|Common Nicknames||Lesser Frosthorn, Shaggy Ero|
|Habitat||Mountainous areas of Jorrhildr and northern Cain|
Silvershales are large, well-built primate Mounts wielded by the Urlan of The North Belt. Possibly confused for decades if not centuries with the far more savage Frosthorn, these gentle giants can turn into rampaging beasts of battle when unleashed by their Urlan tenders. Silvershales are also highly complex in their private, isolated groups, with an intricate societal structure but also a deep caring between members of the same species. Rare in the wider world today, it is likely that with the vast rise in Urlan numbers across Aloria due to their thorough embracing by the Regalian Empire will see many new Silvershales bred and deployed out with Urlan masters.
The history of the Silvershale is deeply tied to that of the Frosthorn, as many scholars believe that the two creatures, so close in shape and form, were amalgamated into a singular, savage monster. However, it is also possible that due to the Silvershale living in the deep, mountainous interior of the lands it inhabits, it was not seen or found until recently. Regardless of these truths, it is believed that relatively soon after the Cataclysm, Silvershales made contact with outsiders in the form of the Urlan of Jorrhildr. While Urlan are perhaps an ancient Race, their history becomes most clear following the devastation of the world which changed the geography of their homeland. In these early interactions, the Urlan hunted the Silvershale, considering them prized prey due to their elusive nature, and mountainous homes in some of the harshest terrain of Jorrhildr. This perception changed sometime around 150 AC, supposedly due to the partnership of a legendary Urlan hunter, Taqarm the Tenacious, and a young Silvershale called Gorm. While young and arrogant, Taqarm supposedly broke his leg and became trapped in the hostile mountains. Gorm, also young, found the Urlan, but rather than leave him to die, dragged him to the relative safety of a nearby cave system. A friendship between beastman and beast emerged, and when winter ended, Taqarm departed the mountains with Gorm at his side. He would later go on to ride Gorm, and become the first to teach the skill of training and bonding with a Silvershale. Since this time, the hunting of Silvershales has been made forbidden in Urlan society. They are considered gentle creatures of the mountains, their empathy seen as a reflection of the Urlan’s own, while their cousins, the Frosthorns, are seen as savages, lost into the bestial rage many Urlan shun. Silvershales remain rare in number, though with the vast explosion of Urlan numbers since 305 AC, they are growing more well known as a valuable part of many a war machine.
Silvershales stand at an impressive eight to twelve feet in height and weight somewhere between 500 and 900 pounds. Their heads are ovular, with a furrowed brow sitting above two large pale brown or blue eyes, a broad, open nose, ending on a thin-lined mouth with a downward curve to it. Two slightly curved off-white tusks emerge from the lower jaw, which are between three and five inches long. They also have Human-like ears pressed close to the sides of their head. A thick neck attaches to this head to the rest of the body, a well-muscled, agile machine of speed. The animal, while capable of walking upright, will both run and periodically walk on all fours, this motion a result of two bulky, long arms with built-for-wear five-finger hands and thick knuckles which the mammal walks on. The rear legs, located closer to the ground and located below a sloped back which pushes the chest forward, feature five-toed feet. The animal is covered in a thick layer of white fun which silvers as they age. However, the soles of their feet, and the palms of their hands are bright pink, while their faces have similar pink skin emerging around the eyes, nose, and mouth area.
Silvershales are generally equal in gender numbers, and lack sexual dimorphism telling them apart. Some say females are smaller, but there have been some fairly notable exceptions over the past several decades.
Life Span and Development
Silvershales are liveborn as a lone baby, or with a twin sibling, and never more than that. When they emerge, they are small, feeble, half-blind, but covered in a thick layer of white fur already. This helps protect them from the cold of their natural habitats. They also primarily sustain themselves by feeding on their mother’s milk, and eating what meat or plants the father returns with. By the age of six months, Silvershale babies are allowed to leave the den with their parents, often clinging to their backs or fronts, and having barely grown. Babies are weaned at about eight to ten months after birth. It takes a further three years from birth for Silvershales to physically mature, and by the age of five years old, they are considered teenagers. A further ten years sees them grown to full adults, their adult mentality matching their bodies, and they then break from their parents to join the wider troop. Silvershales in domesticated surroundings are often separated from their parents a few years earlier, or at least introduced to the idea of spending more time with members of Aloria’s sentient Races. Training for Silvershales begins even earlier, when babies are allowed to go with their parents into the wider troop. Silvershales in the wild and domesticated surroundings live for around the same length of time, this being forty to fifty years.
Silvershales have a complicated, highly social mental overview. The species is overall very caring of one another, primarily seen in their treatment of their children. Both parents are patient with their offspring, and even if the child, one, or both are male, adult males will not become assertive over them. Silvershale communities are also kind to each other as adults, with grooming a communal activity taking place around midday. This mentality also exists in domesticated Silvershales, and their keepers often allow the picking through of their hair by a charge or two and do a similar process to keep the animal clean through concerted effort. There is an internal hierarchy among wild Silvershale groups, with a grouping of alpha males above the females and beta males. Alpha males are distinguished often by their seniority, as well as their physical strength in defeating challengers to their position. However, sometimes, should an alpha male grow too old, the collective troop, females and males, will reject his presence and force him to join the beta males at the fringe of the society. A new male will then rise to take his place. Competition for the position of alpha is often a series of breaking social conventions, a male grooming the favored female of an alpha before him at midday, or the gathering of food, then giving it to others. Ultimately, alphas fight it out, beating their chests and coming head to head, literally, staring each other in the face and only occasionally actually pushing or punching one another. Females, for their part, are largely disconnected from all of this, focusing on raising any young in the troop, and further, minor, tasks. Silvershales are also noted for how they can be turned into rampaging war beasts by their masters, many tales speaking of outnumbered Urlan turning the tide of any battle by dismounting and siccing their Silvershales into the frey while they then charge in behind these powerful warriors.
Territory and Groupings
Silvershales live in troops in the wild, made up of three dominant males, a host of females, and several beta males in and around the area, making up a sort of “lookout” for the troop though they are also kept away by the males in control. Solitary male or female Silvershales are infrequent but are seen in groups that grew too large, and temporarily dissolved. The troop grounds are considered their territory, and Silvershales all have their personal space, but they will not attack individuals who approach or pass through their territory unless it is directly aggressive or disruptive. Their territory makes up the high peaks of mountains, often existing in and around caves that serve as dens, or high-altitude valleys. Silvershales in domesticated areas however are born and live in “barracked troops,” small groups of two to four families cared for by handlers and trainers in rural areas or the fringes of cities. Aggression and social hierarchy are limited here, and there is little to no territorial spirit in the Silvershale, save against those who would try to harm their riders.
- In the aftermath of the Battle of Curag Fields, a number of Silvershales were briefly confused for Frosthorns by panicked Ailor when a group of Urlan entered Heartland Ceardian territory on the hunt for elusive prey. These Ailor luckily did not kill any of the creatures, as one threw a boulder at the group causing them to flee, and the Urlan quickly moved on while administrators took over and calmed the situation.
- Silvershale pelts are very rare, with Urlan rituals and beliefs viewing their removal as a taboo. It also doesn’t help that to hunt a Silvershale, one must often get through either a group of Urlan, or be forced to take an Urlan along, as their skills in tracking often make such an effort far less hazardous.
- There is often something comedic about a large horned beastman riding on the back of a large apeman, their physical size often close, and awkward positioning giving the Urlan an almost strange, child-like quality of hugging the back of an adult. No Urlan finds such jokes amusing however.