Conservation Status: (Caligo) Vulnerable | (Dolos) Extinct | (Nevermore) Unknown
The Adharks are known for their sharp pair of curved horns and massive frills covered with plant growth. Birds like the Bluewing often perch on these large animals, and feed on the insect colonies found beneath the layers of moss growing over an Adhark's thick skin. They have formed a mutualistic relationship where the birds gain a meal in exchange of regulating the insect colonies, and in warning the Adharks when danger is near such as with storms or predators. These mighty beasts are a migratory herd animal known to travel in groups of 20 or more between seasons. The oldest alpha males tend to lead the journey with the newest male members protecting the rear. The creature's estimated size can range between 20-29 feet in length, and 9.5-10 feet in height. Researchers have concluded the Adhark species to be a descendant of the extinct Triceratops.
Extinct In Dolos:
Not much was recorded after the Flood of Light where nearly all life on Earth died out. Old trees often whisper of a time when sprites gathered and sought to protect what was left after the great cataclysm. Currently the Adharks are a vulnerable species in Caligo, and their existence never occurred in Dolos. The reasons for this remains uncertain.
Adhark Concept Art by Karlee Ludvik
The Adharks evolved from a prehistoric species of Ceratopsidae. They often sway their large heads to the side, flaunting their thick armored necks towards possible mates as a sign of dominance. Their armor-like skin is usually hidden beneath a blanket of moss and plants, an evolutionary defense against larger predators. Herds of Adharks have been known to remain perfectly still for days in order to allow the wildlife on their bodies to grow and root.
To avoid danger during labour, a pregnant Adhark is fully capable of blending in with the lush grassy hills of Dakata Valley, a popular birthing ground filled with danger, yet rich with resource. This moss has been confirmed to only exist on their bodies in a kind of symbiotic relationship as witnessed in many of the animals in Caligo. The roots do not show signs of penetrating the creatures tough skin, nor hurting it in any fashion. However, the sweat coming from the animal's pores is often absorbed by the plants when in need.
Eukarians, the ruling sprite species in the Sylvatic Kingdom established a law protecting these unique creatures during migration seasons due to over poaching from the Kingdom of Stormrage. When confronted by the Eukarian King, also known as the Cernunos, the King of Stormrage agreed to a regulated hunt every decade. This would allow the species to not fall into extinction, and still keep their numbers controlled. Centuries after the agreement, the number of poachers has decreased, but there are years when groups of human outlaws disobey the laws placed between both territories, and this results in battles that even the Kingdom of Stormrage aids the sprites in. These outlaws tend to journey across dangerous seas to avoid the Bridge of Titans with the sole mission of acquiring the mighty horns believed to hold magical properties, and it's red meat, stated by many to be tastier than the most well-groomed cow. This makes the grueling trip worth its weight in gold as certain lords from both the lands of Moros and even Stormrage walk in the black markets with pockets full and ready to taste the rare Adhark. As with any government, not every leader abides to the law, but if found and prosecuted, the sentence is death as written by the old King of Stormrage that signed the agreement. Sadly, these agreements only transcend to Stormrage and the Starless, not to Moros and thus danger still looms over the Adhark population.
A fun fact: Many Eukarian teenagers just before becoming adults in their society love to test their nerve and skills against a beta male Adhark during their Seeding Ceremony. The ceremony is a stage in a young Eukarian's life where he or she travels with two friends or colleagues similar in age, outside of their settlement for a few years in order to learn more from the world, and bring back knowledge.
In many Eukarian stories, to subdue the territorial Adhark without hurting it is considered a great feat. As proof of success, the three Eukarian teenagers would often bring back a sliver of moss from the Adhark's back which can be used as a nutrient rich tea shared with friends and family to celebrate their coming to adulthood, and sometimes even the village as a whole joins.
A young and foolish Eukarian seeking to challenge a Adhark alone after becoming inspired by the stories of his elders. Illustration by Allan Gower
Concept animal studies depicting what H.S. Crow may have saw in his journey to Caligo. Illustrated by Karlee Ludvik.
The Adharks are heavily based on the Triceratops, an extinct dinosaur I loved as a child. I wanted to shed light on these amazing creatures by seeing how they may have evolved if they had survived within Caligo. Thanks to Karlee, I managed to see them come to life. Want to learn more about the creators? Click the info buttons.
H.S. Crow has literary works appearing in all mediums of entertainment with a focus on fantasy, science fiction, and horror. He is an author traversing the breathtaking Caligo, a vast universe containing our dreams and nightmares. Notable books include Lunora and the Monster King, Stars of Glass, & the upcoming Drums of Fog.