Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Argopelter

The Argopelter is a "fearsome critter" -- a folkloric beast of America's back-country.  In the 19th century, it reputedly terrorized loggers and lumberjacks, attacking them when they intruded on its habitat.  Physically, this creature was not intimidating -- it was thin, lanky and monkey-like.  But don't let its appearance fool you.  The Argopelter was a lethal menace, and a master of projectile warfare.

This critter was completely arboreal, living and sleeping within the treetops.  By night, it would sleep in woodpecker holes, feeding upon the owls that sometimes dwelled there.  By day, it would climb out onto a branch and wait for passerby.  When one came near, the Argopelter would break off a rotting chunk of wood, whirling it around its head at high speed.  Finally, it would let go, launching its weapon and striking the "trespasser" dead.

Generally, an Argopelter attack was never seen coming.  A lumberjack would vanish into the woods, seeking a tree to cut, and simply wouldn't come back.  Eventually, his comrades would come searching -- to find only his body, crushed beneath a fallen branch.  Most would call this a freak accident, unsuspecting of the real culprit.  The Argopelter, meanwhile, would lie in wait -- until another victim came into range.

As a side-note, I've always wondered the source of the Argopelter's name.  I've never seen one recorded, but I've come up with my own pet theory.  The Argo is a ship of Greek legend -- a wooden vessel that carried many great heroes.  Eventually, though, the boat began to decay and was taken out of service.  Its former captain, Jason, still visited the vessel -- until he was killed when its prow fell off and crushed him.  Perhaps the name "Argopelter" is a reference to this story.  Death by rotting wood sounds awfully familiar.

Read more about the Argopelter:
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