From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The being registered as 'Ware Wolf (he prefers to just be called "wolf") is a wolfwere, a creature of legend and a deadly hunter able to assume human form to stalk his favorite prey: humans.
Of Wolf and Man
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The following is a series of digital voice recordings by a member of the group known as "The Anathema". According to Arachnos registry, set 1B, file CH-696456-902, the speaker is known as 'Ware Wolf. However, the speaker has indicated on numerous occasions that he prefers to be called "wolf", for that is both who and what he is.
It was suggested to me that my packmates might understand me better if they knew more about me. As they tend to run around like pups, growling and snarling at each other with little regard for those around them, I could think of no way for them to learn more about me. I waited for them to ask? but they have not.
So at the prompting of one with more experience with humans, I am going to record some things about me to share with my packmates. At first, I was puzzled how this would work. My kind have no need for the written word that humans cling to with such passion. We do not write, and we do not read. We gather as a pack and tell stories of what has happened. And we remember what we have heard and tell others we see. Humans call this an "oral tradition". Humans have a lot of traditions.
But I digress. I was given a... ((pronounced very carefully)) pocket digital recorder. I will tell this... thing... my stories, much like I would tell my pack. It, in turn, will be able to tell my stories to my pack. It is an interesting notion, and one that pleases me. Though I still have my doubts whether my packmates will listen or not.
About my packmates... they are an unruly, undisciplined, and... varied lot. There are some that I have great respect for. Others... I am not accustomed to speaking ill of my packmates, but were it not for the mandates of the Alpha pair, some of these... "Anathema", they are not wolves. They are not hunters. They are human. Too much so. They do not learn that there is a difference between a wolf and the mindless, domesticated creatures they call "dogs". They treat me as an inferior intellect and expect me to remember long lists of ever-changing names and expressions, when they cannot remember to call me "wolf". I think some of them believe that I do not hear, but my senses are far keener than theirs, and my memory is very good. Were it not for the Law, some of my own pack are food.
But once again, I digress. I should begin my story so that those with eyes to see and ears to hear may know more about me.
My mother once told me that when I was very young, my father had said "That one is not right". I believe that he sensed, even then, that I was different. Generally, my kind avoids humans. They are dangerous to us with their guns. And wise wolves say that they are dangerous to hunt and not good for eating. "It is better to avoid them," they say, "for they will bring no wolf any good."
Wise wolves and I often disagree.
Even as a pup, I had a fascination for the creatures that walked on two legs. I was drawn to everything about them: the skins they wore, the devices they used, and the things that they surrounded themselves with. Shiny, soft, cool, warm, bright colors... and power. The devices give humans such power. Power to be more than even an Alpha pair. Power to make the world give them whatever they need. Power to rule over more than a pack. Power over lands... nations... the world itself.
So I took to following humans around whenever I found some. At first, they would take my picture (a frightening phenomenon until you understand it), or chase me off with rocks. I would run back to my pack, hide myself between my mother's legs, and swear to my father that I would never go near the humans again. And in a few days' time, I would be at it again.
When the humans began firing their weapons at me, I decided I had best conceal myself rather than approaching openly.
It is not hard to conceal oneself from a human. They see only what they wish to see. Through slow, stealthy movement, careful placement, and force of will, I learned to hide. The more I practiced, the better I became, to the point where I could enter a human?s camp, nose through their belongings, and even steal their food from their plates, all without being noticed. This led to some amusing pranks as I entered my adolescence.
But things changed dramatically for me the day I entered a camp where the hunters had met with prey they were not prepared to handle. Strong drink and guns make for a poor defense against an angered mother bear.
It had been a lean hunting season. I know now that the humans had over-hunted the area. It had become popular with "tourists", you see, and some enterprising human set up a "ranch" where people inexperienced with surviving in the wilderness could wear ridiculous orange clothing, learn to use firearms, and go without bathing for two weeks.
One should never allow the inexperienced to enter the same woods as a bear.
Perhaps they thought the cub was cute or hungry or would make a good pet. I believe now that they wounded it and brought the young bear back to their camp. The number of empty glass containers bespoke why they believed this an excellent idea. For those listening that have no experience in the wilderness, if you learn nothing else from me, learn this: never, ever, under any circumstances remove a bear cub from the place in which you found it. Furthermore, do not wound it first.
I will spare the listener any further details of the state of the camp.
However, as I said, it had been a lean season, and meat was spare. My pack had taken to scavenging whenever possible, so this... well, as I mentioned, wise wolves and I often disagree. It smelled like dinner. I was still young enough to be entitled to eat my fill first, so even though I called to the rest of the pack, I began to eat.
Human? ((sound of a canine tongue licking around fangs)) Human is delicious. It has a rare flavor, especially the fat ones. And the more sweets and red meat and alcohol they consume, the better they taste. You never find such quantities of succulent fat and sweet marrow on wild animals.
Needless to say, when the pack arrived, they were horrified. I was taken to task, torn away from my excellent feast, and treated nearly as badly as our Omega for several days. They told me I would be ill. I was not. They told me I would be under-nourished. I felt flush and vital.
They told me it would make me soft. It did not. It made me determined to have that flavor and that feeling again. I would use my talents for remaining unseen... to hunt humans.
Hunting humans in the wild is deceptively easy. It is true that they tend to be fairly heavily-armed and carry survival equipment designed to make hunting easier and life in the outdoors more like life indoors. But they also tend to be intoxicated. Some of them on strong drink, some on their own superiority, some on both, but all of them are out there, secure in their power.
They are wrong, of course.
Once I learned the tricks for stalking and killing humans on my own territory, though, I began to lose interest. It was routine. There was no challenge in it. The meat, while tasty, did not bring the satisfaction I desired.
So I began to hunt humans in their own dominion. Which at first, I thought consisted of the hunting lodges, farm houses, ranches, and the like that are far removed from large populations. I preyed mostly on adolescents foolish enough to slip out of the safety of their homes in order to participate in mischief. It was attacking stragglers to a barn gathering where I first heard the name I gave Arachnos. One of the youths spotted me somehow and called out to the one I was about to devour "'Ware! Wolf!"
I'm still not entirely sure why I gave that title to the Arachnos soldiers.
However, I did begin to realize that the easiest way to get close to a human was to be one. I practiced standing and walking on my hind legs. I flexed and bent my forepaws, the better to grab hold of prey as well as to open doors and windows. If I clung to the shadows, I found that I could pass for a human until it was too late for my prey to realize otherwise.
I learned something else useful while stalking humans in their own territory. When I strike from hiding, I become visible, even to dull human senses. But even when they can see me, they still cannot see me clearly. I have had police officers and protective parents fire their weapons at me from a body-length away and miss. I have had large humans attempt to wrestle with me, only to dive on the bare ground. This is a skill I have honed in the Rogue Isles, and it serves me well.
He was such a small human. He smelled of age and of plants. Yet there was something in the way he moved... He fascinated me. Which, while not unusual in and of itself, should have alerted me from the beginning. My curiosity before had always been satisfied by theft or eating. I assumed that my fascination was simple hunger, so I stalked him.
I have hunted humans for most of my life. Hunting creatures that could hunt me back is not unusual.
Having my prey turn a corner and disappear down a side-street was startling to say the least. Having him drop on me from above, spin around with a flourish, and strike me a dazing blow to the side of my head was awe-inspiring... once the bright flashes of color cleared, that is.
But he did not kill me. No, he did not even move in while I was reeling from his blow. Instead, he just... watched. He seemed fascinated with me, as though seeing something as awe-inspiring to him as his attack was to me. I was taken aback and sat on my haunches, regarding him back. "Hengeyokai", he called me. Also "shapeshifter" and "changeling". He asked if I was hungry. I nodded as the humans do, and followed where he led me.
In the weeks that followed, I was treated as an honored, if somewhat feared guest. I was fed foods I had never experienced but which filled my belly and helped me understand what was going on around me. The little old man asked endless questions, most of which I could not answer, but he seemed satisfied with what he learned.
I was only there a couple of days before I came upon the man doing an interesting dance. He moved slowly, but with purpose, his movement flowing from one position to another instead of jerking around as the younger humans I'd seen did. Curious about his motions, I stood and began to mimic him. Laughing, he began to show me many such dances.
Then he began to teach me how to use these dances to punch and to kick.
I am a wolf. We use our legs for running and support. But the new form I had learned has given me new uses for the muscles we wolves have developed. Yes, my fangs are my primary weapon, but through practice, I have learned that my weight and my mind focused into my paws can cause damage, daze, and even drive away predator or prey.
The little old man also taught me another dance. One where one sits perfectly still, breathes slowly, and dances with one's mind. Meditation, it turns out, is easy for a wolf. Our minds are not as busy as a human's, so it is easier to clear excess thought and focus within. With this practice, I learned to control my instincts and my emotions. I learned to speak clearly, although human speech is still complicated.
After I had been training with the little old man for several turnings of the moon, I found him in the garden, lying perfectly still, a tranquil expression on his face. Saddened by the loss of one who had taught me so much, I tried in vain to wake him. But he was gone.
After I devoured his remains, I returned to the wild to contemplate all I had learned and what I would do with my life next.
I blame the picnic basket. And fried chicken.
When I returned to the wild, my pack was even less accepting of me than ever. They did not attempt to drive me out. I suppose that was partly out of fear of what I might do as an outsider. They did not even treat me as the omega. Far worse...
I was ignored.
When the pack went hunting, they went with or without me. I was not called. I was not barred. I could eat if I wished (after the puppies and the Alpha pair, naturally), but a portion was not saved for me. It was as if the entire pack no longer cared whether I was there or not. But I know this: I was kept away from the pups. I was a rogue in thought and deed so far as the pack was concerned. My ideas and attitudes far more dangerous than anything else.
And the hunters stopped coming. I think now that it was partly because the so-called "hunting season" was drawing to a close, but I also believe it was because the area my pack hunted was considered dangerous. Haunted, even. I suppose that word was getting around that hunters who came to this place were less and less likely to return.
One day, terribly hungry from missing too many of the pack's hunts, a tantalizing smell came to me. I had smelled it before, from hunters' camps, but this was fresh and spicy and... and I was very hungry.
I stalked my new prey a long distance from the pack's usual hunting grounds. I came to an area full of wooden structures, large and small. Around one of these smaller were gathered a large number of humans. And on the structure... the table I know now... were brightly-colored buckets of the most wonderful-smelling food...
Hunger and self-confidence had the better of me. Surely I could pass through such a gathering and make a grab for whatever was in those buckets? But hunger makes for weakness, both body and mind. I was unable to hide myself as well as I should have. And these humans were gathered for a special purpose.
With one paw into a bucket, a shout alerted me that I'd been spotted. Before I could move, I was surrounded by guns. Again, I know now that I had stumbled upon a policeman's picnic.
I was shot several times as I tried to flee. My legs were ripped out from under me by searing, blinding pain. Fire and heaviness sank into my chest and I fell. I remember only snatches of what happened after. More humans came with ropes, cables, and nets. I was poked, prodded, drugged, and cut into. I was called "freak", "monster", and things that sounded like warnings to stay clear of me.
Not quite animal, not quite human, they said. And because of my power and danger, I was sent to Paragon City. The prison there was made to hold dangerous monsters. It could hold me while they decided what to do with me, they said, patting each other on the back over the idea. It would be safe to put me in a larger cage.
But neither they nor I had counted on the intervention of Arachnos. Or the power of the Dark One.