South of the Heavy Sea and north of the Sullen Sea,lies the shimmering and shifting sand dunes of the Great Dessert. It is through this harshly beautiful landscape of sand storms,wind sculpted red-stone formations and lush oasis that the great steam powered railroads and trade routes on which the trade of the Hundreds relies heavily,pass through on their way to the distant markets that await the merchants and traders travelling through them.
The Great Dessert is also home to the unruly and rambunctious Daharvati that frequently ambush and rob the trade trains carrying precious cargo and bullion. Apart from the inhabitants of the bizarre wandering city of Zazi that roams eternally through the wastes of the dessert on its hundreds of huge steam powered legs,these non-human folk are the only inhabitants of this wasteland. Organized into dozens of tribes and clans,the Daharvati are known as the 'Sand Raiders' or 'Dune People' by the people of the Hundred.
The Daharvati bear a striking resemblance to large kangaroos forced to breed with apes by some deranged scientist. Though they have the powerful back legs and slender muzzle of a kangaroo,the elongated hairy arms that sprout from either side of their powerful,rounded chests are distinctly simian,as are their broad intelligent foreheads and the little pink rounded ears found on the sides of their heads. And their large brown eyes gleam with a sometimes ferocious intelligence that one would never see in the peepers of a kangaroo. Their pelts are also an eye catching contrast,with the fur growing on their lower halves a short,dun brown,and the one covering their arms,chest and legs,being a much thicker,somewhat matted black.
The relationship and vast differences of personality between the male and female Daharvati make their society an interesting engima.
Males are a little larger than females are by far,the more aggressive and ill tempered. Extremely quick to violence,they are cursed with the twin burdens of a violent disposition and a tendency to get easily startled or unsettled. This would generally mean that spooking or upsetting a male Daharvati in any way would be a very bad idea,since all it takes is a simple 'boo!'' to get him in a fine old homicidal mood. The teen years are especially trying for a young male Daharvati as that is when his temper seems at it's worst,flaming up over the most trivial matters. During that period,only their fathers can keep them in check with a glancing blow or two.
Females by contrast,are very cool headed and level. Though smaller,they assume most of the leadership positions in the tribe,due to their ability to keep their heads in any crisises. This gives them the ability to command and keep the wild males in check who would otherwise kill themselves off. It would seem odd that the smaller females are able to keep such a firm grip on the larger,more physically powerful males. But those who know anything about the Daharvati,can tell you that females by far are the better fighters,thanks to their discipline and the poison secreting spurs protruding from their hind legs that only they possess. Even the most quarrelsome male will try his best not to make a female mad.
The rank and age of a female can be divined from the wide swath of silver fur running down their backs. This is something that females develop as they grow older and the most senior and high ranking ones have the widest streaks of silver.
Daharvati females are egg bearing and lay a single large egg about the size of a football,a few days after mating with the most robust male who proves himself to her by defeating his rivals in a brutal slashing match. Her duty as a mother ends there and she leaves the task of nurturing the hatchling to her mate. This is not as disastrous as it sounds. Despite their savage temperament,most male Daharvati are loving parents that keep their newly hatched infant safe in a loose fold of skin hanging from their bellies,called a pouch,until they grow big enough to wander on their own without supervision.
The Daharvati are nomads that wander through the dessert endlessly,stopping only at oasis to water their herds of great,shaggy Mustang,animals that resemble giant yaks with four legs and a long,spiked tail. In the interest of avoiding uneccessary warfare among themselves,most Daharvati tribes have decided to share the use of these oasises,though fights and Mustang snatching raids by young males still happen from time to time. But these occasional lapses are shrugged off by ruling female chieftains that feel young males will always be young males,despite a chieftain's best efforts to rein them in.
It is a pragmatic mentality,one that allows the the Daharvati to focus on more productive fighting:yes,the robbing of some of the less well defended trade trains that chug into the Great Dessert. Though many merchants are well aware of the dangers the Sand Raiders pose and have the foresight to to guard their cargo well,there will always be those too stingy to spend any money on hiring mercenaries to accompany them on their journey into the the Great Dessert. It is these skin-flints that the Daharvati attack. Always they choose to do so under the cover of sand storms,their billowing robes of cured Mustang hide and thick,brush-like eye lashes protecting them from the worst of the flying sand. The more superstitious of the travelers that cross through the Dessert,claim that the Sand Raiders have the ability to whip up sand storms,an ability attributed to to the desert spirits or jinn that their shamans worship.
A Daharvati ambush is truly the stuff of a traveller's bad dreams. A raiding party of male warriors led by a female leader,first dismantle part of the railway,forcing the train to grind to a halt,then wasting no time,begin to attack with a swiftness terrible to behold,slashing with the great curved claws of their back legs at soft human flesh,while discharging cross-bow bolts and lobbing crude bombs simultenously with their dextrous ape-like arms. The execution of the attack is precise and brutal,the female using her authority over the males to keep them from getting too carried away,it being important that the looting of the cargo is done very quickly. Then they vanish back into the sand storm as silently as they emerged.
So hated and reviled are the Daharvati among those whom must travel the Dessert,that that in the unique vocabulary of swear words and slurs these rough merchants and traders use so liberally,the word for 'Sand Raiders' has also come to mean ''bastards'' or ''dirty thief''. To call another merchant one of the 'Sand People', is extremely rude and is seen as a scathing attack on the integrity and character of said merchant.
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? Responses (4)
A truly balanced race. I miss more of their faces though, I have no problem imagining them, but you might want to settle this a little more for the reader. Me like!
At first I was worried that this was going to be another knock=off of the desert dwelling Fremen of Dune, or worse, Tuskan Raiders. Instead I find myself both amused by their unusual yet effective appearance and by the biological aspects of male versus female in their society. Nicely done.
The Daharvati bear a striking resemblance to large kangaroos forced to breed with apes by some deranged scientist
how can you not love that line! :)