The water-dwelling burch are very common throughout the continent of Madierna. Most often they are found in muddy, swampy areas where they eat insects, small fish, and freshwater plankton.
Burch species range from approximately eight inches to as much as three feet. They have leathery skin and unique shell patterns. These marsh-loving creatures have been described as being very similar to the tortoise, though they can move much quicker on land. Burch are monotremes and lay eggs buried deep into the mud. A typical clutch of burch eggs is about three to five, the young are quite rounded and endearing.
There are many species of burch, usually distinguishable by the patterning on their shells. Most live in freshwater environments. There is only two species of sea burch, commonly found on the Galbrian coast. Burch can be easily farmed though they reproduce a in the wild. Burch have the ability to hold their breath for several hours at a time, making it possible for them to avoid land-dwelling predators. When threatened, a burch will dive to far depths. They are strong swimmers. If a burch is threatened on land, it will retreat into its shell.
Common Uses of the Burch
As Misa pointed out, burch are very tasty in stew. Their meat can be tough but when slow cooked can have a very pleasant rich taste. In some places, burch is considered to be a peasant fare as burch are easy to find in the wild and reproduce well in captivity. Many farms in Trabalis and the surrounding lands will have a pond on the property specifically for the purpose of raising burch. Certain organs of the burch are found to be particularly tasty, including the kidneys, and neck.
The shell of the burch is rich with minerals. When ground, it cam be taken as a vitamin supplement. People have also used burch shells in decorative and jewelry elements. A burch's diet influences the color, patterning and chemical composition of a its shell. Burch fed special diets can have shells with a shiny, reflective-like quality, particularly desirable in low-cost jewelry.
The Holy Circus
While most inhabitants of Centernia value the burch for their tastiness, there are some who recognize the intelligence of these water-dwelling creatures. The Holy Circus of the Auroriates will train burch and use them in their shows. When hand-reared, burch are very docile and respond well to commands. They can be used for simple tumbling tricks and are displayed in combination with clownish and humorous portions of an Auroriate show.
People commonly hold the belief that the Auroriates use some sort of holy influence in order to make the burch respond so well. Burch are perceived by most people to be unintelligent. In reality, it is just good training and experienced burch handlers that make for the success of circus burch. Burch are actually very intelligent animals with complex social patterns, however they are often very stubborn and unlikely to trust most people.
The Burch in Mythology
The most devote members of the Holy Circus restrain from consuming burch flesh entirely. There is a legend that the goddess Aurora was saved by the burch. Fallen into a grief-stricken state from the loss of her son Caprarius, the goddess lived forty days in a cave far on the edge of the world. She plunged into a pool of murky water to end her life, but was saved and gently lifted up by the shells of the burch. They proceeded to entertain and comfort her until she had the strength to leave the cave.
The religion of Kiuski and Kilati view the burch differently. In the myths, the burch are depicted as dirty, feral beasts. They deserve no place of honor and are considered the dinner of the peasants. As the religion of the moon predates the Auroriates, this view of the burch is commonly accepted.
With the rise of the Auroriate religions, society seems to be swinging in a more favorable view of the burch. Perhaps someday they will rise from being a tasty entree to a beloved creature.
The bicorn is one of the most iconic creatures in the land of Centernia. In the southern lands and coasts of Galbrian they are known as the vishalli. In the east, they are called the demon chasers. They are an intelligent and dangerous creature, but when well-trained, a highly prized companion.
The species originated in the harsh arctic northern lands on the continent of Madierna. Bicorns have many very unique features, making them desirable mounts. They are muscular and possess a resilient endurance, high intelligence and a wild fearlessness. A single bicorn can easily cost four times as much as a well-bred horse.
Bicorns are largely omnivorous creatures. It is believed in times of vegetative scarcity they rooted out grubs and other small dirt-dwelling insects. Over time, this insect-eating trait grew to encompass larger creatures such as mice and squirrels. Full-grown adult bicorns have been known to eat prey as large as a rabbit or fish, though mice and grubs are much more typical meal.
The northern lands are full of large predators. Unlike their herd-mentality horse cousins, bicorns are more independent and just as likely to fight as they are to run. Both males and females have very sharp horns, hooves and teeth. Their hide is unusually thick, giving them protection against shallow wounds. When given no other options, an adult bicorn can be a strong match against a wolf or wildcat. In the wild, bicorns tend to travel in mated pairs or trios, increasing their defense against predators. They are very good at fighting in tandem.
Bicorns have remarkable night-vision, making them surefooted on long trips through darkened forests. They have powerful muscles, strong endurance, and a superior cunning. They are not always the most lovable or loyal creatures. When they do make a bond, they tend to be devoted to a single person. Bicorns are long-lived with an average lifespan of seventy years, sometimes more in the wild. They have good memories and little patience for those who annoy them.
There are many breeds of bicorn, the most well-known are the large warhorses drengalli, (colloquially called thunder rams). These creatures are bulky and surefooted with an obedient temperament. Nico's blue stallion Moontower is a cross between a thunder ram and a common bicorn.
Bicorns are known for their beautiful colors, but this is not a natural occurrence. Wild bicorns are typically grey. Hundreds of years ago, a mage known as Graves Wywren altered the species. Graves was a mage skilled with manipulating the living body on a microscopic level. Able to see the blueprints of growth, (now known as DNA), Graves was able to change elements on a whim. Over time, his changes would replicate. Many of his experiments were disastrous, causing cancers and other deformities. Guilt-ridden for experiments on friends, Graves lived out most of his years on a secluded little farm in the northern lands.
During that time, Graves continued to us his skills to experiment on animals. He discovered a few of his changes resulted in effects that were not harmful, among those the ability to change skin pigment.
It started with a small green patch on the shoulder of an old, blind stallion named Sunshine. The bold green patch of skin slowly spread across his shoulder as the skin cells replicated. In a few seasons time, Sunshine was as green as summer grass.
When a traveling merchant spotted the bicorn, he offered Graves a large sum of money for the otherwise infirmed creature. Graves realized the money could be used as reparation to families he had wronged.
Within two years, Graves' tiny farm was a rainbow collection of dazzling creatures. Over time, he began experimenting with more than color. More than one hundred variations of bicorn exist today, some with wings, fur, feathers, venom and other unique traits. Graves' modifications often proved dominant, creating the remarkable array of bicorns now known through the lands of Centernia.
The most dragon-like creatures of Centernia, nightflights are intelligent reptilian creatures commonly used as mounts and manual labor. In the wild, their groups, known as kettles, can number in the hundreds. Nightlights originated in the southern islands of Madierna. They likely evolved from the smaller dragonettes. On the islands of Therissina, they were able to propagate with no natural predators and plentiful game.
Nightflights were first domesticated by the followers of religion of the moon sisters. When the religion split, the Auroriates spread the creatures across the land. Consquently, their domestication became more widespread. Some have escaped into the wild though for the most part, nightflights are domesticated.
Nightflights, like their featherwing cousins, are very long-lived. Their lifespans can average three hundred years. Training is an extensive process that can take several decades to complete.
The Mages of Polaris will use nightflights as part of their guard. Unlike featherwings, nightflights have multiple mates and breed easily in captivity.
Nightflights boast patterns in every color. In the wild, nightflights are most drawn to mates with garish and ostentatious patterns, further propagating the diversity of colors in the wild.
Common Breeds of Nightflights
Shadow Strikers: Nightflights bred for military uses are often black, blue, and grey, running contrary to their natural mating patterns. Shadow Strikers evolved from a cave-dwelling nightflights. Unfortunately, do to their adaptation for life below ground, natural shadow-strikers are poor at long-distance flight. Shadow Strikers have been cross-bred with other nightflights.
Gandacore: Named for the prophet of Auroriates, these nightflights have an unusual pattern of white and blue speckles.
Rubylizard: Red orange beasts. Despite their awe-inspiring colors, these nightflights are typically not very aggressive and make for good show and parade animals.
Skimmers: Nightflights with webbed-feet, making for both excellent swimmers and distance fliers
Bolt gliders: These nightlights are bred for speed. They are commonly used in military and police operations and are also are popular for racing. Bolt gliders are typically small nightflights, only able to carry one person. Their wing muscles are very strong and their bodies are incredibly agile, allowing them to navigate tight areas near the ground that other nightflights may have difficulty flying through.
Featherwings are a dragon-like creature native to Madierna. There are a many different varieties of featherwings, ranging in size from house cats to massive beasts capable of carrying a dozen people. A group of featherwings is known as a cast.
Featherwings are aptly names for their impressive feathered wings. Many featherwings also have fur and feathers across their bodies, most commonly around the base of their neck, at their wrists and ankles.
Featherwings, unlike their oviparous nightflight cousins, are viviparous, giving birth to young instead of laying eggs. Also different from nightflights, who have clutches of three to six eggs, featherwings typically only have one offspring at a time.
Featherwings mate for life. The Auroriates regard them as a symbol of marriage and fidelity. Featherwings have a long lifespan, often ranging four hundred years. Their breeding life span begins at twenty years of age and can continue for the rest of their lives. If a mate is lost, they often do not find another. Featherwings are prone to depression. For this reason, it is rare to find a featherwing that reaches their full lifespan.
Despite the fact featherwings are incredibly intelligent, they are almost never used for military applications unless they have already lost their mate or do not have one.
Featherwings evolved in northern Madierna. They are most well suited to northern environments. Featherwings and nightflights do not generally cross-breed in the wild, but they can be compelled to do so in captivity.
Commons breeds of featherwings
Shimmerflights: A very popular breed of featherwing, their scales gleam with an impressive irridescent rainbow. These creatures are known to reflect both sunlight and moonlight impressively, causing a phenomenon known as sunflash.
Eastern Gandacore: Similar to Gandacore night flights, these creatures are blue and white
Giant Faerikai: The largest of all nightflights and featherwings, these rare beasts have been rumored to carry over a hundred people. Due to their incredible size, giant faerikai are seldom seen. More often, their smaller faerdeanna are seen.
Faerdeanna: These featherwings are suited for short distance travel and can comfortably carry heavy loads. They are favored for construction projects and are among the few featherwings the mages of Polaris keep in captivity.
The smallest dragon-like species of Centernia, dragonettes are very common in the wild. Meadowdashers, as their name implies are common in meadows and wooded areas. They are a predatory species, hunting large insects and small rodents and birds.
Daydashers are very similar to meadow dashers. Both dragonettes are of the same size and build. Daydashers are meadowdashers bred specially by the Air Sprint, a message service used throughout Madierna.
Mooncouriers are a different species from day and meadowdashers and cannot interbreed. Mooncouriers were developed by the Sisters of Kiuskia and Kilati and are used the carry messages by night. Their nightvision is impeccable and they thrive in cooler environments without the glare of the sun. They are typically white, blue and grey in color. The Auroriates have since adopted mooncouriers as a means for their communication as well.
It is considered bad luck to kill a meadowdasher.