This isn't my story, it's my younger brother's, but I'm sharing it with you guys becuase I think he had an amazing experience that should be documented. I'm going to tell it from his perspective, since it was easier for me to write it down that way while he was explaining what happened to him.
If anyone else here has had a similar experience please let us know, since we want to figure out how commonly this creature is sighted.
Two weeks ago I went camping in the Zagros Mountains as part of a last-minute, post-college unwinding session. I finished my finals early, and I was getting ready to start working at a local law firm, but I wanted to see a little more of the world before too much time passed.
On an impulse I bought myself a ticket, and three days later I was flying out of the Boston International Airport. Twenty-nine hours later I was standing at one of the trailheads, which started in the southwestern corner of the Iranian Plateau and ran for fourteen miles until it merged with another trail.
While I didn't have any idea about the local geography I did have some pretty good navigation items on me, and the path was so straightforward that I wasn't worried about getting lost. My plan was to take two days to hike this trail, then I'd head into one of the big cities and see some of the nightlife. I'd maybe find myself a girl or two to show me around, then I'd head back home by the end of the week. It was a foolproof plan, and I was couldn't wait for my first night in the woods.
Everything went perfectly that day. I covered the first seven miles, and then I set up camp in a small grove of oak trees. I hadn't seen another person out there, and the trail looked less used than I expected, but I loved how much wildlife I had seen. I made a fire and heated up one of my dad's MRE dinners, and to my surprise the military-packaged beef stew didn't taste bad at all. Before heading to bed I made sure that everything was stored away carefully so that animals wouldn't try to get into anything, and I fell asleep within minutes of crawling into my tent.
Sometime later I woke up, and it took me a moment to remember where I was. I lay still, trying to figure out what had pulled me out of my slumber. After a few minutes I didn't hear anything, so I wrote it off as a dream and fell back into a light sleep. The next time I woke I could see the moon shining through the tent window, and I could hear soft, lovely music.
My first thought was that it sounded like the kind of flute you hear in Celtic songs, but the longer I listened the more it sounded ethereal and out of sync. It was as though multiple instruments were playing, and the rest of the nocturnal forest sounds had ceased.
I untangled myself from my sleeping bag, and I carefully unzipped my tent so that it didn't make any abrupt noise. I didn't think I was in any particular danger, but I wanted to be cautious since it was admittedly weird to randomly hear music in the middle of nowhere at roughly 3am. I let my eyes adjust to the moonlight, with it being a full moon I could see my campsite well enough. Everything was in place, and I didn't see anyone around. The music sounded like it was coming from off to one side of the clearing, and it didn't sound particularly close.
I popped my head back into my tent long enough to grab boots and a flashlight, then I closed the tent up behind me and began following the music. I was intensely curious, and I figured that if I maintained a good distance from the sound no one would even know I was there. I crept along the edge of the clearing, trying to keep to the shadows while making my footfalls light. I followed the haunting music into the darkness, my senses on overdrive as I tried to track it. I wasn't the best woodsman, but I liked to think I could handle this.
After about ten minutes I came to a halt, my chest squeezing in a moment of blinding panic. Whomever was playing the music was probably perfectly friendly, but on the off chance that they weren't I realized that I was defenseless. Sure, I could always punch them, but that wouldn't do me much good if they had another weapon on them or could take a hit.
I began checking the ground near me, and I soon found a sturdy, thick branch that seemed like it could do some damage if necessary. I tucked it under my arm, cradling it to me as I advanced. It took me another five minutes, but I soon found the source of the music. As I got closer I shut my flashlight off, and I waited to see who was there.
It took my brain a moment to process what I was seeing. I had expected a person to be sitting at a campsite playing music, but all I saw was a deer. The clearing it was in was flooded with moonlight, and the lighting was bright enough that I wished I had my camera with me.
After a minute it raised its head from the berry bush it had been grazing on, and that was when I saw that it wasn't a deer. It's single antler was long and spiraled, almost like that of a gazelle, but I could see that each prong had a hole in it. The antler was acting like a pan flute, since it made a musical sound whenever the breeze blew across them. I studied it in fascination, and that was when I realized that we weren't alone.
Along the edge of the clearing several animals had poked their heads out, and they were cautiously surveying their surroundings. They were all drawn towards the deer-like creature, and they seemed to be as interested in its music as I was. Each time the wind blew the animals crept a little closer, and soon I could see that there was a weird mix of them.
There was a couple of striped hyenas, a snake, some Persian fallow deer, some rabbits and even a cow. I didn't even realize that Iran had whatever the deer-thing was, much less hyenas, so that came as a surprise. As I tried to identify the rest of the creatures a violent gust of wind began blowing, and the once-silent animals instantly turned agitated.
Over the enraged sound of hisses, growls, bellows and thumps I could hear the music soar, but now it had a heavier, more aggressive quality to it. The animals began turning on each other, and soon it was a war. Biting, clawing, kicking and stomping began to kill them off, until only two animals remained.
The cow, and one of the hyenas, stood panting as they faced off against each other. They were covered in bloody gashes, and the cow looked like it was missing an eye. As the violent song died down the cow shook its head, as if it was trying to get a fly out of its ear, and the hyena let out a confused, scared whimper.
Throughout the carnage the horned thing had stood in the same spot, and I don't think it had moved a muscle. It finally stepped away from the bush, carefully stepping over carcasses and gore until it stood in front of the remaining animals. They held their ground, and the hyena began growling.
The deer-like creature shook its head, and a piercing, whistle-like sound came from its horn. Its startled the animals, who both skittered away. I had no idea what I had just witnessed. It had happened so brutally and quickly that it had been hard to keep track of any one animal, and I had to force myself to keep breathing steadily so that I wouldn't vomit. I had never seen bloodshed like that, and I couldn't stop my hands from shaking.
As I began to back away the creature daintily made its way into the center of the clearing, and to my disgust it began feeding on the slain animals. I could hear bones snapping wetly, and that was when my stomach betrayed me. I vomited, and when I finally stopped heaving it was gone.
I could smell the blood and viscera in the air, which sent my stomach into another wave of nauseated cramps. I made it back to my tent, practically crawling at some points, and that night I barely slept. What little sleep I did get was filled with nightmares, and without hesitation I cut my trip short.
When I had internet service again I spent some time trying to find what the creature was, and it seems like it was a shadhavar. The easiest way to explain it is by calling it a carnivorous unicorn, and they were thought to have gone extinct in Iran hundreds of years ago. The type of animals they like eating respond to their sound of their horn, and that's when it's too late for the prey to escape. It's a fascinating creature, but damn do I hope that I never see one again.