The Quagga (pronounced "kwahgah", plural Quaggae) is a wild horse-like desert beast that lives in the desert areas of Caelereth. There are three distinct varieties. One is found throughout the Ráhaz-Dáth Desert in Sarvonia, another in the deserts of Aeruillin, and a third type has been seen in the desert areas of Nybelmar as well. There are differences between the animals found on each continent, but they are thought to all be related.
The Quagga resembles a small horse in its general shape
and build. It ranges in size from about 11
palmspans to 4 ˝
fores tall, with stallions
(known as jaks) being slightly taller than mares (which are called mallies). It
has longer, wider ears than most horses, about a
palmspan long and nearly
that wide. They are curving and rounded in shape, rather than pointed. The
Quagga’s head is large and heavy looking, like that of the
Tirpan. They have big, bright coppery-gold eyes.
It has a short neck, long legs and a long slim body. The mane is short and
bristly. The tail is unlike that of a horse, though -
it resembles that of a cow, with a tuft of long hair on
the end. Their skin is
norsidian black. The Sarvonian Quagga’s
head and forequarters are covered with fine, short fur that is striped dark
brown alternating with very pale cream, so that from a distance it looks black
and white. The stripes start to fade over the withers and disappear into a soft,
creamy golden brown colour over the rump and hind legs. The muzzle, hooves, mane
and tail tuft of the Quagga are dark brown. This type of Quagga is found mainly
in the Ráhaz-Dáth Desert and is known
locally as the Zahbriny.
The Nybelmar Quagga is striped all over, though the striping is lighter over the rump and back legs. It is smaller than the Zahbriny and more finely built.
The Aeruillin Quagga is coloured like the Sarvonian ones, but with much less distinct stripes, alternating cinnabrown and tan. It is locally known as the Sandhorse, and is even smaller than the Nybelmar Quagga, rarely reaching over 11 palmspans in height. Otherwise, they are very similar, in bone structure, teeth shape/size, and so on.
The biggest and most important difference between a horse and a Quagga is that a Quagga cannot be ridden by an adult human being. Their backbones are not strong enough to take weights of more than about 6-8 hebs. They will become swaybacked, bow-legged and unable to walk properly if ridden regularly by a heavier person. They could carry a child rider with no difficulties, but they are very wild and usually unreliable. Quaggas are mainly used as meat animals and also for their attractive hides.
Quaggae are exceedingly fast, outstripping even the
Centoraurian or the
Aeruillin desert horse. In a short race, few
animals on Caelereth could keep pace with
one. They have limited endurance, however, and in a longer race, a fast, strong
horse will catch up to and surpass them.
Territory. Quagga are desert animals. In Sarvonia, the Zahbriny may be found anywhere south of Bardavos, down to Cape Strata. Sandhorses are found through the Sveltash Desert on Aeruillin, though not usually further south than that, and never anywhere near the Ethereal Void. In Nybelmar, Quaggae have been observed in and around Orcal and the vast central plains area.
Habitat/Behaviour. Typically, the Quagga usually lives in small herds of ten to fifteen animals. Often there will be two stallions, or jaks, a senior and junior, that look after the herd. The senior is responsible for protecting and defending the herd, the junior for finding food and water. Either jak may mate with any mally, though this is a choice made by the mally (see Mating). When the senior gets too old to successfully defend the herd anymore, he is driven off, and the younger jak takes over, picking a new junior. The other colts are usually chased off at about age two and usually form bachelor herds, unless a pair tries to challenge the jaks of a herd with mallies. Jaks that want to try for a herd will pair up, because they will be attacked by both the herd jaks and will need a partner to have any chance of success.
Picture description. P'arnt-roasted quagga haunch with stragelevine seeds. Image drawn by Bard Judith.
Being desert animals, Quaggae will eat nearly any plants. In the
Ráhaz-Dáth area, the most common plants
are grasses, mil’no plants,
cacti such as the ger-ger, and
desert lichens and the leaves of some trees. In Aeruillin, they eat
southern sunflower leaves and petals,
mutliweed, and leaves from any trees
available. It is not really known what they eat in
Nybelmar, except that they are a dreadful
nuisance to the various tribes in the Orcal
area because they frequently raid gardens and eat everything they can find.
Mating. Mallies go into heat every eight weeks, unless pregnant. They tend to be the aggressors in mating, usually approaching one or the other of the herd jaks and twining necks, rubbing noses, and pressing against him. The lucky jak will respond in kind, nuzzling and making soft nickering sounds. Mating takes place quickly and repeatedly over the course of the next day or two (always with the same jak) until the heat time passes. The mally may choose the other jak next time, but during each heat period she will only mate with one, not both. Generally, the mally will pick the senior male of the herd. As he ages, however, and as the younger jak get bigger and stronger,(usually by the time the younger is in full adult prime by about 6 or 7 years of age) the mallies slowly begin gravitating toward the younger stallion. By the time the senior stallion has reached his late teens, he is becoming chosen less and less often, and around about age 18-20, he will be driven off by the younger jak, who will then pick a new junior male to be his subordinate.
The gestation period is almost a year. Quagga foals are born a soft creamy golden colour all over, with very faint stripes, which darken as they age. They are very appealing little animals, with big eyes and ears, delicate long legs, and silky soft coats.
Usages. As previously noted, Quagga are not domesticable for riding animals. They are considered by most peoples to be a nuisance, since they raid gardens and eat nearly any plants. However, their lovely hides are much liked, and they do have a tasty meat. The orcs of Nybelmar make fyrflejs (dried smoked meat) of their meat, which is actually considerably tastier and less tough than the variety made by the Sarvonian orcs from Tirpan meat. (It is thought that this is due to the heaviness and density of Tirpan flesh, which has very little fat content.)
Information provided by Alysse the Likely