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Lida shifted from foot to foot at the door of the farmhouse. The farmer had been gone for a while. She listened for a while to the crackling, squelching, and whistling of the Yitzel as they grazed somewhere on the other side of the building. She was lost in thought when the door opened abruptly and the farmer reappeared dragging behind them two large amphorae, which they loaded into Lida's cart.

Yitzel are a species of Deep livestock often kept in hubs for their many agricultural uses, including the production of manure, meat, hide, and their sap-like excretions used in drinks.

Basic Information


From the perspective of many surface folk, yitzel resemble what might happen if a magician tried to polymorph a grub into a cow but lost control halfway through. They are about half the size of a bull and are structured like bovines, but that is where the similarities end. Yitzel are covered in a thick, smooth hide that is moist and slightly sticky, as it is coated by a thin layer of mucus which helps protect yitzel from parasites. This hide is very thick and deceptively tough; one needs a sharp blade and good knowledge of the hide's weak spots to skin a yitzel. Yitzel are usually white or grey with a green or yellowish tinge.

Yitzel have large torsos and six thick limbs, which to some classifies them as insects. These legs are only long enough to keep the yitzel's torso about one to two feet above the ground. Each limb ends in a set of what looks like four claws that became flattened by the yitzel's weight and then fused together into a front and back pair. The claws are not flexible and need to be very strong to hold up the weight of the creature. Some yitzel farmers will attach iron shoes to the feet of their yitzel to prevent fraying and damage to the claws from the rough terrain.

The yitzel, like many bovines, is a ruminant and has four stomachs to break down the tough lichens and fungi that make up their diet. Each stomach has its own function. The first two, the rumen and reticulum, act as fermentation chambers where large colonies of microbes work to break down the larger molecules of their food and allow the yitzel to utilize these molecules. As the material is broken down, it is filtered into liquid and solid products. The solid products are regurgitated back into the yitzel's mouth, where they are broken down mechanically by chewing. The liquid products and the chewed solids are then moved to the omasum, which absorbs volatile components and works the material into still smaller particles, which are finally allowed to pass into the abomasum, the true stomach. Here, digestion proceeds as it does in other organisms with stomachs.

Yitzel do not possess individual teeth like many other animals, but instead have bony plates on their upper and lower jaws. These bony plates are very finely ridged, and when rubbed together act as two grindstones to break down their food. These bony plates are worn down over time by the chewing and rechewing of solids, and as such are constantly growing. Much like a rodent, this can lead to overgrowth in some cases when a yitzel doesn't have enough to chew.

Yitzel, having evolved in the darkness of the Deep, do not have very good eyesight. They have very small, beady eyes which are half hidden in the folds of their heads, which only serve as light detectors and cannot perceive actual colors or shapes. Yitzel have a fascination with bright lights and in dark areas with only one or two points of light often wander towards those lights as if transfixed.

Yitzel navigate through the dark by way of sound, touch, and smell. They communicate with one another by whistling and making crackling noises which are produced using a specialized organ in their torsos, which manipulates a stiff membrane between two conformational shapes, creating a snapping or crackling sound. They also use chemical signals to communicate, releasing pheromones when they are frightened, establishing dominance, or searching for a mate. These chemical signals are very strong and picked up by the yitzel's nose, which has about half as many olfactory receptors as humans.

Yitzel have a set of fleshy antennae along their sides and on their foreheads, allowing them to navigate by touch. The antennae on their sides usually hang limply down, only being activated when the yitzel is entering unfamiliar territory or is communicating with other yitzel.

Additional Information


Yitzel have been domesticated by Deepfolk for thousands of years. It is unclear when exactly this domestication initially occurred, but most hubs have had yitzel herds since their founding. Yitzel have many uses and their byproducts are a staple part of many industries in the Deep.

Yitzel are generally kept in herds of around thirty. Unlike dairy cattle on the surface, both male and female yitzel can produce sap, so most herds are a mix of both. They are fairly low demand since they spend a large amount of time sedentary, but it is important for yitzel farmers to monitor their light levels around the pasture. Even lighting helps the yitzel to stay away from any one particular light source so that they do not crowd one another or risk injury.

Wild yitzel eat a mixture of lichen and fungi, which is supplied to domestic yitzel by their farmers. They are also sometimes fed other household scraps, and have fairly high tolerance for new types of food. Some farmers provide their yitzel with objects to chew on to keep their tooth ridges at a normal length.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Yitzel are farmed for a number of products, and their use depends on the other resources available in each hub.

Yitzel hide, which is very tough, can be harvested from butchered yitzel and dried and tanned so that it becomes flexible and sturdy. The processed hide is used to make armor sets, shoes, and even leather straps for door and chest hinges. During the tanning process, the hide is cured with salt, soaked in water, and then treated with lime before being pickled and processed by leatherowrkers depending on its intended purpose. When tanned, yitzel hide produces a white or grey leather with a very smooth texture.

Yitzel meat is also very nutritious. It is reminiscent of beef but is fattier and has a slightly mineral taste to it. The meat is typically dried or salt-cured to prevent rot and smoked yitzel jerky is a very common travel food because of its energy content and long shelf life. Many hubs also have their own traditional ways of preparing the fresh meat, such as the nearly-raw steak of Borsas or the Aidonian dish known as Irambi, which is a stew made from stewing yitzel meat in sap and mixing with a variety of subterranean roots.

The most commonly used yitzel product in the Deep is the sap which is excreted from the large pore on their backsides. It is similar in function to the honeydew produced by aphids to motivate ants to care for them; the sap is a byproduct of other functions in the yitzel's digestion but is safe to consume and has beneficial effects. The sap is high in sugars and is very sweet, but also contains some of the unneeded minerals filtered out during the yitzel's digestive processes. Yitzel sap is usually harvested by using a specially-designed scraping tool which can scoop up the large droplets as they are excreted. This sap is collected in large vases, amphorae, for transportation and storage. Many yitzel farmers will sell these vases to local restaurants and bars, as Yitzel sap can be used to make a refreshing and energizing drink when mixed with water, or can be fermented to create a strong liquor.

Yitzel manure is an often-used waste product of yitzel. It is full of the excess nutrients from the yitzel's diet and is spread in fields across the Deep to increase the quantity and quality of their crops. It has recently been introduced to the surface folk, who have transoprted some back to the surface for use in their own fields.

30 years
Average Height
0.8-1 meters at the shoulders
Average Weight
500-750 kilograms
Average Length

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