SEASON 1/EPISODE 1: Snurgle Snort
Content Warnings: Animal death, animal eating habits, animal mating habits, animal violence, animal injury, missing persons, animal attack, human death, humans as food source for animal, wilderness injury
EXT. DAY. FOREST.
Adventurous music plays.
SEBASTIAN is driving down a dirt road. You hear a creature snoring.
SEBASTIAN: Hey there! This is Sebastian Verwood coming at you live from the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness to my audience of literally no one but me! Nah, that’s a lie. I’m sure that there’ll be… maybe four people listening to these. I have procured a… very generous grant from Dr. Vivien Warren, a history professor at Talbot University, to unofficially study the magical creatures of the world around us called Fae. The Fae are any creature that are, for the most part, unable to be seen by humans because of a thing called the Veil. As far as we know, it's a magical barrier guarding Fae from prying human eyes. There are Fae all around us and we can’t see them because of that, but, guess what? I was born with the Sight, which is the ability to see past the Veil and into the Otherworld. The other... world where the fae live. Otherworld. So far, I am the only living person that I know of to have this ability, but it has been recorded plenty of times throughout history. I’m here to release a squonk back into the wild. Alvin here,
our squonk of the day, was caught by a pair of hunters and brought to a vet. Apparently, they thought Alvin was just one really weird looking pug that wandered out into the woods. Luckily, that vet, Dr. Annabeth Hale, has worked with me before and called me the second Alvin was brought in. It’s not common for a fae to get picked up like that, but, from what I’ve heard, it happens from time to time. The veil isn’t a guarantee. I mean, how else do you think we ended up with stories about gorgons and sirens… or mothman. There a couple of tricks in the lore to allow for someone to see past the veil into the
Otherworld. One way is to just get hilariously lucky around Midsummer, Midwinter, or Halloween during an in-between time like… sunset or sunrise. That sort of thing. The most common way to see past the veil is to get your hands on an Adder Stone. An adder stone, which can also be called a sight stone, is any rock with a naturally-created hole running through it. You'll mostly find these by a river bed or on a beach.
SEBASTIAN turn off of a dirt road and it transition to grass. The cage begin to rattle and ALVIN becomes excited.
SEBASTIAN: Yeah! We’re here buddy! It’s your home! Isn’t it pretty?
The key are pulled out of the ignition. SEBASTIAN opens a car door.
ALVIN glances around in his cage. SEBASTIAN opens the trunk. He
grabs his gear. ALVIN becomes excited and the cage rattles.
SEBASTIAN opens the car door.
SEBASTIAN: Are you excited?! Yeah?! Okay, let’s get you out.
SEBASTIAN undoes the cage clasp. The snorting goes wild.
SEBASTIAN: Alright, come here. Oof, have you put on weight? Have you? Have you been eating without me knowing?
Lots of snorty, puggish breathing.
SEBASTIAN: Alvin, here, is a flat-nosed squonk, one of the four squonk species in North America and in the world. They are fascinating little fellas with layers upon layers of skin folds protecting them from both predators and the cold. When frontiersmen first explored North America for logging, furring, and discovery, they would document fae creatures, like Alvin, and call them the “fearsome critters” of North America. How could anyone call a squonk fearsome? I have no clue. In these lumberjack tales, squonks were said to be so ugly that they’d cut themselves off from the world and weep at how bad they looked.
(To Alvin, in doggy voice)
But you aren’t ugly are you? No, you’re not! Oh no, you’re not! Oh no, you're not!
Alvin is six months old and has a great looking dark brown coat. He’s a handsome bachelor and probably wandered out searching for a mate when he was captured, but, but we’re going to make sure you get a second shot at love, aren’t we? Now the first thing you need to do before visiting any forest is to knock on the bark of a tree. It can be any tree, but typically the bigger or older the tree, the better. This notifies tree-dwelling nymphs called Dryads of your presence. If there is ever something dangerous lurking nearby, they will warn you.
SEBASTIAN knocks on wood.
SEBASTIAN: Squonks have a very cool defense mechanism besides being incredibly fast. If you notice the folds of their skin, you’ll see just how much of it there is compared to the rest of their body. Just like . the spiny mouse in Africa, Squonks are able to shed their skin! They have an incredible regrowth rate and are able to grow back the tissue they lost within a few days. Alright, buddy. Are you ready?
SEBASTIAN: Yeah? Okay… In THREE. TWO. ONE!
ALVIN scampers off, wheezing.
SEBASTIAN: Mating season won’t be over for another week or so. The males will court females and, three months later, a litter of four to six pups is born. Squonks are marsupials and carry their litter around in a pouch. Okay, now that that’s done, I gotta head back to the city to meet up with Dr. Warren about reassignment to another base. The cool thing is that--
The sound of a low ca-haw is heard. An low pitched eagle's cry.
SEBASTIAN: No. Way. Hold on. Listen.
SEBASTIAN: Where are you? Oh… If I manage to see one in the wild.
Crunching leaves, the sound of a bush being moved.
SEBASTIAN: Oh, God. Wow. You. Are. Beautiful. Would you just take a look at this? I mean-- You can’t, obviously. But I just I can’t believe we were able to run into one on our first trip here. Man, we are so lucky! What I’m looking at right now is the Speckled Griffin, the smallest species in North America. It is the same size as a bobcat. This is an adult female, fully grown, with a beautiful set of plumage. Being the size that she is, her wingspan is about seven feet? So she only weighs approximately 11 pounds. Can’t know for sure unless we managed to get her onto a scale. She gets her name from the dapple of black on her feathers, the rest of her is a light brown with white accents. There isn’t too much of a difference between males and females in terms of looks, but the adult Female Speckled Griffin is larger than the males of the species.
Now, let’s see if I can just…
Snapped branch. Skittering up the tree.
SEBASTIAN: Whelp. There she goes. Griffins are remarkable climbers, using all four limbs and claws to drag themselves up trees. When most people picture a griffin, they see a bald eagle attached to a lion with four legs and two wings on their back. In real life, however, the wings of the griffin are placed on the back of their forelegs, just like the wings on gliding mammals and reptiles. I wish her litter were nearby, they lay up to three eggs a year in a nest roughly four to five feet in width and two to four feet in depth. I say litter because griffins have been said to be the result of breeding eagles with lions, but that’s obviously just a misconception, but you can see why people think that. If you take a look at the tail feathers of the griffin, there is, in fact, a working tail underneath, much like that of the dinosaurs griffins are descendants of. Along… with that, griffins have a decorative mane of feathers running down the length of their head and neck. All in all, they are absolutely breathtaking to see in person. Just beautiful. Alright, let’s see what else we can find while I’m here. I'm feeling lucky. Pixies and Sprites are the most common kind of fae that you’ll run into if you go out and take a look. They have evolved to look like the insects and plants around them. There are probably thousands upon thousands of species of sprites and pixies. I just wish I could document them
all in my lifetime, but that’ll never be possible. So far, I work with fifteen people studying Fae as closely as we are, but we are all based in either North America or Europe, so there's no telling just what's out there.
High pitched squeaking.
SEBASTIAN: This little guy here is the Common Pine. Here, come on. Aw, there you go. It’s okay. It’s okay. He’s crawling on my arm now, getting used
to me, exploring. Pixies are playful creatures. They like playing tag, exploring boundaries, and have an absolutely curious sense of adventure. To give you a rough idea of Just how intelligent Sprites and Pixies are, both groupings of fae are of about the same intelligence as a raven. Some are even able to learn to mimic human language apparently. He’s in my hair right now. If one of them ever ventures into your house, you’d probably end up finding it rummaging through clothes or books. The Common Pine can grow up to six inches tall, this little guy is about only four. The outer shell of the Pine mimics the colors and rough feel of tree bark, making him an excellent hider. When the Common Pine feels threatened, they’ll latch onto the bark with their claws and lay up against it, hiding their underbelly. Can you crawl back into my hand? Yeah? Okay… Thank you. Thanks. I’m moving my hand back to the tree to let you off. There you go… There. Back on your home. You know, Pixies were some of the first fae I ever ran into. I thought they were just regular bugs or flowers, but then I… learned otherwise. They’re a really cool species to see on the day-to-day because of just how much variety they have.
The dryads knock. It comes from all over.
SEBASTIAN: Remember when I said the Dryads warn you about imminent danger? Well… Now’s that time. Let’s see what this guy is...
SEBASTIAN walks a perimeter. Leaves crunch underfoot.
SEBASTIAN: I’m carrying an iron sword right now. Iron weapons are the best items for self-defense, but should only be used for self-defense. The fae are already distrustful against humans as is, but to attack them unprovoked with iron? You’d insult them beyond repair. Fae are allergic to iron and it burns them upon contact. With a cut from a sword like mine, it takes time for the creature to heal. I try my best not to… use it. Let’s see what you are… I’m going to walk a cautious perimeter around the area. I’m keeping my distance because it’s still dangerous, but… It’s something I have worked with before and am familiar with the habits of. This big lump of a guy is the Hide-Behind, another one of the “fearsome critters” from lumberjack tales but… in this case, is a critter you should actually be afraid of… Or, at least, very cautious. Just like the Common Pine, the Hide-Behind uses camouflage to hide from prey, but keeps its distance behind trees until it is ready to pounce. The Hide-Behind evolved from the Ground Sloths, a now-extinct cluster of sloths that could grow up to
17 feet in height. Like sloths, it is a slow mover and sleeps most of the day… Because of that… It relies on stealth before launching itself at prey passing by… It is faster than its ancestors. If… I move over here.
Ah, yeah. Look at you… He’s a male. You can tell because of the dark lines on his face running around his eyes. That and his height are the only differences between a male and female Hide-Behind. He is small for his species. Only about 10 feet tall. The amazing thing about this species is that, like their ancestors, they have the capability of bipedal movement.They are able to walk on their hindlegs for an extended
period of time and keep their balance with their long claws. Because of their size, they are unable to live up in trees like the sloths of today, but, instead, live in dens or caves that they dig out for themselves. He is an omnivore, mostly snacking on plants, but will hunt fish or larger mammals such as deer… or… people. He will keep his distance now that he knows that I know about him… but if I didn’t…let’s just say there’s a reason people go missing in the woods when out hiking by themselves. They really are majestic creatures. Very intelligent hunters that are able to learn migration patterns. I’m going to get out of his way and move on… He shouldn’t follow me if I keep my eye on him. Do you remember the Boo in those old Mario games? They tend to work like that. Aren’t you brave when I’m not looking? Look at him inch around that tree to get a look at me. He’s craning his neck out just a tad so he can see if I’m still watching. I still am bud!Okay, I should be out of his line of fire right now. I should get a move on before it gets dark. Let me tell you, that is a loaded day today. I was not expecting to see all of that. Hoping every expedition I take will end up looking like this. Catch you guys later.
END OF EPISODE.
ADVENTUROUS MUSIC PLAYS.
CREATURE FUN FACT: There are four species of Squonk in North America: the dappled squonk, the black-footed squonk, the flat-nosed squonk, and the northern rockback. The northern rockback is the largest species of North America and can grow up to 6 feet in length and 3 feet in height.
The Viridian Wild is created, written, and produced by Davis Walden with creative consulting by Nicole Miller. Our music is composed by Daryl Banner. This episode features the voice of Davis Walden as Sebastian. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as The Viridian Wild or email us at email@example.com. Learn more and find transcripts of this episode at theviridianwild.com. We would like to thank our first Adventurers joining us on this journey: Joe and Mandy Walden. You can support Sebastian’s study of the magical world around us on our patreon at www.patreon.com/theviridianwild and gain access to bonus material such as bloopers and book recommendations. The Viridian Wild is a product of Always in My Head Productions. Till next time, happy trails!