My experiences with them, my observations and some of my theories regarding these creatures.
Written by Malatac.
Iam writing this not only because I was requested to do so by Lord Arcane but also because I believe that Humanity has need for such information if it is to extinguish the threat of werewolves forever.
This treatise is written in three parts. Firstly the stories of my dealings with these shapeshifters. Secondly my observations on these creatures and thirdly some theories that I have developed.
Before I get into the first part I would tell you of a poem that many of the older people of my lands tell their children, many of you may already know this poem as I have heard it in many lands and read it in some ancient tomes, it goes thus;
"Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf
when the wolfsbane blooms
and the moon shines full and bright."
I have also heard mention of these creatures in ancient songs, still sung by some bards in these troubled times. A common verse is
"Creatures kissing in the dark
shapeless in the dark again
in the hanging garden change the past
in the hanging garden wearing furs and masks"
Again werewolves can be found in ancient legends although in the one I have chosen to share with you it suggests that there are other animals that people could be changing into.
"The ancients were people, yet also animals. In form some looked human, while some walked on all fours like animals. Some could fly like birds; others could swim like fish. All had the gift of speech, as well as greater powers and cunning than either animals or people"
As you can see the legend of the werewolf has been with us for centuries and comes from far and wide.
Anyway I shall get back to this later, for now I would like to tell my tales. Forgive me if I am a bit extravagant but I was overcome with emotion during my encounters, I remember everything vividly and I wish to share this vividness with you, my readers. Imagine if you will;
Darkness rises, the sun is getting low, one by one the stars flicker into life as the moon shines brighter and brighter. The dark blanket of night slowly rolls over the countryside smothering everything in its path, in the distance an owl hoots and all is still.
We marched on through this sodden forest searching for a place to stop and rest for the fast approaching night. On and on we walked, the branches slapping our faces with wet leaves. Thorns and brambles tore at our clothing and drew blood from any exposed flesh.
We were weary and wet when our persistence finally paid off, a light shone, a tiny pinprick, but still a light, off in the distance and a little to the left. Our spirits lifted and our hearts gladdened we made out for this light. Time went by, the moon disappeared behind the clouds again and a light drizzle descended from the heavens, but still we headed for this light. As we got closer the pinprick turned into a orange glow and then closer still into a roaring camp fire. The smell of roasting meat ambushed our nostrils, we could contain ourselves no more and so entered the clearing.
Seven humans sat around the fire talking amongst themselves, noticing us they stood and bid us welcome, offering us to stay the night and share in their feast, we could not believe our luck, who would have thought to meet such fine folk in the middle of nowhere, people with such joy in their hearts, full of life and glad to be alive. How could we resist such an invitation. Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for later that night.
With grease dripping from our mouths and meat and mead heavy in our bellies we laid out our beds and prepared for sleep.
Time passed, all was quite but for the crickets and the occasional popping of sap from a branch on the fire. As I lay on my back staring at the canopy of leaves overhead and the glistening stars beyond, the clouds were dissipating, leaving the silvery light of the full moon to gaze down brightly upon our heads. Bathing in its beauty I failed to notice the agony of one of our hosts and only became aware when our leader Caracatus shouted for us all to wake and be on our guard.
The poor man was bent double crying with pain, his companions warned us away saying that they would look after him, but my eyes were transfixed on this strange sight. This "man" was changing. I watched in dumb horror as his bones shifted underneath his skin, they grew longer and bent in unusual directions. The skin on his face and hands bubbled as thick course hair sprouted from whence there was no hair before, his ears elongated and twitched as his nose and mouth grew into one bestial snout, teeth enlarged and his forehead slope sharply back over his eyes, Oh my gods how I wish that none of you ever have the misfortune to look into the eyes of one of these creatures, bloodshot glaring and yellow, feral eyes rolling continuously as he underwent his transformation. Throughout this change the man screamed, accompanying the screams were the most disgusting sounds that I have ever heard and many of my companions became nauseous and went sick. There was a wet gristly sound as his muscles twitched, the crunching and squashing of bones. In a heartbeat or two the transition was complete, standing before us was a werewolf, half man, half wolf. he howled and threw himself upon Caracatus. Luckily for him the werewolf was still slow from the change and was easily side stepped.
Panic gripped our entire party as they turned and fled into the trees, all except Caracatus, the son of Baron Cayleith and myself who watched from a distance. Again this beast attacked Caracatus who had at this time drawn a sliver weapon which he had purchased earlier that day, The Wolf howled with pain as the sliver bit into his flesh, still he came on, more careful this time. It raged as Caractus`s silver bit deep into his flesh again and again, until finally it lay motionless on the ground, and reverted back into human form, a look of peace frozen on his face. Had it not been for the Silver sword then Caracatus would surely have died there and then, but with expert ease he slew the unfortunate creature.
At this the others began their change, the whole group of them were werewolves. Caracatus’ sword bit into two others as the lay helpless in their change, these two did not get up, but I believe that they were not slain as they did not revert to their human forms as did the first.
The last thing I saw before I too ran, was Cayleith’s son pulling Caracatus away and starting to back off.
Eventually our party was reunited, all unharmed. We continued on our journey without a word. Sullen faces were all around and each of us knew how lucky we had been to escape from the clutches of a pack of werewolves.
Well that was my first encounter with these lycanthropes, many repercussions may occur or may already have occurred. At that point I was not entirely clued up on these creatures but I have learned a lot since then.
They fascinate me. I cannot help my interest, seeing the change was intriguing But I would not wish it upon any one else, as to see this change usually means death. I was lucky, as was the rest of my party. Caracatus saved us with his silver sword, without which we would have been doomed.
Anyway before my second encounter I had done some research, by listening to old tales, and reading old manuscripts. There was a rumour that Wolfsbane affected werewolves, what luck, you see I am part of Clan Sessair and Wolfsbane grows wildly in our lands. As I was once a farmer I have cultivated a plot in or village.
And so before our next adventure I procured for myself and my party a bunch of wolfsbane each as I intended to test out this theory and to see what effect this flower would have on the creatures.
My second story begins just after dawn, with a party of five, including myself, leaving our homelands, in search of a means to test my theories on the effectiveness of wolfsbane. To do this we travelled down into Southern Cymrja.
After travelling throughout the day without any trouble, (believe it or not) we found a place to camp and settled down for the fast approaching night, again we were untroubled. Perhaps it is true that these parts are more civilised than our own lands, If only we could manage to do the same back home, then we could live more peacefully. Mind you, I think my clansfolk enjoy the odd skirmish, they would surely grow bored if not for the occasional bandits to hunt, or monsters to kill. Let me get back to my story, before my mind starts wandering again.
A little after dawn the following day, whilst packing we were interrupted by the sound of breaking twigs, and the rustle of leaves as branches were pushed aside. Quickly we packed our remaining goods, snuffed any signs of our being here and hid amongst the trees.
From my hiding place I could make out a flash of silver through the foliage and held my breath as the silver got closer. They were making a great deal of noise, huffing and puffing, with an occasional curse thrown in for good measure, I was positive I recognised the voice but could not place it. With a crash a figure stumbled into the clearing, tripped on an upturned root, grabbed at thin air and fell flat on his face. A second figure entered the clearing laughing at the bumbling oaf before him (Later I was corrected. The second figure was not a him, but a female dwarf named Thorin Ironfist, the beard fooled me.). At this I recognised the silver figure, it was none other than Lord Arcane`s scribe and apprentice Llewelyn. Breaking cover I greeted him and he in turn bid us good morning, after picking himself up and dusting himself off.
Sitting down to break fast we talked about recent matters and found that we had a very similar goal. A messenger had come to Llewelyn earlier with a proclamation from the Lord Protector Owain Caradog, that he would pay any group of brave (stupid) adventurers who would brave the hazards of the forest home of the werewolf leader Jazrael in order to meet him and to set up talks between himself and the Werewolf leader. Llewelyn had been looking for a group of adventurers who would go with him to seek out Jazrael. Seeing a chance to test our wolfsbane we stupidly agreed and formed an adventuring group known as the Shadow reavers.
Another uneventful day took us to the entrance of the forest, and without much thought we entered. After about an hours journey we came to a thick wall of fog from which came the frightening howls of wolves. Fear gripped the entire party, what were we to do, risk the fog, or turn back shamefacedly and admit defeat.
We announced our intentions, but got no response. Racking my brains I came upon a solution. We had wolfsbane, not yet tested but our only hope. Forming a circle with our wolfsbane outstretched, we entered the fog. I have never been so scared in all of my life, not even when the bandits killed my family, and left me for dead.
I hope that I never have to experience the damp clinging chill of this fog again, it, together with the insistent howls and crashing of the undergrowth beside us chilled me to the bone, It took all my willpower to keep my legs moving. All I could think of was being torn apart by these creatures, and subconsciously counting my steps, one, two, one two, one two, with every count my legs kept moving, when with a roar the fog turned into a mass of snarling teeth, clambering claws and the musty smell of damp fur. I was pushed to the ground and felt the hot fetid breath of a werewolf on my face. With the force of iron I grabbed my wolfsbane and thrust the bunch down the throat of this abomination, with a scream that I still hear to these days in my wildest nightmares, the creature tore itself free and disappeared into the mist. I took my chance and ran, with all the strength that my body could muster.
I lost all track of time as I fled, I do not know when I cleared the fog, that’s all I know is that when I fell from exhaustion there was no fog in sight, and that I was not alone. Llewelyn was with me as was Thorin.
Eventually we found the rest of the party, we had all run in roughly the same direction. We found everybody that was apart from the elf Keryth Loneshadow. We spent the best part of two hours searching but to no avail. Grieving his loss we set out again with a heavy heart.
As if our pain and fatigue at that moment was not enough we encountered a magical bush which trapped two companions. It was only their tenacity that got them away from its clutches, as our magics and weapons did no harm to the bush. Even more bruised and disheartened we continued our quest.
A little later I began to sense that we were being followed, the hairs on the nape of my neck prickled as the feeling of being watched overwhelmed. I brought the party to a halt and found that I was not alone in these thoughts. Carrying on as if nothing had happened we planned an ambush for our assailant. He fell straight into it, it was only after he lay sprawled on the ground that we realised who it was that we had captured. Keryth Loneshadow, apparently unharmed and the none the worse for wear, although his clothes were torn. suspicions raised I tricked him into inhaling the aroma of the Wolfsbane flowers. Not a flicker, nothing, not even a cough. Suspicions lifted for the moment we again journeyed onwards, but now there was a slight spring to our steps.
Little did we know that we would face two more test before reaching the lair of Jazrael. First zombies, attacking us from the ground. I have faced zombies before, disgusting abominations of unliving filth, festooned with maggots and rot, but these seemed harder to dispatch somehow, they hit harder than the ones I remembered, but none got close enough to me, thanks to my magic. Llewelyn, myself and two others saw our chance to escape and made a run for it. However the others were not forthcoming. We had to return, to help out our comrades, only to discover carnage, Keldon was down and almost out, as was Thorin, Keryth was trapped. With a lot of luck and the combination of magic and muscle we overcame these zombies, healed our comrades and walked into our next challenge, walking mounds of rotten vegetation. My mind almost gave up when these things arose. What could we have done to deserve such a thing. No reward that the Lord Protector could give us would be worth this amount of hassle. The fighters managed to cut down these mounds but they kept rising, to damp to burn we gave up and ran up a steep incline, hopefully they would not follow us, they did not.
We rested a little while, as we got our breath back. It was during this time that the werewolves returned, only one however, only one is bad enough. Jumping to our feet we prepared for battle, This was not however what the werewolf intended. To my utter amazement the thing spoke to us in a guttural tone of the common language, and bid us follow him to Jazrael. It was at this point that I noticed that all our wolfsbane had been lost. We followed.
Before entering the presence of Jazrael we were ordered to drop all of our weapons, who were we to argue, what chance would we have had against the whole force of the werewolf tribes. We were then frog marched to Jazrael and forced to the ground, in abject terror I was the first down. I cannot describe Jazrael as I had my head to the ground throughout the entire encounter, only Llewelyn spoke to the werewolf chief. asking him for talks with the Lord Protector. Jazrael laughed at this and ridiculed us puny humans, we were only fit for food, and to hunt, what talks of peace could Jazrael possibly want.
During these talks we were being taunted the whole time by our guardians, and at one point Keryth turned to one of the guards and issued a deep blood curdling growl. At this he was dragged before Jazrael and forced to feast upon a poor human. Keryth was doomed and could not resist. I watched with disgust, bile entering my throat as Keryth began to change, after which he tore into the human flesh and ate as if this would be his last ever meal.
After this human was fully devoured Jazrael took his lieutenants aside to discuss these talks of peace and upon returning, accepted the invitation, on condition that we could escape the forest unharmed and with his gifts. No problem, I thought, maybe I would get out of this alive after all. Our faces and hopes sank as Jazrael proclaimed a hunt. We were the prey, we had about a minute head start and then the hunt would begin. Grabbing our weapons and these gifts we ran, Llewelyn and myself leading the escape.
Howls came from behind us, and again branches tore at trailing clothes and exposed flesh, but rather branches than the teeth of werewolves.
At some point we found that the party had split. Keldon, two others and myself carried on running until exhaustion overcame us yet again, so we decided to rest awhile. The howls of wolves came from all around but we remained unchallenged.
We were very lucky that after about an hour we came to the edge of the forest, and escaped. Eventually to team up with Llewelyn and the others. All except Mort Arach, and Keryth. Both of which returned later on that day. The feeling was to kill Keryth right there and then but I managed to persuade them no to, as he was totally unaware of what had happened to him, my reaction was to keep a close watch on him, experiment with silver and wolfsbane, and to eventually find a cure. We claimed our reward and ventured home, weary and totally disillusioned with adventuring.
Well that’s the end of my second story, only one more to go. This one will not be as long as the other two. (Thank the gods I hear you cry.) But bear with me everything will fall into place eventually.
Before the start of my third story I must tell you that when we arrived home and told of our tale to Caracatus, he too wanted to slay Keryth where he stood. I again interrupted and persuaded him to let Keryth live whilst we searched for clues as to a cure. the following weeks past uneventfully, nothing stirred within Keryth, although he acted strangely at times. He would venture nowhere near the patches of wolfsbane, and shy away from anything made from silver, especially the sword. We began to believe that what had possessed him on that fateful day was a one off and because of this our watchfulness became lapse, and almost non existent by the start of my third story.
My third story takes place on the second day of the Dragon moot, just as dawn is breaking.
It was a cold damp morning as I awoke from my slumber, getting dressed I left my tent, met Bosc, one of our clan healers, and made off on one of my many early morning walks.
The air was sharp and fresh, dew clung to every blade of grass and to every leaf on every tree, a low mist slowly dissipated from foot level as the sun rose to dry the land. We walked for about a mile talking about clan politics and about the serious matter of lycanthropy and whether Keryth was still possessed of the curse.
On our way back about an hour later we heard a clambering in the bushes, we were quickly on our guard. To our surprise a familiar figure stumbled into our path, confusion lit his face as he tried to grasp who it was that stood in front of him, weapons drawn and spells at the ready. I noticed the clarification returning to his eyes as he suddenly recognised who we were. Gripped with fear he crouched and hid his hands behind his back. What sort of behaviour was this for an elf, even if it was Keryth
Like a bolt of lightning it finally struck us that Keryth had somehow changed in the night and gone out to hunt. I formulated a plan and asked Bosc to distract him whilst I took a look at his hands. They were covered in blood. At this I am afraid that I was very abrupt with him, accusing him of transforming into a werewolf and murdering an innocent during the night. I had totally forgotten about the ritual of peace which would have made any possibility of murder out of the question.
Keryth told us that he had been set up, dragged into the forest where animal blood had been smeared over his hands. I came to my senses whilst hearing this and let him believe that I believed him. We all returned to camp.
Later that day I went to seek out Lord Arcane but was told by his scribe Llewelyn that he was very busy and to see Cullen Lochan, the Lore Warden, instead. This I did. Upon hearing my story he asked that I bring Keryth to him as soon as possible so that he may confirm for us the position that Keryth was in.
I searched out Keryth and took him to meet Cullen, making some excuse about wanting to meet all the people in the ritual circle personally. Keryth fell straight into our trap, Shaking hands Cullen managed to sense the turmoil within the Elf’s soul and informed us, that yes he was infected by lycanthropy but it had not yet fully developed. To stop Keryth from murdering anyone else we were to trap him in his tent, encircling it with wolfsbane, also we were to bind his hands with strips of rope laced with wolfsbane and to place a silver coin amongst these bonds. If this was properly done then Keryth would be unable to break free from the circle. Thanking Cullen for his help we went on our way.
Later that evening I gathered the members of our clan whilst Keryth was on guard duty and told them of the plan. First I would cast sleep on Keryth, then we would tie his hands, throw him in his tent and circle it with wolfsbane. We managed to pull this off quite easily as Keryth returned from his duty.
The night passed quietly, but for the low growls and signs of restlessness coming from Keryth`s tent. Thankfully the sun rose without Keryth escaping. Our duty done we undid his bonds, retrieved my stell and left him to his confusion.
Upon returning home from the moot I decided to seek out the help of Lord Arcane. He would know if there was a cure, due to the vast number of books in his library.
I will not go into details of our journey to Tower Arcane. I will however mention the outcomes in part two of this treatise.