Thangiens' best friend... Witheren, Goddess of Righteous War, took note of the bare handful of canines that accompanied ancient Freelanders. The beasts had likely stumbled through Transgalactic Rifts alongside their masters in the ancient past and struggled to find their footing on this strange alien world. Unimpressed with these skulking mongrels, the Maiden of Blood sought to fashion a beast of comparative stature to a Oldworlder canine as a Grand Cresta was to smaller equines. Unlike the mammoth beast horses, however, the beast she envisioned would have to be loyal to Men: strong, vicious, but capable of intelligence, sound judgment, and compassion. The first such beast to ever exist was named Xiar, the God-Hound, and his children are known as Fyrhundi: the Fear Hounds.
Much like Oldworlder breeds, fyrhundi are quadrupeds with their most distinctive features aside from their size being their batwing-like ears and their nine tails. They have four main digits on each paw and two dewclaws on both forepaws: one on each side and one dewclaw on the inner side of the hind paws. Their muzzles are broader towards the nose and more wedge-shaped. Since they do not pant to release heat, heat is dispersed through their tails, causing them to wag vigorously frequently throughout the day. Their bodies are incredibly lean and muscular and at full maturity can carry up to three human passengers on their back without undue strain.
Fyrhundi tend to be longer lived and stronger than Oldworlder breeds. Since they are descended from Xiar, they all share a portion of his divine nature. Just as Grand Crestas can dwarf the largest of Oldworld horses, fyrhundi surpass even Great Dane or Mastiff breeds.
Genetics and Reproduction
Since it would be unseemly to use Oldworlder conventions for such divine beasts, male fyrhundi are called "princes" and females "princesses" while pups are sometimes referred to as "dukes" or "duchesses". The reproductive cycle is fairly similar to Oldworlder breeds. A princess can produce litters from two to half a dozen.
Growth Rate & Stages
Fyrhundi start out quite small from newborn to the first few weeks of life. After the first two months they reach about knee-high until undergoing a growth spurt. They achieve full growth around six months, standing roughly four feet at the shoulder.
Ecology and Habitats
Dietary Needs and Habits
They are primarily carnivores and can take down kirya with little effort in the wild, often competing with vitreelas and tree bears. Households in Bainshaebo keep them well supplied with seasoned and diced meats or stews but they can eat processed canned dog food just as well. They sometimes have problems with dry kibble...
Brit knelt down and poured out some kibble, and Goldheart thrust his muzzle into the mix. She had to skip out of the way as the pup began pushing the bowl over the floor as he ate. And so began one of his more humorous habits, as he’d spend several minutes pushing the bowl around the dining table trying to reach that one last bit of kibble. Unlike other dogs, he had a more wedge-shaped muzzle; just as he’d attempt to lap up the bit with his tongue, his nose would keep pushing the bowl, and the bit, away. Most of the time either Roxi or Brit would have to upend the bowl, as Goldheart wouldn’t stop until he’d finished.
Fyrhundi do not have winter coats and are quite hypoallergenic despite their thick fur, shedding very minimally. The older they get, the lighter their muzzles become, turning gray, almost white. Because of their size, their backs are prone to strain at an advanced age and they lose the ability to carry riders.
“Buster keeps me company well enough, though he’s gettin’ on in years. I used to ride him to town but his back isn’t what it used to be.” Sure enough, the Fyrhund’s muzzle looked grayed, almost white. Buster huffed from where he lay and wagged his branched tails.
Despite the name, fyrhundi are quite calm and friendly even around strangers, provided they mean well. When faced with a threat, a fyrhund will go into a frenzy, fighting viciously until the threat is eliminated. They have loud booming barks that generate a frequency that can induce fear in someone of weak will, causing the bowels to loosen in some cases. They are prone to barking at Oldworlder breeds, particularly smaller, yippy dogs. They are just as curious and playful as their Oldworlder ancestors but sometimes forget their size. Having never been exposed to felines of any type before, they seem neither afraid nor hostile whether dealing with a housecat or a rather large tiger. Because Witheren intended them as protectors, they will insist on being near their master at all times, whether while eating, enjoying recreational activities, or sleeping. They do not play "fetch" as their Oldworlder dogs do, instead trying to find objects they think would please their master. They will point to identify possible dangers before engaging in combat but can sometimes mistake inanimate objects such as cars or other machines for threats. Commands must be precise since they will carry out orders without fail, even if they misinterpret the meaning.
“At least he didn’t knock you over like he used to. I think he’s learned not to get over-excited, like that one time with Sage…” “What happened to Sage?” Mia frowned. “Oh, he didn’t tell you? No, I suppose he wouldn’t have…well…once a couple months back Sage came up to the cabin with Shannon…and Goldie doesn’t see as much of her…so when he saw Sage the first time he kind of…” Brit winced in recollection. “He didn’t!” Mia clamped a hand over her mouth, imagining the scene in her mind. “He did. And half as big as Goldheart is now is still pretty big…” “Oh no…” While Brianna told the story, Tanya’s expression towards Goldheart seemed to have softened slightly. She glanced from side to side then jerkily moved her leg forward. “It’d been raining earlier that day too.” “Oh hoo hoo!” Mia giggled. “I shouldn’t laugh but I just can’t help it! Sage is always so particular! He must’ve been mortified!” “Now you can’t get him within a mile of the dog…"
As adults, fyrhundi tend to be solitary out in the wild with the exception of human-born Thangiens and Oldworlders. In Bainshaebo they will acknowledge and maintain close-knit family units in households.
Most breeding is done at the Mazzan complex, but it is not uncommon for prominent households in Bainshaebo to maintain breeding pairs and produce local litters. Fyrhundi commonly serve as guards both in households and at merchant stalls in the Pavilion.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Fyrhundi are most often found in and around Bainshaebo and its satellite lonesteads but can be found abroad in Kundain, the Southern Salt, and along the Winding White. Even they will give the Eastern Jungle a wide berth, not out of fear, but out of respect for something far stronger that dwells within.
Fyrhundi identify primarily with Thangien language commands, so things can get lost in translation. Not quite as intelligent as equines such as pegasids or Pegasi, they are able to distinguish individuals or items of importance. They are able to judge character at a glance and can act on initiative in critical situations.
Rowen patted the fyrhund’s neck. “So Ryo says you came for training?” “Yes! I need you to teach this dumb dog to behave himself and listen to me!” “Well, it’s a good thing I took the time to jot down a few words while I had that dictionary from Raaezen…” Rowen pulled out another of his nifty index cards and held it up but held back whatever he wanted to say when he saw Roxi’s expression. “Rowen, I’m not gonna talk to the dog in Thangien.” “It’s just to get him familiarized with your voice-” “I’VE HAD HIM FOR OVER SIX MONTHS! HE’S BEEN FAMILIARIZED WITH MY VOICE!” Rowen recoiled slightly. “He should understand me when I tell him to sit, roll over, and do taxes!” The two of them glanced at the fyrhund as if expecting him to do all of the spoken commands, but he remained on the ground with ears raised and tails wagging.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
The batwing-shaped ears allow fyrhundi to pick up the most minute, distant sounds, and they can identify threats early on. They are quite literally able to "smell sin". They have fair eyesight and are able to operate their tails almost like digits, catching and holding objects briefly.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
Gherfen out in the wild learned the hard way not to mess with the fear-hounds, since the blast barks are powerful enough to disrupt their internal navigation and cause them to fall out of the sky. Fyrhundi are not prone to parasites due to their divine nature, so Pei monkeys can't exactly groom them, not for lack of trying. Wild fyrhundi do not bother sttanavoseni out of consideration, but they retaliate fiercely against nosy tree bears or vitreelas trying to sneak a bite of a kill. They seem mostly indifferent towards Grand Crestas, unicorns, and pegasids.
Civilization and Culture
Thangiens use similar naming conventions for fyrhundi as they do with pegacorns and Pegasi.
“Hrm…we should name him, shouldn’t we? Hrm…what about Clifford?” “Clifford? What the heck kind of a name is Clifford?” Roxi wrinkled her nose. “You know, ‘Clifford, the Big Red Dog’?” “No. Come on, we can do better than that…” “Scooby?” Shannon suggested, grinning. “Nooo…” “Marmaduke?” Mia giggled. “NO!!! Come on! This is a Thangien dog, he needs a Thangien name. You know how they have all sorts of colorful and mythic names like ‘Apollo’ and ‘Blue Thunder’…” Roxi argued.
Fyrhundi have the distinction of being the first animal with expressly divine origins through Witheren, Goddess of Righteous War, preceding the Pegasi created thousands of years later by fellow goddess Eyurodin, Lady of Flames. Although prone to heaping helpings of embellishments, the tale of the Greedy Farmer does have roots in historical fact: Xiar did exist, and remained a public figure before, during, and at the conclusion of the City Strife. After Xiar vanished, his descendants proliferated throughout the city, creating the fyrhundi. Within a few centuries the fear hounds would eclipse all remaining Oldworlder breeds, with purebred Oldworld canines being very rare in modern times.
The Genesis PlagueFyrhundi declined in popularity for a few centuries, seeing a resurgence with the outbreak of what would come to be known as the Genesis Plague. The Master Breeder of Mazzan at the time discovered the contagion could not be carried nor transmitted by fyrhundi, likely because of their blessed blood. He set his staff to breeding pups overtime, distributing them to unaffected households. Even a pup of a couple months could scare off swarms of Afflicted with their blast barks. Even though King Wuelro forbade the needless slaughter of crazed Afflicted, the fyrhundi did not hesitate to use the force granted to them by Witheren.
Thangien-Thunthen WarThe children of Xiar did not get the chance to meet the dragons in battle, but if Ander's gambit had proved unsuccessful and Thunthen breached the city, they likely would have encountered fierce resistance not just from the Thangiens themselves, but their fyrhundi companions. The House of Taurit, current Grand House of the Watch-Rider uses a rampant fyrhund as a heraldic device.
Xiar the God Hound-Legendary first of the fyrhundi, created by Witheren, Goddess of Righteous War. Guard of both Thananagreia and Tirmutua. Participated in the Bloody Bricks before retiring from public life.
Goldheart-Gifted to civilian friends of the Ronin Warriors following the Battle of the Citadel. Primarily lived with Roxi Hirochner at her cabin in the mountains. Sacrificed himself to protect her from the Demon Warrior Don Marquin. Later reincarnated as a Labrador Retriever by Witheren.
Buster-Formerly a wild fyrhundi who settled down and befriended the lonesteader Debiah Kubar. The scoundrel of the plains used to use him as a mount until age caught up with the both of them. Together they while their days away on Kundain enjoying the quiet countryside and peaceful atmosphere.
Spoiler Warning: Upcoming Content!Spacequake Ch. 11
"BOWWFH!! BOWWFH!!" Buster blast-barked furiously, lashing his branched tails. "What in Sam Hill are you fussin' about this early in the mornin'? What's got ya all riled up?" Debiah Kubar demanded as he shuffled out of the cottage. He looked to the horizon and saw the distant craft half-buried in the soil, dust and smoke hovering in the air behind it. "...well now...there's somethin' you don't see every day..." he remarked, wide-eyed.
Common Myths and Legends
The Greedy Farmer- Cautionary tale about excess. Tells of the imparting of Xiar to a desperate landowner whose selfishness would cost him both the favor of a god and the land he coveted so much.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
ThangiensOn the Oldworld, having only dogs for company is sometimes viewed as a pejorative, but in regards to the fyrhundi, should be considered the highest honor due to their divine nature and intelligence. They are popular pets among households in and around Bainshaebo and boon companions of Freelanders.
ThunthenSo far the fear-hounds have not yet run afoul of the dragon-men. Local parolees from Peirolyth seem to be mostly indifferent to fyrhundi, and fyrhundi similarly leave them in peace.
HumansFyrhundi will just as readily accept humans as their masters as Thangiens and Freelanders. Unlike Pegasi who have a independent spirit, fyrhundi are very subservient.
“OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOSH!!! IT’S JUST TOOO CUUUUUTE!!!” Brianna squealed in delight and clasped her hands under her chin. “It certainly is, but…what is it?” Mia asked. Master Breeder Norin stood with Kayura, Mia, Roxi, Shannon, and Brit in a loose circle outside of Mia’s estate. The five of them eyed the squirming, red-furred critter Norin held in his hands. “They are called fyrhundi-‘fear hounds’-but do not let the name fool you. They are devoted companions, and mighty protectors as adults. They are descended from the legendary god-hound Xiar, blessed by Witheren herself and charged with keeping the gates of Thananagreia. Worthy souls with no shame or guilt greet him as they pass, and he is friendly. Much the same way, those that greet this little one will earn his love. He belongs to all of you now,” Norin held up the fyrhund pup. Brit scooped it up and held it in both hands. The pup would’ve passed for any other type of dog if not for the curious batwing-shaped ears and the nine-branched tail.
modified canis familiaris
20-25 cycles, 40-50 years Earth-Time
4ft at the shoulder, 5 1/2 ft with head raised
Fyrhundi are generally lean and active, reducing the risk for obesity. They are prone to arthritis at advanced age but still capable of dealing with threats if need be.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
G'thru extract does not seem to have the same effect on animals as it does in humans. Unlike Pegasi, fyrhund coats tend to come in bold colors with red and yellow being the most common, while shades and tints of blue are very rare. Green and purple are nonexistent. They can have spots on their chests and hindquarters while stripes are extremely rare.
Something rushed in from the side and rammed Don Marquin away with enough force to knock the wind out of him. Roxi staggered back a step, surprised by both the sight of Goldheart wrestling with the werewolf and that her throat remained intact. In all the months he’d lived at the cabin, Roxi had never heard him snarl, or growl, whine, or whimper, yet now he voiced his rage, going berserk after seeing the attempted attack. Don Marquin didn’t know what to think about the creature. He’d seen it once before while the three women were conversing on the porch, and it forced his hand when it detected his presence close to the cabin. Now all its’ fury was bent towards him, just as determined to protect the woman as he was to exact his vengeance. Its’ jaws snapped at his shoulders, neck, and back as the two danced around each other. Standing on its’ hind legs, it easily towered over him, but he had the advantage in reach and flexibility…