|Official Name||Etosian Bear|
|Common Nicknames||Honey Bear, Masked Bear|
The Etosian Bear is a small species of bear native to the dry island of Etosil, where it has been known for years to the Ailor settlers. With time, the stories of this animal were exaggerated to fit outsider expectations for a bear, and when the Vladno came, they were initially disappointed but ultimately still molded the animal into a creature that would still help represent their culture. As such, the animal is commonly associated with the Vladno as it is also one of the most common animals they hunt. The Bear is also well known for its dark fur, which helps it blend into the dark stone of Etosil but also for its white “mask” of fur, the pattern genetic and widely varying in composition.
The Etosian Bear was first discovered during the time the Elven Empire ruled Etosil. Their explorers uncovered the bear species but found them lacking in use as they were too small to present a real challenge in gladiatorial arenas and their flesh was not at all appetizing. In later years, escaped Ailor slaves came into contact with the Bear and discovered a similar lack of use. However, following the Cataclysm and the later population boom granted by exiled members of society from various states, it became a symbol of power to wear the fur of an Etosian Bear. While hunting the animal was difficult thanks to the mountainous terrain of Etosil with the animal had long mastered, it was enough to reduce their numbers and move them into wild areas firmly away from Humans. This pattern continued for a number of years as through contact with other peoples, the Bear was built up and exaggerated in appearance to appear as more of a threat. When the region fell to the Regalian Empire and the Velheim later known as the Vladno came, they eagerly sought out this fierce and powerful animal. What they found instead was a small species of bear who mainly consumed fruit, plants, and honey. Not to be deterred, they still hunted the animal as, despite its smaller size, it could become extremely aggressive in hunting situations. The Etosian Bear today is a symbol for the Vladno people which they explain due to its majority dark fur coloration and muscled form, rather than ferocity. The bear itself is still populous, mainly hunted by the Vladno and keeping away from populated areas of Etosil by living up in regions inhospitable to Ailor and others.
The Etosian Bear is the smallest species of bear in Aloria, standing at four to five feet tall when on all fours with a length of five to six feet. Their heads are round, with a short, broad snout with two large eyes (colored brown or green) with small rounded ears. They have a short neck which attaches their head to their muscled form. Their limbs are tipped by four large paws with five white claws. The bear is covered in a layer of black fur though their paws have white fur and their faces are known for the white pattern on their faces. These patterns vary, from a simple white ring around their facial features to a mostly white-faced appearance. The hair also tends to grow down onto the underside of the neck in older Etosian Bears.
Etosian Bears have an extreme level of sexual dimorphism, as males are always the largest sizes while females are always smaller. Additionally, Etosian Bears have facial fur patterns believed to be inherited from each parent, though the gradual changes in these facial patterns occur over several generations and not immediately from parent to offspring.
Life Span and Development
The Etosian Bear is born in litters of one to three cubs inside of an underground or cave den found or made by their mother. During their first two weeks, they are entirely white and are kept inside of the den for their safety, feeding on the milk of their mother. After these two weeks, their black fur comes in and the mother ventures outside to replenish herself after the exhausting effort of birthing and then feeding her children. At this stage, she keeps them close to her, and they follow her naturally, lacking the innate curiosity of other species of young in favor of protection and safety. The cubs are weaned from their mother’s milk a month after being born and then stay with her for the next year, learning all they can and slowly growing in size. After the age of one, they are considered adolescents and over the following year, leave their mother’s side. In a full litter, such departures are often spread out throughout the year and are slow to happen. By the second year, they are teenagers, and young Etosian Bears begin to look for their own dens and caves to live. Physically, they are still undersized but at the age of three, have reached their physical and mental peak as adults with the ability to procreate indicating this difference. Unlike other mammals, Etosian Bears are capable and receptive to mating year round with no set mating season. Females raise their cubs alone. The Etosian Bear is capable of living up to fifteen years old, by which time their bodies will lack the same musculature as their youth and their white fur has grown onto their necks.
Etosian Bears are caring creatures, but capable of great ferocity. Females are protective of their young, keeping a consistent eye on them especially in the early months and will jump to their defense if attacked. While the Tsarr Cat was once a threat to their population, the domestication of that animal has reduced their predators down to only a single source: man. The Vladno nobility hunts the animal, employing tactics to antagonize it to anger and violent responses for “more of a challenge.” When attacking Ailor, the Etosian Bear often charges at a low angle and jumps for the face or chest. Another tactic is their use of climbing trees. While it may be done to escape such threats as the Vladno, the Vladno must be careful to lure out any angry tree-dwelling bears lest the animal suddenly drop down onto them in a surprise attack. With other members of their species, the Etosian Bear displays none of the same ferocity and lacks a territorial drive. Some have even been noted to eat together if a particularly plentiful bounty of food exists. The Etosian Bear also defies convention by eating various types of plants from raw plant matter to fruit. They also sometimes indulge in honey produced by the Common Sunstripe and have developed an immunity to the animal’s sting. However, there is no known alchemical method of extracting this ability, and many have given up on finding the connection. They are only pushed to meat when these two sources are missing from their territory and even then it is usually fish from rivers or insects from the ground instead of larger animals or mammals.
Territory and Groupings
Etosian Bears are not territorial, freely cross paths with one another and even sharing homes, though only for a most a month before tensions might arise. As for territories that they occupy, males always have a larger territory at nine square miles while females only have seven square miles. This does not limit the roaming territory of the Etosian bear, however, and some have been known to travel great distances from their home region seeking a mate or food.
- The Etosian Bear is well known in Regalian children’s literature. The animal is portrayed by the lovable Prosopeíoa Bear in these books where he travels to the different regions of the distant Regalian Archipelago.
- Etosian Bear faces are used in Vladno heraldry, but such art often uses the pattern with the least amount of white, which is a thin T of white on the animal’s face that covers their eyes and ends on the animal’s snout.