You never see the Kathari elves until it’s too late. Quiet, they are, and quick as any man. Old King Draten thought to keep his men safe by only allowing mounted riders down the forest roads. That’s when the elves started training their cats. . .
These panthers are twice as large as regular pack leaders, and dark as the moonless sky. Their claws appear to be made of obsidian, with an eerie black shine, but suffer from no brittle state. When viewed in bright light, tendrils of darkness seem to waif up from below their rippling forms.
All panthers are fierce predators that no fey would want to face down in combat. The Kathari elves have been training the beasts for generations as hunting animals. Moving stealthily, side by side with the elven warriors, they could quickly take down prey or those who might intrude on their woodland homes.
When the humans began sending teams of mounted warriors trampling through their lands, and upsetting the primal spirits there, the elves again looked to the panthers for aid. One of their shamans gave up his mortal life to the great fire spirit, Tourq, in exchange for the remarkable transformation of their cats. No longer would they hunt by the elves’ side, but were now large enough to carry their hunting partners on their backs. Their powerful legs could keep up with any human horse, and tear open their soft flesh even faster.
Curse of Shadow
The Tourqen panthers generally sleep during the day, and seem unnaturally restless if forced to hunt while the sun still shines. This may be a trait shared by other, more normal cats, but for the Tourqen Panthers, it is readily apparent.
Today, some Kathari elves believe that Tourq was not truly a spirit of fire, but an ancient dark fey lord, trapped away in the shadowfell. Some say Tourq hoped that by having agents amongst the elves he could slowly seduce them with visions of dark power, and eventually use them to enact a ritual so that he could escape the shadowfell, and again terrorize the realm of man. He supposedly planted a sliver of his presence in these great cats during the ritual, but did not account for the will of these proud creatures, or their devotion to their elven masters.
Whether the story is true seems to matter little. While these panthers may walk a dark path, they still bear a stronger connection to the natural world. Those who command creatures of shadow will find no ally among them.
Featured image of panther (top) by J Alvarrsson. Black Panther Blue Night artist unknown.