A Bear in Rotok Village | 9 January 4/685

A train travels towards snow-capped mountains.
The Fisherport Sleeper

Dearest Jowan, Cora, and patrons of the Unarkida

More than four decades before the following journal entry was written, the Archives in Dax were destroyed, along with the Free Press. High Council propaganda was the order of the day, and keeping or sharing unsanctioned records was all but outlawed.

This makes finding such accounts a rare and welcome surprise, often leading to fascinating insights or extraordinary tales. Occasionally both.

Extract No. 1 from the journal of Derrik Sandar, an Officer of the Agriculture & Wildlife Council of Dax.

Day 202 – 21 July 3/115 – Case 2/58/3/115

Case: Reports received of bear attacks in the foothills of the Diamond Hills, near the village of Rotok


The locals in Rotok report that there have been several attacks on livestock. The first reports came in as far back as three weeks ago. No case was opened at the time because of the backlog built up during the city’s epidemic. I doubt we’ll ever be able to measure the damage done to our farming communities.

My previous case for example (4/42/2/115), resulted in the destruction of two entire herds near Qesteron, some four hundred Lowland Cattle. Unavoidable as they were, delays in our response to, and treatment of the Black Water parasite allowed it to spread catastrophically.

Where the farming communities suffered, our wildlife suffered more. Unpoliced, poaching has skyrocketed according to reports from all stations.

Yesterday another report came in from Rotok. According to the file, a farmer (Kestin Haldar) reported that a sheep and some dogs were killed. Furthermore, his child, a young female, is missing. At the time of writing, it is unclear whether the farmer believes that the child has been killed or taken by the same animal responsible for the attack, suspected to be a bear.

I have departed the city on board the late service to Fisherport, where I will requisition a Council motor and drive to Rotok. I imagine I may still see the smoke from the cattle cremations in Qesteron as we pass.

For reference, before departure, I looked up the current statistics on the bear population in the Hills. I had been under the misconception that we were near to declaring them extinct, but a recent count has shown their numbers are rebounding. It’s difficult to know why this is happening, but the increased bear population may be a factor in my case. Perhaps they are starting to encroach on the settlements, finding livestock easy prey.

That being said, the dispatcher noted that, according to the farmer, the dead animals were left uneaten. Unusual for a hungry bear not to eat its kill or take it away.

I realise now that I neglected to confirm the details of the earlier incidents. I have the notes in my pack and will check on arrival.

I arrived in Rotok following a pleasant drive. These upgraded Nepos make for a much smoother ride. I drove straight out to inspect the scene of the incident (Montral Farm). Thankfully the farmer had left the carcasses untouched.

I have to say that I’m more than a little perplexed by several factors.

Firstly, the animals were not mauled in a way I consider typical for a bear attack. At least no average bear that I have encountered.

Instead, the three dogs were what I could only describe as pulverised. The skull and shoulders of one were entirely crushed, and the rib cages of the other two were shattered.

Despite this, very little external damage is apparent. It’s as if they were each struck by a single fatal blow. By my estimations, the animal that killed those dogs is far larger than a typical Hill Bear.

Then there was the sheep. It is my initial assessment that the dogs were the ones that killed the sheep. The bite marks match up, and I found blood and tissue in their teeth to support that theory.

Lastly, the ground is quite damp, but there has been no rain since the incident, so the tracks and prints are quite clear. This allows me to propose a sequence of events.

The evidence suggests the following:

The dogs were worrying the flock. The farmer confirmed them to be local ferals, not his own. As far as he knows they had not caused any harm to livestock in the area recently, which is why he assumed the bear had killed the sheep.

It seems the pack managed to separate one of the sheep from the flock and began to attack it. Tracks indicate the young girl (Lea) ran from the back door of the farmhouse and tried to intervene to protect her father’s livestock.

The dogs appear to have rounded on her, and I was able to find some indication that she may have been bitten. A small amount of blood can be seen where she fell and began to crawl away from them.

At this point it becomes somewhat more challenging to explain. The evidence suggests that a large animal dashed in from the tree line, a bear based on the shape of the prints. The size is another matter. I know of no bears that grow this large. The prints and the length of its stride indicate an animal of sixteen to twenty feet when upright.

This creature scattered the pack and swiftly dispatched each of them, as described earlier. I found nothing to suggest that it was wounded in the process.

Finally, it approached the young girl where she lay on the ground, before departing into the forest. No other tracks were present that I could match to the child, in any direction.

I fear the worst for her, but I am confused by the events as I see them. If my reconstruction can be relied upon, it would seem this creature came to the child’s rescue, only to take her away after. Her condition cannot be determined.

I could not continue to track the animal into the forest this evening as it was already too dark. I will pick up the trail in the morning.

While looking for a break from the Trees of Unara (TofA) this weekend, I happened upon this account on my desk. One of the researchers recommended it to me weeks ago, but it has been buried beneath other matters since.

I read it with interest and hope you do too.

Continued in:

Extract No. 2 from the journal of Derrik Sandar, an Officer of the Agriculture & Wildlife Council of Dax.

Illustration by Midjourney & G.G.B.

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