THE HISTORY OF THE LYCAEAN RACE - Imperian Online Help
16.9.5 THE HISTORY OF THE LYCAEAN RACE
Long ago in times of yore, large packs of wolfen would assemble and tell stories of their past by the light of the full moon. They would speak stories of triumph, courage, and honor; share stories of happiness and sadness, love gained and love lost; but most importantly they would tell the stories of treachery and deceit - the mistakes of the past could not be repeated in the future. Around the dying flames of a late fire, it had come to be expectation that the story of one of the greatest deceits in Lycaean history would be told. Usually it was spoken from the muzzle of an ancient wolfen, fur grayed by time and eyes aged with wisdom. Regardless of the name or appearance of the tale-spinner, however, the story was always told the same; it had to be this way, so that through history the Lycaeans would never forget how their very race almost became extinct before it really began. So my ancestors have told the tale to their brethren, I will so tell it to you. It is told that the first Lycaean to ever walk to soil of Aetherius was named Lyria. As a human, she and her band of rebels fled the oppressed city of Kinsarmar, seeking shelter with the elves in the far-off forest of Khandava. It was in this forest, under the light of Moradeim, the moon of change, that Lyria was graced with the form of a powerful Lycaean. One by one the rest of the group also changed, forming the beginning of the proud race of Lycaeans. Over time the Lycaeans grew and developed into powerful fighters. They learned to fight as well with tooth and claw as they did with iron and steel. With the Sylayan they became a formidable foe against the marching armies of Stavenn. Unfortunately not all the changed where happy with their new appearance. By far the minority of the new Lycaeans, they formed a secret group devoted to finding ways to return to their human form. Among the group was Samur, the pup of Lyria. The secret sect was known amongst its members as "The Truth Seers". Believing Lyria was somehow at fault for their "cursed" existence, they deeply regretted the rebellion in Stavenn. Daily they prayed to the gods for forgiveness for resisting their will, for this cult now believed that it was the will of the gods for Kinsarmar to be ruled by the might of Stavenn. The rulers of Stavenn became increasingly annoyed at the amount of men and supplies that inexplicably went missing after a march through Khanarvar. Determined to rid the forest of this new threat, one of Stavenn's best spies was sent to assess and correct the situation. Morvere, trained in the arts of poison and stealth, took on the challenge with pride. He had been in the business of death for as long as anyone could remember. Morvere, however, personally looked forward to studying these new creatures - it was highly possible that the body of these new mammals, as yet unexamined, would yield a new ingredient for his awesome range of toxins. Morvere was hugely experienced in his field, and so he had prepared himself for his trip out into the forest. It was because of this, together with his training, that he was able to easily find the camp without being detected. For a few days he watched their day to day life from a distance, until he noticed something quite interesting; watching and listening closely, he could tell that there was dissension in the camp. With careful observation he discovered The Truth Seers. A wide grin spread across his face - not one of happiness but of pure malice. Morvere had begun to develop a plan. At this time, Samur had a mate named Kaylei, a creamy, white Lycaean female who also deeply resented her change. She missed her soft smooth skin and her beautiful heart-shaped face. Secretly, she hated Lyria with a passion and Kaylei prided herself on turning Lyria's own pup against her. She was sure that, when Lyria found out that her own beloved pup resented her, she would feel obliged to pray to the gods in forgiveness, and so free them all from the curse. Morvere felt secure in his choice of approaching this close minded female, not only because of her influence on Lyria's son, but also because he knew that this woman would do anything in return for her humanity. On a moonless night, after a secret meeting, Kaylei was returning to her home when she heard a voice calling her name from the shadows. Thinking it was Samur playing a joke she stood her ground and called for him to reveal himself. Her eyes widened in surprise as a black, cloaked figure, much to short to be her mate, emerged from the darkness. Before she could turn tail and run, he began to whisper promises of humanity and freedom from the monsters she thought they had become. This obviously appealed to Kaylei; her ears perked in transparent interest as she listened to his requests, and as she took a vial from his hands she whispered promises of her own. With her tail wagging in excitement, she quickly ran to find her mate and inform him of the great news. She immediately woke him from his sleep and told him that the precious vial she held in her hands would make all their dreams come true - all they would have to do is drink this elixir. When Samur looked at her in disbelief she explained in great detail her meeting with Morvere. She told him about how she was also doubtful at first but he was willing to prove himself by giving them a small sample. It would only work for a few hours, but if they were satisfied with the results and wanted the lifetime effect then allthey would have to do is meet him with his payment - the head of Lyria. At first Samur looked at his mate in shock, but as she furtively whispered promises of power and the success of their humanity together his heart went cold for his mother, whom he felt owed him a debt. Without another word he took a large swig from the vial. Immediately he began to scream and clutch his head in pain. Kaylei looked on in fear as her mate writhed in indescribable pain. Her eyes widened in terror - she had poisoned her own mate! Before she could run to get help she noticed his features changing; his fur began to shorten, sinking back into his skin; his long lanky frame grew stouter and shorter as his face reshaped itself. He was changing - the potion was working! When it was done Samur lay on the floor, gasping for breath. She checked him over and immediately envied him for his human form. Without hesitation she emptied the last of the elixir into her mouth. For a split second she felt nothing and fears of remaining in her wolfish body sang in her mind, but before she could voice her thoughts she began to spasm. She fell to the ground and blacked out. In her unconsciousness she dreamed of herself as a human; her rough shaggy coat was replaced with a full head of beautiful blonde hair, her muzzle replaced with luscious lips and a cute button nose. A bloody burlap sack was clutched in her delicate hands. She walked a dark forested path and from the shadows came a strong sense of foreboding. Red eyes stared out at her, silently warning her to turn back. With fierce determination she ignored it all, for she held the payment in her hand and nothing was going to keep her from her beloved humanity. When she reached the set meeting place Morvere was there waiting, and with a smug grin on his face he asked for his payment. Kaylei smirked evilly as she reached down into the bag and grabbed the head by its hair. As she pulled the bloody head from the bag a look of extreme horror graced her features. In fear she dropped the head to the floor and, as it rolled across the ground, the sound of malicious laughter erupted all around her. The mutilated head was hers. Kaylei awoke with a start, the laughter still ringing in her ears. She looked around with eyes opened wide, fear still causing her heart to race. The fear soon dissipated, however, when she realized she was in the loving arms of her mate. She sighed softly when she felt his smooth skin against hers. Smooth skin! With a start she turned around and gazed in awe at her mate, then down at her own form. She was human; her greatest desire had come true there was no way she would ever go back. With a look of determination she stared into her mate's eyes, and he nodded in agreement. It was time to kill Lyria. In the dead of night they quietly entered Lyria's room. For a while they stood over her sleeping form, not quite able to believe what they were about to do. Hesitating no longer a glint of silver was seen in the air as Kaylei raised a dagger high above her head. Samur was unable to stifle a sharp inhalation of breath as the dagger came down. Lyria's ears twitched in her sleep. As if with some sort of sixth sense, her body responded before her mind and she immediately dodged the blow of the dagger. Quickly rolling to her side, Lyria jumped into a defensive stance. As confusion reigned, however, her son was able to grab her from behind and he pressed a dagger close to her throat in warning. "Who are you?" Lyria snarled in anger, not recognizing the human faces. "Oh?" said Kaylei, in singsong voice, "Don't tell me you do not remember me dear mother in law." Lyria's eyes widened in comprehension and disgust as she gazed at the face of her son's mate. "How. did you... What have you done with my son!" she cried. "Oh, don't worry Mother, I am right here" her son sneered as he applied more pressure to the dagger at her neck. Lyria took in a deep (but not too deep) breath as her mind reeled in confusion. "Samur, what are you doing... What's going on?" Kaylei tilted her head to the side in mock compassion, and interrupted her mate before he could speak, "Aww, Lyria. don't be angry. You should be happy! We will finally appease the gods and take back what you have stolen from us. With you gone, Lyria, the others won't be afraid to cast away the monster they have become. With you gone, we can all be human again!" Lyria narrowed her eyes in confusion, "W-What nonsense is this, it was not I who caused the change, it was a gift from the gods, a blessing!" Kaylei scowled darkly, "You think turning into monsters is a blessing! You think waking one morning with disgusting fur is a blessing! The gods have cursed us for going against their will and you think it's a game!" "Tonight is the night you pay for your sins Mother," Samur said calmly. "Now, prepare yourself for Dis!" With a move quicker than lightning Kaylei dashed forward, her face full of pure hatred. She attempted again to drive the dagger through Lyria's heart. Lyria flinched and yelped, but just before the dagger could strike true Kaylei's face began to contort in agony. "Noooo!" she cried. "It can't be! Not now!" With long groan, Kaylei slumped to the floor. For a moment Samur looked on in shock before he too doubled over in pain. His body began to shake uncontrollably and the dagger fell, clattering to the floor. Lyria, seizing the opportunity, took a step backwards as she watched the scene in terror. Fur began to grow on their bodies at a rapid pace. The snapping of sinew and bone could be heard as their structures began to realign. Both of them howled in agony and writhed in helplessness. Quickly recovering from her shock, Lyria grabbed the daggers. Dropping into a vicious rage, she attacked Kaylei mid-change, snarling all the while. Kaylei's eyes rolled in her head as Lyria double-thrusted the daggers into her abdomen. Blood and entrails spilled gently onto the ground after Lyria sliced the daggers easily through Kaylei's soft, tender skin. Shuddering in shock, Kaylei took a few gasping breaths before collapsing on her side, dying unattractively in the middle of her transformation. Lyria took a few deep breaths before turning to her son. Her eyes widened in horror when she saw the form he now took - standing before her was a wild, grey wolf. The intellect was gone from his once bright, lively eyes. "Samur?" she asked tentatively, as she looked at the wolf in confusion. With his tail tucked between his legs, he whined softly and trembled before her. "W-what has happened?" Lyria asked the world in general, in her confusion. A long, low, disgruntled sigh came from the doorway, causing Lyria to turn quickly around. "I knew I should have made that elixir a little more potent," Morvere said in calm disappointment. "They changed just before they could do their job. I guess I will have to do it myself after all, although it would have been easier if I could have reduced the entire village to helpless doggies first." Morvere grinned and moved to advance upon Lyria, who backed away in terror. Suddenly, however, Morvere stopped, cocking his head to the side. "Bah! That girl and her screaming woke the entire forest," he muttered, backing away. "I suppose I will have to finish this later." Morvere chuckled loudly as he disappeared into the shadows. The moment his laughter faded several Lycaeans rushed into the room. They looked on in shock at the scene before them - Lyria was slumped in a corner petting a fearful wolf while the monstrous figure of something not quite human and not quite Lycaean laid in a pool of her own blood. "Lyria! What... What has happened here?" asked one of the Lycaeans in surprise. Lyria licked her muzzle slowly and shook her head in confusion. Looking once more at her son, she fainted in mental exhaustion. Dawn found Lyria lying in bed, being cared for tenderly by one of the elder Sylayan. As last nights memories flooded to her mind she sat straight up in bed and looked around in fear. The first thing she noticed was her son, still in the form of wolf, lying on the floor near her bed. He perked his ears and stood when he found her gaze on him. Lowering his head in shame he whined softly as if begging to come closer. "Oh, my son," she sighed as she beckoned him to come closer. "What have you done?" The elder Sylayan went to comfort Lyria as Samur moved forward to shamefully lick her hand. Many Lycaeans awoke that morning not knowing how close they came to extinction. Various events came into play in thwarting Morvere's evil plan. Some say it was his incompetence, some say it was Lyria's bravery, but most believe it was the will of the gods looking down with love upon the Lycaean race. Lyria knew one thing, however. Morvere would be back to claim what he wanted, and it would be up to her to save her kind. "I will be ready," thought Lyria. "I have to be."