Elmin are large, rideable insects with moth-like qualities used by the Maraya as a method of non-Crystaltech transportation. Their origin is mysterious, with explanations ranging from experimentation with ancient Vault-stored creatures, to them being a natural creature long removed from Sendras. They have a wide range of colorations that coat their large bodies, and this beautiful, soft “fur” is appreciated even by some of the biggest lepidopterophobes.
Elmin are strange creatures with an uncertain history in Aloria. While stories of large insects are not uncommon in Aloria, some even being real such as with the Saruhanna Sand Ant, the Elmin is in another class on its own. By best estimates, it is believed that the Elmin were creatures recovered from the Allar lands around the mysterious Tohnsa-Ka-Meraic for some reason, collected perhaps because they matched a creature in the Tohn Sona, or maybe because they were already domesticated by the local Allar now all dead from the battle. From here, the animals follow a fairly standard path of integration with the Maraya, groups being brought down to the surface by the Maraya who would eventually form the four Tohns that now dot the world. Some others instead believe that Elmin are creatures from the Meraic age, entombed like the Maraya and reawoken alongside them from the very start in the Vault of the El-Maraya. However, a more radical theory was proposed in 301 AC by some Ka-Maraya of the surface Tohns, who believe that the Elmin is an artificial being of advanced matter manipulation. They instead state that large creatures like moths were kept in each Vault of Maraya, but upon their awakening and the formation of the Home Fleet high above the world, the Maraya began to experiment and craft new life given their abundance of time for such a practice. What few elderly Maraya remain alive do not comment on the Elmin, seemingly out of a desire to not speak on matters that involve the Homefleet, and so the animal’s true origin will likely remain a mystery. Their modern role in Aloria though is not a mystery, carrying the Maraya off the surface with ease for those that need such travel, and are fond of this strange creature tied to their Race.
Elmin stand between six and seven feet tall, with a length of six feet, and a weight of around 400 to 500 pounds. Their heads are their most unique trait, featuring their most obvious insect-like qualities through a pair of medium compound eyes of various colors that rest above a short trunk-like snout that curls under their head. This has the effect of a more equine muzzle, albeit a short one, and only from a distance. The top of the Elmin’s head is dotted with two thin, wispy antennae, with ten small branching points on each covered in a dense “fur.” The animal’s head is then connected to the rest of the body, with only a small neck allowing for slight turns of the head. The area around the head and the front-half of the animal is bulky and also dense with a short mane-like growth of longer “fur” though this soon fades into the rest of the animal’s body. Their legs are three pairs of segmented, narrow limbs, ending not in hooves or claws but each, a forked, flat pincher. While these limbs might appear easily breakable, this is certainly not the case as they are as robust as any equine limb. Their body ends in a slight point, and lacks a tail. The creature is coated in a layer of “fur” or “hair” but in reality, this is no fibrous material. Instead, it is row after row of dense, light scales, producing an effect very similar to those substances. This coating is across their entire body, though it is more absent on the head save for the antennae. There is a prominent pattern on the animal’s rear “haunch” area, for on both sides, a pattern of dark circles appears in contrast to the other colors around them.
Elmin have a wide range of diverse appearances, though not due to differences between their sexes, as the Elmin lack sexual dimorphism. Insted, their differences come in their visuals. While their body scales will often have a pale coloration to them, grays, whites, beiges, they can also be darker or intense, coming in hues of rich brown, or orange. The circular patterns on their flanks meanwhile, are always of a clashing tone, usually black but sometimes in the tone of white or an ashen gray. A few are even a dark tone of brown. Another notable color variation between Elmin are their eyes, capable of a range of pastel tones similar to the skin tones of the Maraya, as well as amber, ochre, and black.
Life Span and Development
Elmin are rather disturbing for non-Maraya to witness maturing. They are born underground, from two to three head-sized pale “eggs” with a woolen, sticky outside laid there through the burrowing efforts of their mother. When Elmin emerge, they are now in their larval stage, in the form of a very distinct caterpillar. This form has a pale skin tone of the hue it will have when it matures, but also dark bands around each segment of their bodies, along their short feet, and a trio of soft spines emerging from the segments closest to their head. These spines are commonly tinted a pale yellow, but can also be entirely white. They are also enormous, easily the length of a Human arm when they first emerge, and will only grow with age. Elmin caterpillars exist in this state for four to six months, venturing out of their burrow with their siblings to seek out plantlife and small forms of life, dead or alive, to consume. Maraya feed them during this time, largely a diet of nutritious plant life alongside a paste of local meats, and whatever insects may be attracted to this paste, and get eaten in the process.
After this period, the Elmin will retreat back underground into their den where they will rapidly form a hard-shelled cocoon for themselves. This cocoon is also distinct, a pale yellow hue speckled with black and white dots near the top, and with a small curve at the rear, or base, depending on the animal’s orientation. They will then mature in this cocoon for up to a month, and finally erupt out, making a beeline for the burrow exit and bursting into the sunlight gladly. Elmin are often around four to five feet tall at this stage, and are considered young adults. The rest of their maturation is gradual, over half a decade of time, before they finally reach adulthood, and are fully capable of accepting a rider. Maraya tenders are there every step of the way. Elmin can live for between seventy to eighty years, but a few have been known to live beyond that, close to a hundred, due to Crystaltech surgeries on their body.
While the Elmin is assumed by many to have the brain of an insect, it is unquestionably more intelligent. How much more though, is a great question. They are not as expressive as some creatures, unable to blink their compound eyes, or really shake their heads given their short neck. They can title it from side to side, and their antennae moving do often denote curiosity. Their trunk-like mouth can also uncurl and lick people, usually as a sign of affection but also sometimes to get a scent of something totally new to them. The rest of their body is fairly rigid, their legs long and spindled, unable to really stamp or drag the earth. Their best activity with these limbs is called “perching.” When drowsy, particularly focused, or relaxed, Elmin limbs will shift so that the species is essentially on its tiptoes, their limbs rigid and allowing them to balance in this state as their antennae droop. Elmin are known to show aggression or irritation through a dull buzzing noise, their approximate of a hiss. Their scales will also ripple as they do this. One major aspect of Elmin mentality they are erroneously straddled with is the belief they will fruitlessly leap in the direction of a full moon, and will go mad when a lunar eclipse takes place, running about in circles. These are both false, as Elmin do not react to the phases of the moon. However, they are known to look up at the night sky, seemingly capable of appreciating such celestial beauty.
Territory and Groupings
Elmin are wholly domesticated, and held among the surface Tohns of the Maraya Race. These creatures have either been brought to or traded with the Haat-Maraya, allowing them to appear in the Dread Empire, but they are overall rare creatures, as rare as the Maray themselves usually are in the outside world. They commonly live in specially designed fields, artificially hemmed in underground so a group doesn't somehow get out into the wild or are at threat of being attacked by wildlife. While communal in their younger years, residing alongside their siblings and other caterpillars during feeding time or roam-abouts, adult Elmin are more solitary. They do still get along with others of their species, but it is rare for them to be found in large, or even middling groups. Instead, they cluster in at most, small units of three to five, and even then, only for grooming purposes or socialization after a long time away from fellow Elmin.
- Elmin were widely believed to be creatures of myth, even after the Maraya began appearing in more open numbers. They still are in some of the most isolated pockets of Aloria, those of Carrhen in particular likely to view them with some shock due to the ties in the local variety of Old Gods between one of the goddesses and moths.
- Elmin rarely mate which is one of the key reasons they remain rare in number when compared to other insects.
- The Elmin are known to make a “fluttering” noise when called by their Maraya rider.