Sunday, July 13, 2014

Domesticated Animals of Khorlhossa

Among the tribes of Khorlhossa a handful of animals (creatures neither Monster nor Demon, and appearing as non-unique entities) have been at least semi-domesticated for human use.  The most common of these are the rylback, the sammek, and the tzagund.

The rylback is an elephantine, herbivorous reptomammal that lives in herds of between 15 and 45 individuals.  Covered in warty, leathery skin with a thin, bony ridge of scales down their spine, rylbacks are about 12 feet long (with a tail approximately the same length), bulky and muscular with thick, column-like limbs ending in blunt, hoof-like toes.  They average two to two-and-a-half tons in weight.  While resembling a giant lizard, rylbacks give birth to live young in litters of 2-5 at a time, which they suckle for the first year of their lives.  They are near-sighted, irritable, flatulent creatures prone to attacking anything that makes a sudden movement in their peripheral vision, even their own young.  Their thick, bony skulls and powerful, muscular tails can shatter a man's body if he's not careful.

Rylbacks are hunted for their iron-rich, slightly-spicy meat as well as their leathery hides and dense bones.  They're the primary source of leather and bone for weapons and armor for most tribes, and a tribe's yurts (temporary, collapsible dwellings used when transversing plains or other areas without ruins to shelter in) are typically constructed from a rylback's ribcage and stretched stomach lining.

Sammeks are light-weight, primarily-bipedal reptomammals, balanced atop long agile legs ending in wide, splayed toes. Capable of running at top speed for extended periods of time, sammeks are used as mounts and light pack animals by the tribesmen of Khorlhossa.  Additionally, the milk of the sammek is fermented to create an alcohol beverage called molay, drunk liberally by all Khorlhossans in their travels.

While all the major tribes of Khorlhossa utilize sammeks, it is among the Qemji tribes that sammek-riding has been elevated to an art form.  Among the Qemji, tribe members are raised almost from birth in the high-backed saddles, each individual bonded early to a particular sammek that they will ride until they or their mount dies.  Skill with a riding-lance is likewise impressed into the Qemji at an early age, and the rite of adulthood among their tribes is to spear a crymbat on the wing from sammek-back.

Tzagunds are the hunting hounds of Khorlhossa.  Squat, muscular reptomammals with bulging,
independently-mobile eyes and wide, needle-fanged mouth, tzagunds can digest any organic matter within their powerful innards and their thick, clawed legs can propel them across the icy sands at a clip nearly as fast as a sammek for short periods of time.

Tzagunds are bred for their ferocity and single-minded determination in pursuing prey.  Once set upon a target, a tzagund will pursue it for weeks if need be, refusing to rest or give up the chase until it has either cornered its target or dropped dead of exhaustion.

Most tribes have a pack of 2d6+4 tzagunds accompanying them in their travels.  Some particularly wealthy individuals keep a personal pack for sport and hunting.  The Togaro tribes keep the most vicious tzagund packs, regularly beating and starving their beasts to keep them mean and aggressive, and among the Togaro, tzagund bites are worn as badges of honor.

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