THE TAGER BIRD-LIZARD (HUN)

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING  - MYTH/LORE

The Tagers are the most impressive animals of the Zharkanion Mountains in Nybelmar and also the rarest. One of few flying beasts, these bird-lizards are the most feared predator in the mountains. With a wingspan of more than 3 peds a full-grown Tager is a very powerful animal. It can lift a dwarven child without much effort. The dwarven name for them, Hun, plural Huunerons ("The ones who take"), were given to them due to precisely that fact. The lifespan is hard to determine, but most experts among the dwarves agree that itís between 50-80 years.

Appearance. Some say that Tagers are relatives to the eagles with their impressive grey, feathered wings. Some say that the ancestors were dragons and point to the black lizard-looking head. Which one of these statements that is correct is hard to say. The Tagers populated the Zharkanions long before the dwarves came there.

Their wingspan is impressive. On a full-grown Tager it can be 3-3.5 peds. However, the biggest skeleton the dwarves have found had a wingspan of 5 peds. Those giants are believed to live higher up the mountain. The wings are covered with black, grey and white, where the grey feathers are most common.

The head is, as said, of large lizard and completely black. When the sun shines upon the head it glitters in every colour you can name. The eyes are of an eagle, often green and constantly searching the air around and the ground below. The ears are small and thin and leans backwards. The hearing is not so great, but that sight compensates that.

The neck is long, very lithe and covered with the scales of a lizard. This makes it possible for the beast to eat from its claws in mid air despite the short legs. The Tagers are almost completely quiet animals. They use clicking noises to communicate with each other. The clicking sounds seems to come from the throat and they don't have to open their mouths to do it.

The Tager's legs are short but the claws are strong and sharp. The size of the claws is also different between the sexes. The males have larger claws, with more power but with less accuracy. The femalesí are smaller and better for taking care of the young ones. When it catches its food the claws are buried in prey and after that they will not open until the Tager is ready to feed.

There are two ways to separate the sexes. One is that the males are slightly larger than the females and the other one is that males have more white feathers and females more black ones. Return to the top

Special Abilities. When a Tager lifts from its cliff it can take more than two days before it sets down again. Eating in the air is no problem and when flying on the winds the creature donít use much water. When they do find a stream high up in the mountains they drink as much as they can and then they start climbing the winds again. Up there, there are not many other creatures. Some birds get lost in the winds and are doomed as soon as a Tager-eye is set on it. Return to the top

Territory. The only place in the world where Tagers have been spotted are the Zharkanions in central Nybelmar. High up on the mountaintops the creatures live pretty much alone.
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Habitat/Behaviour. The Tagers lives in families of up to four generations with the strongest male leading the hoarde. He often takes his father's place by a short fight that shows who is strongest. This is more of a ritual and the Tagers rarely get injured in the process.

The family flies and hunts together. The prey does not however belong to the family. The one who catches the food is also the owner. The only case when the animals share are when one of the family is sick or injured enough not to hunt. If one family member gets attacked the others will fight fiercely to drive the aggressor back.
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Diet. The Zharkanions donít provide the Tagers with a varied diet. It consists mainly of other birds, young milch goats and bats. Of course the milch goat gives most meat and therefore are the Tager's favourite. When the Tager spots its pray it flies down fast and often crushes the prey'S body in the strong claws.
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Mating. A male Tagers becomes ready for mating at about twenty years, the females at about fifteen. The mating takes place in the early spring.

When a male reaches that age he starts seeking a female to mate and live with. This search can take up his entire life. When/if he finds a female he courts her, giving her food and pretty stones that he finds on the mountains. The courting can also be a dangerous business for the male if there are more than one interested. This is believed to be the reason for the Tagers small numbers. If there is a duel between two males they will fight each other high up in the sky until one dies, or even both perish.

Shortly after the actual mating the female finds a cave high up in the mountains where she lays down to rest. After just seven weeks she gives birth to three or four small Tagers and after another five weeks the Tagers are ready to fly. During these weeks the mother leaves the cave every day to hunt. As soon as the Tagers can fly they just start flying around with their family and hunt.
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Myth/Lore. The Tagers are not the products of the War of the Chosen like many of the other strange animals on Nybelmar. The Tagers have been in the Zharkanions longer than that. The oldest stories known from the old Kiingerim tells of the Demon Eagles.

The oldest myth among the dwarves about these beasts is that they are ancestors of one of the oldest demons, the flying morgoleth. In no other texts than the ones of the Kiingerim can this name be found.

The wizard Morgoleth was said to live in the highest mountain tops of the Zharkanions. There he created many followers in his image, among them the Tagers. Not all of his minions survived the high altitude. But the Tagers did and did well. The mix between lizard and eagle was perfect for living in the mountains. When Morgoleth was defeated by Tyr Hthom and Hunyeh Hthom the Tagers simply kept on living of what the mountain had to offer.
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