Zokex are a race that is considered both Sentient and Draconic. They earned their Sentient status through their alliances with the kurloke, ancestral history with dassens, and their ownership of I’reka.
They only have two known kingdoms in the explored territories; the I’rekan desert, and the Torat wasteland. They used to live on Das, with their territory stretching across the ocean from Keos Leesa to Carra’Jor, but they have since lost the land to the dassens.
All other zokex territories are in the unmapped lands, and the zokex who live there have no interest in allowing Sentients to map their homes; instead refusing to interact and behaving similarly to Mystics species or outer-territory valenor.
Av. Height: 5’1”
Zokex are a quadrupedal race with six limbs; four legs, and a set of wings. Their feet are paw-like, with no claws and soft pads on the bottom. They have no flexible fingers or usable thumbs, and so they struggle with things such as writing.
They have scaly hides that are so compact and matte it resembles leathery animal skin.
Zokex wings are large and leathery; they have thick fleshing membranes between 4 long fingers. The inner wing has this membrane exposed, while the outer wing is covered in a layer of scales. Each wing is the same length as their body from their nose to their tail; making their total wingspan twice the length of their bodies. Zokex with shorter tails have shorter wings, and long-tailed zokex have the most impressive wingspans.
At a glance zokex eyes may appear similar to snake eyes. Their pupils are slit and can constrict so tightly they are nearly invisible. This gives them excellent light vision, and they are able to look directly at the sun with no ill effects, but has been described as a “terrifying, possessed look” by other Sentients.
Zokex cannot move their eyes very far and must instead move their entire heads to see things. They see things best at the very tip of their snouts, above where their egg-horn is when they are born, and their field of vision is only around 90 degrees either side.
Zokex are known for having large curved horns on their heads, growing out from behind their earholes. These horns are easily decorated, and often the proudest part of a zokex’s body. Most other Sentients don’t know that zokex aren’t born with their horns; when a zokex is born they only have one horn, a tiny spike on their nose to help them break the egg which usually falls off after birth. The rest of their horns grow slowly over time.
Alongside their head horns, they also have a small horn on the end of their wing’s thumb. Some zokex also have horns above their eyes and, very rarely, spines down their backs.
Unlike most Sentients, zokex are able to touch and ingest soulstone. They have an immunity to soulstone’s life-sucking qualities and instead draw the energy from the stones into their own bodies, using the magic to sustain themselves. They have the ability to eat other foods but will grow sickly without soulstone in their diets.
To eat soulstone they break chunks of the crystals off cavern walls and grind them into a fine powder with their specialised teeth. This power is swallowed and absorbed into the body without creating waste.
Zokex colours are determined by their diets; their horns and scale colours match the main diet of soulstone they eat. Blue and pink are the most common colours, as regular soulstone and blood-moss stained soulstone are the most readily available soulstone variations, but they can also be red, green, yellow, purple, or white.
Unlike their horns and scales, the colour of their wing membranes and eyes are determined during gestation in the egg, and never change no matter their diets. Their wing membranes and eyes can be practically any colour, and most of the time they are the same colour. Those who are born with mismatched eyes and wings are said to bring good fortune to their home.
Because zokex colour is controlled by their diet, many zokex will choose to eat different types of soulstone in order to choose their colouration.
Zokex have long, thick snouts with sensitive noses and feline-like teeth with two large fangs at the front. Their tongues are rather thick and forked at the tip.
Because of their diets, zokex have damaged, jagged teeth that are stained and cracked. Luckily they have no nerves in their teeth, and if a tooth becomes too damaged it will grow back if pulled out (though this can take up to six months).
Their fangs have very mild venom that they believe they evolved for self-defence. This venom is harmless when spat and only causes irritation if injected through a bite. The only exception for this are seces, who are extremely allergic to the venom and go into anaphylactic shock if it touches their skin.
Zokex males and females are very similar; the only real difference between the sexes are the curvature of a zokex’s head horns.
The horns of a male zokex are naturally curved forward; this developed so that they could spar during disagreements. However, sparring has almost completely died out from their culture and only takes place in zokex from the outside territories.
Female zokex horns curve backwards and around. This is probably because they commonly nudge their children with their snouts, and it is a much safer shape.
Horns that grow straight indicate either a hormone imbalance or an intersex individual.
There are no recognised zokex races. However, there are several different Draconic species believed to be related zokex that zokex consider their kin.
Their closest relatives are the elhukek and the elusive grassland-wanderers, with several strange-looking outside territory zokex claiming to be the mixed children of these other dragons.
They also have the ability to communicate with rock-burrowers, mud-waddlers, ash-eaters, and elemental goliaths.
Deformities and Disabilities
The smallwing deformity is found in around 5% of the known zokex population. It is a growth deformity that stunts the growth of the wings (and sometimes the tail) and makes flying difficult and/or exhausting for those affected.
Every 1 in 50 zokex with smallwings cannot fly at all.
Gastric Acid Imbalance
A very uncommon issue, some zokex are born with gastric acid imbalances that cause nausea and makes digestion extremely difficult; instead of absorbing the stones completely they are only able to draw the energy from the stones, and then defecate them as diamonds. This can be a rather uncomfortable situation for zokex
However, since the creation of liquid soulstone zokex with gastric acid imbalances have had a much easier time; the liquid puts a lot less strain on their digestive tract and is able to be absorbed completely.
Relationships and Life-Cycle
Zokex have lifetime partnerships of anywhere between 1-4 permanent spouses. It is extremely rare for a zokex and their partners to split up; it takes a great deal for them to grow that far apart.
When zokex are looking for partners they will dye their horns a colour bright colour very different from their natural colourations. For example, a yellow-coloured zokex may dye their horns black, and a purple zokex may dye their horns green.
Once they are satisfied with the partner they have found, they will stop dying their horns, which will start to fade in a matter of days, and after about 6 months, will return to its natural colour.
These 6 months are considered the courtship months, in which the zokex will get to know each other and form their bonds.
If they find they are not compatible within these 6 months, they will re-dye their horns and continue looking for a new partner. After these 6 months, they tend to be more hesitant to end their relationship and will push for compromise.
Zokex are egg-layers whose entire gestation period takes place outside the mother’s body. If conception is successful zokex will lay 4-7 eggs a week after sex, which they will then hide in a nest carved from soulstone. Eggs are traditionally covered in a light layer of soulstone and left in a room separate from their parents’. Some more anxious parents may instead carve their nurseries into the sides of their own nests, but this can risk the crushing of the eggs if the parents are not careful.
The soulstone in their nests gives the eggs energy while they grow, meaning the zokex are able to develop and hatch quickly and without any warmth from their parents.
These eggs gestate for 3 weeks before hatching. When they hatch, they will begin to eat their way out of their nest while honking loudly to alert their parents to their birth. This honking is the only sound they are able to make until they are older and sounds similar to a goose’s squark.
All zokex are born with semi-transparent white skin, except for the membrane of their wings which show signs of their natural colours. Their colouration strengthens as they grow older, and by 5 weeks old they should be fully pigmented. At birth they have a horn on the end of their nose. This horn should fall off within their first 6 months, though some zokex keep it into early adulthood.
Their development is quick and steady. By their 1st eclipse they are able to begin talking instead of honking, and their horns will be visible as coloured lumps on their heads. By their 2nd they will start school and their horns will be between 3-6cm long. And by their 4th eclipse they will have almost finished developing all of their finer motor skills.
Their first growth spurt happens around 6 and will last until they are 8. It is during this time that they learn to fly, and often start to take an interest in specialist skills such as sports or art. Their personalities develop strongly during these few years and they have a surge of curiosity and energy; often, this grown spurt is referred to as the “screaming years,” as most zokex children become very loud during this time.
The end of this growth spurt is indicated by the curling of the child’s horns. The horns on the top of their head will either turn down or up, depending on their sex, as their development starts to slow down to prepare them for puberty, which usually starts around 13 eclipses.
Around 18 eclipses they are able to reproduce safely, though they are not considered legal adults until 20 and having children before then is strongly discouraged.
• Average lifespan is 200 eclipses
• There is a rare condition in zokex known as “egging”, where zokex will lay eggs even without intercourse (though they are unfertilised). This will happen every 6 months, on average.
• The oldest zokex died at 363 years old, peacefully in their sleep.
• Zokex are able to reproduce again immediately after laying their eggs, but most choose not to.
• Zokex are fertile until they are about 150 years old. This, combined with their quick reproductive rate, means that zokex are capable of having thousands of children in their lifetimes.
• Less than 0.5% of undamaged zokex eggs never hatch. However, due to the fragile nature of their eggs, about 30% of eggs are damaged beyond repair and never hatch.
• The mortality rate of young zokex is extremely low. This and their high birth-rate means they should have a very high population count. However, more than 60% of zokex leave the explored Sentient territories before their 30th eclipse and are never heard from again.
• The oldest known non-pure zokex was Justice the Old. He was combined with a valenor using illegal animal merging magic. They were born in 4,562 AE and died in 8,532 AE. His death was accidental, and it is not sure how long he could have lived.
There are two major zokex countries. Both have different histories and laws, but a lot of their general culture is the same.
There are also the outer territory zokex; who sometimes come into the known territories from far-off lands. These zokex tend to be a lot more secretive and aggressive, but are able to integrate into other zokex cultures without too much hassle.
Most zokex prefer to make their homes in the complex cave systems, claiming small sections as their own and decorating them.
They prefer to hunt for their own resources and make their own wares and live relatively simple lives. Most zokex will grow their own supply of soulstone to feed their families.
Zokex dislike accepting gifts or charity, unless it is from close friends or family, but will push to give away things that they know others need. This leads to a custom they call “three offers.”
- The first offer will be an offer of more than is needed, which is polite to refuse.
- The second offer will be the amount they need, which will also be refused, though lightly, and often with the suggestion that the giver may need the item later.
- The third offer will then be the same amount and item, but with a request that the gesture only be paid back if the giver is ever in need of a similar item. This offer is usually accepted.
- If the offer is still refused after the third time, it will not be spoken of again; and it is considered an offence to the refuser’s pride to offer a fourth time.
They bury their dead in large tombs. During the triple full moon every ten years, they set these tombs on fire and burn them to the ground; then they scatter the ashes in the wind and rebuild the tombs for new dead.
I’reka is a hot, sandy desert with hundreds, if not thousands, of underground caverns. It is the largest country in the Rendi; both on the surface territories and in its underground cities. This is partially because of its wide-spread desert sands, and partially because it is one of the oldest kingdoms on Carra’Jor.
Though its surface is not considered very hospitable, its population is extremely high and many different Sentients unite under one zokex ruler.
The I’rekan culture, more than any other Sentient culture, holds the belief that dividing people by their race will bring about the end of the world; and they strongly believe that the ancient ruins of the nurlak city Kal Korhalkrak is an example of this. Because of their beliefs, I’rekan zokex are generally a very happy, bubbly culture; and most Sentients aren’t surprised by how well they get along with the avio. Overall, they prefer to live peacefully and are rarely involved in conflict or wars.
The few wars that have happened at their borders have been stopped through surprisingly strong and successful defensive tactics that prevent the aggressors from being able to enter the desert.
Its placement in the middle of the explored territories, alongside its multicultural nature and its ease trading with Fallen Cloud, has made it a central trading hub for the Sentient races.
In 10,952 AE, it followed Canis La’Can’s lead and created laws to protect Mystic people. Recently, it went a step further and now has laws protecting many Draconic species as civilians.
There are two parts to every I’rekan settlement: the Above, and the Below.
It is very difficult to grow crops on the arid surface of the Above. However, the underground cave systems in the Below are extremely hospitable. With sunlight filtering in through soulstone patch to soulstone patch, energy flows through the caves like a breath, and the Below has a very strong ecosystem, with a successful farming community.
The Above has stone buildings with fabric covering the doors and windows, which are pushed aside in the evenings to allow cool air to cycle into the structure. It is where most traders and marketplaces are, and most people will leave the Below to spend their day socialising in the Above. The Above is always found near several entrances to the Below, so the people don’t have to travel far, and the in centre of the Above is their prison.
The Below is in the cave systems, there are no buildings. Instead, people claim caves and decorate them as their houses; they must register their caves so that disagreements of ownership can be easily disputed.
In many I’rekan cities there is a type of city guard known as a Checker. Checkers make rounds every morning and evening, checking that all citizens are accounted for and that nobody is injured or missing. Checkers are considered a public servant, and are voted in by the people every year after the eclipse; because of this, mostly distinguished community members become Checkers.
Every I’rekan settlement is built under a large desert-dwelling tree known as a robobo tree. The tree isn’t very special aside from its slow growth; it takes 100 years to reach maturity. The robobo is planted during the founding of a new settlement; which, after the 100th anniversary of the tree’s planting, is officially marked on I’rekan maps as a city or town. It is considered bad luck to live in the Above before the robobo tree is fully grown, so the first settlers have the best pick for homes in the Below.
Torat is the second, less-famous zokex country. It is the polar opposite of I’reka, with the zokex living there being rather closed-off and unsociable. It is one of the few mapped kingdoms that has never been in the International Alliance.
It is rather cut off from the rest of the world, populated almost completely by zokex. However, they allow quite a few dassen settlements to live on their beaches. These settlements are the only reason Torat is kept on the map while the rest Keos Leesa is excluded; other zokex countries along Keos Leesa’s edges chase out settling dassens, and so have not been mapped.
Torat is a wasteland, though this doesn’t bother the native zokex who prefer to live most of their lives under the surface of the world, eating soulstone and creating vast and beautiful crystal cities. They only tend to come into the above world at night, in order to travel easier; they use the stars and moons to navigate while speeding through the almost-empty skies.
As it is so far removed from the rest of the world, its borders have remained almost exactly the same since the early 400s. Many of Torat’s world maps are out of date because of they only update them when their own country expands.
The most common world map that is currently sold in Torat is so inaccurate most Sentients think it is a joke at first. It gets the placement of many countries wrong— With some even completely omitted from the map.
The zokex language is very bestial. It is made of growls and roars and has no actual words that translate. Similar to most other Draconic species, all Zokex are born able to instinctively communicate with little to no education. However, unlike other Draconic species, they have the ability to learn other Sentient’s languages and most prefer to speak in International to avoid confusions and misunderstandings.
They are able to read and write, though many struggle to learn, but have no written language of their own.
Zokex laughter is very similar to a cat’s purr. It sounds out of place with International speakers, but fits perfectly with their natural language.
Clothing and Armour
Zokex adore their jewellery, and will only wear jewellery made of the finest metals and gems they can get. Jewellery is one of the only things a zokex is not compelled to make themselves; instead, they will always have a professional crafter create their jewellery for them, as the idea of wearing sub-par jewellery is almost offensive to the dragons.
What’s considered “jewellery” is a rather broad term for zokex. Their concept of jewellery varies from tiny chains and earrings, to large chest-plates and decorative armour.
Other than their jewellery, zokex do not wear clothes.
Oftentimes, young zokex will get hungry and pull the soulstone out of their jewellery to eat. This gets them in a lot of trouble with their parents.
Zokex have no last or middle names, and instead have a single word as their names; usually this word is in their native language or in International, though most Zokex don’t mind translating their names into other languages to fit in where they live.
Parents tend to name their children things they hope will describe their child’s future; names such as Charmed, Exploration, Bird, and Laughter are very common.
Though it is not common, some zokex will change their names to something more fitting when they reach adulthood.
It is common knowledge that zokex are the ancestors to the dassen people; there is evidence in many of the ancient Das temples that prove this as fact.
Old scrolls and temple drawings depict a zokex cult that was in close proximity to a nurlak city.
Some scrolls say they feared the nurlak, while others say they admired them. All scrolls tell the same story, however: the cult was lead by a zokex known as Adoration, who stole and murdered a nurlak child in order to create a form-changing potion.
This potion was supposed to turn Adoration and her followers into nurlak, but it was not powerful enough and they were instead turned into strange dragon-people. Not quite zokex, not quite nurlak.
They became known as Das Shifters and, eventually, grew into the modern dassen race.
While zokex are believed to have originated in Das, their current population is most prominent on Keos Leesa; also known as the Dragon Refuge.
Not much is known about Keos Leesa other than what has been shared by travelling zokex. According to the zokex, most dragons living on Keos Leesa are some form of sapient and have their own cultures and history.
While many zokex leave the explored territories to live on Keos Leesa, it is very rare for other Sentient races to travel to Keos Leesa… and even rarer for them to return.
Victims of the Black Market
Because of their draconic appearance and separation from other Sentient races, many zokex are victims of illegal black market traders.
Their horns are a popular item as they are believed to have life-preserving properties that will keep people young. Because of this, many zokex are kidnapped and mutilated, or just outright murdered, for their horns.
Another popular item is their eggs; which are stolen from their nests and served as an illegal delicacy in some Sentient countries. The Eala races are especially guilty of this. It is also common for lonely dassens without settlements to steal zokex eggs and raise the hatchlings as their own. This is very hard to prevent, and most dassens will claim that the nests they found the eggs in were abandoned.
Young zokex may also be kidnapped during their honking stage and sold as pets. Most who buy young zokex never attempt to teach them to speak and are shocked when the zokex are able to pick up words. This often leads to their “pets” being killed or beaten into silence, to stop their illegal nature being discovered.
A famous example of a kidnapped hatchling is Ritual, who was born in 12,345 AE after her parents were murdered and her siblings crushed as her nest was raided. The only survivor of the nest, she was kept in unideal conditions and hatched with sickly white eyes and wing membranes. She was sold to a felinic man in Roi’Lah who paid extravagant amounts of gold to feed her nothing but luckcharm so that her body matched her wings and she became a pure white dragon. She was kept in his treasury as a “guard” and was forced to kill anyone who entered in an attempt to steal his riches. This went on until her 46th eclipse, when the felinic who had purchased her died and she was found and rescued. After her rescue, she gorged herself on dreamcurse made from her own nightmares before disappearing into the unexplored territories.
Zokex have a very high heat tolerance, they are able to touch fire without burning themselves.
While travelling through colder climates, many zokex children will crawl into tavern fireplaces; much to the shock of the owners and amusement of their parents.
Zokex have an inherent distrust of nurlak. Most will avoid acting prejudice towards nurlak, but even zokex raised around the nicest of nurlak will describe feeling on edge. They believe this is linked to the natural fear many animals have of nurlaks. And with the discovery of Kal Korhalkrak in I’reka, many people now believe that nurlak used to hunt zokex for their violent rituals.
Because newly hatched zokex sound like waterfowl, geese, ducks, and swans are popular pets among the dragons.
They get along extremely well with the kurloke and are believed to have shared Das peacefully in the distant past.
There are no known cases of heterochromia in zokex.