Truzkul

Physical Description

The Truzkul are one of the oddball kul species. Rather than having scales, they are covered in a thick coat of fur that spans across black skin. The color of the fur on their body depends upon the region they live in, with the Truzkul in the tundras covered in pure white fur and those in the taiga venturing into shades of brown and green. Both, however, have very dark or black patches on their backs and, occasionally, other parts of their body, meant to absorb sunlight and keep the Truzkul warm. All Truzkul also have a black patch around their eyes to protect the sensitive organ from the bright light reflecting off of the snow and their own fur.

While their body is furred, the fur on their legs actually stops right before their paws, leaving their skin exposed. The underside of the wings is also completely bare, showing the black color of their skin. This skin is very thick, though, and can withstand the cold temperatures and snow they come into contact with. Each paw has a thick pad that helps them stand on the snow without sinking too deep into it.

During the summer, Truzkul shed their thicker winter coat (pictured above). They grow a much thinner and less fluffy summer coat, with fur that's much more coarse than the silky winter coat. Young Truzkul, on the other hand, are trapped with only their summer coat until three years of age where they start to grow a winter coat in each year. Any younger than three stick very close to their parents' warmth for survival. The growth of the winter coat is directly affected by temperature rather than daylight hours, meaning Truzkul in more southern regions will have summer coats for longer or indefinitely.

All Truzkul also have ears that are mobile, similar to many mammals. They use these ears to pick up the sounds of prey in the distance as the bleak white expanses of their homeland offers little in visual confirmation or, in the taiga, thick and snowy trees block their sight. They also all have antler-like horns on their head, though only males boast a large rack of horns; females have rather normal-looking horns with one or two nubs in comparison.

Anatomy

Truzkul are the smallest of all the kul and are even shorter than some lin, standing at only 1.5m at the shoulder maximum. Their small size is a result of their environment, however, as anything that lives in the cold, unforgiving north cannot sustain a very large body for long. Their metabolisms are extremely efficient, as well, and they look rather lean beneath their thick coat of fur.

With wings covered in heavy fur during the winter and with only two digits, the Truzkul cannot fly very well, if at all. They can jump and soar short distances but cannot attain true powered flight. Their wings exist, instead, as methods of heating and cooling. With the appendages tucked tight against their body, the Truzkul can trap warmth against them with the extra layer of fur. When spread out under the rays of the sun, the extra surface area can also soak up more warmth. During the warmer summer months, the wings can also be spread and flapped through the cool air to release extra heat.

While they look rather mammalian, Truzkul are not mammals; they have no mammary glands to speak of. Young are born live, but can eat meat almost immediately after a short period of eating pre-digested food from their parents akin to young wolf pups and bird chicks. Female Truzkul are smaller and more lean than the males, sporting smaller and less elaborate antlers. Males, on the other hand, are much thicker set and have very elaborate antlers on their head they use to compete for mates.

The paws of Truzkul are also very thick and broad to help them stand on thick piles of snow rather than sink into it. While their paws have no fur, the pawpads on each foot are very wide and offer a good surface area to stand on. They're also very well insulted against the icy touch of the ground below.

Since they live in such cold and bleak conditions, Truzkul eyes aren't that well developed. They can see far and spot movement at a distance, but they cannot make out specific detail and see the world a lot like a near-sighted person would; the distance unfocused and blurred while the foreground is very detailed and sharp. The rely heavily on hearing for daily activities.

While their environment is very cold, due to the thick fur coat these kul sport, the males of the Truzkul sport external testes and a sheath instead of the internalized reproductive organs of other kul. Internalizing these organs would threaten the fertility of the sperm with the heat of the body. However, this leaves a very open target for accidents and combat situations.

Races

Truzkul have two variant "races" depending upon where they live, with one native to the taiga and the other native to the tundra.

Tundra Truzkul

Tundra Truzkul are those that venture and roam in the northern snowy tundras, hunting for food in what appears to be a wasteland. Their fur is only ever white to help blend in with the bleak surroundings, excluding the black patches meant for warmth. These Truzkul tend to be a bit smaller than their southern counterparts as their environment offers much less to sustain them. They also live in smaller prides, in turn, and have a smaller overall population.

Taiga Truzkul

The Truzkul that live in the taiga are a bit more varied than their northern cousins. While in their winter coat, they are nearly indistinguishable from their tundra relatives, as they only come in shades of white. However, their winter coat also ventures into the more grey regions to allow for better camoflauge in a darker environment. During the summer, their true colors show; they flourish in forest greens and deep browns, keeping only their darker patches of fur the same.

As they live in more plentiful conditions, these Truzkul are larger and live in larger groups. However, they also face more challenges and competition.

Behavior

Due to their harsh environment, Truzkul are rather feral beings and don't have as much of a culture or civilization as other kul do. However, they are not completely witless like Azkul and Izkul nor are they as mindlessly aggressive as Trezkul. They have their own language and can speak it amongst each other to communicate hunts, teach offspring, and spread stories of ancestors and years gone by.

Social

Truzkul live in small groups called packs that roam the northern tundras. Each pack is headed by one male that is followed by many females he keeps tabs on and breeds. His responsibility is to protect his harem and drive off intruding males who would wish to usurp his position. He is also the head hunter of the pack if his females are out of commission, providing for them when the time comes. However, his primary duty is protection.

Females, on the other hand, are to care for the hatchlings and take care of social issues within the pack. They are the primary hunters and providers, but hunt only when the male says to. The females are where most of the culture of the Truzkul come from; males tend to be too hot-headed and busy thinking about protecting his harem to participate in any social interaction.

Females often talk amongst themselves about the future, the past, and the present. They chatter a lot to keep themselves occupied during the never-ending days or never-ending nights depending on the season. Many stories have been told and passed down about great Truzkul packs, hundreds strong, that once ruled the tundras of the north. They speak of the stories they learned from their mothers and mothers before them. There is a great amount of oral tradition and history within these tight-knit groups of females in the frozen north.

Reproduction and Development

As mentioned earlier, Truzkul live in harem packs of one male and many females. The one male keeps tabs on and breeds with all the individual females, who father his offspring in return for protection against other males and a territory to live in. Disobedient or aggressive females are driven off or killed, so they generally keep in line under his claws.

Truzkul females have a very quick heat cycle that can be kickstarted again if her young are killed or lost. However, due to her intelligence, a female will generally refuse or fight off a male that has killed her offspring rather than breed again. Females are extremely protective of their offspring and will fight to the death over their protection, even against their own father.

Due to how the harem packs form, females generally will trade off being pregnant and raising offspring so not all succumb at once. Heavily pregnant females or those with offspring younger than three cannot hunt, so experienced males will generally keep an idea of how many females are available to hunt versus those who are not. Young males, however, tend to be too eager and breed his females too quickly, forcing himself into the corner of having to provide for them all at once. This is the downfall of most young males.

Truzkul are born live as pups in litters of two to three. Their eyes are closed and their ears shut and they cannot take care of themselves; they have no winter coat to speak of and are helpless. However, their internal organs are developed enough to digest processed meat. Truzkul males will hunt for their offspring and bring back meat in their own stomach only to be regurgitated as a food source for the first few weeks.

After about a month, the Truzkul pups have their eyes and ears opened and can eat normal meat. However, they're still extremely vulnerable to cold and will stay very close to their mothers for warmth and protection. Due to the nomadic nature of these kul, the pups will usually sit on their mother's back snuggled underneath her fur, warmed by her body heat and winter coat.

After three years, Truzkul pups are considered juveniles and can start living and wandering on their own. They're about half their full height at this time and will begin growing a winter coat. They begin to learn to hunt from their fathers by following him out on his hunts.

Once the Truzkul are nine years of age, they reach sexual maturity and are kicked out of the pack by their fathers to find one of their own.

Ecology

The Truzkul live in the cold, inhospitable northern tundras that form the border between the barren ice lands and the lush forests. While there is not much game, there is enough to support small packs across the wilds.

Habitat

The northern tundras are very dead looking at first glance, but do have a lot of animals living within it. The Truzkul prey on most of them, tracking down fresh prints in the snow most of their lives. Trees are generally few and far between this far north, but the Truzkul that live in the taiga in the south see many more evergreen forests in their lifetime. In the taiga, there is a lot more game to be had, but also a lot more predators, forcing many who venture too far south back northward.

Diet

Truzkul are primarily carnivores, but can also eat various berries, roots, and shoots if times are harsh. Tundra Truzkul will prey on smaller animals than them, sneaking up to them and letting their white fur blend into the snow before dashing after them in a burst. Truzkul usually surround prey and lead the target into a trap to catch it.

Taiga Truzkul, on the other hand, are more daring, working in groups to take down larger herbivores to feast for multiple days from its corpse.

Competition and Predators

While there is little living up in the north to threaten the Truzkul, Truzlin have proven themselves an issue to those living in the Taiga. They follow the larger herds of nomadic taiga herbivores across the north. With their tools and wits, they prove a challenging group to fight against, forcing the Truzkul to leave guarded large herds alone. Truzlin will gladly kill a Truzkul if given the chance, as well, for prestige and to protect their hunting grounds. Both species have learned to harbor a deep hatred for each other and have little reason to cooperate, leading to bloody feuds over nothing in the middle of a snow-filled forest.

Origin

Truzkul originated from ancient Azkul/Sozkul who ventured onto land nearby the forests. While many settled in the tropical rainforest or the lush forests north of it, some moved further north to find space of their own. Over the years, they were pushed further and further north in search of territory, food, and safety from the rising lin and other kul. Eventually, they evolved fur coats and look like we see them today, prepared for the harsh winters and endless days of summer in the tundra-filled north.