I must begin by stating in the plainest of language what a unique opportunity this expedition is. I am a writer first, and a turth with a deep appreciation of the natural worlds around us all second. I am a few other things after these, but these two are of importance to this publication. I am compiling this writing from my notes on this expedition – notes taken in the moment and no later than when my memory was still fresh from a day’s experiences – to be as accurate as possible.
I digress. This expedition was a tremendous opportunity. I am but a few decades into Omneutta, but I am acutely aware that being financed to travel across Omneutta to write – and survive, but to be clear there is no inherent Lott-generation in this activity – is an opportunity afforded never before. That there is believed to be interest in the writing I will produce – this publication – enough to come anywhere close to offsetting the costs incurred is tremendous and shows magnificent growth for not only the industry of publication but specifically interest in understanding natural phenomena.
The expedition itself may now be discussed. The plan was to travel to a relatively unpopulated planet-star in Aft Seas. It was thought to be a good idea to avoid planet-stars where help should we need it would be several days away at best. Doakki was chosen specifically for its reputation of abundant wildlife and lush natural features that were left entirely undisturbed by its residents. There would be three of us traveling: myself, another turth dedicated to the equipment necessary to camp, and an avoc named Pou’Ieg familiar with the local fauna to give the expedition protection from these creatures – and short introductory explanations.
The expedition’s course was planned beforehand as well, with the aid of a map and input from Pou’Ieg. We would conduct our entire expedition over a week during a cooling season, to maximize the likelihood of interaction or sight of different species. We would land in one of Pale Shores’ typical large seas, depart into the pristine beaches surrounding it and make our way to the mountains and colder regions by way of a stretch of plains and woodland. We would depart Doakki at a scheduled time at the end of the week. There was confidence that the ship crew would be able to see our camp from the upper edge of the atmosphere, but we had a beacon in our map as well that was tuned to the ship’s frequency.
We landed just before midday, on a Porepa in late Ouovas. I would have preferred a more direct route to our course, but it was decided to dock the ship at the small village nearest the wooded area, so that the ship’s remaining crew would have favourable amenities during our journey. In this small city we made momentary stops, including with some young avocs that were handling cranipxum. To be clear – and Pou’Ieg tells me that this is common in some more rural areas of Pale Shores – these cranipxum were not domesticated, but rather semi-wild that had some dependance on the local avocs.
They were called fielee. The young explained that if you feed them regularly enough with foodwaste or small scraps they abstain from causing trouble by digging into food supplies or going for crops. It would seem as though avocs across Pale Shores have figured out that cranipxum view easy food as better no matter the quality.
We were not meant to stay in the village long, and we did not idle. The peak of the mountain remained the destination for our journey, with many stops between to observe and learn. Our first of such stops was the beach. This was not a leisurely excursion, but a mostly direct route from the village to the wooded area.
We could plainly and without incident walk through the beach, within only a few meters of devtalnu, both individuals and groups. Pou’Ieg suggested that since only few weeks before our arrival was the start of the cooling season here, that the devtalnu found storing fat for the winter more interesting than strange creatures approaching them. However, though the devtalnu offered no protestations, the avoc suggested that I (and subsequently the other two) were closer than he was comfortable. We then moved on.
The remaining trek of what would be our first day was making our way to the wooded area. Some traversal of the plains were required and this turned out to be the majority of our day, with frequent stops along the way. These were not stops to observe, or to provide respite for the turth entrusted with our equipment, but rather ‘Ieg repeatedly spotted with his keen eyes purple whyrs encircling the plains, and we would find cover in tall grasses, shrubbery, and in some of the rock features.
It is not known to any of us what these carnivorous birds would make of turth bones, but I did not want to make that discovery. So that he could continue to keep watch for these birds, as well as keep us away from predatory territory in the woods, we decided to end our first day of travel prematurely and make camp.
I spent some time the previous night logging notes of the events of the first day before the light of Astran faded and I found myself doing the same shortly after first light on the next day. I likely could have continued to work on that first night as the light of the four star-planets at the core of Pale Shores were still bright enough to work under. Perhaps I avoided some eye strain and overwork.
After we tore our small camp down we continued on our journey – on this day through the wooded area. We would spend the day slowly making progress through thicket and trying to avoid bramble, after the first half-hour of which we found a den of bapuva. Unfortunately for my work – to ‘Ieg thankfully for my life – the creatures were already hibernating. The avoc says this was earlier than normal, but not to a significant extent.
Another normal occurrence I found odd was the fighting among cervugi females. As the cooling season progresses less grasses and greenery grows in the forested area – the plains grasses die out too – all while cervugi too are trying to consume more to hibernate. I found their plight concerning and fed scraps to a few females throughout the day, but ‘Ieg apparently did not see. As the light was beginning to fade the avoc saw me feeding these cervugi for the first time and chastised me. Apparently, it is an expected behavior.
As the availability of the food lessens, a good mate will find a way to have enough nutrition. The males seem to have no competition for food – it is the females who compete – and if females fight to the death, it reduces the mass of food needed as well. I wished it did not have to be this way, but balance the Pale Shores ecosystem is not for me to decide. I am here to observe, learn, and document.
On this day through the wooded area less geographic progress was made – we traveled an even shorter distance than the first day – but more notes were taken. Perhaps useful to additional researchers are prints and embossings I have made of several different kinds of plant leaves found among this wooded area. I took other flora-related notes such as descriptions of bark, canopy distribution, and seeds I could find and properly ascertain which type of tree they came from.
The light had been fading for a brief time – less than half an hour – by the time we made it to the foot of the mountain. For several reasons we decided to make camp here. There was no significant progress to be made in undertaking the climb as the light of Astran faded. Additionally, we were clear of the dense thicket so there was room to make camp on a nearly flat surface – a luxury not found on a mountain. We also only had so many supplies to traverse the cold, of the peak and it made sense not to start using them earlier than necessary by climbing on this evening.
Unfortunately we awoke to find a storm blowing in from the sea. While we had shelter ourselves and under the canopy of the nearby trees for our bodies and supplies, this meant additional adversity in getting up the mountain. At the base, the storm brings rain, but as one attempts to climb a mountain, the rain turns to dangerous wind, snow, and a lack of visibility. I may not have traveled through Pale Shores much, but I know this from my own experience in The Hilt.
After consulting our own maps and the planned route it was agreed upon that we would journey up a fair portion of the mountain – just past halfway to the peak – and make a turn around to the leeward side of the mountain and end our journey on one of the many large glaciers instead of at the peak. This would likely make it easier for our ship to find us as well. Though there would likely be less wind and snowstorms at this altitude, we would have even less protection.
I do not have much to report about the mountain itself, nor our climb. There were a few occasions where I stepped in a deeper embankment of snow than anticipated and had snow above my knee. These were unfortunate situations, much like having one of our five torches blown out by the wind and dropped after another gust. No blame needs to be attached to that incident, but it is worth the reminder that the winds are extremely strong.
However, I would be remiss without writing of the impending feeling of horror and doom I felt throughout the climb. The feeling dissipated when we were on the glacier at the end of the day – but I’m getting ahead of myself. As we journeyed up the mountain I could not shake the feeling of something watching me. Not a general sense that an animal had seen me – I felt an ever-present danger lurking just out of sight. ‘Ieg told us that that several species of akkoure could be stalking us.
Being told of an apex predator’s existence only after you begin to venture through unfamiliar and already-treacherous-enough terrain is nerve wracking to say the least. No matter how many times or how often I – or any of us – turned around, we could not spot an animal matching the description ‘Ieg offered. This was more unnerving than it was reassuring, especially as my the feeling of being watched did not subside for the majority of the day.
Regardless of whether it was following unseen or a figment of our collective imaginations, we made our way up the mountain, found the path we agreed to take earlier that morning, and made our way toward the glacier. As we traveled around to the leeward side of the mountain to our new goal, the snowstorm was eventually left behind. So too was the sometimes-treacherous freshly-fallen snow. Walking on the older, compacted snow was a little harder on my joints, but I didn’t run the risk of having my whole leg disappear into the snow.
Unfortunately due to the storm I did not get much of a chance to admire our surroundings on the mountain journey, but once onto the relatively still air of the glacier, I paused every so often to take in the view. Perhaps breathtaking comes off as easy due to the chill in the air, but to be able to see for several kilometers in most directions, not to mention peering over the edge to the wilds of Doakki below.
We made camp on the glacier that night, and remained there for another day due to our availability of supplies. I took this second day to take a series of excursions to different part of the glacier, with ‘Ieg always within sight. It was at the end of the fourth day that the rest of our crew – with the ship – came and picked us up for departure by stabilizing the ship off of an edge of the glacier. I must confess the entire day I was looking to catch a glimpse or any evidence at all of any elusive akkoure, but I cannot report that I found such.
What I can report on are some of the consistently appreciated elements of Pale Shores’ geography, along with the resulting biomes. Beginning with our place of departure, the mountain we climbed sat in a range of similar peaks, though it was by some great margin the largest among the six identifiable peaks. The peaks and glaciers are both recognized as Polar climate zones, with the latter being a clear example of the Ice Cap sub-zone. The mountain peaks – while they could be classified as highland climate that distinction is reserved for the geography that creates the conditions – and the land at the bottom of the glaciers are both Tundra sub-zones under the assumption that they do melt at some point in the year.
Trees begin to appear as you descend the mountains on all sides, but specifically in the direction of the ocean the trees are clearly boreal at first. As you descend to near-sea-level the mix is roughly even between boreal and temperate trees. The forest as it meets the mountain would likely be classified as an Oceanic Boreal due to its proximity, though without many years of data I cannot hazard a guess as to whether the temperate part of the forest should be classified as a Seasonal or Subpolar sub-zone.
I could clearly see mountain ranges around many other sides of the sea we landed on, likely producing the same biomes I have described here, with relatively predictable Seasonal Temperate climates in the Flatland between the sea and mountains. For that, Doakki is not dissimilar to other, more well-documented locales across Pale Shores. I hope that partaking in this four-day journey through a relatively untouched and wild planet-star has enticed other academics and researchers to treat these lands as we do those that are far easier to study.