Interlude 4

Day 1
Hello, future reader. Exciting day today. This marks the beginning of the travel/work journal for the Second Paleontological Expedition of the Academy of Natural Sciences. My proposal for a more succinct name fell through. I hope you share in my grief, future reader.

Our group has been prepared the past two days. Weather conditions unfavorable prior to now. The torrential rains have done little to dampen our spirits thus far. Daima notes a continued sturdiness in our caravan with approval.

Two hours spent double and triple checking what was already checked the previous day. Mildly annoyed. Mostly excited. Finally, with everything in order, we conclude the first day having traveled well. I forgot to finish this paragraph before we made camp.

Day 2
Weather continuing to improve. Camp packed and movement resumed in good time. Continuing our trek south-southwest.

Day 5
Grijen tripped on an exposed root and cut his hand. Accompanying medical professional saw to care. Wound is minor and will reportedly heal before we return to Celdan.

Day 7
In contrast to the recent quiet, the group is excited again. We can sometimes sight the southern peaks in the distance, when the canopy permits. Certain species of bird flourishing as the climate grows warmer. Grijen aware of species name? Their vocalizations dominate the air down here.

The location of a particularly sizeable commune-nest of aforementioned avians is noted in Supplementary Material B1.

Our guide, Lida, approximates us halfway to Karrian. We are making expected progress.

Day 8
Grijen reports a subsiding of pain. His bandaging is to remain on for the time being in spite of this. Grijen complains privately to me over the inconvenience, but obeys the professional’s orders at my urging.

Day 10
Daima has fallen ill. Her belongings have temporarily been split among us to carry until she regains the energy to both walk and carry her things. All haul and watch shifts have been extended to make up for her temporary absence from the pool.

Day 13
Unexpected obstacle. What appears to be a swollen river blocks our intended path. Maps of the area suggest a mild stream should reside at this location. Lida and I debate on best course of action. Others in the group speculate as to the source of the rising water, given the season and lack of substantial rainfall since we set out. Conversation and further details noted in Supplementary Material B2.

Several hours spent roaming adjacent to the water. Ideal crossing point has yet to be discovered. Due to the lateness of the hour, we make camp and leave the task for the morrow.

Day 14
Confusion. The floodwaters seem to have disappeared while we slept. Our designated watch fell asleep briefly without waking up the next. Reported the lack of water early morning.

Lida has located a common crossing point for the stream.

Day 21
Arrival has been somewhat delayed. Lida speculates reaching the site within a few days. We have left the forests and are traveling along an old road. Palpable sense of historicity to the place. Or just me? Path took us near what appeared to be an ancient logging camp. Location noted in Supplementary Material B3; cross-reference with known locations in northern Karrian; potential future dig?

Day 22
Daima has fully recovered.

Footing is uneasy on our route today. After waking, we diverged from the old road and began tracing the edges of the hills. Several areas are filled with stones of various sizes. Evidence of recent landslides nearby. Locations noted in Supplementary Material B4 for future possible research and recordings.

More ruins. A watchtower slowly crumbles on a sturdy overlook. Feels strange to witness even more relics from this age. Stranger to simply walk by them on the way to our destination.

Lida says we need crest only one more hill to reach the site. We make camp.

Day 23
Camp was abuzz in the early morning. Sleeping members excitedly woken up by an overly eager Kerrie, but the intrusion was not unwelcome. We were all anticipating finally reaching the site.

Terrain was continuously rocky in the area leading up to the site. Plants seem scarce and limited to those typical for the region. Previously recorded mentions of invasive species potentially incorrect? Recommend secondary study.

Descent into site went as expected. More permanent base camp erected in slightly over two hours, with Daima taking the lead in surveying our first, easiest targets while others worked. Fourteen targets marked for future attention.

Dirt and stone dumping location identified and set up. Excavations of first targets begun. In three hours, twenty-two bone fragments and nine whole pieces uncovered. Extremely fruitful location. Sketches provided in Primary Material A1.

Work stops early. Members of excavation somewhat exhausted from the day’s work and eager to categorize current findings. Lida takes up the post of chef for the duration of our immobility.

Comparison with sketches of previous findings as well as skeletons of modern species mildly illuminating. At least two separate adult specimens located in the sediment here. Likely reptilian or avian, depending on age. Vertebrae, teeth, and skull fragments common. One incomplete set of claws.

Day 24
Work continues. An additional forty-eight bone fragments and fifteen whole pieces uncovered before easy targets are exhausted (Primary Material A2). Five hours spent. From there, an additional two hours spent on speculative boring to ascertain the next targets.

One specimen confirmed as reptilian. Rib spacing and skull features indicate possible early ancestor of several modern species; requires thorough and intensive study to verify.

Day 27
Slow day. Half an hour after beginning work, a drill bit broke. Minor landslide shortly thereafter. No injuries. Three lost fossil fragments. Area required effort to clear. Late afternoon before work was able to continue, but group refrained from doing so.

Hillside further up from site inspected for any potential further instability. Nothing concerning found.

Another piece of skeleton seems to have been unearthed by the landslide. Location marked for further surveying at a later time.

Day 28
Group has agreed on resting for the majority of the day. Grijen and I spend some time walking in the surrounding wilderness. The watchtower we walked past a few days ago is visible in the distance. The area is dry and warm. A nearby mountain stream supplements our water supplies.

Day 30
More shifting dirt. Group concerned. Several hours spent determining whether the base camp was in danger of being buried. Seemingly no risk at present, but worried. Several essential supplies and our tents have been moved further away.

Rest of the day relegated to observation of the environment. By nightfall, nothing further piques our interest.

Day 31
Satisfied with our safety now, we resume digging. Minority spend their time appraising secondary targets; majority joining me in interest around skeleton first revealed on Day 27. Much bigger than previously thought, upon excavating more.

Minority team having identified our next targets, they join us around the large skeleton. By now, we have unearthed as much of it as safely possible. The rest extends deep into the hill. Judging by the size of its vertebrae, ribs, and skull, it’s possible the specimen was larger than three or four Belenese houses while alive. Sketches provided in Primary Material A3, along with size comparisons.

Revelation is exciting for many; additional evidence for the hypothesized Titanic Epoch proposed by Prof. M. S. Jeulard? Choice of name still a little on-the-nose in my opinion. Do you agree, future reader? In either case, its position in the strata is in line with Jeulard’s thesis. Personally becoming convinced.

We end the work day on a high note. Excited to wrap up our efforts here and return with findings.

Day 38

Safe to conclude our team has exhausted all readily available specimens. Several additional targets surveyed, but impossible to reach with current equipment. Recommendations for follow-up expedition and necessary gear noted in Supplementary Material B7.

Large skeleton has been partially disassembled. What we could not take along, we have reburied with a marker noting its location.

Camp mostly packed. We shall spend one last night here before packing the rest and returning to Celdan. Assuming no further excitement on the return trip, I will likely end this journal here.

I am glad to have been assigned to this one.

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