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Seeking vengeance in the northern wilds...
|Alternate Names/Spellings||Ijiraat, (pl) Ijirait, ᐃᔨᕋᖅ|
The Ijiraq is one of a race of creatures with origins in Inuit mythology, legend and folklore. They identify as mountain spirits, and have a close connection to caribou.
In one myth, it is said that they originated from a woman of a certain tribe, who refused to accept any suitors who came along asking for her hand in marriage (one of whom turned out to be a bull caribou in human form--perhaps the first Ijiraq).
After a while, the woman's father got angry that the woman refused to marry, and arranged that her pet dog would serve as her husband. The two were taken off to live alone on their own island together. Whenever food was low, the woman would saddle her dog with a pack, and send it to meet up with her father for more food.
Time passed, and the women eventually turned up pregnant, giving birth to a litter of nine puppies. As a result, the dog had to go out and get food from the father way more often than normal. When the father came to the island to investigate why the dog was coming too retrieve more food so often, he discovered the puppies. He was infuriated, when he found out the pups were his own grandchildren.
So, the next time the dog was sent to meet up with the woman's father, he did not fill the dog's pack with food. Instead, he filled it up with heavy rocks without the dog's knowledge. When the dog headed back to the woman, the rocks weighed him down, not only causing him to fall through the ice, but to be dragged to the bottom, and drowned.
In time, the woman found out of her father's treachery, and told her pups that the next time they saw her father, they were to destroy his kayak, in revenge for their father's death. Though, the woman's father had no food or hunting tools. With the pups' growing appetite, they would soon have to go off and gather food on their own.
The first three pups were changed into other Inuit, and sent down southward with makeshift bows and arrows. The second three pups were changed into White people, and were sent away in a boat made magically from the sole of a boot, with instructions to return in a much larger ship. The final three pups were changed into Ijiraq, whose sight would be sharp, whose legs would be swift and whose true form would remain invisible to all but shamans.
In addition to this, however, it is also said that the spirits of the dead sometimes come back as Ijiraq. This may explain the appearance of the caribou in human disguise who appeared to the woman before.
Though invisible to the naked eye in their true form, they may be observed by shamans, and other people of similar perceptive capabilities. By those who have seen them in their true form, they are described as looking very similar to ordinary humans.
However, the resemblance is not complete. Rather than ordinary eyes and mouth, their eyes and mouth are situated lengthwise, so that they 'blink sideways'.
Yet, they do not always remain in their true invisible form. They are also capable of assuming the form of a caribou, a human-caribou hybrid (like the caribou version of a Minotaur), or some other fantastical or monstrous version of a caribou, at will. These forms are visible to the naked eye.
One can even sometimes tell the difference between an ordinary caribou and an Ijiraq, with a fair amount of ease. An Ijiraq's hair is somewhat thicker than that of an ordinary caribou. There may also be something distinct about an Ijiraq's antlers in caribou form, which hunters are told to look out for (no matter how subtle), so as to avoid mistakenly harming or killing one.
The Ijirait are intriguing, enigmatic creatures, to say the least. They wear clothes made from the skins of caribou (and their women wear clothes made from the white skin of the caribou's underbelly). They hunt caribou on foot, and take them down by throwing a pair of stones, which each hunter carries in their pockets. They live in houses situated within the hills, which have been fashioned to look very intricate and impressive.
They dislike anything that originates from the sea (the creatures themselves, and any materials derived from them--food, clothing, etc). They also dread the sight of women in childbirth, and react severely to contact with anyone who has made contact with a woman in childbirth.
They are also known to abduct human beings. When they arrive, though, one should not regard them with fear, as the fearful, timid and cowardly are their favored prey. Otherwise, a captive might be involved in a ceremony by the Ijiraq which results in being a faster runner, or perhaps taken for a lover. Yet if one of their kind should be harmed, they are known to take the one responsible, kill him or her, and make it look like an accident. And they seem to be somewhat fascinated with the culture of humans.
While the two races do not live directly side by side, the Ijiraq are known to use magic to keep a watchful eye on the goings-on within human society. In addition to this, they have been known to shop around within the markets and stores of Inuit people, so that they often have the same types of clothes, furniture and appliances within their homes, as the Inuit have in theirs.
Their arrival may perhaps be heralded by what sounds like ordinary human whistling, but with no discernible source.