The Ismae Index pt. 4

On Being Chivori: A Physiological Overview
by Lady Orilausko

One of Ismae’s most venerable species, we chivori are often assigned many unpleasant characteristics, a stereotype I tend to blame on the Dominion of Chiva’vastezz. (Nothing but scapegoating, I realize, but it makes me feel warm inside nonetheless.) We are often cast as liars, manipulators, and cheats or called fussy, bigoted, and arrogant. Though I will hardly deny the prevalence of these characteristics among my people, in my experience, those traits can be found equally distributed amongst all the species. Like others, we are also charming, clever, and keen, but instead of debating such subjective characteristics in this monograph, let us discuss instead the basic physiological statistics of the chivori species—indisputable facts, the details of which are notably different from those of most other species.

Our necks are long, our faces slim, our limbs lanky, to the point we are sometimes described as appearing “stretched.” Politely described, our builds are “slight,” “fey,” or “delicate.” We are taller than the average puka, shorter than the common karju. We tend toward thinness naturally, though here and there a chivori has invested great time and effort into cultivating a decorative pot belly. I am told we are considered generally beautiful, though I assure you that among our own kind, we have definite standards of beauty and homeliness.

Our eyes—one of our loveliest traits—are larger than most and generally present in the spectrum purples and blues as well as black to white with grey and blue most common. We possess scotopic vision, allowing us to see extreme detail at twilight or in low illumination. This trait also gives our eyes a catlike glint when catching the light, something I’ve heard described as both “delightful” and “terrifying.” The bright sun of the height of day however causes less than spectacular detail and can lead to the most terrible of headaches. Given these factors, it is little surprise that we are crepuscular by nature, dividing our daily sleep cycles in two.
Running from black as the depths to white as ice, chivori hair is most commonly found in shades of grey. Unlike our karju cousins, we grow almost no hair on our bodies with male facial hair tending toward wispy and straight, largely restricted to mustache and chin-beard. A chivori with black hair is commonly known as an “ebhead” while one with white hair is called a “gelid.”

Tinted by our blood—a deep blue-black colloquially referred to as “ink”—chivori skin comes in shades of grey from oyster-pale to charcoal-swart and the rich array between. Those whose skin, hair, and eyes are approximately the same shade are referred to as “cinereal,” a coveted trait in some professions.

The chivori dual tympanums are perhaps our most noticeable feature, and one that has resulted in some truly unpleasant epithets. Each eardrum is scientifically referred to as a “lug.” The superior tympanum (upper lug)is akin to that of most other sentient species—it detects the same range of sound, works on vibrations, and is located in a similar position. The inferior tympanum (lower lug) detects a lower spectrum of sound, amplified by employing our jawbones as resonators. This lower lug also makes us far more sensitive to pressure changes and environmental vibrations—the reason most of us fail to enjoy temple bells or thunderstorms. As one might expect, the lower lug is found below the upper, nestled in the spot where jaw joins skull and neck. Many chivori choose to decorate our long lobes with an array of piercings, clips, and tattoos.

A point of envy by the other species is our lifespan—a natural average of one-hundred-fifty years. This can be increased with the use of anti-agathics, an often employed but rarely recommended practice. Our median age of adulthood is twenty years and comes upon the completion of the saypa. Analogous to the karju and puka’s puberty cycle, the chivori saypa begins at the age of six or seven and progresses until age twenty. Prior to the initiation of the saypa, we remain ungendered. (Guessing a child’s impending gender is a source of great amusement and wagers in some families.) Certain superstitions and biases claim we choose our gender, but this is not entirely true. Most chivori children naturally drift toward the gender that most harmonizes with their personality, though some institutions attempt to influence this process through mysticism, hypnotism, diet, chemical means, or even zoetic therapy. (I will refrain from naming this institution or any of its members. They know who they are.)

Though chivori are notorious for our seemingly indiscriminate libidos, we have a fairly low birth rate. Females are capable of becoming pregnant only during their annual rut, or estrus, which lasts for eight to ten days. Some zoeticists claim this low birth rate is an artificial state caused by primeval manipulations to our spark while others claim such ideas are “pish-tosh twitchery.” Once pregnant, gestation lasts for ten months. Twins occur in roughly five percent of chivori births with fraternal twinning more common than identical.

Also a point of envy for some, a larger percentage of chivori present as mystics than any other species, though that still equals less than one percent of our population. Mystic abilities generally appear in chivori children around the initiation of their saypas. The various chivori cultures approach mysticism in different ways. In my next monograph, I will provide an overview of these three cultures (or rather two cultures and an unaffiliated collection)—the Vazztain, the Eitan, and the phao.