Section I: Sapient Races
Section II: Beastly Races
“Good eatin’ them thymbairs are, good eatin’, lemme tellya. One of’em is big enough to feed an entire tribe for a month. Just take a look at ‘em thirty feet tall critters, an’ ya can’t help feelin’ the juices run in yer mouth. By Keshmire, that’s the kinda catch ya live for!
“Awright, so it’s mighty hard t’kill ‘em. Tough skin, an’ such a lot of target… Hittin’ the heart or the brains, that’s the sign of a real warrior. Ehh, then there’s also the part ‘bout avoidin’ ‘em tusks of ‘em critters. One of’em sliced up half my side ‘bout two years gone by, an’ I can still feel the scars. Took the shaman three weeks to get me back on my feet, but, heh, Chief Zechyll had a pound of the beast’s heart spared for me. Tastiest stuff I ever ate, even though it was salty like ya wouldn’t believe it.
“By the way, I also wear the skin of that very thymbair today. See, the vest, the boots, the breeches. Hah! Ain’t no thymbair around that I let get away with slicin’ up Brakkard of the Araysal!”
[Note by Lestrovar: “Poor Brakkard died only two months after our conversation, ironically during the hunt of a thymbair. It is said that the remains – few as there were – were wrapped in a piece of thymbair skin and buried at the site of his death.”]
“One of the most interesting species I have ever encountered, the thymbairs are. While the adults are a majestic size, ranging well over thirty feet in shoulder height, the young are – at best – one foot long, and just minimally faster than the lumbering adults.
“Thymbairs are probably related to the elephants of the distant north, yet I often wonder how their ancestors found their way into the chilly abode of Robhovard. They share similar features, such as the highly mobile trunk and the tusks at the front, as well as the overall shape. The differences, though, are also numerous. So their bodies are covered with thick, brownish fur that changes to a more yellowish tone at the head of the male. (The more yellow the color, the higher the standing of a male in the herd appears to be. Among the barbarian savages of the south, though, it is said that the more yellow the color, the better the taste.) Their tusks are a good deal longer and more wickedly curved; some individuals actually have barbs at the ends of their tusks – as if the powerful thrust of one of these creatures weren’t enough to disembowel anyone. Lest it be forgotten, the tail of an adult thymbair has also grown to a remarkable size, serving as an odd counterweight to the enormous mass of the head. The tail is deceptively immobile under ordinary circumstances, raised high in the air so as to maintain a perfect balance of the creature; under attack it can prove very fast, and the impact of a tail more than two feet thick cannot be underestimated.
“Although many would call thymbairs forest-dwellers, I believe this to be a very much misleading description. It only applies to the young that, once hatched from their eggs, scurry (rather slowly) to the underbrush of a nearby forest, trying to seek its protection. There they eat whatever leaves are in their reach, bushes and such mostly. At their laughable size already they consume an enormous amount of food per day, necessary for their fast growth.
“Still, a young thymbair is about the easiest target that any predator can dream of. A slow moving prey, with juicy flesh, and next to no defense at all. Hardly a surprise that the average litter of a female thymbair counts more than a hundred eggs. Of those one hundred, perhaps a single thymbair will grow up to be an adult – and not even that is assured. Most of the eggs are eaten by scavengers who dig them out of the ground they’re buried in, never in fear of an angry mother attacking them. Thymbairs, after all, are nomadic creatures wherefore the mother usually is at least a mile or two away from her nest.
“It does not mean, I wish to stress, that thymbairs have a low regard for their young. In their herds, the younger individuals – once they have joined up – are always protected by their elders. Yet no thymbair can afford to stay in one place for more than two or three days, which is a result of their feeding methods. I shall elaborate on that later.
“The young grow up comparatively fast. At six months of age, they already measure three feet in shoulder height and begin having problems moving about the forest ground and finding shelter to hide. There are still many predators lusting after their flesh, a fact that will not change for years. It is around this time that most of the hatchlings are killed and eaten. Defenseless, they are the easy prey that any predator dreams of. Including of course the sapient species of our world. Haven’t we all heard of those three pound thymbair steaks that are regularly served up in the south? And in Sirap, Ibrollene’s mighty capitol, there are not few restaurants which are always well stocked in thymbair meat. (Normally the flesh of the young ones, of course.)
“It takes a young thymbair some two years to reach a shoulder height of seven feet, which corresponds to an overall length of a goodly twenty feet, and a weight in excess of eight tons. By this time the smaller predators stay well away from these creatures for they have now grown their first tusks, a formidable defense – provided the predator is in their reach. At no point in their long lives are the thymbairs quick to move; their tusks can slaughter any attacker to their front, but turning around to deter an attacker at their hindside is nigh impossible. Therefore the thymbairs always try to form small herds as soon as possible, traveling always in such a way that each back is covered by the front of another thymbair.
“By this time they are also large enough to cause considerable damage to the forest area they live in. To support their enormous mass – and growth -, they require large amounts of foliage each day. Small trees are completely devoured, bushes vanish, and larger trees have their bark stripped off and any lower leaves eaten. (It appears a miracle that the forest easily survives an assault by thymbairs. In fact, after three or four years the same place looks more densely covered, the plants seem healthier.)
“Perhaps the reader will by now be able to deduce why the mother is unable to care for her young. The adult is about four to five times taller, which corresponds to a mass of more than sixty times that of the two-year-old. It cannot possibly live in a forest! An adult thymbair that walks into a forest will uproot any and all trees it approaches (consuming the foliage and not a little bit of the wood), thus destroying the forest!
“And thus a mother protecting her young would inevitably remove the forest that serves as the most sensible defense that the hatchlings can find.
“A herd of adult thymbairs is constantly in motion, moving from one forest to the next (and leaving no forest at all behind them, until it regrows in time). Mostly a herd numbers about twenty individuals, comprising both males and females of varying age. There is not much information as to how old a thymbair can get, but there are tales about individuals – identified by certain patterns of scars – that must have spanned more than five decades. More common, I would assume, is an age of some twenty to thirty years.
“As mentioned before, the younger members of the herd – between the age of six and twelve – always travel in the center, protected by the adults. The only adults allowed into the center are pregnant females.
“Otherwise there is no particular order during travel. A chain of authority can easily be established, though, when the herd comes upon a swathe of forest, and the dominant male and female will get the first bite, before the herd spreads out into a semi-circle and cuts its destructive path through the trees.”