Class- Mammalia (??? gills ???)
Species structure- Collectively called a band, this species has little structure other than the fact that they tend to stick together. No specific band member has any greater authority than another, which does not pose a problem, as they generally don't quarrel over decisions and just, "go with the flow". There are no specific healing members, as individuals see healing practices as primary knowledge, and make a point to teach their young the ways of healing.
Temperament- Generally a docile and intelligent species, known for being curious, excitable, friendly, and energetic. Hardly territorial, if at all, so are fairly welcome to other creatures. Though, they are fairly protective of the balance of nature, and tend to get defensive of it when it is threatened (this leads them to a certain level of disdain for humans). While their curiosity leads them to an interest in aesthetic things (tend to collect little baubles and other whatnots they find interesting), they are not at all concerned with appearances, but rather underlying emotions/thoughts. Can spook if something happens suddenly, such as a loud noise or a fast movement, and can be up a tree in a flash.
Self (notes on Self- dragimalsdaydreams.tumblr.com/… )- This species' Self is unique in that it is geared towards the control of Self itself. through a precise knowledge and mental connection to neural systems, the environment, and the the Self plane of energy, they are able to read and manipulate Self energy. Their skents (the tendril-like extensions protruding from the back of their skull) and third eye are their main points of Self-detection, and are incredibly sensitive to changes in such energy (though, paw pads and other bare areas of skin are also very sensitive to Self, but not nearly as so as the skents and third eye). The third eye can see the alternate plane of Self energy in abstract shapes/clouds and colors (when both the main eyes and third eye are open, the physical and Self plane are spliced together as a physical plane "outline" with a colorful Self plane fill). This eye can open without the Haunt actually making a conscious effort to do so, such as during alpha or slower brain waves, such as theta and delta (so during sleeping, relaxation/meditation). The skents sense Self energy through a sort of 'outward' kinesthesis, which is 'read' by the brain in a combo touch/spatial awareness kind of way. The sensors that extend out of the skent tips are used for non-touch energy sensing and/or manipulation, and work well over long distance (the spatial awareness bit). The tendrils of the skent tip can hold and manipulate objects, and are used for touch-based energy sensing and manipulation, and are efficient in one-on-one interactions.
since the manipulation of Self of organisms with nervous systems works somewhat differently than the Self of organisms without, and then non-organisms, others often split the understanding of this Self manipulation into "mental manipulation" and "environmental/life manipulation", though, to the Haunt, they are one and the same. for explanation purposes, I'll split them up between "mental" and "life"-
Mental manipulation works by Haunts connecting to the neural pathways of other organisms (through eye contact and/or skent projection), reading the neural charges, and manipulating these neural charges for different emotions, senses, thoughts, etc. the power for this manipulation comes primarily from balanced and constant energy transfer, where the Haunt transfers energy to the subject, that energy manipulates the host's energy, then that energy is reflected back to the Haunt, and so on, so there are no lulls in energy transfer. On this mental end, Haunt Self is a delicate balancing act between Logos and Pathos- they must have enough mental capacity to keep calm and grounded when dealing with emotions/thoughts/memories, but also open and flexible enough to actually sense and experience the emotions/etc. they're dealing with. Individuals, while fully able to perform the below abilities, all have varying levels of competence in them, depending on their skills, interests, and what they specifically hone their abilities in (for comparison, most humans have the capability to learn how to ride a bike, but not everyone does, depending on a multitude of factors). Also keep in mind that, while mental manipulation can often be achieved w/o an individual’s consent, it is rarely, if ever, something Haunts do w/o consent, as they understand the fragile nature of the mind, and the devastating problems that can arise from unwilling participation (such non-consensual mental manipulation is INCREDIBLY taboo). Haunt mental manipulation “powers” include, but are not limited to-
-Enhanced introspection- Haunts have a very precise understanding of themselves, leading not only to a very developed self-awareness, when it comes to their thoughts and emotions, but knowledge of their own physical/internal states (they are quite sensitive to their own neural and other biological systems, so are aware of injuries or illnesses in themselves very early on).
-Enhanced empathy- Haunts naturally sense the emotions of others, and, much like another sense, it helps them connect to others and the world around them
-Telepathy- the most universal of Haunt abilities, (right after their enhanced empathy), as it is one of their main forms of communication. as they don't necessarily have a vocal language of their own (most of their vocal noises are for the benefit of other creature's understanding), telepathy involves a lot of projection/sharing/reading of either emotions or visual imagery. telepathy, in its most basic sense, can be compared to phone calls. it can be a one-on-one call, if both participants "answer" the call and participate, it can be a call on mute, if both are listening, but one has "muted" their thoughts to the other, or it can even be a group call, w/ multiple participants listening and projecting
-"Healing touch"- the power others most often associated w/ Haunts, as their energy naturally helps their own wounds/ailments heal faster, and the wounds of those that spend a lot of time in proximity of their energy (Haunts subconsciously direct their Self to mend, fix, and heal themselves and those around them). consciously, Haunts connect to neural systems and help direct Self to heal broken-up Self energy of their subject, and neural systems to do their job a bit more efficiently and help the healing process get rolling.
-"Numbing” the mind- one of the easier abilities of a Haunt, only requires the Haunt to “hush” the mind of another, and quiet the neural charges firing off. This could be for specific things (such as blocking the pain info coming in from nociceptors, blocking any sensory info coming in for someone who can get easily overwhelmed too much sense info, or shutting down sections of the brain firing off unwanted memories for an individual), or just a general “calm down” for the entire brain (which can lead to the Haunt actually easing an individual into sleep, if the mental stress on them is too much).
-Emotional manipulation- Haunts can shift and warp the emotions of others, if they so choose, and it can be rather easy to achieve in other species (most other species can’t sense emotions as precisely as Haunts, so are not aware that their emotions may be influenced by Haunts, and an individual who is not aware of the influence is much easier to influence). This works by Haunts projecting their own, current emotions onto others (the Haunts need a mental map of what areas of the brain are active during a certain emotion, and the most reliable method is to use a current map of their own), and influencing the areas of the brain activated by a certain emotion. This emotional influence can, in theory, be done w/o directly feeling the emotion, on the Haunt’s part (they learn over time what bits of the brain do what, w/o feeling it themselves), but it's EXTREMELY difficult, especially w/ stronger emotions, w/o their own emotional energy as backing. This manipulation often requires an equal “shift” of energy between the Haunt and their mental partner (also a good reason to feel the emotion themselves). leftover energy from their partner’s previous emotion will need an outlet, which the Haunt will provide through themselves, then down/out to the ground (unless in a session of emotional bonding, where individuals generally share positive emotions, in which case the Haunt will hold the emotions and bask in their energy). While Haunts can actively seek out memories connected to certain emotions they are influencing in their mental partner, they often don’t do so, as the emotions are often quick to connect to a memory or experience all by themselves in the partner’s mind, so there’s no need to go further w/ such manipulation.
-Mind control- while emotional manipulation is difficult w/o experiencing the emotions they are meant to manipulate, complete mind control is IMPOSSIBLE if the Haunt does not get on the same mental level as their subject. this takes an incredible amount of energy, for both the Haunt and subject, and can leave them both unconscious after a session of mind control is finished. depending on the subject, conditions of manipulation, willingness of the subject, etc., the Haunt may have to take extra steps to facilitate the mental connection needed for manipulation, such as holding their body in the same position as their subject (which can be rather awkward when working w/ creatures w/ body plans very different from the Haunt), or making the same expression as their subject (again, difficult, since the Haunt does not rely on facial expressions like many other creatures). control of the brain starts from the most basic parts of the brain (such as the brain stem and cerebellum) then radiates out from there. since this is such an energy and focus-intensive procedure, Haunts rarely take full control of the brain, and only the parts needed to complete whatever task is needed (this may even leave the subject open to continue speaking, even as their body moves on the Haunt's accord). much like emotional manipulation, the Haunt must activate and create the needed energy to transfer over to their subject by activating the parts of their OWN brain the Haunt is manipulating-- IE- the Haunt must be doing the task they are transferring to their subject (a reflective, 'repeat after me' kinda thing). so if the Haunt is making their subject walk, the Haunt must walk, or if the subject is speaking, the Haunt must speak (again, difficult, w/ their limited vocal language). depending on just how much of the brain the Haunt is controlling, the experience can be rather surreal. they are both fully conscious of all that is happening during the control, but both are aware of being each other at the same time. for a Haunt, this is nothing new, and easy to sort through and work with, but for another creature, being aware and within two minds at once, sensing the world and thinking through both, can be rather daunting, if not terrifying. if the Haunt or the subject dies during mind control, the other will almost certainly die as well, as connected as their minds are during the manipulation, that when the one's brain shuts down, that energy transfers back to the other, whose own brain will follow suit. Haunts are rather vulnerable themselves during the control, as they are focusing their energy on their subject, so they are open to attacks on their physical body.
-Mental partnership- along the same lines of mind control, the Haunt and their subject share their minds, but rather than the Haunt being the driving force behind the control, both minds share control, and are able to manipulate each others' movements, emotions, sensations, etc. this partnership is intense and requires deep levels of trust from both sides for both minds to work together as two parts of the same temporary "being". again, much like the mind control, if one partner dies, the other surely will as well, when the energy of death transfers back to them.
-Mind reading- different from the way telepathy is used above, as telepathy, in this case, is a conscious communication b/t mental partners, whereas mind reading is the Haunt actively sifting through another’s mind, whether the other is aware of it or not (though, conscious consent of the other makes mind reading much easier and more fulfilling for both parties, as mind reading can be very confusing, if not terrifying, for participants unaware of it happening). Haunts can basically “read” whatever the mind has stored up, from memories, past emotions, to specific sensory info. Anything the Haunt specifically ‘reads’ will be activated by the brain, and, thus, relived by the mental partner (why such mental reading can be terrifying for an unaware participant). Haunts must also be aware that memories are not always accurate-- the mind warps info from encoding all the way to retrieval, so they must keep in mind that the info they are receiving from another’s memories may not be fully correct.
-Mental ‘sharing’- along w/ reading other’s thoughts, Haunts can also project their own thoughts/memories into others’ minds. However, unlike emotional projection, which can be applied to specific parts of the brain connected to certain emotions, the Haunts must project this new info to the areas of the brain that process incoming info (hippocampus and frontal cortex).
-Sensory manipulation- separate from mental manipulation in that sensory manipulation can follow a few different routes. Unlike other modes of mental communication that deal w/ the brain specifically, sensory manipulation can take the “back routes” of sensory neurons, rather than the brain itself. While stimulating sensory neurons is less direct, it can also be less accurate, so most Haunts prefer to work directly w/ the brain. As you might have guessed, this manipulation can also be referred to as “forced hallucination”—Haunts can stimulate different senses to see, hear, smell, etc. different sensations that aren’t actually physically there (these sensations can be pulled from a participant’s memory, or projected from the Haunt’s own experience). Haunts particularly enjoy taking in and experiencing the senses of others, especially those w/ strong senses of taste and smell, since their own senses of smell/taste are incredibly dull.
-Information processing- Haunts can help w/ info processing in others, such as help people who have trouble focusing learn to block out excessive/distracting sensory info, or help people who have trouble remembering w/ encoding and storing info. Haunts can even dig up forgotten memories (the issue must be in retrieval, however. If the issue was in encoding or storage, the memory is gone).
-System control/shutdown- organs/organ systems and muscles that are primarily controlled by the nervous system (such as the lungs and heart) can be influenced by the Haunt. for example, the Haunt can cause the nodes of the heart to tap out a faster beat, or can cause other muscles to twitch, spasm, or move directly through their motor neurons, w/o instruction from the brain. such manipulation often requires the Haunt to move or otherwise manipulate their own muscles and organ systems in response. as for the shutdown, this would most definitely kill the haunt, depending on the organ system being shut down, as the shutdown energy they create towards their host transfers back and affects them. but again, it depends on the system being shut down (IE- the Haunt can live w/ a faulty digestive tract or numbed arm for a few hours, but couldn't live through a heart or brain shutdown).
as for life/environmental manipulation (basically, organisms without neural systems, or non-organisms, such as rocks and rivers), this manipulation is less precise, and simply involves shifting and influencing Self 'clouds' of energy
-Environmental cleansing- areas that have attracted a concentrated amount of negative energy (such as cemeteries or places of recent war) can have their negative Self broken down by Haunts, and spread over a much wider range around the area, ultimately nullifying the negative energy
-"Green thumb"- another commonly-known power, Haunt Self also tends to give an extra boost to the growth of flora (not very noticeable in short time periods, but in high-traffic areas such as frequent sleeping places, or the growth on their own bodies, there is a particularly large spike in plant growth). Haunts subconsciously share and intermingle their Self with others and their environment, and this not only helps plants grow, but can also give others a bit of a boost in energy and spirit.
-"Soul guidance"- while all these powers can be a bit difficult to split between "mental" and "life", as they are all equally entwined with concepts of "life" and "mental" energy, this power especially toes that line. since, in the long-run, this power "ends" outside the influence of physical neural systems, it's being sectioned off into this "life" section. Haunts tend to be attracted to the dead/dying not only because of possible negative emotions that they feel pulled toward in order to alleviate, but also to diminishing life energy, and the subconscious desire to make easier the movement of others' Self from one form to another. they have a very reverent opinion of death, and while their species is very much that of "creation", they deeply understand the importance of "destruction", and feel great satisfaction in helping a soul move from this plane of existence to the next. since they can sense Self, souls that generally aren't visible to the physical senses (IE- ghosts) are just as "real" and visible to them as any other living soul. in fact, if not for the lack of a physical body (and, regrettably, the often fragmented nature of such souls), they'd likely have a hard time differentiating between the living and the dead. they also feel a great inner desire to help these 'lost' souls ease into the form they were meant to dissolve into upon their death, and are often found around grave sites for such reasons.
Because their mental structures/thoughts/emotions are built to /be/ intermingled with those of other creatures and the environment, Haunts rarely ever rope in their Self energy into themselves. Not that they have no self-control (which they have plenty of, as mentioned, in order to hone and direct their Self energy when needed), but they just simply let their Self energy loosely flow and stretch around them because that's what they instinctively /do/ with it. Self is their sixth (and most important) sense, so they naturally let it flow uninhibited out and around themselves in order to connect to and sense everything around.
-Diet~ Herbivore diet consisting of (depends on the environment they live in, but more commonly-) nuts, seeds, pine cones, fungi, ferns/other green vegetation, and the occasional berry cluster, if found. Haunts expend a great deal of energy on their Self powers and the advanced brain that directs such powers, so they must eat a LOT.
-Diet to~ (depends on the environment they live in, but more commonly-) Eagles, owls, foxes, and other larger, carnivorous dragons prey on Haunts. Though they can find fairly adequate protection in the woven branches of the trees. Humans are also known to hunt them and use their meat and pelts.
-Mutualism (non-animal)~ Haunts form what could be considered mutualistic relationships with various non-animal life (such as moss, fungi, clovers, etc.) found in their natural habitats, starting just about from the day they're born. Haunt flesh allows plants to take root when the roots are exposed to to the Haunt's skin (over time, of course- the roots must often first be properly tangled in the Haunt's fur to have enough time to make contact with and eventually root into the flesh). Haunts benefit from the camouflage provided, the constant source of Self energy that can be shared and exchanged with the Haunt's own energy, and extra nutrients/products taken from the plants (always have extra oxygen nearby, and can gain some of the energy/nutrients produced from photosynthesis through their circulatory system's interaction with plant roots). The plants/fungi benefit from the exchanged Self energy (and boost to growth), nutrients provided by the Haunt's own body (fungi can break down dead skin/fur, and plants/moss can gather inorganic nutrients from the Haunt's circulatory system), as well as a greater range to spread their spores/pollen/seeds (considering the Haunts can move around, aha). Haunts aren't prone to extended grooming (with the exception of their paws; they are quite adamant about clean paws), and with their usual high-humidity habitats, it's not very hard for clumps of plant life to get tangled in their fur. These bits of vegetation generally grow on the back and rump (considering those are the places with the least amount of disturbance), but can also grow a bit in other places (especially if the Haunt makes a conscious effort to try not to disturb any growth in a particular spot). Haunts that choose to live exclusively in a body of water are often covered in moss, or have seaweed drifting from their backs.
-Mutualism (animal)~ Tiny organisms (such as insects and arachnids) also hang out in their fur, living among the growing plant life and such. The animals and Haunts share Self energy, and the tiny organisms are provided with a safe, mobile home. Haunts that live exclusively in water often have tiny crustaceans (such as crabs) or other invertebrates (starfish, sea anemones) hiding in their fur, as well as little fish (such as minnows) zig-zagging in and around their fur and plant growth.
Belief system- Nature-based; centered around Self. They feel an emotional/spiritual connection to nature and other organisms, and feel a strong desire to protect the balance of nature, and help it flourish. Have a strong philosophy of "I" and "We" being closely connected, in that they always feel the connections between everything and everyone; there is never truly a pure "individual" in the Haunt mindset as much as "one among a collective many". Also have a strong philosophy of balance whether in energy (negative/positive), morals, health/soundness of mind, nature (life/death), etc. Haunts have very different views of death compared to other species- death, for them, is not an end, but simply an event or checkpoint in the grand scheme of things; a movement of energy and matter from one form to another. Emotions surrounding death range from neutrality/somber respect (especially when dealing w/ the deaths of those of another species, as they try to respect and alleviate the negative emotions of loved ones connected to the event) to downright cheerfulness (when w/in their own species, as they spend the time celebrating the dead individual's life, and congratulating their soul for their journey into another form)
from shoulder- 2-2.5 in
torso- 6-7 in
head to rump- 10-12 in
head to tail- 25-30 in
Wingspan- 16-18 in
Weight- 2-4 lbs
Habitat- Haunts are incredibly adaptable creatures- wherever nature is found, they can be found there as well. Though the species is much more adept for (and inclined towards) thick vegetation/trees and water. They are mostly found in temperate seasonal forests and temperate rainforests, boreal forests less often, plains/grasslands less often than that, and rarely in deserts/tundra. Some also opt to spend their entire lives underwater (they can survive in saltwater, but it is known to irritate their gills a bit, so they tend to shy away from it). Can survive in warmer climates, but tend to show a disdain for it. It really all depends on the water supply and moisture in the air, as they have a more difficult time living in dry climates for long periods of time (they also have an almost insatiable craving to be around or in water somehow, so it is rare to find them very far from a large water source). All that in mind, as mentioned, they really can live in any natural biome, just as long as they take precautions (if a Haunt lives in a desert, for example, they must make frequent trips to watering holes, and, as such, make sure they never travel too far from an ample source of water). The only environments they CANNOT survive in human-made environments such as cities, as their Self is so nature-based, they can't mentally/emotionally or physically handle such an environment (plus, pollution in the air, water, soil, and few plants have extreme affect on their health, and can, in drastic cases, kill them). They don't generally have a home or nest of any sort (until breeding season), so they usually sleep wherever they deem comfortable at the time. Usually in trees somehow, curled around a small tree, or across the branches of interlocking trees. Generally stay in the same area for many generations. They have mostly nocturnal habits. They are much more comfortable with and accustomed to being in water, or climbing high up in the trees than they are on the ground or flying.
Battle- This species has very little in the weapons department, and is also very susceptible to harsh wounds, as they lack much protection. Given this, they RARELY ever involve themselves in quarrels, and generally opt for a 'flight' maneuver, or easing down a potential opponent from any violent emotions they are having (this could involve any number of things, such as actually talking the other down from their mental state, or outright numbing/replacing negative emotions). If they do ever find themselves in a jam, they must rely on their quick wit, stealth, flexibility, and evasive maneuvers rather than outright offensive attacks. Most attacks involve projecting their own fear onto their attackers, helping stifle the attacker. If they are skilled enough with and have a particular talent for manipulation of emotions (and feel confident enough to actually involve their sensitive skents in a fight), they can sense particular flows of emotional energy and certain bundles of nerves in others, and 'harden' the tendrils in their skents in order to send quick jabs to these areas (along with an emotional jab of extreme calm), numbing them, and blocking the energy flow in order to hinder, or even completely halt, movement in that area.
Speed- land~ 36-41 mph; air~ 35-40 mph; water~ 9-11 mph
Strength- 5-7 lbs
-Self-sensing/spatial awareness/"outward kinesthesis"- The most important sense, extremely sensitive to Self energy and the physical world around.
-Touch~ on par w/ their spatial awareness, their touch is quite intermingled w/ that sense. the skin is also extremely sensitive when it comes to Self (pads and skents, in particular). Both the gills and skents are extremely delicate and sensitive to direct touch, and can cause pain if done so harshly.
-Sight~ Close second (third?) to importance in a Haunt. Slit-pupil, excellent night-vision, but both nocturnal and daylight vision are incredibly strong (their eyes provide a basic grey-scale view of the world, complete with shadows, depth perception, etc., while their skents provide the colorful fill to that grey-scale through the colors of Self energy around them, and their third eye provides a more refined picture of the alternate, Self plane of energy).
-Hearing~ Large ears are rather sensitive to sounds, though not nearly as important or precise as their sight and touch (only minorly useful in Self sensing, as they can identify which frequencies affect emotions in what ways, but hearing methods of sensing/manipulation are much less often used by Haunts).
-Smell~ Below average; nostrils used more for breathing than anything.
-Taste~ Extremely poor (to the point that they can barely taste anything unless they are outright smelling it).
Rough handling of skents is the most disorienting to a Haunt's senses, with bright/flashing lights and loud/disorienting sounds coming in at a close second and third.
Weaknesses- As stated above, harsh light, loud noises, and damaged skents are awful on a Haunt. They are a very touch-oriented and social species, so lack of either physical or social/emotional contact can lead to colder personalities, depression, and severely altered brain waves, in drastic cases. They are VERY unequipped when it comes to weapons or protection, as their species is more "flight" than "fight", so they are very vulnerable to serious injury. Haunts are especially sensitive to negative environmental atmospheres (places of recent war, for example), and this can take a toll on their health, especially if they spend large amounts of time in these atmospheres. Must be careful when using their emotional manipulation, since they must be experiencing an emotion in order to share it, and if they aren't mentally capable enough to deal with certain emotions, they could harm themselves by letting a negative emotion get the best of them. they may also accidentally warp others' emotions, memories, or general Self states of being, which can cause irreparable damage to the subject. Dry/hot climates make them lethargic and weaken their defenses. Human environments are an ABSOLUTE no. They are relatively uncoordinated on land (if you've ever seen a ferret running... and tripping...), and not as comfortable with flying either (made for short bouts of flight rather than long periods).
Appearance- Petite, bottom-heavy bodies with areas of loose-hanging skin and fur. Gills hanging from throat, just under the jawline. A flexible, stretchy pouch hangs just in front of the gills, and the gills are gently secured inside the pouch when out of water (the pouch is filled with fluids from specialized glands to keep the gills moisturized). Long, prehensile tail, starting thick and slimming to a small end. Two sets of long arms at the front (NOTE- they do have clavicles), with one set of hind legs, short compared to both the body and front limbs. All paws are plantigrade, have three toes and a thumb, and can nimbly manipulate objects. Thick-skinned wings with three fingers and two thumbs, and shoulders based just behind the second set of arms. The skin-flap of the wings ends right on the rump. Wings have a low aspect ratio, high loading, and rounded tips, making for high maneuverability, (burst) speed, and precision, but low endurance. Wing thumbs have long, sharp claws made to help with clinging and climbing. Bare areas of skin include the tail, paws, wings, ears, skents, and gill pouch. Small, flat tongue. Large, outward-facing, slit-pupil eyes, with one forward-facing eye in the center of the forehead (this eye appears as a mirror-like structure with a very light, faded swirl in its center). Each eye has a second eyelid for protection in water or high-altitude flight (though, high-altitude flight is rare for Haunts). The second eyelid on the third eye is specifically used most often when the Haunt is not consciously aware of the physical realm (during sleep or deep meditation) to provide some protection from outside forces. Rodent-like grinding teeth and incisors in a small, slender, gently curved skull (along with a pronounced bump for the third eye). Covered in fur, NOT hair. Skents tend to reach about full torso length. The bases are just above and behind the ears (connected to each other and the gill pouch by small bits of webbing), start out somewhat thick, and slim to a rounded point. 2-4 tendrils radiate out from the end of the skent (connected at their bases by a small bit of webbing) and can curl, flatten, straighten, etc. (somewhat comparable to a cross between a tentacle and a tongue in maneuverability, but lack a "slimy" texture, and are merely covered in soft, somewhat bumpy skin). at the inner junction of these tendrils are multiple small, delicate 'sensors' that reside on the tips of thin, wispy stalks that can extend in and out of a small hole at the junction. Given the areas that Haunts are commonly found, their pelts tend to range from dark reds, beige, greys, blacks, and dark blues or purples. Though, appearance depends on environment, and pelts can change color with environmental changes (usually takes about 1-2 months for full coat color change). skin colors remain exclusively within darker blues, purples, greys, or blacks, while claws/nails are exclusively black. Eye colors tend to stay in the range of yellows, greens, and blues (with a pupil notably lighter than the iris). while purples, reds, or oranges are more rare eye colors, they're not necessarily uncommon. Fur always tangled w/ some form of plant life, as well as small animal "neighbors" (explained more in the cross-species relationships section), while bare areas of skin tend to be rather clean (especially the paws- they seem to hate having dirty paws) from their near-constant dips into different water sources .
Females- Jays, wider rumps.
Males- Johns, thinner rumps.
Mating- Haunts relationships range from "open" to polyamorous, since they don't always have a specific, life-long mate, and are incredibly affectionate to any and all pack members (not to say that Haunts don't have 'favorites', or closer emotional partners than others, but they really have little discrimination when it comes to mating itself). Individuals can become sexually active as early as age 20, but rarely start so early. Individuals usually wait a year or so after maturity to mate. During that year, youngsters will court one another (either a male or female may initiate) with short "dances", or rituals, if you will, of flaring skents, twisting bodies, and gentle purrs. The aesthetic display of the dances isn't so important as how Haunts use their Self within the dance in order to display raw emotion and thought. Eventually, the real 'heat' begins, and the Haunts begin mating amongst themselves; switching back and forth between multiple partners (individuals tend to have Self patterns similar to their siblings, offspring, and other close relatives, so they are able to avoid individuals with patterns similar to their own, as this prevents inbreeding). Breeding occurs about every 30-35 years. Though, it is not completely uncommon to mate out of season.
Nesting- After mating, they all gather together and start to look for a good nesting area (usually up in the trees), and start gathering materials (leaves, randomly found bird feathers, pine needles, their own loose fur) for a nest. This may take several months. Gestation period lasts about 12 months. Litters usually consist of one kit, sometimes two (it is very rare to find three kits in one litter). All members of the pack care for the kits, much like a very large, extended family (mothers care for others' kits, switching off to give each other breaks, and males protect and care for each kit as if each one was their own), so it's all just one, giant nest of kits and their parents. This leads to less of a concern with blood bonds, and more of a concern with social/emotional bonds through interaction, and ties individuals closer together through a web of universal affection.
Hatchlings- Kits. They drink the mother's milk for about a year. They take a few months to learn to walk, but only a few minutes to learn to cling to their parents. Their gills are fully developed and usable at birth, but are ridiculously delicate, and must be gently groomed often until they become more sturdy (about 2 years). Their wings are strong when born in order for them to be able to cling to their parents while they are climbing or flying. Though, the wings aren't quite built for flight, and kits learn to fly at around 2 years old.
Lifespan- 100-125 years.
-Telepathy (see 'Self' section)
-Verbal- verbal communication is a very foreign concept to Haunts, since their mental Self allows them to directly communicate to each others' minds, so it is rarely used, and really only used in situations where a Haunt is communicating with a different species. when Haunts are communicating among their own, they are generally mute.
the verbal language they do have consists of purrs, and ferret-like clicks (dooks)/growls/hisses. A small bone at the base of each of the skents produces purring and many of the low clicks and rumbles when the muscles around it vibrate and knock it lightly against the skull.
Louder, separated clicks signal discomfort or anxiety; a warning to others to back off.
Very loud, fast, but separated clicks signal extreme anxiety or irritation.
Hisses ^ same.
Low, connected clicks signal calmness or happiness, similar to purring.
High-pitched chirping signals happiness, excitement, or curiosity.
-Physical communication- as opposed to verbal communication, tactile communication is a main form or understanding and connection between Haunts, outside of telepathy. and even then, much of their mental Self is built on physical interaction, so there is a deep interplay between the mental self and the communication they have.
as one might guess, being the touch-oriented species they are, purring affects Haunts on more of a touch-based level than a hearing-based level, and the physical vibrations of purring through their bodies (whether from their own purring or the purring of another Haunt pressed up against them), is incredibly soothing.
The touch of one snout to another is the most common and general form of greeting and mutual trust.
Display of/touching of the paws is a slightly more intimate show of trust, but could also be displayed to anyone, and is important for bonding. Paw display would be answered with grasping/sliding of the arms and paws, or a rubbing of the snout against the paws.
Skent-nipping/licking is a calming mechanism, and is displayed when a Haunt is under extreme distress/agitation, or to just show affection in an already calm situation. Note that this is ONLY done to the base of the skent and NEVER the tip.
Interlocking skent tendrils displays a sharing of emotions and can be used in many situations, from a show of empathy/reassurance, to a strengthening of bonds. While it is a common display among individuals in the species, it is very rare for it to be done to other species (skents are incredibly delicate and can mean certain death if tampered with).
-Visual communication- while the majority of Haunt interactions are based on Self/touch-sensing, sight is a rather important aspect of such interactions (considering the third-eye's connection to Self-sensing, especially), and Haunts have been found to indeed utilize a great deal of communications based solely on sight, even among their own species. though, as mentioned in the "social" section, they do not have very developed recognition for facial expressions, so such interactions are generally simple and localized to a few body parts (specifically the ears, wings, and tail).
ears forward- listening/attentive, confident.
ears pointed back, open and loosely hanging- relaxed.
ears pointed back, rotated closed and held tightly against the back of the skull- agitated, anxious, irritated, or simply readying the ears for a dip underwater (they don't want to get water in their ears, after all).
ears pointed down, hanging loosely- stressed, exhausted, possibly sick.
A flaring of the wings fully out and forward (displaying the more brightly colored/patterned underside), and a subtle shaking of them, paired with agitated clicks and hisses, signals extreme anxiety, and is used to scare off predators or other threats.
wings held open, but generally not fully open (arms held at a relaxed angle) with the wings creating a semi-circle around the Haunt is a welcoming gesture, one of trust and reassurance.
twitching tail tip- agitation, irritating, anxiety.
full-waving tail- relaxation, contentment.
-Scent/Taste communication- nonexistent
Relationship with humans- true to their human-given name, Haunts are seen as spectral beings; mysterious and feared. this name originated from their attraction to the dead/dying and areas of negative energy, often "haunting" graveyards, abandoned buildings, etc. since Haunts are primarily nocturnal (and rather enjoy moist whether, such as fog or rain), first sightings of Haunts weren't clear, so the only clear body parts that were often seen were the eyes (including the swirl of a third eye). such encounters birthed other legends, such as spiral-eyed demons, and trolls with a bottomless, swirling pit of a gullet, ready to consume one's very soul. much later on in history, legends of these creatures persist, but they somehow lost connection with the Haunts, and Haunts primarily carry the weight of being "ghosts" or other spooks of some sort. while such accounts of these fantastical creatures all vary, they all share the common theme of death, and to this day, sightings of Haunts are associated with impending death or tragedy. all this history, however, is all "textbook history", written by settlers who had not encountered Haunts before. these accounts are certainly not the only, or even most important, set of interactions with Haunts. native people who had lived centuries with Haunts never gave them the title "Haunt" (names varied with region), but even among the variety of native clans and tribes, they also associated the Haunt with death. however, much like the Haunt's own beliefs, this association is not a negative, as most settlers made them out to be. Haunts, among these people, are often seen as guides to the afterlife (and even guards or "gatekeepers" in some legends), companions to both the departed and their grieving loved ones, and Haunts are welcomed guests to both funerals and births alike, signs of prosperity in the afterlife or life to come, respectively. some even pray to Haunts for fertility, or protection of their to-be children.