SEASON 1/EPISODE 2: Dip a Toe
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. LAKE DESOLATION FOREST.
Adventurous music plays.
SEBASTIAN is walking alongside a river.
SEBASTIAN: I’m hoping, really hoping, that out of all the times I wander off into
the woods to study fae, I don’t happen to die or go missing in a place called Lake Desolation Forest. I mean, what even happened to the person who named this place to call it Lake Desolation? What were they even desolate about? Maybe they were just wanting to name the place something badass so they could say it in a batman voice over and over again. Desolation. Desolation. Luckily, though, Lake Desolation Forest isn’t all that desolate. It’s actually a great space to search for fae living in the New York area. The fae I’m looking for right now are a particular species that hold their mating season between August and September. They are a river-dwelling species that hardly drift away from their home unless they absolutely have to, such as when food shortages occur. We’re really close now.
You hear the crunching of leaves.
SEBASTIAN: This is the Painted Rivulet, a species of sprite. Pixies and Sprites are both types of fairies, but pixies are fae that mimic insects and often have hard outer shells and horns that protect them from all sorts of predators. Sprites, on the other hand, get their camouflage by blending into the plant life around them. Most of the time when you ask a person to picture a fairy, they imagine some little tiny human
in a flowery dress with butterfly wings living in a garden. Sprites are the kind of fairy that they’re picturing. The Painted Rivulet gets its name from this really cool color scheme of pink, purple, and blue. It has a humanoid appearance, but has decorative frills that spring out from its arms and legs. Several sprites have features like this, but, unlike the Painted Rivulet, they often use it to mimic the stylings of the plants that they make their home in. The Painted Rivulet does
away with that kind of camouflage in favor of bright colors to attract those of the opposite sex. The Rivulets have a set of four wings that are long and circular, almost like that of a dragonfly. The Painted Rivulet usually grows up to five inches and has a lifespan of two years. They are ready to breed at one year old, which is why it is so crucial that they find a partner to be with for the rest of their lifetime. I’m looking at a male of the species right now.
SEBASTIAN: The male Rivulet has a pair of coattails that trail out behind him. They are almost as long as his own body, about five inches, and end in circular shapes that I like calling the brush.
SEBASTIAN: The male looks like he’s about to start the mating dance right now.
He is waving the brushes back and forth in a pattern to attract a female’s attention.
SEBASTIAN: He just sent out another call. It’s really cool to see such a beautiful example of life along the water. In folklore, bodies of water are some of the most dangerous places to be and are home to some of the deadliest fae. I have an… idea of just how true that is, but it’s still an unfounded claim that needs more research and understanding of the different specimens that inhabit aquatic areas.
SEBASTIAN: Oh look at that! It seems to have worked in his favor! A female, mostly blue in color, has become curious about his tactics. He is waving
faster now and has--
SEBASTIAN: Done a move in what I can only describe as a sort of death drop. He has launched himself onto the branch and is letting his coattails speak for themselves. He is beginning a more elaborate pattern. It looks like he is including wind direction into his performance, a calculated move on his part. The female is flying closer and, if she chooses him, should fly around him in a short--
SEBASTIAN: The female has stopped in her tracks. There’s another male trying to get her attention. And it seems to be working. The two males are dancing similarly, trying to, I guess, copy and outdo each other, but this new male has an advantage our male doesn’t. He has
longer coattails. If our male doesn’t act fast, he’ll probably end up losing her for good. He is shifting tactics and is now flying in
the air as he holds his coattails up. He places them out in front of him at her sides, but now the female is fluttering away. The female backed away from our male and has chosen to ignore his advances. The new male has appeared to have won this contest. The male we are following is slowing down, but he’s still going. Poor little guy.
Complicated SCRRR-PURR EEO-EOO-EOOO.
SEBASTIAN: He’s trying again. Another two calls in hopes of finding a mate. If he doesn’t get one now, he’ll probably never get the chance again.
SEBASTIAN: Another female is coming. She is smaller than most, I think. The male is waving his brushes again. Now the male waits for her to make
a decision. Will she pick him or will she move on to search for another mate? The female is hovering in the air right now and-- There she goes. She has chosen him. The female flitted around the male in a loop.
Multiple mating calls in the distance
SEBASTIAN: They are now dancing circles around each other. It looks as if the other pairs are beginning to take flight, too. Our pair is keeping close to each other, but are beginning to join the group. The group, is of at least sixty different pairs, and are clustering together in a large ball. It looks like all of the pairs are ignoring each other, except for this choreography. They only dance with their partner, flying back and forth between each other in circles and twists. Oh, you guys will probably like this. There are about six pairs of same-sex Rivulets who are a part of this dance. Four pairs of females and two pairs of males. In the Nygard, The Rivulet demonstrates a great degree of emotional intelligence and possesses a desire for social connection outside of the connection they make with their flock. I think the same sex relationships will work out in favor of the Rivulets if a parent were to die before their children were to reach adulthood.
SEBASTIAN: And it looks like I’m not the only audience member watching this. Over there, in the water, about, maybe, fifteen feet away is a pack of Shellycoats.
SQE-WAHH. SQE-WAHH. WAHH. Sounds of splashing.
SEBASTIAN: God that one’s being really noisy. The first documented Shellycoats were a species of them in Scotland. They’re closely related to Otters, but they’re even more related to Siamogale melilutra, a now
extinct species that lived in China. They’re smaller than the Siamogale, but, like the Giant Otter in the Amazons, can grow up to two meters in length. The Shellycoats got their name from Scottish folklore, where they would wear coats made out of shells that rattled as they moved.
Shellycoats have an odd, and adorable, habit of collecting piles of shells and bones and shiny rocks that they decorate their homes with. In fact, if you ever come across a large collection of shells out along the riverbank, you’re probably in or near the home of a Shellycoat.
SEBASTIAN: Oh wow. One of them actually tried to jump out of the water and catch a Rivulet.
SPLASH. SPLASH. SPLASH.
SEBASTIAN: The other Shellycoats are following what must have been a leader. They are jumping up about two meters into the air, but most of the Rivulets are out of reach.
SEBASTIAN: One Shellycoat has managed to grip down on a Rivulet and snap it straight out of the air. I’m not sure if the Shellycoat is eating the Rivulet as a food source or is doing it for fun, like a cat trying to catch a bug. Shellycoats like playing around with other species of river-dwelling
fae, but are predators at the end of the day that enjoy eating fish, amphibians, and turtles. I always assumed that they eat other species of fae as well, I just have never seen it before. Which makes this whole situation really cool. The other Rivulets are becoming wise to
the Shellycoat tactic and are moving themselves away from the riverbed up higher up into the sky.
WAH. WAH. WAH. WAH. WAH.
SEBASTIAN: The Shellycoats are talking to each other. Two of them have split the Rivulet between themselves. Despite how cute and adorable and cuddly looking they are, Shellycoats, like otters, are strong, agile, and highly intelligent predators. In fact, I’d be concerned for other animals attempting to interact with them because of how weasley they are. Despite them eating whatever they can overpower, they have a reputation for being a kind fae species. In folklore, they are said to not act out of spite and are more likely to trick people than hurt them.
Otters and Shellycoats are both intelligent and dangerous predators, but aren’t really a threat to humans. However, they are really territorial and will attack if they feel threatened.
SEBASTIAN: OHHHH My god. There’s a baby. He’s so small and cute. Oh yes you are. Awwww my god.
SEBASTIAN: He’s so tiny. Shellycoats have litters of up to three babies. They’re blind and helpless when they are born, so it is up to the pack to take care of them and protect them from predators. Even when the pups are able to
swim on their own, the pack surrounds them in order to provide them with their full protection. This little guy hasn’t even developed his beard yet. Shellycoats have these wispy little mustaches and beards
that grow out over time. While their whiskers are used to look for prey in dark or muddy water, these beards are purely decorative. It kind of makes them look like old men, which makes their mythology even funnier. All in all, I think it’s fascinating just how much of their
mythology was adapted from the characteristics of their biology. In the legends, the Shellycoats are really old and bearded water spirits that take on the guise of old men. When a human wanders onto their territory, they’re said to lead them astray. They’ll also pretend to drown and laugh at whoever tries to save them. I cannot wait to let others know about this interaction between the Rivulets and the Shellycoats. They’re going to think it’s so cool! Alrighty, this is Sebastian. Signing off.
END OF EPISODE.
ADVENTUROUS MUSIC PLAYS.
CREATURE FUN FACT: The Painted Rivulet lays up to 50 eggs in an underwater nest and spends the first half of its life in an aquatic larval stage before going above water to cocoon itself in preparation for the final stage.
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!