Blade Maidens: Strays – 2

“In the years following Professor Rivayn’s misguided experiment and lycanthropy’s exposure to Telos at large, we have developed a basic understanding of its effects and peculiarities as a magical affliction. While the common folk have spread accounts of supernatural abilities and powers rivaling that of creatures from the times Gods roamed our world, our more strenuous and exacting studies have provided a clear idea of what to expect from any given werewolf. It is worth noting that these studies were immeasurably aided by the handful of volunteers from Rivayn’s initial outbreak. Their return to our grounds and cooperation with our various inquiries and procedures have allowed us to do what may have taken decades without their assistance in years. Their memories live on through this account.

Firstly, werewolves are not a binary. While their popular vision is that poetic dichotomy of mortal and beast sharing the same form, it is not the case. With the faces of our twin moons, the severity of the affliction’s power waxes and wanes to match. On a night when Linaya and Night’s Mother are nowhere to be found, a werewolf seems as mundane as any other being in Telos. When both are full, they revert to a monstrous form greater and far more savage than any natural beast one might encounter. Between these two states, there lies a gradient. The afflicted may sprout a coat of fur or pronounced fangs, and their features may shift to resemble their lupine form; their cunning and awareness may ebb or remain the same. While there is a rough consistency amongst every subject we have studied, the exact speed and strength of changes vary between individuals.

Similarly, the physical abilities and limits of each werewolf are varied between subjects, albeit with more of a firm baseline. Strength, resiliency, and an ability to heal far greater than most mortals–even when in their non-lupine shifted forms—and heightened senses are guaranteed for any werewolf. Some may be able to communicate with other beasts. Others could track a scent from Valfald to Kilzea without losing it for a moment. We have yet to determine why such eccentricities can form, but with time we hope to provide a clear explanation and diagnosis for these cases.

And, as unpleasant as it is, we must discuss the intricacies and vulnerabilities of those afflicted by Rivayn’s mistake. Thankfully, we have determined that the affliction is not simply transmissible by any given bite or scratch. The werewolf must have the desire to pass on its affliction, either at the request of another or due to their own misguided reasons. Unfortunately, when the moons are full, and werewolves find themselves at their most feral, their more primal instincts can cause such an event to occur, even if their conscious mind would never think of doing such a thing. While the unusual psychological component to spreading has curbed what could easily be a plague the likes of which Telosian lands have never seen, those “lost to the beast”–as some of the afflicted students have described it—still take a steady toll.

As for what could be done should such a plague occur, for all their strengths, werewolves are equally home to several unique weaknesses not shared by most beings. While they require very little sleep, 2-3 hours on average, they remain more irritable, sluggish, and generally less-than-stellar during the day. Most notably when Sulna’s rays shine down brightest. While they can be killed with mundane weaponry, it is a slow, gruesome process that leaves the attacker open for rather lethal reprisal. Utilizing alchemy-enhanced weaponry or silver-coated blades is ideal, as they disrupt the magical healing properties and can give any facing down a berserk werewolf a helpful edge. Beyond that, smoke from a fire with aconite, more commonly known as wolfsbane, mixed into the tinder will deter any curious werewolves as it induces sickness, confusion, and lethargy. It will not stop a determined werewolf, however, so plan accordingly. No cure has been found for lycanthropy, and no attempts at finding one have produced any significant results.

With Rivayn lost and her notes long destroyed, we may never know what exactly went wrong in her experiment to cause her fate. While our studies will continue…the Academy is increasingly convinced that this is simply not a problem that can be solved, shy of hunting down and killing every werewolf. Given the difficulty of determining how many are currently in Telos, let alone their locations, it is not a realistic possibility. Beyond that, a culling of werewolves could spark a survival instinct in those that survive the initial assault, leading to reprisal afflictions and the spread of more hostile werewolves than we currently have. Better to let things be as they are and do as the Silent Eye teaches us. Remain cautious, remain vigilant, but never stop trying to discover more.”

– On the Study of Creatures Fantastic and Mundane, by Chancellor Roderick Brightfellow