Strytes are taller than humans, and always very thin. Their skin is extremely pale and they have ebony black hair, which creates quite a visual contrast. But the most striking aspect of their physical appearance is their eyes. They are yellow. I envision it as the shot from Revenge of the Sith where Anakin (now Vader) turns to glower at the camera from underneath his dark hood out of his strangely yellow eyes (strange because it's like one of two shots in the entire Star Wars saga where his eyes are that color, the other being when he's burning in the lava). Either that or Darth Maul's eyes. Creepy. Not that strytes are really much like Sith Lords. Though the evilness of certain of them does come close. Strytes have an average lifespan of about five hundred years, making them the longest living of all of Calhortea's races. Strytes are, unfortunately, generally atheistic and hold strong disdain for anything supernatural. At first I was going to make strytes telepathic, but I decided that was weirder than I was comfortable writing, so instead they just have a gift of communicating with their eyes. (Which I suppose would include the eyebrows so those aliens the Third Doctor mentioned would fit right in. But I decided that long before seeing Spearhead from Space.)
Stryte culture depends somewhat on location. Strytes are from the land of Chalton, which lies north of the Headstone Mountains. It is a mountainous country, but sort of Mordor-ish rock. Nothing really grows there, so they depend on coal mining and fishing. However, strytes are not ones to do manual labor themselves. Well, other than "soldiering and war." In Chalton, they enslaved merfolk and chained them to the mines. (More on merfolk in another week or two or three or so.) Strytes have an extreme disdain for other races, and think themselves superior. In the year relevant to our 1800 (there's no sort of time warpish thing like between our world and Narnia), they conquered the land of Calhortz and enslaved its people.
Strytes in Calhortz are slightly different. Calhortz is a beautiful fertile land with a climate similar to Georgia and Florida. Down in the south, where the palace, Crannig Castle is, is basically like Florida. The culture is a sort of blend of classic medieval, stereotypical ante-bellum South, and ancient Rome. They have a monarchy, and they have a medieval castle, but the general populace is made up of plantation owners. The slaves are the humans who lived in Calhortz and the merfolk slaves they brought along with them. I credit Jaye L. Knight's Facebook posts for the ancient Rome aspect. All her posts about gladiators made me want to put some into my story, which added to the strytes' horrid blood lust and made way for a plot twist my dad really enjoyed.
Originally, strytes didn't exist. Toarna was going to be a White Witch-esque witch, but I decided I wasn't really comfortable writing that, so I decided to create a race for her to be that was generally evil instead. And I didn't even really know much about them besides physical appearance until I wrote an interview with Toarna. I've learned a lot about them as I've written Time Captives and, while I can't exactly say I like them, strytes add a very interesting dimension to the world of Calhortea.