitten by a Kyonshi but not killed will later develop the symptoms of the plague and start craving blood themselves. In recent times, Kyonshis have developed ways to slow the infection, but no cure currently exists.
As a result of the war and the many causalities suffered, Kyonshis often will not tolerate Nebulions. Meetings between the species are often hostile at best, deadly at worst, and both species do their best to steer clear of each other. The war between the two species began after Nebulions attempted to completely control the Kyonshis' use of magic (they only trusted fellow Nebulions to use it "correctly") and the Kyonshis refused to be under Nebulion control any longer.
Kyonshis have very little interaction with Ko'Drho and Tarbhach outside of a predator/prey relationship, often living close to their settlements much the same way they'll be drawn to Rhodri settlements. In all cases, if discovered, a Kyonshi is at a very high risk of death.
Shapeshifting and other magicEdit
Shapeshifting is a skill Kyonshis learn early on. It is made possible by magic, and those Kyonshis that are more proficient at magic than others can shift into a wider variety of creatures. Shifting becomes much more difficult when there are larger differences in size, shape, or markings involved. Almost all Kyonshis can shift into forms very similar to them in structure, such as Rhodris, but they also retain their original form's markings when they do so. With practice, a Kyonshi can not only turn different colors, but can change into a vastly different species, such as an insect or a very large mammal such as a tantha. However, these abilities are not common.
Kyonshis often learn how to control their magic from a very young age. Misuse of magic can be very dangerous, so there are often many local laws within groups governing the use of magic. Kyonshi magic often draws on elemental forces, such as fire, ice, wind, earth, water, etc. Like shapeshifting, the size and power of their magic depends greatly on the amount of training and innate skill a Kyonshi possesses.
Magic is most commonly used for practical purposes, such as moving and creating objects, hunting, and self-defense. However, when several Kyonshis gather together, it is possible to achieve much greater usage of magic, such as creating barriers, lifting very large objects, destroying large areas, bringing rain, and other similar things.
Magic is almost always done under the assumption of cooperation from the spirits. When magic has failed, it is common to believe that the spirits did not will for it to succeed.
Kyonshi religion is dual in nature, with one side (males) generally following the sun god, and the other side (females) generally following the moon goddess. Because of their strong ties to celestial objects, Kyonshis are very proficient in astronomy and star-gazing, able to chart the movement of the stars and predict major events such as eclipses, celestial alignments, and other events. Astrology also factors heavily into Kyonshi lives, with many Kyonshis holding the belief that their destiny can be (and often is) controlled by the heavens.
Males, along with aligning with the sun, also often align themselves with elements of magic related to the sun, such as fire, sky, light, warmth, and growth. Females, conversely, align with the moons and related elements such as water and ice, darkness, cold, death and rebirth (the phases of the moons are closely tracked and represent the cycle of life and rebirth to most Kyonshis), and earth.
The shaman of Kyonshi society are often highranking and well respected by fellow Kyonshis. They frequently serve as intermediaries between earthly Kyonshis and the spirits of the world. They also serve as healers and mentors for the group.