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Vardanian Donkey

The Ferans use horses and lions and bears. They want to show power and ferocity. And the Vardanians? They'll draw a donkey on their banner and march under it with greater pride than all the rest.
— Anis Moaranon to his son Adrin
 

Characteristics

 
Vardanian Donkey's are among the larger variants of the species. The average specimen is about 140 cm high and weighs about 400 kg. The body is usually compact with an elongated head, topped with two long ears and a shaggy black tail completing the picture.   At 55 to 65 years, their lifespan is the longest of all donkey variants. They are adapted to live in many lands, from the dry plains of the Summer Coast to the colder highlands of the north. Wild donkeys are solitary individuals, only coming together to breed.   Even if they move in flocks, as a defence against predators, they usually spread out over large distances. The loud call or bray of the donkey, which typically lasts for twenty seconds and can be heard for over three kilometres, may help keep in contact with other donkeys over the wide spaces.   What makes them stand out among their species is their extreme resilience. Vardanian donkeys can survive even inhospitable environments for longer periods of time, are able to walk long stretches without needing rest and can survive extended periods of time without food or water.   Additionally, they are the strongest variant of donkey known to exist. Strong leg muscles and hooves made from a hard material, make the donkeys strike or kick a dangerous weapon. An adult male human can be killed by a glancing blow to the upper body and even adult female dire wolfs (over 175 cm height) have been found killed, taken down by strikes to the head or upper body.   There exists a legend that the infamous dictator of Veii, Alian Macaris, found his end at the hoofs of a donkey. A know sadist he had wanted to relax by torturing the animal and died after the enraged beast kicked his chest in.  

Breeding

  A jenny (female donkey) is normally pregnant for about 12 months and will give birth to one or two foals. Twins are somewhat rare however more common than with horses. About one in eight pregnancies will result in twins. Donkeys can interbreed with other members of the family Equidae and are commonly interbred with horses. The hybrid between a jack and a mare is a mule, valued as a working and riding animal in many countries.  

Behaiviour

 
Donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, but this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of self-preservation than exhibited by horses. Forcing or frightening a donkey into doing something is next to impossible. The Vardanian variant especially will only act if they notice a direct and real threat.   However once one has earned their confidence they are willing partners and very dependable in work. V. Donkeys are especially noted to have a strong connection to their human owners. They are intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn, often picking things up far faster than other beasts of burden (most other donkey variants included).  

History

 
The Equidae are known to have been domesticated more than 6000 years ago, long before even the Age of Wrath. When the cataclysmic Oblivion Hour wiped out most of humanity, it wiped out many of the larger animals as well. Animals such as horses, cows and pigs only returned to Vardania with the Feran Invasions in the 9th century DA.   Donkeys were one of the few that survived and became one of the most important animals in Vardanian society. Farm work, construction, transport and even war, there was and is no area that donkeys don't play an important role in.   Vardanian armies (especially the Legions) are known to utilize large corps of donkeys to transport supplies and equipment. Even with horses having returned and prospered in Vardania, the donkey is still the predominant beast of burden on the continent.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Scientific Name
Equs vardaris asinus
Lifespan
up to 65 years
Average Height
140 cm
Average Weight
400 kg
The Vardanian and the Donkey   Where the horse is associated with the Ferans or Hijin, the eagle seen as a symbol of the Rhomeion and the deer inseparable from the Themyrans, the donkey is the animal of Vardania. Not the most intimidating or powerful animal to chose as a symbol.   Ferans use the term Donkeyman when referring to Vardanians and Archivar Cenarus counts at least 823 jokes concerning the topic.  
Over 800? How? I am not even mad, I am impressed!
— Emperor Gordian VII.
  Vardanians aren't usually bothered by such comments. They grow up with the animals, be it on farms or in the cities, be it as nobles or as street rats. Donkeys are omnipresent in Vardanian society. Loyal and friendly, they can often be found as pets, in nursery rhymes and even myths. It is the animal of Pareidor, Vardanian god of nature.   The practice of ridiculing an enemy by sitting him nacked on a donkey and driving him through the streets is forbidden in Vardanian nations and anyone breaking this law is sentenced to at least three weeks of prison.

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