Species: Keusune Tahori

Name: keusune(s) tahori

Homeworld: At-lasa

Height/Length/Weight: Keusunes have a startlingly wide range of sizes, but males are typically larger than females. Like all tahori, keusunes have three distinct 'skins' (bodies/forms). In the hamin ('human') skin, they stand 5.5-7' tall (typically 6-6.5') and weigh between 125-275 lbs (typically 175-225 lbs). In the emigonu ('mix') skin, they stand 7-9' tall (typically ~8') and weigh between 300-500 lbs (typically ~400 lbs). In the sanero ('animal') skin, they stand 5.5-7' high at the withers (typically 6-6.5') and 10-15' long (plus another 12-17' of tail), weighing in at 1000-1300 lbs (rough estimate).

Physical Description: Keusunes are a race of the overarching species of tahori, and as such, they have three distinct skins, between which they can shapeshift freely. Their smallest skin is the hamin or humanoid skin; they resemble humans in nearly every detail, barring pointed and sturdy fingernails (not quite claws), somewhat pointed ears, and a tail (which is a smaller, weaker, but still prehensile version of their tail in emigonu and sanero skins). In the hamin skin, keusunes are hairless but for their manes and furred tails, both of which are the same color and pattern as their fur in the other skins. They're also extremely athletic in constitution and typically well-muscled in build, a tendency that extends through all three skins. Their middle or 'mixed' skin is their emigonu skin, a blend of their two other skins; they stand bipedally (spine curved, not quite vertical) but digitigrade, their spines held at an angle. They are furred and have the same claws and face of their sanero skin, but their forepaws have digits long enough to count as fingers, plus an opposable (clawed) thumb. Their tail is about as long as their body, and they bear the fringes and ruff of sanero skin. The emigonu skin is considered to be the best skin in which to fight and hunt, being agile and deft like the hamin skin, but still fierce and powerful like the sanero skin; it bears no genitalia and so is less vulnerable to dirty fighting. Their largest and most bestial skin is the sanero skin; they are muscular quadrupeds with feline litheness. They have long, powerful bodies and limbs; their slender, prehensile tails are longer than their bodies and have a silky 'fringe' of longer fur running along the underside of the latter half. They have medium-length, heavy muzzles with feline teeth; they have flared nostrils and almond-shaped eyes. Their ears are angled backwards and seem almost foldable, able to be raised and lowered (but not flared outwards or forwards) for expression. Keusunes have fringes of longer fur along the backs of their lower limbs, as well as a thick 'mane' or ruff between their shoulders that can be 'fluffed' or slicked down (to some extent) for expression. Their paws have four thick toes with unretractable, almost ursine claws tipping each digit; their forepaws have a fifth innermost toe that is angled inwards and backwards (this is the toe that becomes a thumb in emigonu skin). Keusunes, like all the tahori, are perpetually hungry unless their largest skin's belly is full (and then, they can't shift until some of the meal has been digested and eliminated from their systems, lest their stomachs explode upon changing to a smaller skin). Shapeshifting itself is a swift and unmagical transition between skins that heals most wounds (but not poison or illness); a keusune employs their inner qki, physical perceptions are numbed for a moment, and they shift seamlessly from hamin to emigonu to sanero and back - they must go through the emigonu skin if going from hamin to sanero or vice versa. If a keusune's qki is almost dry or almost choked off, shifting does not numb the body and the process, while still short (2-5 seconds), becomes wrenchingly painful. Keusunes can slowly gather extra qki (over a span of 2-5 minutes) if they have massive wounds in need of healing, in which case shifting becomes much slower (10-30 seconds) in order to heal all wounds; the alternative is successive shifting between skins multiple times in order to heal wounds in stages.

Senses/Capabilities: Keusunes have a well-rounded set of senses. Their eyesight has decent range, can perceive color fairly well, and functions well both in light and darkness; it is motion-based, but not so much so that they cannot focus on immobile detail. Their hearing is keen, and their sense of smell is quite good, able to distinguish both individuals and emotions from scent alone, as well as track by scent. They typically have better eyesight in hamin skin and a better sense of smell in emigonu and sanero skins, though their hearing tends to stay constant through the skins. As for capabilities - again, keusunes are well-rounded. They are powerful, agile, swift, and enduring - nothing extraordinary but nothing to sneeze at, either. They can keep up a run for quite some time; their top speeds are 20-25 mph in hamin skin, 30-35 mph in emigonu skin, and 55-65 mph in sanero skin (exceptional runners can hit 70 or 75 mph in bursts).

Coloration/Clothing: Keusune only wear clothing in hamin skin, and their clothing style is best described as 'haphazard'. The only constants are a wrap of fabric or hide around the hips to support genitalia for males, and a wrap around the chest for females. Those keusunes who have extra body fat often add wraps around the stomach, hips, and/or chest for additional support during intense physical movement. Other than that supportive underclothing, keusunes may wear vests, tunics, leggings, kilts, or wrap cloth/hide around their arms or legs; some wear headgear (veils or hoods) and some wrap cloth/hide around the soles of their feet (but do not wear shoes). Some keusunes drape angular lengths of cloth/hide across their bodies with seemingly no pattern or practicality. Many keusunes have a set of sturdy, layered, form-fitting leathers that suffice as primitive armor, often leaving only fingers, toes, and the face bared. Their clothing isn't often colorful, tending towards browns and greys (with the occasional dyed-reddish, bleached-white, or stained-black thrown in), but is often patterned with animal prints or other natural markings to help them blend in. As for coloration, keusune hamin skin is a duller, desaturated version of their fur color and reflects their markings as well; likewise, their manes and tails reflect their fur shade and pattern. Their fur color and markings stay the same between emigonu and sanero skins, and eye color stays the same between all three skins. Eyes are typically yellow-gold or silver-grey; toffee-brown and pale blue are less common, and pale green and pale purple are rather rare. Their fur itself has a fairly wide range of coloration, ranging all shades of brown (including yellows, reddish, creams, etc) and grey (including blue tints, white, and black). Most keusunes have some form of marking - solid-colored individuals are rare - but some only have a vague shading (darker on back, shoulders, hips; lighter on throat, belly, chest) or highlights/points (lighter/darker respectively on face, paws, tail, ears, ruff). Many keusunes have an intricate pattern of small stripes/streaks, spots/dappling, and/or rosettes over most or all of their pelts; dark keusunes often have lighter markings, while light keusunes often have darker markings. Nearly all keusunes have a darker or lighter color for their longfur (ruff, tailfringe, eartufts, legfringe), even if they otherwise lack markings.

Races/Breeds: Keusunes no longer have distinct ethnicities; modern travel and trade has mixed their bloodlines to blur the lines between races. However, they did once, and some bloodlines still have noticeable differences/consistencies apart from other families.

Language: Keusunes speak sunian, an animalistic language that can be spoken in all of their skins (and thus by most of the intelligent species of the universe). Sunian is filled with purrs, grunts, growls, jawsnaps/clicks, snarls, hisses, croons, groans, etc. Its structure is intricate but not impossible to make sense of, and its vocabulary is likewise extensive, though terms for technology and most magic are new. Those keusunes who visit K'tah often know Uhjayi]] and sometimes snippets of kannish (k'anta native tongue), but sunian is fast becoming K'tah's primary "common tongue" for purposes of retaining privacy for conversations between tahori and k'anta (and also because those on K'tah can speak it in any skin).

Technology: Keusunes use very limited technology, but there are enough tribes who use more advanced tech (metalworking, primarily) that a variety of tools and weaponry can be found amongst most keusunes. Harvesting cloth plants and weaving actual fabric has finally caught up to skinning and tanning hides in popularity, so cloth and hide are about equally widespread in use for blankets and clothing. Pottery is responsible for most dishes, pots, and many tools; metal is most often used for weaponry, and wood (and stone) is mostly used for buildings, though some tools and weaponry employ it. Natural materials such as bone, hoof, antler, sinew, etc are still in heavy use for practical every-day things.

Magic: Keusunes are bards, making heavy use of music magic as a part of everyday life. Although some few keusunes develop a magical rapport with flora or fauna, drifting towards druidism, most keusunes sing and play instruments. They have an oral history, told in story and song, and most of their day is accompanied by music in some fashion, even if only a capella singing. Some keusunes become master bards (simply called 'singers' by keusunes themselves) and can command quite an influential power over their audience's emotions and state of mind. Like all the tahori, every single keusune is also a qki-converter; they not only have an internal and self-sustaining source of qki in order to shapeshift, but they can also draw on the raw, unrefined magic of the world and convert it to qki to enhance their physical abilities. Most can convert enough qki to increase their speed, reflexes, and strength for short periods of time - keusunes can use enhancement qki best in hamin skin, somewhat in emigonu skin, and practically not at all in sanero skin. Few ever learn to use external qki (qki blasts or balls, qki auras, qki bursts used to enhance leaps); their level of qki proficiency is closely mirrored by inlanlu tahori.

Values: Keusunes value individuality and practical skills. Despite their bardic ways, keusunes typically teach each child the pragmatic wisdoms and abilities that they'll need to survive on their own; nearly every keusune grows up learning how to skin and stitch hides into clothing (and many learn to weave and plait), as well as how to track and hunt, how to properly carve up an animal, how to fish and forage, how to navigate by sun and night sky, and how to survive in dangerous weather/terrain. (Specialization is encouraged but not to the exclusion of what are considered universally necessary skills. Every keusune can hunt, make clothing, and survive in the unmarked wild, but they are also urged to learn a skill that makes them valuable in the more civilized settlements, such as weaponsmithing or woodworking, etc etc.)

Social Groups/Society: Keusunes have a fairly 'civilized' society. They grew beyond simple pack structures and marked territories and into a more fluid economy of traveling merchants and educators between constructed towns. The two primary ways of earning respect/obedience are still often used, however; the first being that of physical superiority, and the second being that of superior intelligence, knowledge/education, and/or experience at a given practice or craft. Keusunes will listen to those who can best them either physically or mentally (or both), though blatant displays of dominance/submission are very rare. They tend to sort themselves into an unspoken and usually unenforced hierarchy based on competence, and with their current society, they are tending to follow those who are mentally fit rather than just the fiercest keusune around. Beyond that hierarchal instinct, keusunes have individual connections, rather than social circles. They do not befriend a person simply because their friend has done so; they do not socialize with their consort's family just because it's their consort's family. Keusunes strongly value individuality and always make personal, one-on-one connections. Even mated pairs are not seen as 'units' but as two people who have voluntarily chosen one another; they are seen as independent, not two halves of a whole. Children are taught the value of personal connections from a very early age and often have an extended 'family' among the older keusunes in the settlement.

Habitat/Settlements: Keusunes can survive in a wide variety of habitats, barring the very driest and the very coldest. Despite mercantile globalization, most keusunes in a given area are adapted for that area's climate and terrain to some extent, both physiologically and culturally. As for settlements, most keusunes live in sprawling towns or villages with an expansive area of wilderness around each one that serves as hunting and foraging grounds. Buildings are simple, usually made of wood and woven reeds and hides. Keusunes tend to nest, so small pavilion-like buildings are constructed - a round roof upheld by five poles with about four feet of space between roof and soil - and simple round nests are dug into the ground beneath them. Each keusune has their own nest (and many families have actual buildings with many nests inside) and most towns have a few empty nests for travelers. Buildings are rarely air-tight or solid-walled unless weather is typically fierce or very cold; in temperate areas, the walls are a series of evenly-spaced poles upholding the roof. For the most part, buildings are used for storage or for housing whole families; crafting is done outside, so long as weather permits. Nearly all keusune structures have some way of allowing air to pass freely through, at least during non-frigid seasons; see 'beliefs' for why.

Religion/Beliefs: Keusunes are shamanically animistic. They believe in and interact with the spirits of all things, even inanimate objects like wooden tools and rocks and weather formations. They also believe in what they call spiritsong, an eternal string of music and song that the spirits of an area produce. The song often changes to reflect current events or moods of an area, often so uncannily quickly that those who can hear it wonder if the song is actually causing those events/moods. While they believe that spirits are connected, they do not believe that they are merely parts of the same overarching spirit; keusunes treat spirits as individuals and have a rich mythology of what the 'spirit realm' is like. Music is believed to be the key to entering and leaving the spirit realm, as well as the key to changing oneself (ie mood, not shapeshifting) and getting through challenging situations. Music is considered part of the element of wind, which is why keusunes are most attuned to the wind out of all the natural elements. (It helps that the wind brings them other sounds as well as scent…)

Interaction w/ Other Species: Keusunes come across as quite reserved in many cases. When approached with an open, honest demeanor, they return the attitude; when approached guardedly or warily, they are often quiet and courteous or downright standoffish. Many of the tahori of Alasa Ka regard them with a sort of unnerved caution, but the tahori who frequent or live on K'tah are quite used to them. Those keusunes who visit K'tah usually get along quite well with the various other tahori, as well as most the k'anta; the k'anta there often regard them as non-tahori and have little prejudice against them.

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