|Common Nicknames||Great Eagle, Cagedropper|
Morroks are huge predator birds native to Ellador, but tamed early on by the Dwarves and becoming beasts of war, dropping special pods behind enemy lines to let Dwarven warriors pour forth. Following the freezing of Ellador their numbers dwindled, and today they are rare, both in Ellador and overseas in Dwarven communities scattered across Aloria. They are best known for their testy personalities and are regarded as a strange company for the Dwarves to keep, though ones they have had for centuries, if not over a millennium.
The Morrok has a history stretching back centuries, to the very early days of the Dwarven Race. When the small door was cut into the mountaintop that led to the crown of the Olovomm Hold, the Dwarves say there was already Morrok standing guard. Who exactly tamed the animals is unknown, though tales claim it was Tharain Blackhammer who made the Lord of All Mountain Eagles bow before his might, thus giving the service of the birds to the Dwarves. Whether this story is true is unknown, but over the coming decades as the Dwarves burrowed ever deeper into Ellador, the practice of a single passage up to a mountain top remained, and Morrok were present at these sites, ready and able to carry out surface tasks that, at the time, were quite common among the Dwarves. But, the Dregodar eventually arrived, and the emissaries of the Allorn Empire followed. Ultimately prodded into war, the Dwarves engaged their Morrok pets as beasts of war, using them to attack Wyverns where possible and to drop Dwarven reinforcements into battle with great force and speed. In response, as the Isldar raised their cities high in the mountains, Morroks were slain in the wild, and forced to flee, while Dwarven access to their “peak doors” were largely closed off. The disaster that struck the Dwarves next though, as a result of their efforts at the Battle of Udillin’s Foot, was a massive burst of Magic that froze half their army solid and sent a shockwave of cold across the entire land of Ellador, and even to regions beyond.
The Morrok at this time, already rare in the wild, went virtually extinct. Those specimens kept by the Dwarves were chafed at being moved underground, but this was tolerated at least for a century or two as the Holds collectively shunned the surface world. However, when the Dakkar emerged and began to dismantle the Dwarven existence beneath the surface, the Morrok once again flew through Ellador’s skies. Some went wild, returning to their mountain homes, but they had to choose carefully. New Isldar settlements raised in snow-blanketed peaks shunned their approach, some even outright sending hordes of Wyverns to kill the suddenly returned tool of their ancient foe. Some say that it was the return of the Morrok which alerted the Isldar to the survival of the Dwarves in the first place. Whatever the case, as more and more Holds fell, the Morrok fled with their masters across Aloria. Morrok are now found in diverse climates and regions wherever there are major concentrations of Dwarves, often seen as temperamental as some of those they serve, with their primary focus in deploying Dwarven warriors retained despite the many centuries.
Morrok are massive birds, though not quite the size of the titans that dominate the mountains of Daen. Their length is up to seven feet, with a wingspan of fifteen feet, and weight of around 100 to 150 pounds. Their heads are round, with a prominent, large, downturned pale yellow beak with a sharp point to it. Their eyes are wide and aggressive, with bright yellow coloration. Their head structure also has a slight brow furrow or angle, which adds to the aggressive appearance of a Morrok’s eyes. Their head is connected to their body through a flexible neck, slightly longer than one might expect, allowing them to turn and twist their heads nearly 360 degrees back. The rest of their body is fairly standard, with their two great wings capable of being folded into their body, while their form rests on the ground or perches through the use of huge four-toed, black-clawed feet with pale yellow skin around them. Their tails are perhaps their oddest feature, with short feathers around the central portion of it, ending in tight, lengthy clusters of feathers at either side. This is thought to be the result of Dwarven intervention, and gives the animal a bit of aesthetic flair which is rare on a predator species like themselves. Their body feathers possess two colors, black to dark brown along the wings, body, and middle point of the tail, while whites make up those feathers along their neck, head, and sides of their tail. However, they also possess an added crest of red feathering around their eyes, be they male or female, further giving their face a dissatisfied, intense look.
Morrok numbers are limited across Aloria, and the last counting of their number among the Dwarves showed an equal number of males and females in their ranks. The species does have sexual dimorphism, as females are often larger than males.
Life Span and Development
Morrok eggs are laid in groups of one to three large, nearly spherical, pale beige eggs. Upon emergence, they lack all feathers and are extremely vulnerable, unable to see for as long as a week. Fed mouth to mouth by their mother and father, Morroklets (as they are called) grow very rapidly from their barely one foot tall size, developing a light down almost immediately after emerging. Over the course of two months as they develop in the nest, they will proceed into adolescents, and then young adults with shocking speed, almost unmatched in the bird kingdom considering their adult size. After these two months, they begin to learn to properly fly, and build attached nests of their own next to their parents, as they become too big to all occupy the same nest. Those kept by Dwarves will often begin to be introduced to lifting weights in their talons at this stage, to train them for their adult role. They will often suddenly leave their parents and go out into the wider world soon after this adolescent stage starts, but those domesticated by Dwarves tend to be literally chained down to prevent this spirited, freedom-loving departure, which will make them extremely disagreeable for several months. However, at the end of the period, they are begrudging, accepting their lot in life, remaining with their keepers. The predatory bird takes a total of three years to reach full physical maturity, their early growth spurt slowing to a crawl. Morrok can live for up to thirty years in the wild, and as many as forty in Dwarven surroundings.
Morrok are best described as cranky, temperamental, and tempestuous in equal measure to even those that have ostensibly domesticated them. Why this exactly is, is unknown, with some promoting the rather astral concept of a now species-wide dissatisfaction with the changes to their original homeland, and the loss of their traditional mountaintop domains for both new ones, and whatever poor substitutes the Dwarves now offer across Aloria. This poor attitude comes out in many ways, from staring down an owner, to chirping at them annoyedly, to aggressively pushing them with their heads and beaks. This can happen for any number of minor reasons, but generally has no cause, and the Dwarves have long gotten used to such a mentality in their animals, often talking to them as though they were fully sentient. Morrok are also somewhat testy with their spouses, but are not as aggressive or irritated by their presence, with their Morroklets being perhaps the only animals they give proper care to. However, when the birds reach adolescence, this rapidly evaporates as the animals are now close to becoming adults, and while Morrok will teach their children the basics of flight and the hunt, they rarely go further.
Territory and Groupings
Morrok in the wild live on top of mountains, in caves, or well-sheltered areas, where they build a nest from bones, stones, and regional vegetation. A single mated pair will exist in a nest for their entire lifespan, even after one of them has died, and their ranging territory is vast, often across the whole of the mountain they call home. They are highly territorial, forcing away other adult Morrok who approach. Morrok in Dwarven surroundings, long domesticated, are not as territorial. Their nests are often made with materials from whatever area they find themselves in, be that the arid lands of Farah’deen or the old fields and rivers of Anglia. They are also more accepting of others of their species, but should ideally still be kept in separate nests, and at least twenty feet apart.
- The Dwarven drop pods the Morrok are used to carry are heavy, metal, and most crudely called “cages” by those who view them. Some find it ironic then, for a bird to be carrying about such a thing.
- The most well-known Morrok was Tyshak the Bloodied, who is said to have slain ten Wyverns during the Third Dragon War.