Avaroc Lizards are a family of dangerous and highly territorial reptilians on the brink of extinction, with only two species believed to be extant by the end of the first century of the second age. However these reptiles once thrived throughout central and eastern Tor'Saarn and came in a far more impressive range of varieties. These creatures were territorial by nature and extremely voracious predators, but after being hunted to near extinction their modern counterparts are more cautious and almost never found near civilization.
Although both of the currently surviving species of Avaroc Lizards and the many extinct species could vary drastically in appearance, there are a number of common traits that can be used to separate Avarocs from other large reptiles. Their appearance generally stands out from other reptiles in their native habitats, however they do share elements of their appearance with the smaller (though still sizeable) Molgira lizards.
The lizards of the Avaroc family posses four short, broad and muscular legs in two pairs on either side of it's body, complete with five long, hooked claws ideal for ensnaring targets and climbing sturdier trees. Their bodies are bulky and almost rectangular in shape, ending in a short tail that is almost as thick as the body at the base but tapers of considerably at the tip. Its neck is extremely muscular, and ends in a large, flat rectangular head that curves slightly at its snout.
The Avaroc's have significantly thicker scales than their Molgira relatives, that look similar to the scales of a crocodilian. This is not where the similarities with crocodilians end either. The scales on their bellies are much softer than those on the rest of the animals body and are far lighter in coloration. Their backs and tails have two rows of razed spiny scales that reach upward much like those on a crocodiles tail.
Avarocs are most comfortable hunting on land or even in the trees, however they are more than just passable swimmers that are capable of holding their breath for up to two hours. They primarily stalk their prey silently using their surprisingly low profile to keep out of sight from the ground, water, and treetops within a large hunting ground that can be as big as ten kilometres in diameter. These territories are almost universally far from civilization and patrolled by either one adult or a breeding pair.
These creatures were once far more aggressive with noticeably larger territories, and have remained extremely territorial even in modern Tor'Saarn. They proved to be a threat to settlers from numerous cultures of sentients that began to spread out into the world from their native homelands. Perhaps encountered first were the colonies living on Felsaed's coastline, however along with their cousins in Aradon, The Sethiri breaks, Ly'Lorhen, Nor'Jangred, the Vassrun Delta and north Bevrasten they were soon driven to total extinction.
All that remains of their kind are two species that live in complete isolation from one another and bear distinct physical traits that identify them readily. These species have had to learn that sentients, particularly those who travel in groups or seem to be well armed are best avoided, or at the least quickly dispatched in an ambush. Fortunately the remaining species seem to be quite cunning and have adapted to their new circumstances. Although they still fiercely defend their habitats they have learnt to build them away from their relatives, and even farther away from sentient creatures.
Uses and Relevance
Avarocs are significant to modern civilizations in three major ways. They are culturally significant to both the Trueblood Kiari
and the natives of the Wilderuns, and have found themselves at the heart of many myths and legends. They are also relevant to the most competitive trophy hunters of the world as they are some of the most ferocious game one can hunt aside from the handful of super predators and some of the more mystical animals in Tor'Saarn. Finally they are also historically relevant, as they had a profound impact on the development of growing frontier societies in the pre-ages and early first age.
The Avaroc is relevant to The Clans of Bevrasten
, The Trueblood Tribes
of Qianna and almost every Wilderun culture, both those from the Wilderun tail and the true Wilderuns. They also appear as a footnote in Felsaedan legends, where they first entered written literature and earned the name Avaroc, a fusion of Avarha and Roceni, two names that they were formally recognized by in the Wilderun tail. The ancient Felsaedans also once called them Lokra Snatchers, as the populations in Felsaed were known for feeding on Felsaeds Lokra mounts.
The Kiari know them as the Weskeri, a name derived from the mythical Wesakeris, as the tribes of Qianna believe them to have descended from her. Wesakeris is a powerful water-demon and the child of a titan in the nature centric Kiari mythology, and as such they are considered a source of corruption to the Kiari. The stories of their origin are heeded little in Bevrasten, but are still treated with the utmost seriousness by Qianna's tribes where they are still seen with some regularity. Despite the tribes hatred of them they are seldom hunted out of fear that Wesakeris will attempt to avenge her children, and Kiari who kill them are considered the bravest of warriors.
In the Wilderuns they have many names, however one of the more prevalent titles they are identified by is Maknara. Here, due to the isolated nature of the Wilderun peoples they have almost as many legends and creation myths as they do names, however they are often treated with less suspicion than in Qianna. Perhaps due to the Wilderun variety of Avaroc's less overtly hostile nature when compared to its Qianna counterpart and the common worship of the land many of the Wilderun peoples consider them to be land guardians, and offerings of food are made at the edges of their hunting grounds in exchange for safe passage with mixed results.
Due to the Avaroc's ferocity and cunning mind they are considered Apex predators in many environments and are hunted by trophy hunters from across Tor'Saarn hoping to prove themselves as fearsome predators in their own right, or those simply practicing for even more dangerous hunts. Although greater predators do exist Avarocs are far from the weakest predator in Tor'Saarn, and their heads have proven awe-inspiring trophies in many a hunter's collection.
Their meat, although dangerous is considered a delicacy to many Grolsaan
when properly prepared and can fetch high prices in the markets of Kessofare and Felsaed. Additionally their tough yet flexible hide can be used to fashion garments such as boots, gauntlets, armor and cloaks making it both practically useful and desirable as a fashion item.
The many varieties of the Avaroc Lizard that once dotted central and eastern Tor'Saarn proved fearsome opposition to the growing sentient cultures that expanded into the animals territory, so much so that some cultures simply gave up and ignored the resource rich heart of the continent entirely. However they would come to blows with some of histories finest fighting forces, including both the Tiorathan and Felsaedan empires. Ultimately their conflict with the intelligent races would lead to three periods of mass extinction that would decimate their population.
The first would last from the pre-ages to the dawning first age when the young Felsaedan empire encountered and methodically culled the coastal populations and those that resided on the Wilderun tail. Between the early first age and the beginning of the mid-first age they found themselves being culled both by the Tiorathan and Felsaed empires, resulting in the death of any hold out populations in Felsaed's territories and the populations in Jangred (now Nor'Jangred) and the Vassrun deltas. The final wave occurred in Bevrasten beginning not long before the second wave of culling ended, where they were driven from northern Bevrasten by the hill clans whos herds they threatened.