Elks are majestic creatures, hoofed kings of the forests and plains. They carry a crown of many-pointed antlers upon their heads, and can dwarf the deer of Caelereth. Their pride and elegance make them a beauty to be seen, and their meat and hides gather a great price in trading.
Appearance. Elks are massive creatures, their height at the withers ranges from anywhere between 1.5 and 2 peds, and roughly 1.5 peds in length from chest to tail.
Males have a massive rack of antlers that grow points as each year passes, with thick necks to support the weight of these bony crowns. Elk antlers are known to be massive compared to the size of their head, large bulls owning as many as 10 points each antler. These antlers can grow to a ped in height, and over a ped in width. They can be used as weapons against enemies, but it has been noted by scholars that a poor growth in horns or some trauma upon the antlers can cause abnormal growth. Several occurrences have been noted that Elk have died due to a misformed point growing into the skull cavity instead of outward and killing the animal as it grew older and the antlers larger.
Elk coats are usually thick and soft, with longer hair at the chest and shoulders. They come in a variety of natural colors; roan, sable, tan, grey, usually with white and black accents. The color of the coat depends on the breed and location of the Elk. Females are usually smaller in stature and have less and thinner fur, and are more often than not accompanied by their calf.
The location of the Elks' eyes on their head allows them to see almost directly
behind them. However, they have little depth perception, only in a small area in
front of their nose.
Other than this, they possess no magical or interesting skills other than their appearance (which can be awe-inspiring) and their products (antlers and pelt).
Male Elk release a strong, musky odor that is released at the
base of their horns and the breach between their eyes and ears, as well as in
their urine all through their lives, and females release a lighter but
still-musky odor during mating season to attract the males. Some hunters will
cover up their own odor with this scent to achieve a better hunt, and attract
Territory. Most elk live solitary lives, save for mating season and with calf. They seem to like wide open lands with tall grasses, as well as swamps. Elks reside in forests in bad weather, but are hard to spot due to their markings and constant migrating lifestyle. Elk have been seen in Cyhalloi, northern and southern Sarvonia, and to some extent on Nybelmar.
Habitat/Behaviour. Elk live most in the same manner, no matter their location. They feed of grasses and shrubbery of all kinds, migrating when watering holes dry up or when food becomes scarce, then migrate back, allowing the unused land to recuperate. In these times some Elks may band together (juvenile males in groups, and females with calves) but not for long. If one sees an Elk roughly the same time and same place every year, it's usually the same Elk. When mating season arrives, several male Elk will gather in the area of a female and battle for mating rights. Young calves will stay with their mother until she has another calf, usually about a year.
predators find an Elk menacing to bring down; the combination of height and the
antlers makes for a formidable foe. Packs of wolves working together can bring
down Elk in a timely fashion, as can some of the larger wild-cats. Hunters of
the main races are also hunters of Elk, but they do fear the beast due to its
aggressive nature when threatened.
Diet. Elk are herbivorous; eating plants of all kinds. They have no true preference. They drink from lakes, and do not mind travelling great distances to feed if food becomes scarce. They can detect water from good distances and are good detectors of weather conditions; they are not fond of rain or storms and may migrate or converge in forests to avoid them.
Mating. Most Elk mate in late fall, usually before the first fall of snow or first rains. The female will release a musk in her urine that signals her readiness to bear calves, and begin a low bellowing call, similar to the moo of a cow. Males from leagues around can smell this musk, and the first male to arrive will call with a mooing, whistle-like call to locate the female as well as to gather challengers. As male suitors arrive, the two will fight, butting heads and locking antlers until one becomes too fatigued or submits.
Males become single-minded during this time as the urge to beat other males and mate becomes dominant. In some rare cases, the battling males' antlers will become so entangled by the strike and pull of the fight that they will become locked; unable to free themselves from the rival's horns. If either the horns do not break or outside forces do not intervene, these males will die from fatigue and starvation.
When one male has beaten off all other suitors, then he will mount the female from behind and mate; it take only a minute ot two for the act to end.
The female Elk's gestation will last about 9 months, until a furlly formed baby Elk (horns are not grown until the end of their first year) falls from the mother's womb. Within a matter of hours the calf can walk on its own, standing at about 3/4 of a ped at the withers. The calf feeds from the mother's milk for the first 6 months of life. During the year that the calf stays with the mother, she will show her calf how to eat and what to eat, where to go and what to avoid. Roughly a year after the birth of the calf, the calf enters sexual maturity and begins growing horns if it is male.
mother is ready to bear calves again, she will push her calf away. If the calf
is female, the mother will be violent toward her, butting and kicking if she
comes close, and males will advance, thus pulling her away from her mother. If
the calf is male, it will have an urge to mate with its mother. The mother will
most definitely strike out, but advancing males will drive it away even better.
Usages. Elk have soft, thick fur that is prized by nearly every trader. The animal's size makes it easily tradable, and odd color combinations can fetch amazing prices.
Unfortunately for hunters, the Elk has a magnificent offense due to the rack of antlers on his head. Many a hunter and his hound have been run through by these horns. This also goes for archers and other long-range hunters; the Elk's eyesignt is very keen and if he cannot run from his predator, he will outright attack it. This act of defense by the Elk marks them as a killer, and those that seek revenge will hunt down the Elk and kill it before the Elk can harm another. There are stories of Elk whose horns are coated red by their drive to kill the men that hunt them, but it is only believed to be a tale to warn hunters of the Elk.
The meat of the Elk is found to be very satisfying; their food makes their muscles rich and full of flavor, and their fighting and constant migration make the muscles large and low on fat. Some farmers have opened Elk-farms to harvest the hides and meat, but these Elk by-products are never as good as their wild brethren. Though it does happen, some people use Elk as horses; riding them like steeds and forcing them to do manual labor. This is quite rare, and is usually seen further north where horses cannot stand the cold. Some southerners may do this to show their wealth, but it is quite rare.
Origins. Elk are believed to be related to the deer, but their ability to migrate and dislike of forests allows them a broader range, a habitat conflict is rare. Some scholars believe that the Elk's migratory pattern and broadness of diet is the reason Elk are larger than deer.
Species. Following is a list of all kinds of Elks known in the lands of Caelereth:
The Elver Elks represent one of the most beautiful Elks; they have received their name from the lands that they are the most abundant; the Elverground. Though these Elk can be seen over most of Santharia and are easily spotted due to their bold markings.
This kind of Elk is more common in the damp inland swamps, lakes and marshes. Its legs are longer than the other Elks, with a large nose capable of closing its passages. This allows the Stilted Elk to feed of pond grasses underneath the surface.
Information provided by Viresse