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Creatures of the Desert: A Guide for the Foreign Traveller

Buraqi

A horse fashioned out of sand and wind, the Buraqi run wild from one side of the desert to the other. They may appear as black as the sand of a cool desert night or as brilliant red as a bloody dawn over a sand dune.

According to legend, these were the horses of great heroes, who would come willingly to the worthy. The Princess Hawa escaped her tower on the back of a Buraqi, and the mighty warrior of Habbaden rode into battle on a Buraqi who surrendered to him.

These days the wily desert dweller may be able to catch a Buraqi if armed with a wife and enough iron to hold it to a form of flesh. And while it might not make him a hero, it will certainly make him rich.

Djinn

One of God’s First Beings: men made of out of smokeless fire. The true rulers of the desert, their powers are both great and mysterious, even to the mortals who have dedicated a lifetime to their study in the great libraries of Izman. They are known to be both truthful and deceptive, wrathful and unforgiving, generous and loving. The Djinn walk their own paths and sometimes make their fates alongside men, but now more often away from them. Though it is said that they make their homes in mountains and valleys instead of in cities alongside mortals, the Djinn are still enamored of mortal women.

Travellers are warned to not trespass on their domain or disturb them in the desert. And to always be polite to strangers lest they be a Djinni in disguise.

Rocs

The Rocs are hunters in the sky. Great birds the size of palaces that can darken the sun with their wings. To a Roc, a desert traveller would be as a mouse to a hawk. Desert mothers will say that they eat naughty children. Watch the desert sky and do not mistake a passing shadow for a cloud. There are no clouds in the desert – take cover quickly.

Nightmares

A breed of Ghoul that remains in the sands like an infestation, coming out only at night. These creatures stalk sleeping on the wings of a bat, with the maw of a monster. They crouch on a man’s chest to inject him with venom that infects his mind and body, sending him into a terrible sleep. A nightmare will draw out a man’s fear, even his soul, to feed on. Travellers are advised to sleep with one eye open.

Skinwalkers

If the Skinwalkers have a shape their own it has long been forgotten, as they shift their form from that of one victim to another. A Skinwalker is known to devour the flesh of an unsuspecting desert traveller, and then assume his form to prey on the rest of his travelling party. Any man around you in the night could be a Skinwalker. Like all ghouls, they fear the light. So if your travelling companion on a cold desert night won’t come any closer to the fire, beware.