This week, Jacinth looks at the bizarre synergy between Isparians and the lesser creatures that hold importance in their lives, as well as the very special relationship between a Mattekar and the greatest of the Lugians:

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Back on Ispar, it was often said that man’s best friend was the canine. But whether because of the greater variety of fauna from which to choose companions here on Dereth or the fact that no Isparian dogs have apparently made or survived the journey through portalspace, we have come to have far more exotic animals at our beck and call. In the last few weeks, nearly every individual has chosen at least one of the unusual pets available at the charming shop near the Obsidian Span or elsewhere, be it a Drudge, Thrungum, or even an enchanted pumpkin. Others have taken far more strange and even vicious creatures under their care, such as the legendary mage Harlune and his quaintly-named reedshark Alfrega. However, when my thoughts turn to the strange and beautiful relationship between man (or Empyrean) and beast, one particular pairing keeps coming to mind: That of the great Lord Kresovus and his faithful pet Balor.

Though most likely from very different worlds, Lugians have a great affinity to the mountain beast we call the Mattekar; much like we use dogs or the Hea Tumerok use Reedsharks, Lugians often use Mattekars as hunting animals or even sentries. But Balor was no ordinary Mattekar. Probably the greatest and, until an accident by a henchman of Aerbax made it otherwise, certainly the last surviving Hoary Mattekar, Balor was the personal pet and most trusted companion of the mighty leader of Linvak Tukal, Kresovus. The great gray giant treated his pet almost like a member of his own family, and there was hardly a time when the two were seen apart.

Unfortunately, that changed nearly two years ago when a group of strange Lugians, really a horde of Shadow doppelgangers, attacked Linvak Tukal in the dead of night. The Lugian casualties were great, but they were eventually able to turn away their attackers. However, it came at a great cost, as several of their fellow warriors, as well as Balor, were taken during the skirmish. Human adventurers were able to track down the base of operations the imposters were using, and within the cavern they found the Lugian captives. But there was no sign of Balor, and his whereabouts remain a mystery even to this day.

The relationship between sapient races and so-called lower animals is a strange one. We take a creature that appears barely aware of its own existence, and we elevate it to the level of friend, comrade, and even kin. There are those who would say such things are folly, that animals are just animals and not worth the respect and affection others give them. But to those individuals, I simply say: Go to Linvak Tukal. Climb the great ramps that wind around the immense central tower. Stand before the mighty Kresovus. And look. Look into the dark, sorrowful eyes of the lord of Linvak, and tell him his beloved Balor was nothing more than a lowly beast.

For more on Balor, read his Encyclopedia entry as well as the Shadow Lugians quest writeup.

For more on the return of the Hoary Mattekar, check out “Blaylock’s Folly”.

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