Werewolf on the Loose

New tidings have come to us in the case of the Black Root Werewolf, that dread beast which has lately afflicted those who dwell on the border with Cumbria. Two nights ago, a Mr. Gerald Rathestone, returning of an evening from a visit to his acquaintances in Black Root, was attacked upon the North Road and nearly killed. According to his report, the creature which fell upon his screaming horse was nearly two man-heights at the shoulder, an enormous beast with the head of a great wolf and ten terrible ripping talons. It is only by the grace of Providence that Mr. Rathestone escaped with his life; when the brute leaped upon the hindquarters of his mount, bearing it to the ground, the young half-elven gentleman was thrown clear of the saddle.

"Nothing but luck," Mr. Rathestone calls it. "My leg might just as easily have been broke when poor Jasper went down, and then the monster would have had me sure. As it was I landed in soft grass, and managed to get back to my feet sharply. I was looking to skin up a tree - the thing was much too big and heavy to climb after me - but when I saw the devil was stopping to eat my horse, I took to my heels and ran back to Black Root fast. Never have I seen such a tremendous wolf; it pulled Jasper off the road by his neck!"

Such a story might be hard to credit, had not Mr. Rathestone returned to the spot in the morning with the local authorities and as many men as the town could spare for security. There the remains of Rathestone's mount, Jasper, were found some twenty feet from the road, in a gully; the Werewolf had apparently dragged the gelding there to dine undisturbed by other passersby. According to Constable Blackwood, "The greater part of a horse was eaten up, and its thigh bones cracked for the marrow. We found tracks around as big as a pie tin. It's a werewolf sure, and the biggest I've ever heard tell of; no man could turn to a wolf that size. I'm thinking that some big thing, like an ogre or troll, must have got bitten."

A great deal of excitement has followed this latest report, and two separate hunting parties have been dispatched to seek out and destroy the beast. One is led by Sir Roger Cavendish, who has assembled a dozen expert gunmen, and engaged the services of the Tiffany Silversmith Co. to outfit them with a complete assortment of silver bullets and shot. The other is commanded by the famous hunter Tyrandiel Stark, who not only commands formidable knowledge of the Mystic Arts but also carries the Silver Sword of Pry'desha, which weapon he has used on more than one occasion to dispatch a poor devil afflicted with the Moon Madness.

As some of our more alert readers may already know, Mr. Stark long ago lost the better portion of his left hand to the teeth of a werewolf, a wolf which was said to have been extremely large. The great hunter was forced to sever the remainder of the arm at the elbow, to prevent the Curse from spreading into his own body. Is it possible that the Black Root Werewolf is Mr. Stark's old nemesis, the demonic entity which not only cost him his left hand, but once decimated his village in the Glimmering Forest? "I have cause to hope so," Mr. Stark said grimly, as he prepared to embark from Tarant this morning. "In any case it's a werewolf, and I am bound by oath to kill it if I can."

Does Mr. Stark believe that the party of gunmen led by Sir Roger may meet with success? "I pray that they do," said the great hunter, with his characteristic asperity. "I'd sooner see them succeed than fail." When asked if he believed Sir Roger's party was better provisioned for the hunt than his own, Mr. Stark had little comment. "A gun can be a good weapon in the hands of an expert," he allows. "I don't use them myself because I have no skill with them, and the noise and stink they make only numbs my senses, which are otherwise trustworthy. Magick suits me better."

Sir Roger, on the other hand, is not so sanguine about Mr. Stark's chances in the field. "The man has no hope of success," he said lightly, as his vanguard rode out from Tarant yesterday. "I'll have the hide of this werewolf for a hearthrug before Stark's elves can even begin their chanting and mumbling."

Stark and his party of elven hunters are nearly a full day behind Cavendish and his gunmen, but the great hunter of the Glimmering Forest seemed to be in no hurry. If anything, his only concern appeared to be for the safety of Cavendish and the dozen dwarves and human gentlemen who accompanied him. "I only hope the man realizes that this is not one of his fox hunts," Stark said, when we repeated Sir Roger's remarks in his hearing. "This is no game; werewolves can be dangerous. I have cause to know."

In any event, we wish the greatest success to both hunting parties; our hopes and best wishes ride with all of them. In the end, the man who takes down the Black Root Werewolf may strike a decisive blow for his chosen method of hunting, and may persuade many others to adopt either Magick or Technology for use in emergencies. Only time will tell.