The intelligence of the mafupa bruje is comparable to that of great apes, and is matched only in the skill with which the creatures use their impressive noses to hunt prey. Although they look like dogs and have large teeth build for crushing bone, brujes are in fact most closely related to mongooses, and often compete with other large carnivores in the Foenaran savannahs. They can track prey for many miles and are not at all averse to eating the corpses of other animals, devouring more of the carcass than most other carnivores their size on account of powerful digestive juices that can dissolve bone. But although they readily scavenge, mafupa brujes get over half of their food by hunting, either alone or in small family groups. When many brujes cooperate, they can bring down prey as large as zebras and wildebeest. The pecking order is established well before the hunt, and somewhat unique among large mammals, bruje packs are dominated by the largest female in the group. This dominant female feeds first, then allows the other females to feed by order of rank, and only once they’ve eaten their fill can the dominant male brujes move in. Pack dominance is also determined in bruje groups at the Keep, though these are often mediated by, and sometimes even include, magi who tend to the creatures.
Brujes are powerful creatures sacred in parts of Foenara, and may be found in the art of many southern towns, including Turril. The largest of their kind, mafupa brujes are closely associated with magic and spells in stories, though the creatures themselves usually possess no magical abilities. Legends tend to depict brujes with a dual nature, being both dark and cunning when they need to be, but also loyal and honorable to the humans they serve. Ancient Foenaran magi are said to have ridden giant mafupa brujes for mounts, and could use their creatures' powerful noses to seek out children with magical skills. According to some stories, these magi would lure the children into the Grass Forest during the full moon and transform them into brujes to do the magi’s bidding. Come the light of dawn, however, the children would return to their human forms, and escape. Some old families still claim to be descended from these beast children, and raise mafupa brujes from cubs to serve as guards for their households.
Sprite art: Tekla | Description: PKGriffin