>The Burrowing Conquerers, or Helleautaurides as they call themselves, are creatures of the underworld.
A fully-grown Helleautauride looks like a human child on the left side of its body, a zebra on the right (children of this species look like a human fetus on the left side and a zebra fetus on the right).
They walk on all fours, but sit human-style, allowing them to manipulate objects using their left hand (and to a lesser extent their left foot).
Their nickname comes from their habit of digging a hole in the ground and then burying themselves in order to sleep. They are most comfortable doing so in areas shaded by trees, implying that they may have originated on the surface.
The ‘conquerer’ in their name may be a sarcastic reference to their small size and awkward frame. The name may refer to their mercantile skill, which has meant that they are spread throughout the underworld (they are particularly fond of trading clocks). It may also refer to their domination of the Bright Peacocks. They are most reluctant to risk their lives, but may be dangerous if cornered – especially since a blow from their fists may cause a wizard to forget spells, or rob magic items of their virtues.
>The Bright Peacocks, or Uneoblepases, are robots built to resemble giant bats, and painted all over with bright colours, somewhat like tropical birds. They stand about seven feet high. They serve the Burrowing Conquerers as guards.
The creature is easily commanded by one who masters the right tone of voice, and it is theorised that they were built by an unknown race, and simply ‘adopted’ by the Conquerers.
>There is a certain river, slow and winding, without rapids or even many deep places, which nonetheless oft runs red with blood.
It is rumoured that there is a creature, one Bashar Hob, who is responsible for all these deaths. It is said to be a crocodile, impossibly large, intelligent and ancient.
Whether Bashar Hob exists, and if it exists whether it be a natural or magical creature, is not known.
Though it is forbidden, there are rumours that Bashar Hob may be placated with certain rituals.
Some say that those who perform these rituals have turned to human sacrifice, that if Bashar Hob ever existed it has long departed, and thus that those who pretend to stand against the tide of broken boats and corpses are in truth its authors.
>These beings are embodiments of the attitudes of a particular civilisation. Whether they are cause or effect is unknown.
They sometimes survive the death of their people. This only happens when the important places of their civilisation are not occupied by a new group.. In this case they do not leave the location of their former civilisation, but can influence passers-by. Thus a traveller may find themselves moved to sadness by the sight of a particular ruin, as if remembering it in its days of glory, and longing to see them again.
In extreme cases the traveller may have dreams in which they find themselves in a past they never knew, and yet feel themselves to have returned home. They may even gain hints as to where particular treasures, particularly technology and important religious artifacts, may be found. For this last reason, some adventurers will tolerate or even encourage the presence of these spirits.
Some say that Age-Spirits are invisible. Others say that they can choose to appear as an idealised representation of their civilisation. Thus the Age-Spirit of America, for example, might appear as the late Mr Lincoln, an eagle, or as Liberty; while that of England might appear as a lion, or King Arthur.
>The Lions Awakened are a group of bandits who live in the forest and attack those who destroy nature. They are led by a druid priestess, Inconvenient Ruth.