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Lifeforms
Fauna
Forest/ Jungle
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ID: 3109

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October 18, 2006, 6:55 am

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Ralu

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From the Book, The Southern Reaches - of Savages and Silver, a travel log by Admiral (ret.) Saveth, noted Naturalist.
“One of the most interesting discoveries we made during our visit with the Hanaset was the odd looking, but very useful beast they called the Ralu. ”

“  The day after our encounter with Lutazum we were brought out to one of their ‘farms’.  These consisted of large pens woven out of bamboo and other plants, and within were the odd livestock the Hanaset refer to as the Ralu.

The Hanaset chief mentioned that there were other farms further out, but it was just as well to not visit them, as later discussion would make clear.

The Ralu in general are an odd sort of beast.  It appears as a cross between a giant rat and swine, with the addition of porcupine-like spines on it’s hindquarters.  It has dull, quite stupid looking eyes and its feet appear more rat-like then would be expected on livestock.

We were subsequently informed that what we had taken for venison the prior day was in fact the flesh of these beasts, and was quite good despite their outlandishness.

For truth, these lands hold a great many of surprises, as you, dear reader, will find as you peruse this work…”

From the Book, The Southern Reaches - of Savages and Silver, a travel log by Admiral (ret.) Saveth, noted Naturalist

The Ralu is the main species of animal that the Hanaset have domesticated and forms an integral part of their diet as well as serving other purposes.

Originally the Ralu were a species of large, social porcupine-like mammals.  Unlike most porcupines, these are very social and form herds.  When disturbed, with their highly directional, rear-facing spines, they would form circles around their young, with their spines pointed out to form a prickly circle.

The Ralu are generally very stupid and stubborn, but have a legendary (to the Hanaset) ability to find food almost anywhere.  They are primarily herbivorous, but will sometimes eat insects or frogs.  They do not eat carrion and will give such a wide berth.

The males of the wild species also had traits similar to that of skunks, making them a wholly unpleasant meal for most predators.  The domesticated Ralu have been carefully bred into a number of breeds, specialized for different purposes:

Ralutulu

The Ralutulu are bred exclusively for their meat. They are the largest of the breeds, averaging 200 lbs, and the most voracious.  Their quills are very short and dull, almost valueless as a textile material, and worthless as a defense.  They do have powerful jaws and teeth that allow them to eat most jungle foliage as well as tree bark.

Ralusalu

This Ralu breed is bred for it’s quills.  It is ranges from 100-120 lbs and it’s quills grow to nearly 3 feet in length, extending almost directly behind the beast.  Used as is, the quills make excellent baskets, and when split, the fibers are used for everything from thread, rope, rugs and even the tough quill vests and shields the Hanaset wear into battle.  The material is easily as strong as unboiled leather.

There are some closely hidden rituals which are said to be able to strengthen this material further, to be near the strength of steel, but this has not been confirmed.

The Hanaset make many uses of the quills themselves.  One of the most interesting is in a ritual that they perform in lieu of a traditional duel.

Two Hanaset warriors who have a serious disagreement can submit to the ritual combat called Velasu by the Hanaset.

Each strips to the waist and enters into a circle of combat with naught but a pair of 3’ Ralu quills.  The tip of each is coated in the venom of the Musalu beetle, which causes very severe pain.

What follows resembles a fencing match as would be seen with the lightweight swords of the Civilized lands.  The quills are used with such speed that the match usually ends within seconds.  The first to drop to the ground writhing in pain is the loser, even if they manage to score their opponent as well.  This ritual is not to the death, but the pain of the venom is such that some will almost prefer it.

Raluhilu

The Raluhilu is the smallest breed of the Ralu and is bred for its noxious musk.  Only 80-90 lbs, it is capable of producing prodigious quantities of the foul smelling substance.  This material is used for numerous purposes including defense against some of the larger predators of the jungle.  Parties of foragers will carry carefully sealed clay pots of this substance which are thrown either at the ground, or at the attacking beast.  The stench is severe enough that a direct hit will cause the effected beast to fall into convulsions and vomit uncontrollably. Even if not hit directly, no natural carnivore will press an attack if this substance is between itself and it’s prey.

Strangely enough, the Hanaset have also developed a means to extract a strong, fairly floral perfume from the same material.  It is safe to say, that those Hanaset which specialize in farming these beasts do so quite far from the main area of the village.



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Comments ( 7 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Wulfhere
October 17, 2006, 11:26
0xp
A fun sub! I like the quirky details.

Could you add more description of the original stock from which these breeds were developed? I'd be interested in seeing more information about the creatures' behavior and habitat in the wild.
valadaar
October 17, 2006, 11:30
0xp
Will do!

I'm thinking very Capbybara like (sp) for behaviour except their defences.
Voted Scrasamax
October 17, 2006, 12:03
Only voted
Voted Cheka Man
October 17, 2006, 12:14
Only voted
Voted manfred
October 17, 2006, 12:32
0xp
Add some photographs, and National Geographic would be proud. A creature that indirectly defines the Hanaset. Great work, up to the duelling use. Do they have any natural predator, btw?
Voted Murometz
October 17, 2006, 16:22
0xp
"The day after our encounter with Lutazum"

You had me after that line val ^ (since I loved the Turtle).

what manfred said. Everyone loves a good national geographic critter! Nice details. (Musalu Beetles sound fun too!)
Voted MoonHunter
October 19, 2006, 10:55
0xp
More something from The Royal Geographical Order than the National Geographic Society. A nice use of ecology and domestication. It adds a great deal to these tribal peoples.

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