|Official Name||Ulaan Shiraal|
|Common Nicknames||Sca’s Son|
The Ulaan Shiraal straddles the line for many between an equine and a cervid, but its form is ultimately that of a horse. They are quite noticeable, having a slender, lithe build alongside elegant antlers and an exceptionally long tail. They have another unique trait on top of this: they can seek out valuable metals and gemstones on the surface through scent. Since the dawn of the Altalar, the creature has been associated with the great creator of objects and nature, Sca’Elle, and unlike other creatures tied to the Altalar Pantheon, this one was not felled by Magic-fueled cultism. With the rebirth of the Allorn Empire, it is only a matter of time until the Ulaan become synonymous once again with the Altalar who so commonly rode them in past centuries.
One of the longest known of creatures in the history of Altalar history, the Ulaan Shiraal is viewed to have been first recorded during the Darkening, images showing delicate antlered creatures surrounded by nature with inscriptions of Twi’von script seen in the ancient caves of the Altalar’s prehistory. However, it is just as possible that the creatures in these images were exaggerations of the diminutive Daen Deer, a small species also native to the same region the Ulaan Shiraal prospered in. Regardless of this, as the Altalar emerged from the mists of their early centuries, the Faith of Estel and the animal became intrinsically linked. Sca’Elle, the creator of nature but also earthborn minerals, was heavily tied into the birth of the Ulaan Shiraal as his mount, formed to roam the earth seeking out his gifts to the Altalar. Following Talea’s death and the start of the Consolidation, the Ulaan Shiraal was transported across Daen, being used by the expanding Altalar to hunt for surface-samples of precious metals and gemstones that might indicate their presence deeper beneath the earth. Wild herds of the creature also apparently rested and lived outside of cave entrances where the Avatar of Sca’Elle had traveled into, cluing watchful Altalar in on where to find the elusive Avatar.
But as the Allorn Empire reached its zenith, the Ulaan Shiraal became less of a tool for craftsmen and mount for priests and became more of a steed for war. Other horses existed at this time, but the ornate appearance of the Ulaan along with their religious significance to the Master of Magnificence led to their growth as the mount of commanders, heralds, and other important mounted individuals by the Teledden. At this time though, with the birth of the Lesarra, the animal still survived in their more practical uses, hunting for minerals on the surface with expeditions seeking knowledge, or being cared for and carefully monitored by the scholarly Type. As the Allorn Empire declined, these two divergent uses remained intact, the animal surviving due to their spread across much of Daen, though their religious symbolism substantially dulled in the closing centuries of the failing state. Since the Wildering, Ulaan Shiraal survive in scant numbers in the wild, the vast majority still kept by Teledden and Lesarra Altalar as valued tools of conflict and discovery. Most recently, a giant Ulaan Shiraal was noticed to be ridden by the Avatar of Sca’Elle, returned to Aloria after centuries of absence, on his missions across the now reborn Allorn Empire.
The Ulaan Shiraal is a delicate, but sturdy creature, standing at six and a half feet in height (without its antlers), six feet in length, and weighing about 200 to 250 pounds. Their heads are slight, with a narrow, almost pointed muzzle meeting a pink dot of a nose, while their large eyes are deep green or brown in coloration. The top of their head has a pair of white antlers, for both sexes, with copious elegant curls to their formation which reaches nearly a foot tall themselves in the most ornate structures. Their heads also hold a pair of short, small pointed ears. Their neck is narrow, yet firmly holds the equine’s head to their similarly narrow bodies, each of their four legs barely larger than the bone beneath but iron-strong in its support of their bodies. Their hooves have a black coloration to them, and their bodies end in a long-tailed tail that can trail upon the ground if not well kept. The Ulaan Shiraal’s body colors are unique, presenting a variety of gradients. Their lower legs possess dark brown body hair, which fades up into a pale yellow or white coat that covers much of their remaining form. This is only different in the animal’s tail hair, which often displays a tendency to green at the fringes like the hair of some Humans.
Ulaan Shiraal are surprisingly uniform in their appearance, as both sexes possess antlers and do not possess sexual dimorphism as other horned species might. Their gender ratio has been observed to slightly favor males at a ratio of six to five, but this may be flawed information.
Life Span and Development
Ulaan Shiraal emerge as single foals from their mother and are capable of rapidly running soon after their birth. At this time, their body is entirely pale, and their antlers have not come in. Over six years, the Ulaan Shiraal foal will mature, gradually growing in size, gaining their antlers, and having their tail hair grow long. During this period, most domesticated Ulaan are also trained for riding. After six years, newly minted Ulaan Shiraal adults often keep close to their parents for a handful more years before ultimately leaving the herd and seeking out a new one for the mating season. Ulaan Shiraal are capable of living as long as thirty years in the wild and forty-five in domesticated surroundings.
Ulaan Shiraal are haughty creatures, finicky and seeking to keep themselves well cared for. Their relations with one another are based on this principle, as well-groomed Ulaan are favored over those wilder or tempestuous in temperament. Ulaan take their time, moving slowly unless driven to action, and rarely engaging in aggression unless as a last resort. Their slow pace and meticulous nature can be an issue for those few Teledden and Lesarra looking to get rich quick, as their ability to somehow scent valuable earth-born materials often takes time. However, domesticated varieties have largely come to understand that when a rider wants a scent found, it should be found with all haste. This process is often achieved through extensive training, and the Treasure Seekers, the term given to those Ulaan riders specifically tasked with locating lost objects, relics, or new veins of minerals, spend years teaching their animals to sniff out every mineral in Aloria. For all their haughtiness, Ulaan Shiraal bond quite well with their riders, as well as their offspring, caring for them as much as possible though males are often more aloof.
Territory and Groupings
Ulaan Shiraal herds in the wild are often fairly large, though evidence from the past suggests they were once smaller. This suggests an active grouping of those members left in the wild, to avoid weakening their population. Regardless, such groups now reach between twenty and fifty individuals. Ulaan in domesticated surroundings, often have larger populations, usually capping off at 100 members. Their collective domain is nature, as Ulaan kept outside of green spaces even in domesticated spheres tend to get depressed. For this reason, even a potted plant in a domesticated Ulaan stable is a good idea.
- Some wonder if the Ulaan Shiraal has any connections to the Imperial Stag Deer, another hooved creature known to the Altalar, but one the various Cults got to and rendered extinct on the Daen continent. While the Ulaan is an equine, their joint ties to nature and ancient origin points have been of interest in recent decades.
- Some Treasure Seekers are fairly mundane in the tasks they perform, seeking out lost jewelry and more. However, this can lead to greater riches as the tale of Orrin the Ranger and his mount Val’hasia, who discovered a vast horde of Allorn-era treasure in 88 AC after being asked to track down a mere bracelet that had fallen off a cliff into a forest.