Ice aershaa. Gargantuan, solitary, and legendary for their sheer size and strength. Men see it as one of the greatest challenges to take down an Ice and claim his pelt as their own, and an even greater one to tame their wild natures. It is a misconception that they are violent and unruly, perhaps from the habit that mankind has of attacking them and what they hold dear. They are, in truth, gentle giants, if not the friendliest, most social of creatures.
Physique & Appearance
Long drapes of multi-layered fur cover the giant aershaa of the north. Only the Ursavet come to match their towering height, but even they are dwarfed when an Ice rises to its hind legs, giving them an extra 5 feet or so on top of their already staggering 8 foot height. They are sparcely marked, usually only containing layers and patches of faint color, and are the only of the many aershaa breeds that does not consider a blank pelt ugly. Rather, it is a sign of both beauty and longetivity to have a pelt as pure white as the snows of Siyari, as they can carefully and quietly stalk any prey and blend in to any landscape.
In the southern strain of the Ices, however, as their small numbers scatter about the northern stretches of Hasseran, their pelts darken and become thin, the second underlayer falling out in their younger years, only to return for the winter seasons. These Ice take pride in their markings as all aershaa do, priding in the tribals rarely, if ever, found on the more common northern strain.
Coloration can vary slightly from the normal within reason, but not greatly. Below are basic examples of the color allowed for different sections of the aershaa - these can be varied in saturation and lightness.
Ices are found in light colors that easily blend into the Siyari frozen landscape, unless they are of the southern (Hasseran) strain, in which they are found in darker, and sometimes more vibrant shades. Ices, unless impure, do not bare bioluminescent markings. Bioluminescent markings will reveal them in the snowy landscape and make it difficult to hunt, as will a darker pelt.
Ices claws will match their spikes in most cases.
Pelt, Markings, Claws & Spikes
Ice are the slowest of aerkind, unable to build up speed quickly, and unable to reach speeds over 15 MPH, even at a full run. Their hunts rely on precision and sheer overwhelming strength. This is the one benefit a barebacked Ice has - without the heavy mass of spikes on their backs and sides, they are able to reach speeds of 20-25 mph, with practice and perseverence.
The spikes of an Ice are made of the same biostone that the nubs of a Stone consist of. Harder than rock and just as heavy, they have a thin outer layer that can take on many colors. The phenomenon that causes this is unknown, believed in their own culture to be hand painted by Khan.
Their sheer durability makes them a popular trophy for two-leg huntsman, particularly the northern humans, highly valued for use in tools and carvings. They can be found as weapon handles, picks, carved into horns, formed into daggers, and countless other objects. It is the hunting of their spikes and pelts that have brought the Ice into a state of endangerment in the wild.
It is interesting that for a breed that mainly dwells on icy, colorless tundras, they these are the aershaa with the sharpest sense of contrast and color. This is primarily for reasons of hunting - the white coated animals of Siyari need to be easily spotted against the landscape. A protective third lid is also present within their eyes, functioning like built-in sunglasses against the glare of the snow, particularly necessary in the months of the year when the sun doesn't set, the Season of the Eternal Sunrise. With vision built for sunlight and glare, their night vision is particularly poor. In the Season of Khan's Gaze, when the sun does not rise far above the horizon, it is their sensitive noses and sharp ears that guide their way.
The spikeless, or "barebacked" oddity is a rare oddity that brings about the death of many of their kind. Parents whelping a young Ice who's spikes do not grow in typically slay their child before they reach their second moon, sparing them the struggles of surviving without defense. Despite size, strength, and teeth, a barebacked Ice is considered as defenseless as a blade of grass to a stomping paw in their eyes.
Another oddity is hollow spikes - sometimes a defect that an Ice is born with, and sometimes a defect that happens with malnutrition. Hollow spikes are beautiful to behold, as they tend to gain a certain transparency, but are terribly fragile and nearly useless. Where a solid spike can grow back within a cycle (year) or so of its shattering, a hollow spike has no hopes of recovery.
The spikes on the back of an Ice share the same part of the genetic code as the wings on other aershaa, and therefore cannot co-exist in mixings without severe, crippling damage to the newborn. Spikes in mixes tend to gravitate towards the head and the tail. In cases of the common stone/ice mix, spikes and stones tend to "mix" and meet halfway, becoming half-heighted, half-rounded spike-stones to varying degrees.
It's odd that the stereotype for the Ice is their ferocious, ruthless nature. Two-legs and aershaa alike are dwarfed beside the largest of the aershaa breeds, and so perhaps it's size alone that becomes intimidating and threatening. In truth, Ice aershaa are a rather solitary, quiet race, sticking to small groups of their own kind or a single companion, be it a bonded, a mate, or simply a friend. They are not known to seek conflict, as the other moonborn races do, and rather reserve their strength for ritualistic display, hunting, and the various forms of art that the Ice practice. Though their voices are deep and booming, there are few Ice known to be talkative, instead choosing words carefully and speaking only when words are necessary.
An Ice has a layered pelt - a dense, hollow, waterproof layer underneath tha ttraps the warmth of the sun and protects from the chill of the north, and a lengthy coat protecting from the wind on the top. It is this unique coat that makes the Ice aershaa prefer the chill of the north - lands like Siyari and Northern Jiskadar - to anywhere else. There are some Ices that wander the norther, slightly cooler portions of Hasseran. Those that live in Hasseran shed their undercoat, with only the long, thin coat remaining on the top layer.
Culture & Religion
Though seen as solitary, there is a fierce pride and love of one's own pack and family amongst the Ice aershaa. They are known to have a pack, or a family group to return to, but separate individually or in smaller groups to wander for moons at a time. It is the times of gathering in which they reveal what they have learned and how they have grown in their travels, bringing back artifacts (skulls, rare plants, or other trophies) as well as skills to show. Spike tussling is common amongst the younger of the packs, locking headspikes or backspikes in displays of strength until one collapses from exhaustion. An Ice earns the title Strongback once they've proven themselves in several tussling matches, a title that earns earlier picks at prey and greater respect amongst their peers.
For a thumbless race, Ices are surprisingly artistic. They are known to sharpen the spikes on their tails to resemble the blades of other aershaa breeds in order to carve and sculpt. Art is done in more than carvings, however. A skilled mage amongst the Ice can manipulate the frozen tundra around them into great and intricate caverns, often used for group densites, as elaborate as any two-leg structure. Faces of Khan and his followers, intricate patterns, and the primitive "writing" that aershaa use to mark territory are just a few examples of things found in the faces of these caverns. One can't limit their imagination to caverns and carvings - forming shapes from the ice, anything is possible with enough skill, energy, creativity, and patience. They have even been known to modify or create replicas of the great signing hills of the north, modifying the size, shape, and position of holes to create music of their own.
Ices are very simplistic in their rituals of death. They don't invoke any sort of god, or give any elaborate sort of ceremony. They understand the struggles to survive in the wilds of the north, and in that, leave the bodies where they lay to be eaten by the scavengers. Should they die near or at the densite, the body will be carried to a far, high point as its final resting place. After the body is segmented for the scavengers, typically via use of magic, the site of the fallen is marked, much like the gravestones of man, either with carved ice or a stone rolled from its original location. The dead are mourned, but it is known that death is not permanent, and the souls will live on - to some, in Khan's embrace, to others, in the energies of the world, and to the rest, in the cycle of rebirth.
As their numbers are dwindling, Ices are more commonly seeking mates in breeds other than their own. They take a strong fondness to Darks especially, believing that the size and strength of the Ices paired with the magic and cunning of the Darks is a perfect combination.
Ices are a rarity in the tame world, and are typically only found amoungst the northern peoples of the world as mounts and freight-pullers. While spikeless Ices are rare and typically slaughtered in the wild, mankind prizes them for the ease of conversion into mount beasts, as it saves the usual necessity of shaving and / or removing their back spikes. Outside of the north, Ices are found as bladehunter lead mounts and front-line assault airla. They are never put to waste, as their sheer size and raw power is unmatched amongst other breeds, and even when stubborn, can easily be mentally-washed and equipped with tack to provide ample height and protection on the field.
In Ice culture, it is the length and intricacy of one's name that gives them strength and confidence in their later years. It is a name they must earn in time, beginning with something short and simple. Some packs will have a universal title for all pups until they pass a test of adulthood, while some have the parents give a short name to begin. Once earned, the names themselves can be 5 or more syllables long, such as Saranithiastrasansta, often composed of bits and pieces of names from their lineage, be it the parents or ancestors long since past.
Growth & Aging
Ices grow much like any aershaa does, without great significance to stand out from the rest. Their pups tend to grow large quickly to survive the harsh conditions of the tundra - southern strains of Ice do the same, even though the conditions do not call for it.
Read more about aershaa aging here.
An Ice's magic functions in a similar realm that a Water's magic does by manipulating the moisture in objects and altering its direction, motion, and placement. However, the nature of an Ice's magic doesn't allow the fluid to stay below freezing for more than a second or so, and so a great deal of their magic is about speed and precision, making it a difficult skill to learn. That being said, a lot of Ices are not skilled mages, if they learn magic at all, the task requiring sharp mind and reflexes that not all Ices hold within.
Ostrydeo 23:14, August 28, 2012 (UTC)