Melias' Iron Mule Species in Creus | World Anvil
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Melias' Iron Mule

The district seat of Melias was a small country village in the foothills just beneath the similarly named mountain range, though Kyris regarded the Melias Range as mountains only by courtesy, compared to the towering spires of the Eastern Saibh archipelagos. Still, the constant elevation change meant power-wagons had a rough go of it, and it was already sundown by the time she got to Melias Town proper.   The ranger was latching the wagon to the recharge station's clutchplate when someone ambled up to her, a stocky local teenager with a knit cap on her head, a vague outline of a mule's head on a patch stitched to the front. "You're the inspector from the Capital everyone's been talking about?" Her Etoilean had a regional drawl; Kyris supposed it was a remnant of the original pre-Etoilean language.   Kyris pulled her insignia out from under her vest. Unlike most guildmarks, her insignia was unpainted, a simple eagle with outstretched wings, encircled. "Kyris Vogel, Ranger under Etoilean Warrant. I'm here on behalf of Rathnait Numio, Master Trader of Etoile, to confirm the existence of a tradeclaim." She gave a slight smile. "I've heard the Iron Mules have been bred again?"   The girl gave a wide and toothy grin. "Aye, bigger and stronger than they ever were in the old days. Want to go see? Name's Alicia, by the way." She beckoned Kyris to follow her through the village. The place was covered in Iron Mule imagery, and not recent; the ranger had never been to Melias before, but was aware by reputation that the district was obsessed with them. Still, she couldn't help but feel that it was all faintly ridiculous; the sight of the local pub (with a whitewash sign offering drinks that would 'kick you in the behind' complete with two legs) nearly made her bite her tongue.   The herd pastures were on the other side of town from the wagon station, on the side of a hill that was shadowed this late in the afternoon, and there were a smattering of mules laying in the grass that perked up as the two approached. They were big for mules, thickly muscled across the withers, and with a shock of red along its short mane. One of them came up to the pasture fence and gave Alicia's hand a lick; she reached into her coveralls and pulled out an apple. The mule ate it happily and Alicia smiled. "Come, they won't bite."   The ranger tilted her head before reaching out with a hand. The mule paid her no mind as she ran her hand along its brow and neck. Heavy and well defined musculature, definitely thicker than any mule she had ever encountered before. As she moved her hand, the mule rubbed against her arm, in a motion vaguely resembling that of a cat, and she was able to run her hand through its mane.   "These are beautiful animals." Kyris held the mule's head as it gave her neck a lick. "How were they bred?"   "Luck, mostly." Alicia made a gesture to the sky. "A local herder found some horses descendant from the old breedherds of Melias and was able to back-breed them with a breeding donkey pair found at the local livestock fair some seasons ago, before I was born. See the red?" Their red manes were bright in the evening light. "That's when he knew that our Iron Mules had returned. It's a miracle that the glory of old Melias has returned to us."   "An amazing story to be sure, fit for the journals. I'll be sure to tell the Master Trader to come see for herself." Kyris glanced at her hand to confirm her suspicions. Her fingers had just the slightest hint of red dye on them. The vinegar she had rubbed on her skin was going to do her skin no favors later in the week, but it had done its job quite well.

Basic Information


Melias' Iron Mules were a specific breed of mule that featured a bright streak of red fur along their upper neck and back. They were larger and sturdier than most common mules, a result of generations of selective breeding.

Genetics and Reproduction

Mules are not known for fertility, being crossbreeds between donkeys and horses, so the concept of a 'breed' of mule is unlike that of other bred animals. The old Kingdom of Melias specially bred these animals from herds of parent donkeys and horses, who were themselves bred for hardiness and size in order to impart those traits onto the mules.


Melias' Iron Mules were known to be highly intelligent and stubborn animals, fiercely loyal to their owners. Ordinary mules, as per the common expression, can be quite stubborn, but accounts of these Iron Mules raise this quality to absurd levels that are likely obvious exaggerations. Such apocryphal accounts include mules savaging squads of Nasse soldiers during The War of Unification, holding back floodwaters with their bodies, and preventing Death from claiming their owners (which falls under the category of statements in which where parody becomes indistinguishable from sincerity).   Reputable reports from Nassean monitors during the War merely indicated that these were pack animals of unusual and admirable ability, never breaking out of fear and unafraid of armed and threatening soldiers.

Additional Information


All mules, being hybrid crossbreeds of two already-domesticated animals, are domesticated at birth; no wild variants are known.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

The Iron Mules of the Kingdom of Melias were their pride. The land of Melias is mountainous and rocky, favoring animals more sure-footed than the regular plow-horse, and the mules that were bred here gained fame across the pre-Etoilean petty kingdoms for their adaptability and hardiness. They were used as draft animals in rugged agriculture, highly valuable pack animals for transport and cart-pulling, and occasionally companion animals for nobility. While their meat was reputed to be of the highest quality, the outsize cost of these animals meant that this was only an opportunity if an animal was rendered lame.   The Kingdom of Melias derived its principal trade income from the breeding and sale of these mules, as their lands had little else to offer besides some iron deposits (though future exploration by the Copper and Ironworker's Brotherhood in the time of Etoile found several valuable ore deposits using techniques that were unknown in the petty kingdom era). As such, the Iron Mules were taken as the symbol of Melias and of the denizens there - it was considered a point of pride that someone hailing from Melias was themselves as stubborn and strong as their beloved mules. The Melias royal family used the Iron Mule on their heraldry and festooned their keeps and buildings with mule statues and other iconography, which can still be found on the best preserved of the former royal villas.   The introduction of Power and Power-Wagons superseded the primary uses of these animals, and made their production and breeding unprofitable post-Unification. After the war, the mules were no longer bred and the parent breeding herds of donkeys and horses were sold off at auction. Proposals to attempt to recreate Melias' Iron Mules are floated on occasion, but in the modern era these animals would be little more than pets. In the modern era, the icon of the mule is found everywhere within the Melias District, on signposts, souvenirs, and the like.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

A specific domesticated breed, these mules were only to be found in the special breeding program run by the Kingdom of Melias, in the far northwest reaches of West Saibh. While the Iron Mules themselves were often sold at a premium and could be found in every corner of the continent, the breeding herds of parent horses and donkeys were specially held in the private land reserves of Melias' royal family.

Average Intelligence

Iron Mules were potentially the most intelligent of the horse-like animals, able to learn a wide variety of commands on the same level as the most intelligent dogs. One of these mules was reported to have been able to count and do basic arithmetic, though as this occurred prior to the establishment of The Academy of Etoile it is difficult to determine whether this historical account is of merit.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Mules in general have excellent senses of smell, but Melias' breed was particularly sensitive. Historical accounts indicated their use as sentry animals and aids in foraging.
65-75 years
Average Height
Average Weight
Average Length
Average Physique
Iron Mules earned their moniker through their physiques. While only slightly larger than other mules physically, they are nearly twice as heavy and are densely muscular, able to carry and pull enormous loads. This meant that they were also notoriously hard to confine, being able to snap ropes and leads and plow through wooden fences and posts. Many armored soldiers of the pre-Unification era preferred riding these mules over their warhorses due to their stamina and strength.

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