|Official Name||Shadow Bovine|
|Common Nicknames||Darkest Bovine, Kathar Kow|
The Shadow Bovine is one of the most unfortunate animals in Aloria and is the primary source of meat for the Kathar-led Dread Empire in the Far West of Aloria. The beast was produced through carefully applied Void mutations on a long-dead species of bovine, making the animals larger, forcing them to mature rapidly and reproduce at an amazingly quick rate. They also became extremely aggressive and serve as the pinnacle of domesticated Void wildlife for the Kathar, proving to their population that anything can be twisted into the perfect tool through the use of the Void.
The Shadow Bovine is a perfect example of Void mutation manipulation as done by the Kathar. While the origin of the Shadow Bovine is unknown, Kathar history makes a point of describing the power of the mutations they accomplished on the animal. As a result, many Kathar are aware the Shadow Bovine was once a dumb herd animal which likely would have died as the Dulofall poisoned the plants of the Dread Empire. To avoid this, the Kathar mages and Void Worshipers went to work. Through an intensive, but innovative, exploration and application of the Void, they transformed the animal into the absolute beast it is today over the course of 20 years. Ever since then, the Shadow Bovine has remained a key part of the Dread Empire andprovides the vast majority of its meat. It also serves as a successful example of controlled Void mutation.
The Shadow Bovine is an absolute beast of a bovine, standing anywhere between six and seven feet tall, eight to ten feet long, and weighing, at most, one ton. They have massive heads, with a huge mouth, two large nostrils, and two large red or yellow-colored eyes. Their ears are tiny, and both genders have sharp horns pointing upward on their heads. This is then connected to the massive, heavily muscled body through a thick neck. Their backs are high and spined with small bone protrusions that make riding them almost impossible. Their bodies end in a short, half-foot long tail without a hair tuft on the end. The animal’s body is covered in a black or dark grey coat of thin hair, sometimes forming a dappled effect. Shadow Bovines bear prominent scars sustained by damage from mating, aggression with others of their kind, and even giving birth. The animal’s hooves are solid black, as are their horns and spinal proportions.
The Shadow Bovine only exists in one location and its mutations are uniform. Male and female populations are equal in population and in physical size, with the only physical difference being their various different coat colors. While black is the most common, dark shades of grey or mottled grey-black also occur.
Life Span and Development
The Shadow Bovine possibly has the fastest growth cycle of any Alorian animal. Born up to three at a time by their mothers, Kathar handlers can practically watch the animal grow in real time over the course of a mere three months. Within such time, the tiny calves massively bulk up and grow into their aggressive, adult-sized selves. They are mentally mature by six months old, yet most breed soon after reaching their adult size, thus producing more Shadow Bovines at a shocking rate. Female Shadow Bovines are also exceptionally good at bearing children, able to do so up to ten times within their lifetime with a gestation period of a mere month. Shadow Bovines have a very short lifespan, the oldest only being able to live to the age of ten. However, due to the Kathar diet, as many as 95% of the vast Shadow Herds are slaughtered before the age of one.
The Shadow Bovine is the aggression and raw power of a Black Breed Anglian Cow times three. They are in a constant battle for dominance, control, and position as alpha. Gender is almost inconsequential, as only strength matters to these creatures. Their constant struggle for dominance also results in extremely violent mating practices, and survival and continuation of the fittest bloodlines are maintained naturally without the intervention of the Kathar. The only time they do not show aggression is during the care of their young. Surprisingly, both males and females of a pairing are united in this task and even more surprising is the fact that the children are often not the male’s. Instead, when a female is pregnant she will choose a male to serve as her and her children’s “guardian.” This arrangement continues until the calves are two months old when they are of a sufficient enough size to defend themselves, thus resulting in the male leaving. The female will then gradually fade in her protection of her children throughout the final month of their physical growth. Another small point about the Shadow Bovine is they are not strictly herbivorous, and are in fact omnivorous. While much of their diet is Dulofall plantlife, they have been known to eat their own dead as well as anything dead which falls into their troughs or pens near feeding time.
Territory and Groupings
Shadow Bovines are kept by the Dread Empire in a variety of conditions. Some exist in large herds outside the major cities, allowed to freely feed on the corrupted plantlife which the animal long adapted to with its four stomachs. Such herds number in the hundreds. Others exist in cramped stone pens deep within the cities within entirely artificial conditions. Regardless of their living conditions, the Shadow Herds as they are called exist in a constant and savage cycle birth, growth, reproduction, and death as they feed the might of the Dread Empire.
- Shadow Bovine milk is downright sour and very rarely accessible by the Kathar due to the animal’s aggressive attitude, but is filled with various nutrients and substances which help the animals grow so quickly.
- Kathar killing methods for the Shadow Bovines have evolved from the days of spearing them to death with long poles. Most are now killed in bulk through the use of Magic once those deemed killable are separated from the main Shadow Herd.
- The largest Shadow Bovine ever was “Krenos the Krusher”, a nearly two-ton Shadow Bovine who was unable to mate with any female. He escaped from his pen twice, dealing death and destruction in the surrounding settlement. He was finally killed in 190 AC as a centerpiece sacrifice to one of the Void Prefects, though he almost killed the high priestess completing the offering.
- The School of Akhl'xarak has a Discipline that takes heavy visual symbolism from the Shadow Bovin, given its ties to physical prowess, and aggression.