Creatures of Sharath & Eh'lah (essay)
Title: Creatures of Sharath & Eh'lah
Author: Unknown, Obsidian Tower
This information is taken from original documentation appearing on The Obsidian Tower.
Like many places on Elanith, the Southron Wastes and the jungles southwest of them, have a number of unique creatures adapted to those environments. The area surrounding Sharath was once a vital jungle with its own highly developed ecosystem. Despite the ecological disaster that laid waste to the area, the ecosystem is no less robust than it was before. Eh'lah is a Dhe'nar settlement on the southernmost tip of Elanith, in a rainforest surrounding a river delta. It has a vibrant ecosystem, teeming with creatures from insect to alligator to massive terrestrial apex predators. Below are details of a few of the animals unique to those regions. Both the sha'rom and nhil'mon are of great ritual importance among the Dhe'nar people with whom they co-habit.
The kish'enda, literally "ash cat", are six-legged felines native to the jungles around Sharath, prior to the Fall. Native Dhe'nar often simply refer to them as kish as there are few other felines native to the area.
They are similar in morphology to leopards, though slightly larger. They were originally partially arboreal, but have adapted to life among the wastes surrounding the mountain.
They are now ambush hunters and have begun to develop slightly longer limbs more suited to running over flat ground than climbing.
Males and females both reach sexual maturity at approximately 2 years of age. Females are fertile once per year and give birth to live young after a 70-90 day gestation period.
They are pack animals, with packs formed mostly of a breeding pair and their offspring. Adult animals usually leave the pack as they reach sexual maturity. Females and males mate for life. If one of a mated pair dies the other rarely seeks out another partner.
Packs are highly social with one another, occasionally sharing territory and ranges for a year or more. This blending of packs often leads to new packs being formed as juveniles breed and leave the parent groups.
Nhil'mon are found in the in the rainforest and river delta environment surrounding Eh'lah. They are a prominent apex predator who are almost exclusively carnivorous. The eat live prey, carrion, and sometimes cannibalize one another.
There are two varieties of nhil'mon, the brown and the black. The former are smaller, with muddy brown scales and rings of mustard yellow around their eyes. The black sub-species has a longer, slightly thinner tail in relation to its body length. Both species have backward curving serrated teeth and long claws suitable for both attacking and digging.
The brown nhil'mon reach nearly 15 feet in length, not including the tail which is approximately 2/3 the length of the body. The black nhil'mon is much larger than the brown sub-species, outweighing the similar-sized browns by 100 pounds. They are generally longer, reaching lengths of 15-20 feet, with slimmer and longer tails that equal their body length.
The animals primarily terrestrial, they are adept at swimming. They are capable of effectively fighting using their serrated teeth, claws, and thick tails.
Both the black and brown nhil'mon are temperamental and attack without provocation, though this is a behavior more often observed in the black variety. Both sub-species are also highly territorial, especially during breeding season.
Both sub-species feature prominently in the rituals and mythology of the local populations of humanoids, Dhe'nar and otherwise.
The sha'rom is a creature of unknown origins native to the subterranean environment beneath Sharath.
The creature is a mammal, with keratin scales covering most of its body. These scales are large along the animal's body and smaller along its legs and underbelly. The scales are very fine around the animal's ears, face and muzzle.
An adult specimen is similar in size to a large timber wolf, weight approximately 120-140 pounds and reaching lengths from the tip of the muzzle to the base of the tail of almost 7 feet. The tail is long and slim and is measures approximately 3/4 of the animal's body length. The head is reptilian in shape with an elongated snout and small ears that can rotate 90-100 degrees.
The sha'rom has a ridge of short, dense keratin spines starting at the base of its skull. They run along the its spine, down the long, tail. The spines terminate in a cluster at the tail's tip. The tail is very mobile and can be used for attack and defense.
An adult sha'rom has teeth approximately 2 inches long, with prominent canines, 3-4 inches long. The animal also has a second row of smaller teeth behind the primary set. As with a shark, the animal's teeth never stop growing and replace themselves as they are shed or extracted.
Some rare female specimens are venomous, producing a powerful paralytic from glands in their mouths. These glands begin producing venom during breeding or when otherwise aroused. They do not inject the venom, it simply coats the inside of their mouths and enters the wound via the animal's saliva. Venomous females are immune to their own venom and resistant, but not immune, to the venom of other females.
Sh'arom can see well in almost complete darkness. Their vision is very poor in even dim light and they are effectively blind in full daylight. They have a very keen sense of smell and can track prey over several miles. They someone yip or growl in totally dark environments and have exhibited the ability to echo-locate. They also have exhibited the abilities to sense and absorb magical energy and some specimens have even been observed regenerating wounds and scar tissue in highly magical environments.
The animals are highly intelligent. Captive animals have exhibited highly evolved problem-solving abilities allowing them to escape captivity. They also exhibit the ability to plan and remember. Some escaped specimens have planned ambushes of their captors, killing them before fleeing into the wild.
Females give birth to litters of 8-10 live pups, though smaller litters are not unknown. The gestation period is 60-80 days. The females are fully active almost until delivery, leading to a high mortality rate among the pups.
The pups are born live, with closed eyes. Their eyes open at approximately 3 weeks. The young are able to walk at six weeks. The animals can hunt at 12 weeks and are also whelped around that age. A sha'rom reaches full sexual maturity at six months.
Socially, the animals are solitary and fiercely territorial, even when raising their young. This behavior even extends to the offspring and breeding partners.
During breeding, females often maul, cripple, or even kill the males. Males have also been observed savaging the females until dead. While nursing, the females will often maul or kill her pups, especially in large litters. This is a recurring behavior until the pups are whelped and they either flee the nest, kill the female, or the entire little is dead.