|Freezing to cold northern regions
The Fastox is a bovid creature native to the northern reaches of Aloria, with a dense, two-layer coat of hair to keep it warm from the cold weather plaguing these isolated lands. Long widespread across the region, they have been domesticated by Ailor since before the Cataclysm for their hair, but also for their meat and more, though many more herds exist in the wild. The animal is also known for their musk, which they release during the mating season, giving them a distinct smell.
The Fastox has been part of the northern reaches of Aloria for a long time. The Drovv knew of the creatures, having domesticated a portion of the vast population that roamed the temperate to cold climates of the ancient North Belt lands. In this time, life thrived. There were plenty of grasses or plants to eat, yet already the Fastox was built for a colder climate, and often kept to the northern fringes of these lands. They migrated constantly, remaining in the cold during the winter, and moving south to eat the fresh grasses in spring. Despite this pre-prepared nature, ready for what was to come, the magical freezing of The North Belt was hard on the Fastox. Many herds died, but many others easily adapted to the climate once they learned what small pockets of land could hold or grow nourishment in the brief period of springtime that now punctuated the icy wastelands. The Velheim Ailor came into frequent contact with the Fastox at this time, and began to domesticate them in large numbers, knowing both would benefit from the arrangement. The Cataclysm, and massive shift in northern landmasses that accompanied it saw more herds die, but overall the Fastox continued to survive. The animal has ultimately thrived throughout the past three centuries, its population gradually expanding while remaining domesticated, most prominently by the Velheim Ailor native to the region. They still exist in the wild with vast herds moving in a tide across many landscapes when spring comes, and winter approaches as they seek out food, and then retreat to safety.
Fastoxes stand between four and a half and five and a half feet in height, with lengths of between four and a half to eight feet, and weights between 400 and 900 pounds. Their heads are broad and long, with a large pair of nostrils sitting above their mouths, and flat hair leading up to a pair of dark brown or green eyes. Above their eyes rest their long, large, thick white horns, which have a curve to them framing the Fastox’s face. Their heads are then almost directly connected to their bulky upper bodies. This form has a prominent humped back, which drops by several inches at the midpoint of the animal’s dorsal, and stands on four thick, hooved legs. Its body then ends in a short haired tail. Indeed, much of the Fastox is covered in a layer of dense, long hair, which hangs off their bodies and exists in two layers. The only places that lack these dense fibers are the flat front of the animal’s face and the base of their legs, where the hair is instead short. It exists in tones of dark brown, gray and black, with the hair on their legs being a pale beige.
Fastoxes have a stark sexual dimorphism, with males often much larger than females while also weighing more. Males are also the sex to possess the musk glands that produce their distinct seasonal odor. The color of their hairy coats is related to their parentage, with two brown Fastoxes often producing a host of other brown Fastox, but the other colors creep in from time to time.
Life Span and Development
Fastoxes are born in single live births from their mothers, and like other similar animals, are capable of walking, running and keeping up with their herd within hours. Already shaggy with a thin layer of body hair which rapidly thickens, a Fastox calf will be nursed on their mother’s milk for the course of two months, after which they will begin to eat solid foods more frequently, and drink milk less. This carries on for several more months, up to a total of eight before a calf is fully weaned. Two years after birth, Fastox calves have matured enough to be considered adults, and they gradually grow distant from their mother at this time. Due to the harsh climates Fastoxes often find themselves in, mating is not a consistent part of life with delayed, or whole years skipped due to harsh surroundings demanding the activity, and the need to care for calves, not taking place. As a result, females and males, while capable of reproduction after the age of two, might not do so for some time, especially due to herd social structures and the climate they live in.
Fastoxes are often characterized as dumb, immovable and emotionless given their rigid stance, and ability to survive the cold weather of the northern reaches of Aloria. However, Fastoxes are creatures with fierce loyalty and caring emotions, exemplified by their interactions. While bulls will not remain with their families, bulls overall are still attentive to calves, and the herd as a whole is aware of the needs of the cows while pregnant, moving with her rather than moving her with them. There is also care shown between females and their calves, with bathing and nudges or nuzzles illustrating this. When attached, Fastoxes will perform the act of circling, but unlike other animals where it is often looser, or with a slant toward one side, or one group, the bulls will surround the cows in a circle looking out, followed by the cows as a second line of defense, with the calves and the youngest adults kept in the middle. They have an overall neutral reaction to other Races, except for the Urlan, with the matured bulls treating them as rivals and sometimes charging if not dissuaded.
Territory and Groupings
Fastox herds change depending on the season, with fewer members directly interacting within a herd during the spring and summer months, the group spreading out, before more bodies are required for heat in autumn and winter. Generally, herds hover at twenty to twenty-five individuals. Their hierarchy is one based on age, with older bulls and cows getting the best grazing spots while younger members (except for calves) are considered second. Fastoxes are migratory, but do have certain territories they mark using their musk glands during the spring, as while they consider their winter grounds open, their spring and summer grounds are less viable to cohabitation with other herds. Domesticated herds have been taught to stay in one place, and overall go where their caretakers suggest they should.
- The Urlan often consider the Fastox a reflection of themselves, stoic, yet compassionate when within a group, and don’t hunt them as often as some might think. A few Urlan even look very physically similar to the creature.
- Fastox qiviut (the term for their weavable, extractable body hair) is very prized across The North Belt, as it is weatherproof. However, this is only if it goes undyed, meaning many maintain a natural, rustic look to guarantee the best results.