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The werebbubb flashed his pointed teeth, straightening his tiny figure in the saddle.
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- Description, Something Ends, Something Begins

Werebbubbs, bobolaks or bogeymen[N 1] are a nonhuman race of short stature, covered in fur. Despite the name, they aren't shapeshifters.

Once spread across the highlands between the rivers Sylte and Tango, werebbubbs were almost wiped out. Only a few had been assimilated and by the 1250s, many retreated to Mahakam or more remote hills and ravines.

Characteristics

Physical description

Slightly taller than a dwarf, werebbubbs are of a tiny figure. Their bodies are covered in thick fur,[1] brown or black,[2] gradually turning white or ashen with advanced age. Concealed in the furry face are pointed teeth and two small, glittering eyes.[1] Less efficient sight is compensated by perfect hearing. Sharp claws on werebbubb hands can serve as weapons.[2]

Physically stronger than humans,[5] werebbubbs have metabolism abiding by utterly unique rules. It allows them to endure even the gravest wounds by monstrosities like koshchey, although finding a medic outside their own can prove difficult. Moving with the agility of an ape[1] werebbubbs make excellent trackers and hunters.[2]

Mental traits

The race values courage. Werebbubbs are proud of being different from humans[1] and fond of rocky massifs. They are kindred of dwarves and gnomes in this regard, though unlike the two races they do not extract the earth's riches. Their attempt to stop humans from doing so within werebbubbs' mountain homes was what sparked the conflict that nearly got them exterminated.[6] Overall, werebbubbs are a calm and industrious folk, living off of what nature gives them and repaying in kind.[7]

Culture

Society

Vran bobolak komiks

Werebbubbs engaged in a ritual fight with vrans at a reservation.

Suited to life at high altitude, werebbubbs build mountain cities. Nonetheless, they lack defense comparable to dwarven fortifications, which makes them vulnerable.[8] Elders are traditional leaders. They serve in place of priests too, conducting rites.[7] Aside from claws, werebbubbs fight with standard arms including axes, swords, and spears.[1]

Religion

Werebbubb faith is based on traditions and legends.[3] Albeit much heritage was irretrievably lost,[2] scholars and mages still draw from the rest. Werebbubbs don't worship gods, deifying a plethora of ancestral heroes instead. They believe the great heroes posthumously became spirits of the land and continue to guide the descendants. Each hero has an annual holiday during which celebrants gather at stone altars to offer sacrifices of items rare in slopes such as grain, fruit, and vegetables.

The opponent of great heroes, the source of all evil, is Lilit. Said perception is thought by scholars and mages to be an echo of past wars between werebbubbs and Wozgors, later amplified by Ithlinne's Prophecy.[7] Werebbubbs initially believed the apocalypse shall happen on her return, heralded by the Black Sun.[3] They dreaded lengthy eclipses in the past and tried to chase them away with loud music, weapon sounds, and belligerent cries.[7]

Zeli, a werebbubb heroine seen as patroness of harvest and fertility honored on Lammas,[7] is considered one of the precursors to Melitele.[3]

History

Beginnings

Bobolak RPG

A werebbubb

Just as the circumstantial evidence suggests, werebbubbs are one of the ancient dwellers of the Continent,[9] their first appearance dating somewhere after the arrival of gnomes to at least 1st millenium BR.[N 2] At the dawn of an era, if tales are to be believed, herbalist Zeli discovered agriculture and innovative ways to use plants for healing purposes. She directed fellow werebbubbs and became revered as a great hero.[7] They lived principally south of the Amell mountains in current Nazair, Metinna, and Mag Turga.

Following the landfall of elves from their white ships, werebbubbs got ruthlessly pushed out of their fatherland. They moved north, principally to Amell and southern Mahakam. Striving for harmonious coexistence with local dwarves and gnomes, werebbubbs helped them repel the Aen Seidhe.[2] This interracial feuds, however, never spiraled into a total war or attempts to eradicate.[9] Moreover, battles between werebbubbs and elves were far from vicious.[8]

Kehl mounted2

Kehl, a werebbubb rider

The collisions with Nordlings

Until the First Landing, werebbubbs had peace. This event brought humans of Nordling culture who deemed werebbubb's hairy look as bestial.[2] When werebbubbs halted the construction of mines, human colonists retaliated with mass slaughters. The majority was exterminated,[6] captives were closed in reservations with vrans.[4] Only a few hundred werebbubbs survived.[8]

Loss of various uplands to Nordlings pushed a new wave of werebbubbs into Amell and Mahakam.[9] One community went further, setting up cities in Kestrel Mountains. When they rebuilt that was lost, humans reached out with the demand for permission to mine. Thjjn who led the werebbubbs refused. A long battle ensued, in which Thjjn and his kind fought valiantly but outnumbered and without fortifications, they lost.[8] In the 1160s, werebbubbs were withal butchered in Amell.[2]

Colonizing a mountainous area rich in metal deposits,[10] early Kovirians came into conflict with werebbbubbs. The grandfather of Julian for instance, who by the age of 47 had a collection of werebbubb scalps above his mantle went on to found a prospering diamond business despite initial problems.[11]

Nine months before Geralt of Rivia's birth,[12] at least 9 werebbubbs were among Koshchey's Men. Under Fregenal they exploited the Klamat area, controlling trade routes to the Amell. When locals rose in a riot, werebbubb Kehl toppled Fregenal. He parleyed with riled peasants from nearby hamlets and led the men out. Soon, Kehl returned. Head protected by mail coif, he lent Visenna his broad sword against koshchey and fell.[1]

13th-century remnants

Comics fancy bbubb

An integrated individual in Blaviken dressed fashionably.

In the late 1210s, a werebbubb gang attacked the prince of Caingorn whom witcher Eskel saved. The prince spattered in werebbubb blood offered anything in return. Eskel invoked the Law of Surprise. Unbeknownst to the prince, his daughter, Princess Deidre Ademeyn, had just been born.[13]

A handful of werebbubbs integrated into human societies after all the bloodshed,[8] two which lived in Blaviken being an example.[14] Either way, the safest refuge of werebbubbs turned out to be Mahakam. By the 1250s, the race prospered in its depths and regained numbers to some extent.[3] Twenty years on, a werebbubb outside Mahakam would be a rare sight even for travelers.[8]

In March 1268, near the end of the Second Northern War, Meve had been approaching Aldersberg to join allies when Scoia'tael shot her scout Corporal Larkin. The elf tried to talk around it saying it was an accident. Meve, furious, sardonically asked if she should blame werebbubbs then.[15] In a similar quip, Geralt affirmed he was hired to deal with werebbubbs when questioned about an audience with Emperor Emhyr var Emreis in 1272.[16]

Notable werebbubbs

For a complete list of known werebbubbs, see Category:Werebbubbs.

Notes

Werebbubb by Jana Komarkova

Jana Komárková's cat-like depiction.

  • Were- part is of an archaic origin and means "male", just as -łak in the original bobołak has the elder meaning of "skin" from the Proto-Slavic lakъ. Hence bobołak shares roots with certain folklore creatures like Polish bobok or bebok and English bogeyman or bugbear to list a few. Andrzej Sapkowski might have been lightly inspired by the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, featuring hairy bugbears with sharp teeth, that he used to play.[17]
  • The race was to be prominent in a novel that eventually evolved into Droga, z której się nie wraca short story. Later however, when the author focused on developing the world of The Witcher, he decided to abandon further development of vrans and werebbubbs because he wanted it to be inhabited mainly by more classic fantasy races like elves and hobbits. Apart from the short story, werebbubbs are only mentioned in passing, with intention that the species is nearly extinct.[18]
  • Earlier there was confusion about their appearance. Perhaps mistaking bobcat for the root word, Czech illustrator Jana Komárková drew one with a felid face. The Polish name for a bobcat, however, is ryś rudy ("red lynx"). Likewise, Michael Kandel and David French translated bobołak as "werecat" and "werelynx" respectively, though that's a separate creature.

Footnotes

  1. Polish bobołak has 3 solid English analogs: the front one from 2015 The World of the Witcher, used in CD Projekt's The Witcher franchise onward. Unaccented "bobolak" debuted in the Monsterbook and The Witcher and is still seldom used by R. Talsorian on conventions. "Bogeymen" is Danusia Stok's closest official book translation. Moreover, CDPR approved her issue of The Witcher story, including it in the 1st game's extras.
  2. In Blood of Elves, Aen Seidhe are said to have sailed into the Northern Realms "thousand years before" humans, whose own landing occurred "five hundred years ago" in 1267 when the book is set. Expansion for Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni talks of werebbubbs as already present by the time of elven disembarking.

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Something Ends, Something Begins
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 The Last Wish
  4. 4.0 4.1 Zdrada
  5. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sword of Destiny
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 2nd Edition of Wiedźmin: Gra Wyobraźni
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 The Witcher Role-Playing Game
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The World of the Witcher
  10. The Tower of the Swallow
  11. The Witcher
  12. Droga bez powrotu
  13. The Price of Neutrality premium module
  14. Mniejsze zło
  15. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
  16. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  17. "Komiksy, manga i RPG" – A. Sapkowski interview
  18. "Twój wywiad" – 2001 A. Sapkowski interview
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