81st Turn, Seventh Year, Seventeenth Cycle, Skalday
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From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim

With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library

Skalday, Seventeenth Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn

Thirty-First Day in the Trees

Today, there is once again little underbrush around us. However, there is a very thick layer of leaves and other debris on the ground. I occasionally see many-legged creatures crawling from beneath the litter.

It is very warm and the air is heavy with moisture. The reassuring sound of birds and animals comes down to us from the canopy, far above. There are flowers blooming all around us, and our noses fill with their perfume with every breath.

As we walked through this "jungle," as Torne calls it, we encountered what I think is an animal. Like many things in this forest, it is very strange.

We were walking down the path when we heard breathing off of the path. It sounded as though it were something very large, and we considered what to do.

On the one hand, if it were dangerous, it would be foolish to get too close to it. On the other hand, we needed to continue on the path. We thought of going off of the path on the other side, but there were many thornbushes on that side of the path, and it would have been difficult going. We decided to cautiously look at the creature that breathed so loudly.

It was large and red. That was the most one could say of it. It was just slightly taller than I, but much, much wider, being shaped like a dome, but covered in red fur. There were no eyes that we could see, nor ears, nor even a mouth. But it moved, getting slightly larger and then smaller as it breathed1.

We stared at it for a moment. I considered touching it, but wondered if that would disturb the creature, and what it might do if disturbed.

Torne agreed. "An animal, I believe, though looks can deceive, but something about it troubles me. It plain cannot move, not on foot nor on hoof, but nothing has eaten this bubble, see?"

We kept well back, and I held Souja safe, though she seemed quite interested in the creature. It was all too strange. Why hadn't anything tried to eat such easy prey? For that matter, what did the creature eat? Where was its mouth?

We left it there, breathing steadily. We did not want to learn first-hand how the creature feeds.

We made camp by a large statue. It had the body of a fat human, but with too many arms, and the head of a rat2. It was sitting on a block carved to look like what Torne calls an elephant. I've heard of elephants, but had never seen what one looked like. I assume that they are somewhat less rectangular than the statue. Allowing for that, they are interesting creatures, with an arm where their nose should be, and long teeth sprouding from their jaws. Our cousins, the Desder, sometimes ride them into battle. The idea of riding another creature seems strange, but apparently the elephants are fairly big.

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