Iengi

The giant Iengi (i’ɛn’gi) were one of the earliest civilizations on Aserra, with a history shrouded in mystery. A race closely related to humans, the Iengi splintered off early on in North Thiskel and grew to extreme heights with an extended lifespan. They once established a thriving civilization in central North Thiskel, and from there, small groups migrated out to South Thiskel, Kalesten, and likely Ageond as well.

The War of the Gods led to the eventual demise of Iengi civilization, beginning with the invasion of armies from Ageond and ending with the turmoil of the Cataclysm. Ruins of the ancient Iengi civilization can be found scattered through central North Thiskel, though many of these sites were destroyed during the War of the Gods. These ruins provide evidence that Iengi had progressed to a Bronze Age level of development before their decline.

In the modern day, Iengi have reverted to a more primitive state. Small populations are scattered throughout the mountains of Thiskel and Kalesten, but there is no cohesive community. Their language has deteriorated, and they are especially anti-social, not only with other races, but with each other. The Iengi are on a slow march to extinction, hurried along by their own cousins who view them as monsters.

Biology

Except for their size and lifespan, Iengi do not differ much from humans biologically. They are still closely related enough to reproduce with humans and similar races (though size may present a significant challenge to the process).

Appearance

The most notable trait of the Iengi is their size. They are around two to three times the size of an average human, standing between ten and twenty feet (300-610cm) tall, but generally stand between twelve and fifteen feet (360-460cm). They tend to be stout and broad as well, but lean and carrying little fat, mainly because it is a challenge to consume enough calories to survive on for the Iengi.

Like their human cousins, Iengi have small, rounded ears that lay close to their head. Their features tend to be broader than humans, with a heavy brows and square faces. Iengi coloration tends toward tanned to light brown skin, brown or black hair, and various shades of brown eyes.

Lifespan

Iengi age 33% slower than humans with a lifespan that can reach 300 years. Unlike the elemental races whose long lifespans can be attributed to a biological ‘pause’ in aging processes, which allow them to mature at the same rate as humans until around the age of twenty-five, the Iengi are just slower at the exact same process.

Even maturation through childhood is stunted for Iengi, leaving young Iengi dependent on their mother for around forty years. A fifteen-year-old Iengi is the equivalent of a five-year-old human child, a thirty-year-old Iengi is equal to a ten-year-old human, and their “teenage” phase lasts between the ages of forty and sixty. Whereas humans reach peak mental and physical maturity by the age of twenty-five, Iengi do not achieve this level of maturity until age seventy-five.

While Iengi do have the potential to live to the age of 300, their feral lifestyle can lead to them dying in their second century, or sooner.

Reproduction

The fertility cycle for female Iengi is very similar to humans, except that they ovulate around once a season rather than monthly. This has further complicated the Iengi ability to maintain a stable population. Gestation is extended to a full year, around sixteen months, and a young Iengi requires the aforementioned decades of care and devotion from their mother. Iengi with the opportunity to bear children frequently generally only do so with at least fifteen years between each child. However, most Iengi women will bear only one child throughout their lives, and some will never reproduce. Female Iengi begin menopause between 150 and 200 years of age.

However, the size of the Iengi does provide one benefit for their reproduction; affording their babies more time to mature in the womb in comparison to humans. They tend to suffer less problems in delivery of their babies as well. This leads to a very low infant mortality rate.

Diet

Considering their size, Iengi have large nutritional needs. While they once developed agriculture, they now rely on hunting and foraging. The bulk of their diet consists of large game, supplemented by some gathering of fruits, roots, vegetation, and fungus. They still do a little cultivation in planting and growing favorite foods near their homes, but they do not have the space or social network for large-scale farming. Most of their cooking is done over open fires.

Culture

Iengi ‘culture’ lacks any cohesion. The Iengi were, at one point, an intelligent race on the rise, until their society was wiped out by cataclysmic world changes. With their extended period of maturation, they simply could not replenish their population in an unstable world. To their credit, they have managed to survive for thousands of years since the Cataclysm, albeit in a primitive state.

Another factor that proves challenging to the cohesiveness of Iengi survive is that they are not as aggressively social as humans. Iengi enjoy a fair amount of ‘personal space’ and many live independently. This may be due to the amount of resources needed to support a single Iengi, which gives them the need to space themselves from their peers.

Traits of Iengi civilization have diminished over the ages. All that remains of their language is a simplistic speech that relies heavily on gestures as Iengi from different places may speak a different variation of whatever small amount of language remains to them. However, Iengi are still intelligent enough to learn a full language, and there are cases of Iengi integrating into other societies.

Gender and Relationships

Without a society, there is no gender stratification. It is unknown if there ever was, but modern Iengi do not form lasting pair-bonds with sexual partners with their independent nature. When individuals of the opposite sex meet, their meeting can either turn to violence or sex, depending on how receptive they are to each other. After coupling, they typically go their separate ways. Sex sometimes acts as a means to come to agreement over territory lines, but little more. If the Iengi woman becomes pregnant, the father generally is not involved in the rearing of the child, though the mother is heavily invested for forty to fifty years.

Female Iengi have been known to live together, often mothers and daughters, but males are solitary, and often more aggressive to their own gender.

Religion

Any religion the Iengi once followed has been long forgotten. Some Iengi do have an animistic reverence for nature, however.

Magic

Iengi generally do not know magic, and they do not have the social structure to pass on such knowledge, however there is nothing intellectually or spiritually barring an Iengi from learning forms of magic, and some have become successful shamans and witches.

Relations

Iengi relations to other races are often strained. There are many conflicts between Iengi and humans. In the search for food, Iengi may take livestock from human settlements. Humans are also intimidated by the apparent lack of intelligence and size of the Iengi, leading to a reactionary defense against the giants. The Iengi’s first response to interlopers of any races is typically aggressive, but they can be reasoned with.

There are instances of Iengi becoming initiated into neighboring societies of Ochae’nafod, kuzo, and Brech’mar. Ochae’nafod tend to be more empathetic and willing to cohabitate with Iengi neighbors. Iengi may look at kuzo as a means of acquiring more resources and find ways to make peace with them. Brech’mar share many mountain spaces with Iengi, and find it easier to open a dialogue rather than exterminate them. Some humans have also made peace with Iengi.

Reproduction with other human-like races is technically possible for Iengi, but the size makes this a challenge. Children born of any such union will have a stunted rate of growth to their non-Iengi parent yet mature faster than an Iengi.