Tale of The Twin Head God
Lycanthropy[edit | edit source]
These wild creatures have roamed the planet for millennia. Beyond us, behind us. Among us.
Long before the Celestial Boundary was enacted and the activity of gods was greatly restricted, a deity known as the Twin Head God would roam across the mortal realm. This divine being would take the form of an immense, two headed wolf, a physically matchless creature whose presence silenced even the most arrogant of heroes. A solitary creature with few rivals or followers, the Twin Head God wandered alone throughout the world for a time.
In these early ages the Twin Head God was a passive observer of mortalkind, watching the peoples of this planet strive for survival and knowledge, power and peace. Most often he would simply watch these pursuits from within the folds of reality, hidden from all but the most spiritually aware. It is said he was ever a hunter, but in those days his prey was solace. The realm of the Twin Head God was a wilderness of spirit and soul, where the humble thrived but the proud could not endure. Here he would commune with mortals who found the door to his wilderness, teaching them the hidden paths of wisdom that exist in their world... and also how to survive in his.
Yet the peoples of the mortal realm would eventually lose their zeal for rigorous, contemplative disciplines. Their kingdoms found purpose by pursuing war and wealth instead of wisdom or worship. Over time the ancient pathways of knowledge were forgotten, along with the way to the wilderness of the Twin Head God. Most of the few mortals who did access the wilderness brought with themselves anguish and fury, seeking his hidden wisdoms as if they were weapons to be forged. Their spirits were stricken with a lust for power, and soon the wilderness that had stripped so many bare in refinement was itself being stripped of purpose. The home of the Twin Head God became a cauldron of chaos.
Transformation came as well to the Twin Head God himself, yet with it came great schism. A desire to wield greater influence in the mortal realm grew in both heads, though their aims could not have been more divergent. At this time each took their own name, the left being called Lycus, or “steward to the seeker”; the right became known as Nochte, the “night of the wilderness”. With each passing year the two grew more distinct in personality and thought, and the Twin Head God became divided within himself. Lycus was sympathetic to the needs of those who sought his wilderness out of sincere desire, thus he became a safe haven for sojourners of the soul.
However, Nochte was not equally yoked. His mind had deteriorated into that if a half-god of mayhem, his furious vengeance aging into an insatiable desire for destruction. He too found satisfaction by leading mortalkind, though as a deceiver who tricked individuals and snared entire nations to their doom. He moved their leaders like pawns toward war, driving otherwise healthy kingdoms to ruin. Sacrifices of appeasement meant no more to Nochte than swarms of flies gathering around his clawed feet, and when the fighting finally ceased, Nochte would join in devouring the bodies of the dead that lay frozen on the fields of battle.This was the capstone of his fury, as those souls would spent their next life in tormented churning in the stomach of his immortal body.
Though Lycus shared a body with Nochte, he dreamed of a different fate for mortalkind. He believed mortals could still find the ancient pathways of knowledge and thrive, and to that end he crafted a plan in secret. For when Nochte devoured the dead armies of mortals he would fall into a deep sleep, lasting for days or even weeks. In this window of time Lycus would scour the afflicted world, searching for those he had communed with in the wilderness. Throughout the globe he found them, and requested they journey to a summit at his mountain, called Shadir. He whispered to them the first step of his plan: when Nochte next slumbered he would call for them with a great howl. They were to keep their ears open, for it would echo from Shadir and ripple across the planet. Then quickly they must fly to the mountain Shadir, for Nochte would not rest forever. Nearly all of those he encountered agreed to the task, and thus they waited for his howl.
Lycus unleashed his great howl at Nochte’s next slumber. This cry was heard by all, yet recognized only by those who had been in the wilderness. In the weeks thereafter hundreds of his communers made the treacherous trek to Shadir, from nearly every nation, tribe or clan in the world. When the summit was full Lycus revealed his plan: this select group of mortals would find and preserve the forgotten knowledge that lay hidden throughout the world.The violence of this tormented age was to be outlasted rather than directly resisted. By these hidden wisdoms they would survive, and along with them his wilderness would be restored. But no more would he confess to them.
To accomplish this task Lycus would give each of them a portion of his power, called the soul of the wilderness. Each would be given the ability to transform their mortal bodies into that of a great wolf, a figure of strength and speed unlike they had ever known. With this ability their journeys would be swifter than horses, their endurance like birds of prey, and their senses more keen than the primal wolf itself. Their lifespan would be greatly increase, so they might gain the deepest understanding mortals could hope for. Along with these gifts they were given a measured ferocity, this a tool to be used for defending and not aggression. For Lycus knew the ancient secrets of this world would not be so easily found, nor acquired without great cost. These mortals he would call the Lycandrell, his children, and he began to speak his language of magic over them in a fervent trance.
Yet as Lycus spoke the transformative tongue over the Lycandrell a low thrum was heard in their ears. While dismissable at first, the sound grew until it shook the mountain Shadir and quaked through the Lycandrell, knocking many to the ground. Along with this tumult, some of the Lycandrell began to exhibit horrifying traits. As if overcome with madness they began attacking their transformed brethren with abandon, tearing into them with naked ferocity. In the midst of this horror it became clear: Nochte was no longer asleep, but instead was speaking his own baleful tongue of magic over the Lycandrell. Deftly, imperceptibly he wove a curse through Lycus’ blessing, evidence of which was already coursing through a portion of the unsuspecting people gathered. The Lycandrell who were most greatly afflicted by the bane became known as the Nightwolves, a sinister offshoot of the Lycandrell and followers of Nochte himself...
Lycus suddenly broke from his trance and roared upon realizing what Nochte was doing. He broke off a giant shard of the Celestium stone with his mouth and drove it into Nochte’s left eye. (To this very day some Nightwolves posses “Eye of Nochte”, which is a red, bleeding left eye that cannot be healed but greatly enhances their powers.) Even with this wound Nochte continued to speak his curse upon the Lycandrell, twisting those closest to his mouth into Nightwolf after Nightwolf. Lycus bit down on Nochte’s snout with divine force, crushing it until it nearly snapped. At this the curse ceased to spread, but the battle between the Twin Head God had just begun. (A first hand account of this fight has never been found, though the mountain Shadir is said to have been utterly destroyed. In the years after its conclusion, which some say lasted several months, depictions of the Twin Head God changed from that of a two headed wolf to a wolf with only one head, yet with four eyes. One of those eyes oft depicted red or bleeding).
In the wake of the war between their god, both the Lycandrell and Nightwolves scattered. There would be no binding together as one, no unified host hunting down the ancient pathways of wisdom. Lycus’ dream was crushed, along with his mountain.
Modern Day Outcasts[edit | edit source]
Today, Lycandrell, Nightwolves (and the subsequent, less intelligent werewolf) all have similarly poor reputation amongst most people groups. They are hated and hunted, most often due to the vile deeds of the Nightwolves and animalistic morality of werewolves. Yet the hardness of Lycandrell hearts toward common mortals has not given fearful outsiders a reason to treat each lineage of Lycanthrope as distinct from one another. A wolf is a wolf. This has created a survivalist mindset in all Lycanthrope, which suits their reclusive preferences and has kept Lycandrell encounters to a minimum.
Yet the peoples of Terminus rarely abide even the most passive of threats. Nightwolves are truly ghastly creatures with no regard for an innocent life; werewolves, who cannot transform on demand as Lycandrell or Nightwolves, are nonetheless ruthless and impulsive predators. A deplorable secondary effect of the presence of these creatures has been a broader distrust among common mortals and in some cases, bloodthirsty panic. Several cities have fallen prey to unfounded paranoia, and the term “drell cleanses” became synonymous with harvest and the early onset of winter.
Here the mania that can attend mythmaking is on full display, as Lycandrell are often blamed for everything from poor crops to an early frost. They are often accused of carrying diseases and spreading cursed blood, which has some merit perhaps. Yet many innocents have perished from zealous, fearful mortals. There persists a strong belief that burning with fire or “drowning a drell” would force the accused to shift into Lycandrell form to escape before death. In these instances the fate of the falsely accused is worse than that of the guilty.
For true Lychandrell however, there is little concern for the affairs of other mortals. And though it would seem that Lycus’ dream was dealt a death blow at Shadir, then utterly buried by the Celestial Boundary, there is evidence that his wilderness yet walks within the living.
The Extant Societies[edit | edit source]
Some clans of Lycandrell still cling to the ancient calling of the Twin Head God, protecting and preserving the ancient wisdoms of Terminus with fervent dedication. This is most readily witnessed in the far northern clan of the Ulfhednari of Frozja Nochta, who have taken up the mantle for centuries. Their culture is based around recovery and study, prizing the solace that the Twin Head God once lived for and maximizing their exceptional life spans. While not aggressive in nature the Ulfhednari rarely welcome outsiders, and it would not take long to learn that the bite of a peaceful Lycandrell is nonetheless injurious than an evil one.
Yet other clans have carved their path by harnessing the physical power of Lycus’ blessing, rather than carrying out his personal desires. Chief among these are the Wos Che, reputed rivals of the Ogres of Broken Maw and cunning warriors of stealth and ferocity. An anomaly within the Wos Che is their inability to shift away from their Lycandrell form, or perhaps taking a fervent oath to never do so. In either case the lack of transformation is remarkable, and as bloodsoaked as their conflicts with the Ogres have been any such incident of transformation would have been observed by now.
As for Nightwolves there are mercifully few evidences of their malevolent kind grouping together for long stretches of time. Most of these native accords are short lived and mutually destructive, though a handful of Nightwolves did align with the Revenant for a time. These betrayers were crucial in acquiring military intelligence on the Sacred Six races, understanding their supplies and so forth. Few Nightwolves fought in open battle, though one was discovered and killed during the construction of the Burning Sanctum. Most often Nightwolves prefer to acquire subservient mortals from other species, either by guile or by force. From this vantage they are able to pillage and war unchecked, not unlike their delinquent father Nochte.
Werewolves however do prefer to stay in packs, with a social structure that is difficult to maintain due to the irregularity of werewolf transformation. As previously noted, werewolves do not possess the shifting mastery of Lycandrell or Nightwolves, and are therefore unable to construct a stable society. Instead they rely mostly on the outcast status of their pack members for consistency, as once a werewolf is revealed they cannot return to their own people. Yet there are evidences of werewolves submitting themselves to a master and learning how to become a Lycandrell. However, such a field of study must be reserved for another day.
Despite their homogeneous reputation, Lycandrell of modernity come in many forms. Some are a broken shadow of what Lycus desired for his children, while others have attained a more fulfilled version of that dream. They may be stable and enduring, perhaps even noble, yet most wrestle with an inability to trust outsiders, their own kind, or even themselves. They carry the burden of the wilderness in their soul, but ache from their inability to access Lycus himself. Perhaps this fate will one day be altered, and the burden lifted by the Twin God‘s appearing. Until that day the might of the Lychandrell dwells in the hidden places of Terminus, persevering like the echo of Lycus’ great howl.