|Official Name||Ularen Lion|
|Common Nicknames||White Lion, Léoniquëlle-vellen Losëss-átöse Ularena|
|Habitat||Ularen Plains and Ithania|
The Ularen Lion was once one of the most deadly predators of the Ularen Plains, harassing and hunting all who entered their domain. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to them, reducing them in physical size but also spreading them up to Ithania and possibly elsewhere. They are most notable for their large size, the manes that appear on males but also their highly complex human social groups. The Lion is also known for its pale coats of fur, particularly white, which is used by the extravagant Lion Pelt Order as part of their uniforms. While the animal is not as populous as it once was, its capacity to survive undoubtedly means it will be around for years to come.
The Ularen Lion is an ancient animal, existing from the earliest years of the Altalar people until the most recent years, though in a slew of different locations. In the beginning, many animals roamed the open pastures of what is now the Ularen Plains, and the fiercest predator of them all was the Ularen Lion. Early Elven explorations into the great plains were often stalked by these bold predators, and in these early years, the species was on top of the food chain. Unfortunately for them, this came to an end as Elven society dove into further into magic, and their nations grew more organized in its exploratory endeavors. Now caravans frequently featured trained and armed escorts, as well as at least one mage to help keep animals back through the use of fire, wind or other offensive magical methods. By 1500 BC, the animal was still a threat, but only to small settlements or traveling parties. As the Elven Empire began and continued its existence, it encountered the Asha and destroyed them, then pushing onward into Ithania. At the same time as that occurred, the Ularen Lion found itself under intense scrutiny as anti-feline sentiments drove many warriors and hunters to target this peak predator. Their numbers were cut and many escaped north, fleeing into Ithania’s open terrain. Ultimately, the Ularen purge ended when the animal was incorrectly assumed extinct and over the next several centuries, made a comeback. The secret to the animal’s domestication was unlocked during this time, mainly by the developing Cult of Ciellonia at the rural fringes of Elven society. Using their developing skills with animals, they coaxed a small population into captivity primarily as protectors, but upper-class Altalar immediately seized them as “gifts” and added them to their menageries. In a short 100 years, the techniques to train them spread to Ithania and the animal became more common in captivity. That ended in the Cataclysm.
The Elven Empire’s fragmentation was at first, positive for the animal. In the south, many captive Ularen Lions were able to flee thanks to the help of Asha slaves breaking free from their owners, as they simultaneously freed these massive cats. The Ularen Lions fled back to the land their deep heart desired, the Ularen Plains, and began to recover. But, the Eronidas Invasion that came from the west not only killed numerous Ularen Lions still in captivity but also sent the future Avanthar riding right into the middle of the plains which would grow into a significant threat to the Ularen Lion. Meanwhile up in Ithania, the peaceful unification of Elves and Ailor meant little to no Ularen Lions died, living in captivity or the wild. In the intervening years, the Ularen Lion has remained alive but has begun to decline slowly. The Avanthar hunt them as a threat to their traveling tribes, the Eronidas hunt them for pelts while the increase of urban and expanded rural living slowly eats up their territory. The animal is also actively pursued by the Knights of the Lion Pelts for their pelts to be used in their armor. The recent wars in Daen have helped the animal as it has reduced the Avanthar to a mostly incoherent and divided group and has also given them plenty of carrion to consume. There are also reports of Lion populations in other areas of Aloria, namely Essalonia, but only time will tell if these reports are accurate.
The Ularen Lion was once supposedly a massive cat, but constant hunting of its population and the combination of domesticated specimens from the Cataclysm back into the population has reduced their size. Today, the animal is anywhere between five to five and a half feet long, standing at three to three and a half feet and weighing about 400 pounds. By comparison, older records show them as once being able to reach up to five feet tall, eight feet high and clock out well above 800 pounds. In any case, the animal’s other features have remained much the same. It has a square head structure, with a prominent snout, broad nose with short white whiskers, large forward-facing eyes of a brown or dull yellow coloration and a large mouth. Their ears are positioned at the top of their head and are small but highly flexible. A medium-length but muscled neck connects them to their body, which is supported on four legs with feline paws.
The body is well built, designed for both speed and raw power should the need arise. The animal ends off in a long tail, usually over a foot long with a tuft of fur at the end. The animal’s coat is a layer of light beige, light yellow or white fur with a consistently white underside and minor darker highlights on other areas of their body. The area around on the animal’s ears and the tuft at the end of their tails is dark brown while a faint spotted pattern on their lower underside and flanks, however, this patterning doesn’t appear on white furred members of the species. In addition, male Ularen Lions have large manes around their heads on their necks that is the same color as their fur.
Ularen Lions have a predisposition toward females over males, resulting in a rate of four to one. Genders are easily distinguished as male Ularen Lions have manes while females do not. Lion colorations also have no commonality.
Life Span and Development
Ularen Lions are liveborn as either single cubs or groups of up to four in secluded areas chosen by their mothers. When they emerge, they are small, furred but helpless. Their spotted pattern is much more pronounced at this stage but fades as they get older, even in white fur cubs. Over the next two years, the cubs slowly mature and grow up in both ways at a constant rate. By the end of that time, there are two possibilities. Female adolescents are kept in the pride while males are either accepted or pushed out. Those accepted are the strongest and those able to stand up for themselves against the other males while the weaker ones depart to lead nomadic lives. The Ularen Lion has no mating season, but when mating is desired, males approach females who are interested. This is the only time that nomadic males can succeed with a female, as they will allow these males to approach them and mate. In normal situations, however, a male from the pride will find and choose a female for themselves. However, it is scarce for a father to mate with his daughter, but in such cases, the result is weak and poorly developed children who usually don’t survive. Males do notice this and never mate with that lioness again. Ularen Lions in domesticated surroundings never have this issue due to breeding practices. The Ularen Lion can live for up to fifteen years in the wild but up to twenty in captivity.
The Ularen Lion is a highly social predatory animal with Human characteristics. They live in highly organized groups where they display a wide variety of behaviors and emotional states. Males exist in a state of fraternity, but also domination as one male is always the head of the pride, making him the chief hunter and protector but also the first to choose a mate. Females, on the other hand, have a generally amicable relationship across the board as they frequently groom each other and lay down together in groups, while males often do so alone or amongst the other gender. On that note, despite being a predatory species, they are a species that routinely remains stationary for long periods of time to conserve energy. During such periods, they socialize as mentioned, through grooming and a variety of motions to bring them into contact with one another.
It is also during these times at members of the species display instances of homosexuality in certain individuals, with signs of overt affection generally referred for the opposite sex during times of mating. As for those times that they hunt, the Ularen Lion lies in wait, stalking its prey before pounding or giving chase. While fast, they are ultimately unable to match the speed of the Casecabillas Stallion and so rely on surprise when they do hunt that animal. They also hunt smaller mammals and birds. In domesticated settings, many of these same interactions and characteristics present themselves. However, as they do not need to hunt, they are almost constantly immobile and only move if needed or directed to do so by handlers.
Territory and Groupings
Ularen Lions live in prides made up of several male lions and up to twenty lionesses, ultimately totally anywhere from a dozen to two dozen individuals in one pride. Each pride has a chosen territory where they rest and live, but territory beyond that is open to any groups. Due to their rarity, however, one group of Ularen Lions can have a patch of hunting ground well over 100 square miles. This works to their favor usually, giving them an open space and plenty of prey, but also can destabilize ecosystems should too many prides be extinguished in one area. Luckily, that is rarely the case anymore. Additionally, nomad males and the odd female can range over such empty territories should a group be killed and in the future, re-establish order. In domestication, however, the animal is generally kept in an open space and occasionally a cage, but such conditions bore them and can lead to depression.
- The Ularen Lion is suspected by some eccentric breeders (mainly Ithanian) to be the prime feline of 90% of Aloria’s species. They possess many base characteristics that they claim time, effort and nature could have then molded into any number of different forms.
- Homosexuality among male Ularen Lions is a trait desired in those who are domesticated in Ithanian regions. Unfortunately, this often has issues as they resist mating with the opposite sex in favor of personal affections.
- There is an Avanthar tale of a young Ularen Lion who grows up fostered by a Bathogg named “P’ӧmbassá” and a groundhog named “Tímm-ollë.” The cub grows up only to eventually eat them both as it is the king of the Plains and must eat.