Imperial Stag Deer
|Imperial Stag Deer|
|Official Name||Imperial Stag Deer|
|Common Nicknames||Celestial Cervid|
|Habitat||Select areas of the Regalian Archipelago|
The Imperial Stag Deer is one of the few creatures in Aloria privileged to be one of the few animals hunted exclusively by the Imperial Family of the Regalian Empire and have long been cordoned off in Imperial Hunting Grounds. They suffered under Justinian I as Morgann Kade hunted them extensively to fuel his own personal opulence; they have been recovering ever since and exist in the popular consciousness through a variety of fantastical works of art, both visual and oral, which describe these kings and queens of the forest.
Popular legend declares the Imperial Stag Deer was supposedly discovered in 29 AC by the first Regalian Emperor, Theomar I, when he was out hunting in his family’s lands in what would later become Dragenthal. This first encounter has been recorded in all its majesty by many artists and poets who greatly mythologized the event. However, in reality, the animal had been known for at least several centuries; the creature was noted by the Altalar to live in Daen. They, however, hunted it to extinction on their continent despite its earlier associations with Estel. In the Regalian Archipelago, the Imperial Stag Deer remained a murky part of local legend as a large, beautiful creature of the forest. Theomar’s encounter with one was no mere chance; official Imperial records clearly indicate he actively sought to hunt and kill the animal as a show of anti-Elven sentiment. In the years that followed and as the Regalian Empire expanded, any forest in the Archipelago known to have Imperial Stag Deer was declared Imperial property and only House Ivrae could hunt on the land (though special dispensation was given to their hunting companions). This system maintained a small but stable population of the animal strewn across the central, southern and western lands of the Regalian Archipelago. This came to an end, however, with Morgann Kade. The man, in all of his exuberant decadence, used his control of Justinian I to freely hunt Imperial Hunting Grounds for the animal. As a result, the Imperial Stag Deer went extinct in Anglian territory. The animal was only spared elsewhere by hunting servants purposefully keeping Morgan and his cronies away from young Stag Deer or families out of religious devotion to the Spirit. After he died, the population of the Imperial Stag Deer began to recover. They have been recovering ever since - the last estimates indicate it will take another thirty years for the animal to return to healthy numbers.
The Imperial Stag Deer has often been portrayed far more majestic than it actually appears, though the most accurate feature all creators get right in their work is the sheer size of the creature. It stands at a staggering ten feet high thanks to its antlers and head, with a length of ten to twelve feet and a weight as high as 1500 pounds. Their heads are large but delicate, with a protruding snout of nearly a foot long ending in a large and smooth dark brown nose. Their two large eyes are either pale blue or a pale purple coloration, supposedly a sign of their relation to the Spirit, while above this sit two large pointed ears on either side of their large antlers. These antlers are pale white to beige in coloration and feature several small crenelations before ending in an uneven fan. These antlers only come off every three years or when one is broken due to some form of combat. The rest of the animal is well built; a thick neck and light mane of fur connects their head to their powerful body. Their four legs end in large black hooves well adapted to forest terrain. Their body sports a longer tail than most deer due to the fanning effect in the tail fur, making a short, one-foot long or so horizontal fan. This is often extended as plants tend to cling, grow, and trail behind them. Their bodies are covered in a highly distinct coat of fur, with pale colorations throughout much of the year though in the spring, a light brown or tan coloration comes into the fur on their face and down their backs creating a light dappling effect with small white ovals.
Imperial Stag Deer appear the same across both sexes, which is why they are all called “stags.” The only difference that can be detected is the bulge of pregnancy females have over the autumn and winter while during the spring, when most Stag Deer fawns are born; they always keep close to their mother and drink her milk for over a month. Beyond this, each Stag Deer has a unique antler formation and coloration pattern to their fur during the springtime.
Life Span and Development
Due to their relative isolation, the Imperial Stag Deer has not actively been observed at all times of the year throughout their development. What is known is that female Imperial Stag Deer gestate their young for an extremely long time, almost half a year from the mating season in the summer into the end or very beginning of spring. When the young emerge, they are pure white and possess only nubs for antlers. Over the next several weeks, they gradually steady themselves and are soon walking with great grace and poise alongside their mother. Children can only be born one at a time, and a female produces only up to three children in her entire lifetime. Over the next three years, the fawn gradually matures into a teenager in both body size and mental state, and at the five-year mark they will leave their mother for the wider forest. Throughout this time, their father stays nearby as protection but has little to no active involvement in the life of their child. The Imperial Stag Deer can live up to sixty years, though rumor suggests some particularly ancient members could live up to 100.
The Imperial Stag Deer is the royalty of the forests they reside in, having few to no predators due to their large size but also due to their grounds being preened for hunting by the Regalian Empire over two centuries. As a result, the animal has adapted rapidly to being hunted by Ailor. Upon hearing the approach of horses, Imperial Stag Deer will rapidly flee to the nearest water source, ford into it and then carry on the other side, often turning back and crossing the same river again further up or downstream. Families of Imperial Stag Deer, however, always feature the male powerfully presenting himself to hunters in an aggressive posture, guarding his mate and child. He is not stupid though and usually bolts in the opposite direction to his family in an attempt to lead hunters away. As can be imagined by this great intelligence, they are also highly caring for other members of their species, particularly the old. They also walk with great poise and balance, never falling over unless in high-stress situations.
Territory and Groupings
The Imperial Stag Deer is a solitary creature, often living alone in the wilds after it has left its parents. This occurs for several years until they mate, around the age of ten, and then stay near them for several weeks to see if a child has been created. If not, the two part ways. If there is one, then the father will remain near for protection. The Stag Deer can only be found in Imperial Hunting Grounds in the south and central lands of the Regalian Archipelago, which are uniformly deep growth and barely touched forests. The animal is nomadic, slowly moving across the forest floor.
- Imperial Stag Deer have very powerful neck muscles that help to support their head and antlers, but as the antlers are not all that heavy, the muscles are largely focused on the constant need to dip down and then up when eating plants or running from hunters.
- Imperial Stag Deer tails are often exaggerated to be a few feet long, reaching the forest floor, and filled with plant life. Some insist that this is how the oldest Stag Deers survive, by literally covering their tracks up as they walk.
- Some Anglians believe there are connections between the Imperial Stag Deer and the Feathered Dragons of old, but Morgan Kade brushed these beliefs aside when he hunted them.