The Qomond is a creature of blended visuals. Its head is that of a shark, while the rest of its body is like that of a lion, and it can be just as ferocious as either animal. Tamed millennia ago by the Fin’ullen and having served that Race ever since as their main Mount when they must travel by land, the Qomond is a robust creature with the ability to form a strong bond with its rider. It is also known for a unique development, born into pools of water, before gradually working its way onto the land.
The exact origin of the Qomond is unclear, due to their truly unique visual appearance. While some among the Teledden, and even Fin’ullen believe the animal was a natural creation, or at least something formed without external, active pressures, many others do not believe such stories. The most common Fin’ullen tale relates to a legendary folk hero named Caabas the Sea-strider, possibly based on a real figure now obscured. It is said he marched with Talea against the ancient Asha, and then took to the western seas, becoming one of the first to discover the thriving lands of the Suvial. It was then, after returning home to more familiar shores, that he came upon the lair of the One Qomond, and in epic battle, slew her for her corruption by the Void was deep, and Morrlond could not save her from it. In repentance, Caabas then took from her deep cave her cubs, and raised them upon his ship, before they proliferated and offered the Fin’ullen their gifts in thanks. It is a clean, nice story that most outsiders do not believe is accurate to real events. What can be certain is that the Qomond was attached to the Fin’ullen for millennia, dating back to an early period. Where they came from is a mystery, though the mention of caves in the origin myth suggests a span of porous cliffs along the northern Altaleï coastline, territory now held by the Eronidas. Ancient claw marks and more were and still are said to be present here, though the mixed relations between the Fin’ullen nations and the Eronidas mean the site is difficult to reach nowadays. Regardless of the truth, since that ancient time, the Qomond has been the mount of choice for Fin’ullen traveling on land, a role they have fulfilled for years to great effect.
The Qomond form is exotic, though large and feline-based in appearance. They have a length of seven to nine feet, a height of roughly five feet, and a weight of over 600 pounds when they are healthy. Their heads are the strangest thing about them, as they are entirely aquatic, and appear to have the shape of a shark. It has a broad shape, which narrows to a blunted point with two sets of narrow holes that serve as their nostrils. Their mouths are small, and located further down than usual, though have apparent sharp teeth, accompanied by two larger canine teeth like that of more terrestrial predators. Their eyes meanwhile, are not as lacking expression as those of a shark, though are still eerie, in that they are entirely black but pricked with a range of bright colorations. The animal lacks ears though, and instead has gills on the underside of its head just before its neck, where it meets its pale, thin mane. The top of the animal’s head, meanwhile, has a short, but obvious, fin rising up and ending at the mane as well. A small line of sleek, hairless skin trails through the mane, breaking its formation around the fin, and onto the animal’s back, where a second, much smaller fin rests. The rest of the Qomond’s body is traditionally feline-like, with two sets of large paw-tipped legs, and ending in a short tufted tail. While the Qomond’s head is pale gray and covered in sleek skin, the animal’s fast-drying mane is a pure white, as is the body hair on the rest of their body. There are sometimes gray spots along the animal’s backside, trailing off from the sleek skin of the two fins, but this is minor. The tail, however, is always tufted gray.
Qomond have strong sexual dimorphism, males always larger than females, and often the ones to possess the gray spots on their back. The species also favors males by a narrow margin. The only other point of diversity among their species are their different eye colorations.
Life Span and Development
Qomond are live-born in groups of five to seven hand-sized water-pups. This birthing takes place in shallow pools of water, as the species is entirely aquatic for the first several days of their lives. Their shark-like heads are not as prominent at this stage, and they possess only a single fin, with thicker fur along their bodies and fuzz along much of their face. After a week of this, they will begin to push their heads above the water to take in oxygen, and another week later, they will be capable of fully leaving the water of their own accord. The time they can spend outside of water will gradually increase, until at the age of three months old, they are fully capable of breathing air normally. They can return to the water, but are unable to breathe under its surface as they once were. This three month mark also sees the water-pups become the land-pups in formal terms, with their longer hair gradually shedding away, and fuzz around the head slowly receding. Another three months see them reaching the child stage, when their manes begin to come in. Another six months sees them reach the adolescent stage, and their second fin begins to emerge on their upper-back. After a full year, their young adult stage begins, and they remain in this for four years, which is when their physical size undergoes its greatest expansion. At the end of this period, they are full adults, and are capable of living a hundred years both in the wild, and in urban Fin’ullen surroundings.
Qomond are sometimes described as aloof, and this is true to a degree. Their strange heads, and unique eyes mean it can be hard for those not trained in their expressions to understand what they are feeling, and the prominent teeth often give the improper impression of hunger, and annoyance. In fact, Qomond can be quite playful, as even though they are unable to swim through the waters as they did when they were water-pups, they will still splash one another and their caretakers. Qomond also form a deep bond with their riders, should they get the chance to, and they can also seemingly recognize the offspring of their riders at a glance. This same, strange trait is true of their offspring. Even though males play little role in raising them as pups, they can still detect which ones belong to them, and will step in to help guide them in their surface lifestyle when they leave the pup pools behind. Qomond siblings rarely bond, and can in fact eat each other in the wild should their mother be late in returning with a kill to feed them, or only provide enough for some of the pup pools. Their sole connection is with their parent, first the mother, and then the father, but this connection is also transmitted to their rider or primary caretaker as mentioned earlier.
Territory and Groupings
Qomond groups are small in the wild, often just two or three families living in close proximity by the sea in cliff caverns, or similar shelters near salt water. They create their own pup-pools, and will often foster as many as four generations within them. They are rather territorial with others of their species, but the space they claim is relatively small, usually less than a square mile around their homes. Qomond can fight over kills though, and young males often die this way. Qomond in the care of Fin’ullen meanwhile, rarely suffer such death, and indeed live idyllic lives. Millennia of care means the Fin’ullen have perfected their techniques for tending to the carnivorous species, building vast, natural complexes with pup pools and more to oversee the entire maturation process. These hatcheries, as they are called, can sustain as much as a hundred Qomond at a time, if not more, though there is a constant flow in and out of these busy centers as Fin’ullen claim Qomond, stable their Qomond, or keep their aged Qomond in these spaces. Fin’ullen nobles often build private hatcheries for their personal Mounts.
- The fearsome visage of a Qomond is commonly used to adorn the prow of ships with a similar name, dromonds, as they are fast raiding and scouting ships commonly used by Fin’ullen navies.
- Two massive statues of Qomonds stand on either end of the Songs of the Trenches, the vast temple-dockyard that is the focal point for worship of Morrlond in Altaleï.
- Some believe that Qomond are actually creations of Ghilland, Herder of Treasured Beings.