|Common Nicknames||Giant Ram, Great Charger|
|Habitat||The North Belt, northern Regalian Archipelago|
The Erkebin is a horse-sized ram with curled horns and a thick woollen body well known to the Velheim, Fridurfolk, Tarkkin, Zvorun and Vladno Cultures of Aloria. Commonly seen as a symbol of the north, these animals have been used to perform heavy headlong charges into enemy formations for centuries, rarely being broken from their objective except recently, with the rise of modern technology of the Regalian Empire in particular. Friendly, social, and loving animals, the Erkebin has made the ideal companion to many northern equestrians who lack a horse.
To say the Erkebin has been synonymous with the north of Aloria for millennia would be an understatement. The creatures were first seen among the wilds of the Drovv, and grazing on the open plains that once marked lands held by the Thylan. Migratory, coming down from the mountains in the spring to feed and then returning to the peaks as winter came, the species survived this way for centuries. Altalar sought them out, and while a few were killed and examined, no efforts were made to tame them, not until the Ailor reached Ellador sometime around 350 BC. The explosion of the Proto-Velheim across the region found them bonding with, and ultimately riding the Erkebin over the rocky terrain, and transporting it elsewhere as a valued mount. The icy snap that covered Ellador, and the following Cataclysm therefore didn’t destroy the animal’s population, and instead, the period after this saw their numbers climb. Covering much of Drixagh, and dominating the cavalry of the myriad of Velheim nations that emerged, the Erkebin was ultimately a feared mount of the Skagger Horde which rose in the Regalian Archipelago around 50 AC. Forming heavy, near-unstoppable charges into enemy forces, the Skaggers used this tactic to great effect against the Wirtemcaller Kingdom at the Battle of Zutten, though when it was attempted against the Regalians in the Skagger Wars, failed due to precise artillery fire shattering the charging line’s center. Following the conflict, the Erkebin numbers declined somewhat in the Regalian Archipelago, though expanded in foreign regions as the Velheim diaspora settled and added population to those other regions. Today, the animal is synonymous with the unstoppable charge, as well as the wild north.
The Erkebin sits at five and a half to six feet in height, with a weight generally between 300 and 450 pounds, much of that added by their woolen coat. Their head is slender, with a broad pale pink nose, two large rectangular-pupil eyes with amber, light brown, or shades of green possible within it. Emerging from either side of the animal’s head are their short, pointed ears while emerging from the top of their head, for both sexes, are their thick curled horns. These horns are generally shades of brown or beige and are firmly attached to the animal’s head, which is also reinforced and able to take a hit. The Erkebin has a thick, short neck that helps protect it from the shocks of its charges, and connects it to the thick, woolen body that it possesses, its four pale legs solid and well built for speed and tough terrain. Their body ends on a short tail, with short hair as well. Erkebin wool, which covers much of their body, is in the dark spectrum of coloration, ranging from blacks to browns to greys.
Erkebin are highly diverse animals and display sexual dimorphism. Where both genders have horns, females only have two, the curled sort seen in both rams, while males have four, the same as females, but also a pair of shorter, smaller, forward bent horns that push downward, kept out of the way of a charge. Erkebin males are also often larger than females while the species’ gender ratio is equal and their physical differences in wool and eye color are not regional.
Life Span and Development
Erkebin are born from ewes in pairs of triplets, emerging with pale brown hair all over their bodies, and no horns yet on their bodies. Over three years, they mature from lambs, rapidly on their feet and trotting about, and into adults. However, Erkebin take almost twice as long to mentally mature at five years, at which point they are considered adults. As adults, they remain in the wider herd and seek out making their own families from the herd’s populace. Erkebin in the wild live to around twenty-five years while those domesticated by the various Northland Cultures and the Vladno can live to be forty-five.
Erkebin are highly social, friendly animals that often do not mind interactions with different Races, even in the wild. However, riding them is a completely different subject. Due to their size and mating practices, the riding of a born-wild Erkebin is impossible as it is seen as an act of domination, and the Erkebin will aggressively kick and throw their bodies to dislodge the offender from their back. While sometimes tried by children or adolescents seeking a challenge, the majority of those who have tamed Erkebin leave these wild herds alone to focus on their tamed animals. Wild Erkebin and domesticated Erkebin are also noted for having an excellent relationship, and the two can become easily blended during spring should a rural region suddenly find itself in the presence of a herd or several of wild Erkebin come down from the mountains to graze. Tamed Erkebin are still loyal to their owners though and eagerly obey for the treat of carrots, apples, and other produce they have been trained from a young age to enjoy.
Territory and Groupings
Wild Erkebin herds number between sixteen to sixty individuals, led by a small group of alpha Erkebin who are older males, often in the prime of their life at about the age of twenty. Erkebin will fiercely protect their lambs from predators, and while normal sheep or goats present a challenge to Wolves, it is often nearly impossible for wild canines and felines to effectively take down Erkebin in a large herd. Their large size and fortified horned heads make the prospect too dangerous. Similarly, domesticated Erkebin form a shield against predators who seek them out, but their herds are often much larger, reaching the one-hundred mark, and they commonly get along with other types of livestock resulting in mutual protection, and safety.
- The Erkebin is least used among the Tarkkin, as they have their beloved Tarkkin Metsähivri which are quite important to the forest dwellers of their society. The Erkebin is far more common among the mountain Clans.
- Some Treasure Seekers are fairly mundane in the tasks they perform, seeking out lost jewelry and more. However, this can lead to greater riches as the tale of Orrin the Ranger and his mount Val’hasia, who discovered a vast horde of Allorn-era treasure in 88 AC after being asked to track down a mere bracelet that had fallen off a cliff into a forest.