When talking about the ecology and biodiversity of the rich, subtropical Island of Tháur
, it is almost inevitable to find mentions of the waves of internal immigation of societarians caused primarily by the raise and fall of Goldwaste City
. When this happens, there sometimes slips in a little caveat that one should assume would be reserved to casual conversation:
"Of those that are not easily visible for us societarians, one of the most tragic consequences that the rapid movement of people in the island had over the last century is the rapid decline on some populations of creatures that were not able to adapt to so many changes on some little time. Maybe one would think it is not so tragic in the case of the naturally deficient Sceapilion, but you have to remember that their impending extincion goes hand in hand with that of the magnificent Hierde..."
The famous weakness and general obliviousness of the Sceapilion has earned them a reputation that sinks even deeper than that of the Waste-of-Flesh
, and as such has not earned many serious attempts as restoring their numbers.
The intriguing physionomy of the Sceapilion is maybe the reason they are most talked about in scholarly forums (seconded by their peculiar relationship with the Hierde
): They resemble other ungulate quadrupeds like the Alzufhar
or the Bicarnivaler
, but their coats are a bright orange-red with white markings, and their tails look more like a big, spiked fan.
However, the actual weirdness starts at the neck, or where the neck would normally be. Instead of that, the Sceapilion have a big structure that resembles the torso of a biped creature, without arms, and the head rests over a smaller neck on top of it. These heads have an almost perfectly spherical shape, from which sprout the ears that strongly resemble their tails.
The use of the "extra torso" is unclear, and analysis of their internal anatomy shows it to be covered on muscles, and containing parts of the complex digestive tract inside.
A Hard Bargain
Hierde by Naelín
Sceapilions live in herds of around 20 individuals. They reproduce slowly and are frail creatures, for which recovering from incidents can be very difficult. However, they have been compensating this with the simbiotic pact they developed with another species, the Hierde
. These are omnivore ungulates, sturdy, aggresive and intimidating, and each sceapilion herd forms around one or (in rare cases and breeding season) two or three of them. The hierde guides, protects and "manages" the herd, defending it from predators and keeping them out of dangerous zone. However, this relation has a cost for the sceapilion: If the hierde can't get meat from hunting down a predator or other manners, they will in turn eat one of the sceapilion, usually a foal or an old one. Sceapilions that get hurt are usually left aside by their herd for the hierde to eat. During breeding seasons, the hierdes will seek out other herds to get a mate, and temporarily merge the sceapilions herds.
The herds of sceapilions and hierdes usually occupy the plains on the Island of Tháur
, and hierdes prefer to keep them far away from the mountains and hills (plagued by dangerous doisus
, among others), from the tight-knit jungles (Plagued with everything from Legars
to things nobody came back to report on), and, of course, from any place where Societarians
were settling down.
With the expansion of the Kindgom of Merthiorn
, the herds were slowly displaced from the west and south coasts to the cold and difficult northeast, until the raising of the Goldwaste City
made the ones still in the west to rapidly emmigrate south and stablish themselves dangerously close to the Delta of Many Birds
. This had already split the existing population into several groups separated by the delta and lakes, packing all but the central-eastern ones into small spaces and making them easy prey to the societarians. The High Rust
came and went, and with it went Goldwaste, generating all the surviving societarians to come down and south and further pushing away the sceapilions.
The rapid moving of the frail herds decimated their numbers, and the separation between the remaining ones made the hierdes have difficulty finding mates and reproducing, leading to inbreeding.
The remaining Sceapilion herds are ocuppying the eastern areas of the island and their numbers seem to be increasing slowly, thought this is being poorly researched.