Creature Feature – Arbolenx

This Creature Feature describes arbolenx, which are sentient, tree-dwelling felines in the world of Mundia. Mercenary soldier Jaylan Forester and Sword Sorceress Sulana Delano encounter arbolenx during their adventures in the Vaetra Chronicles.

Physical Characteristics

Arbolenx are feline in appearance and about the size of a chimpanzee. They have dextrous front and rear paws that could be better described as hands with sharp claws. The average female weighs 40 pounds, while the average male weighs 55 pounds.

Their entire body is covered with fur, which can be patterned and colored in a variety of ways. Colors run to shades of brown, gray, and black mostly, with occasional auburn markings, arranged in various tabby patterns. The most common color pattern is swirled, followed by striped and then spotted (rare). Their fur never includes white. Their short tails (approximately a foot long) and long, pointed ears are tufted with black fur. They have short, stiff whiskers on their face, usually colored brown or black.

They sit back on their rear legs when they need to use their front paws, but they typically use all four limbs to run or climb.

Range and Behavior

Arbolenx spend the majority of their time in the forest canopy. They only travel on the ground when it is necessary to do so. They are carnivorous and do not cook their food, which consists of squirrels, rabbits, and other small mammals.

They are social animals, often living together in a group of five to fifteen members. A group of arbolenx is known as a “band.” The average band size is nine, but bands as large as twenty members have been known. An arbolenx dwelling is sometimes a carved-out hole in a large tree snag, but they usually assemble a village of roofed “tree house” platforms.

They generally avoid human contact, although bands that live in close proximity to human settlements often form trade relationships with one or more of the residents. Arbolenx carry weapons, most of which are modeled after human versions, including small bows and arrows. They usually trade with humans for metal workings, such as daggers.

Arbolenx do not wear clothing, their fur being plenty of protection against the elements, but scouts and hunters are often seen wearing pouched belts and back packs. Archers attach a quiver to their back pack.

They are capable of vocalizing human speech to a degree. Vowels are drawn out and hard consonants (which are considered rude in their culture) are replaced with soft alternatives (e.g. T => TH). Isolated bands of arbolenx rarely speak a human language, but bands that coexist with humans frequently do.

Vaetric Manifestations

Arbolenx have the natural ability to use vaetric obscurity. This ability allows them to blend in with their surroundings nearly to the point of invisibility, making it difficult or impossible for other creatures (including humans) to see them unless they wish to be seen.

Excerpt from Vaetra Unveiled

The following excerpt is from my forthcoming book Vaetra Unveiled, which is the first book of the Vaetra Chronicles. In this scene, the main character Jaylan seeks an audience with an arbolenx that he knows from prior journeys through the creature’s territory.

I walked a few paces away from the others and stood before the tree that had been marked. I tilted my head back and made a show of sniffing the air. “I smell you, Ru-Rahl” I said aloud.

I glanced back at the others, who were looking at each other in confusion and over at me as if I’d lost my mind. They could smell nothing, of course, and neither could I really. I suppressed a smirk, thinking how the ritual words sounded insulting to a human. However, I knew that to an arbolenx, it was a greeting of respect.

I heard a light rustling of branches and barely had time to register a blur of motion down the trunk of the tree before the arbolenx appeared on the ground in front of me. He settled back on his hind legs and regarded me with his deep green eyes, his pupils shrinking to slits as they adjusted to the brighter light on the ground at the intersection.

As I had mentioned, we would never have been aware of their presence if they hadn’t wished it. Arbolenx have natural camouflage magic, which is why Ru-Rahl seemed to blur as he descended the tree trunk. He was showing off. There could be a dozen more of his band up in the branches, and as long as they held still, we’d probably never spot them.

He glanced disdainfully over at the group of riders, who were watching with cautious interest and trying to calm their horses. Only Patches stood without agitation, having met Ru-Rahl several times before. The other horses shied at the sudden appearance of the predator, and Barek’s big roan stallion nodded his head and pawed the ground.

Ru-Rahl was an exceptionally large and handsome example of his kind. Sitting, his head came up to my waist, and his fur was deep brown with faint black stripes along his shoulders and hips. He wore a back-pack, leaving his paws, which were better described as sharply-clawed hands, free for climbing. Long black tufts of fur twitched nervously on the tips of his ears. Short, stiff black whiskers trembled on his cheeks as his nostrils took in the scents of the humans and animals before him.

Satisfied that no violence was imminent, he tilted his head back and sniffed the air emphatically as I had done. “I smell you, Zhalan. Wath seeg?”


Arbolenx started out life in my imagination as elves, strange as that may seem. When world-building, I’m trying to include sentient beings that add variety and interest to the story, but I’d like to avoid falling back on the classics like elves, dwarves, orcs, etc. There’s nothing wrong with the classics, but they’ve been done. Repeatedly.

In many fantasy stories, elves have a strong affinity for trees, and they usually have pointed ears. When thinking of those two characteristics in isolation, I came up with tree-dwelling felines. The source of their name is probably obvious: tree-cat (lynx) => arbolenx. Since the animals are sentient, they should have paws/hands capable of creating and using tools, while still being able to move easily through the tree canopy. If you have ever seen a squirrel’s front paw up close, that gives you an idea of what an arbolenx hand/paw looks like.

I hope you enjoyed my Creature Feature on the arbolenx. Should you ever travel through their territory, it might be a good idea to bring a fresh squirrel or rabbit carcass with you to leave as a gift. You never know when having the good will of an arbolenx band will come in handy!


What are your favorite fantastical creatures? Do you prefer the familiarity of the classic monsters and races, or do you enjoy meeting new creatures and races when you read fantasy? Tell me in the comments!


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  1. I really enjoyed this, I love all the detail you’ve built up around them.

  2. Thanks, Sarah! I’m glad you liked them. You know how it goes: not all of the detail makes its way into the story. Some of it stays as "background" and is useful only to maintain continuity. It’s nice to have a place like this to share the rest of the information though.

  3. This was wonderful. Really enjoyed the details.

  4. Thanks, Isis. I appreciate your stopping by and commenting.

  5. This much background behind a creature will put authenticity into your manuscript that the reader will pick up on for sure. You have a very fertile imagination 🙂

  6. Thanks for the compliment, Michael. I do hope the effort I’ve put into the background helps the story, but I must admit that it is fun to do regardless. Must be the influence of the former Dungeon Master within me!