Beware the Moon
A Cautionary Tale
Proud Nord, Forsaken Skaal, Manbeast and Cursed Daughter of Hircine
Beware the night.
Beware the moon.
Your pride and passion spell your doom.
I hungered once.
I hunger still.
An insatiable longing claimed my will.
Now I wander.
Now I roam.
Beast of the Wilds. Thrall of the Gloam.
I was a Nord of Skyrim in my younger days. I lived idly amongst the multitudes of Solitude, even studying briefly with the Bards of the great College. The people were complacent behind those high walls— grown soft and fat from luxury –all pride and honor lost amidst the mindless roar of easeful society and sociopolitical “progress.” I do not think they were truly happier for it. I, certainly, was not.
Still, that life had its charms. I drank the sweet milk of those merry halls, as I was instructed. As I was, by social construct, required. I had no want of sustenance, amusement, or petty indulgence. Unlike most Nordic children of my time, I learned to read. To write, to sing, to dance. I gained some knowledge in the delicate arts of politics, subtlety, finesse, and persuasion— by which, I of course, mean thinly-veiled thievery, manipulation, slander, profligacy, and cruelty. I use the term delicacy loosely.
This, it seemed, was the standard. Gilt tongues and smooth lips hid razor teeth poised to strike, laced through-and-through with slow-killing venom. Snakes ruled that city unimpeded— in plain sight –and the sheep were bled, wholly oblivious of their suffering. At first, I tried to help them. To open their eyes— to use my skills in their name, and for their honor. Unfortunately, I think they’d have preferred if I, like all the rest, used them for my own selfish designs. My words were not honeyed enough to ensnare the masses— as, indeed, freedom from ensnarement was my desired purpose –and I was bested by minds far more brilliantly devious than my own. I was driven from the city— not by force, as I ought to have preferred –but by words and ideas and lies. I was shamed, and departed the city for greener pastures. Or so I thought at the time.
After a great deal of travel, and my first taste of adventure— all too brief –I arrived at Whiterun. In those days, I clung to the idea of cities and their necessity, though I knew not why. It was the only life I’d known. I was young. Naïve. Sculpted by excess, herded by nobility, confined by propriety.
I found no comfort there. Each night, I gazed at the stars. I watched the moon rise and fall, the world twist and turn, the people scramble and groan. I dreamt of the Wild, and I grew restless. I contented myself with mercenary work of a legitimate nature— I never once spilt innocent blood –and, in my off-hours, spinning vivid, feral tales for the villagers at The Bannered Mare. I wove them for anyone with an ear for adventure and an appetite for harmless mischief.
In truth, it was a waste of my life. I was squandering the gifts of the All-maker, but in that time I did not know Him. I know now what I wish I had seen all along; money has no value whatsoever, and those who believe they need it in fact need far more than any amount of coin can ever hope to offer. I would have offered my services for free, had I any heart, to all those with pure spirits and good intent, wheresoever it was needed. Alas, I was still young, and still very foolish.
For the sake of my work, I often left the city. As time passed, my voyages into the far lands of the Hold grew daringly wide and increasingly long. I journeyed farther from civilization and delved deeper into the distant wood, leaving the city and cultivated farmlands behind. The mountains called to me, the forest beckoned. I listened. I had to. There was my only peace, my brief and blissful respite from the binding chains of cultured captivity. In the forest I was whole. Alive, awake, and mad with delight.
My freedom did not come all at once. It was a slow process of discovery. I learnt more of the world— and of myself –with each foray, and I was amazed with all I beheld. Rivers sang wordlessly, trees wept soundlessly, and the sky opened up above me. My world, too, was opening up. Then, one day, it happened. I left the city and never returned. Shortly thereafter, I left the Hold altogether.
I will spare you the unimportant details that followed. After ceaseless wandering and endless wonder the likes of which I could not transcribe with any weakly mortal words, were I even to try, I traveled to Windhelm, then to Solstheim, and there discovered the small, isolated village of Skaal. It did not take long for me to come to love the blessedly pure souls that dwelt there. Likewise, it did not take long for them to love me. I was adopted by their mercy, accepted by their grace, and blessed by their ways. We lived as one with the land, ever at peace, and knew a happiness that I had long thought impossible. The stink of the cities had closed my mind to the glorious wonders of Mundus. My soul had been excised from the blinding light of salvation, cut off from myself, from the Creator, and from the shining world of his Creation.
My brothers and sisters worshipped the All-maker, denying the lesser gods of the Empire. Daedra, of course, as aspects of the Adversary, were hated and ignored. I cannot help but wonder if this was not at least partway responsible for their ease in taking delight in the world around them, but I am doubtless biased, as I was (as you by now realize) quickly indoctrinated into the religion of these good and proud folk.
The other obvious cause of their joy was in their treatment of themselves and nature. They neither attempted to mold the land to their liking, nor sculpt the minds of others to match their own. Individuality was rampant and prized. Balance was maintained. Strength was ever-present, but not worshipped thoughtlessly as with the fallen Skaal of Thirsk Mead Hall, or the Companions of Whiterun’s famed Jorrvaskr, both of which I was by now well acquainted. Each to its own purpose, and no more. Their strength was but a tool, and used sparingly, only as needed. Words and actions are sharp as daggers, and were used with as much forethought and true delicacy as such tangible weapons, such that wanton hurt did not befall the innocent. All sacrifice— be it human, animal, or plant –was respected and revered. The lives we claimed for sustenance were the only lives we claimed at all, and they were thanked with all the humility and appreciation they deserved, as sacred, chosen children of the All-maker. There was no slaughter, no manipulation, no cruelty.
I cannot praise my once-brothers and –sisters enough. But they are my past, and shall never again stand bright and strong amidst the shadows of my darkly cursed future. I wish it were otherwise, but it is not.
Despite my joy, and despite the love of my brethren, still I ventured far into the wilds. Far more than was necessary, far more than was wise. Its call never lessened, its hold never broke. I wonder now if the call I heard was not of the forest, but of the dark master—Hircine himself. I wonder if I had not already fallen prey to his machinations. Perhaps my hunger was his, my desires unholy constructs of his original invention. Perhaps my darkness was his own.
I suppose it does not matter now. Out there, in my beloved woods, I was chosen. I was bitten, and I was cursed, and I became a thing of the Wilds itself. The wilderness incarnate. It is equal parts beautiful and terrible. Half a blessing, half a curse, but always it is darkness. My path will never again leave the woods, nor enter the light, nor will I ever see an eternity besides that of the Hunt. I mourn for what was, for what is, for what is to come. But most of all I mourn for what could have been. I warn you, my friends, that is the greatest pain of all.
To my fellow werewolves, a different warning: there have been whispers of a cure from our eternal ailment, involving the twice-spilt blood of innocence. This, my brothers, is no cure at all. In taking an innocent life, you will only be trading one despicably bestial curse for another. Murder is no escape, and certainly no salvation. To deprive the gift of life, given freely and wisely by the All-maker, is to spit in the face of the Creator, and make a mockery of one’s own creation. Incurring His wrath is most unwise, but I doubt I should have to state this: there is reason enough to spurn murder for one’s own selfish ends, without needing to address the implications and consequences to one’s life and soul. Have strength, my brothers. We will find a way. A way that does not involve needless violence and bloodshed. A way that will neither see our soul lost to the darkness of evil, nor bound to the Grounds of the Hunt. Sheath your claws, bridle your maws, and take only what you need to survive. Stay true, and in time our path will become clear.
For the curiosity of those knowledgeable few, allow me to say that I have, indeed, run across the odd pack here and there (though I will not go so far as to name them, though named they are), but have chosen to remain, as they say, a “lone wolf.” I feel that it is in my best interest to do so, as well as for all those who may be affected by my mere existence.
If any of my dear readers can make a guess at my identity from the descriptions given herein, I ask with profound humility that you keep such knowledge to yourself. I have hurt no one, besides those few unfortunate creatures (neither man nor mer) I have required for sustenance, nor shall I ever. I would take my own life before I allowed such unthinkably tragic sin to occur. The bloodlust is strong, but none so strong as my will, as my heart, soul, and faith. I will never again return to the cities, nor to civilization as a whole, though I have no doubt in my mind that I could, were it my desire. Enough of my wit remains, I think, sharp enough for that. To “pass,” if you will. But for the sake of you, unblemished children, I will not make the attempt. I am content with my wilds, until the day that I can, I pray, discover a cure that calls for no blood, save, perhaps, my own.
Beware the day.
Beware the sun.
Beware, sons and daughters of the One.
All-maker led us
But leads no more.
For we are abandoned, for we are forsworn.
Hunger claims us.
The Hunt begins.
Hark, brothers: Hircine calls us to our end.