|Habitat||Rocky hills and grassy plains.|
Covered in a woolen coat and adapted to the rocky terrain found in the middle of each Ulaan-Ujuur island, the Kholeska provides for the native Kifchuni Nomads several key products. Undiscovered for several decades until tribespeople entered the rocks, they have since been widely integrated into the herding stocks of the Nomads.
Ulaan Horses were first encountered by the Ailor who would come to be known as the Kifchuni Nomads soon after their arrival to the continent known as Nevga. It took several decades, until the 570s B.C., for these Ailor to find the courage to enter the rocky midlands of Negva. There they discovered multiple herds of Kholeska sheltered in the rocks, and these animals soon found themselves herded by the Kifchunians. When the land was broken apart, these animals seemed to vanish entirely as their natural habitat was the epicenter of the land’s division, though some herded groups did survive.
The Kholeska was missing for nearly a hundred years on the Osonem and Mishik islands of Ulaan-Ujuur after the Cataclysm until they were found to, again, be living in the rocks. Since then, they have been herded out into the plains by the Nomads and serves as a prime source of meat, wool and milk for them. While common out on the plains, wild groupings can still be found in the rocks.
Resembling a mix of a goat and sheep, the Kholeska is an odd creature. Wild Kholeska are noted as being larger then their tamed counterparts but all often sit at a good 4 feet in height, are up to 5 feet long and weigh about 250 lbs. when fully grown. They possess a sheep-like face with small, velvety ears, and a prolonged mouth, coupled with a goat’s defining “beard” of hairs. Horns also grow out of the top of their heads, varying in growth from small and thin to large and curled, often depending on age. Their skulls are built for headbutting and they possess hard teeth to grind up various materials, though often roughgrass. Their bodies are woolen with a light touching of hairs that runs down the neck to their underbelly where for females, there exist utters, marking the only exterior difference between males and females. Their coats are often shapes of grey or off-whites but rarer black and brown colours do exist. All of this rests on four cloven feet, surefooted for their natural, rockier terrain that works fine out on the plains as well.
The wool of the Kholeska is the main reason they are herded. Used in pair with the Ulaan Horses’ hide to form leathers, they are used in the creation of the wind resistant gear used and worn by the native people of Ulaan-Ujuur. However, it also used in making other items such as blankets and in the scarves important to their culture. Yet their milk and also ability to provide meat are also valued by the Kifchunians, who consume it on special occasions.
The cloven-hooved mammal is found exclusively on Ulaan-Ujuur, on all of its four large landmasses. The population is generally an equal split gender-wise and can be found in the rockier centers of each island or out on the plains with the Nomads.
Life Span and Development
Young Kholeska are weak when born though can weakly walk around and depend on their mother for warmth as well as milk and guidance. They grow at a normal pace, reaching full size at around 10 years old and can live up to 20 years of age, though some wild Kholeska have been known to live slightly longer. Their minds also go through the different stages of maturity, from ages 1 to 5 as their childhood, 5 to 10 as their adolescence and then adulthood from 10-20. When younger, they are often more exploratory yet as time goes on, they roam less and less, but these earlier explorations help them to learn lessons in footing.
The Kholeska are herbivorious and thus are generally peaceful and calm, even when not herded. However, when a dispute is encountered, both genders with resort to headbutting with their horns and heads. Often it is members of the same gender who dispute, yet fighting between males and females has been observed during mating season, perhaps because the females do not want the male that they initially attracted. Couples of Kholeska last for several months while the mother is pregnant, yet the father will tend to leave or keep his distance once the mother gives birth. They are fairly easy to herd but will panic when attacked and often flit off in different directions. Despite this, Kholeska do regroup quickly to charge their attacker with their horns if threatened.
Territory and Groupings
As herd creatures, there is a pecking order of dominance determined often by the leader’s ability to defeat others in butting heads. They often lead the herd around, getting first pick of mate and when eating, even while being herded by the Kifchunians. Wild herds generally rest at about 10-20 and those herded by the Kifchunians can reach up to 60.
- Nilooms and Kholeska are actually fairly equally matched in a one on one fight with the animal’s horns able to do some serious and broad damage compared to the precise strikes of the Niloom; however Niloom pack tactics often win the day.
- The current Great Rider, Altan Tsogya, keeps a herd of black Kholeska and wears clothing hemmed in their wool.
- Children sometimes rise atop Kholeska to try and train themselves for riding Ulaan Horses; the degrees of success greatly vary.