|Common Nicknames||Eastern Horn Beast, Zhongan Rhino|
|Habitat||The Far East|
The Seiniu is a common cattle animal of the Sihai homelands. Docile yet capable of defending itself with a horn on its nose and its thick body, the Seiniu has been shaped into its current role by generations of Sihai farmers who value it for its meat, milk, and leather. While wild specimens were all but extinct several centuries ago, the tumultuous years that deeply scarred the Sihai people have allowed feral populations of the animal to emerge in the wild corners of their distant homeland. But as time passes, these feral populations are reintegrated back into Sihai society.
The Seiniu was once a wild animal that roamed the plains of central and southern Sheng, even being found on some of the southern islands. When the Sihai encountered it, first contact was cautious but ultimately fruitful as while heavily protective of their own kind, the Seiniu proved easily domesticated. Within the first millennium of the Sheng Empire, the animals went from a sparingly-hunted creature to a group of animals that could be relied upon by southern and central farmers. This reputation only increased over the following millennia. The animal lost more and more of its leathery body, its thick defensive horn, and sturdy stance to a more docile, smoother, and chubbier physique. it was also spread far and wide, shipped across the seas with the Sihai colonists seeking to form the boundary forts on what is now Zhong, where the animal’s presence soon proved just as beneficial. But then came the Cataclysm and the chaos that followed. Thousands of Seiniu were lost in mere hours, and while the Loong Dragons ultimately protected the Sihai people, a number of Seiniu at the now ragged periphery of Zhong went feral, their owners killed by Void Demons. The animal earned a reputation as a fierce target for hunters seeking food during this difficult time. As this decade of chaos ended, many of these feral Seiniu were rounded up and re-domesticated, though some still remain in the wilder areas of Zhong. This is still the case today, with the Seiniu population rapidly rebounding as efforts to eradicate hunger and repair the harm to the Sihai Race continues, built on the food stocks this cattle can provide.
Seiniu are heavy-set animals, though whether this is muscle or fat greatly depends on the individual cattle. They range from five to six feet in height with a length of between nine and thirteen feet long, with weights easily clocking out at over a ton, often closer to three. The animal’s face is long, with a wide mouth and a pair of prominent nostrils, and a singular horn sitting on the top of its snout. This horn is thick, and was once quite long, but has regressed to a short height of three inches due to Sihai breeding practices. The ivory is commonly off-white but can be easily cleaned by a caretaker into a bright white. The rest of the animal’s face is made up of its large dark eyes and a pair of large, slightly pointed ears that sit facing away from the head. Their head is connected to the body by a thick neck with often a roll or two of fat, before joining with the rotund body and its thick, stubby legs. As previously mentioned, Seiniu are routinely fat rather than muscled, which is more common in the feral herds, as the domesticated animals are bred for their meat. Their feet feature a union of toes and hooves, and their bodies feature a slight hump at the height of their back before steadily declining to their rear. Their body ends on a short tail, with a tuft of hair at the end. Their body is covered in a layer of mottled pale gray skin, which while once particularly tough and thick, has been smoothed down over the centuries. The color this gray skin is paired with is a charcoal black, a lighter tone that often appears in mottling that clusters around the upper body and down the animal’s sides. The hair at the end of the Seiniu’s tail is also always in this dark shade.
Seiniu males are universally larger than females, even among those feral populations outside of the agricultural sector. The two sexes both have horns, though females possess a small set of pink utters easily seen which immediately distinguish them from the males. The population is also fairly large, with an equal birth rate, with the number of feral Seiniu rapidly falling over the past decade while those fully domesticated continue to rise.
Life Span and Development
Seiniu are liveborn as either single calves or a pair. When born, they are small, pale gray of color, and still lack a horn, but look like their adult counterparts otherwise. Calves keep close to their mother for a solid year, gradually maturing throughout that time. They are weaned from their mother’s milk after two months and from there, they begin to intensely eat to reach their adult size and fulfill their large body’s need for fuel. By the age of two, they start leaving their mother’s side more frequently as their adult mentality also comes into play, and by the age of three, they are fully matured. Seiniu in domesticated surroundings can live for up to forty years, with those in the wild often living shorter lives at around thirty years.
Seiniu minds are exceedingly core to a defensive, herbivore, and herd mentality. While parental couples do not mate for life, there is some awareness between males of those who are likely their children, with gestures of kindness and occasional companionship taking place between father and children while they grow up, while the mother remains constant in the lives of the children before they mature into adulthood, leaving her side. Males are also the protective element of Seiniu herds, as even with their horns reduced in size and sharpness, their bodies are still bulky and a charging Seiniu is no laughing matter. They rarely do this unless circumstances demand it and an immediate threat is detected, which is more commonly an occurrence among those feral populations dotted across Zhong. Seiniu feeding patterns, meanwhile, are similar to those of other grazing animals, with their stature granting them easy access to eat from the ground or a trough.
Territory and Groupings
Seiniu are herd animals who live in small groups of around ten to twenty in the wild, but grow up to a hundred in domesticated surroundings. Known as wallows, these groups are headed by a selection of males, usually the oldest, who are controlled by Sihai tenders to help move the herd from field to field. The animal is adept at navigating swampy, solid, and river-laced ground, and so their pens are often rugged affairs without the same artificial flatness cleared of trees or avoiding waters as can be seen in wider Aloria.
- In ancient times, the horns of the Seiniu were often turned into special drinking cups as a blessing to benefit the drinker and hopefully imbue the strength of the creature into whatever was drunk.
- Similarly, the hide of the Seiniu was a prize among defenders and warriors of the past, with ancient Seiniu leather armor among the most durable. Few such pieces remain today.
- There are some stories from millennia past of Sihai riding Seiniu into battle. While the animal is too fat for such a task today, they are sometimes still used as beasts of burden and can be most easily ridden by children.