Thursday, October 20, 2011

Berk Bonus Species: Skeeros

Demon Squirrel by SeaWhisper
Every Berk resident knows to be on the lookout for attack squirrels, with good reason. But just as sheep must have a shepherd, so do attack squirrels have Skeeros. Maybe the Skeeros are more like sheep-dogs. Sheep-squirrels. Squirrel-squirrels. Skeeros are squirrel-people who keep packs of attack squirrels.

Nobody would ever mistake a Skeero for a regular squirrel, or for an attack squirrel. Skeeros stand about four feet high, can walk on two legs, and stand in a crouched posture. Skeeros often wear belts stuffed with simple tools they have found and random junk. They travel on two legs or four, though they seem to prefer two-legged locomotion and move on four legs only when running away in a panic.

Skeeros have brownish-gray fur, with large, dark eyes filled with strange malice. Though not truly sentient, they are remarkably intelligent. Though they do not fashion tools, they collect objects they find, which they carry on tool-belts they loop over their bodies. Their dextrous hands are adept at removing belts from their victims, meaning that you can identify a particularly dangerous Skeero by the number of belts it has. Though most of the items the Skeeros carry are worthless pieces of junk they use as simple clubs or knives, occasionally a Skeero has found something more precious without realizing what it is. There are tales of wily, scarred Skeeros who carry around computer parts, books, or Kenners, and who have dispatched many adventurers who tried to reclaim those items.

Skeeros communicate with attack squirrels and other Skeeros by chattering. Librarians who have studied the "language" believe that it contains no actual words or structure, but conveys all of its meaning in tone and volume. This does not stop explorers from being creeped out by the sound, and many treasure seekers insist that, if you listen closely to the noises a Skeero makes as it searches for your hiding place, you can almost make out words.

Attack squirrels have a natural affinity for Skeeros, making Skeeros the only species besides attack squirrels that the squirrels do not attack. Most Skeeros also keep a pack of attack squirrels that they feed and command. Because attack squirrels are often solitary, the sight of several together, working as a pack, is often an indication that a Skeero is nearby. They do occasionally form packs on their own, but attack squirrels are much more likely to do so under the influence of a Skeero.

Despite being much larger than attack squirrels, a Skeero can climb anything an attack squirrel can. The fact that they weigh much more than an attack squirrel does not prevent a Skeero from running out to the edge of a thin branch or scuttling along a long-dormant telephone wire that looks like it would never bear the weight of a creature one-tenth the size.

For this reason, many explorers have been caught unawares by Skeeros descending on them from above, accompanied by a rain of voracious, madly chittering attack squirrels.

1 comment:

  1. "Gramma, get ma shotgun. Ah'mma hunt some skweerls fer the soup. Mah word! Ah think Ah hear a big 'un!" - the last words of an unlucky Ent.

    (Watch out for this typo: "and stand in a crouched posture that.")