The phaelros is a large wild creature of the Cutting-through-the-jungle-on-a-golden-track family. Its appearance is not well understood, because for some mysterious reason it is never seen approaching, but only departing. Its hindquarters, at least, are said to resemble those of an aelfant. A study of its dung-balls or proto-coproliths, however, clearly establishes that it dines chiefly on the leaves of the five-o-clock tea plant, with an occasional admixture of fefferberies, particularly fermented ones.
The legends of the forest claim that a phaelros can be discerned by the "five unmistakable marks", to wit, its flavor, its slug-a-bed nature, its regrettable lack of any sense of humor, its -----, and its ambition. The nature of the fourth mark has unfortunately been long forgotten even by the jungle's most ancient lore-keepers. Internal reconstruction suggests that the original term had something to do with the River Ocean, but this interpretation may be confidently rejected as absurd on semantic grounds.
Phaelros trails, at any rate, can be and have been studied. They are neither so wide nor so long as pachyderm trails, and occasionally display a sinuosity, or even a closed-curve nature, quite alien to the so-important pachyderm roads on which so much of our Ghyllian commerce so greatly depends. No explanations have been given for this occasional behavior of iterating infinitely. It would seem entirely contrary to the transformational theory of life, as the phaelros-fodder on a closed-loop course must eventually be consumed to the uttermost farthing, leaving the poor animal utterly unable to survive to propagate its species. However, perhaps only post-menopausal (or the equivalent) phaelrosen perpetrate perpetual peripetation.
The term phaelros is generally supposed to be derived from the Modern Standard Ghyllian word phael, meaning 'real', and the Dulalian dialect word ros, meaning 'bull'. Since a phaelros is not a bull, real or otherwise, this chiefly demonstrates that the understanding of etymology in Ghyll is in its infancy.
The court of Odgar IV once contained a famous stained-glass window with a representation of a phaelros -- as seen from the rear, of course. It was created by the artist Wilhelmina Corinne Bardway, and destroyed on the day of Odgar IV's death. Fortunately, the original plans and sketches have been preserved by the Unquisition.
Dead phaelrosen rot quickly.
--John Cowan 14:33, 24 Jan 2005 (EST)