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Forvalaka by Mikey Patch (Irontree)

The Forvalaka by Mikey Patch (Irontree)

Blood-drinking, liver-eating were-leopards. Ancient, darkness-wise, filled with a millenium of hatred and hunger. The stuff of nightmare alright...

Croaker describing the forvalaka, The Black Company

The forvalaka are "wereleopards" from D'loc Aloc, an expansive jungle region on the southern continent. During the day, they appear like humans, and at night they turn into black leopards. However, some forvalaka only live in their leopard form. The forvalaka are predators which feed on humans. They inflict very specific wounds, drink the blood of their prey, and when possible, eat the internal organs including the heart and liver. Due to the beasts' superhuman speed, it is almost impossible to defeat them with conventional weapons, and, magic attacks from all but sorcerers of the highest magnitude are also ineffective.

A single natural-born forvalaka appears in the Annals. A female was captured in Beryl by Soulcatcher, and later used in a failed assassination attempt against Croaker at the Battle of Charm in The Black Company. However, two sorcerersShapeshifter and Lisa Daele Bowalk – would transform themselves into forvalakas, and would alternate between enemies or allies of the Black Company using the form and vitality of these monsters for years afterward.

Before the Annals[]

Many generations before the Books of the North, the city of Beryl was invaded by 54 forvalaka. This was during the reign of Niam, back in the city's ancient kingdom period. The beasts terrorized the city until all of them were somehow sealed away beneath Necropolitan Hill and trapped by spells of confinement. Over time, they devoured one another until only one remained: an older female which was the "nastiest, cunningest, cruelest, and craziest" of the whole group. She went mad with nothing else to do but neatly stack the bones of the other forvalaka for untold years. Meanwhile, after so many generations, the people of the city forgot what the forvalaka even looked like.

Centuries later in D'loc Aloc, the brothers One-Eye and Tom-Tom (both boys at this time) were sold to a sorcerer of significant magnitude named N'Gamo to become his apprentices. Shortly after, N'Gamo attempted to destroy a young male forvalaka but failed, losing an arm and a foot in the process. Tom-Tom never forgot the experience.

The Black Company[]

The Forvalaka by krukof2

The Forvalaka by krukof2

While the Black Company was in the service of the Syndic of Beryl, lightning from a clear sky damaged the bronze plaque which sealed tomb of the forvalaka on Necropolitan Hill. This was apparently orchestrated by Soulcatcher and Shapeshifter, who wanted to use the beast to further their goal of bringing Beryl into the Lady's Empire. The tomb was soon fully opened by soldiers from a mutinous group of Urban Cohorts who were attempting to loot the area. The female forvalaka within killed at least 7 of these men and then escaped. When Croaker, Tom-Tom, Goblin, Silent, and others from the Company investigated the tomb, Tom-Tom recounted his personal experience from his youth with the forvalaka that mauled N'Gamo. Tom-Tom admitted that N'Gamo was a far superior wizard than himself, and explained that the forvalaka loose in Beryl was even more dangerous than the one those many years ago. Unknown to them, the monster would eventually be captured by Soulcatcher.

Following the disastrous uprising in the streets of Beryl, the Paper Tower of the Bastion was invaded by what must have been Shapeshifter in the forvalaka's form. Many Reds and at least a dozen Company brothers were killed, including Tom-Tom, but the wounds were unlike those inflicted by the forvalaka which escaped Necropolitan Hill. The Company wizards injured it, but it escaped. Later, aboard Soulcatcher's massive galley The Dark Wings on the Sea of Torments, One-Eye observed the caged female forvalaka and realized it did not have any of the wounds they gave the one in the Paper Tower.

During the Battle of Charm, the female forvalaka that had been captured by Soulcatcher in Beryl attacked Croaker while he was stitching up Imperials in his surgery. He was only saved by the intervention of Bonegnasher, one of the Ten Who Were Taken, who had been sent by the Lady to protect Croaker. Despite the beast's infamous strength and vitality, it was no match for Bonegnasher, who destroyed its left shoulder with his own teeth and wrestled it into submission. The forvalaka wound up crucified, and the advancing Rebel forces gave it a wide berth. After the battle, the beast was tortured by One-Eye who sought revenge for his brother's death.

Shadow Games[]

Shapeshifter and his apprentice Lisa Daele Bowalk took the shape of forvalaka during the Battle of Dejagore. For years afterward, Bowalk would be unable to reliably return to her human form.