Kurloke are a race of crocodilian swamp-dwellers who are able to adapt and survive in any body of water. From stagnant muddy pools, to crystal clean lakes, to the salty brine of the ocean, kurloke live all across the world. Though the kurloke people are able to make their homes in any type of water, their preferred places of residence are jungle rivers and thickly-foliaged swamps.
The kurloke’s comfort in jungles and swamps has many people believing the kurloke originated on the Das continent with the zokex dragons; back when the continent was whole and before it was shattered by the ocean god Vale Nor. It is thought that after the continent of Das was shattered, the kurloke migrated upwards to the neighbouring continent of Leng’sor Adedu Isl. Now, because of the transient lifestyles of both the people of Leng’sor and of Das, the borders between the two continents have been left indeterminate, with many of the islands being shared between the two countries.
Av. Height (Standing): 8’9”
Av. Height (All Fours): 4’2”
The Kurloke people are often mistaken for quadrupeds who are able to walk on two legs. However, in reality, they prefer the bipedal lifestyle and will spend most of their time on two legs, only dropping onto all fours in order to stabilise their centre of gravity for fighting or running at fast speeds. They are well known for being the fastest sentient race on land, and only being surpassed by valenor and naga while underwater.
Kurloke are known for their tough, leathery skin. This skin is covered in scale-like bumps of bones known as scuts that acts as a natural armour to protect them from the elements, animals, and sharp debris of their swampy homeland. They will shed their scutes over time, replacing any that are torn off within a month. Though to a kurloke these scutes are rather small and useless after being shed, smaller races find them quite useful. The maren people, for example, often trade with kurloke along the coast and will use traded scutes for armour and toolmaking.
Kurloke skin can be a wide variety of colours, though they are usually more muted and muddy. Their leathery hide ranges from green, to yellow, to grey, to brown; any colour that can be found in the marshlands they naturally live in, with a wide variety of patterns and markings. The most attractive patterns, by kurloke standards, are asymmetrical markings with bright underbellies.
Unlike their skin, a kurloke’s eyes tend to be bright and striking. Yellows, reds, and pinks are some of the most common colours, though kurloke have been seen with eyes all colours of the rainbow.
Unknown to most other sentient races, kurloke have two stomachs. One designed for food, and the other designed for water. Their water-stomach is especially good at filtering out dirty, salt, and any dangerous microbes from the water they drink, while their other stomach is that of a carnivore. With their diet consisting almost entirely of meat, their digestive tract is specialised for high-protein. They are able to eat any sort of protein, from mammals, to birds, to bugs, to fish. They are also able to eat high-protein plant matter such as beans, and can also eat most fungi.
They have long crocodilian snouts with sharp, uneven teeth. They have two specialised joints in their jaw that give them an extremely powerful biting force that they utilise in the their hunting techniques— However, they do a poor job of chewing. Instead, kurloke will swallow most of their smaller food whole, and take any larger kills home to tear apart and eat with their community.
Sex and Gender
There is no obvious dimorphism between the sexes of the kurloke and, due to their genitalia being all internal, it is impossible to determine the sex of young kurloke without performing extremely invasive inspections. Because of this, it is the norm in the kurloke culture for children to not know their own biological sexes until they reach puberty.
Instead, kurloke will choose their own pronouns as they grow up; with the choice of over fifty commonly-used genders, olus many more genders that are localised to specific communities and areas of the world.
As kurloke grow older, they will learn about their biological sex configuration; though this very rarely changes their gender identity. There are four recognised biological sexes in kurloke, with two male and two female variants.
The first kurloke sex is called “balkk”; this sex is one of their two male sexes. Those who are balkk have penises, and no ovaries.
The next sex is called “valten”; one of the female sexes. This female variant has the ability to lay eggs, and has no penis.
The second male sex is called the “rulik”; they have no penis and no ovaries, and instead fertilise valten females by rubbing their genitalia together.
The second female sex is called the valtur; they have ovaries and a penis-like appendage. This appendage is both able to be penetrated by the balkk, and able to penetrate the rulik in order to fertilise their eggs.
Anything other than these four recognised sexes are considered to be a type of intersex, and are acknowledged with the term “ausk.”
There are no recognised racial variations of kurloke; though some kurloke may resemble different crocodilian species such as gharials or caiman depending on the area their families come from.
Common Disabilities and Health Issues
Missing limbs are extremely common for kurloke. Legs, arms, and claws are often missing at their joints and many tails will be missing segments anywhere from the tip to the joint at their spine.
These injuries are most often caused during childhood when their clutch-mates will bite each other playfully, or mistake each other for food.
Overall missing limbs don’t tend to bother kurloke. The most difficult limbs for them to lose are their legs; in which, they will simply stand and walk in their quadrupedal stance or use whatever’s left of the limb to stand upright.
Kurloke with twisted snouts are relatively rare; with less than one in ten-thousand kurloke being born with snout issues. However, this deformity is debilitating to a kurloke and those born with a twisted snout will rely completely on the care of their community.
Kurloke with twisted snouts can’t breathe deeply or hold their breath for more than a few minutes at a time. This causes issues with sleeping, as their breaths are so shallow that they often choke in their sleep. It also causes issues with hunting, running, and speaking.
Socially, they aren’t treated much different from any other kurloke and can live relatively normal lives as most kurloke communities will hunt for any twisted-snout members without question or hesitation.
Relationships and Life-Cycle
Life-Bonded Partners and Communities
Kurloke refer to their romantic and sexual partners as their “life-bonded” partners. As the name implies, once a kurloke has found a partner they will stay together for life; rarely choosing to separate. However, kurloke are not monogamous and will have anywhere between 20-50 life-bonded partners. A group of life-bonded kurloke will form what they refer to as a “community;” a group of kurloke who live, hunt, and bare children together in a territory they’ve claimed as their own.
Communication with their communities will make up the majority of their social lives; unless they choose to travel to other kingdoms or territories. Meaning that, overall, kurloke live very affectionate social lives. This shows in their interactions with outsiders, and non-kurloke are often shocked by how casually affectionate the kurloke people are.
Kurloke are egg-layers. They are able to lay a clutch of eggs once a year during the warmer months; with each clutch containing anywhere between 10-30 eggs. They closely resemble the eggs of the non-sapient crocodiles in shape and size; however, the eggs of the kurloke are a dark, shiny black.
Because the eggs of a kurloke are fragile, groups of parents will hide their clutches together at the edge of a nursery pool and take turns in guarding the unhatched children of their community. All of the kurloke in the community are considered the younglings’ parents, even those that did not bare biological young, and will share maternal duties equally.
Each community will have at least 6 nursery pools; which they will cycle through each year as older children leave their nurseries. This is to stop rambunctious older children from accidentally injuring their younger siblings.
Kurloke eggs will take almost a full year to hatch; as they hatch, the adults of the community will move on from constantly watching their young and visits will get less and less frequent as the hatchlings age. By their fifth eclipse in the nursery, kurloke are almost completely independent; though their parents will still bring them food once or twice a week and socialise with their children. Until then, however, kurloke live in their nursery pools, learning to hunt by catching insects that come close to the shores or fly too low to the water. They share their prey with their siblings in a playful manner; ripping the insects apart together in a way that makes them easier to eat and teaches the children social skills they’ll need as adults.
After 6 eclipses, kurloke will leave their nursery and birth-community and spread out, finding other kurloke to live with and starting their own communities. They very rarely stay with their siblings; though they often live nearby and keep in contact.
Though they leave home around 6, they aren’t considered fully grown until their 12th eclipse; and will usually wait until they’re 17 or older to have children.
• The average lifespan of a kurloke is 125 eclipses.
• Several kurloke have lived into their 300s. Generally, these kurloke have lived in I’reka, are extremely close with the avio, and never bare biological children.
• The largest known clutch of eggs was born to a nameless kurloke lost in Heck’ne; his clutch contained 63 eggs. He was injured before giving birth and, upon his dying request, the native harpies ripped open his stomach to save his eggs and took them to an Aurn church in the Foxen Empire. All of the children survived.
• Kurloke are able to healthily bare children until at least their 110s, though it is rare for kurloke to choose to have children past this age. However, several kurloke in their 200s have been able to bear children with little risks to their own, or their children’s, health.
• The mortality rate of kurloke children is unknown, as they rarely count their young.
Generally, kurloke tend to keep to themselves and very few of them choose to leave kurloke countries. This isn’t to say that they dislike sharing cultures or socialising with people outside of their established communities, but that they are aware that as the largest sentient race their natural strength can be dangerous to smaller peoples.
Physical Play and Affection
Kurloke express themselves physically and never shy away from physical contact. They brush past each other casually, rest side-by-side, and sleep in huge piles. They’ll often make up reasons to show physical affection. These reasons are rarely questioned, as other kurloke want the physical contact as much as the one making up excuses.
They enjoy vigorous fighting rituals in which they slam into each other and try to knock each other down. They do this for a variety of reasons; but mostly, it’s a game that they play for fun and to gauge each other’s strength. It is also used as a greeting and a sign of agreement; often-times done with such force one or both of the people will end up on the ground (much to the amusement of everyone involved).
Kurloke also purr; an action so loud and powerful it can cause the ground to shake and sends ripples through the thick mud of their home swamps. Their powerful purring is also used in games; they’ll pile on top of each other and purr until they make themselves sick, with the last person left being considered the winner.
Kurloke hate eating alone. This is partially because of the shape of their jaw making chewing hard; but more-so, it’s that they simply love spending time together and use eating as an excuse to do so.
During childhood, kurloke will share almost every meal they catch with their nursery siblings. Even their smaller catches, which would barely be a mouthful on their own, will often be given away.
In adulthood, when they live with their partners, they will dedicate special parts of their territory for meals and will bring food back to this space to share. They will take turns holding their catches so that others can rip off large chunks to swallow. They often catch more than they need to, simply so they can spend more time eating together.
When a kurloke dies, their body is torn apart and scattered in areas where lots of their prey live. This fertilises the land and feeds and carnivorous animals and insects.
When a kurloke is scattered, the area they were left will become “kapalsi”; sacred. Their families will avoid hunting in that area for three months and only go into those lands to mourn the loss of their loved one.
Kurloke have deep voices that make them sound like they’re constantly groaning or exhausted. They use a mix of spoken words, grumbles, growls, and loud jaw-snapping to communicate verbally; with their non-verbal communication consisting mostly of body slamming their friends as an invitation to play-fight.
Kurloke have no written language and are unable to learn how to read. They also have no underwater languages, though they can cause strong vibrations in the water to express emotion. There is “purring” (evenly spaced vibrations with breaks) which is done to show affection, and “growling” (one long vibration without break) which is used to show aggression.
The laugh of a kurloke is so deep it vibrates the ground below their feet. It is similar to their purring, but it is not evenly spaced and has little to no structure to it.
A kurloke’s wardrobe is extremely limited. They prefer to not wear clothes if they can help it; as fabric and metals will degrade quickly in the moist environment of their homes. However, bone and stone jewellery isn’t uncommon in kurloke countries. Mostly these will be bracelets and necklaces, with the occasional piercing.
Jewellery is rarely made by the kurloke who wears it and generally jewellery worn by a kurloke will be made by their siblings or partners as sign of affection.
They prefer to avoid wearing anything that reflects light and consider gemstone jewellery bad luck.
Kurloke will pick their own names during childhood; usually going through six or seven names before leaving their nurseries. Sometimes they will change their names in adulthood, which is not super common but rarely questioned by their communities.
Young kurloke will choose anything they like the sound of for their names. Objects, emotions, animals, random noises they thought were cool, or a full a sentence are all names kurloke may end up with.
The practice of kurloke naming themselves wasn’t always common, and it is said that in old times kurloke would name their children when they were first born. Even now, there still are a few traditional kurloke names that are passed through generations, but not many of are still known.
History with the Zokex
Kurloke are believed to have originally come from the Das continent, where they had lived peacefully with the zokex. Because of this, they see zokex as their cousins and barely notice when the dragons slip into their communities. Often-times kurloke families will take in orphaned zokex children if other zokex are unable to adopt them.
They are one of the only sentients able to naturally understand the basics of the zokex language, as they share a lot of the same vocal tones. This makes their relationships with the zokex even stronger.
Almost Mystics and Dilia’s Invasion
Many people argue the kurloke’s status as a sentient race, as their culture is rather removed from the rest of the sentient races’ and their people don’t often allow other races to live with them. However, they are considered sentients due to their alliances with other countries, their history in the world, and the number of their citizens that live in alliance-protected countries.
In 1,053 AE several countries in Yali pushed for the demotion of kurloke from sentients to mystics; however there was push-back from Zeht due to the legend of Kurlune. Ignoring Zeht’s warnings, Turent and Tssu invaded Dilia and attempted a joint settlement. They were met with an outcry from the neighbouring country Merker, who helped the kurloke set up blockades along the shore to protect their land.
After the initial invasion of Dilia there was an argument over whether the International Alliance had been breached and the countries in Yali pushed again for the kurloke’s demotion to mystics. They received support from most of the Anarmi continent, as well as Kai’Aki. However, two very influential countries, I’reka and Das, were strongly against this as kurloke have always made up a large part of both kingdoms’ populations. Because of I’reka’s support, the entire Rendi voted in support of the kurloke, and most of the smaller continents opted to support the Rendi’s decision due to their influence on Carra’Jor and the international trade routes.
The Gallamor remained neutral throughout the majority of this ordeal, saying that their representatives were evenly split (though they didn’t state which particular representatives were for or against the demotion of the kurloke). However, their final decision was to side with the kurloke after Gaz accepted refugees from the 3rd invasion of Dilia and learnt that the majority of the kurloke coming to them were orphaned children. After the Gallamor’s decision to support the kurloke they cut off all opposing countries from their services and education system, deporting over 2 million boarding school students and withdrawing their dragons from essential travel and delivery services overseas.
The withdrawal of the Gallamor’s international services led to a economical depression in Tssu, who were forced to pull out of the invasion. Kutu also backed out of their support after the Gallamor threatened to withdraw their funding from the Kuturian Library and made the declaration that if Kutu was to continue supporting the invasion, all books donated to the library by the Gallamor would be taken back (by force, if need-be).
The countries on Anarmi realised they were now surrounded on all sides by heavy supporters of the kurloke and became “neutral” to the invasion. Kai’Aki remained strongly vocal in support of the invasion until they were threatened with their removal from the International Alliance and pulled their support, though they refused to aid the kurloke.
After losing almost all international support, Turent was invaded by Zeht. They were forced to sign peace treaties and pay for damages done to the kurloke people. They were in heavy debt until 1,604 AE when Dilia forgave Turent’s debt so that they could stabilise their economy during a recession. Dilia and Turent have remained peaceful with each other since, and have opened several trade-routes.
Kurloke only have one famous war in their history. Not much is known about this war, just that they fought against the valenor, and were saved by a kurloke-raised kitsune known as Kurlune. Most of the details of this war come from old paintings, dating back to 50,000 BW. They show the hero Kurlune leading kurloke prisoners from a bloody war front to freedom.
Kurloke are one of the few sentients that cannot have children with anyone outside their own races, due to their unique physiology.
Though they are water-dwellers, kurloke do not have gills. Instead, they have an amazing lung capacity and are able to hold their breath for up to 3 hours.