Dark Tales I – The Hunt

English: kandal malar

It should be easy to find…

Old Schlaussen was pleased to find a new audience; so few children chose to pay attention to the old tales any longer! Of course, there were tales about THAT too. When people forgot, and woke things that were best undisturbed, then there would be fire, and slaughter, and dark powers would stride the land.

His grandson sighed, and settled down to selling the packets of herbs, vials of extracts, and other herbal creations. His grandfather had a marvelous touch with compounding herbs, and knew just where to find them – a level of expertise that only a lifetime and a touch of magic could bring – but he DID love to tell his tales.

Not that he didn’t listen too – there was a reason why Gramps was still alive after all those years working amidst the dangers of the woods – but he had heard most of Gramps stories before.

Once, long past, before the world was broken and remade at the dawning of the age, men enchanted cities, made mountains fly, and bestrode the world like gods, crafting the stuff of creation like soft copper upon an iron anvil of will and magic. But, in their hubris, they overreached – and the foundations of the world trembled beneath them. The flying mountains fell, the walls between the worlds were breached, and chaos walked the world as the old laws were broken and remade.

In that time the Wolf Lord, the Dark God of Shapeshifters, Lycanthropes, and the Hunt sought his prey freely – roaming across the planes in search of primordial beasts spawned of wild magic and released from the imprisonment of eons by the foolishness of men. Where his spittle fell, those it touched were transformed, becoming a howling pack which followed in his wake.

That day the Wolf Lord hunted a creature of legend – a Paragon Stag, a creature which walked among the trees of the forest as men walk upon a meadow. In it’s flight it burst the bounds of reality, and strode forth upon the world of men. It crossed hundreds of miles, in bounds that trampled cities, shattered the ground, and spawned earthquakes in it’s wake – and the Wolf Lord, black as night, jaws agape, and eyes aflame, gave chase.

The Stag turned at bay, it’s back to the sea, less then five miles from here. The battle was fierce, blood flowed like rivers, and the earth was sundered – but while the Stag was mighty, the Wolf Lord was a god. He brought his prey low, and feasted, and the streams of the forest carried away the gore in torrents.

Men took the bones, and – in terror lest the Dark God return to their destruction – built a shrine to the Wolf Lord at the sight of the battle. Today that ancient shrine still stands, although the bones have long since begun to crumble, and have been replaced with wood and stone.

Still, beneath the shrine, and in occasional spots in the woods, deposits of the slaver of the Wolf have hardened into the crystal we call Moonstone. Where it lies beneath the ground, plants grow strangely – and are of magical potency. Where trees wrap roots around a chunk of such stone, they achieve a dim consciousness, and – when assailed – may stride forth at night as Treents, to take their vengeance – if necessary, regenerating themselves from their roots to do so. Where men bear it, epidemics of Lycanthropy break out – and those creatures, filled with the dread power of the Wolf Lord, die only when the crystals which give them strength are found and shattered. Some leave descendants amongst the beasts, and those inherit an unnatural intellect – and often a desire for the stone which can grant them a human form. Other fools hunt for preserved scraps of the Stag’s mighty bones – for, with them and a piece of the Wolf Lord’s crystal, one can assume that mighty form for a time, and use it’s power as you will – until the Wolf Lord notices, and comes to repeat his feast.

(Small Boy) “Way cool! Does he munch people all up?”

(Schlaussen) “Oh yes! Starting with your feet, so you can see him eat you up!”

Every tale-spinner in the area can tell of several places where herbs grow unnaturally, where pieces of the Wolf Lord’s moonstone occasionally turn up in streams or when digging, where it is most unwise to fell trees because terrible things happen to you when you do, and where various beasts – especially wolves, cats, and other large predators – often behave far too cleverly to be natural animals.

While these locations and facts things may or may not be real – and, even if they are, may or may not have anything to do with the story that “explains” them – they are certainly starting points.

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