On average, Tarbhach tend to be much larger and bulkier than their Rhodri cousins. They are about 15 ft (4.57 m) from nose to tail tip, and at adulthood they reach a range of 800-1000 lbs (363-454 kg), with the males tending to be larger.
The average and natural life span of a Tarbhach is around 70-100 years. However, those that have been enslaved by Rhodris tend to live much shorter lives.
Tarbhach, like many felines, are polyestrous, meaning they come into "heat" several times during the year, rather than only once during a certain breeding season. However, during the colder months when game is scarce (at least, for pre-agriculture Tarbhach or those otherwise having to hunt for themselves), they will sometimes not ovulate as a way to prevent a pregnancy from occurring, an event that could be hazardous to the mother if occurring during lean times.
Unlike most non-intelligent species, Tarbhach will mate not just for reproduction, but also for recreation. However, many of enslaved males and females are either kept separate from each other or sterilized as a way to keep them from reproducing. Most frequently, the males are gelded and the females left intact, though the more affluent owners may choose to surgically alter the females as well. However, Tarbhach males bred or raised for show purposes, arena fighting, or some guarding positions are often left intact as well.
The female, if she conceives, typically gestates for around six months before giving birth to one to four cubs, the most common number being only one or two. Because Tarbhach commonly form monogamous pair-bonds, the male commonly helps the female in raising her young. In captive settings, it is not uncommon for the father to never see his cubs or mate again, and the cubs are either reared by the mother or by Rhodri handlers. On average, it is not until the cub's twentieth year or so that it becomes sexually mature and starts the cycle once again.
The natural diet of Tarbhach is the meat of small animals as well as large animals. They are also not averse to scavenging, if needed. While hunting for small animals, such as the tasy is usually done solo, hunting for larger animals such as the salarr and oka requires the cooperation of a group of Tarbhach. One of the most common hunting techniques is positioning several individuals in an area upwind of the prey that provides for good hiding while one or two other Tarbhach are used to drive the prey towards those waiting.
In more recent times, especially after the development of more permanent communities and the use of magic, Tarbhach have also added fruits, vegetables, and various roots and nuts to their diet. As the use of magic increased, they developed more complex ways of preparing and consuming food, such as cooking and preserving.
Significance of Extra Ear FlapsEdit
Unlike the other intelligent species of Aisling, Tarbhach have a large set of extra ears, that dangle close to their normal ears. While the normal-sized ears are used to hear a typical range of sounds, the larger ears are set up to detect sounds in a much lower frequency than most other animals can detect. This is because many of the large prey animals they hunt communicate to each other over long distances through deep rumbles. By being able to hear these sub-sonic sounds, the Tarbhach can track large prey over long distances much better than most species.
Before their enslavement, the Tarbhach were a social species. They often stuck together in small family groups of related individuals that ranged from a single mated pair to up to twenty individuals. They lived and hunted together, defending their territory from intruders, whether they be fellow Tarbhach or other species. Often an alpha male and female led the group together, though sometimes a single male or female may lead instead. Though loner Tarbhach existed, they were few and far between.
Life in captivityEdit
After Rhodris began learning how to control magic, they began the process of enslaving the Tarbhach race. Because Tarbhach did not know magic or have any weapons, it did not take long for almost the entirety of the wild population of Tarbhach to be conquered. Over the years, they were gradually "domesticated" and treated as little more than animals by the Rhodris, who ranked them below even Rhodri slaves. Tarbhach were trained in guard duties, herding, hunting, as well for sport, show qualities, and fighting. After generations of captivity, a large portion of Tarbhach became subservient and stopped fighting against their masters. They started to forget their former rich culture and began believing they had always been slaves and could rise to be nothing more. While many Tarbhach accept their lot in life, some are still rebellious and try to escape. There are rumors of wild packs of free Tarbhach, but Rhodris try to erase any evidence of such.
Relations with other intelligent speciesEdit
Originally, Tarbhach and Rhodris had a mutual respect for each other, though neither species was above competing with each other over territory. However, after the conquest, Tarbhach either have a submissive attitude towards their masters or one of resentment. It is not uncommon for a Tarbhach to be subservient and respectful in the presence of a Rhodri, but badmouth them when their backs are turned. There is an undercurrent of hatred for their Rhodri relatives, for obvious reasons. Interspecies friendships or romantic pairings are extremely rare, the latter being one of the utmost taboos in both cultures. To a Rhodri, a romantic relationship with a Tarbhach would be like a human having a romantic relationship with a cow. It is in many cases simply unfathomable, though some rare Rhodris consider Tarbhach to be attractive or desirable.
Kyonshis have very little interaction with Tarbhach outside of a predator/prey relationship, though they are often more sympathetic to the Tarbhach than the Rhodris.
Nebulions and Ko'drho often do not interact with Tarbhach, either, except in city settings. The Ko'drho are sometimes sympathetic to the Tarbhach, as the Rhodris once tried to conquer them, too, but more often they are grateful that the Rhodris' attention is on the Tarbhach and not them. "Better them than us," is a common sentiment. Nebulions, on the other hand, though they interfered in the Rhodris' attempt to conquer the Ko'drho, have since kept out of problems between the "lower species," preferring instead to avoid another conflict like the war between them and the Kyonshis.
Tarbhach religion is mostly animistic in nature, meaning they believe in spirits not just in intelligent beings, but in plants, animals, rocks, and even elements such as the earth, rain, and sun. Their pantheon is large and varied, with some packs having different gods and spirits than others. They often treat nature with respect and reverence, taking from it only that which they need. While Tarbhach do not know how to wield magic like several of the other Aisling species, they frequently will beseech the spirits around them for aid in everyday problems, whether it is asking the rain god to grant them water or thanking the spirit of the hunt for assisting with a good kill. These can be as little as muttered prayers to as much as elaborate group ceremonies.
Since their capture, much of the Tarbhach religion and lore has been lost. While some have been converted to the Rhodri religions, most Rhodris see them as being without permanent souls and thus having no need of religion. Tarbhach caught attempting to revive the stories and religious beliefs of their past are often punished.