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Leshen

Our party stumbled upon a horror show today. It seems that while tracking what we thought was a Bear, we accidentally stumbled upon the track of a Leshen instead. The stench hit us by surprise as we squeezed through some tight underbrush; the sheer number of bones and decaying bodies was enough to make a number of the hunters with us throw up their lunches in the bushes. It's been a few hours, and even though we've left that place behind, it still feels like the stench is following us. When we bed down for the night a few of the men volunteered to take watch. It was scary enough out here when we thought the largest thing out here was a bear.
— Journal Entry #15, Author Unknown

Basic Information

Anatomy

Leshens are tall, bony creatures that seem to be close-to starving at any moment. The average Leshen is around ten feet tall. The pieces of their skin that are visible from beneath their tattered garments are pulled taut against the bones jutting underneath. The clothes that they wear vary in design and material based on the individual.   Leshens have sharp clawed fingers on their hands which they use to pierce and grab onto prey. Occasionally stories arise that seem to suggest that the claws are coated in a type of venom which weakens or kills anyone unlucky enough to have one draw blood. It's unknown if this venom is manufactured by the Leshen itself or if it is applied topically to the claws.   One of the Leshen's most notable features is its head. In every sighting of a Leshen, their head is skeletal in form. The shape and nature of the skeleton varies between individuals and subgroups, from deer-like heads to even heads that appear avian in nature. Several scientists have hypothesized that the head types originated in the different regions of Sornieth, though with the intermixing of Leshen groups these borders have gotten fuzzier.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Leshen are notable for being capable of eating anything that they can get in their grasp. Their fearsome reputation centers mostly on their voracious hunger for flesh and meat of all kinds even though Leshen's are known to occasionally forage for fruit or vegetables within their territory. It's unknown how much a Leshen eats as no one has ever managed to study one in the wild for an extended period of time without becoming prey themselves. Folklore seems to suggest that Leshens go on cyclical binges followed by periods of rest. No one knows if this is true or, if so, how long these periods of rest actually last, and folkloric examples can range from a rest period of a month to one of ten years.   One of the most feared habits of the Leshen is the fact that they are known to eat dragons, and many have been documented hunting and feasting on hatchlings. There have been tales of Leshens devouring entire clans in their hunger and leaving nothing behind but abandoned huts and bones, though given the infrequent nature of Leshen attacks it's unlikely one Leshen could or would devour more than two to three full grown dragons at any given time.   Leshens are also known to hoard food. One of the easiest ways to find a Leshen is to search out the stench of rotting meat. They are known to pile their sources of food in one spot, and seem to not mind the taste of partially rotten flesh, as Leshens can and will let meat sit for quite some time before finally eating it.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Any byproducts from Leshens are exceedingly rare and expensive due to the huge danger to anyone attempting to acquire them. Leshen claws are very rare ingredients in higher-end potions, and occasionally have even been used as weapons by people who enjoy their venomous nature. Leshen skin is a rarer item, and can occasionally be found used for cloaks or other articles of clothing. Folktales say that Leshen skin hides its wearer from the eyes of other Leshen, though this fact has not been independently corroborated to any degree.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Smell is the strongest sense of the Leshen, followed closely by sound. It has been documented that Leshens have supposedly hunted dragons down over miles of rough terrain and even across large bodies of water. With such a strong sense of smell, it is almost impossible to hide from a Leshen when one is stalking you. They seem drawn to carrion as well, especially during rough seasons where a Leshens own hunting may not be enough to sustain it. In areas with known Leshen activity, dragons and beastclans generally pool their food waste in an area far away from any settlements in order to prevent curious and hungry Leshens wandering in. Cooked food does not seem to draw them in in the same manner as raw or rotting food, though if one is butchering meat and spilling blood, Leshens have been said to appear.   Their sense of sound is not as impressive as their sense of smell, though it is still powerful in its own right. Crying hatchlings or injured screams can bring Leshens in large numbers from surrounding areas. Many medics in Leshen-infested areas heavily sedate or gag their patients before beginning any sort of painful treatment for this exact reason. Field medics are especially vulnerable, as the smell of blood will travel far with the pained sounds of their patients.   The one area of weakness within a Leshen's senses are its sight. While hunting it relies almost entirely on smell and sound, while sight falls to the wayside. One of the best ways to escape a Leshen is to cover oneself in a strong smelling substance and lie still. Just freezing will do you no good, as Leshens' sense of smell is strong enough for them to find you even without the aid of their eyes. With your scent obscured, however, as long as you slow your breathing and make no sound, the Leshen is unlikely to notice you.

Danger Level
★★★★★
Strengths
Tracking, Physical Strength
Weaknesses
Fire, Salt
Average Height
9 - 13 ft.

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Credit to the Witcher Franchise (especially Witcher 3) for the Visual Style of the Leshen and some basic characteristics.     Inspiration was also taken from similar Algonquian stories and Slavic Mythology.

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