The elven sand-ships, or Da'Janah are marvels that those who have not seen them scarcely believe that such things exist. These light weight vessels of sun-bleached timber and bone cut through the sands of the Northern Desert as easily as more conventional vessels do the waves of the oceans. These single-masted, lateen-rigged affairs sit low in the sand-sea. Rudder driven, they signal one another with massive gongs mounted on the aftcastles, and the main decks are laden with the goods of their owner. Often the front of the vessel will have a vicious looking ram, used not only for ramming sand-pirates, but also for killing the massive, coiled sand-dragons that rest just beneath the surface of the sand - to gather more bones.


The building of a da'janah is a special, and highly ritualized process for elf tribes. The tribe will come together at one of the great exposed stone depressions that riddle the desert, where tribes have built their ships for generations, and bring together all the wood, bone, silk and other material they have gathered to build one of the marvels. This is a time for togetherness, when the tribe feasts, celebrates, and many marriages are agreed upon or celebrated, and tales of the tribe's history and myths are shared. The last step is for every elf involved in the construction to carve their names in its hull planks; most simply etch into the wood, while more important elves add expensive inks to colour it, and the most honoured elders, and the chief shipwright apply molten silver and gold. When the da'janah is finished the elves feast and celebrate again, before setting off to fill it with goods - for an empty da'janah is considered a very unlucky thing. A large tribe might have a single large da'janah, and up to a dozen smaller vessels carrying their goods, forming a formidable desert flotilla.

Myth: the Resplendent Ma'Da'Janah Which, Giantlike, Bestrides Both Sand and Sea

Once there was a prince amongst elves, named Ebunar. He was wise and handsome, though proud, and his tribe was very rich. Ebunar had many suitors and would-be brides, but none could capture his attention and impress him enough to win his affections. One who sought to run the parallel path of life through the dunes with Ebunar was Melcior, the captain of a fleet of sand-ships, a prosperous and far-travelled merchant and explorer. Melcior presented herself at Ebunar's camp with many gifts, and regaled him with stories of the dunes she had traversed, the strange lands she had visited and the marvellous adventures she had had. But Ebunar was not impressed. There were many captains who sailed the desert, he said; what had she done that was so extraordinary?

Melcior went away, musing on this, and decided to sell her sand-ships in exchange for a flotilla of sailing vessels. She took to the seas, braving Hal'Ashan's typhoons, corsairs, mountains of ice and the fearsome soaring sharks of the Tradewind Ocean. Melcior returned with tales more miraculous than ever before, and treasures more remarkable still. But Ebunar was not impressed. There were many captains who mastered the sea, he said; surely any number of them could match her stories and loot?

Melcior went away again, wondering what, if anything, would impress the haughty prince. She thought about what he said, and pondered if there were any captains who had mastered both the sand and sea… in the same vessel? She could think of none.

So Melcior ventured to the Sea of Salt, where land and water come together, and pooled much of her wealth in order to commission a ship unlike any other. It would be neither Ma'Janah or Da'Janah - it would be both, capable of riding on dunes and waves alike. The hull alone was twice the length of any other ship ever built, its planks fashioned from the wood of a great Archon of the dryads. Its runners were diamonds mined from the heart of the Shaange Mountains by blind dwarven monks who listened for the resonance of the jewels. The nails that held it together were not steel, but the fangs of [[atavgars |trolls]]], and the sails were silk woven by Xuiche, the Empress Spider of the Goblinfens. It was the work of years, and when finally done every worker was permitted to inscribe their names in silver; the engineers in gold; the chief shipwright in platinum; and Melcior herself added her name in pure scyntium, paying a sorcerer's ransom to have spells of speed and steady-course laid into the vessel. She anointed the ship //the Resplendent Ma'Da'Janah Which, Giantlike, Bestrides Both Sand and Sea. A name not half as grand as the ship it described.//

Melcior took the Resplendent on its maiden voyage. It left the gantries with billowing sails, hull cutting the briny sea with ease. It crossed the Sea of Salt in record time, and without pause reared up on the far shore - its glimmering runners skimming over the sand as smooth as a razor. For all its size and finery the Resplendent danced, bringing joy to the hearts of every elf who watched its progress across the Northern Desert and the Bay of Corsairs. Melcior smiled, sure that this wonder would awe even Ebunar. And it did, though he never saw it in person. For a great dragon looked up and saw the Resplendent passing above, and its eyes were caught by the glittering names, the smooth white planks, the troll-ivory nails and the shining sails. It coiled up around the huge and beautiful ship, dragging it down with all hands, to the sound of Melcior's bitter laughter. A reminder that the wilds are greater and more terrible than any work of craft and ambition.

The fate of the Resplendent is unknown. Some say it sank in the sea; some in the sand. There are ten-thousand conflicting tales of its location, and as many mad-eyed treasure hunters seeking it. As for Ebunar, all agree Azaid's judgement fell on him for his pride causing the death of so daring and accomplished an elf as Melcior. Some stories say he was turned into water or sand and placed over the Resplendent's final resting place; others that he was chased into the depths of the desert, set to flight forever by monsters sent by Azaid to punish him.