Chii-Ranu ("Blood Horse" in Drakine, scientific name Fera Volnus; same singular) are a Euthoran race of paraorganisms magically mutated from the Féniul. Originating in Durasken in an effort to create a trainable creature that could fight dragons, they proved too volatile to contain and escaped, eventually spreading across Forvolrasuls in low-density populations.
Because Chii-Ranu can create localized illusions to mask their true appearance, after their initial escape they were commonly confused with Shapeshifters, which were often killed in their stead. Because of this, Shapeshifters have developed a cultural hatred of artificial beings in general, especially the Chii-Ranu.
Due to their behavior, Chii-Ranu were originally incorrectly classified as Malomorphs on Euthora and were considered dangerous creatures to kill on sight. As of Shards of Glass, however, most Euthoran humans consider Chii-Ranu to simply be paraorganisms.
A group of Chii-Ranu is called a tribe. They are weakly Earth-Aligned at SCT due to their Féniul ancestry, but slowly transformed into Water-Aligned creatures.
Chii-Ranu are bipedal, almost raptor-like mammals with sharp snouts, long tails and ears, and tridactylous hind legs with two massive, sharp talons on each back paw accompanied by a smaller dewclaw. These talons are used to pin prey onto the ground and keep it still while the Chii-Ranu kills it. Though these oversized claws provide little traction when running, they allow the Chii-Ranu to navigate uneven terrain such as rocks and cliffs without difficulty, and spread their body weight slightly to prevent them from sinking into sand.
The forelegs of a Chii-Ranu are pentadactylous, with two dewclaws (one on each side of the paw) that serve as equally opposable "thumbs". This allows them to grip and manipulate objects with more precision than humans, though is mostly used to grab small prey. Unlike their Féniul ancestors, Chii-Ranu do not run on all four limbs, and thus are unable to make use of the extra traction the double dewclaws would otherwise afford them.
Chii-Ranu are covered in coarse, short fur that is typically very dark and desaturated in color, typically ranging from dark reddish-brown to pitch black. They have long manes running from the crown of their skull to midway down their tail, as well as long fur on the throat, chest and abdomen. Chii-ranu also have tufts of fur on the tips of their ears, and a larger tuft of fur on the end of the tail. This longer fur tends to be brighter in color, though usually still dark, and typically rust-red or brown in color.
A Chii-Ranu's eyes are bright, luminous yellow, forward-facing, and have narrow pupils. Their irises are reflective and they have no visible sclera.
The mouth of a Chii-Ranu contains primarily thin, needle-pointed canine teeth with thick molars near the very back to crunch bone.
Being mammals, Chii-Ranu are warm-blooded and viviparous. They are hypercarnivores that tend to hunt large game, such as horses, small dragons, and humans.
Being swift runners, Chii-Ranu have large hearts and lungs to carry oxygen through the body and maintain endurance when pursuing prey.
Chii-Ranu age at a rate similar to wolves- being considered adults at around two years old, tending to start courting mates at three or four years old. A healthy Chii-Ranu has an average lifespan of twenty-five years.
The most notable ability of a Chii-Ranu is its magical creation of small illusions, usually in order to hide or alter its appearance. However, it can choose to make the terrain around it appear to change, or to duplicate itself when faced with a threat. These illusions are purely visual and auditory; a creature with a keen sense of smell will often not be fooled, and attempting to make contact with the illusion tends to reveal that it is not real.
Chii-Ranu are volatile, aggressive, and vicious predators that tend to attack anything that isn't one of their own kind. Although they are sapient and trainable, they keep an instinctual urge to hunt and kill that ultimately overrides any training or desire to remain docile. This aggression is deeply rooted into their instincts and is difficult to control. Even if one were to befriend or otherwise form an emotional attachment to a human or other creature, they may still turn against this individual without warning.
Although they are prone to attack any other creature, Chii-Ranu prefer to form large family groups or tribes with their own kind and form powerful familial attachments with parents, offspring, and siblings. Chii-Ranu tribes resemble large wolf packs, in which a mated pair leads the group, which is made primarily of family and the occasional wanderer.
Chii-Ranu can live nearly anywhere on land except for the tundra, but prefer deserts, mountains, and sparse forests. In general preferring warm climates, Chii-Ranu also select territory based on ability to navigate through it- they are most fit for deserts and dry grasslands, but can easily move among uneven crags and cliffs, but dislike dense forests due to the trees acting as obstacles when pursuing prey.
Chii-Ranu are ambush predators, using their illusions to hide from prey until they are within striking range, but in the event the prey is not fooled by the illusion the Chii-Ranu will chase it down for a short distance before giving up and preferring to save energy for the next prey animal. They hunt mainly large game such as horses and small dragons, but will "snack" on rabbits, foxes, and birds. Notorious man-eaters, a Chii-Ranu will sometimes lie in wait near a well-travelled road and wait for humans. Humans are considered "easy prey" due to their undeveloped senses of smell and their reliance on vision and hearing.
Chii-Ranu were created from the DNA of the Féniul, a predator found in the grasslands of Acaran and Farixya, by magiscientists in Durasken in order to create an aggressive, trainable creature that could be mounted by soldiers to fight dragons in the Fyreborne War. Considered genetic and magical mutants, on a base genetic level the still resemble the Féniul, but are considerably more intelligent and dangerous.