The Nybelmar Kiang (pl. Kiangi) is a small, sturdy donkey that is found across most areas in the southern part of the continent. Several races in Nybelmar use the donkey, most notably the humans, for transportation, and the orcs, for meat.
Though larger and sturdier, the Kiang is thought by
most scholars to be related to the quagga and the
brinnísi horses, which it
resembles greatly. Unlike the quagga,
the kiang is not striped, but has a pelt that varies in colour, though it is
usually dark brown or grey. White or black pelts have been known to occur, but
are rare. The Kiang is almost always a solid colour
with a slightly paler underbelly, except for a black dorsal stripe which runs
from withers to tail. This stripe has two cross bars, one at the withers and one
across the back, just behind the saddle area. The pelt is short furred and
Kiangi have large heads, thick, short necks and bodies, short, slim legs and small delicate hooves resembling a horseís feet rather than those of the three-toed brinnísi. Its ears are about a palmspan and a half long, and its hearing is excellent. The eyes are large and usually a deep blue colour. They are long-lashed to protect the Kiangís sight from sand or dust. An adult male, called a moke, usually stands about 12-13 palmspans at the withers and measures 16-17 hands from nose to rump. Females, called jillies, are rarely higher than 12 palmspans, and usually closer to 11.
Like the brinnísi, the Kiangís tail is short with a long tuft of hair on the end. This tuft and the Kiangís mane are coarse and bristly. The mane is not upright, however, but hangs down the animalís neck like that of a horse, though it does not grow as long.
Kiangi are highly adaptable animals. Though some are more suited to lusher,
greener areas, most can survive on the least likely of vegetation. They do not
need nearly as much food or water as
horses do and can go for longer periods of time without
having to eat or drink. Kiangi are excellent at locating
water, a crucial trait for those in the
Territory. These animals are found through the southern half of the continent of Nybelmar. They are especially prevalent in the area of Orcal and the Zhun, where many are domesticated for labour purposes, but may be found elsewhere in Nybelmar as well.
Habitat/Behaviour. In the wild, the Kiangi form small, loose groups of perhaps 8-10 animals, usually led by a moke or an older jilly. They are not as territorial as horses, and travel around to find food and water. The mokes are the herd protectors and can be very fierce in fighting off dangers such as desert cats, snakes, and even orcs. Normally, however, the kiangi are mild natured and not easily spooked or startled. They are exceedingly intelligent animals and very clever at escaping captivity. Many of them have tricked a would-be owner by squirming under the lowest bar of a pole fence, opening latches with their teeth, chewing through all but metal tethers, and so on. However, once domesticated, they are usually obedient, loyal and hard-working little animals.
Diet. Kiangi will eat nearly anything. They have an extremely tough digestive system and can subsist on the most mininal food. However, they usually eat plants such as various types of grasses or grains, yu-chi, khmeen leaves, arípun grass, shyizon weeds and other desert plants such as cacti.
Mating. Like female horses, jillies go into heat throughout the year, at six to eight week intervals if they are not pregnant. A day or two before a jilly is due to go into heat, she will approach a male and indicate receptivity to mating, by nuzzling his head, neck and withers affectionately. The two will remain together for the rest of her heat period, mating frequently. During this time, the moke is very solicitous and protective, pushing others away when they find food or water so that his jilly may satisfy her needs first. The other herd members generally tolerate this behavior patiently and non-aggressively. After the heat period, or once the female conceives, this behavior ceases and the two revert to their normal herd relationship.
Female Kiangi gestate for approximately one year, usually giving birth to one foal, though twins do occasionally occur. At birth, all foals are a soft mottled grey colour, without the distinctive stripe patterns. The coat colour changes and develops its adult pattern and colour by the time a Kiang is a year old. They will not be full adults until age four, at which point they will be able to mate and take on other adult behaviors. Male or female Kiangs may interbreed with horses. The offspring, called mules, are rarely fertile, though it has been known to happen.
Usages. Domestically, the Kiang is generally used as a working or riding beast, though some peoples have eaten them. The flesh, however, is tough and not very tasty. The Kiangís protective instincts make them excellent guards for herds of goats and sheep. Many shepherds have a tough little moke with them to help warn of and fight off predators.
Kiangi milk has also been used for years as a substitute for motherís milk when a woman is unable to nurse or has died in childbirth. It is rich, healthy, and has saved the life of many a human baby. Zhunite women also use the milk as a beauty aid, to soften, smooth and moisturize the skin.
Myth/Lore. The Kiang figures in much Zhunite folklore as the clever, sly trickster and many an amusing tale is told of the animalís cunning. The Zhunite have a saying ďquick as a hawk and sly as a kiangĒ, to describe a mentally agile, creative person.
Information provided by Alysse the Likely