The Qilin is a skittish variety of deer found in the Far East and has lived in the northern mountains of Dexai for centuries. With a lithe and seemingly otherworldly appearance thanks to their shimmering fur, the Qilin are hailed as mystical, beautiful, and in some cases, tied to the White Loong Dragons by the various Sihai Dynasties which know of them. Today, their numbers are recovering after a period of unfortunate death and slaughter, and those that hunt them might face some social pressures not to openly do so.
The Qilin is an animal with a story hidden in the background of the wider Sihai struggles between the Dynasties. Indeed, they have also been hidden for much of Sihai history. Since the time before writing, the timid and isolated animal was heavily prized by hunters of the Xx’en Kingdom found in the north of Dexai. Its luscious pelt and fine horns were beautiful and worth well over three times their weight in Jade, and the animal’s horns formed a part of the Xx’en Kingdom’s insignia. For the next thousand years, over the course of the Early Kingdoms Period, the animal was hunted and revered by northern Sihai. But when this era came to an end, and Huai Empire followed by the Huon Rebellions began, the population of Qilin vastly decreased. The War Dynasty sought hunting trophies, and the mountain forests the Qilin called home were routinely disrupted by marching peasant mobs. In response to this, they fled even deeper into the north, where they vanished into myth and folklore for the next two thousand years. It was under the Lova and their Dynasty that the animal was rediscovered, studied, and proven to be alive and existing. During the era they had vanished, a myriad of myths and superstitions grew up around them, claiming them to be servants of the White Loong Dragons of the northern mountains, tenders of nature, or more spirit than flesh. The Zuge Dynasty annihilated these myths and, once again, devastated the populations of the Qilin, particularly under Zuge Tegu as he apparently felt their beautiful appearance might be useful in his search for eternal life. The Qilin once more retreated, and until recent times, have finally begun to reemerge in the northern mountain forests of Dexai. While their connection to the Loong Dragons is far less pronounced today, and they are hunted sparingly, many Sihai have declared them a sacred animal deserving of protection. Thus, hunters who do kill one should be careful of who they share their success to, or else they might find an angry mob at their doorstep.
The Qilin is a very delicate, dainty cervid. They stand between five and six feet tall (minus their horns) and are around seven to eight feet long with a weight somewhere between 200 and 250 pounds. Their heads are narrow and delicate, with a small mouth, but a large black nose, a pair of large black or brown eyes, two pointed long ears, and finally, two thin back-curving horns. These horns are strange and exotic, with the normal yellow coloration seemingly infused with traces of violet, in addition to dark or dark blue bands that divide the horns. These colorations and contrasting tones typically indicate the age of a Qilin. It’s thin head is then supported by a long, well built neck that attaches itself to the rest of the narrow body. The animal stands on four long legs with white hooves, and its body ends in a long tail often made far longer by the silver coat that covers much of the animal. This silvery hide is located on the body, the back of the neck, and down each of the legs with a slight twist so that by the time it reaches the hooves, it is complete and has removed the normal, thinner white haired underbelly. The two types of hair are distinguished apart by their color, but also because along the point they meet, a cream or beige-colored “transition section” cane be found.
The Qilin female and male populations are very equivalent. In appearance, unless they are fawn, all Qilin look identical. Although there is one method of indication on a Qilin, that being discrepancies in the appearance of their horns. For every solid dark band that exists in the unique formations, a Qilin has lived ten years.
Life Span and Development
The Qilin, while generally unknown for much of its history, was recorded extensively by the Lova Dynasty during their ascendance. This included how they develop, which is much the same as any cervid. An individual fawn is born from a mother, and is cream colored with only yellow stubs in place of their antlers. They mature slowly over the course of two years, reaching physical maturing by age one but mental maturity by age two. Their horns then begin to slowly come in, and eventually form the impressive and beautiful structures they are known for. They have no set mating season, capable of engaging in the activity at all times of the year, but it is most common in the fall months. Their lifespan is unknown, though the oldest specimen ever seen reportedly had such long and curved horns that the tips had turned forward, suggesting a being well over 100 years old.
The Qilin is a timid, skittery creature that exemplifies the mannerisms of a herbivore. Their bodies are capable of short sprints from danger, and their thin size allowed them to leap between and around tight obstacles. However, they are also fragile, and easily tire. Thus, to prevent the chase altogether, the Qilin uses its large ears and noses to smell and hear danger approaching. They are a caring species, tender with each other, and there is no competition during the mating season or indeed any other time of the year.
Territory and Groupings
The Qilin live in heavy isolation in the forests that cling to the northern mountains of Dexai. Their groups are small, made up of family pairs and children loosely forming a larger herd spread out across an area of miles. Thanks to their keen smell, it seems that the animals are able to keep track of the members of their scattered herd and follow them. Their pattern is meangering, but in general, they ascend higher during the spring and summer, and lower in the fall and winter.
- Qilin pelts and horns outside of Dexai are almost unheard of, though a few left with the Altalar and their offspring when they were exiled, and a further rare few over the past two centuries of trade with the outside world.
- Modern War Dynasty hunters seek out Qilin to defeat them as a sign of their prowess in battle. Among their people, the animal is said to be ethereal, and thus difficult to physically injure or catch unaware.