Dr. Adaline Maxwell Darknoll, writing to her sister, Isabel Constance Darknoll, on the eighth day of the month of Rain, in the year of Peace, twenty-four days into the expedition.
We woke this morning to nervous horses and creatures in the food-sacks. Emil had fallen asleep on watch, and in his somnolence, a pack of raptors snuck into and ransacked the camp. Isolde and Winnie are cataloging the damage while Nell calms the horses. Emil has vanished — shadow-walked away I shouldn’t wonder — and I can only hope that he will return soon. As costly as his mistake may have been, I cannot say I blame the boy. It could have happened to any of us.
In the meantime though, I have the rare opportunity to study one of these raptors up close. A young male fell into an empty barrel and got left behind when the rest of the group fled. While I fully intend to set him free to join the rest of his pack, an hour to weigh, measure, and classify him is something I am loathed to lose. I shall include a complete report of my findings, but for you, I will sketch out the highlights.
The raptors seem to share characteristics between reptiles and avians. They are flightless, although not for lack of trying. My captive is currently fluttering around the bottom of his barrel, flapping his feathered arms frantically. The face and tail are more reptilian, however. They have teeth suggestive of a carnivorous diet — scavengers and hunters of small game if I had to guess.
The one I have is about the size of a chicken, covered all over in soft feathers. His head and arms are blue, his back a russet brown flecked with black, and his underside cream — quite a handsome fellow all told. Given the state of the food bags, quite intelligent as well. The pack found seams and ties to open, rather than completely ripping through the enchanted leather.
I shall send you pictures, although they do not do him justice.