The next particular set of topics proved a real challenge for me, since I do not draw animals often. Saying that, I am extremely pleased with being able to try something different and had way too much fun drawing cats for this collection!
22 - Familiar
Sacred is the bond between animal and the Exalted, especially the bond between a Mouse of the Sun and their chosen Solar. The tiny stature of these creatures belies their powerful connection to the Unconquered Sun, as they have been known to swarm the cities and deliver a plague to the unvirtuous. They can show up in unexpected places to lend their aid, carrying a key or granting a boon of essence. They fight fiercely to the bitter end for their bonded masters.
I thought I'd end up drawing something flashy like a phoenix or some other impressive mystical animal, but the Mice of the Sun stole my heart because I enjoy the contrast of such a small creature with such loyalty to the Solar and such unexpected power.
24 - Beastpeople
Races of animal creatures with human intelligence are said to have been created by the Lunars who wanted to create a society outside of Realm control. Others are descended from humans whose wanderings into the chaos of the Wyld mutated them to have animalistic characteristics. In other instances, what strange encounters between man and entities that happen in the Wyld don't always stay in the Wyld!
These hybrid races are generally shunned by humans, but even noble and ambitious beings among the Beastmen can become Exalted.
Though, really, it's just an excuse to draw whatever kind of humanoid animals I wanted to, in my case! I did not see a lot of insectoids Beastmen in the lore or fan community, so I thought I'd try my hand at a fancy orchid mantis lady inspired by the shapes of ballgowns and wigs (if you look closely, her 'hair buns' are actually her eyes).
Next, I couldn't resist Secretary Birds for as striking as these birds are. Just look at these eyelashes! I also have a soft spot for Washimi from the show Aggretsuko, one of the most majestic bird people in existence.
25 - Mutation
Much like Beastmen, those who have been mutated by the Wyld are generally shunned as well. The chaotic energy at the fringes of Creation has been known to warp the body and the mind in an number of ways. Lunars tattoo themselves to protect from this energy, while others use magic. Mutations can be all manner of things, from strange wings, flowers growing from places they shouldn't, horns, too many eyes, etc. Your imagination is the limit!
The poor soul we see here was a great sorceress, once. She let herself become mutated in exchange for arcane knowledge. This won't be the last you hear of her! I have plans...
26 - Favorite Animal
Finally, we have the Peacat, an original creature of my own Creation! These fickle creatures prowl the streets of the desert port city of Chiaroscuro at night stealing food and causing general mayhem. It is said they are beloved of Luna for their night-time activities and beauty, a connection echoed in the moonlike feather markings in their tails and crests.
Local custom tells that if you leave food offerings for a Peacat, it could bring you luck and blessings. It could just as easily make a home of your dwelling where your most beautiful things may end up destroyed because the Peacat would prefer to be the most beautiful thing there. Either way, better to have a Peacat's favor than naught! However, it is a sin against Luna to try to domesticate them. Those who have tried have had bad luck.
The Delzhan honor these creatures too, for once upon a time a Peacat led the Tri-Khan's ancestors out of a night-time storm in the desert. Though they can be a menace, they are accepted as a fact of city life.
EDIT: Exalted STs, you are free to use Peacats as background fluff! I might one day add them to the Storytellers Vault along with other The Uncrucified-related story resources, but that's a long ways out still. Perhaps once that happens, toss a few bucks my way then once they've been properly statted. Otherwise, have at and have fun!
You might notice that I forgot the topic Demon! I ended up accidentally skipping it, so it'll be in the next compilation, instead. We have only 6 topics left now (including the bonus topic). I'm so happy I've been able to stick with this Challenge, even when the difficult topics hit. They ended up being a welcomed foray into something new!
I hope you all have been enjoying this trip as much as I have. We're almost to the end now!