vilkette

Next thing I knows, there it is, running at me right on top of the snow as if it weren't even there! All fur and teeth and muscle, snarlin' at me, a creature straight outta yur worst nightmares.   Or your wildest dreams, I s'pose, if you're one o' them crazy types that wants to raise one of 'em. Them's got a death wish, if you ask me, but live and let live I always say.   And I wanted to live, so you best believe, I never ran so fast in my life!
— retelling of a vilkette encounter
  The crafty vilkette remains one of the most feared and admired creatures of Northern Nomura. Well adapted for life in the cold and the snow, vilkette are carnivorous predators known for their fearsome territorialism, and romanticized for their ability to form close possessive bonds with a single individual.

Basic Information

Anatomy

Vilkette possess three pairs of flexible legs, with the ability to tuck their middle pair tightly against their body when running over firm and flat terrain. The toe pads of their paws are well insulated against the cold and can be spread apart to provide a larger footprint when traversing snow. Each paw contains a set of forward facing claws, five in the front and middle paws and four in the rear, with the front and rear paws containing an additional hooked claw behind the hock. The fifth digit on both the front and middle legs operates as a thumb, allowing the vilkette to better grasp objects when climbing. They have no collarbone, allowing for a longer stride and greater jumping distance.   The vilkette's tail extends half again its length, and serves to maintain their balance when running, jumping, or quickly changing direction. The fur of the tail is longer than their main coat, allowing them to curl it around themselves for extra warmth when not in motion.   Vilkette musculature is well defined, adapted equally to running, digging, or climbing. Their bite is fierce and stubborn, requiring great strength to escape, and their reflexes well adapted to catching even the quick snow squirrels that dart through the trees of their native Winterwood Forest.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Vilkette are opportunistic carnivores. They prefer live prey but will also consume carrion or even steal the kill from another predator. They are an intimidating presence and most solitary creatures hesitate before confronting a vilkette unless desperate. Vilkette can be overwhelmed by numbers but their crafty nature makes this difficult. Most do not hunt people unless starving, but will not hesitate to defend their territory.

Biological Cycle

The vilkette's mating season falls during the cold season, when they can find food quickly by tracking prey to their own homes. They are solitary by nature but bond closely with their chosen mate, defending their partner and any subsequent offspring with their own life if necessary.   Cubs are born with the change to warmer seasons, their fur thinner at birth and less able to withstand the cold. Litters contain one to to three cubs. Both parents actively participate in raising the cubs, hunting, teaching, and defending their young in equal measure. Vilkette are especially ferocious if encountered during this time. Adults begin to shed their thick outer coats, revealing the shorter, softer fur underneath.   As the cold season returns the cubs are prepared for life on their own. Upon the first snowfall of the season they leave to embark on their first solo hunt, claiming the prey's den as their own.

Additional Information

Domestication

While vilkette will always retain their wild nature, if an individual is able to find and train a vilkette cub it may imprint upon them. This imprinting replaces the vilkette's mating drive, and so a relationship with a vilkette is for life. Vilkette who outlive their masters rejoin the wilds, becoming much more fearsome than the majority of their species due to their fearlessness around people.   Vilkette are not pets. A relationship with a vilkette is an equal partnership, although if the individual bonded with the vilkette does not assert their own dominance they will find their wild partner will claim full control over every aspect of the relationship.   Vilkette are a jealous, territorial species and will not tolerate any potential competition for their partner's affections and attentions. They will not breed in captivity as they view any member of their own species as potential rivals. They do not tolerate being kept indoors nor do they fare well when visiting populated towns or businesses. Forming a partnership a vilkette is committing to a largely solitary lifestyle.   Individuals bonded with vilkette are therefore typically loners who prefer to live much of their lives on the edges of society. Game Wardens find vilkette particularly useful in their line of work, as their unwavering loyalty and fierce nature has saved many lives, while their unrivaled tracking abilities have assisted in following even the most difficult of trails. Wardens with a vilkette are considered invaluable in search and rescue missions for people who have gone missing in the wilds of Northern Nomura, although the bond between Warden and vilkette must be strong or they risk harming the missing person once located.  

Facial characteristics

Vilkette possess a long wolf-like muzzle and snout, lined with 44 yellow-white teeth set into a black-gummed jaw. These teeth bear a striking resemblance to the brown wolf, with incisors in front for tearing and molars in back for grinding. Where the wolves only have one pair of interlocking fangs on the top and the bottom, however, vilkette have a second smaller pair set on their top jaw, tucked behind the first. These are used to tighten their grip when strangling or wearing down prey. These secondary canines can grow back if broken, and will even grow bigger in an attempt to replace the primary fangs if broken.   Their ears are upright and triangular, pointing forward when at rest although they can be swiveled to allow for better hearing from all directions. Their eyes are generally light in color, with ice blue, gold, and tyrellium green serving as the most common, but light grays or deep browns are also possible. Their eyes are rimmed with black fur.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

The vilkette is native to the coldest regions of Nomura. They can be found throughout Arcturia and the Lonely Peaks year round, with a seasonal presence in the Giftwood Grove during the colder months.   They are especially active in temperatures below freezing, high wind, and other icy conditions. Some scientists hypothesize they require the added motion to keep themselves warm. Regardless of the reason, vilkette are undeniably voracious hunters in adverse conditions where the majority of their prey is forced to remain stationary and seek shelter.

Average Intelligence

Vilkette are highly intelligent, and adept problem solvers. They put these skills to use when hunting, cornering their prey within its own den before crafting plans of extraction. They have been observed adapting environmental variables including the weather to serve their own goals, and they frequently use simple tools with logic and purpose. Vilkette bonded with people also seem to learn their person's strengths and weaknesses, and adapt their own behaviors to best utilize this knowledge.
"Don't." The man didn't look up from feeding the campfire, but the iron in his voice brooked no protest.   Timsa halted his approach, arms wrapped around his chest in a feeble attempt to fend off the cold. "P-p-please. I'm c-c-c-cold and sc-sc-sc-scared."   "I know." The harshness in the man's voice dissolved, leaving behind a weary loneliness. "We came to find you, your parents got your whole village looking. This fire'll be for you, just let me finish." He reached into his pocket to retrieve a handful of silvery rectangular blocks, tossing them towards Timsa. "Eat these. They're those awful nutrition bars the vampires eat, so they taste worse than bear droppings, but they're good healthy calories and you need that right now."   Timsa dutifully opened one, taking a large bite and grimacing. The colorful description was accurate, but he was hungry. The first bar didn't last long.   "How d-d-did you f-f-f-find me?" Timsa shivered, shoving the remaining bars in his pocket for later when his hunger overwhelmed the memory of their taste, and walked towards the welcoming fire with the strange man who had come to rescue him.   The man cried an alarmed warning, but it was too late. Timsa found himself confronted with a white-furred vilkette, almost twice his size, its teeth bared menacingly as it tensed its six legs to pounce. He froze, watching the vilkette leap at him in a graceful deadly arc, but the game warden was faster and suddenly both man and vilkette were tumbling in the snow.   After a small scuffle the animal managed to free itself, snapping a warning at the warden before returning its attention to Timsa. It sank once more into a defensive posture, its growl somehow more menacing than before, but made no further movement to attack.   "Timsa, Fluffers. Fluffers, Timsa." The man's face broke into a bemused smile as he made introductions.   "You n-n-named a v-vilkette F-f-f-fluffers?" Timsa stared at the animal incredulously.   "She doesn't seem so scary now, right?" The warden laughed warmly, his green eyes dancing with the joke before resuming a more somber expression. "She'll still kill you though, if you get too close to me for her liking."   "Cool!" Timsa was transfixed, the unrelenting cold no longer registering. He'd heard the stories, of course, about the brave individuals who had raised a vilkette from a cub but his parents would have never let him get so close to one. Just wait until he got back and told his friends. Even Sorka would be jealous, and her parents let her get away with everything.   The man let the large pack slip from his back, tossing it easily to land next to Timsa with a loud Thunk! The vilkette flicked an ear at the sound of the pack burying itself in the snow but kept its full attention on Timsa. The warden motioned towards the pack. "Here. Had your parents pack some things for when we found you. Including another pair of pants."   Timsa was suddenly self conscious. It had been several years since he'd had an accident. "S-s-s-sorry."   The warden laughed again, a warm friendly sound. "No need. I've seen grown men do worse. But you'll stay warmer if you change into fresh ones." He crouched to poke a stick at the fire, and Timsa could have sworn he saw sparks jumping from his fingertips with the motion before he stood up again. "Fire's stable now, so I'll leave you to it. Tent's all yours, too. We'll keep watch until your parents get here." He tugged at the small cord around his neck, pulling upwards to reveal the communication token he'd held tucked against his chest. "Already let them know where to find you."   "Th-th-th-thank y-y-you," Timsa chattered, eying the welcoming fire.   "It's my job," the warden shrugged, turning away from the campsite. He paused, looked over his shoulder, his face betraying the loneliness of before. "It's been nice, though, having company..." He resumed his walk. "You take care now! No wandering off again. Shout if you need something."   "Yes, sir!" Timsa called after as the warden faded into the trees. The vilkette snapped a warning at Timsa before following, leaving him alone but safe with the life warming flames.
Scientific Name
Caniver villicus
Lifespan
25 to 40 years
Conservation Status
Near Threatened
Average Height
2.5 to 3.5 ft
Average Weight
65 to 195 lbs
Average Length
4.5 to 8 ft
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
The vilkette's long, seasonal outer fur is typically snow white, with black skin and fur circling their eyes. Older vilkette begin to develop gray fur interspersed throughout, particularly along their snout, eyes, ears, and paws.   Their shorter undercoat, visible only during the warmer months, shows more variation in colorations. Shades of gray, copper, a rich variety of browns, dark auburn, deep blue, and forest green are common colorations, with most vilkette containing a unique pattern of up to three color variations.
Related Ethnicities


Cover image: Nature Forest Trees by jplenio
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Comments

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6 Jan, 2021 14:11

Wow, this is such an amazing article. The vilkettes sound amazing, and I love that they can bond with humans. I particularly like the piece of prose at the end - it really shows the bond and what that means for their human's interaction with others.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
6 Jan, 2021 15:46

Thank you! They are really cool creatures, but you give up a lot when adding one to your life.

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
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