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  • Writer's pictureL.L. Stephens

The Dog Men


The Hen Kyon people of the Kragh (Aryata hen kyon, ‘doglike’) are among the most ancient of the races of the Second Creation. They appeared in the same era as the Highborn and so pre-date the Estol, Gae, and Kheld peoples.

 

Created by the Aryati

 

The Aryati of the First Creation were great in science and craft. Much like the Leur godhead that created them, the Aryati manipulated the physical components of life into many new forms. These include the Staubaun race bred during Exile to be their servants. Following the victory of Amynas and the Three, which forced the Return of the Aryati and Nem races to the new Second Creation, the surviving Aryati found refuge in mountainous Gweroyen, where they built their mighty city of Iddolea.

The Three (sons of Amynas and the god Leur) found wives among humans—Ergeiron wed the Aryati princess Myri and Derlon wed the Sordani maiden Neryllia—and sired mortal offspring: the Highborn. Males of their bloodlines carried forth the legacy and gifts of their Leur progenitor. The Aryati, however, feared the Highborn and opposed that they should rule over the new, still vastly empty World.

Because the Highborn looked human—and in the case of Ergeiron’s descendants were nearly Aryati themselves—the Aryati devised a means to identify the godborn among them. They engineered a lifeform possessed of keen senses, particularly of smell, able to detect the trace of Leur residing in Highborn blood and cells. This lifeform they fashioned upon the body of a human but enhanced to be stronger and faster; they also gave this new lifeform sentience, that they might command it.

 

What Are the Hen Kyon?

 

Scholars over the centuries have speculated what lifeforms the Aryati manipulated to create the Hen Kyon. The Aryati did not share knowledge of the practices inside their bioforges and few records survived the destruction of Iddolea. The Wall has shared that the Hen Kyon were created in Iddolea, and when, but not how this was done.

Hen Kyon race memory provides some clues; early Hen Kyon memories include examinations comparing Hen Kyon skulls to those of bestial First Creation primates thought to be baboons. Hen Kyon mandibles and maxilla, and teeth, are longer and larger than human. The brain case, however, is larger and on par with human. Other reported memories include of Hen Kyon undergoing scent tests alongside dogs, having skin and muscle samples taken and examined, and being subjected to trials for sensitivity to lr gems which were later used to control them.

Prevailing thought is that the Hen Kyon, like Staubauns—and the Highborn—were created from the Aryati themselves using manipulated genetics, perhaps implanting genes originating in First World species, to introduce the characteristics desired for a keen-sensed not fully human predator.

 

Hen Kyon Physical Characteristics

 

Hen Kyon share with humans overall body shape and proportions; like humans they reproduce sexually. Most Hen Kyon are shorter than humans, though not greatly so; females are generally smaller than males. Both females and males are deep-chested, with powerful necks and limbs. Their hands and feet are human with strong fingers and toes; in a further indication that the original stock was human, their phalanges may terminate in either claws or nails. Claws or nails range in color from translucent to brown.

Hen Kyon possess predominantly human skeletons, stand upright, and do not have tails.

A coat of fine soft hair covers Hen Kyon skin and individuals are considered “furred.” Hair is usually reddish in hue. Body hair is uniform in length while hair on the scalp, neck, and face may grow longer. Male Hen Kyon develop a growth of heavier neck and facial hair (mane or ruff) as they mature. Elder Hen Kyon may become gray in color.

While some Hen Kyon appear close to human in facial structure, a majority have noticeably longer maxillae and mandibles and longer teeth that operate as fangs. Nasal cavities are large and the nose is broad; nostrils flare upon inhalation. The eyes are human in size and shape, amber or yellow in color, and see light in infra-red as well as the usual human color range. Hen Kyon ears may appear human or may be pointed and cupped for superior hearing. Hen Kyon vocal apparatus is close to human and all but the most bestial are able to generate human speech.

It should be noted that years of crossbreeding with humans has resulted in many Hen Kyon who appear to be fully human; these individuals may possess easily concealed traits or even none that can be seen at all. They are nonetheless Hen Kyon and offspring will likely bear Hen Kyon traits.

 

Hen Kyon Reproduction

 

As “forged” lifeforms—neither Leur created nor natural evolutions thereof—Hen Kyon reproduction faces challenges. Unlike Staubauns, also created by the Aryati, the first Hen Kyon were manufactured, not bred, and some of their alterations are unstable. The Aryati undertook to give their “doglike” servants reproductive ability by making them able to impregnate and be impregnated by humans—a design that in large part succeeded but did not fully protect the purity of the new race.

Hen Kyon that breed with other Hen Kyon mostly result in healthy offspring—but some pups are born too severely malformed to survive. For this reason Hen Kyon often include human mates in their bloodlines. Most Hen Kyon/human children are healthy and will survive.

Accusations that Hen Kyon raid human settlements to carry off young humans for sexual purposes have some basis in fact. For the most part, however, Hen Kyon take in humans who seek refuge with them: runaways, fugitives, children who have been cast aside, or pregnant females with no place else to go. Most human mates come from such.

 

Hen Kyon History

 

Hen Kyon history begins with their creation by the Aryati. Their origin occurred in the Second Creation, in many towered Iddolea, but much of that story is now lost.

As servants of the Aryati they were used to hunt down and slay the Highborn—the godborn descendants of the Three—who the Aryati feared and wished to destroy. Hen Kyon captured Peleor, a son of Derlon, one of the Three, and brought him to the Aryati to be poisoned, then flayed and slain and placed upon the Rill node at Simelon where his blood would be absorbed by the newly transformed Rill Entity. This plan to slay Derlon partly succeeded by diminishing the Entity’s vitality and possibly causing failure to remember its divine purpose.

In another act of cruelty, Hen Kyon trackers found the hiding place of the Highborn King Telarion, one of the sons of the Wall Entity, Ergeiron. Telarion and his family who were hiding with him were slain, and at least one eaten alive, by Hen Kyon. [A short story about this can be read here.]

Deeds such as these are recorded in Highborn chronicles and took root in Highborn race memories. When the Aryati were defeated, the Highborn sought retribution also against the Hen Kyon and would have killed them all. The lone survivor of the Telarion slaughter, a young girl, went on to later slay a score of Hen Kyon and wore a robe of Hen Kyon pelts. It was only with great hardship that two hundred Hen Kyon, mostly mothers and pups, fled with a handful of warriors led by Hloraf the Crippled and found safety in the wilderness.

It took two generations for the Highborn to locate the remnants of the Hen Kyon where they were hiding deep in the wild hills and ravines of the Kragh region where Dannuth borders Dazunor. The Hen Kyon were, at that time, living in poor but peaceful circumstances. The Malyrdeon King Emrysen, a Wall Lord, demanded the Hen Kyon leader, Khassur—a great grandson of Hloraf—to meet with him. Khassur did so along with his four sons and five daughters on the bank of the Hyllorhose. Khassur offered himself and his entire line to Emrysen to be slain as retribution for past ill deeds; in return, he entreated, he hoped that the remaining Hen Kyon still in hiding might be spared. Emrysen bid Khassur to rise and return to his people, but to bring them all to him for judgment and to leave not even one behind.

Khassur returned with the remaining Hen Kyon, all of whom—even to the oldest mother and youngest child—chose to stand with him, so that not even one Hen Kyon remained behind. Seeing this and knowing it true, Emrysen had all bow down before him and his sons, and he asked the Hen Kyon to all give their promise to never hunt nor do harm to the Highborn ever again, not they nor any of their descendants. This, the Hen Kyon, every one of them, vowed.

And so the Highborn made their peace with the Hen Kyon and Emrysen the King gave them the wilderness of the Kragh in which to live.

Little more is heard of the Dog Men after until the events of the novels.

 

Current Knowledge of the Dog Men

 

The name Hen Kyon fell out of use following the downfall of the Aryati and cessation of Highborn interest in them. The often bestial appearance of those Hen Kyon seen by humans led to continuance of the name Dog Men and that is how they became known.

The Kragh remains forbidden to humans for purposes of residence or exploitation. Many humans nonetheless test its borders. Some, such as herders or hunters, do so in ignorance. Some traders attempt to establish independent contact aside from the long-established trade store in Omadawn. Because Dog Men distrust humans and do not like outsiders to enter their strongholds, any who enter their land without permission risk being run off or killed. Few are welcomed into the interior.

The Dog Men have one large town, Gloannech, that is situated deep in their territory, in the shadow of a towering hill called the Maw. Smaller villages, often no more than a few homesteads, can be found tucked among the surrounding hills and hollows. The land is heavily forested; most Hen Kyon survive on small garden plots and game procured by hunting, at which they are proficient.

The Dog Men have scant contact with the larger society of Essera. The Dog Men’s chief swears fealty to the King and honors the Princes of Dazunor and of Dannuth, but generally does so through correspondence or an ambassador that can pass as human. The language spoken among Dog Men is an antique variant of Aryata; many however make the effort to learn at least some Stauba. Though many Dog Men—female and male—remain uneducated they have a school, personal libraries in some families, and good scholarship of mathematics and medicine—less so of philosophy, rhetoric, or history outside their own.

Despite such evidence of civilization, local humans believe Dog Men are feral, ignorant, and beasts. This is largely due to persistent rumors of abductions of nubile females or young men, the inevitable killings of trespassers or invaders, and the rusticity of trade goods, which are largely products of hunting—furs, horn, or leather—or small crafts such as belts, carvings, or beads. Few humans have ever met with or spoken to a Dog Man.

 

 

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