Species: Dar'hal

Name: dar'hal (plural: dar'hali [dar HAH-lee])

Homeworld: Sizimi

Height/Length/Weight: The dar'hal are medium-sized quadrupeds, with the females being larger than the males. Females range from 3.5-4.5' at the shoulder, and males range from 3-4' at the shoulder. Weight varies between 200-450 lbs, and length is generally between 5-9', plus another 5-7' of tail.

Physical Description: The dar'hal are thick, long-bodied, furred quadrupeds. Heavy in body, limb, jaw, and skull, they are smooth in movements but not deftly graceful. They have a feline-ursine face, with jagged fangs that protrude visibly when their jaws are closed and rounded ears. Their eyes are large, with the iris being a thin ring of color around their pupils. Their hides are very loose and bunch up in rolls, especially along their necks and torsos; their bodies are heavy and low-slung with muscular limbs and a long, tapering, prehensile tail. Their paws are heavy and feline, tipped with unretractable ursine claws (yes, even the dewtoe). Their fur is coarse and longish (somewhat wolfish in its layering). Males have mostly internal genitalia (penile sheath, internal testes).

Senses/Capabilities: The dar'hal were originally nocturnal predators, before they began coexisting with the jelph. Their vision is largely motion- and heat-based, fantastic at night and very poor during the day; they have a second eyelid that is semi-transparent, which is lowered during the day to lessen the amount of light that gets through. Their ears and noses are extremely sensitive, capable of tracking a moving object easily; on the flip side of the coin, it is easy to temporarily deafen a dar'hal or overpower their senses of smell with a strong, pungent scent. The dar'hal are also still designed for night hunting in a very ambush-and-crush fashion: they're average runners, reaching only 35 mph at best, but very swift in a sprint (up to 45 mph for ~30 seconds), impressive jumpers (40 feet in a horizontal bound from a standing start, up to 60 from a running start), and immensely strong. Their running endurance is poor, unless it's only a jog, and their agility is questionable, especially when compared to the more lean jelphii. They are meant to be heavy ambushers who capture prey and slaughter it through strength and bulk, rather than like the jelphii, who tend to be chasers and herders in the hunt.

Coloration/Clothing: The dar'hal wear no clothing, though those who live alongside the jelph may wear decorations (bands of cloth around the limbs, to which feathers, teeth, claws, bones, or strips of fur are affixed) or display metal piercings in their ears. Fur coloration tends towards medium-to-dark shades, primarily browns - often tinged with red, gold, silver, or black. Some dar'hal have white or pale flecking, but most have black-/dark brown-tipped fur. They have no particular markings, though their fur tends to be darker on the face, forepaws, and shoulders.

Races/Breeds: The dar'hal have no noticeable ethnicities or breeds.

Language: The dar'hal have a very guttural, deep, 'dark'-sounding language that is virtually impossible for any species without a long, toothy snout to speak. Most civilized beings (jelphii being the primary exception) find it very difficult to even learn listening comprehension of halan, so most dar'hali learn jelphan, which is much easier for other creatures to manage. Halan itself is a relatively simplistic language, with specific meaning drawn from clues in the speaker's body language (especially with ears, eyes, lips, and tail). It has few words for anything technological, but plenty for forms of magic and types of demons.

Technology: The dar'hal do not use technology.

Magic: The dar'hal do not use magic, but they are well-acquainted with how it works, and they are actually attuned, as a species, to the Light. This makes them invulnerable to demonic corruption, and they are excellent at sniffing out those who are swayed by demonic influence. Many Lightworkers make the attempt to earn a dar'hal's trust in order to have it help their cause; few succeed. (Note: Black magic and demonic corruption are very different things. Dar'hali have no sensitivity or lack thereof to dark magic; it is the taint of demons that they can find and resist.)

Values: The dar'hal primarily value the people who have earned a spot in their lives, and the ability to provide for and defend those people. Everything else is far less important than those two things. Deception, cowardice, and self-interest are taken as an affront to a dar'hal's honor and will often provoke a physical attack.

Social Groups/Society: The dar'hal are social animals with strong pack-instincts and a fairly clear idea on when to listen to the one in charge and when to treat them as a peer. Pure dar'hal packs are led by the individual (usually female) who is strongest and best in the hunt - she's often one of the biggest dar'hali in the pack. Pack leaders don't mate or raise cubs while they lead, since the pack is seen as their primary responsibility; pack leaders also only exert authority when a hunt is complicated or when dealing with other packs (or interlopers, be they dar'hal, jelph, or outsider). However, most dar'hal coexist with jelphii in jelphan settlements; there is still a clear leader, often the jelph in charge of the settlement or of the dar'hal's household, but that leader is treated as an equal unless in a situation that demands someone to take control. Dar'hali are quick to defer when necessary and quick to knock a would-be leader down a few pegs if deference isn't necessary. They have a very comfortable camaraderie with fellow dar'hali, and some jelphii who are very close to dar'hali get the same treatment.

Habitat/Settlements: The dar'hal have none of their own settlements; they either cohabitate with the jelph in small villages, or they stake out forested territories of their own. They prefer woods, where they can hide to ambush prey, or mountains, where they can drop off a higher ledge onto their next meal. They avoid open areas and swamps.

Religion/Beliefs: Though it is almost never discussed among adult dar'hali, and absolutely never mentioned to any non-dar'hal, the dar'hal do have a belief system rooted in their past as nocturnal predators. Cubs are taught this at their youngest, and by the time they can hunt, the belief is ingrained into every inch of them. Dar'hali have no concept of a deity, but there is a sense of a patron spirit - almost the soul of their species - that blesses or curses them, depending on how true to their own nature they are, and how well they protect and provide for their people. It is the heart of the hunt and the necessity of battle, and it is why they are so fervent in destroying anything demonic. They also believe that there is a similar species-soul for each living thing, including flora and fauna, and they disdain those who stray from their species' nature.

Interaction w/ Other Species: The dar'hal are not terribly friendly to anyone other than the jelph. Strange jelphii are usually regarded with a mixture of respect and standoffishness, but jelphii that they personally know and like are treated with rough affection and obedience. The dar'hal are outright aggressive to most other creatures, though they will rarely attack, unprovoked, at first meeting. For this very reason, dar'hali meet other people in the company of jelphii that they trust, and the jelph present maintain a semblence of non-hostility, keeping the dar'hal from acting out.

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