The Rimmerin Bear, or "Ma'akwa'aheshtake" in the Eyelian tongue, is a bear found far and wide throughout south-central Santharia. It is found in the greatest concentration in the Rimmerins Ring, hence the name. However, it is also found in moderate numbers all the way east to Kor Donion, south to Chylikis, and in lesser numbers westward to Hog. One will note that the bear is found predominantly in the former Kingdom of Eyelia - as such, it is a very important animal to these people. It is told that the "Ma'akwa'aheshtake ("Twin Bear") taught the first Sarvonian Eyelians which herbs and plants were safe, and showed them the best shelter. Today, the Eyelians' gratitude is obvious, as one of the three modern clans (the Quia clan) is symbolized by the bear.
When a Sanguian pictures a bear, they tend not to picture the
moss bear, the blood bear,
or the Cartashian bear - instead, the intimately familiar
Rimmerin Bear springs to mind. A common sight in the woods, mountains, and
secluded spots of Sanguia, the Rimmerin Bear (or "Sinm Bea"r, or "Twin Bear",
depending on who you ask) is immediately identifiable by the denizens of
The Rimmerin Bear is easily identifiable, simply by looking at the face. The ears are short, and rounded. Though they are constantly twitching and flitting, it is difficult to ascertain why. The Rimmerin Bear has a poor sense of hearing, and the ears are almost vestigial. What is clearly not vestigial, however, is the nose. Also a constantly twitching feature, the Rimmerin Bear's nose bears much resemblance to a dog's. It is small, black, and wet, and an extremely powerful organ. The bear's smell is excellent, perhaps to compensate for otherwise poor hearing and eyesight. The almost useless eyes are small, black, and beady, and their button-like appearance helps create the generic "bear-face" that every Sanguian child has seen stitched into a bedside toy at some point.
What the child doesn't have on his stuffed bear is a tad more important than the face. As the Rimmerin Bear strolls through the woods, searching for prey or fruit, a massive hump of muscle wavers precariously atop its back. This back muscle, however, is hardly the only source of strength for the bear. As the Rimmerin Bear shambles through its habitat, its entire body wavers - od for od, the Rimmerin Bear is possibly the strongest mundane creature in the Rimmerin region.
The Rimmerin Bear is a massive beast, though some individuals are larger than others. There are two varieties. The first is the standard Rimmerin Bear is smaller, and lives mainly in the forests and plains of Sanguia. The second type, the Tharís Bear, is much larger, lives in the Rimmerins Ring proper, and can often be found preying on the Baal ogres and gryphs who live in their territory. The average Rimmerin Bear is about a ped to a ped and a half long, stands about two fores tall at the shoulder, and weighs about two pygges. The Tharís Bear, on the other hand, is about three peds to three and a half in length. Startling as this is, the length is only the beginning. When on all fours, the Tharís Bear is a ped tall at the shoulder. The largest Thar's Bear on record stood a staggering, intimidating height of three and a half peds while standing! The mass of this beast (mainly muscle) makes it a good 13 pygges in weight, and a formidable opponent for even an ogre.
Please note that the weights above are not all-encompassing. Rather, they represent the average. More dominant bears (typically males) will be heavier, due to an increased muscle mass, and the less dominant and younger bears will of course weigh less. Also, weight is heavily dependent on habitat. Where game is scarce, bears will be leaner and lighter, and where the game is plentiful and the competition light, Rimmerin Bears may stand to gain fifty od or so.
The bear's weight and height are mostly due to habitat; bears found in the Ring itself tend to be the largest, while those wandering the forests and plains of Sanguia are generally smaller. Some researchers theorize that this is due to necessity. The largest predators in the lowlands are wolves, while Thar's Bears must combat with Baal ogres commonly. Prey is by no means scarce in the ring - there are a great many cows and goats that live wild and feral even in the higher reaches of the Rimmerins, but as long as Thar's Bears and Baal ogres live in the same area, prey will be fought over.
However, both varieties of Rimmerin Bear look nearly identical, only differing in size. Almost all Rimmerin Bears have a brown coat, generally adlemirene, but some elder Thar's Bears are an elken colour. The coat is light, just heavy enough to keep it warm in the winter months. However, for Thar's Bears, the coat naturally grows longer and thicker, acting as a natural armour in addition to keeping the bear warm. However, the coat is still adlemirene, giving both the Thar and common varieties an additional name - the Sinm Bear. Both the colour and the bear are named after the adlemir tree, specifically the "sinm", the seed it grows from.
There is a small amount of variation in coat colour - some darker brown, almost black, specimens of Rimmerin Bears have been spotted around the southwest foothills of the Rimmerins Ring. In addition, coastal varieties are more often than not lighter than their inland counterparts. Specifically, the paws are lighter. Even in adlemirene coastal bears, the paws are still often elken, and this pattern can often continue halfway up the leg. However, these are exceptions, not the rule, and the Sinm Bear is still overwhelming the colour that gave it this name
The Rimmerin Bear certainly appears to have been created for predation - it has ten wickedly sharp claws in front, and ten duller ones in back, coming to a total of twenty talons on four massive paws, and the entire beast is rippling with muscle. However, the claws are just as often used to crack open nuts or dig for roots and tubers, and the muscles are useful for knocking down trees, in order to reach acorns, nuts, and fruit. The Rimmerin Bear is a dangerous predator, to be sure, but it eats just as balanced a diet as any human.
The Rimmerin Bear must first be noted for its dramatic physique. As was
mentioned earlier, the Rimmerin Bear has the strength to knock down small trees,
and has been seen to run at a speed, that, if continued, would equal probably a
furlay per hour. However,
they lack the stamina to carry this speed for long. Instead, the bear is built
for sprints, and can achieve incredible speeds in a short amount of time. The
bear can cover a dash in a
few blinks, but rarely maintains
this speed for distances farther than a half-stral.
Secondly, the Rimmerin Bear has a sharp sense of smell. It is a keen hunter, and has been known to move towards prey that lies up to a stral away. However, its sense of smell is hampered by the direction of the wind, as well as water. It is not uncommon for a tracker following a Rimmerin Bear to watch it trace a trail several dashes until it reaches a stream or river, losing the trail.
This sense of smell is perhaps compensation for otherwise poor senses. The bear's hearing is far short of spectacular - indeed, its tiny ears seem almost vestigial, and its eyesight is equivalent to species-wide astigmatism. The Rimmerin Bear seems unable to spot a man moving towards it, until the man is only a ped or so away. 
Thirdly, and lastly, the Rimmerin Bear is known amongst the Eyelian Men for its wisdom. As the Eyelians are the only race to have ever conversed with such a beast, this is a hard myth to debunk. However, it may not be a myth. While the bear may not be a good source of practical advice, it is not rare for a lost Eyelian to find one of these wood-wise bruins and have it share its knowledge. According to Eyelian lore, the Rimmerin Bear was the animal who showed the Eyelians which plants were safe, and this practice continues in times of dire need today.
Territory. The Rimmerin Bear is found primarily in the Rimmerins Ring, though the lesser variations are found prevalently throughout all Sanguia. The bear prefers forested terrain, though the "Bear's Teeth" (as the Eyelians call the ring) are a perfect place to raise their young, due in part to the prevalence of game and shelter there. The Rimmerin Bear is a hardy creature, and wherever food is available, it may be found.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Rimmerin Bear is surprisingly gentle, especially around Eyelians. They are often found making homes at the outskirts of Eyelian villages, where they will find safety in a lack of persecution from humans, as well as prevalent sources of food. The Eyelians (as will be expanded on) revere the Rimmerin Bear, and will often leave "tithes" of meat outside their villages for the bear's benefit.
Unfortunately, this is not true everywhere. Some humans, elves, and dwarves see the bear as a threat and mercilessly hunt it down. If the bear is hunted in such a fashion, it will turn viciously savage. Also, if any mother is separated from her young, she will attack the one who separated them mercilessly. However, the bear is generally not a protagonist against people. Primarily, this is due to a difference in habitat - bears tend not to live near major population centers. If a bear does find its way to a city, this can spell disaster for it, and several New-Santhalan hunters specialize in killing Thar's Bears that wander to close to the capital. Thankfully, this is rare.
The mother, as has been mentioned, is extremely protective of her young. In fact, after her cubs have been born, the mother will quickly engage in ritualized combat with any male in the area - which often means the father. The father, in fact, would eat the babies if not for this combat. While the mother teaches her cubs to hunt, shows them where to find food, and guides them to adulthood, the father is hardly a parent at all. He prefers a more solitary life, other bears being competition, mating potential, or prey. Sometimes, indeed, a bear can be all of the above.
When a mother is not living with its cubs, and once the cubs have separated, the Rimmerin Bear becomes an entirely solitary creature. Rarely will one find even two in the same landscape. The Rimmerin Bear will often stake out a territory of fifty square strals or so of their own, marking the boundaries with foul-smelling urine. These boundaries are hotly contested, and countless fights break out along the borders.
Unlike many other bears, the Rimmerin Bear does not hibernate. Northern researchers have theorized that most bears hibernate to escape the cold winter temperatures, and conserve energy for the hunting season. However, for the Rimmerin Bear, the hunting season is year-round, and winters in Sanguia are rarely savage enough to force the months-long slumber other bears are subject to. However, winter does reach these cruel temperatures where Thar's bears live. Still, hibernation is not an option, as ogres are still on the prowl for food and pelts. If a Thar's Bear was to fall asleep, unprotected for any extended period of time, it would shortly find itself dead.
Diet. The Rimmerin Bear is a true opportunist. It is primarily a meat-eater, enjoying all kinds of game, from deer in the plains and forests, to gryphs and ogres in the high reaches of the Bear's Teeth. If one has not seen a bear fighting a Baal ogre, one has missed a true spectacle. The fights rage for hours, with the bear usually surviving, but only one in four encounters leads to the bear slaying the ogre, as the ogre's family usually comes to its aid.
Another fantastic scene is to witness a Thar's Bear sitting silently on a rocky crag, overlooking a feeding gryph. With a fantastic dive, the bear will crush the gryph, and then drag it back to its cave. This practice is obviously difficult. For it to work, the bear must find a crag at least four peds, no higher than six, above a gryph nest or feeding ground. In addition, it must reach the area before the gryph does, or while it sleeps. As such, a "gryph-hunt" can last several days, as the bear scopes out the territory, and moves into position. The benefit for the bear is a food source that will last for many days.
When the bear chooses not to hunt, it can survive easily on roots, herbs, grasses, and berries. In particular, the Bear seems to savor dainbel berries, and will often stake its territory in areas with high concentrations of the kell herb. The Rimmerin Bear also has sharp enough smell to find truphulls, and will gorge on these with abandon, digging up as many as it can with its powerful front claws.
Mating. Once a year, for about a week, territory boundaries are forgotten, and the bears go searching for a mate. They gather at one point, roughly equidistant from all their territories in great convocations. The males fight for a day in a highly ritualized combat, than choose their mates the next, with the winners getting the first pick. After another day of close living, the bears separate, and return to their own territories.
Six to eight weeks later, the mother gives birth, and the cubs earn the Eyelian name "Ma'akwa'aheshtake", or "Twin Bear". The mother always gives birth to twins, with no exceptions. After birth, the twins and their mother will stay together for about a year, until the twins are large enough to separate to find and claim their own territory. In some cases, when the twins are uncharacteristically small for their age, they will stay together for several more months, or until they are large enough to defend themselves.
Usages. The bear, besides being a guide to the ancient Eyelians is also a source of clothing. Its pelt is large and warm, and is used for clothes, blankets, and beds by the Eyelians. They are also used by the Baal ogres (when one triumphs in the aforementioned epic battles), and are considered trophies worthy of great praise.
The Eyelians also use the claws for various piercings, as can be read in the entry by the orcish researcher, Tharoc Wargrider.
Myth/Lore. Many years ago, when the Eyelians first came to Sarvonian shores, it is said that the Rimmerin Bear helped them find food. Because of this, the Eyelians (mainly those of the Quia clan) refer to Thar's Bears as Great Bearlings, the direct descendents of the Great Bear. The Great Bear is mentioned here, in this excerpt from the Yourth'Dibaj ("Story of Fresh Ground"):
Story of Quia, the Bear.
The last saviour came in the form of a bear, a greater bear than had ever
been seen in my homeland. It was my younger brother who called for him,
though quite on accident. Be'algor needed food, more than most of us, for
his second name is Plentyfood. He always needed plenty of food for
himself, though he was never loathe to share. He was groaning, growling,
one night after the game had stopped appearing. We had no food. To his,
and our, aid, came a bear. He towered over us, and looked ready to strike
my brother down. But instead he merely bellowed with bestial laughter.
For a more universal
example of Rimmerin Bears in Santharian
culture, one could point to the stuffed bear. In the early days of the
Eyelian Kingdom, many shamans used
fetishes, or magical focuses of a sort. Often
stiched dolls or stone, wood, or clay figurines, these fetishes were found in
the shape of various animals. The most popular animals were, of course, bears,
eagles, and wolves. However, the ancient shamanistic
practices have largely dropped out of favour in the last few centuries, though
remanants of the old culture remain. The stuffed dolls, in particular, hold a
special place in the hearts of many
Santharians. No longer symbols of magical
potence, they have been turned into children's playthings. Bears, as any mother
or child knows, are the most common. Perhaps it is the cub's adorable
appearance, or the ease of creation. No fancy wings or talons to sew here, just
a shapeless blob with button eyes will convey the image of a bear just fine. For
an example of the "Makwa" (a derivative of the
Eyelian name, easily pronounced by
children of any tribe), just glance in your own child's bedroom. Or, if you are
childless, or unaquanted with this Sanguian plaything, ask a neighbour, or
glance at a children's storybook. One could not, however, suggest that you
attempt to take one from a child for your own perusal. Children can be as
protective of their Makwas as a mother bear is of her cubs.
Researchers. Be'algor Plentyfood Quia was the first true researcher of the Rimmerin Bear, as his Bo'en taught him many secrets about its kind. Be'algorís notes survive in a heavily fragmented, archaic form, nigh impossible to translate. However it has been done, so may the reader enjoy this entry, and realize the difficulty in translating two very different languages, and the hours that this.... (the parchment here is smudged and dirty, and a stern note accompanies it) .
The second researcher was the
Serphelorian woman Rukacathar
Chyarbeinxau. The discoverer of the great Thar's Bear, she made many pilgrimages
up into the tallest reaches of the Bear's Teeth to learn about the hunting
practices of the Bears there.
Finally, the Eyelian researcher Nsikigan Ho'Tonanese Yourth risked life and limb, flying on the aforementioned Tawny Gryphon, a gryph Bo'en, in order to simply discover the speed at which a Bear can run.