“The Ailuran knows many secrets, but the most important one is this; what is essential is invisible and can only be seen with the heart.”
— Luo Feng, Ujia of Luo
Also Known as: Wha, Chitwa, Catbears, Tayra, Eira,
Habitat: Temperate and Mountainous Forests
Hazard Level: None
The Ailuran is a distinctive semi-domesticated species of mammal known for their clever, curious, and adaptable natures. They are found in arboreal environments primarily in the central regions of the Aeldan continent. They are generally considered adorable, gentle, smart, and friendly and are known primarily for their incredible climbing ability. They are also the focus of a variety of folk tales and myths in Mujin and the North.
The Ailuran is a squat quadrupedal creature that can grow to be 50 to 100 cm in length, not including their bushy ringed tail which can add another 70 centimeters. Male Ailuran weigh between 3.5 and 10 kg and females between 4 and 9. They have short blackish fur on their underbellies and long soft fur on their upper parts which can take a variety of colours; red, brown, white, and grey being most common. Ailuran faces often have markings in various configurations and robust cranial-dental features. They are often mistaken for Raccoons by some due to their facial markings. Their roundish head has medium sized upright ears, a black nose, and they have a variety of eye colours. Their long bushy tail has 6-10 transverse rings with coloration matching the rest of their body and the Ailuran uses this tail this provide balance and camouflage against its habitat. They have short, thick legs and thick fur on the soles of the paws. This fur serves as thermal insulation on snow or ice-covered surfaces.
The Ailuran has strong, curved, semi-retractable claws standing inward for grasping of narrow tree branches, leaves, and fruit. It has a thumb granting it additional dexterity. When descending a tree head first the Ailuran is capable of rotating its ankle to control descent. The species is also able to walk short distances on its hind legs, roughly mimicking human locomotion.
Ailuran are omnivores, with a primary diet of vegetation supplemented by eggs, birds, insects and small mammals.
Ailuran possess several notable abilities including an innate mist-sense which aids them in their core habitat of Mujin. Ailuran will emit a distinctive clicking/braying noise when they sense the mist and can detect its arrival hours before it settles. Ailuran are also one of the few creatures able to traverse the Mist by moving through the tops of taller trees of the Mujin forests.
They also possess incredible reflexes, with reports of their ability to best cobras in combat. They are notoriously hard to hunt; while the Mujin consider the killing of an Ailuran a grave sin, bored Ossandrian border legionaries often try to net the dubious honor of ‘Ailuran killer’ but few have succeeded. Their cunning allows them to spot even the most ingenious traps, their senses allow them to detect and avoid hunters, and their reflexes make hitting one with a bow or crossbow virtually impossible.
Ailuran titter, tweet, whistle and bray as a form of communication, both with other Ailuran and human trainers. They are nocturnal and crepuscular in nature but can adapt to a diurnal schedule if tamed. Ailuran are temperature sensitive, preferring a temperature between 15-25C degrees. They cannot tolerate temperatures above 25 degrees; Nehep and Subin are death sentences for these creatures.
Ailuran are fastidious creatures, cleaning themselves much like a cat by licking their front paws and then rubbing their fur. They also use their environment to assist in cleaning, rubbing their backs and bellies along the sides of trees or rocks.
Ailuran defensive behavior is to flee using their agility and dexterity to evade attackers. If they can no longer flee they will stand to make themselves appear larger and use their claws to defend themselves.
Ailuran breed yearly with litters of 2-3. They are promiscuous and both sexes mate with more than one partner. A few days prior to birth (gestation takes 100-140 days) the parents will gather material to build a nest. Cubs are born blind and deaf at a weight of approximately 115 to 143 grams. The mother cleans and marks the cubs and can recognize each after this. Both parents raise the cubs, with each parent taking turns foraging and hunting for food. The cubs open their eyes at 19 days and by 100 days have achieved full adult fur and coloring, beginning to venture out of the nest. At this point the father leaves. Cubs wean at six to eight months and stay with their mother until the next litter is born.
Ailuran lifespans are between 15-25 years.
There are three variations of Ailuran found across Aeldos:
Aeki: The dominant population and source for the above information, the Aiki, also known as the Red Ailuran, Tame Ailuran, or Mujin Aeki, are primarily found in Mujin where they are trained to act as scouts, using their high position to warn of impending dangers. They are adept at locating high hanging fruits, vegetables and fungi. They are also adept at gathering bird eggs and other delicacies. Aside from scouting Ailuran have little martial use and are adverse to violence. Most strongholds have at least a few Ailuran, usually bonded with a specific handler. The handler lives with and acts as a surrogate parent to the animal.
Eira/Tayra: The Eira or Tayra is a slightly smaller, black furred variation of Ailuran found in Ossandria. More skittish and shy than their cousins, Eira are also more rare, in part due to the Ossandrian perception of the species as pests. Ossandrians hunt and trap them for their soft fur and show little regard for their intelligence. The greatest difference from their cousins is in their preferred habitats; Tayra prefer to live in caves, mountains, and swamps, rather than the upper branches of ancient trees.
Rongar: Also known as the Dire Ailuran, Rongar are believed to be either mythical or extinct. Rongar apparently stood twice the height of their cousins, with shaggier grey coats and more aggressive and feral behaviour. Records suggest that the Rongar was no less clever than the modern Ailuran but far more aggressive and ready to defend itself, and a few accounts even suggest early use as guard animals by Svertan and Vandar tribes. Stories of the species are shared widely in the North, but no living or dead specimens have been recovered in centuries.