|Official Name||Karall Mole|
|Common Nicknames||Burrow Bears, Akhl'rahz Demons|
The Karall Mole is a hyper-aggressive species of mole native to the Void-tainted lands of the Dread Empire, which have become something of a cultural staple since their conception around the Fifth Void Invasion. While relatively infamous given their lethality, the hides of Karall Moles have been highly sought after ever since the popularization of their use in fashioning a hardy, durable leather.
It is believed that Karall Moles were once mundane animals inhabiting the Shadow Isles prior to the inception of its Dread Empire. Whether their emergence came as a direct result of the Fifth Void Invasion or the meddling of cruel Kathar Mages is hotly disputed among scholars, who often liken them to the Norlda of Drowda which emerged under equally strange and horrific circumstances. What is known for certain is that the Karall Mole has existed as a fixture of Kathar society for over three centuries, during which time the creature has relentlessly attacked, slaughtered, and devoured travelers across the Dread Empire nigh indiscriminately.
Roughly two hundred years ago, during the early days of the Dread Empire, the rising menace of ballooning Karall Mole populations demanded action from local Kaahls, who were routinely losing farmers and livestock in mole attacks. As such, contingents made up of skilled fighters were dispatched to known breeding grounds in hopes of developing techniques for combatting the creatures. Centuries-old records show that these first groups had some success luring the moles to the surface using young Shadow Bovines. They would scare them, set them loose, and then wait for the frantic stampeding to attract the Karall Moles. Other radical groups experimented with blasting magical artillery into the moles’ burrows, achieving varying degrees of success with their scorched earth tactics. Regardless of their methods, these groups would share their findings over the course of the next century, progressively honing the art until the Discipline of Akhl’rahz emerged and seemingly perfected their own set of techniques.
Holding a deep reverence for the Karall Mole’s brutal nature, the Discipline studied the creature thoroughly to determine the most consistent way of killing them. What they found, however, was that the extreme and often chaotic mutations of the Karall Moles made this extremely difficult, and rather than there being one, definitive way of slaying them, there was a set of loose protocols that nearly always succeeded in besting or capturing the Karall Moles. They became so good at it that the moles began regularly appearing in fighting pits across the Dread Empire, and especially in the Pits of Gisgo where the Discipline operated out of. During this blossoming period of success, the Discipline discovered that the hides from the Karall Mole could be used to make an extremely durable Karall Leather, which was often reserved for their most cunning and vicious warriors. Soon after, they adopted the Karall Mole as their patron animal, and it has been prominently featured in their iconography ever since.
Karall Moles are large, repulsive beasts that typically range between 4 and 6 feet in length and weigh upwards of 200 lbs. Much like regular moles, Karall Moles completely lack eyes, and in their stead have extremely acute hearing: their ears, which are pinprick canals on either side of their head, are rumored to be able to pick up minor tremors in the earth from miles away. Their body shape is roughly comparable to a bear, albeit with long, flapped snouts and an additional set of arms and legs on each side, totaling 4 limbs. These appendages boast deadly sets of talons, which the moles will pinch together to form spades for digging, or plant into the earth to steady them as they plow through materials as strong as bedrock. Were their claws not concerning enough, the moles’ rows and rows of teeth are often likened to sharks, and their bites are so forceful that they can rend limbs in a single tear. The natural skin tone of Karall Moles is an ashy gray, although the tough leather of their hide typically mutates as they grow to reflect shades of deep purple and black.
The disparity between moles heavily favors females, with roughly 4 females to every 1 male. This trend has led to the formation of deep underground complexes teeming with female nestmothers and other female protectors, which by and large are both bulkier and more aggressive than males. Males, contrastingly, will journey from nest to nest in order to mate, but rarely themselves venture outside the burrow.
Due to their heavy Void exposure, beginning from birth and continuing throughout their life, the patterns on the hides of Karall Moles are highly varied and distinct to each individual. Some have even been known to sport horns, bony protrusions, or other bizarre malformations; unique features that rarely carry over to the leather made from their hides, as they’re typically hacked off and used for other tools.
Life Span and Development
Curiously, Karall Moles have been observed laying eggs as opposed to live young. These eggs are said to contain Void Essence which mutate the children throughout the incubation process, until they dramatically burst out after roughly 10 days and continue to grow, feeding off their mother’s milk before turning to hunt rodents and small mammals. It is unknown how long Karall Moles can survive in the wild, as most within captivity die in under a month. It is speculated, however, that due to their unnaturally strong connection to the Void these creatures could live for decades in optimal conditions.
While Karall Moles are not particularly intelligent, they have demonstrated a predator’s instinct and will fiercely defend their burrow. Unable to see, as they possess no eyes, the moles will instead follow vibrations in the ground to hunt down prey. For this same reason, it is common for Karall Moles to nest far away from society, as the frequent tremors from daily life overwhelm the moles and cause them to lash out. This makes it difficult, but not impossible, for travelers to accidentally stumble upon a mole den; for the better, considering that these chance encounters are almost exclusively fatal.
Karall Moles are known to be exceptionally cruel. After capturing prey, they will most often drag it back to their den; still alive; to feed their young, which will consume the body over the course of several hours. It is unknown why they prefer to keep prey alive, but local superstition suggests it has something to do with the freshness of the blood.
Territory and Groupings
While not common, Karall dens are massive, interconnected structures that trail miles under the earth. Anywhere between 100 and 300 moles will live within the same complex, often discovered swarming the underground of the Shadow Isles. It is very unlikely to find Karall Moles burrowed near cities, and they almost exclusively exist deep in the countryside away from civilization. Frequently traveled roads run less of a risk, but derelict passages will often need to be swept for mole infestations before being reopened.
- Some Kathar Kaahls consider the eggs of the Karall Mole a delicacy, owed largely to the supposed Void-laden yolk inside. This has led to a rise in poachers seeking to make a fortune by infiltrating their burrows, though few ever return.
- The popularity of Karall Moles in gladiatorial rings has led to the creation of a new sport: Mole riding. Several contenders will enter the pit at the same time and attempt to ride atop the mole for the longest; while also avoiding being gored by their opponents and the very, very angry mole.
- Karall Mole tunnels often breach the walls of the Meraic ruins which dot the underground realm of The Far West. The Haat-Maraya who live in these places have learned to fend off these creatures, and make fair money from selling their remains to those on the surface.