The path winds on into the forest. Soon, you feel the air grow cooler, and the sounds of the forest surround you. Ramona takes a moment to tell you about this place.
"This is known as the Southern Forest," she says. "It is considered part of the Old Refuge, the area to the south of the Northern Forest and the Caves. This area was where the first refugees were relocated. It is also where our main base of operations lies. For a short period of time, Indyana moved our base to the Newer Refuge, but now that sentries and management have been established there, we have returned to our original location. The Southern Forest is home to more creatures than can be counted, and it is the largest forest in the Creature Refuge. The dragon we just met, Goldhawk, is the assigned guardian for this area."
"Does every area have a guardian?" you ask.
"Almost every area," Ramona says. "We are still recruiting very powerful creatures. Only the most powerful and strong are given the title of Guardian. Other creatures, however, act as sentries and informants."
"Informants?" you inquire. The Creature Refuge is starting to sound like a guarded vault with its own spy network.
Ramona nods. "Yes, we must be alert to newcomers and visitors. This place is home to some of the rarest creatures known to man, and this can attract the wrong sort; namely, poachers. Constant vigilance..."
"Sounds like a lot of work," you observe, turning up to watch as a few birds hop through the branches above the path.
"Yes, it is," your guide answers. She slows to a stop and begins looking around inquisitively.
I hope we aren't lost, you think to yourself.
"Don't worry, we aren't lost," Ramona says, as though she has read your thoughts. "I am looking for... ah, there." She heads off the path, pushing her way through the brush. You squint through the trees, trying to see what she is heading for. Finally, you catch a glimpse of a clearing ahead, where bright sunlight is streaming through the gap in the treetops. As you get closer, you see several beautiful creatures lounging in the sun.
They are roughly the size of deer and canine in appearance. Their gentle eyes and noble heads make them immediately seem trustworthy. They have thick, shining coats of fur in many colors and three long, fox-like tails. The creatures stare in your direction, not looking very perturbed by your approach.
"Greetings," Ramona says as you enter the clearing. "This visitor is getting a tour, so I thought I should bring them by." She turns to you. "These are Cypran," she says.
*Hello, I am Tritai,* one projects cheerfully, rising and moving over for a closer look. His coat is clouded lavender, with starburst patterns and light paws.
"Pleased to meet you," you say.
After Tritai, a second has moved over to examine you. This one is bright shades of blue with distinctive wave patterns in his coat. You can't help but stare at the unnatural coloration. Tritai notices.
*This is Sylfint,* he says, and you get the feeling he is laughing. *He is a Blue Zebra Cypris, hence the coloration.*
"Ah," you say. You look at the other two Cypran, who seem to have more normal coloration... if any of the colorations can be called normal. One is deep emerald green, and the other, a calico mixture of dark colors, with few lighter white patches. The green Cypris nods to you.
*I am Yharena,* she says. *Welcome to the Refuge.*
*Did you travel far to get here?* Sylfint wonders. *Have you met any of the guardians yet? What about the Caves, have you been there?*
"Well, erm, I've come pretty far, I met Goldhawk, and no, I haven't been to the Caves," you say, answering all the questions in quick succession.
"This traveler hasn't been here that long, Sylfint," Ramona chides. The young Cypris isn't fazed.
*Have you met any of the other dragons yet? What about the featherdrakes?*
"Uh, no," you say. "I had just entered the forest when Ramona brought me here. You're the first creatures I've met in the forest."
*Well, welcome to the Southern Forest then!* Sylfint says excitedly, swishing his long tails around like a playful puppy. *I'm going to go tell Pilani you are coming! You have to visit with her!* He races off, crashing through the brush and out of sight. The darker Cypris sunning on the other side of the clearing sighs in exasperation.
*That darn cub,* he says, shaking his head.
*Now, now, you aren't much older yourself, Midnight Shadows,* Yharena observes, smiling a bit. The other Cypris snorts and flicks the tips of his tails.
*You should get going before he whips Pilani into an uproar. You know how she gets when she has visitors coming...* Tritai says.
"Hmm, wouldn't want her to busy herself to death," Ramona agrees. "Come on," she says to you, moving off in the direction Sylfint took. "Let's go visit Pilani and the featherdrakes."
View Midnight Shadows
Cypran from Cypris.Org
Layout and content copyright © Rachel Gratis 2003. Layout photograph from Image Cafe. All creatures copyright to their creators. Respect copyright and do not take images or content from this page.
Last Updated: June 16, 2004