The Ranyhyn (not to be confused with runny hen or any other form of smelly poultry with bowel problems) are a breed of magical, intelligent horses capable of many amazing feats, including but not limited to traveling through time, of all things. Despite this jaw-droppingly staggering ability, no Ranyhyn has yet made a trip to the future to get next week's lottery results. They can't be that highly intelligent after all.
Appearance and Habitat
These magnificent beasts stand taller and mightier than humdrum horses, yet still remain incapable of accommodating the bulk of an exhausted, 600-kg Swordmain, excluding the weight of such a delicate maiden's granite armor. White stars mark their foreheads. In general terms their coats follow the hues of regular equines, but the rumour mill keeps grinding out tales about rainbow-colored manes and pink hides as well.
When not being eaten by tentacle monsters or having to listen to Linden's 5,001st assertion about the new Staff of Law being hers, the Ranyhyn spend most of their time on the Plains of Ra, busy with all kinds of horsey habits. They do not elaborate on what this actually entails, but statistics suggest such exciting activities as eating hay, sleeping, and...well...expelling former hay.
The Ranyhyn have vast levels of stamina and thus can run far faster and far longer than any normal horse. Were organized horse-racing a prevalent sport in the Land, there'd be some serious opportunities for multiple highly lucrative betting coups. However, when the Ranyhyn do eventually near the end of their resources, they can be revived by feeding on a rare flower called amanibhavam which instantly and notably revitalizes them. (The author would probably describe this effect as "roborant" or "salvific", but then again, he's a weirdo who's swallowed a dictionary). Anyhow, such is the efficacy of amanibhavan in giving the great horses renewed supernal strength and making them ignore any previously sustained injury that several have opined that it's a naturally-occurring version of PCP or angel dust.
Among their many qualities, the Ranyhyn have immense courage, fearing nothing on the face of the earth - nothing that is, except Horrim Carabal, the Lurker of the Lifeswallower swamp, a huge and malign octopoidal being (a bit like a really pissed Squiddly Diddly), for reasons that will soon become clear.
As intelligent as they undoubtedly are, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Ranyhyn have their own form of religion. They venerate the original Ranyhyn stallion, Kelenbhrabanal, father of horses and leader of the first Ranyhyn herd. The fact that they do so is a little unusual, since intellectually speaking, Kelenbhrabanal was not the brightest of lightbulbs.
In the Land's earliest ages, Lord Foul, being his typical unpleasant self, sent hordes of kresh, outsized yellow wolves to harry the Ranyhyn herds. In an effort to bargain for the end of the conflict, Kelenbhrabanal was talked into playing a game of life or death poker with the Despiser (incidentally known on the Plains of Ra as both Fangthane and The Grey Slayer... just how many passports does Lord Foul hold?). This was never going to be a particularly good plan, since a) Lord Foul is a consummate cheat and b) it's really hard to keep your hand hidden when all you've got to hold it is hooves. Sure enough, Kelenbhrabanal quickly lost and accepted his fate, presenting his throat to be rent out by the Lurker - Lord Foul's ally at the time and the only being puissant enough to end the life of such a mighty creature. Kelenbhrabanal, who must have been as dumb as a sack of spanners, expected in dying that the Despiser would keep his side of the bargain and call off his kresh, but needless to say, Lord Foul promptly and gleefully reneged. Hello... the clue's in his name.
The Ranyhyn hold a secret ritual once a year where they venerate the memory of Kelenbhrabanal. This is called the Horse Rite and is basically an equine version of a rave (note for the Ravers: sue! or infiltrate, or both ~Lord Foul), where the great horses bedeck themselves in neon-coloured vests with attached glowsticks and run round and round a mystical lake to the eldritch throbbing of Paul Oakenfold trance music.
A human race called the Ramen (not a type of noodle) devotedly serve the Ranyhyns' every need. The former either worship the latter or have taken the concept of a giddy adolescent pony girl way WAY too seriously, even inserting nickering sounds into their laughter. The Ramen have never dreamt of being presumptuous enough to ride a Ranyhyn since they pretty much consider themselves the great horses' butlers. However, in The Third Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, things change.
The great horses will deign to accept riders, but anyone willing to do so must journey to the Plains and
humbly present themselves for consideration. Wearing a butcher's apron and brandishing a meat cleaver or cracking off-colour jests about glue or dogfood will not aid said person in their quest. Nobody knows why the Ranyhyn will choose certain individuals as their riders, yet refuse others apparently equally qualified. However, to date, no member of the haruchai has ever been refused by the great horses. Maybe they're secretly avid Bruce Lee fans?
The Ranyhyn are summoned by means of three whistles that form the first three bars of the 'Black Beauty' theme tune. In semi-spooky fashion, they will invariably reach their chosen riders within minutes of said whistles being given, no matter how far away they may be to start with. It is clear that these talented creatures have the innate ability to gallop through unsung rifts in the space-time continuum in order to achieve this.
Once selected by a Ranyhyn, such is their skill that it is impossible for a rider to fall off its mount - even if one has the inner balance of an epileptic on amphetamines.
Despite this guaranteed surety, Covenant adamantly refuses to ride a Ranyhyn. Either this is due to his fear of mounting it backwards or the sheer indignation of straddling an upgraded My Little Pony. Mind you, he eventually summons up enough courage to mount and/or straddle Linden and you'd think that, as an experience, that'd just have to be far FAR worse.
Ties to Equestria
All through the multiverse, various types of sapient horses keep frequent, friendly contact with one another,
whether it be rainbow-farting love unicorns or Princess Celestia and her underlings. Rarity has developed a few fashion lines for the appearance-conscious fillies and mares of the Land. Styles vary from traditional monochromatic nightblankets to amanibhavam-patterned afternoon saddles. Brightly colored horseshoes, a tender shade of lilac coated with glitter as the most desirable option, have become a true trend during the past few years.