Section I: Sapient Races
Section II: Beastly Races
“Bowlers, the blessing of any who journey through the Elfadil desert! A source of water where none should be found, nourishment where little is offered.
Thus called because of their shape, the bowlers are of a green tinge, their skin is hard and covered with tiny thorns. Halfway along the bowl, tentacles grow to find a hold in the sandy ground. These tentacles are not roots, for the plant’s roots grow inside the bowl, bright green tongues lapping in a watery pool. The water is not clear, but contains many tiny organisms that look like the crabs of the sea, according to tales I have heard. Covering and closing the bowl, there is a thin layer of translucent membrane which is always directed at the sun. This is also where the water originates, condensated into droplets at the membrane and then gathered in the bowl below.
Ah, it is no surprise that many a poem has been written about the bowlers. Should you find that you have misguessed the amount of water to carry through the desert, you can always rely on a nearby bowler to slake your thirst. Of course, the liquid content of a bowler would never suffice in less dire circumstances. For that it tastes too stale, the crimson divers’ (or desert krill’s, as the foreigners call them) shells are too rough. Sometimes there might be small bowler seedlings swimming in the water, in that case the water is enriched by added fluids – and tastes abominable. It is quite nourishing, though.
To call the bowlers’ water desert ambrosia is very misleading, though I can attest that many inhabitants of the desert and its oases use the term to trick newcome travelers. I also have to say it is always amusing to see the greedy eyes of these strangers light up at the chance to acquire the desert ambrosia – and their shock when they taste it!
Bowlers can often be found rolling freely through the desert, their tentacles drawn close to the body. They rarely stay in the same place for more than a few hours, perhaps to avoid predators – not only humans have discovered the life-giving water they contain. One has to breach the membrane on top to drink from the plant, and then the bowler will inevitably die.
This, by the way, is what happens when the seedlings are old enough to be spread. The membrane splits open, the next generation spills onto the sand and begins their life cycle anew.”