Baaran lion


Baaran lion

Basic Information
Gathamhr
[gahawr]
Taagi Baara steppe 20–30 years Carnivorous Related to Aberresai lions and other big cats
Physical description
~1.4 m at the withers Elongated canine teeth
Two pairs of eyes
Moults fur according to season
Cultural
Sounds, body language
Out-of-character information
[1]

The gathamhr are a large species of feline carnivores that can be found most commonly in the Taagi Baara steppes, though smaller populations inhabit the lower altitudes of the Spine as well as the Allir reach and north-eastern Aberresai.

They are fierce, territorial beasts who enjoy an elaborate social life within the structure of their tribes. The renown of their hunting prowess has lent itself to many legends and tales in the cultures of the steppes, while others see them as the greatest trophy of an accomplished warrior.

Overview

Language

The gathamhr communicate amongst themselves with a combination of roaring, growling, chuffing, and other sounds. They also use their bodies to convey moods and emotions, especially with their tails and ears.

Appearance

The gathamhr are comparable to ponies in height and weight, but are comparatively much longer because of their tails. When fully grown, Baaran lions are capable of looking down on dwarves and halflings. They have more developed forelimbs and a shorter neck than some of their cousins, a long tail and slightly pointed ears. Their canines are somewhat elongated, though they don’t extend below the mandible.

Their summer coat is reddish-beige in colour with pronounced pale striping. The prides that inhabit northern reaches of the Taagi Baara moult their fur in autumn for a completely white coat. In spring when snow recedes they moult again, returning to their summer fur.

Compared to some other big cats, the gathamhr exhibit no sexual dimorphism in regards to size – the only observable difference beyond the genitals is the short mane possessed by the males. It is a rich auburn in colour during summer and a spotted white in winter.

The two pairs of eyes they possess are by far their most prominent feature. Both are blue-gray in cubs, but the lower pair slowly changes to golden-brown as they mature into adults.

Habitat

Preying on large herbivores in hot and temperate climates alike, the gathamhr can be found all across the long stretch of the Taagi Baara, from the very tip of the Eaglehead to the dense forests in the shadow of the Spine. They have been encountered as far south as the Allir reach, and there have even been sightings in the Aberresai (though this might have also been some of their many feline relatives).

Some prides prefer staying in the colder climes of the Spine and the Eaglehead all year long; others linger in the temperate steppes, while those further south seem to thrive best in the warmer temperatures of the Allir reach. It isn’t clear if these are just regional preferences or entirely separate subspecies evolved from a shared ancestor.

Traits

As predators, the gathamhr can crush skulls with their bite and break bones with a swipe of their paws. They are strong enough to carry or drag up to two times their weight, but their imposing build prevents them from climbing trees like some of their smaller, more slender cousins.

Because they live in prides, the gathamhr have adapted to a stalking form of the hunt, as opposed to chasing down their swift prey. Thus they are much more capable of slinking through low grass and patiently sneaking up on their quarry. While galloping they can match the speed of the average horse, but they can only cover very short distances before getting tired.

Between their two pairs of eyes they have excellent binocular and night vision, but poor lateral sight as a tradeoff. The lower pair sees into the spectrum of visible light; the upper pair into the infrared. For this reason, the upper eyes are almost always closed against the glare of daylight – the gathamhr use them when they hunt at night, and even more so when the days grow short in winter.

History

Background

These beasts have been hunting in the steppe as long as there has been a steppe. Ancient oral traditions preserved in some nomad tribes tell tale of their terrifying roars echoing off the mountains; others have found caves decorated with crude imagery of the imposing cats.

It is said that there are tribes in the Taagi Baara that successfully coexist with the lions, but there is little information available on the subject, and few scholars and folk of science dare brave the poorly-chartered wilderness of the steppes to find out.

Lore

“The Flame of Uroghosh had not yet been lit when the first Aiforn walked the moonlight-stalk with the first gathamhr. Our people were cubs themselves then, and we had much to learn about the land, the life, the stars.

“It was known already then that there is no better teacher than mhair ri dulr. Humble in our youth, we had travelled from the Cradle, scaled the peaks and wayfound through woods to this land, which was in that day called the three fires still.

“We walked and we stalked, and we set camp on the shores of t-Isc, which you call Wda, and we saw-told from the star-spirits that night, and they told us to wait until the Fire Pillar held up the sky.

“So we hunted for one full journey of ra Tastlai, the Traveller, which you call Pneria. We hunted in morn and eve, and ran with the eagles from the head, with the hawks of the lowlands, the falcons that sweep to grasp the twitching rabbit from your spear. We hunted at sun’s height and in the high black, and ran with the wolf-dogs of the steppe, who killed three of ours in their fierceness, and of whom we smote three in reply. And when the Fire Pillar lit up the stars we heeded the spirits, and hunted at dawn and dusk.

“In the light of cuill ri doirainne we first ran with the gathamhr, the lions of Baara, and were matched in speed, and ferocity, and strength. They cut us open with teeth and claw; we showed them the same with spear and axe, and met them in the ancient dance of the Great Rites step for step until the light of the Pillar was upon us no more, and the star-spirits fell quiet, for we had new teachers to learn from henceforth.

“And when Uroghosh lit the land with her flame and we walked in the light of the Pillar neverending, the gathamhr walked with us in the moonlight-stalk. When the flames of Uroghosh were struck and doused, we ran with the gathamhr from the darkness that took the land.

“Now in this Age, when human blades break the tired soil from dawn ‘till dusk, from Pillar to Pillar, the time comes anon when we will step athwart at strange angles, and the gathamhr will step with us.

“Leheile igonai.”
—Shaman Tasecentoir ri Bhan, ri Aiforn, doirann cugu ri Taagi Baara
Categories: Monsters

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