Ettin Picture

Ettin are two-headed giants who originally hail from the northernmost echelons of certain Nordic countries. Initially, they started out like their fellow Norsemen as viking settlers. However as history passed and they intermingled with other cultures and races from far off distant lands, they became noticeably diverse and widespread. So much so that in modern times, there are counted as one of the more culturally diverse races out there. Despite that though, they are considered somewhat rare in number. Not few enough to be considered on the verge of extinction but not many enough to be considered well known throughout the world. The reason for this is apparently due in part to their unique physiology which modern science has in recent years shed a light on.

Ettin despite being renowned as two-headed giants are actually a race of regular single-headed giants who for some strange reason are more widely affected than normal by the conjoined twin phenomenon, specifically they more than often become a certain unique type of the occurrence. According to modern science, Ettin apparently have a gene within them which makes them not only bear twins more frequently than normal, but also have those twins be born as conjoined at an even more alarming high frequency. This gene also apparently lessens the likelihood for these twins to either be stillborn or have serious long-term life threatening abnormalities as more than 97% of such instances are born completely healthy and alive. Those who're otherwise on the other hand usually suffer from complications completely unrelated to the conjoined twin phenomenon. It's because of this unique gene and the high living conjoined twin frequency that Ettin were until modern times considered no different than regular run-of-the-mill multi-headed creatures by other races and even by the Ettin themselves. Even with that scientific knowledge though, they are still widely considered two-headed giants primarily due to this fact not being widely known as well as being relatively recent.

How this specific gene which causes Ettin to have a high rate of living healthy conjoined twins came to be is unknown, however there's somewhat of a theory that attempts to explain it. It goes that due to the extremely cold climate of their home origins, the ancient ancestors of the Ettin required extra layers of fat to survive like other cold dwelling beings. They accomplished this not only by growing bigger but also thanks to a slight mutation which made their young be born conjoined. As it turned out, the combined fat reserves of two conjoined individuals allowed both to survive through harsh winters more effectively than those who're born separate. Because of the survival rate of such conjoined individuals, this particular trait flourished and was pass down the generations where it was honed by time to such a degree that it became perfectly normal even amidst environments which no longer required individuals to be conjoined or even fat. This is the most widely accepted theory on the matter in regards to the Ettin and while it's not known if it's actually the truth, it's the closest thing anyone's got to an origin until new evidence can be found.

Despite having supposedly honed the conjoined twin phenomenon to a point that it's hereditary, the possibility of one of Ettin origin being born not a conjoined twin is still an option. In other words, it's possible for an Ettin to have a single-headed child. It turns out the gene that allows the conjoined twin phenomenon to happen is not exactly so dominant as one may think. It goes something like this, with parents who're both two-headed Ettin, they have an extremely high chance of producing offspring that are conjoined ergo a regular two-headed Ettin. There's however a very slim and rare possibility that the offspring of such parents won't be conjoined and an even more rarer possibility that their offspring won't be a twin of any kind at all, in other words they're born completely alone in every sense of the term. For those so called Ettin with a single head, they still have the potential to have two-headed children like their forebearers, provided they were born as a twin. If they were born without a twin, they still have the potential however it's more likely that they'll have two-headed grandchildren rather than children. This of course all depends if the single-headed Ettin, be they a twin or not, breed with a regular two-headed Ettin. If they breed with another single-headed Ettin, the chances of their children being two-headed would be lowered. If they have single-headed children and said children breed with other single-headed Ettin like their parents, the latter's chances of having two-headed children would be even lower. The chances for the regular two-headed Ettin trait resurfacing thus gets further lowered down the bloodline as long as the descendants of the original single-headed Ettin continue being with other single-headed Ettin rather than regular two-headed ones. Should this continue, this would eventually come to a point wherein the trait would be pretty much lost forever regardless whether someone down the line decides to break tradition and be with a regular two-headed Ettin of the purest pedigree. All this though is within the confines of the race itself. With interracial relations however, the matter's significantly more easier to understand in a way.

Should an Ettin breed with a non-Ettin like say a Cyclops or a Yeti, the offspring of such a union would always be a conjoined half-Ettin provided that the Ettin parent be of the two-headed variety. These halfbreed offspring are pretty much regular Ettin in every sense of the word even if they possess some traits from their non-Ettin parent, like one head of a half-Cyclops Ettin having only one eye and a horn like their Cyclops parent. Even those who appear to have seriously drastic changes comparable to like the massive growth spurt a Liger gets, they are still very much considered as Ettin. The tricky part however is what happens next. If a half-Ettin breeds with a regular two-headed one, the conjoined trait of the Ettin race has at least a high chance of being preserved and passed down onto the next generation without too much danger. Their descendants may even inherit some of the traits from the non-Ettin ancestor in varying degrees. However, if they breed with a single-headed Ettin or a non-Ettin, the conjoined trait is completely lost forever in the next generation. The same situation goes if a single-headed Ettin breeds with a non-Ettin in the first place. These rules pretty much apply to all possible interracial relationships a Ettin may have, even with those non-Ettin who aren't exactly single-headed like say a Gawigawen perhaps. The offspring of such a pairing still follows the same rules regardless of how many heads the non-Ettin has, though it does make some really interesting combinations.

Why the conjoined trait of the Ettin has a chance of being lost completely especially moreso through interracial unions is just as unclear as how the very trait itself began. However tying with its supposed origin, many believe that it easily loses its hold because in essence, it's no longer needed. As Ettin have come a long way since their cold homeland origins, they as a race no longer need the trait as a means of survival. The only reason it's still prevalent though is that the Ettin still breed amongst others of their race that still retain this redundant trait. Doing otherwise on the other hand, is just nature running its natural course to shelve this long overdue trait. With that said though, there are occasionally those rare cases wherein the conjoined trait would resurface again down the bloodline in some of the situations wherein it's supposedly lost forever. What exactly this means is anyone's guess, however most just attribute it to being simply a recessive trait briefly reappearing again after skipping several generations before ultimately disappearing back into the annals of genetic obscurity in the next generation than anything significantly special. Although it does make some wonder a bit.

Because of the way things work out for Ettin, it's why their two-headed trait is attributed by modern science more to being of the conjoined twin phenomenon rather than a completely hereditary trait that some other multi-headed giants have as it was in the past. It's also why they aren't well known and considered somewhat rare in number despite the race being supposedly so culturally diverse and widespread. It's not they are few in number, it's just their descendants they had throughout the race's many explorations and intermingling with others aren't easily identified right away as being of Ettin in origin at all. As Ettin are identified as being giants with exactly two heads, those that don't exactly fit that description aren't considered Ettin at all even by some amongst the race itself. They are just simply considered being completely different giants altogether and that's only assuming those who still resemble a giant in the plainest description of the term.

For the Ettin themselves in regards to all this, especially in light of the findings by modern science which explain a number of things about their unique physiology, opinions vary just as much as their diverse and widespread culture moreso with those Ettin who know about this knowledge than those who don't. Some are pretty much indifferent to it all and focus on more simpler problems, like arguments between their two heads. Some on the other hand are quite fascinated by all this and have gained somewhat a sense of pride on learning more about themselves. Some though consider it something of a heresy as they don't like entertaining the idea that they're not a race of true two-headed giants but instead a race of conjoined single-headed giant twins. Then there are those select few who take heed of such things but conclude that the integrity and purity of their racial identity is under some serious threat, thus they decide to take some extreme measures. Thus are but a few of the varying opinions of the Ettin in this matter.

Notes:

• The design of this giant is inspired by Fallon the two-headed giant leader from Jack the Giant Slayer. His bigger head in particular is slightly inspired by Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean as Bill Nighy played both the pirate as well as Fallon's biger head. I sadly only found out upon writing this that Fallon's smaller head was played by John Kassir who's best known for voicing the Crypt Keeper. Had I known that prior, this giant probably would've had a Davy Jones connected to the Crypt Keeper inspired design.
• I also took some slight inspiration for this giant's design from the He-Man villain Two-Bad, specifically the one from the 2002 version. There was something really unique about Two-Bad's design considering he's made from two villains who're completely different not only in mindset but also in physique as well. Their combined form had a real interesting asymmetrical look.
• Somewhat in relation to the Two-Bad inspiration, the giant also has a clashing theme going on. The bigger head has a slight Spanish conquistador inspired theme while the smaller head has a slight native Mesoamerican inspired one. Basically, this giant's Mexican. However if you want to be more technical, this guy's a two-headed giant that in addition to being Norse in origin is also of Spanish and native Mesoamerican descent.
• I mentioned that the Ettin are affected more than often to become a certain unique type of the conjoined twin phenomenon. This unique type is the one that allows not only identical twins but also fraternal twins to be conjoined as well. A bit of a fantasy artistic license but considering the Ettin in question are mythical in origin I believe they get a pass. I do note however that they're only limited to same sex identical twins and same sex fraternal twins. Their biology is already complicated as it is without the whole concept of different sex twins being thrown into the mold. That is though on a biological standpoint. There still exists the possibility of one half of an Ettin deciding to identify themselves differently from their sibling in terms of gender although that's kinda rare since most Ettin are rigidly traditional in this area even if both of their heads disagree on everything else.
• The whole Cyclops breeding with a Ettin thing is a slight reference to the Ogres of Warcraft fame, specifically the two-headed magi variety like Cho'gall who have a second head that's cyclops-like in appearance.
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