A Bestiary of Gushémal

Section 2: Beastly Races

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Table of Contents


Section I: Sapient Races

Section II: Beastly Races



“The traveler should beware the crustmaw as one of the cunning hunters of the desert. It consists of little more than a wide maw and powerful legs like pillars that allow the crustmaw to cover dozens of feet in a single leap. If one sees the body of a crustmaw lying dead in the sand, it is impossible to associate the word cunning with these creatures. After all, there is little beside jumping and eating that a crustmaw can do, isn’t there?

“The bitter truth is, absolutely, for a crustmaw has a very long tongue with which it spreads saliva all over its dark skin. Then it rolls about in the sand. Enough of the sand will cling to the skin to create a ‘crust’ that only close inspection can distinguish from the other dunes. And such close inspection inevitably proves fatal, for an eight feet wide, fast maw leaves no alternative. But the crustmaw doesn’t rely on silly humans stepping right in front of it, since its legs give it a very wide reach of attack.

“There is little the journeyman can do to guard from a crustmaw attack. Only the smell can prove an early indication that one of the creatures is in the area. Often, though, the crustmaw will place itself so the wind blows in the opposite direction, masking it sufficiently until the victim steps into reach.”

Anan Rotisiv
Of the oasis Siddig
Elfadil Desert


“Crustmaws are solitary creatures. They do not possess any clearcut territories but range freely across the desert. Nonetheless they clearly do not like each other, for the encounter between two crustmaws will always end in a vicious fight to the death. In this they leap at each other and try to place a deadly bite on the opponent. It usually takes three or four of such attacks before one succumbs. I have witnessed one fight of this kind, and the victor of the fight only survived the loser by a few hours. A grueling sight it was; the victor bleeding profusely, but still it devoured the loser’s body completely.

“Which leads me to mention the taste of crustmaws. Being a scholar intent on gathering as many experiences as possible, I have made the mistake of trying the crustmaw’s meat. Rarely have I had such a vile taste in my mouth! Admittedly, the sandmen will occasionally feast on the flesh. In my personal opinion this is probably more of a celebration of a heroic victory rather than a delicious meal.

“Most of the predatory animals of the Elfadil desert share my dislike, by the way. A sandtrap will hold steady when a crustmaw waddles over it; I have heard of one occasion when a crustmaw slept safely on a sandtrap, both of the camouflage hunters ignoring each other.

“The only exception are the desert dragons. They do hunt and eat crustmaws, yet they always remove the crust of sand and spit first, in a very ingenious way. The attacking dragon will fly a pass over the crustmaw, clasp it with its claws and fight the struggling creature to a height of some fifty feet at least. There the dragon releases its claws, the crustmaw drops to the ground, and the impact will shake clear the crust. Should a first attempt not suffice to clear the crustmaw of its coat, the dragon will repeat the procedure as often as necessary, before it will commence to eat its prey.”

Lestrovar the Wise
Imperial Palace at Sirap, Ibrollene