Iskai

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The Iskai are a sentient species that live on the planet of Albion in the computer game by the same name.



Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.


Contents

[edit] Physical attributes

The Iskai are a tall and slender species of warm-blooded mammals that are built similarly to humans, but possess distinctive feline traits. They are omnivorous, digitigrade creatures, relying on their speed rather than strength to survive. Their tails are fairly prehensile, and act almost like a third hand.

The fur covering their bodies is short but thick, although some Iskai have longer belts of fur on their breasts and hips. There are many color variations of the bodyfur and much longer headfur, for the most part ranging between dark-grey, brown, beige, yellow and deep-red. Pieces of horn can be found on the head and main joints. Additionally, these structures act also as claws on their fingers and feet.

Compared to humans, their sense of smell is exceptionally good and their hearing spectrum is a bit above that of a human. Other differences are that the females of the species are only fertile for three months in a year, and also that the expected lifespan of an Iskai is much shorter than that of humans, between 30 and 40 years.

[edit] Mental capabilities

On the forehead of every Iskai there is an organ called the Trii, which they see as the center of the spirit. It is a highly sensitive organ, and injuries to it can lead to personality disorders, memory loss, and even death. If the Triis of two people are placed against each other, they can feel each other's emotions - some gifted individuals (called Trii-Nadh) can even read the thoughts of other people this way.

The Trii of a newborn has some unique abilities during the first week of its life; if an adult Iskai (assuming it's a female in this case) touches the newborn's Trii against hers, she can transfer her entire self into the spirit of the child. She can then begin life anew in her newly acquired body, while the former, adult one dies at the same instant. This act is commonly referred to as the Sebai ritual.

[edit] Civilization overview

[edit] Iskai settlements on Albion

[edit] Nakiridaani

Nakiridaani is a great land inhabitated mainly by Iskai. The largest of the Iskai cities, Jirinaar, is located here. The Dji-Fadh's former guildhouse, long since abandoned, lies to the northeast of the city.

[edit] Maini

There is also an Iskai city on the land of Maini, called Srimalinar. Although it covers a quite large surface area, it doesn't hold a very significant population. Beloveno, a harbor city to the south of Srimalinar that was founded by humans, is also home to some Iskai, though they are few and far between. A shrine built by the Iskai can be found to the southwest of Srimalinar.

[edit] Architecture

The Iskai architecture is entirely based on plantlife, with houses being literally grown from the ground, forming walls, ceilings and floors. The Dji-Fadh guild is particularly adept at these constructions.

As the buildings themselves are constructed from a living matter, they are also furnished with items crafted from natural resources and often also grown. The Iskai mainly manufacture their furniture from wood, with metal a scarce and precious commodity. Aforementioned grown furniture elements include a large sponge plant responsible for pumping water into the household's canal system (it takes a lot of time to grow, according to the Dji-Fadh), an organic water purifier (a waste decomposition tank) or a plant-like toilet, which has the tendency to overgrow due to excess fertilization.

[edit] Guilds of magic

[edit] Dji-Fadh

The Dji-Fadh are a guild of mages that uses their magic abilities to create entire houses out of plants, with prices only the more wealthier of Iskai can afford. They are sometimes just called "the builders", especially by those who hold them in disregard. Their guildhouse is located in the northwestern part of the city of Jirinaar.

[edit] Dji-Kas

The Dji-Kas mages are the more diverse of the magic users in Jirinaar, utilizing it to heal and create, as well as to injure and destroy. To perform their magic, they need to use seeds which grow on the Triifalai plant. The seed itself is not responsible for the magic effect; it merely acts as a focal point for the spirit of the caster. Their guildhouse can be found in the southwestern area of the city.

[edit] Clans

[edit] South Wind Clan

The Clan of the South Wind are primarily a hunters' clan, preying on wild game that can be found all around Nakiridaani. Their clanhouse is located in the northern part of Jirinaar, and it mainly features a storage cellar, a kitchen and an infirmary.

[edit] Red Wood Clan

Based in Jirinaar, the Red Wood Clan is for the most part involved in the trading of goods. Their business is generally done within the land of Nakiridaani, but they also trade with other cities on the more distant continents.

[edit] Other clans

There are two other clans on Nakiridaani that live off cattle herding. Their respective names are not disclosed though.

[edit] The Council

In Nakiridaani, the laws are set forth by the council gathered within the council building, which lies in the center of Jirinaar. Any violation of the laws are enforced by the Stiriik, which are the ones responsible for upholding them. If they fail to capture the lawbreaker, it is the family of the criminal's task to solve the situation, monitored by at least one Stiriik.

The council consists of the Sebai (those who have performed the Sebai ritual) of each clan, of which one of them are chosen to be the Sebainah - the head of the council. S/he usually governs on the more casual matters, although in more important cases s/he will have to collaborate with the other council members. In times of crisis, however, the Sebainah may be granted by the council to rule over life and death.

[edit] The Sebai ritual

It is strictly forbidden to perform the Sebai ritual without the council's approval, and doing so is considered to be the worst crime there is. The laws states that the criminal of such act, along with her/his entire family, are to be punished by death.

The only people that have been allowed by the council to partake in the ritual are called the Chosen. These are Iskai that have made some sort of self-sacrifice, or perhaps shared much knowledge, for the benefit of others - as with truly dedicated mentors and high-ranked Stiriiks. However, before even the Chosen ones can undergo this act, there must also be consent from the mother of the newborn involved.

When the ceremony is over, the Chosen one receives the title of Sebai, which is followed by a number indicating how many times they have undergone the ritual.

[edit] Notable Iskai characters

[edit] Drirr

At first being a Stiriik of Jirinaar, Drirr joins the player's party to assist in finding the fugitive assassinator of Akiir. After the case has been resolved, he gives up his profession as Stiriik and becomes a permanent member of the group.

[edit] Sira

Previously a member of the Dji-Fadh guild, Sira went to join the Dji-Kas, which, against her father Akiir's will, she did due to a dislike of how the Dji-Fadh administered their magic. After her father's death, she decides to accompany the party to get away from it all for a while.

[edit] Akiir

Akiir was formerly the head of the Dji-Fadh guild. Being Sira's father, he wanted her to educate herself in the ways of the Dji-Fadh, something she eventually strongly disagreed with. Greatly dismayed and disappointed about the choice his only daughter had made, he hires an assassin to rid himself from the face of the planet.

[edit] Frill

Notable in being a member of the Enlightened Ones, Frill helps out the party at several occasions during the game. His title is that of Sebai-Giz, which means that he has performed the Sebai ritual a number of twenty times - making him the venerable age of around 600 years. He is thus one of the oldest Iskai alive, as well as being amongst Albion's leading historians.

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