Storytime: The Curse
Lycanthropy is a complicated condition. And a varied one. I figured I’d take some time and talk about it, and how it applies to Rita Wulf specifically.
There are many theories for why there are different kinds of lycanthropy, but in general they can be divided into biological or magical.
The biological side argues that it is a literal infection. Some form of pathogen, most commonly believed to be a virus, enters the host and changes them. Where it came from, and when it arose is something no one has found an answer to yet, but the proponents of the theory believe that the various types of lycans come from the virus mutating and evolving in different directions.
The magical side argues that the entire process is based off of a curse, and that it is entirely magical in nature. The reason for the different types of lycan is that different magicians cast different curses at different times, and while the end result of turning the cursed into a wolf-beast under the full moon was largely kept intact, other details would vary based on the caster.
Regardless of which side is correct ( maybe they both are, considering how big the universe is ), we are here to discuss how the curse affected Rita, rather than discuss the possibilities of its origin.
When a human being ( or any mortal, really ) gets bitten, it acts similar to a demonic possession. The person suddenly has someone or something else inside them. A voice, an urge, a desire. It wants to wrest control from you; take over your body and mind. It starts out weak, so weak that it might not even trigger on the first full moon if you were bitten right before it. Eventually it grows stronger, and each full moon it takes over. The victim transforms, and the other side is in control. The victim often has little or no memories of what happens on these nights. In time this other side might even exert some control while the victim is not transformed. Possibly even take over completely, assuming the victim doesn’t lose their mind or get killed before then.
Rita thought of it as a demon, even though it is technically not demonic at all. She had a theory that it was an actual rage or hunger demon that had invaded her, but any means she could find of detecting demonic influence returned a negative result. While there are ways of curing lycanthropy, especially if you act quickly, an exorcism would not work. It was something else. Part of it was clearly lupine, but part of it was also just ravenous. Eventually she just named it the Hunger, because that is what it felt like. Hungry for food, hungry for power, hungry for wealth, hungry for control.
Food was the overruling desire, though. The Hunger wants to eat. Preferably something living, but in a pinch anything would do. The curse was changing and adapting her body the older she grew. Eventually her body was able to digest just about anything, so if nothing tasty could be found when the Hunger asserted control, she would just devour something nearby, regardless of what it was. Her super-high metabolism just needed something to convert into energy. She is still somewhat embarrassed about the time she consumed a friend’s couch in a moment of weakness. He really liked that couch.
These days it’s hard to tell how much of Rita’s personality is still the human she was two and a half thousand years, and how much is the wolf and the Hunger. She seems to have reached a truce with herself, identifying more as a wolf than a human, and mostly staying in control of the Hunger.
It wasn’t long after she met up with the rest of the were community of Northern Europe during the first century AD that she started to learn more about control. Not just of her mind, but of her body. With practice she could even transform outside of a full moon. With more practice she could transform to various degrees, even all the way to regular-looking wolf. Eventually she learned to adopt other forms, and gain complete control of her body’s internal workings. She also learned that completely changing shape is actually easier than changing small details about your appearance, yet in time she has mastered both. She has even received “gifts” that allow her to change into things she in normal circumstances shouldn’t be able to. You tend to do a lot of things, travel a lot, and meet a lot of people when you live for a long time.
Things work differently for those born into this type of lycanthropy. While being turned is a painful and difficult process for both body and mind ( something Rita has warned any of her partners, or others that have expressed a desire to be turned, of ), when you’re born with, that’s just how you are. You don’t have a mortal side and a lycan side vying for control, you are simply you. Having all your desires awaken when you hit puberty might be slightly more overwhelming than for most mortals, but with a caring family looking out for you, guiding you and helping you, things tend to turn out okay. The Hunger is still there, but it feels more like a part of them than some outside force.
That is not to say that it always does. Sometimes someone’s Hunger is so strong that they lose themselves to it and become little more than monsters. It is thankfully rare, and often the family manages to keep them under control anyway. But there have been cases where the person got so out of control that the family, the Clan, saw no other option than to stop them. Even if it meant going so far as to kill them. This was never a decision taken lightly, and it was carried out with great sorrow, but the Clan were in agreement that they had the responsibility to take care of their own, for good or ill. You do what has to be done. The possible consequences if they don’t are far too dire.
The Wulf Clan in general lives a fairly relaxed life these days. They don’t really bother fighting other clans any longer; it’s been centuries since they hired themselves out as mercenaries en masse; and they’ve largely retired from ruling positions and politics. Several of them run companies, or act as teachers, or researchers, or just have some fairly regular job somewhere. Some simply live as artists, or focus on the home. Some do exotic stuff like travel the galaxy, or act as bounty hunters. You can find a Wulf in quite a lot of places. The Clan has essentially amassed enough wealth, property and resources that anyone is essentially free to do as they please, and Rita is diligent about making sure everyone is cared for. She can be a pretty fussy mum/grand-mum/etc, and most of the Clan have accepted it’s unlikely that’s going to change.
Rita’s main focus these days is raising her youngest son, Weylin. He’s eight years old at the time of this writing. Outside of the occasional short adventure, things will likely remain calm at Wulf Manor for the foreseeable future.