by T.A. Saunders ©2011 v1.0
Creature Type: Animal
Special Talents: Immunity to fear, heightened durability and pain resistance.
Special Attacks: Ripping Bite, Berserk Rage
Locality: Zoda and Tirania, with some packs found in Miroa.
Longevity: Anywhere between twenty to thirty years.
Class Types: Kavah attack as Berserkers, Alpha Male/Females as Paragon Berserkers.
The Kavah is a snowy white beast, weighing in at over three hundred and fifty pounds and stands at roughly six and a half feet tall at the shoulder. With inky black eyes, short, hooked tusks and imposing, broad frame these wolf-like creatures are easily one of the most dangerous animals in all of Zoda. There is very little variation in this coloring, though there have been known to be the occasional silver and black Kavah. The Black Kavah in particular is known to represent the Spirit of War to the Voraath and Northlander people; a sighting of such a rarity is often taken as an omen of an approaching war.
Kavah are widely regarded as the most dangerous animals in Zoda, known for taking out bears, wild Lasher Bulls and the occasional Tundra Drake if their pack has sufficient numbers. They are intelligent pack hunters, known for using decoy, diversion and flanking tactics to capture less intelligent prey. Because of their sheer ferocity, strength and brutality, they are sacred animals to both the Voraath and the Northlandic people, who share common beliefs. This outlook does not exclude them from being hunted, but rather is looked upon as a mark of a great hunter for the individual that can manage to kill a single Kavah and not be slain by others. Those who do engage Kavah in combat have their work cut out for them, with a vicious Ripping Bite that causes deep, grievous wounds thanks to their hooked tusks. These can also be used to drag away prey larger than the Kavah, that might still be alive. So fierce are these animals that once they are engaged in a fight, there is no surrender and no retreat; fear is unknown to them as a species. In fact, when one is injured badly enough, they will often go into a Berserk Rage (see Berserker). These moments of fury are the stuff of legends amongst the Northlanders and Voraath, assuming of course one survives the encounter.
Outside of their religious importance, Kavah are generally given wide berth whenever possible. Any tracker worth their salt will know Kavah territory and steer caravans clear of it, to avoid any incidents. Beyond the usual methods of marking territory, these beasts are known to purposefully knock over trees in an area to let other packs (and people) know their land. This does not stop Masoq, who risk Kavah hunting ground to evade pursuit from enemies, nor does it stop unwise mercenary bands from accidentally meandering into such dangerous land. While it is possible to find one or more of these beasts outside their territory, it is highly unsual. In most cases, these Kavah are either survivors of a fight with another pack of Kavah, or a Tundra Drake or are ranging out of their territory due to a particularly harsh cold season. These Kavah will likely be less anxious for a fight, but will defend themselves with very little provocation and will do so with extreme prejudice if young are involved. If on their own territory, males will be extremely aggressive, while females will only be aggressive if they are with their pups.
The Kavah pack is a mated male and female alpha, with a handful of grown subordinates and their collective pups. Kavah that have lost their pack have been adopted into other packs, providing that no previous aggression towards said pack has existed. These strays are the pack’s omegas and must earn their place, or be driven off again by the alpha. More often, those who have lost their pack seek to create another one, by seeking out a female without a mate. Kavah males can sense when a female has a mate without a challenge from another male. Scholars believe them to be semi-intelligent and have, along with scent glands, a very rudimentary form of communication that lingers in their barks, howls and growls. Challenges between male Kavah and a female without a mate are usually very brutal contests between the animals, with death a common result.
Mating season is in Lasa (Spring) with a gestation period of four months. Female Kavah will produce anywhere between two to six pups a litter, though depending on the scarcity of food some of those pups could be eaten by the pack. Pups mature to adulthood in one year and in that time, begin hunting with the pack as early as four months of age. While hunting and fighting seem to come natural to these animals, their rudimentary language does not and there have been eye witness accounts of Kavah teaching their pups by encouraging mimicry. Mastery of their language takes the average pup roughly six months and nearly every Kavah will be proficient in their ‘barking language’ by the time they reach young adulthood. Those that can’t seem to quite get it, or are a bit slow are often shunned from pack activities until they catch on, or starve to death.
Most wild Kavah do not live to be venerable, but those that do are often alphas and are powerful, grizzled beasts who are indeed powerful examples of their kind. When death finally comes to one of their pack, it is not unusual for Kavah to bury their dead, though it is unknown whether this is a ritualistic activity or merely containing the scent of a rotting corpse so other predators do not come into pack territory looking for a free meal. Most Kavah die fighting other Kavah, or hunting other large predators; foremost amongst these are the Zodasian Plains Lion and the Tundra Drake. Zodasian Plains Lions in particular find themselves confronted with Kavah as their hunting territories often overlap. Either animal will eat the other, should a death in such conflicts occur; with food as scarce as it is in the cold North, waste is simply not permissible.
Kavah pups are an often-sought commodity in the North, where they can be trained to take riders. While this is most common amongst the Northlanders, some of the more successful Masoq tribes actually have trained Kavah as war-steeds with varying degrees of success. For the Masoq however, the Kavah pups must be captured when they are very young, if they are to ever accept the foul-smelling beasts as riders. Voraath also enjoy capturing these animals, they prefer claiming lone ones, rather than ones within a pack; this test of strength is called the Buhja Loknah Kavah , which roughly translates into Kavah Bonding Rite. Voraath will fight, wrestle and subdue these Kavah and attempt to claim them as an animal companion. Voraath are the only species capable of forcing a Kavah into submission like this, without using magic or getting themselves killed. Once forced into submission and a great deal of training is administered, these Kavah become loyal, fierce companions to the Voraath in question.