Observations of the Wild Skree
My dear reader,
Ask any experienced explorer and they will immediately tell you not everything
always goes according to plan. Ask that same experienced explorer and he will
also tell you that creation has a way of surprising even the most seasoned,
most traveled of individuals. No explorer, scientist, traveler, or really anyone
can express the depth of what it feels like to be caught in the terrible yet
wonderful situation of being trapped and lost in an unknown wilderness with
inadequate supplies. It is not sufficient to merely imagine the dread in your
stomach when you realize you have no way of escaping your current situation.
What you think you might feel when you finally realize you might not
make it back to civilization and what you truly feel are two entirely
different things. You have to be in the situation for yourself to truly understand
this. Therefore, I do not expect you to fully grasp how wonderful and yet how
dreadful this experience was for me.
When my guide and I made our way into the depths of the Tyrannian jungle, just
beyond the Keno Field, I had anticipated a five-day trek through the jungle,
taking samples, observing Gruslens, Magtiles, Niptors, and other such petpets.
Little did I know that we would find ourselves the victims of a rock-climbing
accident or that I would find myself stranded on a fragile stone shelf on the
easternmost mountain of the Three Peaks (you can see all three mountains from
the Tyrannian Village) for seventeen days. I explain this to you now, dear reader,
because I simply do not trust my retrospective writing skills to recount this
situation. Rather, I will allow you to read for yourself how things unfolded,
as they unfolded. The following is my account of this stranded ‘adventure,’
taken from the pages of my personal journal. I cannot brag about writing everyday;
in the most dire of circumstances one simply does not always have the presence
of mind to do so. The entries focus mainly on the only thing I had to concentrate
on other than my bleak circumstances: a family of skrees living across the valley
from where I was trapped . . .
7th day of Sleeping, Y7 - Keno Field, Tyrannia - Day 1
My guide, a green Ruki named Adahy, and I are preparing to head out into the
jungle. I honestly don’t think five days are going to be enough to accomplish
everything I want, so I think I’m going to have to return again sometime soon.
Working with a guide can be rather annoying, in my opinion. They’re too safety-conscious.
Oil well . . . I suppose that’s good for me, considering I’d probably gash my
knee open and just keep on going if I thought an interesting specimen was nearby.
The main focus of this trip will be hiking up one of the three peaks in the
northwest region of Tyrannia. I’ve heard a few locals tell of amazing plant
life and wildlife up there, and am eager to see it for myself. Hopefully, we’ll
be hiking up the mountain by the day after tomorrow.
8th day of Sleeping, Y7 – Tyrannian Jungle – Day 2
Marched all day through the woods. I’m glad we’re resting now! I was able
to see a few Sauropods again-- what a treat! The way they leap about the trees
is simply amazing to me. I also caught sight of a few Niptors at a distance,
but they were too far away to make any real observations. I could only see them
running to and fro through a clearing. I attempted to make a detour from our
path, but Adahy is reluctant to get too close to Niptors He claims they’re even
more dangerous than Gruslens at close distances, and if the stories he has to
tell concerning the damage Niptors can do to people are true, then I think I’ll
give in to his reluctance and play it safe this time. Perhaps someday I can
figure out a way to get close enough to observe them . . . I’ll put it on my
to-do list. :o)
Other than this, nothing remarkable happened today. There are dark rain clouds
on the horizon, though. Adahy said it would probably rain pretty heavily tomorrow,
but that it shouldn’t hinder our progress in hiking to the Three Peaks.
10th day of Sleeping, Y7 – Easternmost Mountain - Day 4
I’m honestly not sure how to explain what has happened. It would seem everything
that could go wrong did go wrong.
My guide and I reached the Three Peaks yesterday morning. Deciding upon the
easternmost peak, we began hiking through dense foliage, making our way slowly
but surely upwards. Though it rained steadily, that day was everything I could
have imagined, as my observation notebook now had eight new pages of information
in it. We spent the night on the mountain, planning on making it to the summit
the next day (today).
When we got up this morning, the rain had grown much, much heavier.
Adahy had advised we turn back, but after I told him how much this trip meant
to me, I managed to persuade him to keep going. We continued on for awhile without
event until coming to an area where there was very little vegetation. Had it
not been raining, I may have been able to see the other two peaks from there,
but instead all I saw was a great, grey, rainy abyss.
We were about to move on when Adahy and I heard a great rumbling. Now, thinking
back to what happened, I think the rumbling was the sound of part of the mountain
below us giving out. Before we knew it, the ground beneath us was gone, and
we were falling down one of the rockiest sides of the mountain. Everything happened
so fast! I barely had time to brace myself for impact before my body landed
on a hard, gray stone. Dirt and rubble covered me almost completely, and I think
I blacked out for awhile. When I woke up, crawling from the midst of the dirt,
I found myself where I am now. Above me is a rock cliff-face (partially covered
by loose soil), and below me is an extremely steep rock-face. I’m on some sort
of shelf. It’s narrow, barely three meters long, and just over a meter wide.
I can see a mound of rubble at the bottom, probably about a hundred meters below
I can’t find Adahy.
11th day of Sleeping Y7 - Mountain Shelf – Day 5
Three red apples, two tchea fruits, pyramibread, elppa, a faerie beetroot,
and asparagus and leek sandwiches. That’s it. Adahy and I were planning to return
home today, and I was assigned to carry the food, so the above is about two
day’s worth of provisions. Obviously, I’m going to have to ration this if I’m
going to survive up here for any amount of time. Adahy had the tents with him,
so I’m out of luck in that area. Still, I have a few extra clothes in my backpack,
so I guess I can stay warm that way.
There appears to be no feasible way to either climb up the cliff or climb down
to the rubble below. I can’t find any handholds anywhere in the rock – it’s
almost as flat as a wall! Even if I could, I don’t know that I would be able
to climb to safety. I’ve never been particularly fond of rock-climbing.
The rain stopped about four hours ago, but it looks like it’ll start again
soon. Fortunately, part of this ledge is slightly undercut from the mountain,
so I don’t have to be in the rain all the time. I’ve left my mess kit outside
to collect rainwater. Hopefully, help will come soon and I’ll be able to get
off of this ledge! Otherwise . . . I’m not sure what will happen.
13th day of Sleeping, Y7 – Mountain Shelf – Day 7
I just realized today that I’ve lost my observation book. I remember holding
it in my hands when the mountain collapsed, so I must have lost it in the fall.
I know that sounds rather trivial at a time like this, but I had wanted to review
some of the notes I took on day 3. Perhaps by reviewing the petpet’s behavior,
I could have gained some insight into whether or not they can feel disasters
like this coming.
In light of my missing observation book, I’m going to improvise with this journal.
I’m actually much closer to the middle mountain of the Three than I had thought.
I can see the rocky hillside only about fifty meters away. It appears to be
uninhabited, save for two wild skrees. They look quite ferocious to me, having
three long talons on their ‘hands’ and feet, and a hook-shaped beak that appears
extremely sharp. Their colors, however, are quite beautiful despite their gray
surroundings. Both skrees have green-feathered bodies, with purple, blue and
pink-feathered wings, tail, and head. I would say their wingspan is about two
meters, making them rather sizeable birds.
The two skrees have what appears to be a large nest perched on the rocks of
the other mountain, but I can’t see any eggs inside. Above the nest is a large
outcropping of rock, thus shielding it from wind and rain. I wonder if there
are any more skrees in the area . . . I haven’t seen any, but it’s possible
they could be hidden in other clefts in the mountain.
14th day of Sleeping, Y7 – Same Place – Day 8
It’s raining again. If I had a good supply of water, I might consider the rain
a nuisance but, considering my current situation, I’m rather grateful for it.
Nothing else to report on except the Skree couple.
Right now, the pair is feasting on an animal one of them caught. I think it
was the male, but I’m not entirely sure, since the males and females of this
species closely resemble one another. The one I think is the male, however,
has brighter colors and an interesting crest of feathers on his head. This is
typical of male birds. He caught his prey by diving through the air, then pulling
up and grabbing the unfortunate animal at the last moment. Yesterday, I saw
both skrees scavenging through the rubble at the bottom of the valley. Joy.
The pair seems to be staying together almost all the time. The only time I
saw them apart was when the male dove down to catch his prey. I wonder if this
is something typical in their species – that rather than staying alone, they
live out their lives paired with another Skree. Interesting.
17th day of Sleeping – Same Place – Day 11
One week ago today I was stranded up here. I haven’t seen or heard anything
– nothing to indicate help is coming for me. I’m beginning to wonder if it ever
will. There are only a handful of instances that I can think of where a lost
person has been recovered after this long has passed. Perhaps I’m wrong . .
. perhaps not. I don’t know. I just wish there was some indication . . . I wish
I could hear voices calling for me, or Eyries flying above looking for me .
. . but there’s nothing. Even if help did come, I’m not sure how anyone but
an Eyrie could get me off this shelf. Everything around me is sheer rock. It
would be very difficult for a climber to make it down here.
And so, I wait . . . maybe forever.
18th day of Sleeping – Mountain Shelf – Day 12
I finally saw the eggs today. There are two of them, covered with a large amount
of down and twigs. The only reason I saw them was because the female decided
to turn them over, and to do so she had to partially uncover them. I’m really
surprised at how well camouflaged they are! I only saw part of them, but that
part was a light shade of green with brown speckles, matching almost precisely
the color of the down feathers and twigs all around them.
20th day of Sleeping – Same Place – Day 14
Two weeks since Adahy and I first set out.
22nd day of Sleeping – Same Place – Day 16
I’ve been reluctant to admit it, but I’ve been without food for a few days
now. Perhaps my pride had kept me from acknowledging this earlier, but now,
I really have no reason to harbor pride anymore, do I?
Nothing incredibly interesting has been going on at the Skree’s place. In fact,
they seem to be observing me as much as I have been observing them. I’m afraid
that, now that they are aware of my presence, all of their actions that I henceforth
record will be tainted. Who knows if this is how they would normally act if
I wasn’t here? But, then, what guarantee do I have that anyone will ever read
23rd day of Sleeping – Same Place – Day 17
Something interesting happened today, and I’m not quite sure how to explain
it . . . The skrees helped me. It may have been my mind playing tricks
on me, but I’m not sure how my mind could play tricks on my stomach as well.
Perhaps it was an accident, and they really didn’t mean to do anything of the
sort, but nevertheless, here is what I remember happening:
It was raining, as it has been almost everyday and I was sipping some rainwater
from my mess kit. I heard something above me and I looked up. There, perched
above me on a small cleft of rock far beyond me reach, were the skrees. As soon
as I looked up, they dropped whatever was in their talons and flew back to their
nest. They dropped uprooted plants, still laden with dirt and soil. I’m not
sure whether or not they purposefully uprooted the plants or if they simply
got caught in their talons when they went scavenging in the rubble earlier today.
Nevertheless, these plants are edible, and regardless of whether this is an
indication of compassion on the Skree’s part or merely a strange, miraculous
incident, I am grateful. Very, very grateful!
?? day of Sleeping – Mountain Shelf – Day ??
I knew this would happen sometime, but I’m still rather embarrassed that it
has. I’ve completely lost track of the date, and therefore how long I’ve been
up here. I know I didn’t write yesterday, but how many days were before that?
I don’t remember. When you’re alone up here, with nothing to do but watch birds
and wish for your rescue, the days tend to run together.
Now, onto the skrees. Today I witnessed them fending some Magtiles away from
their nest. I’m still surprised as to how the serpents were able to make their
way up the mountain. They had to be at it for days. The scene was very chaotic,
so I’m not sure that I saw everything, but as best as I can determine there
were about five Magtiles, and while the skrees attacked two or three, the others
attempted to make their way to the eggs. Eventually, the skrees were able to
throw the Magtiles off the mountain, but the female was hurt badly. Right now
I can see her sitting in the nest, panting for breath. The male is standing
by, guarding the female and her nest.
Now more than ever I am beginning to think the Skree’s gift to me was exactly
that – a gift. This is because I have now seen more indications of a high level
of intelligence from them. The male left the female for the first time today,
but returned promptly with food for the female and something else smeared about
his nose. It was a dark, brown sticky substance, and he smeared it all over
her wounds. He made a few trips, returning with more of the sticky substance
each time. Once, I saw a large amount of buzzers following after him and trying
to sting him, so I think this sticky stuff may be buzzer honey. Honey happens
to have antibacterial properties . . . It may be that the male Skree was protecting
the female from infection! Though this may simply be another coincidence, it
is fascinating nonetheless.
I must admit, however, that I--
It was here that I looked up and saw the Uni search party flying overhead.
I dropped my journal, leapt up and began shouting. They saw me! As soon as we
got back to Tyrannia, I was met by Adahy. Somehow, he had survived the mudslide
and made his way out of the jungle despite his injuries. Convincing a search party
to come for me had taken several days, but eventually he succeeded.
When I tried to tell Adahy and the local scientists about the last few observations
I made of the skrees, they told me I had seen wrong, or that I was disremembering
what had happened. They dismissed my findings that skrees are remarkably intelligent,
stating the classical description of skrees as evidence: ”[Skrees are] fierce,
wild Petpet[s] that take a lot of time and patience to tame.” However, the fact
that skrees are wild does not denote a lack of intelligence on their part, or
mean that they cannot exhibit kindness.
I have above presented you, the reader, with the raw material of my experience.
You may interpret my observations as you see fit, or even embark upon your own
journey to discover the true nature of skrees. I know I will.