|Official Name||Zirkand Horse|
|Common Nicknames||Dhampire Steed, Tri-horned Horse|
Known as a fearsome mount for the Ânia, Byala, Dvala, Ohrneti, Szabadok Cultures, the Zirkand Horse is sure to inspire fear in the hearts of any who gaze upon them. Possessing horns on their foreheads and shoulders that aim forward, the creatures are used to impale and run down those that oppose their riders. The animal has a similarly dark mentality, wild and aggressive even in domesticated circles, resulting in many dark tales as to how they were created and their ties to the terrors of the south-eastern lands of the Regalian Archipelago.
The Zirkand Horse is believed to have been local to the southeastern lands of the Regalian Archipelago for decades, primarily in the lands of Atolia and Baldmark today. Ever since these early years, the animals have been tools of warfare, fierce and wild even when domesticated, cavalry attacks between the numerous local tribes and groups were extremely common, and also brutally savage given the animal’s protrusions. This would last for decades even after contact with the Regalian Empire, who recoiled hard at the alien equines. It is believed that after the Regalian conquest of the region that the animals were transported to Ellador, by who or why it is not clear, but now the Ohrneti also made use of the fearsome creatures in their crusade against the threat of Vampires. Back in the Regalian Archipelago though, a very strange interplay was at hand. The Zirkand Horse was now prominently being used by the newly arrived Szabadok, further sowing fear and chaos as they rampaged and dismantled baronies in the regional lowlands. Yet then, the tide was turned against them by the Ânian noble family known as the Balaurs, and their decade of terror that followed this victory saw the Zirkand upheld as a terrible creature forged by demonic fornication with unstable equines in fields beneath a full moon. This completely discards the centuries of history the Zirkand had before the emergence of the Balaurs or even Vampires in general to the region and today, the Horse still bears a heavy stigma thanks to these many complicated associations.
Zirkand Horses stand at an impressive seven feet tall, with a weight of around 500 pounds uniformly between the sexes. Their head is broad, with two large black nostrils, and a pair of dark grey or deep brown eyes set beneath two large ears and a trio of black horns emerging from their heads. Unlike the Two-Horned Horse, these are coarse, non-smooth horns that reach as much as a foot long with naturally jagged edges and pointed end, forming a crown of spears capable of stabbing into a person. Their thick necks, with a dense mane, meets the animal’s broad shoulders, from which emerge three pairs of horns, with two sets being shorter and more understated while the third pair rests between them, and points forward. Just as black, jagged, and notable as those on the animal’s head, these are even longer, capable of reaching up to two feet. Together, with the animal’s head lowered, anyone charged should very much fear for their lives. The rest of the animal is similarly built, resting on four broad black hooves, and ending in a medium-length tail. Their body coat ranges from black to dark brown, to a mottled brown with grey, though this is the rarest and least sought-out coat coloration. Their mane and tail hair is a deep brown or black.
Zirkand Horses lack sexual dimorphism, unique for equines, and have an equal gender ratio. Their sole physical differences are coat colors, with their mottled coat being considered a mutation that skips a generation, should the animal be bred with another and produce an offspring.
Life Span and Development
Female Zirkand Horses are only capable of producing one foal when they give birth, the individual small, with pale brown hair, and a lack of body horns entirely. Rapidly rising to their feet, Zirkand Horses grow slower than other equines, as their physical and mental maturity progressively refines over seven years. At the age of three, their horns begin to come in, and by the age of six, they will have reached their adult lengths, while the rest of the body is only one year behind it. At this time, family units often get quite contentious, and the offspring leaves. Zirkand Horses live up to forty years, the oldest being Decebal the Dark, a horse commonly ridden by Elisabeta Balaur that outlasted her death by a decade, dying at forty-three.
Zirkand Horses are some of the wildest domesticated equines in Aloria, very temperamental, aggressive, and seemingly enjoy causing pain to those they dislike. Wild members of the species famously get into charge duels, and necks and upper bodies are frequently found with scarring from Zirkand Horse horns slicing into the skin. These duels occur for a variety of reasons, be they competitions over mating, or simply grudges, and are participated in by both sexes. However, it is rare for Zirkand Horses to outright kill one another, instead thrashing side to side, knocking their horns together and scratching their bodies, forming the aforementioned scarring. They remain this wild and aggressive even when in domesticated circles, and form little real connection with their rider, obeying them but not much else.
Territory and Groupings
Zirkand Horses are one of only a few equine species to lack a herd mentality or at least a conventional one. Their herds are broken up into clusters, small groups of one to two female Zirkand with their offspring, with an assorted cluster of others around them numbering around six to eight members. The herd, which can number anywhere from forty to sixty, only gathers during the mating season, which is early autumn, and afterward, they will again disperse. This same mentality has, frustratingly, remained intact in domesticated Zirkand Horses, forcing large pastures for groups that generally seem contentious toward one another. They also do not get along well with other species of horse, and this further forces special consideration to be made for them.
- Many Vladno wish to acquire Zirkand Horses for themselves but cannot, as the animals are too used to their local regions, local people, and lack the obedience the Vladno so strongly desire in those around them.
- Decebal the Dark survived the death of the Balaurs through unknown means, but many suspect it was because he was so terrifying to those who kept him and his sisters (other mounts of the Balaurs), that the tenders dare not try and slaughter the group.
- Zirkand Horse horns rarely break but do grow back in a short span of five to seven days.