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Monday, January 20, 2014

Monster Monday: Werewolves

(Monster Monday, where we examine the monsters of the Stone Soldiers series...)

There have been many incarnations of the werewolf in fiction. In Stone Soldiers, werewolves are a blend of folktale and movie traditions. 

Werewolves are supernatural creatures, created by a magical curse. This curse can be passed on from person to person, as in the classic Lon Chaney movie The Wolfman.

Werewolves create more werewolves by biting a victim under a full moon. The bodily fluid of the werewolf, most often salivia, infects the victim. Should they survive, they will also turn into a werwolf on the next full moon. 

It shoud be noted that Werewolf blood also carries the contagious aspect of the curse, and can result in infection, so long as the werewolf the blood belongs to is the cause of injury. In effect, being wounded by a werewolf and surviving is the cause of infection, so long as a bodily fluid has been exchanged.
  
(Note: Colonel Mark Kenslir was bitten by an augmented werewolf in the 1950s, who's bite had the ability to instantly transform the victim. This acceleration of the curse has been observed on multiple occasions through out the series)

Infected subjects transform under a full moon, although some have found a means to transform at will (Stone Soldiers #5, Black Knight Down). Generally, once transformed,  the creature loses all semblance of sentient thought, becoming a vicious creature intent on only killing.

Subjects tranforming find their bodies enlarged, their skeletal structures and musculature greatly expanding: an average human male will result in a wolf-headed creature nearly seven feet tall, possessing the strength of a dozen men or more.

Werewolves are fast, strong and highly resistant to trauma, thanks to a magical ability to regenerate wounds. Injuries that would kill a mortal or natural creature are healed in seconds, with no apparent ill effect. This makes killing a werewolf extremely difficult.

Werewolves do have a weakness to silver, a metal known to absorb etheric (magical) energy. Silver coming into contact with a werewolf drains the cruse from surrounding tissue, causing it to want to revert to human form. This is state of being in flux, trying to revert to human tissue while still under the spell of the curse is extremely painful to a transformed werewolf.

Silver weapons, for example, a knife, create injuries that are unable to regenerate as rapidly as other injuries--again due to silver's inherent ability too absorb etheric energy. Silver left inside a werewolf, for example arrowheads, speart tips or even bullets, cause a twofold effect: intense pain and the inability too heal. Wounds of this nature can kill a werewolf.

NOTE: Lycanthropy is a condition that can mimic the curse of the werewolf, ranging from mental delusion to phsyiological changes. While true werewolves may be referred to as lycanthropes, they considerably far more dangerous.


PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
Werewolves can differe greatly in physical appearance, based on he origin of the curse they are afflicted with. Generally, they remain a bipedal, humanoid, covered in hair ranging from white to black in color, with a wolf-like head that includes a snout and teeth. The ears of a werewolf  remain located on the sides of the head, elongating but not shifting position. Teh hands and feet also enlarge, nails thickening and lengthening. A werewolf's feet often elongate, with the creature walking on the ball of its foot, much like a canid, and resulting ina height increase of several inches (in addition to their skeletal growth). Werewolves do not have tails.


ABILITIES
A werewolf is faster, stronger and possesses more endurance than any natural animal of its size and weight. Owing to the supernatural origin of their transformation, werewolves do not tire or require physical sustenance, despite their instinct to kill and eat prey constantly. 

In addition to an enhanced regenerative ability, werewolves possess keen eyesight, hearing and a sense of smell rivalling that of sharks. 

Werewolves can scale vertical surfaces and even travel inverted on the underside of horizontal surfaces, by means of their claws and great strength. Werewolves can leap several body lengths with ease and have been known to run as fast as a cheetah.


TRANSFORMATION
When exposed to the full moon, once the sun has set, the curse begins. The subject is put in incredible pain as their bones and flesh grow. The mass needed for this growth seems to come from the curse itself, cells multiply and changing in apparent violation of the rules of physics and the conservation of matter/energy.

Transformations can be slow, taking as much as five minutes, but generally seem to quicken over time. An infected subject who has been a werewolf for a long period can experience a transformation in only seconds. It is believed this is because the subject is no longer attempting to resist the transformation, but has accepted it.

Coloration of a werewolf is often based on the subjects natural hair color.

When reverting to human form, the extra mass, hair, teeth, etc of a werewolf seem to be reabsorbed into the infected, leaving no  trace behind that they ever transformed. Depending on the method by which they are killed, werewolves may or may not revert to human form upon dying.


CURING THE CURSE
Being a magical curse, a werewolf does have a means to cure itself. By killing the creature that killed it, an infected subject can break free of the curse and revert to human form, never to change again. Should the infecting werewolf die by someone else's hand, anyone it infected will remain cursed until their death.


THREAT LEVEL
Werewolves are a moderate supernatural threat. While possessed of strength and speed and endurance far greater than any terrestrial animal, including a polar bear, they can be injured by conventional weaponry. Sufficient injury can overcome even a werewolf's regenrative ability. Fire, electricity and even extreme freezing can destroy cell tissue. However, if any cells remain intact, a werewolf will regenerate under a full moon, growing entire bodies from even small pieces of intact flesh.


RELATED SPECIES/CREATURES
Werewolves should not be confused with shapechangers or the Native American skinwalker. A werewolf does not transform fully into a wolf, but rather a creature possessing wolf-like and human features. Transformation from human to true wolf form is indicative of an entirely different supernatural process. 

Many cultures around the world further describe other were creatures, for  example werebears and were hyenas. Whether these are also the result of  a curse or are  supernatural creatures capable of reproducing by biological means is unknown at this time.


For more werewolf action, read the upcoming Seven Deadly Sons, Book 7 in the Stone Soldiers, to be released January 2014.

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