Carokin

Rollin' in it

Carokins are the fluffy, savory ballerinas of our watery age.
Sarina Hamidoa, Shunian merchant, 3391 AoG
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arokins are large herbivorous, mammalian creatures that flourish in Excilior's vast river networks. They are important food sources for casterways, as they provide great quantities of meat and can be much easier to hunt and slay than many of the planet's larger variations of megafauna.

Basic Information

Biological Traits

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asual observers often characterize carokins as "playful", "silly", or even "peaceful". These impressions arise from those who watch them frollicking in the rivers. Just seeing them grazing on the river bottom can seem whimsical - with their bottoms thrust in the air and their hind legs lazily pedaling as they maneuver for more tasty chutes in the mud. Even when they're not feeding, they often engage in behavior that looks like they're "playing". They float on the water's surface and spin. They spit water on each other. They perform a great many aquatic maneuvers that look outright acrobatic (all the more surprising, given their prodigious frames).
 
Deadly
But their seemingly carefree demeanor can be misleading. While they rarely quarrel amongst themselves, they are quite territorial and overtly protective of their young. And although they may not have any interest in eating other animals (including humans) they certainly having no qualms about biting them if they feel threatened. For this reason, carokins are responsible for a surprising number of human deaths every year. Careless (or ignorant) casterways become fascinated with the fat, jolly-looking creatures that are cavorting through the running waters and they decide that they can't help but jump in and play with these silly beasts. Unfortunately, the end result is often not jovial at all. A strong majority of these deaths are always youths. Children who have not received the proper cautions often find it hard to see these creatures as deadly threats.

Genetics and Reproduction

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ike many of Excilior's species, they mate in the spring (Achiel) and give birth in the fall (Gagavr). They almost always yield a single calf. Adult females start mating after their fourth year.  

Growth Rate & Stages

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arokins only receive direct sustenance and protection from their mother during their first year. But it takes them three years before they reach full adult size. Although they receive some safety from the combined protection of the herd, their second and third years are especially dangerous for young carokins. If they survive to their fourth year, they can expect a high likelihood of enjoying a long life.

Dietary Needs and Habits

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arokins feed exclusively off the tender chutes of flora growing on the river beds. When they are not focused on other activities, a herd of carokins can happy spend days on end diving to the river bottom and burrowing for aquatic plants, which they shear from the muck with their sharp external incisors. Their insistent on eating aquatic plants is one factor that makes them difficult to domesticate, but they refuse to eat anything that grows on land, and they will only reluctantly eat water plants that have already been removed from their aquatic environment. Although they greatly prefer the environs of deep rivers, during those times when they feel compelled to ply shallower tributaries, the entire congregation can be seen in the middle of the river with their butts protruding skyward, as they strip the river bed of any nutrients they can find.

Additional Information

Domestication

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umerous attempts have been made to domesticate the carokin - with mostly poor results. They're fairly amenable to human stewardship, but when removed from their beloved environments they have a tendency to "wither". They become lethargic. They rarely mate. And it's extremely difficult to maintain a viable population in captivity. There are some enterprising regions where they have created "sanctuaries" - large, fenced-off regions of the river where the animals can grow and thrive until they are ultimately harvested. This approach has seen some limited success - but it's an arduous task because it's always difficult to maintain long-term infrastructure in the river (especially with the various other creatures which are happy to barge into the barriers).

Uses, Products & Exploitation

You may call them "carokins". I call them four-legged meat sticks.
Mors Dirikin, Boissain blacksmith, 3314 AoG
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here are a great many potential uses for the bones, hide, and any other pieces of the full-grown carokin. But the most common casterway utility for carokins is as a food source. They are not routinely hunted and harvested because they can be difficult to extract from the water, and when they're butchered the sheer scale of the bounty can make it impractical for any small groups to process and consume. Afterall, most casterway civilizations still struggle with the long-term preservation and storage of food - especially, meats. So for individual families, or even for small communities, killing and butchering an entire carokin can require massive effort that will yield many days of sustenance. But after that, if they haven't processed and consumed the carcass, there's a very real risk that it will spoil. So it's typically easier and more economical to hunt smaller game.
 
Feasts
Nevertheless, carokins hold a special place in casterway rituals and cuisine. Most profess to savor the rich, fatty meat and there's something special about slaughtering an animal that will feed an entire village - possibly for several consecutive days. For this reason, the carokin is a favored delicacy at many large casterway festivals - across a great variety of cultures and civilizations. Once slaughtered, the beast can be prepared in any number of different ways, owing to regional and cultural norms. But a cherished tradition is the large-scale roasting of an entire carokin. This takes more-than-a-bit of know-how, because for animals of this size you can't simply toss them on an open fire and expect to enjoy a properly-cooked feast. But for those who do it right, they will savor the delicious aroma of roasting carokin wafting through their community for days.

Facial characteristics

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hey are commonly recognized by the large, bulbous outgrowth of skin that hangs from the top of their head clear over their snout. This protrusion is commonly known as a fluke. In older adults, the fluke also extends for quite some length down their back. They have tiny pinhole ears that can easily be sealed shut when they dive underwater. The fluke is actually hollow and they draw air into it that allows them to breathe without coming back to the surface. When the fluke is still well-inflated, it also acts as something of an "echo chamber" that vastly improves their hearing while submerged. They have two sizable, opposing teeth at the front and outside of their snout. These teeth are so prominent as to almost look like a beak. Two prodigious canines protrude upward, outside the mouth, to each side of their face.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

As we continued our journey inland, it dawned on me that we hadn't seen a carokin in three days. That's when I knew that our destination was a land that I had no real desire to find.
Myrala Dalni, Kalan thug, 1008 AoE
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hey can be found in nearly any significant river system that is not of too high an altitude (and on Excilior, that encompasses the vast majority of all rivers). They are rare on Islemanoton, as well as the north/northwestern regions of Isleprimoton. They are especially populous in eastern Islegantuan and on the Sontsu Peninsula. Given their affinity for eating, playing, mating, and generally living in the rivers, they will stop ranging upstream as soon as the rivers become too shallow. So given that rivers often reach their grandest depths as they near the sea, so too are carokins more closely associated with coastal regions.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

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arokins are known to have poor hearing on land, and exceptional hearing underwater - especially when their flukes are filled with air and they can more easily perceive all the vibrations beneath the surface. They are also believed to have an acute sense of smell, with cognoscenti suspecting that they can actually smell tender aquatic roots as they are foraging for food on the river bed.

Pronunciation KAIR-uh-kin
Scientific Name
Felis pictus
Lifespan
22 years
Average Height
2 meters
Average Weight
600 kilograms
Average Length
3.5 meters
Average Physique
Adult carokins can be intimidatingly large. They are not nearly as imposing as, say, the peckish vooranders or the stampeding parricans, and casual observers often underestimate their size because they spend nearly their entire lives in the rivers, and thus, the bulk of their frames are often hidden below the water's surface. When they do pull themselves entirely on land, they strike some as being "fat" - but this is deceiving. A full-grown carokin is incredibly powerful - and should not be taken lightly.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Body coloring is largely a marker of geographic region. The carokins of Isleprimoton are starkly pink or ashy-white. Those in southern and southeastern Islegantuan are various shades of grey. Those in northern Islegantuan (including Ucarania) are quite dark - approaching black. The small herds that have been encountered in Islemanoton are mostly light brown, with some having white-or-grey speckles.

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