Most creatures on Lavana are intelligent; however, the main preybeasts (Preda Bens, Helks, and Quomai) and the sacrosanct three (Chitters, Byrgs, and Eleis) are nonsentient, as are some violent beasts (Clatts, Veloces). Intelligent races can be found on the Sentient Species page; the rest of the nonsentient creatures encountered in the novel will be found here, as well as some important flora (kûsani trees, beadgrass, and healer nuts). Click on the names below to jump to their description, or simply scroll down; they’re arranged alphabetically, not chronologically. Hovering over the quick links will give you a one-sentence description of each species.
Name – Alineo(s) [pronounced 'ah-LEE-nyo(z)']
Size – 5-6.5 feet at the shoulder.
Physical Description – Stocky ungulates, Alineos almost resemble a donkey with a very mule-like head, ears, and neck. Their bodies are also donkey-ish but very muscular and rather short-legged, though they can run up to 40 mph. However, strength is their best asset; they can haul many times their own weight. Alineos have a somewhat sloped back and a small, ropy, tufted tail. Their most distinguishing feature are two extremely long horns that arc backwards from their skull; these horns have very little curve over their lengths and the sharp tips end about a foot over their rump. Nila, when riding, use these horns as hand-holds, as Alineos don’t have manes nor do they like saddles. An Alineo can also control who rides him by tilting his head forward to raise his horns… or not. Alineos are very hard to mount if they don’t let you on. However, the length of the slender horns also means that an Alineo cannot turn its head when a rider is on its back.
Coloration – Pretty dull tones – greys, tans, often some mix of the two. Their horns are usually off-white, hooves dark grey or dark brown, and eyes some deep color.
Temperament – Very placid and calm. They’re somewhat intelligent but far from sentient; they’re content to serve as steeds to Nila in exchange for a fairly easy life of being fed and guarded from predators.
Name – beadgrass
Size – Beadgrass grows up to a foot long; typically 6-8 inches, with the lowest 1-3 inches lacking beads.
Physical Description – Beadgrass is one of the two most common types of grass on Lavana; it’s pastel blue, fairly short, and shaped like a stiff string of beads, hence its name. Each bead contains pollen-like seeds, light enough to be blown a considerable distance on the wind before being deposited on the ground. Beadgrass has a tough fibrous texture with tiny, fine hairs on each bead; the base of the blade lacks beads and is wide, flat, and quite tough. Beadgrass is not easily broken by walking on it, but the beads will burst with enough pressure to release the seeds. Burst beads will regrow in a matter of 5-8 days.
Name – Byrg(s) [pronounced 'burg(z)']
Size – 5-7 inches long, with wingspans of 13-20 inches.
Physical Description – Byrgs are furred, bat-like mammals with tiny fangs; they’re carnivorous, eating insects and occasionally dead fish that they find washed up on banks. They have surprisingly strong back legs, which helps them hold on in fierce winds when they cannot fly. They have bat-like faces and large, bulbous eyes; their finely-furred wings are unusually strong, able to function as forelimbs at times, as their ‘wing-hands’ have rather nimble fingers. They have smooth-furred, rat-like tails that act as rudders in flight.
Coloration – Shades of blue with black or very dark blue eyes, which are solidly-colored and shiny.
Temperament – Not very intelligent, byrgs are extremely social and live in swarms/flocks of 200+ individuals without a defined leader. They’re harmless for the most part, being too small to hurt anything non-insectoid, but when swarming, they can be quite annoying.
Name – Chitter(s)
Size – A foot high at the shoulder, give or take a few inches.
Physical Description – Chitters are mostly feline; they have very long, fluffy fur that they keep scrupulously clean, spending hours a day grooming. Their paws and body are feline – they do have claws with which to fish and hunt small birds and rodents – and their tails are long, carried curled over their haunches. Their faces are blunt-featured with large, round eyes and floppy ears. They tend to live in herds of at least fifty individuals, but some Chitter herds can consist of 200 or more individuals. True to their name, they also make a variety of chittering, chirping, yipping, and mewling sounds.
Coloration – Earth tones (greys, gold, white, black, browns) in a variety of markings. Eyes tend to be neon and faintly luminous in the dark.
Temperament – Exceedingly friendly little beasts, Chitters are the most sacred of the sacrosanct three.
Name – Clatt(s)
Size – 3-7 inches long, with a wingspan of up to 15 inches.
Physical Description – Clatts have a head that resembles a curving claw (the tip of the claw being their jaws/beak), and their bodies are long, narrow, and nearly cylindrical. They have bat-like wings, two small but strong taloned hind legs, and a small, wiry tail. These blood-sucking beasts live in huge swarms, usually nesting in trees. They’re very fast in flight and eat by latching onto their prey with talons, then stabbing their claw-like mouth into flesh. The ‘claw’ is hollow, so they can pump blood through it, which their second heart aids in doing quickly. These little things have an armored hide and are very tough to kill. They don’t hunt just non-sentients, either. A swarm of clatts can kill a Korat (that doesn’t run away fast enough) within two minutes, and the carcass can be dry within seven minutes. They can fly over 70 mph in a chase, and while not self-aware, they’re smart enough to coordinate their movements to bring down their prey. They’re fearsome creatures, all in all, and widely avoided by sentients and nonsentients alike.
Coloration – Usually greys, sometimes black, and rarely grey-brown.
Temperament – They hunt, and they swarm, and they kill. However, they’re intelligent enough to not kill anyone who claims the territory that they nest in – unless provoked.
Name – Elei(s) [pronounced 'EE-lee(z)']
Size – 12-16 inches long.
Physical Description – Very small, pliable reptiles. They have four short, slim legs ending in clawed talons. Their torso is almost snake-like, as is their tail. Their head is odd – almost birdlike, with a small beak, large eyes, and two rounded nubs of bone above their eyes. They can eat berries, but usually feast on parasites, bugs, and dead skin and dried blood – which is surprisingly helpful. They’ll attach themselves to a Lavanian and keep its hide clean and healthy. It’s only annoying when they wedge themselves in an uncomfortable place, like in the crook of one’s elbow or knee. But they’re tolerated, since a Lavanian with an Elei or two rarely gets sick, and his wounds heal very quickly. Eleis are asexual; they reproduce by splitting in half length-wise, starting at their two head-knobs and continuing on to their tailtip. The two Eleis left as a result of the division are not identical; the “original” is markedly different from its offspring, since the genetics do mutate and change with each division. Within a few days after dividing (provided they have enough nutrients to consume), the two new Eleis will regrow to their former length.
Coloration – Eleis are incredibly bright. Their eyes tend to be jewel-tones (ruby, sapphire, emerald, etc), but their bodies, which are always a solid color, are often neon yellow, orange, or green – blues, purples, and reds are also known.
Temperament – Very unintelligent, Eleis gravitate towards niches in trees, rock faces, or living bodies that will provide them with a foodsource of insects or dead flesh. Once they find a comfortable place to live, they don’t often move.
Name – healer nut(s)
Size – The nut is 4-6 inches long, 3-4 wide. The plant itself is 3-4 feet high and nearly as wide.
Physical Description – Healer nuts are widely renowned for their regenerative ability, their terrible taste, and the incredible levels of pain they cause when ingested. The plant on which they grow – usually referred to as a healer bush, despite its lack of bush-like qualities – is a woody, pine-cone-like structure with a massive root system; most healer bushes don’t grow within fifty feet of one another. The bush has thick, fibrous layers that peel away from the core; within the top of the bush, nested inside the newest still-growing layers, are two to five healer nuts. The nuts are smooth to the touch and acorn-soft; they’re almond-shaped with a dense outer layer, a more porous internal layer, and a dark red pit about an inch long. The outermost layer has mild regenerative and curative properties, the porous layer has powerful healing effects, and the pit is deadly if eaten whole. The nut works by boosting the individual’s natural immune and regenerative abilities to the max in a matter of seconds; the result is extremely painful and potentially deadly if the effect taxes a wounded body beyond the point of sustainability. Healer nuts are carefully used and the pits reburied in a fertile spot so that another bush will grow and produce more nuts; healer bushes are one of the only commonly-replanted plants in all of Lavana.
Name – Helk(s)
Size – 6-7 feet high at the shoulder.
Physical Description – Helks are large, muscular, long-legged ungulates. With long muzzles, flat teeth, and an impressive spread of sharp-tipped antlers, they are quite fast in a gallop and also capable of delivering a powerful kick with their heavy cloven hooves. Their fur is thick, dense, and coarse, offering further protection against the claws and fangs of predators. Their tails are short and fluffy, the underside often white; they will ‘flag’ (lift) their tails to show wariness or warning if something seems amiss.
Coloration – Helks are almost universally dark brown, though the mares can be lighter. Many Helks have black legs, faces, and tails; all Helks have black hooves and grey-brown antlers.
Temperament – Helks are wary, aggressive herd animals. They keep alert watch over the most vulnerable members of the herd, such as the young, the old, and the pregnant, and they will often spring to defend a fellow Helk under attack by predators, trying to reclaim their herdmate from the jaws of death. They are quick to fight and quick to flee, making them challenging prey.
Name – kûsani tree(s) [pronounced 'koo-SAH-nee']
Size – Unmeasured in height; up to 200 feet in diameter.
Physical Description – Kûsani trees are the most sacred trees on Lavana. As legend goes, it was the first living thing created on Lavana by the Creators, and the first kûsani is the largest, positioned next to the cliff on which the Original Nine came into being. Their bark is grey-silver, corrugated and coarse and hard; their leaves are stunningly golden, long and tapering in shape, and the fruit the trees bear is white-silver, plump and soft-skinned like melon-sized plums or peaches. Kûsani trees are the tallest and widest things on Lavana; there is never more than one per 50-100 square miles (or 18-33 square leagues). Kûsani trees are actually similar to aspens in that one enormous root system will have several different trunks; in theory, there is only one network all over Lavana, and all trees are connected. Other than their size, kûsani trees are most notable for their music, which is also referred to as kûsani, a word that now refers to the trees, the music they produce, and even life itself, as they are seen as inextricably connected. Kûsani trees emanate an unheard rhythm, a beat so deep and primal that it pulls every nearby creature’s biorhythm into step with it; when closest to the tree, a melody can be perceived, vibrating beneath the skin and in the bones, supported by the rhythm like the skeleton supports the muscles that move it. Kûsani trees are poignantly sacred on Lavana, and many become the heart of multi-species Centers, stationary groups whose members are often transitory travelers and whose territory is loosely-marked at best.
Name – Preda Ben(s) / ‘Ben(s) [pronounced 'PRAY-dah BEHN(z)]
Size – 5-8 feet high at the shoulder, with their heads 1.5-2.5 feet higher than that; 7-11 feet long.
Physical Description – ‘Bens are thick-bodied, long-limbed bipedal mammals. With thin, sleek fur, they have rounded, muscular torsos that extend into tails that are heavy, blunt, and capable of packing quite a punch for a pursuing hunter. Their thick haunches slim down to long shins and clawed, three-toed talons; their forearms are slender, held close to the chest, and somewhat weak; the forearm splits into two long, sharp-clawed digits at the wrist. Their necks are long and lean, holding their small, wedge-shaped heads high; their jaws are narrow and weak with small, sharp teeth designed for shredding tough foliage. Their eyes are large and far-seeing, and they have no visible ears.
Coloration – Preda Bens are born one solid color – dark burgundy – and become silvery-grey as they age. A young adult will be largely burgundy, with silvery-grey on its undersides, stomach, and throat; old ‘Bens are almost completely grey, with burgundy lingering only along their spines. Eyes are usually green; claws are grey or black.
Temperament – ‘Bens are surprisingly tactical for being nonsentient beasts. They travel in large herds (30-100+ individuals) with a system of dominance; there are a few big bulls who run the herd, and then a dozen or so large hens, and then a few groups of ‘Bens that are old enough to have some experience in fending off hunters. When attacked, ‘Bens circle up – the groups of ‘guard’ Preda Bens form rings around the young and weak of the herd, which in turn have circled around the largest hens and bulls. Though ‘Bens will flee if attacked on an individual basis, they are quite staunch in their defense as a herd unit, and hunters must battle past their teeth and claws to get to the best meat. Other than this defensive maneuver, ‘Bens are extremely skittish and prone to fleeing; they can often be driven into an ambush by experienced predators.
Name – Quomai [pronounced 'KWOH-may']
Size – 40-50 high at the top ridge of their shell; 60-70 feet long.
Physical Description – Quomai are thickly-built, furless, quadrupedal mammals. With thick, leathery skin, they have a wide torso covered by a thick, ridged keratinous shell that armors their back and the upper parts of their flanks, shoulders, and haunches. Their limbs are stocky, proportionally short, and very muscular, ending in five-toed ‘feet’ whose digits are tipped in hoof-like ‘claws’. Their heads are streamlined and reptilian; their jaws, while strong enough to break small trees in half, are filled with semi-blunt teeth designed to handle foliage. They have thick, blunt tails about half the length of their torso. Quomai are very clumsy beasts, but they are still exceedingly dangerous to smaller creatures.
Coloration – Quomai are dully-colored. Mottled, most are grey, grey-brown, tawny-and-medium-brown, and some have hints of moss-green, especially along their shells.
Temperament – Quomai are extremely violent herbivores that stay in herds of 5-20 individuals. Unlike Helks and ‘Bens, they will not wait until a predator attacks before defending themselves; at first scent or sight of a hunter, they will stampede forward and attempt to crush it to the ground. If the hunter is close to their size – Trahe or larger – they will immediately flee. Their senses are keen and they are hard to take unawares, and so most smaller predators steer clear of these highly-aggressive grazers.
Name – Veloce(s) [pronounced 'VAY-lowss(ez)']
Size – 5-6 feet high at the shoulder; 10-15 feet long.
Physical Description – Veloces are sleek, streamlined, bipedal hunters. Thinly-furred with a crest of feathers surrounding their skulls, these predators have long, narrow snouts filled with sharp teeth, keen slit-pupiled eyes, and no visible ears. Their necks are long and held arched, carrying their heads well above their torso, spine held horizontal. Veloces keep their leanly muscular forearms held close to their chests, leaving the three digits on each forehand loose to keep the wicked, hook-like claws away from their own flesh. Their hind legs are muscular, long, and powerful, ending in four-toed, clawed talons. Their slim tails are long and flexible, acting as rudders when running at high speeds. They are, overall, light and lean creatures, capable of great feats of speed and agility.
Coloration – Veloces tend to be light grey, dark grey, golden-white, dark brown, or blackened red-brown. They do have streak-like markings, typically on their faces, but sometimes on their flanks, wrists and ankles, or haunches; these markings (as well as their feathered crests) tend to be brightly-colored, such as red, blue, or green. Eyes are yellow-gold, and claws are black.
Temperament – Veloces are highly intelligent and cunning, despite not being sentient. They travel in small packs of 2-6 individuals and work together very well to bring down prey – which does not exclude sentients, or even other predators. Savage and relentless, a Veloce pack will stalk its prey until seizing an opportune moment when the prey’s guard is down; they leap into the fray and rip the target creature apart, piece by piece, limb by limb. Most sentient Lavanians hate them, and many fear them.