Big cats galore today! ^_^ I thought this was going to be another short one, but like with the Hydra earlier, I got totally caught up in writing up data on today’s region only living creature, the sabre-toothed tiger. Like I said then, it’s a lot of fun to take an existing creature and giving my own turns and twists to it. Long writing and (wiki) research have made this entry late enough, though, so I say let’s get to business! ^_^
Sculpting the World
2.1. Desolate Plains
Landscape: The Desolate Plains are without a doubt the most iconic feature of the Western Island and what most people outside of the Western Island think of when mentioning the island. Extending for 1,000 km from the East to the West coast and 625 km from its Northern border with the Dark Wood to its Southern border with Sarkansa, it takes up more land than any other region on the Western Island. The entire region consists of one massive dry desert of kilometre upon kilometre of brown-grey sand. A few small rock formations can be found scattered around the desert, but most have been eroded by wind, sand and time. Series of small caves that have survived the harsh desert weather and house the only wild species on the island can be found near the Den mountain range and Sarkansa. The port city of Kahlar Zana is located on the Eastern coast, just North of Sarkansa.
Climate: Like the majority of the Western Island, the Desolate Plains have a desert climate, a hot desert climate for most of it and a more mild one in the coastal areas. During the summer its temperatures are very high during the day and very low during the night, while in the winter they are always low, during the night below freezing point. The Plains are commonly faced with fierce dry winds that at times take the form of deadly sandstorms. This combined with the extreme temperatures make travelling through the region incredibly hazardous and living there virtually impossible for most. No records of precipitation in the desert inlands have so far been made, but the coastal areas have a short period of heavy rainfall every year.
Flora and Fauna: Among the most arid places in the Realm, if not the most arid place, the temperatures and weather conditions of the Desolate Plains make it impossible for any vegetation to take root and grow there. Not even a single small shrub or blade of grass can be found in the entirety of the region.
Animals are also almost non-existent. The only fauna found here are massive golden-furred felines known as sabre-toothed tigers. Lean but muscular and on average three to four meters in length and one-and-a-half meters in height, they are graceful but intimidating creatures. They have powerful claws and teeth, but most notable are the long curved fangs to which they owe their name. These fangs are usually around 30 cm long, but especially large specimens of up to 50 cm have been documented. On average the large cats can live up to 50 to 60 years, but they reproduce fairly slowly, with more than one cub being born to a female being very rare.
The sabre-toothed tigers were at some point in history exported from the Cat People Archipelago in the South-East, but upon arrival in Kahlar Zana escaped the city for the Plains. They have adapted surprisingly quickly to their new circumstances and to this day live in the desert caves near Sarkansa. Because the lack of proper shelter, they usually live in large pack of at least ten members.
Because there is no wildlife found in the Desolate Plains their numbers have fallen over time due to food shortage. The surviving cats, estimated to number a few hundred, prey on anyone or anything getting close enough to their territory. Inhabitants from Kahlar Zana or Sarkansa moving too far from their cities and unsuspecting travellers or raiders from the Den are common prey for the sabre-toothed tigers. When prey is hard to find, sabre-toothed tigers sometimes turn to cannibalism. However, because they have adapted to survive with relatively little food, this is a rare occurrence and it hasn’t negatively affected their numbers.