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Bestiary: leshen

Bestiary: leshen

A leshen is one of the most formidable foes a witcher may encounter. These creatures are loners that dwell in the heart of a forest wilderness and become its sole rulers. They show a strong territorial instinct and will kill any intruder who is bold enough to enter their ‘domain’. Not only is the beast deadly, but it can also control the nature to some extent, making packs of wolves do its bidding or using plants to snare its victims.

A witcher who wants to hunt that big game should search for contracts among woodcutters, hunters and other people of the forest. People disappearing without a trace, unprovoked attacks of wildlife and a sensation that one is constantly being watched – those are the signs that can suggest a presence of a leshen.

Fighting this monster is no mean feat. One has to remember to drink proper potions – one of the most useful ones is the Blizzard because, although he looks like a piece of wood, a leshen is a really fast sonovabitch. The Igni sign should also come in handy, since the monster is vulnerable to fire. Just make sure that you don’t burnt the whole damned forest. Still, you should pray that you don’t encounter one of the really old and powerful specimen, known as an ancient leshen. First of all, they are able to raise totems which they diligently hide in the forest thicket. Before a fight, one has to find and destroy these objects, or the beast will be able to syphon magic energy out of them.

Nonetheless, the totems are not the biggest problem when it comes to an ancient leshen. If there are people living nearby the leshen’s hunting ground, the beast sometimes chooses one of them and leaves its mark upon the unlucky bastard. And that gives that monster a relative immortality. Even if someone slays the filthy beast, it will be reborn after a while and will be able to return as long as the marked person stays near its lair. How to solve that problem? Well, in theory it should suffice to exile the marked one far away from the leshen’s domain. But this solution has a minor flaw: the marked person may return one day to their home and boom! The leshen starts killing again. That’s why I personally prefer a more… permanent solution to the marked problem.

Balthasar of Geso, a Viper School witcher

It sometimes happens so that inhabitants of some forest settlement enter a pact with the beast. It allows them to hunt within its domain, protects them from foes and makes sure that game runs straight towards an aimed arrow. In return, the leshen expects human sacrifice. One can call it a parasitic preying on fear and despair of the villagers, but it’s not easy to explain that to them – in their perception a leshen is akin to a forest god, the whole village’s prosperity dependant on its every whim. Which clearly shows that the uneducated folk, having to choose between starvation and slavery, will quickly opt for the latter.

Alcibiades Pinn, a scholar from the Oxenfurt Academy

The Forest Lord is a good lord. It’s far better than the count and his warriors who once lived here. The Forest Lord will sometimes grab someone and kill them, small loss. But when the count’s warriors got drunk, neither our women, nor children were safe…

Bolko, a resident of the Willowpeak village

Piotr Kucharski

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