|Common Nicknames||Genosyolkatl, Zuraah Beast|
|Habitat||Jungles of Westafar and settlements of the Maquixtl|
Mantavaar are large, tiger-like creatures with six legs and striped bodies. Where they differ from the base feline appearance though, is having a humanoid face for their own visage. This is accentuated by a truly breathtaking array of diversity within the species, as they evolve visual traits based on their diets. The animals were likely known to the Eronidas, but it is the Maquixtl who have tamed them into rideable beasts of warfare. They are also known for their love of climbing, and for forming bonds with others of a similar age rather than groups based on family units.
The Mantavaar is an animal shrouded in mystery, given the distant land of Guldar it tends to dwell in, and the secrecy or lost knowledge associated with those Races from the region. The Eronidas were the earliest to encounter a creature similar to the Mantavaar, though some doubt they are the same creature. Fragmented references in Eronidas tales speak of a many-limbed “devourer” with a striped body that lurked in the darkest jungles. Its skin was sometimes taken and worn by the Avarr as a trophy, while they were even said to sometimes be tamed and used as creatures of the hunt against the Eronidas. When the Eronidas fled, these tales were all that remained of the creature, until the Maquixtl reached the area. Due to their own secrecy, the animal they called the Mantavaar was not well known to others. When groups of Maquixtl left their second homeland to return to Altaleï, the first reports of these terrifying creatures accompanied them. Huge, with three pairs of legs, and used as Mounts by the Maquixtl, the creatures had a face like that of a man, while their bodies were capable of enormous visual diversity. Many were, and still are repulsed by such a creature, with ghastly stories rapidly spreading about its origins. Some claim they were a radical, failed experiment, while others say they are the product of unseemly Magic used against Ailor slaves. Today, the animal remains well liked among the Maquixtl, their people unable to see the unnerving traits other Races view in the animal. Some, ironically like the Kathar, find the big cats fascinating, but they may never possess a living one, solely its skin.
The Mantavaar is a large feline, but also one with a highly variable appearance due to its unique process of maturation and development. The average of most Mantavaar is a height of six feet, a length of ten feet including their tail, and around 850 pounds of weight. Their heads are the most striking part of their bodies, with a highly humanoid face composed of pale, hairless skin, large humanoid eyes in a range of colors, while their mouth is more like a muzzle, set forward from the other features of the face with a broader shape as well. Their noses are also a mesh between that of humanoids and felines, with a wide structure. Their mouth is full of sharp teeth suitable for a carnivore. Their head ends on a sort of “beard” which fraces the face, similar to those a tiger might possess. Meanwhile, the animal’s ears rise above their heads and are slightly elongated, but still rounded and shaped like those of a feline of its size. The rest of the Mantavaar’s body is more of a puzzle. Their body generally rests on the three sets of evenly-shaped out athletic legs, each ending in large paws with shredding claws. Their form then ends in a medium to long tail. Their bodies are largely covered in a thin layer of fur, which normally has distinctive vertical striping.
Mantavaar are theoretically capable of near-infinite visual diversity due to their unique ability to visually adapt traits of the creatures they eat. For instance, a Mantavaar constantly fed the flesh of horses will adopt the common body colorations of that breed. This can go even further, and it is commonly noted that a Mantavaar’s tail most heavily adapts to its diet. Thus, if one were to feed them a diet with insects, their tail gradually develops leathery plates, and segments itself. Their faces can also change appearance, with food sources coming from avian stock allowing feathers to grow and to form the “beard” around their head. However, they will not develop a new set of legs, or alter their existing one, and while some entirely lose their natural striping, this is the furthest their visuals can take them. Additionally, the Maquixtl are aware of a standard diet that will keep the animal appearing as it does when young. These colorations are a dark orange color, with a white underbelly, and the stripes being dark blue or green. Mantavaar also possess sexual dimorphism, but only in that their faces are able to be distinguished between male and female due to slight structural differences. Their population numbers are also equal.
Life Span and Development
Mantavaar are born in litters of three to six, and emerge from their mother without any of the traits that individual has adopted through their diet. They appear like most other feline kittens, save for their faces, which are oddly mature in appearance, not like that of a humanoid baby. As a result, they can be fairly unnerving to look at for those unprepared or unfamiliar with the animal. Their bodies possess the natural fur tones and pattern discussed earlier, and for the first six months of their life, they remain relatively small in size, as well as slender in build. However, for the next one and a half years they begin to gain physical mass and become physically mature, reaching the point of young adulthood by the age of two. This is also the age when their diet will begin to affect their appearance. This specific trait of the species has a process length of between eight months to a year for a trait to be added to the animal. Meanwhile, the time between young adulthood to full adulthood is another two years. Thus, by the age of four, they will be at their peak physique as well as mental state, and will likely have one or two alterations to their form depending on the desire of their owner. This stage is also when the animal can be properly ridden, as prior to this stage, weights and saddle preparations are all that can be done, since the muscle mass of an adult is required to hold the weight of a rider. Mantavaar can live up to seventy years old.
The Mantavaar has a caring and compassionate side to it despite its ferocious appearance. While its family groups are rather loose, and young Mantavaar rapidly find their independence, they tend to group together with others of a similar age and create a pack on a social level rather than a family level. These age groups commonly perform grooming amongst each other, as only the youngest stage of Mantavaar allow their parents to clean them. The Mantavaar also get along quite well with the Maquixtl, as well as many other animals. While there are rumors of wild members of the species, significantly altered by their eating of uncoordinated meals in the wilds, the only ones known to exist instead see Maquixtl tend to all their feeding needs. As a result, fowl such as small as ducks, and animals as large as horses are gently or easily played with by young Mantavaar when they often have boundless energy. This allows the Mantavaar to be bunked next to other steeds and mounts with ease, often at ease with the scent of what would otherwise be a predator. The Mantavaar react negatively to most other Races, though nothing potent enough that routine interactions won’t cure that suspicion after a number of years.
Territory and Groupings
Mantavaar prowls are groups of roughly thirty to sixty members, and are kept in Mantavaar “mini-jungles,” spaces which foster environments similar to the homeland of Guldar when the animals are not there directly. This is even done in urban cities, where they mimic the environment through techniques for advanced tree growth and manipulation. Often featuring tall steps, ledges and more to promote jumping, each space also sees internal divisions. Young and parenting Manavaar are on the levels closest to the ground, followed by the groups of young adults. Ages four to sixteen often coalesce, while those sixteen to thirty group up as well, with all others above that age living together at the peak of such structures. This is believed to mimic the Manavaar’s ancient hierarchy that saw them live and rest in trees.
- Mantavaar skins are extremely rare, as the Maquixtl treat them with great respect, and bury them in crypts beneath their faux-jungle homes. What specimens do exist are often the result of lost battles, and the butchery of Eronidas or Kathar who prize the unique pelts these creatures often grant them.
- A common Maquixtl children’s story is of Cozamalotl the Chameleon-skinned, a Mantavaar of rainbow hues who lurks in all sorts of marvelous places with her color-changing coat. The myth is, however, a tale meant to prepare the young for hidden threats lurking in even seemingly safe spaces of the jungle, plains, and even cities.
- There are some who believe that the Mantavaar are actually the result of over-Genosed Maquixtl, reduced to a animal state in the past and now cared for in the modern day.
- It is said that there are Asha-like Mantavaar lurking in the jungles of Guldar, of enormous size and power.