The Jegra is a creature renowned by the jungle dwelling tribes of Shar (which include the Krean and Viaquis) for their ferocious hunting techniques and methods of killing. The name of the bipedal terrors is thought to originate from the ancient Lillivear tongue, literally meaning ‘Painful’. It is actually still debated whether the Jegra lizard is in fact a bird, since its body is covered in feathers and its arms bear loose wing-like appendages. The general consensus though, due to the Jegra's lack of a beak and more repitlian body structure, is that the Jegra is a lizard, though a very strange one nonetheless.
Picture description. This painting portrays well the unamusement of the Jegra when their young escape in search for food. Image by Sheil.
Though ferocious, the Jegra are not without their uses. Their crest feathers for example were once used to decorate the huge ceremonial crown of the grand Karoths. At one point they were even banned from public sale within the Earth Empire due to the Karoth’s desired exclusiveness of them).
The Jegra have very peculiar appearances for lizards, since rather than being
covered in thick hard scales, their exterior is decorated with long pale pink
feathers. All but their very bird-like legs (with three large toes on the foot)
and their suitably reptilian mouths are spared this fluffy coat, baring their
somewhat sickly yellow skin that has a revoltingly leathery feel to it.
A standing Jegra is about the size of pubescent human from the tip of its nose to the ground, which is a couple of palmspans over a ped. Jegra have a strange stance though which leads to lean forward, making them appear somewhat shorter. Jegra have an average weight of about 1 pygge and a few hebs (females being slightly heavier).
Jegra Lizards have a set of sharp teeth that are normally on display due to the beast's tendency to keep its mouth open and regularly taste the dense air. Jegra have their longest but bluntest teeth in the back of their mouth, and their shortest but sharpest in the front. In between these two distinct teeth types they slowly begin to change in length and how pointed they are. This has led to the cruel appearing habit of the Jegra to repeatedly bite their prey in a systematic way that seems pointless, though they are actually using their back teeth to soften up the flesh for tearing.
The Jegra, as mentioned above, is a bipedal lizard. Though it has four limbs, where a creature on all fours has limbs of somewhat equal lengths, the Jegra has hind legs much longer then their front ‘arms’. Each limb (front or hind) ends in three long digits ending with black claw-like attachments. The size of these hand-like appendages varies on which limb it is connected to since the hind ones being much larger than front ones. The purpose of the hind legs is to propel the Jegra as fast as they can, but the purpose of the front is somewhat different. Unlike the arms of the civilised races and animals like apes, Jegra arms lack opposable thumbs that would allow them to pick things up. Their hands are relatively puny, and using them to fight things off would never succeed. It is therefore thought that arms are used to balance the Jegra when it is travelling at high speeds (as it has been noted that Jegra with broken arms move a lot slower and fall down a lot easier when turning). Jegra are known to attempt to fly by flapping their arms in a fashion similar to birds. They are sometimes capable of lifting themselves a few palmspans off the ground, but this requires much more effort from the Jegra than the usefulness of the result.
The only way to tell the difference between a male and female Jegra without examining their genitalia (which is very unadvisable with a living specimen) is the head crest that only males possess. Upon the top of a male Jegra’s head there is a line of white and black feathers that are only slightly longer than the pale pink ones. However, during the mating season, these feathers accelerate in growth an incredible size (about a the size of a woman’s arms) and point directly upwards. It are these feathers that were prized by the Earth Empire. These feathers fall off the Jegra’s head after he has mated and a new set grow to the original size a few days afterwards. Though many a trader has tried to harvest these fallen feathers rather than hunt a Jegra (they are especially aggressive in their mating season) and pluck them from its head, though these feathers rot away in a matter of days, an embarrassment that would have surely angered the crafters of the coronation crown.
Jegra are also known to have somewhat deceptively sweet green eyes. Some believe that they have such beautiful eyes as a way of distracting (or even hypnotising) their prey, though the pain that they cause it will surely break the spell. Jegra also bear very long tails that are just over the length of the rest of their body. The underneath of this tail is also one of the very few areas where pink feathers do not cover it.
Special Abilities. The following extract of an essay regarding the Jegra Lizard is taken from the writings of Hedra Munir, a respected Lilliveran jungle researcher. It emphasizes various special abilities of these beasts, which is why we'd like to quote it here in full detail:
A Jegra Attack. One
Jegra, a crest-less female, slowly crept around the dense foliage. From my
safe viewpoint I only caught glimpses of the creature’s stealthy
movements. It suddenly stopped, raising and lowering its posture to make
sure what it thought it was seeing was actually there. It was a peaceful
krog eating bushes. The previously cunning creature
sprinted back to a point. I began to follow it but suddenly stopped when I
saw its destination.
Jegra, as the above extract indicates, have some remarkable
abilities. They seem to have evolved their own (sickening) form of communication
in a series of shrieks and they apparently possess the ability to run at an
incredible speed. They also seem to have developed a series of roles for each of
their kind in hunting and they have the ability to quickly kill a much larger
target in a group.
Territory. Thankfully the Jegra are only found on the continent of Nybelmar, deep in the jungles of the Shar peninsula, far away from Sarvonian ‘civilisation’.
Habitat/Behaviour. Jegra live in groups of about thirty, with around twenty females and ten males. Jegra are known to have an insatiable appetite that they are always trying to satisfy. As such they spend most of their waking day hunting and eating. When they are not doing this the males may be part of the continuous struggle for power within the group.
Within a Jegra group (the actual term for a group being ‘horde’) there is one absolute ruler. This male is given all the food he needs, and (if he is still dominant at the time) has the first pick of the females. He will spend most of his days resting or asserting his power.
However, a position of power within a Jegra horde is never permanent. Other aspiring males will challenege the leader of the horde at least twice a week . These attacks are normally unexpected. If the leader manages to win by forcing the challenger to submit (or killing him) he remains in power. If the challenger however manages to defeat the leader, he immediately gains power over every member of the horde. The previous leader is then almost shunned from the horde, being excluded from all hunting packs and sometimes having females refuse to mate with him (though this is quite rare due to the ratio of males to females in the average horde).
Diet. The Jegra diet consists entirely of meat. However, should the situation become desperate, cannibalism (normally by the males off the females) is not unheard of. The Jegra are known to work as a group to try and take down targets much larger than themselves that will satisfy them for longer. Large creatures like krogs make up the staple of their diet.
Mating. Due to the generally vicious nature of the Jegra, it is not unbelievable that their mating rituals are very aggressive. The most desirable female is determined by their ability to bear children. This ability though is not worked out by how many children a Jegra has had, but rather their history. For example, a female who has laid two clutches of two eggs in the past two seasons would be deemed less desirable than a female who has laid a clutch of three eggs in their first season. The most desirable females are almost always the youngest ones. The males will claim a female. If the female he claims is uncontested, they will mate. If another Jegra selects their chosen mate, the two males will start a vicious but quick duel. A flurry of bites and scratches follow, the winner is decided when the loser flees or is dead.
Immediately after mating the male’s crest will fall off, though it will grow back to its original (short) length. Females normally lay clutches of about three eggs, though numbers from two to five are known to have occurred. Four months after the eggs have been laid, they will hatch into small featherless creatures no bigger than a palm of a hand. Though born without the characteristic feathers, they are born with the insatiable Jegra hunger. At their young age they quickly master walking (though running will occur later) and begin to search the leaf-litter for insects to eat. Though the mothers will normally offer a reasonable amount of meat to their young, it is never enough to satisfy them. A common sight after the hatching is to see small Jegra fleeing from their parents in search of food, and their parents searching around to try and find them, showing that the mischief of children is not limited to sentient beings.
By three months they will be three quarters of their maximum size and will have their feathers, but the males will have to wait an extra fortnight to month for their crest feathers.
Usages. The elongated mating season feathers of male Jegra were used to decorate the coronation crown of the Karoth, the absolute ruler of the Krath Empire. As mentioned above, the feathers that fall off decompose very quickly, but it is a little known fact that those that are plucked from the creature’s head also eventually decompose, though not as fast. The crown of the Karoth actually had to be renewed every month when the feathers began to rot, though his household servants and craftsmen did this in his sleep so he did not notice. It was thought to be a terrible omen if the feathers 'died' on a Karoth's crown. It symbolised a short reign and (occasionally) a short life.
Myth/Lore. A common saying evolved within the peninsula of Shar, "Like an Old Jegra". It was used to describe a woman who was somewhat undesirable, or to compare an undesirable one to a (more) desirable one.