The Dark Strider is clearly insectoid in origin, having six legs and vestigial wings. However, in many respects its form and temperament are strikingly equine in nature. Indeed, seen at a distance and in dim light, the animal is easily mistaken for a wild horse. It stands approximately eight feet tall (6 ft at the shoulder) -- and when it runs, its gait is best described as a gallop.
The front two legs are sharp spears, much like those of a Praying Mantis. Contrary to appearances, however, the Dark Strider is vegetarian. These frightful weapons are used purely for self-defense and grooming purposes.
Most Dark Striders seem to suffer from parasites -- in particular, a translucent, apple-sized grub known as the "Noub." Noubs attach themselves to the Dark Strider's back, typically behind the vestigial wings, where it is difficult for the skewering front legs to reach.
Noubs are a constant source of irritation, as they emit a high-pitched chirruping whine for hours at a time during the night. This noise poses a serious threat to the Dark Strider: predators are often attracted to the sound. Yet, a strong fight-or-flight response makes the animal difficult prey to fell.
The Dark Strider is native to Romania, but is far-ranging in its travels. Following our successful efforts to tag a Dark Strider with a radio transmitter, my colleagues the Quay Sisters have reported back that the animal seems to have a particular affinity for Czechoslovakia. Perhaps this is an ancestral home, where the species returns to breed -- just as salmon instinctively return to their place of birth.
The Dark Strider is a purely nocturnal creature, only venturing out from its murky forest shelters as twilight ebbs into night. It is extremely solitary for most of the year; however, on occasion, a small group will inexplicably gather together in a moonlit glade. During this meeting -- a "forum" as it has been picturesquely termed -- the animals seem to communicate with each other. The purpose of these gatherings remains a mystery.