The Travel Worms
You ever been eaten lad? Ever seen the sliver of light close before your eyes as you stepped into the waiting maw of a creature so much larger than you, that even the belief of survival is swallowed with you? No? Well, then you're in for a treat. See these worms, you don't know about the worms? The only way to get around the desert is by worm. They have these mouths, see, with space inside enough for a few dozen people. They don't eat people unless they lose a handlers control. Why the face? Its just being eaten, after a while you almost start to look forward to it.
The aptly named, Travel worms, are a staple of the societies in the Hestrian Desert. Outside the contained traveling roads of the Imperial lands, the only way to traverse the sands is within one of two ways. Through caravans guarded by dozens and dozens of Soldiers armed to the teeth, led by a member of the local church. Or to take the far superior, far faster, Travel Worm.
A staple of the lands, the Giant Sand Worm has a digestive reliance on pockets of condensed sands. They move through the sands and devour the large chunks, placing them into a central cavity in their body directly after the mouth. There are holes in the sides of the cavity that act like gills, only in appearance however. In reality, the gill like structures allow for the less condensed pieces of sand to be filtered out as it travels, and the natural motion draws in the harder substances for it to eat.
A combination of ritual training and natural good fortune mix to make the Travel Worm a viable option. The beasts are rather docile and don't often attack people, they have little desire to eat meat and even less ability to digest it, therefore they object to devouring whole cities, unless by accident. As it happened, several of the Church of Coleopics had come across the strange beasts and became friends with them, learning of their digestive ways, they developed a plan to magically condense locations of sand for the creatures, in exchange for the assistance in trasnporting people around. Most agree to the option, some don't.
When I started this article I did not consider that the worms had any level of intelligence! Super cool, I love the intro excerpt because man being eaten for travel reasons doesn't seem like a choice to make lightly. XD
I love this idea. The creatures themselves, and the fact that people had developed this crazy but efficient system.