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Auroch

The fox starves staring at the Auroch’s balls.
-Svertan Proverb

Also Known as: Great Bull, Charger, Urus, Visund
Habitat: Plains, Savannah, Grassland
Hazard Level: Minimal

Summary
A family of enormous and powerful ungulate bovines, Aurochs are the most common domesticated ungulates and the largest bovines on the continent. Though there are several variations in size, shape, and coloration, all Auroch species are capable of interbreeding to some degree. In addition to being the most common domesticated ungulate on the continent, Aurochs make up a key component in the diet of many of Aeldos’ largest predators, including Faeles, Grommen, Drake, and Wyverns.

Description
Aurochs are enormous bovines that can grow up to 2 meters at the shoulder, 4 meters in length and weigh up to 1500 kg. While varying subspecies have different horn shapes, coat coloration, and may have or lack a shoulder hump, all species share the following features:

  • Long legs and powerful bodies that allow them to reach speeds of up to 60 km/h for short periods of time.
  • Considerable stamina that allows them to maintain speeds of 40-50 km/h, even over long distances.
  • Powerful neck and shoulder muscles combined with well adapted skull and spinal structure which allows them to use their horns to execute devastating charges for both defensive and social purposes.

Aurochs gather in large herds across the continent, forming groups of as many as 50-60. These wild herds travel over long tracts of lowland in search of their preferred food; flora such as grass, woody plants, flowers, and some small trees. For most Auroch species the herd is highly social, and status is determined by fights between all members, male and female. It is also not uncommon for Auroch and other species such as Daedon to form semi-unified herds, grazing together but such mixed herds are not immune from violence and battles between Daedon and Auroch have left many a Dire Pig or Charger gored or gutted. Auroch herds can be found in lowlands across the continent, from the plains of Granden and Luxi Savannah, to the vast grasslands of Ossandria and rolling hills of Victra. Domesticated Aurochs are common in all cultures and are used both for food and labour. They even find use by the Tollam for labour and carriage purposes due to their enormous capacity.

The enormous population of Aurochs on the continent are a result of their prolific breeding cycle which enables female to reproduce at only 1 year of age and to breed as frequently as twice per year. Auroch can live up to 30 years in the wild but such specimens are venerable; most Auroch meet a grisly end at predatory species much sooner. The largest domesticated Auroch population is in Ossandria where the Empire has succeeded in bringing the vast majority of the countries herds under control.

Aurochs are not typically a danger to humans unless provoked. In fact, since they are more appealing targets for most predators they provide some level of safety to travelers when present. The greatest danger posed comes from a few key subspecies as well as periods of rut which can trigger extremely aggressive behaviour. Startled Aurochs are also prone to stampedes which can reduce a caravan to splinters and its occupants to red paste. This is not to say they are harmless; in addition to the sheer force of their charge and their horns, Auroch are also able to deliver devastating kicks to predators and threats.

Notable subspecies of Auroch include the following:
Urus: Urus are the most common subspecies and are often simply referred to and recognized as the “regular” Auroch. They lack the hump and additional hair of many other species and their horns have a distinctive forward facing and curved shape and can reach up to 100cm in length and 25cm in diameter. Coloration ranges from chestnut to black, with ventral stripes common among females. Lighter facial patterns and muzzles are common.
Wisent:: Shaggy and hump-backed, the distinctive Wisent tend to form smaller herds of 15-20 and are known to be more aggressive and temperamental than other subspecies.
Zebu: A smaller hump-backed sub-species with a dewlap and shorter hair and horns, Zebu are resistant to extreme heat and as a result are found most frequently on the edges of the Nehepi desert, Badlands, and southern Lux.
Grunks / Briyak:: A sturdy sub-species of Auroch adapted to higher altitudes, the name ‘Grunk’ is onomatopoeic, replicating their common vocalization. Grunks have longer, thicker hair and shorter horns than other Aurochs and are often characterized as more placid and easily domesticated. They have long furry tails, and their coats tend towards white, grey, and piebald colouration.
Gar:: The name of this hump-less sub-species is believed to be a corruption of the word “gore” and is indicative of their unusually aggressive behaviour. While not much different in appearance, Gar are atypically territorial and nocturnal. Instead of herds they form dominant triad of males, sometimes known as Chargers for their propensity to rush any creature which enters their territory, including carriages and caravans. These triads work together to corner, gore, or drive out perceived threats to their territory.
Awyrgafr: These odd specimens have small horns and longer sloped necks crested with coarse bluish-grey hair. They are found primarily in Victra and are typically docile, and avoidant of danger.
Shrub Ox: Also known as a Kustvol, these smaller hump-less Auroch are covered in a coat of shaggy hair and survive as itinerant browsers in the hills of Nothern Svertheim.

Rumours and Lore

  • A small number of Auroch succumb to a strange condition known as Ganami, which causes them to mutate, growing thick and scaly hides, blackened malformed horns, and red eyes and bloody mouths. Aurochs infected with Ganami are extremely aggressive and hostile to any other species and are typically referred to as “Black Bulls” though cows are equally likely to be infected.
  • There’s been reports of a recent uptick in parasite infections among the Aurochs of the Victran scythe and several noble families have been forced to exterminate whole herds to control the outbreak.
  • Though often used as draft animals, a less common usage for Auroch is as riding animal. There are several stories of Luxi tribes and Victran errants who have tamed such steeds, and a few about Tollam as well.