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Name: Azani

Category: Monsters, Mounts

Type: Mammalians

Size: Large

Region: Volcanoes

Rarity: Uncommon

Lifespan: 10-12 years wild, 10-16 years captivity

Appearance

The azani are wild and ferocious beasts. At adulthood they typically measure a whopping 7 feet from snout to rump, not counting the two-foot tail. They also stand at around four feet from the top of their strong backs to the ground. This usually makes them the most intimidating predators of the craggy habitats.

They have very strong, rigid fur that seems to be fire-proof (though as of yet no one has been able to use it for a viable cloth due to how coarse and non-compliant it is). At first glance this fur is a solid pitch-black, and for many centuries after their discovery this was assumed to be fact. When one was captured, however, it was discovered that their fur is really a pale taupe that, due to their climate, collects and retains so much smoke, dirt and soot that it changes colors. The rigidity of the fur causes it to jut out at various angles, especially at their joints, and the patterns of their hair growth seems to be the primary way that wild azani recognize each other.

Their eyes are solid black, though it is not unheard of for an exceptionally dominant or aggressive male to have piercing, fire-red eyes. This is thought to be caused by an anomaly in their development in the womb, causing both the ocular variation as well as heightened levels of aggression-causing testosterone. In contrast to their eyes, a healthy azani's teeth are such a bright white that it can sometimes be seen in solid darkness.

Their ears are triangular in shape and stick up from their head at an almost 90 degree angle from each other. Their paws are interesting, as the pads are fairly concave. This odd shape, combined with the abnormal flexibility of their toes, allows them to grip at protruding rocks or other such objects. This gives them the ability to climb steep slopes they would otherwise not be able to, such as the inside of a volcano.

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Behaviour

Azani are extremely territorial. Unlike their other canine cousins, they are also fairly solitary creatures. It is typical for a pack to consist of as few as three adults (usually one male and two females in such a case), or even for a highly aggressive individual to live entirely alone. The largest pack recorded thus far was seven members (with three males and four females), but this is considered an anomaly since packs usually include at least twice as many females to males, and rarely become so large.

They can run rather quickly, even when climbing up or along nearly vertical surfaces. The typical speed of an individual in their natural habitat is around 45 miles per hour. It should be noted, however, that an azani is best on rough terrain and if on completely smooth terrain it will disorient the beast and drastically decrease its speed. They are also exceptional jumpers, being able to bound forwards at least 30 feet, or leap upwards around 20 feet, if given a running start. Azani are known to be sure footed beasts, and they rarely stumble unless running on flat surfaces.

They seem to recognize each other by the ways in which their fur protrudes from their bodies, and can notice even slight differences between each other. They have surprisingly keen eyesight for a canine, and an equally keen sense of smell and hearing.

Azani are reasonably difficult to capture and train, but once this is completed they are perhaps the most loyal and dependable mounts. They are extremely possessive over whomever they are trained to treat as master, though, and have been known to lash out at anyone they feel is threatening that person. Because of this, azani owners do not usually take them along when they will be experiencing a lot of wanted physical contact.

When used as mounts, their speed is decreased depending on how much weight is added to their backs, though this is mainly noticeable after over 200 pounds have been applied. Because of this they are rarely used to carry goods, and are usually only used for people.

Diet: Azani will eat any animal that is smaller than them. If in a group, however, they have been known to take down animals much larger. They also sometimes consume pyrevein? in order to help their frequent digestion problems, and so it is crucial for owners of such a beast to keep some on hand.

Habitat: Active, and sometimes dormant, volcanoes. They do best in high heat climates, and thus are a rare sight in places such as high mountain tops where it can get exceptionally cold.

They are most common in the Zanaryan? nation of Keikis?, but are also frequently spotted in Dardanos?. They are fairly uncommon in the dormant volcanoes on the mainland?, but sightings have been recorded.

Breeding: If in a pack, one male will usually have two females that are considered theirs. These groupings will mate frequently, though conception rarely occurs. A single, actively mating, female will only conceive and birth a cub perhaps seven times in their lifetime. These cubs do not always survive infancy, either, since azani young are very vulnerable during the first six months of life as their rigid fur develops.

Special Information

Strengths/Abilities:

  • Azani fur is considered fire-proof, providing them great protection from heat.
  • They are very sure and fleet-footed.
  • Their specialized paws allow them to climb practically vertical surfaces, provided they are not too smooth.
  • They have an exceptional sense of sight, hearing and smell.

Weaknesses:

  • Azani are fairly awkward when running on level ground, though they can walk along it fine up to certain speeds.
  • Azani cannot survive very well in cold environments.
  • Azani are prone to digestive problems, and must regularly consume igneous moss?.

Uses:

  • Azani are very useful as mounts for people, specifically when used for combat on rough terrain.

Origin: Azani were discovered first in Keikis?, and then shortly after in Dardanos?, though the dates of their discovery are unknown. Because of this, Elysians? are also unsure where the creature initially originated, or even if it developed in both locations separately. Long after initial discovery, sightings were reported on the mainland?. Such sightings are so few, however, that it is unsure if the beasts truly developed there, or were brought over by some ambitious trainer and then escaped.

Other Info: Azani have been used in many famous wars as war mounts, including a few significant skirmishes in the Anyeli Civil War and the Zanaryan Hundred Years War?.

Creator: Russ?

Creatures Monsters Mounts Mammalians Large Volcanoes Rare Uncommon