|Official Name||Stand Antler|
|Common Nicknames||Able Antler, Spike Caribou|
The Stand Antler is one of the North Skags most notable woodland herbivores. They have been present in Aloria before the wildlife of their homes were touched by colonists, Altalar and Ailor alike. The Stand Antler also has a role in winter and Velheim regional folklore. Its behavior makes it an easy animal to track and hunt, but its hunting is strictly controlled by stern rules put in place by the Kingdom of Nordskag’s upper classes.
The Stand Antler is an ancient feature of the North Skags. When the Allorn Empire discovered the region in their expeditions north into what later became known as Drowda, this cervid was one of the first animals they encountered in large numbers. Hunting of the Stand Antler was limited, as the animal was sure-footed and would rapidly vanish into the inland forests. Their numbers remained static until Ailor slaves from the Allorn Empire found refuge within the North Skags after finding ways to escape from their captivity. The Ailor refugees had little to no supplies to sustain themselves with, so they largely lived off the land. The Stand Antlers became a target of Ailor hunting due to their abundance; they were spared from overhunting largely due to religious beliefs and their ability to rapidly escape danger unless injured. As the Cataclysm struck Aloria, the Ailor population in the North Skags was sent into a state of disorder and the Stand Antlers climbed in numbers despite the numbers that had been lost in the continent chaos. It was only much later, during the arrival of the Skagger Horde from the Regalian Archipelago, that the Stand Antler was hunted in great numbers once again. This practice has since leveled out as the animal has grown into an important symbol of the Kingdom of Nordskag, with only the nobility and those who they deem worthy allowed to hunt these animals, and even then only on their own territory. The animal has also been domesticated by the small number of Tarkkin Ailor who have come from the Regalian Archipelago to practice their skills in different lands.
The Stand Antler is the largest cervid species. While dwarfed by the Northern Moose, they still possess a formidable length of up to seven feet, a height of four feet (excluding their antlers), and can weigh up to around 450 pounds. Stand Antlers have long heads, with their muzzles coming to a flat stop at the tip of their nose which tends to curve outward in a small bulging fashion. Their ears are like any other of their species - they are small and stick out to the sides. The most notable aspect of the Stand Antlers is their unique, towering antlers. Their antlers curve backward in a crescent-like shape which then juts forward. Various spikes and branches of bone continue to extend from the main beam of their antlers. Their antlers are so massive that they can add as much as two extra feet on to the animal’s height. The rest of their body is athletic, supported by four powerful legs which can easily cripple a man with a single kick, and which also allow them to run at great speeds in short dashes. Stand Antlers also have a mane covering the sides and bottom of their neck which aid in protection and body temperature regulation. Their coat retains a dark brown color that greys in winter. Throughout all four seasons, however, a prominent white color is present on their mane, shoulders, belly, and tail.
The Stand Antler is one of the few cervids without gender dimorphism. Both males and females have the ability to grow tough antlers which eventually shed and grow back on a yearly basis. Female antlers are slightly smaller though this difference is hard to make out from a distance. The only time both sexes are obvious is during the winter when males always lose their antlers. The necks and chest of male Stand Antlers will also grow in size during this time to appear larger than other males to intimidate any possible competitors.
Life Span and Development
The breeding season for Stand Antlers starts during the autumn seasons where male and female Stand Antlers will congregate in a fairly open area. Females who manage to find a mate and reproduce successfully will go through a gestation period of seven months. Their calves will be born live in the springtime where they weigh around ten pounds. Their mothers will nurse them until it reaches fall again but the little ones are able to feed themselves after a month of feeding off their mothers. Male Stand Antlers mature when they reach about eighteen months of age, while female Stand Antlers reach maturity when they are sixteen months old. Calves appear to be scrawny, malnourished versions of their parents without any antlers present. Both male and female calves begin to develop their antlers when they are two years old. After this, male Stand Antlers will shed their antlers during the first two weeks of winter and grow them back the next spring, while females can shed them at all times of the year. The animal can live up to thirty years in the wild, though the few domesticated seem to be living longer.
The Stand Antler is a docile herbivore comfortable in a variety of locations and with a variety of people. This has not served them well when being hunted due to their comfort with the Races of Aloria, but they are not stupid. If approached with hostility or if they see people with tools of the hunt, they are much less likely to approach or allow people to approach. They are not comfortable around natural predators, for obvious reasons, and either run away or stand as a group to repel an attacker. They also have a herd mentality and will directly seek to care for all members of their group. They can be domesticated into being able to carry supplies or drag sleds. However, this practice is limited.
Territory and Groupings
Finding a lone Stand Antler is a rare sight to see. They are herd animals and exist in groups of several dozen to a hundred. They aren’t known to travel often, but will migrate like any other animal will depending on the seasons. Their habitat is exclusively within the pine forests of the North Skags. They will only leave the pine forests during the autumn breeding season. Male Stand Antlers are widely known to be very competitive. They can be found fighting each other with their sharp horns to claim their mates. These fights for competition end up in a bloody mess where both males have been impaled in various locations on their body from the rugged fighting with their antlers.
- The early Velheim people of the North Skags sometimes believed the antlers they found in the forests were the gifts of nature deities before the hunting of Stand Antlers became known.
- The Tarkkin people have been experimenting with breeding their own cervid, the Tarkkin Metsähivri, and the Stand Antler together in order to produce a strong and powerful new species. The results of this will take a few years to develop.
- The King of Nordskag has long sat on a Stand Antler antler throne decorated with beautifully carved nature scenes.