Borrowing from my post about the Hulcondans for the story origins:
I began writing what has become this series in 2003. The basic idea was that a girl who was different found others like herself. I forgot about the story for five years, rediscovering it in late 2008. After a couple years of toying with it, I set aside the other series I’d been writing and dove in.
I detailed the Hulcondan State here, and now it’s time for the other side of the main conflict: the itzalin (it-ZAHL-in). My original itzalin were called diikhiin (DIE-ik-hine), and my plans consisted of them living for hundreds of years, having bright purple/red markings that were more stripe-like, and any-colored eyes (though the eye color was still genetic and always some shade of their parents’).
When the story shifted, so did this.
WHAT ARE THE ITZALIN?
To be honest, I don’t know them as well as I know the Hulcondans, mostly because I haven’t written them yet (under this new plotline). Since their actual origins are semi-concealed from the characters and are important to the plot, I can’t dig too deep here. In the simplest terms, itzalin are gray-skinned humanoids that tend to live in the forests. They are not humans, are not aliens, and are not “creatures” or “monsters” (despite what the Hulcondans and some humans call them). They have similar lifespans, tendencies, personality traits, and intelligence levels to humans. They are slightly taller on average and have lean, athletic builds.
Their skin ranges from a dark to pale gray, dependent on heritage. Hair color is always dark* — either black or a shade of dark brown. They have somewhat darker skin around their eyes (giving them a gaunt appearance) and flame-shaped swirls on their bodies of the same shade. Where those markings are/how much they cover depends on genetics, but they primarily show up on the arms, back, and face. Some markings extend onto necks or around the torso as well, though it’s less common. Their markings darken as they age and are typically fully present by age two, though, again, ancestry has a role here.
Eye colors can be basically any color that cats have. Yellows, greens, and golds are most common, though blues and even teals are possible. While they do not have magic or any truly special abilities, they have adapted to their lifestyles. Since they live in the forests, they are adept at climbing, tracking, all things involving stealth…etc. They can see a bit better in the dark than humans, have slightly bigger (and pointed) ears, and have developed thick, claw-like fingernails. They also have sharper canine teeth.
Itzalin are scattered and separated, and there are countless clans/factions. While they are loyal to their own clans, they do not share a leader like the Hulcondans do. Many itzalin are nomadic and basically bandits, preying on both humans, other itzalin, and mixlins.
THINGS I DESPISE ABOUT THE ITZALIN
It’d be easy to say the Hulcondans are the villains while the itzalin are the wrongly accused victims. But if you know me or my story-world, you know everything is gray. Overall, itzalin are far from innocent or unfairly characterized and are worse than the Hulcondans in many ways. (Lest you thought the Hulcondans were just lying…)
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE ITZALIN
What they look like for sure. They’re super creepy. In terms of what they do/personality-wise, it’s the same things that I love about the Hulcondans…
1. Morally gray (again, most of them)
2. Intelligent & tactical
4. Brave & selfless
Like the Hulcondans, the itzalin are cruel but overall mean well, and they do their best to protect their people from what they believe are the greatest threats. And like the Hulcondans, the message to/for them is the same — anyone can be redeemed and saved. __________ *This is not a contradiction to certain characters in the story. 😉