|Official Name||Northern Moose|
|Habitat||Jorrhildr and Ellador|
The Northern Moose once openly roamed the forests and tundras of Jorrhildr and Ellador, but have since been pushed nearly to the brink of extinction due to over-hunting primarily at the hands of the Urlan. For generations, hunters have sought after this massive yet majestic herbivore for its large antlers as a prized trophy, and for it’s thick, wooly hide in the use of luxurious cloaks, rugs, clothes and other household items. Due to the animal’s resistant and fierce nature in the face of opposition, it’s now become a symbol of northern culture and pride.
The Northern Moose has an ancient, though sometimes vague history. While some believe they have been alive since the time of the Seraph due to unconfirmed reports of murals showing the animal alongside that progenitor race, Elven records indicate the Drovv as the first with documentation of the event. They hunted the animal minimally, and it ranged over a vast distance of northern Ithania to eastern Ellador. Unfortunately, this apex came to an end in the Fifth Void Invasion. Instead of suffering mutations, the Moose was killed outright by Voidlings and other infected creatures with the Cataclysm further devastating their numbers. The animal might have been able to make a comeback, but the rise of the Urlan on Jorrhildr put an end to that as well. Further compounding the animal’s survival was an increase in notoriety with the Velheim Ailor of The North Belt, who sought the animal as the greatest example of a hunter’s skill but also because it possessed quality meat, bone and hide, all key tools of survival in the harsh climate. Over the years, this has reduced the Northern Moose to near extinction several times, but they are always able to retreat to parts unknown or areas too harsh for hunters to regroup, recover and grow. Most recently in 304 AC, the Bone Horror Crisis helped the animal as those who sought to hunt them now had to contend with many new and far more vicious obstacles and for now, this barrier of frozen flesh and bone helps the Northern Moose more than it hinders them.
The Northern Moose stands anywhere between five to seven feet at the shoulder and six to nine feet in length, making it tower over most would-be hunters. The Northern Moose’s head has several unique features, such as their eyes that are unlike most other cervids with a distinct pale yellow color and an iris-shaped like a goat’s which gives them impressive eyesight. Its ears are slightly longer and sharper than the more common deer or elk, stick up from the head while its snout is more akin to a horse’s with a paler color. The most noticeable trait they possess is their massive antlers, which spread almost at a straight horizontal from their head. They are dish-like, with a large slowly curving flat area closest to the head which feeds off into several points of bone. However, they only appear in males. To help support these horns is their heavily built bodies, especially reinforced around the neck and legs. The neck and head region of the Northern Moose is often covered in dense muscle to help the beast support its impressive antlers that usually weigh well over forty pounds. However, even with the added weight of its remarkable antlers, the Northern Moose is capable of lifting a grown man with its head and neck alone. The legs of the Northern Moose are very dense and riddled with muscle that helps the Moose run and journey over the vast expanses of Jorrhildr. It can use its legs to significant effect in charging hunters though it can just as well deliver a kick which could shatter bone. The body of the Northern Moose is covered in a faded silvery or beige coat of bristle-like fur with multiple layers to help keep the moose insulated during the harsh winter months. It also uses its coat as camouflage in helping it avoid being seen as quickly in the snow-covered landscapes it calls home.
The most notable differences between the sexes is with males (known as bulls) of the species being increasingly rarer than the females (known as cows) due to excessive hunting for its antlers. Males grow much larger than the female variety and have longer tufts of unkempt hair around the neck (and sometimes underbelly) that sometimes seem to grow like a mane or beard. The second most notable is the difference is that the fur coat changes dependant on the region. The moose further north boasts the typical silvery coat while the southern variety is more beige in coloration.
Life Span and Development
Between mid-May to early June is when a female Northern Moose will give birth to a newborn calf. The gestation period of the Northern Moose is roughly around two hundred and forty days, and during this time the bull will spend no more than two weeks courting the female before moving on. When the calf is born, the mother will seek to defend the newborn calf vigorously from predation. While the Northern Moose takes up to sixteen to twenty-eight months to reach full maturity, maturity and growth are often influenced by climate, hereditary traits and the availability of nutrition. In regards to the Northern Moose’s lifespan, it can live anywhere from between ten to twenty years in the wild. In captivity, the Northern Moose can live up to twenty to even forty years given the right nutrition and care. Females of the species only grow regarding length and height while the males will grow the impressive and iconic antlers the species is known for. The males of the species go through cycles each year with their antlers. In the winter they will shed the velvet off their antlers only to grow new ones during the spring and summer time months the next year. During the fall the male Northern Moose will use the new antlers during the rutting season.
During most of the year, the Northern Moose is often solitary and reclusive, only herding together with other Moose out of pure necessity or during the rutting season. During the season when bull Northern Moose compete for both territory and mates, they become hyper-aggressive to outsiders. Many deaths of would be-hunters are often around this time, as the bull Northern Moose will relentlessly charge and attack the intruder. Females of the species are also often very protective of their calves during the spring-- while they do not sport the antlers the bulls of the species they still have mighty muscular legs. A kick from even a female Northern Moose could prove fatal.
Over the years some have tried to domesticate the Northern Moose, and many more have given up trying. While never genuinely domesticated, some particularly skilled herders have been able to “tame” the Northern Moose into accepting their presence and that of other people. While rare, it can be done for those patient and fortunate enough to brave the daunting and majestic beast. Any attempt to tame a Northern Moose must be made outside of rutting season, as to approach a bull moose during rutting season is a death sentence. However difficult, once the trust of the Northern Moose is earned they are generally very friendly and approachable.
Territory and Groupings
While the Northern Moose is mostly solitary and reclusive, there are reports of smaller herds forming during the harsh winter months of the tundra for protection. Sometimes when mates and food are scarce, they will also join together in herds. Most herds that do form consist of a harem of females with calves and a single adult bull protecting the herd, though unfortunately, they are a territorial and aggressive species which leads to a lot of infighting, forcing many herds to disband after the need is met. The Northern Moose normally roams the tundra and pine forests alone most of the year until rutting season in the fall.
- The Northern Moose has very few natural predators. Usually, only the biggest or boldest of Jorrhildr’s predators will even attempt to hunt the Northern Moose. Their dwindling numbers is almost solely the result of hunting from Baal-Urlan.
- There exists folklore about a Velheim warrior who once rode a Northern Moose into battle and killed scores of his enemies, unfortunately, his name was lost to time. Many have unsuccessfully tried to replicate the tale. It is far too easily spooked and made defensive. However, some have managed to ride and tentatively use it as a work animal successfully.