Kurloke are crocodilian swamp dwellers who survive well in any body of water, from stagnant muddy pools to clean ocean. Their preferred homes are found in thickly-foliaged swamps.
It is believed they originally came from Das, having lived peacefully with the zokex dragons when the continent was whole, but were forced to flee to Rackel es’Sark when Vale Nor shattered the land. Those who did not leave Das settled the islands now known as Leng’sor Adedu Isl.
They are one of the few Sentients that cannot have children with anyone outside their own species. Though, being the largest Sentient race with very unique biology, this may be a good thing.
Many try to argue the kurloke’s status as Sentients, as their main culture is rather removed from the rest of the Sentient races’ cultures and their kingdoms don’t often mix. However, they are considered Sentients due to their willingness to conform to the culture of any Sentient country they may move to; with just enough kurloke moving into foreign kingdoms to keep communications going.
In 1,053 AE, many countries considered demoting kurloke from Sentients to Mystics; however, two very influential countries, I’reka and Das, were very strongly against this as kurloke have always made up a large percentage of both kingdoms’ populations. The kurloke were also vocal about the issues this would cause with land distribution in countries such as Dilia; where demoting kurloke to Mystics would allow the Eala kingdoms to legally take over their lands. In the end, the risk of war was too much and kurloke retained their Sentient status.
Kurloke are often mistaken for quadrupeds who are able to walk on two legs, but in reality, they are bipeds who are able to drop onto all fours in order to run at extreme speeds. They are the fastest Sentient on land.
Av. Height (Standing): 8’9”
Av. Height (All Fours): 4’2”
Skin, Water-Adaptions, and Diet
Kurloke have tough, leathery skin that acts as natural armour to defend them from the elements. This skin is covered in scutes, scale-like bumps of bone, that protect them from the sharp debris hiding in their swampy homeland.
Though to a kurloke these scutes are rather small, they can be quite large to smaller races such as the maren; who will often purchase a kurloke’s shed scales to be used in armour.
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.
They have two stomachs; one for food, and one for water. Their water-stomach is specially designed to filter out dirt, salt, and other chemicals from the water they drink. These undigested elements are sent straight into the ends of their bowels for disposal.
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 meat, from mammals, to birds, to bugs, to fish. They are also able to eat high-protein plant matter such as beans and mushrooms.
Kurloke can be a wide variety of colours. Their leathery skin ranges from green, to yellow, to grey, to brown; basically any colour found in the marshlands that they live in.
Any pattern and combinations of these colours are viable. Though symmetrical and striped patterns are rarer than asymmetrical and patchy patterns.
Generally, they will have a visible underbelly that is a different colour to their main skin. Though there are exceptions to this, they are considered unattractive.
Their eyes tend to be bright and colourful; with their sclera and iris being different colours. They have been known to have all different combinations of eye colours.
Mouth and Teeth
Kurloke have long snouts with sharp, uneven teeth made for gripping their prey. They’re not very good at shredding or chewing; instead, they swallow smaller prey whole and take larger prey home for communal feeding.
They have two joints in their jaw, giving them an extremely strong bite. Their jaws are the most powerful of any Sentient race. As adults they are able to crush diamonds, making their mouths are a very dangerous place to be.
Kurloke have no obvious sexual dimorphism; the differences between sexes only become obvious during maturity, when they become better-aquatinted with their genitalia.
As this is the norm in their culture, most kurloke do not know their own sexes until they begin puberty. Instead, kurloke choose which pronouns they want to be called as they grow up; and have around fifty commonly-used genders and even more uncommon, localised genders.
There are no specific subspecies of kurloke; though some kurloke may resemble different crocodilian species such as gharials or caiman.
Generally, subspecies don’t have time to form as kurloke don’t like having children with others who look similar to avoid inbreeding.
Deformities and Disabilities
Missing limbs are extremely common for kurloke. Legs, arms, and claws are commonly missing at their joints. Tails are often missing segments anywhere from the tips to the joint to their spine.
These injuries are most often caused during childhood when their clutch-mates will bite will bite each other playfully, or mistake each other for food.
Overall missing limbs don’t bother kurloke. The most difficult limbs for them to lose are a hind leg; 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 even a hint of the deformity. However, this deformity is debilitating to a kurloke.
Kurloke with twisted snouts can’t hold their breath for more than a few minutes at a time. This causes issues with hunting, as they can’t fully submerge themselves in water and wait for food.
They also have trouble running for more than short bursts, and the strength of their jaw is severely compromised.
Socially, they aren’t treated much different from any other kurloke and can live relatively normal lives as most kurloke clutches will hunt for any twist-snouted siblings until they find their own social groups to care for them.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Life-Bonded Partners and Love-Swarms
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 love-swarm; a group of kurloke who live, hunt, and bare children together in a territory they’ve claimed as their own.
Communication with their love-swarms 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 kurloke are.
There are four known sexes in kurloke, two male and two female variants. This is excluding intersex individuals who deviate from the norm but are acknowledged with the term ausk.
All kurloke sexes have a cloaca and their genitalia is internal. Those with penis-like appendages are able to bring out their “penises” during intercourse.
The first 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.
Kurloke are egg-layers. They are able to lay a clutch of eggs once a year during Lorane; with each clutch containing anywhere between 10-30 eggs. They closely resemble the eggs of the non-sapient crocodiles; however, the eggs of the kurloke are a dark, shiny black.
Because the eggs of a kurloke are fragile, groups of parents will bury 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 the rather rambunctious older children from accidentally injuring or eating 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.
Until then, however, kurloke live in their nursery pools, catching insects that come close to the shores or fly too low to the water, and sharing their prey with their siblings in a playful manner. They rip the insects apart together, making them easier to eat and learning the 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 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 laying his eggs 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.
• 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. However it is thought that kurloke nurseries will be left with less than half their original population by the end of the 6th eclipse.
Kurloke tend to keep to themselves. This isn’t to say that they dislike sharing cultures or socialising with outside groups, but they are aware that, as the largest Sentient species, their rough culture can be dangerous to smaller races.
Physical Play and Affection
Kurloke express themselves physically. They 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 rituals; but mostly, it’s a game that they play for pleasure, and to gauge each other’s strength.
A common way that kurloke agree with each other is to give a powerful shoulder bump. Often, this bump is so powerful it will knock the other kurloke down; much to the amusement of everyone involved.
They 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 kurloke purring 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 feeding 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 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 in pain. They use a mix of spoken words, grumbles, growls, and loud jaw-snapping to communicate verbally; with their non-verbal communication consisting of body slamming their friends as an invitation to play-fight.
Kurloke have no written or underwater languages, though they can cause strong vibrations in the water to express emotion. There is “purring” (evenly spaced vibrations with breaks) which is usually done to show affection to a lover, 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.
Clothing and Armour
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 some kurloke territories. Mostly these will be bracelets and necklaces, with the occasional piercing.
Jewellery is rarely made by the kurloke who wears it and generally the jewellery worn by a kurloke will be made by their siblings or partners.
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.
They will choose anything they like the sound of; from random noises they thought were cool, to a simple word, to a sentence or title.
This practice wasn’t always common; there are a few traditional kurloke names that are passed through generations, but not many of these names are still known.
History with the Zokex
Kurloke are believed to have come from Das where they had lived peacefully with the zokex. Because of this, they see zokex as cousins and barely notice when the dragons slip into their communities.
Oftentimes kurloke families will take on 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.
Kurlune and the Valenor War
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.
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