It was a sad day in this researcher's life when the last Aephooz died in captivity some ten years ago. He well remembers as a young boy in the Sjarr Flats, how the gentle lulling notes of their lament guided him home through the Trinstjard Deeps every evening.

    These gentle creatures once flourished in the Sjarr Flats, roosting in the trees in their millions, obscuring the foliage with their bright red-gold plumage, so that the trees seemed almost to be on fire.

    This now vanished sight was one of the Seventeen Wonders of the Universe, listed in such eminent guides as 'The Top Hundred Places to Go Before you hit the Big Bucket on the Way Out' as "Not to be missed!!!!" and noted by the renowned travel writer Benari Tount-Ouicker as "Equivalent to basting your toes in honey and having it licked off again by Trixic Cats".

    Alas that these well-meaning tomes brought the tourists in such droves. With every year that passed the Sjarr Flats grew more and more cramped. Booths sprang up; hotels, motels, telepotels and street-cafes spread like a plague.

    It was noticed too late that the Aephooz were in a decline. Their bright plumage grew drab, their sweet songs weary. No expense was spared to save them, but it seemed that nothing could be done. Numbers continued to dwindle, with each year that passed there were fewer and fewer nesting pairs.

    The street-cafes emptied, motels were shut down...

    The last Aephooz were removed to more salubrious surroundings, but to no avail.



Rating: Sublime

Status: Extinct

Right thing to say should you ever meet one: Oh, sing to me once more sweet Aephooz, that I may die a happier, better researcher, cleansed in mind and spirit....


The End

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