Wednesday 14 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #165: Magnificent Elands

 Nine hexes north, four northeast of Alakran.


Continuing our survey of the main antelope species of the region, the Hills of Hama hold a population of wild elands, from which the chariot beasts of Shasari have been bred in captivity. Every few years there is a hunt to bring back a few of the more magnificent females alive and refresh the gene pools of the stables. Two herds are known, each numbering over 200 beasts, but there is also a 50% chance that an encounter will be with a solitary older male.

The tallest and oldest-tamed breed, elands are found also in the armies of Nabatu and, to a lesser extent, in the Urig ranks. Their coat is short and beige, with the more prized breeds having russet overtones on the shoulder. Their black horns point backwards in a straight, tight spiral. The trend in recent centuries towards lighter chariots suitable for hunting as well as warfare has told against eland. This is true in Dulsharna, where the Royal companies moved towards more sport-friendly animals while the backwater Shasari province kept to the old ways. Nonetheless, elands denote a certain gravitas, and the kings of Wahattu and Pungatan also each keep a guard of eland charioteers. 

In previous years when Dulsharna was more stable, serving in the chariot companies of Shasari was considered a stepping stone to the more prestigious posting in the ranks of the Kings. If one had mastered the large and forceful eland, the reasoning went, the lighter impalas and gemsboks of the Royal companies should be no problem at all.

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