The mossparden is one of the most well known of all elven-cultivation type creatures. It’s not the strongest or the strangest and it’s not the most beautiful or the most intelligent one, but among those practicing cultivation it is the most popular one.
The reason for its popularity is that its genetic code makes it very receptive to modification while still maintaining its strengths. New traits can be cultivated and stabilized within a handful of generations; something that could potentially take millennia to achieve when starting from scratch using evolved animals.
Naturally, this ease of modification is a source of some controversy among cultivators. Purists argue that using mossparden for breeding is cheating and that doing so is damaging the art of cultivation. On the other side there are those who argue that the traditional methods are already well known and established and that building on the mossparden work enables a breeder to try new an interesting methods. Others yet argue that using mossparden allows younger elves to catch up on the work of much older elves, keeping the art alive and revitalizing it by allowing others to get into it easily.
Despite the controversy the popularity of the mossparden is undisputable and there are both man and varied versions of it in existence among the breeders of the world. There are also several different types of mossparden existing in the wild and there are museums showing off different versions of the animals – both the miserable failures and the triumphant successes.
The mossparden come in several versions and appearances and while the basic animal itself has been enhanced over the millennia it has existed it has retained the same basic shape and appearance.
The body is largely humanoid but the creature moves with the grace of a feline and while it can walk upright on its hind legs it prefers to run on all four. It’s head is round and sits on a short neck further accentuating its humanoid appearance. The head is adorned with two short horns and a large snout.
The animal also sports a long thin prehensile tail. The tail isn’t strong enough to carry the animal itself but it can be used to hold and pick up lose objects.
Both the hands and the feet have long fingers and opposable thumbs, making the creature a great climber.
The animal has a short slick fur that is either dark brown or bluish black. The insides of the hands lack fur and the fur on the back of the head grows longer on both males and females providing a sort of mane.
A fully-grown mossparden stands slightly taller than an average human when upright (horns not counted) but prefers to sit on its haunches when at rest.
The mossparden is thought to be roughly on the same level as the chimpanzee when it comes to intelligence. It can use tools and understands group hierarchy and can cooperate with others of its kind when hunting.
The animal has no language of its own and does not have the vocal capabilities required for speech. However, it can learn the meaning of words and can build a limited vocabulary of sign language with the right training.
In its basic form the mossparden is carnivorous, and while it can be aggressive when provoked (especially if hungry) or when guarding cubs it is generally not considered a dangerous animal. Breeders are able to enter holding pens and walk among large numbers of their animals without risk to life and limb.
The mossparden is a social creature and thrives in a pack environment, especially while in captivity. Mosspardens isolated in captivity suffer eating disorders and develops a self-destructive behavior. The creature is not suitable as a pet.
In the wild individual mossparden have been known to voluntarily depart from the pack and to thrive in solitude. However, as the animal primarily exists in captivity for breeding it has not been widely studied in the wild.
The animal can be migratory, but are generally territorial, especially when living together in a pack. Packs of animals that have escaped or set free will usually remain in the area or even return back to their holding pens to spend the night.
Isolated individuals have been known to travel large distances over land, often going back and forth between different locations in a cycle that sometimes takes years to complete.
Work on the mossparden originally started roughly nine thousand years ago. The original idea wasn’t to create a base for breeding but something entirely different and now irrelevant. It wasn’t until some two thousand years later that the breeder; Emylune Marigold-Rainsong, a fifth-generation elf, discovered that the evolution of some of her animals had become significantly more rapid than what it had previously been, but with very few of the negative side effects often associated with rapidly changing gene structures.
This spawned the idea of mossparden as a foundation for breeding and cultivation. As the original creature had evolved beyond what would be a suitable base much of the work had to be redone and revisited. Fortunately Marigold-Rainsong was the type of breeder who’d kept very detailed records of everything she’d done, but the process still took time. Thanks to the records a lot of unnecessary steps could be skipped though and in just over a millennium the mossparden were bred into what they were now intended to be, a platform for further breeding.
Nowadays much of the work on the mossparden revolves around maintaining the species as unchanged as possible; as it turns out not a trivial task. Several herds of animals in development have been set up and are in various different stages of evolution into mossparden. The process has been sped up significantly in the modern day and it now takes less than half a millennium to get from the evolved animals (deer, monkeys, pumas and badgers among others) into fully developed mossparden.
While much of the cultivation process is common knowledge these days some of the more crucial steps remain closely guarded secrets, only performed by Marigold-Rainsong herself. Other breeders have tried to copy or reproduce the process or tried to cultivate their own base platforms. Some have come close but none have succeeded in bringing forth a creature as genetically flexible as the mossparden.
Usage and controversyEdit
The original idea behind elven cultivation is that it is a form of art; a way of pursuing and expressing a vision and making a statement, or just as art for the sake of art. Naturally this raises the question of what art is, but that’s a discussion for another time and place.
The creation of the mossparden challenged the idea that cultivation was simply a pastime for eccentric immortals whiling away the millennia. It’s still not a hobby for mere mortals, but it’s now feasible to evolve animals for specific uses and purposes.
Being reasonably intelligent mossparden can be bred and trained for performing tasks too advanced for normal farm cattle. Examples of such tasks are the farming of fruits, berries and mushrooms. There are also cultivated versions of the animal used for carrying messages. They’re slower than using pigeons, but can be used to run messages back and forth between multiple locations. This has proven to be very useful when settling new territory in previously uninhabited lands.
Attempts have also been made to cultivate mossparden for use as soldiers or in military operations. These attempts met with some success at first, but after it was found that the cultivated mossparden were unable (or unwilling) to differentiate between military personnel and civilians as well as hard to control the experiments stopped – at least officially. This resulted in significant controversy and criticism, both of elven cultivation in general and of mossparden and Emylune Marigold-Rainsong in particular. That’d why nowadays anyone who purchases a new set of mossparden for breeding will have to sign contracts in which hey agree not to breed the creatures for violent purposes or military use.
Ending on a more positive note one of the more successful artistic productions of mossparden cultivation should be mentioned. The Dancing Ellenas is a group of mossparden-based creatures bred for dancing. They have an exceptional sense of rhythm and melody and are able to dance beautifully both singly and in groups; even to music they’ve never heard before. The Dancing Ellenas are mainly used in performances or paid audiences but are occasionally put out on dance floors as a sort of interactive decorations at high-profile clubs or raves.