Though they remained long undiscovered, today one can see these strange beasts being ridden over the vast plains of Northern Sarvonia's Heaths of Wilderon. These large majestic beasts are called Krumhorn beasts, or ďPloddersĒ or ďKruhmĒ. The name "Kruhm" comes from a shortening of the animal's full name, and was first used by the Kaeer'dr'shŪn half-orcs. The added 'h' in that name is to signify a long, throaty "u" sound, mimicing the sound the beast makes. This deep, melodious sound of the beasts calling to one another can be heard far across the plains. It is a sound remarkably like the Krumhorn instrument, and seems to come from the creaturesí large horn, which protrudes ostentatiously from its head. Three peds long from their magnificent horn to their flowing tail, these fully armoured beasts have become the beloved companions of the Susilgerim dwarves. This remarkable beast is a great help to the Imlith dwarves, as it is now their main mode of transportation.
Picture description. A Susilgerim dwarf riding on a Krumhorn Beast ("Khrum", "Plodder"). Image by Seeker.
The Krumhorn beast
stands on average one and three quater
peds high from their shoulder to the ground, approximately three
peds long, and one
ped in width. It weighs
five pygges, give or take a few
hebs, when fullgrown. The females are slightly smaller than the males. It
has two horns upon its head, the first of which protrudes straight diagonally
forward from the tip of its nose. It is a
palmspan in diameter at the
base and extends upwards five
palmspans, ending in a sharp point. The second horn begins one and a half
palmspans behind the first
horn. This second horn, called the Hammerblast, is also one
palmspan in diameter at its
base and curves backward 2 palmspans, extending two
fores up into the
air and ending in a blunt point. It is with
the Hammerblast that the Kruhm produces its loud sounds, though the only outward
sign of this is several small holes near the top of the horn.
Its entire body is covered in bony plating which acts as natural armour. This natural armour has been found to be as hard as granite. Each piece is uniquely shaped to fit the part of the creature's body which it covers. There is one piece for the head, one for its shoulders, three for its back, and three on each leg. These pieces are of a smooth texture, and are covered in a thin, viscous liquid around their edges, so that they do not jar one another.
The face of the Kruhm is a fore and a half long, being wide at the back and very narrow at its nose. The animal possesses a relatively flat face, with a high sloping forehead. This gives a noble, piercing look to its entire face. Its eyes are large and glassy, and are either green or blue in colour. They are set on the side of its head, and are about four palmspans from the tip of its nose. The creature has eyelids but no eyelashes, but instead a filmy lens that protects the eye from sweat, dust, and airborne particles while keeping it moist.
Its ears are completely flat, so that they appear from the outside as simple holes in the side of the Kruhmís head. They are placed several nailsbreadths behind and above its eyes. The Kruhmís mouth consists of a sharp beak, with three large molars on each side of the back of its mouth. The beak begins just before the base of the first horn and has two parts, the upper and lower beak. The upper beak forms one piece of bone with both the first horn and the armour plate of the head. The beak is used to cut the various plants that the Kruhm eats, and the molars then grind the food, in a manner very similar to the krog draught beast.
The Kruhmís head plate extends all the way to the beginning of the neck. It does not cover the underside of the creatureís chin, however, or else the creature would not be able to move its jaw. There are also two wide circular openings in the plate for its eyes, so that its range of vision is not blocked by the plating. However, the creatures vision towards its front is not very good, and it cannot look behind itself without turning its head.
The Kruhmís shoulders are two peds wide, and are built out of thick, strong muscle. The Kruhmís bone structure and muscle on this region are very strong and well-reinforced in order to hold the added weight of the creatureís horns. Another single piece of plating covers the shoulders, extending over the creature's neck. This plate overlaps with the plate for the Kruhmís head. There is also a plate which covers the underside of the Kruhm's mouth, forming one piece with the lower beak. However, its neck is uncovered.
The front legs of the Kruhm are two and a half fores long, and are covered in two plates. One cover the front section of its leg above the knee, and the other wraps completely around the lower section of the leg. There is no covering for the upper portion of the leg which faces inwards, towards the animal. The Kruhmís foot is relatively flat, and has four stubby toes. There is a thickly padded sole on the bottom of the Kruhmís foot to allow it to travel rough terrain as well as move long distances without damaging the underside of its foot. The knees of this creature hinge forward away from the animal, and its feet and toes point outwards as well.
The back of the creature is very sturdy, as it possesses a very strong spine. Its back is covered by three plates of armour, none of which cover its underbelly, the major weakness of the animal. The first overlaps the shoulder plate, and extends to the midpoint of the creatures back. The second is between the first and third, and does not simply cover this area. In its center, there are two large humps of bone which form a natural seat. It is here that the Susilgerim mount to ride the Kruhm. This seat is situated just behind the center of the beast's back, so that the weight of the seat balances out the weight of the creature's horns. The third extends from the tail of the creature to about two and a half fores behind the first plate.
Its hindquarters are covered by its third back plate. Its back legs are built in the same way and direction as its front legs, and are covered by identical plating. Finally, it has a long tail, the base of which is a half fore in diameter. This tail extends two peds from the rear of the Kruhm, and ends in a whip-like point. This tail is in fact used as a whip when the Kruhm finds itself in combat.
Special Abilities. The first special ability of the Krumhorn beast is implied by its name. It can produce a long, deep, and quite loud blast, using its hammerblast horn, which is very similar to the Krumhorn instrumentís music. These sounds are the Kruhmís mode of communication. To quote Kugritz Beasttamer, a Susilgerim researcher:
"The Krumhorn beastís calls are remarkable for their musical quality. They appear to communicate with them by using varying pitches, melodies, volumes, and tempos. When in a herd, the harmony of this communication is also inexplicable. Many Susilgerim musicians have been inspired by the blending, sonorous tones. In large herds that have spent considerable time together, the music produced has reached such levels of intricacy and beauty that some have argued that the beasts are sentient. On the basis of other observations on this animalís behaviour, however, most researchers have agreed that this animal is remarkably intelligent, but not sentient. However, it cannot be denied that its ability to produce music in such a way is astounding."
dark elf researchers have found the process by which the Kruhm creates this loud
sound. It appears its hammerblast horn is partially hollow, being partitioned
into four tubes, three of which are connected to the base of its horn. The Kruhm
has the ability to direct the air from its
lungs into this horn by means of a tongue-like projection that either directs
air into or away from the horn.
The first three of the tubes run upwards along the beastís horn, the first ending two palmspans from the base of the horn, and the other two ending two palmspans above the tube below. The fourth tube is very tiny and narrow, and is connected not to the base of the horn but to the third of the tubes. All the tubes end in a narrow slit, which when air is blown through them the Krumhorn sound is produce. These slits can be covered in the same way as the opening at the base of the horn. Nine holes are evenly spaced up the top of the hammerblast, and open into the first three tubes.
By covering or uncovering these holes, using tongue-like projections underneath them, the Kruhm can produce its deep musical tones. The fourth horn, however, is not used to communicate, but is used as a defense mechanism. This tube, when all the other holes and slits are covered, can produce an extremely high-pitched whistle. This whistle can be heard by the wargs of the plains, but not by the Kruhm or its dwarven riders. By playing this high-pitched tone at extreme volumes, the Kruhm is able to infuriate and confuse its canine enemies.
The second ability of the Krumhorn beast is its protective armour. This armour protects burns and other physical damage. The plating of this beast is what makes it so useful as a method of transportation for the Susilgerim. It has allowed them to cross the vastness of the Heaths of Wilderon with a strong defense against the wargriders of the Rhom-Oc. While being much slower than a warg, the Krumhorn beast is also much larger and better protected than its orcish counterpart. The plates have been found to be approximately as hard as granite, and the beast's two horns are made of the same material. The plates are very fit together, so that few weak spots are exposed. Since the Krumhorn beast knows of these areas and will guard them against attack, the only way to effectively kill a Krumhorn beast is to turn it over and attack its soft underbelly.
The seat that is formed of the Kruhmís armour allows it to be effectively ridden into battle. This seat is formed of two large humps, which protect the chest and back of its riders from arrows. Also since the seat is set towards the rear of the beast, the majority of the animalís bulk lies between the rider and his opponents in battle. This makes for excellent protection against the Rhom-Oc riders.
The third ability of the Krumhorn beast is not as apparent as the others. The Krumhorn beasts have shown a tendency to eat a very small amount of food in proportion to their immense weight. Also, they have shown a great ability to go several weeks without food, and about a week and a half without water. It has been concluded that somehow the Krumhorn beast not only has a low metabolism, but has some way of making extremely efficient use of whatever food or water it consumes. There are several theories on how this is accomplished.
First, many researchers believe that their slow pace of movement helps them to conserve energy. Furthermore, careful observation of the creature has shown that it is very deliberate in all its movements. It seems to choose every movement carefully and without hesitation. The Krumhorn beasts seem to have a sense of the shortest path between two points, while still safely navigating obstacles.
Secondly, it is also believed that perhaps their digestive juices are more potent than those of other creatures, and therefore more able to break down food every bit of nutrients possible. The fact that the Krumhorn beast possesses three stomachs and a very intricate digestive system has led to theories that the power of the juices in each stomach rises from one to the other. In this way, food that could not be fully broken down by one would be broken down by the two others, while at the same time some nutrients that would be destroyed by overly strong stomach juices would still be utilized.
Finally, it is thought that the Krumhorn beastís process of using the nutrients it intakes is somehow more efficient than other creatures. Though the process by which any organism uses food to create energy is not completely understood by scholars and researchers, many at least theorize that the Krumhorn beast must somehow have a more efficient system for doing so than other animals.
In conclusion, it is probable that the Krumhorn beast uses some combination of all three of these techniques to achieve its remarkable energy conservation. However, the techniques of science are not currently capable of unearthing all the secrets of this odd beast.
Territory. The Kruhm resides on the ravines and valleys of the Imlith Mountains, as well as the areas of the Heaths of Wilderon that are nearby the Imlith. The wild Kruhm migrate between the Imlith Mountains and the Heaths of Wilderon as the seasons change. They prefer the cold of Imlith in the summer, and move onto the Heaths in the winter. They are well suited to the cold, and as their armour plating can cause them to overheat in warm weather they tend to remain in the mountainous regions. This means that most of the more recent attacks of the Susilgerim on their long-time enemies the Rhom-Oc have taken place in the winter time, when the Susilgerim can ride the Kruhm most freely over the plains.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Kruhm is known to live in herds, with about 25-30 Kruhm in a wild herd. The Krumhorn beast herds typically are led by the oldest male in the herd. However, the authority of this male is supplemented by what one could call a Ďcouncilí of older females in the herd, who seem to run the herd for the most, leaving only majors decisions to the elder male. All the females in this group are required, or so it seems, to be beyond their mating age, so that without new offspring to take care of these females become the mothers of the whole herd. Age seems to be the deciding factor in who leads the herd, and never has any herd been seen to be in disagreement over who should lead the group. The average Krumhorn beast lives to be about one hundred years old, and the youngest observed leader or ďcouncil-memberĒ has been estimated to be about seventy-seven years old.
One of the most constant things of the Krumhorn beastsí behaviour is their extreme loyalty. They are more than willing to die for the defense of the herd, and though they are normally peaceful animals, will become quite ferocious when defending one of their own. An interesting effect of this characteristic is that this feeling of loyalty is often transferred to their Susilgerim riders. For example, if a rider ever falls off his beast, the creature has been known to stand over him and defend him for days or even weeks, if necessary. The Krumhorn beastís devotion to its rider extends to the death, as there is no length a Krumhorn beast will not go to in order to aid its rider.
Another strange behaviour of the Kruhm is that entire herds have been trained by the dwarves to loyally serve a single Susilgerim settlement. While the beasts do not actually live near to the Susilgerim settlements (they have been trained not to, because of the dwarves need for secrecy), they will come to their aid whenever a Krumhorn is sounded. The dwarves have trained them to listen for a specific note on the instrument, which the animal now associates with danger. Also, they will gladly bear the dwarves over great distances, even into battle. The Susilgerim have worked hard at the task of training these beasts for many years to produce these behaviours, though loyalty seems to have always been a present trait in the Kruhm.
Diet. The Krumhorn eat a variety of berries and small shrubs that grow sparsely in the Imlith Mountains and on the Heaths of Wilderon. They also graze on the grasses that grow upon the plains. They are strictly herbivores, and despite their size, are rather sparing eaters. Their favourite food by far is the fruit of the cavernfire bush, which is grown by the Susilgerim dwarves. The dwarves often give the Krumhorn beasts rewards of this fruit for their superb help.
Mating. The mating season of the Krumhorn begins in the spring, lasting until early summer. The Krumhorn beast mates for life, and have a relatively simple system of choosing a mate. The male begins the process by playing a simple melody to the female. In return, she plays a countermelody. Soon they weave their parts together in an intricate duet. As the piece gains more and more complexity, one of two things will occur. Either the piece will conclude in magnificent harmony, or it will fall into discord. In the former case the couple becomes mates for life, and in the latter they simply part ways without any further ado. It is unknown how this process helps them choose mates, but some think it has to do with the fact that each Krumhorn beast plays in a different key. Some keys fit well together, while others do not. This may be the deciding factor, since mates must be able to recognize each otherís songs.
The pregnancy of the Krumhorn beast lasts eighteen months. This long amount of time is needed to develop the heavy bone structure of the animal. During the pregnancy, the female secludes herself in the mountains. Not much else is known about this period of time, since the females have never actually been found after secluding themselves. There is almost always only one offspring born, and this offspring has no plating or horns when in its infancy. The bone structure to hold the plates is in place, and within a year of its birth, the young has grown its plating. The plating for its head (including its horns), and the seat plate are the last plates to grow, forming about eleven months after the animalís birth. Young Kruhm are not taken onto the Heaths of Wilderon until they have fully grown their armour.
Usages. The Susilgerim have ridden the Krumhorn as a means of transportation ever since they managed to train the kindly beasts. They have proved to be valuable allies. Not only do they provide transportation, but are a strong defense against the Rhom-Oc. These gentle giants become lumbering fortresses upon the Heaths of Wilderon. They are ferocious fighters when helping the Susilgerim and a dwarf rider can safely throw his poisoned spears from high upon his armoured steed. A dwarf mounts the Kruhm by taking hold of its naturally formed seat and hoisting himself upon it. There are small projections on either end of this seat where the dwarf can place his foot as he mounts.
The seat of natural armor is a very effective protection for the rider; combined with the beasts shrill whistle, whipping tail, and sharp front horn, these animal are a great force in a battle. Despite their usual slow speed, they can run up to a speed of five strals in a day. It takes time, however, for the Kruhm to build up enough momentum to reach this speed, and for them to stop once they have attained it. Since the Heaths of Wilderon are vast, though, this is not a great problem when riding across them.
The dwarves reward their beasts by giving them the fruit of the cavernfire bush, which is the Kruhm's favourite food. They also play music on the Baroomith for them, which the beasts enjoy immensely. It is said that riders who have achieved a particularly strong bond with their mount can communicate with in small ways using this instrument.
When a Kruhm "turns to stone", as the dwarves would say it, it is given a burial and its horn is removed. This horn is cleaned out by the dwarves, and then taken by the clan's Denirim (sage-priest) to a secret location. These horns are used for religious holidays as musical instruments, and to be allowed to play one is considered a great honor by Susilgerim musicians.
The digestive juices of the Kruhm have been used by the dark flves and orc fire mages as reagents in several quite powerful offensive spells. It is highly prized by them, both because of the difficulty in killing the beast and the fact that the dwarves protect their companions.
Origin. In the year 678 b.S., the Susilgerim suddenly discovered the Krumhorn beasts when they began hearing their horns in the ravines and valleys of the Imlith Mountains. The question of how they could have never been discovered before, considering the volume of their horn calls, is a baffling question. Many researchers believe that they are the result of some mysterious magical experiment, though it cannot be said who the perpetrator would be. Some suspect that since the creature is so incredible useful to the Susilgerim, some dwarven mage must have created the animal through many experiments. However, Kugritz and the Susilgerim offer another theory,
"The Krumhorn beast has changed the warfare and influence of the Susilgerim tribe. They have given us the ability to effectively counter the Rhom-Oc, even on the open plains. Their steadiness, resourcefulness, and loyalty are a mirror of the dwarven character. They have become one of the most valued friends of the Susilgerim. Many dispute their Ďmysteriousí origins. We know clearly from whence they came. Trum-Baroll himself has blessed us with a mighty gift, as a sign of love and favor upon us. Only he could have conjured a creature that is so dwarven in its spirit, and which has become our beloved companion."
Researchers. Kugritz Beasttamer is an old respected
Susilgerim who has spent
much time with the various creatures that inhabit the Imlith Mountains. His
extensive journals and notes are an invaluable resource for any wishing to learn
of these mountains. The quotes in this entry are taken from his famous journal,
"Notes and Observations of the
The information from the dark elf researchers is obtained from several old parchments recovered from the settlements of the Blood Eye Cult. It appears from what remains of the documents that at some point the elves captured a Kruhm, and after careful study of its behaviour, killed and dissected the beast. Unfortunately, the names of the researchers are not listed in the surviving pages, but appear to have been lost to time and decay.