Sarkiri naturally travel in large family groups known as tribes.
Sarkiri are best described as anthropomorphic lizards, though they have features similar to snakes, birds, and raptors as well. They stand up to six feet tall, with males being shorter and more agile than females. This race has digitigrade hind legs with three toes, the innermost of which is a large, wicked talon used for gripping and injuring downed prey. Splayed toes allow them to stride on loose and soft sand without sinking in, and to move silently with indistinct tracks across wet soil. Using their tails as balance, the Sarkiri can drop to all fours to move more deftly, but overall they prefer a bipedal stance.
Brightly colored feathers decorate the skull and spine of a Sarkiri, with the males having brighter plumage. About halfway down the back, these feathers grow less densely, and make way for the low spikes that grow on the tail. Long, sharp horns of bone frame a Sarkiri's skull, which features a long, blunt snout and spiked eye ridges. Their jaws are lined with small, sharp teeth and contain a pale forked tongue. Their hide is dark-colored, ranging from dull green to pitch black, and covered with leathery scales.
The tips of Sarkiri feathers reflect ultraviolet light, but to humans this is only visible in the brightest sunlight, when the feathers appear to be glowing. Sarkiri often use shed feathers to create pigments which are then used to tattoo their bodies with vibrant warpaint, particularly around the face. The feathers and pigment both reflect and absorb ultraviolet light, allowing a Sarkiri to bask in the sun all day and stay warm at night, when desert temperatures plummet. Stylistically, the Sarkiri's main tattoo color matches its feather color, with bright, contrasting patterns and details using complementary colors.
Sarkiri possess hands with opposable thumbs and clawed digits.
The eyes of a Sarkiri are tetrachromatic, meaning they contain four color-recepting cones instead of three like humans. This allows them to distinguish a much wider range of colors, most notably ultraviolet light. Hunting parties use this "ability" to signal to each other at night without alerting their prey- after a day of basking in the desert sun, or under a suitable amount of moonlight, Sarkiri appear to each other to be glowing in the dark, while other creatures cannot actually see them.
A Sarkiri's body is built almost entirely for predation and combat, between their high endurance and quick, reflexive speed. They have highly flexible spines and a natural balancer and counterweight in the form of their tails, as well as needle-sharp and quickly-growing claws and fangs.
Sarkiri are obligate carnivores and cannot create the proteins necessary for survival from the raw materials like herbivores can; thus, they eat creatures which have already done it for them.
These reptiles are naturally cold-blooded and require sunbathing for a long time to be actively hunting for an entire night in the desert, though jungles are more forgiving to their physiology.
Sarkiri are slim and athletic, able to run over desert sand for long distances with their large lungs and long strides. Due to the way their legs and feet are built, they can run over the tops of loose sand dunes without sinking in, thus saving them energy when running. A tribe of Sarkiri aiming to cover a lot of ground can run at a steady pace of 30 miles per hour throughout a single night.
The night vision of a Sarkiri is phenomenal, due to their specially-evolved eyes and their preference to hunt at night. They are known to be highly efficient ambush hunters because of their incredible vision. Additionally, Sarkiri can move with absolute silence both over sand and through dense foliage. Often, their prey doesn't even realize a tribe of Sarkiri is stalking them until one of their number has been snatched away and killed.
Sarkiri are naturally nocturnal. While many adapt to a diurnal schedule to make the most of the desert heat, they tend to prefer to sunbathe and rest during the day and hunt more actively at night.
Though intelligent, the Sarkiri are vicious, aggressive creatures in their natural state. They release this aggression through hunting, training, and mistreatment of the Kovulzel.
Sarkiri body language is expressed mostly by visual means, in contrast to the auditory stimuli of other Ceskian life. They will openly bare their teeth, brandish their claws, and raise their feathers when angered. Though they also hiss to warn off enemies, this reaction is primarily instinctual in younger Sarkiri only, who have not yet been conditioned to silence.
While Sarkiri will hunt most Ceskian fauna as prey, they make a point of targeting the other race on their planet, the Kovulzel. Though offworld races tend to frown upon the hunting and eating of other sapient races, the Sarkiri see no inherent issue with it, viewing the Kovulzel as inferior, primitive creatures that deserve no better treatment than livestock. Many Sarkiri tribes, and even occasionally a single important Sarkiri, keep Kovulzel as slaves and servants. They keep these Kovulzel not for food (not even breeding them, preferring the rush of hunting) but rather for such matters as running simple errands, delivering messages, and keeping their masters' spaces in order.
The Sarkiri prize silence and secrecy; because the world around them creates a cacophony of noise, the Sarkiri have developed a culture of being "the silence that hides among the song". Because of this, Sarkiri are not particularly vocal and are very reticent, adopting a stoic and reserved demeanor in professional settings and tending to speak in low voices. Sarkiri also rarely speak unless they have something specific to say, and dislike the idea of idle conversation. Many Kovulzel slaves that get frequently punished are such because their masters find them to be too noisy.
Sarkiri are nomadic; most tribes are constantly on the move from place to place, hunting along the way and rarely setting up a settlement for too long a time. Despite this, there is a single, large, permanent city called She'zar-Reth (or the City of Silence as a nickname to offworlders) in the heart of one of the larger deserts on the planet. Though a few important figures remain in this city permanently, most Sarkiri pass in, out, and through the settlement, often to restock on supplies they cannot get in the wild.
The Sarkiri have a close connection to Cozion, who they name as their Aspect of Blood, a deity who revels in death, decay, and the almost cult-like sacrifices in his name. Because of this, they have an inherent predisposition towards the assassin lifestyle, training those who seem to have the natural skill to hide in the shadows and kill without being seen. Thus, they are often employed by organizations on planets with existing Sarkiri presence to assassinate important political figures and opponents.
However, employers of Sarkiri are often advised to be careful when dealing with particularly important or high-ranking Sarkiri, as they have no concept of loyalty outside of that to their own species. More often than not, someone who has employed a Sarkiri will quickly find themselves a target of the very same, whether by some insult or because it serves the Sarkiri's best interests to kill their employer. Working alongside a Sarkiri may equally as often result in the Sarkiri having a hidden agenda, pulling the strings and leaving their "partner" to die or otherwise empty-handed if they cease being useful.
Sarkiri are notorious among other Manaverse races for following the philosophy of absolute rights to property. If a Sarkiri purchases, is given, or otherwise legitimately obtains goods- regardless of if those goods have cultural importance or of it is a sentient creature- they are free to do as they wish with these goods. As few other races the Sarkiri cross follow this philosophy as well, this can create strained relations when, for example, an offworlder witnesses a Sarkiri slavemaster abusing a Kovulzel slave and finds that the slavemaster is perfectly within legal and moral right to do so.
The native tongue of the Sarkiri is known as Sar-Reth. It is a raspy, sibilant, hissing language. However, Sarkiri pick up Common easily, though they tend to speak it with a slight hiss.
The Sarkiri keep a very tribal society structure, with one individual being the leader or chief of any given tribe. However, their ultimate authority lies in two individuals- Cozion, who has the final say in all the Sarkiri might do, and a very small council of sorts that keeps its base of operations in She'zar-Reth.
Sarkiri are advanced enough to be a spacefaring race, using Zero-Space to put many crews in many areas of the Manaverse. These crews typically consist of two to six Sarkiri, along with other (willing or not) members of other species. Roving bands of Sarkiri ships may be found in close proximity or even orbit of a planet they deem interesting enough to investigate, and maybe even colonize. Though Zero-Space is not usually a precise method of travel, only ejecting travelers out in a general area, the Sarkiri are reckless but confident enough to use Zero-Space to get closer to a planet. While some ships are lost this way, they are usually careful enough to know when not to press their luck with the instability of Zero-Space.
When being pursued by a spacefaring vessel they cannot risk attempting to overpower, Sarkiri ships are known to rapidly enter and exit Zero-Space in a maneuver known as threading. A threading ship intentionally destabilizes Zero-Space in its wake, rapidly exiting Zero-Space so that the Teratocytes do not have the chance to attack them. When finished threading, the ship will exit into realspace far from its original location, discouraging further pursuit through the unstable tears in Zero-Space and the aggravated Teratocytes.
- The Sarkiri are heavily based on the Argonian race from the Elder Scrolls franchise by Bethesda Softworks, but live in jungles and deserts rather than marshes and swamps.