Beneath the sporadic cover
Shaded Forest and throughout the foothills at the base of the
Prominent Mountains a bear, said
to be the spawn of demons, roams. Of those that have
found themselves face to face with these beasts, staring into their haunting,
blood-red eyes, only a few have lived to tell the tale. Those that have known
the survivors best have said that they were never the same after their encounter
with the Blood Bear. Many believe there is some mythical and/or
demonic aspect of the bear, but realists and researchers
argue that anyone finding themselves almost greeting death by way of a three
ped tall, blood-red beast,
would find themselves scarred as well.
While the terrible stories and retellings of encounters are enough to send a shiver down anyone's spine, there is only an ounce of truth to them. True, these bears are massive compared to people when standing up on their hind legs and their fur colour is not one commonly seen among their cousins, but commanding the shadows and having a deadly saliva that scorches the earth is a load of nonsense. However, just because they can't call shadows to their aid, burn the skin off your flesh, or turn you to stone with their gaze does not mean they aren’t dangerous.
Most of these animals stand between two and a half to three
peds in length, reaching a
little taller than that when standing on their hind legs. While there are some
shorter and some taller, most of them stay within that range, with quite a few
beneath that. From the ground to their shoulder they are usually about two
fores tall to that and a
half. The Blood Bear generally weighs about eight
pygges, though that, as well
as the height, can vary to a degree.
These great animals have massive bodies that, during the spring, show the danger hidden beneath a mound of bulky fur with each powerful step. During this time their bodies are mostly muscle as the weight gained before the winter is lost during the long sleep, which lasts six months. The powerful muscles that course through the beast's beautiful body don't diminish at all, but are instead covered with a pile of fat that the bear accumulates throughout the spring, summer, and early fall. Right before hibernation is one of the most interesting time of the year to see one of these bears as it is hard not to laugh at the sight of a mound of fat and fur quivering with each step as the massive 'demon spawn' moves around, searching for the den of the previous year or more of the precious food they need for the winter months.
Up until the end of summer, the bear is able to stand completely on its sturdy hind legs for up to a quarter of an hour at a time. The only time they have been seen to do this though is when they are hunting as they can see almost everything for a good distance around them. One survivor recorded seeing the bear move over ten peds forward, just on its hind legs, sniffing the air for prey. Along with sturdy hind legs, this animal is gifted with strong, though stubby front legs that end with broad paws, each with five, long sharp claws used for ripping open prey. The back paws are similarly equipped, but the claws are shorter and duller, used more for gripping tough terrain.
The animal has small, rounded ears that sit on top of its rounded head, their size and enclosed design hindering the animal's sense of hearing. Beneath the ears, deep, crimson eyes that are unusually large for a bear can be seen, staring back at its prey with what only can be interpreted as blood lust. Their eyes are sunken in slightly, giving the animal's large and rather fluffy head a somewhat haunted appearance. A long snout filled with teeth to rival that of the warg that is shares some of its territory with some next with a small, but sensitive black nose at the end.
The dense, red-tinged fur that covers the animal's body and its blood red eyes are what give it its name. A thick, coat of hair covers the animal from head to toe, growing in rather short on its back and stomach. The colouring is somewhat slight in these areas, holding a ruby colour at the roots and darkening to a mix of karikrimson and cinnabark at the tips. Just behind the beast's ears and down the neck and chest on the males, the hair grows long and dark, giving the animal a mane of dark crimson, perfectly imitating the colour of drying blood in the eyes of some. The females lack the mane, though the fur that covers their entire body is commonly a little bit longer than that of the males.
Along the leg, the hair is almost as short as on the body and close to the same colouring, though as it gets closer to the ankles. The hair darkens, as if the beast stepped in the blood of its prey, and grows longer, covering the paws with the shaggy growth that trails behind when the best run, but also collects a small array of twigs, plants, and anything else that gets tangled within the bear's 'memory mat' of fur.
The size and strength of this beast is a special ability in itself, and they can
easily overpower most other creatures. While they are not the spawn of
demons or demented beings of darkness, they are
dangerous and have been known to terrorize those within their territory, using
their strength to push others around. One swipe with this great terror's huge
paw could easily launch someone a few
Even during the later summer and fall, when they are jiggling with their winter stores, they are still dangerous. At that time they cannot run as fast or as long, but if something or someone gets close enough they can do some serious damage, stuffed with stores for winter or not. They are even more aggressive during this time and their personal territory becomes much more important.
Its acute sense of smell and unusually good eye-sight for a bear enables it to be aware of its surroundings. Even though they have bad hearing due to their rather enclosed ears, their nose and eyes work twice as hard, making it difficult to surprise this giant. It depends on its nose to detect a scent that is marked as 'food' or one that is unfamiliar to its territory. When it picks up a scent, its strong back legs come into use as it will stand up and search for the thing that the scent is coming from.
Surprisingly, this creature is fairly fast though it isn't built for running long distances. During the spring and early summer months, before it completely throws itself into storing food for the winter, it can easily catch a human, though the more fleet of foot can stand a bit of a chance. They can usually keep pace with a fleeing horse and rider for up to half an hour when in prime shape, but usually its limit is fifteen minutes, which seems long enough to be fatal for most. With their sprinting speed, they are unusually agile for their size, allowing them to get around trees or even come into contact with a creature or person that enters its 'personal space' during the couple months before winter.
There have been a few accounts of people surviving encounters with the animal, but the story told below is different. The man who related this information died moments later, after only waking once to tell a barely understandable account of what happened. He fell asleep again before finishing his story and died of blood loss in his sleep. Luckily for this man a deer had been startled from the undergrowth as the bear and man charged toward it. The animal crossed the path of the beast and the bear took off after it. The story below is a version, altered somewhat by those that recorded it due to the fact that the man wasn't able to speak very clearly and he had started speaking of different things for a minute or two every other sentence or so.
"It all happened so fast. I was hunting in the
Shades, looking for some source of
game to stock up for the winter months. One moment I was the hunter, stalking a
deer through the brush, the greenish tinged light that
filtered in through that particular part of the forest guiding my way …
For the most part the Blood Bear lives beneath the leafy canopy of the
Shaded Forest, avoiding the heat that
accompanies direct sunlight, and generally
preferring the coolness of the shadows. They build home from fallen branches,
take over stone dens, or nest in natural root-burrows that are large enough to
There are those that venture into the foothills of the Prominent Mountains and are known for being somewhat nocturnal. It seems odd, but the word does, and at the same time, doesn't apply to them. These bears will nap frequently throughout the day, hiding from the sun in stone dens for an hour or two at a time, spending a bit of time out of the sun from time to time. The rest of the time, they will move through the shadows provided by the huge mountains around them.
Occasionally, during an overly warm summer, the bears will venture farther into the mountains and settle into the valleys. They will spend their days, moving from shadow to shadow to avoid the sun, as even in the north, their overly thick fur becomes uncomfortable, and one would think itchy, after spending a couple of hours in the sun. When winter comes back to the land, however, most of the Blood Bear return to the forest, but a few sometimes choose to stay in the lush valleys.
There are few of these animals seen in any of these areas. It is not that they are dying out, but they are surely not growing. Throughout the years their numbers have remained few, and some believe this is because they will resort to killing and eating their own to eliminate competition. While the Blood Bear is not the smallest in size, it is possible as it is smallest in numbers roaming their territory, though those numbers just seem to be staying small instead of falling lower with the years.
Habitat/Behaviour. These bears have the oddest habits known. Unlike the Argrothin black bear, they won't go out of their way to avoid a village, but they don't rush head long into them either. Some believe that these bears see themselves as being superior to humans. They will walk directly through a human or elven settlement if it is in their way, as if expecting the people to see them coming and move their homes because they are walking there.
Along with this self-importance, as some put it, these creatures are very savage and a continual bloodlust hangs over them. When they are going through a city, they often find the need for a meal, causing trouble and making them more dangerous than most animals of their species. Other bears in the area have a keen fear or sense that alerts them of humans and they will usually just go in the opposite direction and do everything they can to avoid them. The Blood Bears on the other hand get their name, not only from their colouring, but the hunger for fresh meat and blood that drives them day and night. Any hint of fresh meat in the air and this beast is on the trail.
Blood Bears don't eat as much as other bears, but they usually will chase down whatever crosses their path. Even if they are not hungry, the smell of live game drives them forward. They possess a dangerous level of killer instinct, that makes their territory hazardous to those that live their and those that travel through there. While eating, if interrupted this creature will forget its meal and track the disturber down and kill it before dragging the carcass back and finishing both meals. Though, in the long term, this aids them in gathering enough food for the winter, as their large bodies require all, if not more of the energy stored in the fat of their bodies during the winter.
During mating season this rash, unafraid behaviour and blood lust is much worse. The male Blood Bear has no sense of anything during this time. The scent of a female could drive him straight through a village and into frenzy, killing people and most of the time forfeiting its own life. For the most part, causalities are low during those two months of the year as those that reside in that area have learned to stay in-doors near the middle and end of the day.
Also, coming anywhere near a female with cubs is usually a fatal mistake, as she will do anything to protect them. Motherly instinct to protect her cubs takes over, stronger than any blood lust, and she will sacrifice herself to chase down the person or thing that comes too close to her cubs. Her speed is greater than of the males and she is usually very thin after giving birth, and late into the summer, giving her the speed to chase down most creatures.
Diet. The Blood Bear is always on the hunt for meat. Blood and flesh being the things it thirsts for and survives off. Their keen nose is skilled to pick of the scent of live prey and other unfamiliar scents in the air, often leading it straight toward a meal. For these animals is seems that their eyes are larger than their stomachs, but their massive bodies take up a great deal of energy in the near endless search for food during six months of the year.
Whatever extra food the bear can get is stored and it gorges itself throughout the year, building up a huge layer of fat around it that jiggles as it walks. It may look funny, but that wiggling bubble of fat around the animal helps it survive the six month hibernation that get goes into during the late fall. By the time it wakes up in the spring, its body had consumed most, if not all, of the built up fat and it must go out in search of food immediately.
In the fall, just before they go into hibernation, they will begin to eat plants, something that is very impossible for any who have seen the horrors this animal can cause to believe. They resort to eating weeds, bark, leaves, and any other plants they can get their hands on. As cubs they learn which plants will make them sick for a time and which work the best. The plant material is used to pretty much stop up the bears system for the six months that it is sleeping. For the most part, that is the only time they can be seen eating plants, unless fresh meat is scarce one year, then they might resort to eating berries and fruit, but one researcher reported seeing one Blood Bear rip another apart for meat.
Mating. The last two months before winter for these bears are considered the most dangerous for any that live near them. Blood Bears mate only once three years right before they go into hibernation. In the spring of that year, the cubs from the previous mating are old enough to go out on their own and find their own way in life. The former mother then begins gorging herself, so that she can provide energy for herself and between three and four cubs that will be growing within her the coming winter.
During the mating season it is the female that are in charge. The males go into frenzy when they catch the scent of a female during the two months and will race in that direction as fast as their fat covered bodies will allow them. This is the only time that territory boundaries are relinquished as the males compete for the females. More often than not, the female Blood Bear will mate with more than one males, leading researcher to believe that two cubs born to the same mother could have different fathers. This was proposed as a reason for two brothers or sisters to have completely different coat colours.
A male Blood Bear will try to slowly draw near the female, shaking its head wildly to show off its mane. If she accepts the male, she will allow them to draw closer, but most females will drive the males away at first, waiting for the most persistent. The males with the longer, darker manes also seem to be the most popular during this time.
The chosen male will only stay with the female for two to three days, coupling a few times before wandering off to hunt. The meat is then brought back to the female as a sort of offering before the male goes in search of another. At that time, the female is already allowing others to 'court' her.
After those two months the female will retreat to a cave in solitude, where the cubs will grow within her while she sleeps. Near the end of her hibernation, the cubs will be born. During the birth, the mother will wake for a few hours to clean them off and situate them with her muzzle so that they can feed for time to time before falling back asleep for the rest of the winter. The cubs are about a palmspan long, and are blind and deft when they are born.
When spring arrives, the young Blood Bears have already doubled in size and are eager to get out of the cave. By late summer they are already one ped long and beginning to develop their thirst for blood. They will hunt with their mother at that time and will begin building up a bubble of fat for their first true winter. After two years the bears leave their parents and start out in the forest on their own.
Usages. The pelt of the Blood Bear is said to keep someone warm through the coldest winters, whether that is true or not, only a few can tell you. The only recorded Blood Bears killed at the hands of people have been burned with the carcass, though the fact that those that don't live beneath the tress avoid the sun and become somewhat nocturnal (in a sense) lead many to believe that. There may have been some bears killed by people, but for the most part it takes a group of men to take these animals down and it seems a bit difficult to split a single pelt four or five ways, even one as large as that of the Blood Bear.
Myth/Lore. It has been heard that the Blood Bears came down from the Prominent Mountains many years ago. None are sure exactly where they came from but rumors fly. Some say that the great Argrothin bears that lived within the mountains grew tired of the wargs continued battle against them. Some say that the bears started it all. But perhaps no one would or should ever know the truth. The story however goes like this.
Of Blood and Bears.
Long ago the great Argrothin bears grew
tired of the wargs. The great dark wolf-creatures
came in the middle of the night and killed and wounded the bears. After
years and years of this torment, and the loss of many cubs, the bears were
done. It is told that in a lush valley somewhere within the Prominent
Mountains the scar of a battle field is still present. But again, no one
knows for sure. It is said that a group of the mighty bears gathered in
the valley working together for once. When night fell they came. Scores of
wargs came, their dark shadows a terrible sight.
That night the wargs descended into the valley and
there they fought with the great bears. Both creatures were fighting with
all their might. When morning rose the wargs were
dead or had fled. The remaining bears stood in the valley as the
sun rose in the sky. Their muzzles was
coated in blood and flesh, their fur shining scarlet in the early light.