F#43: Mottled Cohuatl

SFI recieved a call from a house near the Leywood- someone concerned about a tiny nest in their garden. We get a lot of calls like this- people worry that something dangerous is making a home in their backyard.

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But this time, we were pleased to report, that is not the case. This anxious parent showed up to check that we weren’t up to something with their potential offspring!

This is a mottled cohuatl- the smallest member of the winged serpent family.

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Immediately, the cohuatl lured us away from their nest with a performance of fluttering and acrobatics. As the nest was in a safe location, and the neighbours were reassured that the occupants were friendly, we left them to it.

F#39: Frost Wyrm

(Frost Wyrm on etsy)

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The frost wyrm is a member of the dragon family- one of the smallest, measuring on average only 24cm long.

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These wyrms radiate cold- in lower temperatures, even enough to freeze the spot on which they are perched.

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For this reason they are unpopular with gardeners- woe betide any delicate stem that comes in contacts with the wyrm’s icy touch!

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However, seeing a frost wyrm can be a good sign- a wyrm in a sloe bush means the berries are ready for picking- or so says the old wives tale.

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F#34: Fire Imp

Also called: Hairy Imp / Firelighter / Little Arsonist

Chaotic elemental creature

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As the evening draw in and winter creeps closer, fires are rekindled in homes across the country- and with them comes this little mischief maker.

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Watch out for your leaf piles, as cute and happy as they look, all it takes is some nice dry tinder and the fire imp will have it alight in moments.

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Widely considered a pest (and health and safety issue), any place of buisiness that has an open fire is subject to strict regulations, inspections, and mandatory anti-elemental warding.

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F#29: Mosswatcher

If you ever get that neck-prickling feeling of being watched, look down. Odds are, you’ll see a pair of golden eyes peering at you from the grass or verge.File_003

Mosswatchers are a little studied phenomenon; a small, curious beast that seems to have only one hobby- care to guess?

They watch.

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In fact, they have been known to watch for days at a time, and possibly even longer. Some theorise that they acquire their mossy coats from sitting still for weeks, or even month.

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Archive19: Blood Donation

A photo diary entry by Thursday Madaki

So, when I joined the SFI no one mentioned the ritual blood-letting. And, since then, it’s only been mentioned in passing- until the other day, when Evelyn said it was time to renew the Whistman contract.

Bartholomew groaned.

‘I’d send someone else,’ Evelyn said, looking unusually sly, ‘but you haven’t left the archives for days and you need the exercise.’

‘Also the guardian will only deal with me.’

‘That too.’

I interrupted then-

‘What contract?’

Instead of answering my question, Evelyn spoke to Bartholomew.

‘You should take her along.’

I hate it when they do that, like I’m the kid in a group of adults. I mean- I am, technically. But I hate being talked about like I’m not there.

Bartholomew was pulling a face like he was going to say no, so I spoke before he could.

‘I’d love to go!’

 

If only someone had mentioned it would involve hiking, and creepy blood drinking goat fairies.

 

Wistmans wood is only half an hour of walking from the main road, but that’s half an hour too much for my liking. I’m not really the biggest fan of the great outdoors, although I can appreciate Dartmoor’s weird brand of bleak beauty.

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The drive to get there had been long, made longer by the fact that Jesper listens to recordings of scientific lectures whilst he drives.

Bartholomew and I played i-spy, but he said I cheated when ‘something beginning with A. M.’ turned out to be ‘abject misery’ because it was on HIS face and therefore he couldn’t spy it.

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The reason we were driving all this way, then walking over uneven, ankle-twisting moorland, was because in the in the middle of nowhere is the kind of place you find a faerie who goes on vicious murdering rampages if you don’t check in on him every once in awhile.

The first contract was made in 2001, after a farmer who walked in the wood came home to find his sheep gone without a trace. Hikers were poked with invisible pins, and a young couple who carved their names into a tree drowned mysteriously in a shallow pool.

Evelyn, just starting out at Seaflower back then, tracked down the creature responsible, and made a deal. A deal that we were now heading out to reinforce.

The woods were beautiful and completely surreal. The entire floor was made up of huge rocks you had to climb and hop between, the trees were dripping with garlands of moss and lichen.

I barked my shins several times as Jesper led the scramble to the far side of the woods, where we stopped before a small cave formed under rocks and tree roots.

Bartholomew took something from his bag, unwrapping it and lying it on the ground. It was a athame- a ritual knife used in witchcraft.

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‘I know you’re there,’ Bartholomew said.

I saw something move in the depths of the dark crevice. Light glinted on a pair of eyes, staring straight back at us.

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To be continued in Sunday’s creature post! Please don’t hate me.

Archive14: Open Day Part One

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As she did every year, Evelyn spent most of open day waiting for something to go wrong.

The flow of people coming through the doors was steady, but not overwhelming. Evelyn had done her welcome talk, and lead two of the hourly tours. She’d made a hundred teas and coffees, nipped out to the bakery next door to replenish the biscuits, and so far had only had to apologise to one visitor for Jesper’s… abrupt demeanour.

Ruffled feathers had been soothed, and Evelyn was feeling rather good about it all.

It was then she noticed the smell.

‘Oh my- Lesley, do you smell that?’ It snagged on the back of her tongue, she fought back a cough. On second thoughts, it was less of a smell and more of a hand shoving something rotting down her throat and squirting lemon juice in her eyes for good measure.

Around her, other people started coughing.

Lesley grabbed her shoulder.

‘Get’emout,’ she told evelyn between hacking coughs. Out of the corner of her eye, Evelyn saw that Thursday was already herding visitors to the front door.

‘The others,’ Evelyn said. ‘Jesper. Barty—‘ as she spoke, she heard footsteps on the stairs, then Jesper appeared in the doorway, shirt pulled up over his mouth and looking more pissed off than usual.

Keeley should be out in the greenhouse, and she’d hopefully have the good sense to stay there. Which just left Bartholomew, who… was currently running the feeding demo in the archives.

Downstairs.

‘The cellar!’ she said to Lesley, who nodded and as one they pushed through the panicking bottleneck of people to the stairwell.

As they went down, the smell got worse. Like old blood, curdled milk and piss and… superglue.

Trust her little brother to end up in the middle of the chaos. Typical Barty.

Lesley came to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the stairs. In the poor light, Evelyn thought at first that the archive door was shut. But no, it looked wrong- like it was rippling, heaving, wriggling.

She switched on the light, and it caught silver on a thousand twitching wings.

The doorway was full of moths.

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F#12: Puffmote

 

Name: Luminous Puffmote, Airbag Salamander*

Classification: Fauna

Designation: Neutral

Description: A Fully-grown male puffmote measures from 2-5cm long (nose to tail) with a dark coloured body and lighter, bioluminescent markings.

A Female or ‘Queen’ puffmote has a longer, snakelike body. She is typically white, with darker markings, and a more defined crest or ‘crown’.

*Misnomer, puffmotes are unrelated to salamanders

Notes: puffmotes emerge from sleep in the late afternoon; often to be found hovering around flowers in sun-warmed places. The ones you’ll see in the daylight are typically the males, collecting nectar which is then stored in an internal pouch.

The puffmote Queen anchors herself to a plant stem, and is much harder to spot during the day. However, at night she is far more noticeable.

Often mistaken for the light of a glow worm or firefly, puffmote have bioluminescent markings. Males have a small glowing crest, and markings down to their tails. Queens have a bright crown and body spots, which they use in a ‘dance’ to attract mates.

 

Entry compiled by: Thursday Madaki

Archive12: Humidity

It is a hot mid-May day in Revery. Stormflies buzz in anticipation. The sun, having given up on penetrating the heavy cloud over the city, has settled for baking its inhabitants alive.

A balled-up piece of paper hits Keeley on her sweaty forehead.

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From across the room, Thursday meets her eyes and grins.

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The note passes in a quick volley between them, until a hand plucks it out of mid-air.

It’s Lesley. Or, as Keeley likes to call her, Staff Mum.

She sinks down further into her chair. She is so grounded.

Continue reading “Archive12: Humidity”

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