Tengu (天狗, "Heavenly Dog") are a race of spiritual entities that have existed for centuries, having built up a reputation for being both protective and vengeful creatures over this long timeframe. They are entities that are often born and live within the Yuanren, though some have been known to travel to the Human World at their leisure. They are seen as the personification of storms and winds, and people are wary to come near a place under the protection of a Tengu, for fear of the sky's wrath.
The Tengu are, like many that come from their home, mysterious creatures. Not many can claim to know their origin, not even the eldest amongst their numbers. Stories vary widely, due to this haze. Some say that the Tengu were creatures forged by god from the clouds within his domain, charged with protecting his lands from those who would seek to tarnish it. Some say that they were cursed by the very same god, turned into wretched half creatures and bound to areas and objects to preside over them. The stories of their creation become more and more fanciful with time, with younger generations being more interested in wonderful tales than the actual truth of their origin.
While where they came from is a matter that can be argued many different ways, there is no doubt that the Tengu vary widely between each other. Some appear as pictures of guidance and serenity, leading those lost to places were they may rest, while others are demonic an warmongering in nature, wanting nothing more than to see blood, death and destruction. While their personalities can differ widely, one trait that is shared between all Tengu is their territoriality. They protect what they view as theirs fiercely, often to the point of death rather than to part with it. This has caused many troubles with the Tengu and other species within their homeland, as anyone who ventures too far into an area a Tengu has laid claim to is liable to find themselves in a ferocious battle that would more than likely be life threatening. Much like the confrontation this trait caused within the Yuanren, those Tengu who live their lives within the World of the Living often guard temples, ancient grounds or relics, and will attack those who get to close without restraint, so long as they are seen as a threat. Tengu can find themselves becoming territorial over a vast many things, from another of their own kind, a small trinket, a crop of land, or even a human they happen to stumble upon. The things Tengu bond with are often unique depending on their own personalities and experiences, but the protective urge is always the same.
Tengu are also highly sociable, when they don't feel as though someone is threatening their prized possessions. They are oft prone to partaking in games and even bets, offering great fortune and rewards to anyone who can beat them in either. It is rare, but a handful of Tengu have been known to offer up their most prized possession as a prize when betting, though only if they feel as though they cannot lose the bet. Those Tengu who do lose either become forlorn and depressed due to the loss of their "precious", or vow to take their vengeance upon whomever was so unlucky as to have won it. In this instances, and a few others, Tengu have shown that they can be extremely focused and driven towards a goal, if the goal warrants it. Most, however, find that their goal is revenge against someone who wronged them in some way.
Whilst Tengu call many places home, their avian features leave no question that their place is in the sky. Whether it be high up in the mountains, or soaring through the clouds, the higher in altitude they are, the more confident and powerful a Tengu becomes. It is as though the freedom that the air provides is the key to unlocking a power within them, resonating with the sky around them and boosting them to new heights.
Types of Tengu
Throughout their history, there have been but a few definite classes of Tengu documented:
- Ban'nin (番人, "Keeper"): These are a subset of Tengu that personify the guardian urges of the race. They have been bound to an area or relic, often tasked to protect it until the ends of time, and will do such peacefully. They are not prone to attacking those who they assume to be threats to what they are protecting, preferring to talk with those that give them pause rather than cause harm were harm need not be done. However, when they are threatened, their powers are as fierce as any others. It is truly unwise to take a Ban'nin Tengu's peaceful demeanor for weakness.
- Ikari (怒り, "Fury"): These are a subset of Tengu that personify war in all of it's facets, as well as all of the "bad" aspects of the Tengu race. These are great warriors, often reveling in the torture or pain of their opponents before killing them. Their path is one paved with the bodies of the dead and the tears of those in despair. However, no Tengu is born an Ikari. Ikari are forged when the item most precious to them has been completely and utterly destroyed, with no chance of being repaired. This causes something within the Tengu to snap, unleashing a very powerful primal urge to maim, murder and destroy. It has been theorized that this urge is driven by the need to dull the pain caused by losing that which you love most, though this has never been confirmed. Instances of male Ikari Tengu are documented, however it has been found that a large percentage of this kind of Tengu is female.
Spiritual Power: Tengu, like all spiritual entities, possess reiryoku within them. Their reserves have been known to differ widely, with some having relatively low reserves of it and others having exceedingly high reserves, their mastery with the manipulation of it can be seen as somewhat rudimentary. Without proper training in the usage of this energy, most Tengu can only perform simple feats such as channeling it into gusts of winds or sending out a pulse waves. A commonality, however, is that all Tengu possess the ability to channel the power of their spiritual pressure into an intense aura that surrounds them. The aura has different visual effects depending on the Tengu in question, however it always has the effect of intimidating all within the Tengu's proximity.
Shapeshifting: This is a rather minor ability that has manifested within the Tengu. They maintain an innately anthropomorphic state, a mixture of an avian creature and a humanoid, however they are capable of shifting between a fully human appearance or a fully avian appearance at will. Whilst in any of these three forms, the Tengu is also capable of making minor cosmetic changes to their appearance, such as changing their eye or hair color, or enhancing the gloss of their feathers.
Kichōna (貴重な, "Precious"): A Tengu's Kichōna is much like the Zanpakutō of the Shinigami. It is an item that the Tengu has a great affinity with, often something they have had in their possession since birth, and as such their urge to protect it is stronger than usual. The Kichōna is imprinted with the Tengu's very soul, often adopting an ability or two based on the Tengu's personality. Due to this, a Tengu's Kichōna is more often than not their main weapon in combat, or hidden away to protect it from damage. When a Tengu's Kichōna is stolen, they will go to any means to get it back, often offering up things they wouldn't have otherwise. If their Kichōna is destroyed, the pain is immeasurable, as the fragment of their soul is destroyed with it. The pain of the loss is enough to drive any Tengu to becoming an Ikari, though there have been few known to fight the pull of bloodshed and war, returning to a facsimile of their former life. One's Kichōna can never be replaced, however, leaving a void where one was once whole.
Elementalism: Tengu bear the unique ability to call upon and manipulate the elements of the world around them, namely fire, water, earth, wind and even lightning. A Tengu's mastery over this manipulation is completely dependent on their amount of practice with the art, however due to being creatures of the sky, most bear a heavy affinity towards the elements of wind and lightning. Mastery over all the elements is uncommon, yet not unheard of, and is a feat that could be accomplished with enough practice and dedication from the practitioner in question.
- This species, rather clearly, takes inspiration from the Tengu of Japanese folklore and Buddhist tales, with a few personal liberties taken by the author. They were turned into a race of overprotective guardians, bound to items or areas of importance to them, rather than spirits of purely malevolent intent. The Ikari Tengu also took inspiration from the Furies of Greek Mythology, hence the name and why they are a predominantly female subset of the Tengu. The Tengu's ability to shape-shift, as well as their manipulation of the elements, were added by the author in order to add a bit of color to the race.