You would not believe all that I have seen in my exploration. They still live! As I said they do. You make sure you tell your mother, show her my sketches. I wasn’t wrong. The fallow really do live in the forests of Aboria.
They are just as they had been described by the elven texts; creatures of vine and leaf. They can and do stand upright, and many would stand taller than a man, but most often they move around on their hands and feet. Most have four limbs; two legs and arms, like us, but some have five or six. These extra limbs are often more rudimentary than their main ones, but are useful for balance or grasping prey.
That is another thing; their diet. Like normal plants, it seems that sunlight and water do make up a portion of their sustenance. However, as they move above the ground and are not rooted in it, they need to find those nutrients another way. They do so by eating the flesh of living creatures. I have seen one corner and eat a boar, wrapping it first in vines and then slowly drawing the screeching creature into itself. It had all the hallmarks of a snake slowly ingesting a large rat. In my travels I have found the remains of wolves and bears, and wonder if the fallow are capable of game such as they. If so, the eating of a man would be trivial.
I would not expect them to pass such a meal up, either. They seem to have an alien intelligence. What reason there was to some of their actions was beyond me, but there is no dout in my mind that they move with purpose and ambition. What’s more, they will work together to complete tasks. No, they don’t build or work the land like civilised races do, but they certainly have a society; a hierarchy. I have seen them moving in packs, and even participating in what seemed like some social bonding ceremony. The ceremony seemed a funeral of sorts, as one of their kind succumbed to death. What caused the death, be it old age, injury or sickness, I do not know. But they came together and displayed many of the traits I would associate with human mourning. It was fascinating. And unnerving. It also led me to my greatest discovery yet.
My purpose this last month has been trying to discern just how the creatures breed; and I think I have been successful in this. For some time I busied myself on trying to determine which fallow were female and which were male, until I determined that there are none of each in their society! The fallow did not leave the site of their fallen’s grave, not completely, for two days. In that time, a trio of small plants pushed their way sunward from the remains. I recognised this plant, having seen it once or twice before on my travels. Seeing the creatures react the way they did to them, and knowing they grew from the dead of one of their own, I have deduced that this is how the fallow breed! When one dies it sprouts; one, two or three new saplings. These will grow into fallow themselves! I could not remain in the area to confirm my hypothesis, but I have full confidence in it. If this is true, there are grave consequences for the human kingdoms which, even now, press deeper into Aboria’s forests – a creature who will always, at least, replace itself, but is more likely to exponentially add to its people’s population is one that will very soon throw off the confines of its habitat. I see a future where the war against the fallow will begin again, but this time their numbers will be greater. Perhaps even their resolve, if they have a cultural history and can remember the old conflict. What’s more, they do not feel pain as I understand it. The thrashing boar, cutting through vine and leaf, did little to move the fallow that was devouring it. A frightening enemy indeed. Let’s hope that some solution can be found here which will not lead us again into forceful contact with these creatures.
Give my love to Henry and, yes, even your mother. I have taken ill this last week, having developed a rash of some sort. It’s type is foreign to me but is just one more thing to be studied and catalogued. I look forward to telling you all about it in my next letter, whenever that would be. Though the city has no call for me, I long to see you again; that promise may be the one thing keeping me from wandering into these forests and disappearing forever. Take care, my sweet one, and I will see you when I return.