Carrion Crown: Kyle's
Silver hand gossip
Facets of Fear
Human beings are fond of taming nature, of leaving their mark on the wilderness in the form of farms cleared from primeval forest or towns and cities erected where once only animals used to live. But for all the trappings of civilization, the night still waits with hungry eyes and wicked claws. Werewolves personify the fear of the beasts that howl in the long, dark winter nights, and prowl hungrily outside doors and windows that are locked and barred against the savage wilderness.
From the harsh, frozen north to the gentle climes of the south, wolf attacks on livestock are a widespread fact of life in a fantasy world (though the number of non-rabid wolf attacks on humans is historically negligible). To the simple peasant or herdsman, wolves are a plague upon humanity, killing livestock and (reputedly) lone travelers gluttonously and without remorse. What could be worse, then, than a wolf who can take human shape?
In addition, people naturally fear those who are different in some way. An unfortunate person who has trouble controlling his emotions might be suffering from psychological problems, but to an uneducated villager, an easier explanation is that he is possessed—perhaps a wolf in human form. A cold, calculating, but all too human serial killer is hard to imagine, but fear and superstition can easily create a monster that stalks the night. Livestock die and people go missing, and everyone wants a scapegoat to hold responsible. Where a simple animal or human explanation no longer suffices, people turn to the supernatural, and werewolves are there to take the blame.
Superstitions and Safeguards
Besides the standard cures, many folk remedies exist for curing lycanthropy, though most healers and priests discount such treatments as ignorant superstitions. One common belief is that exhaustion can cure a werewolf. Afflicted werewolves (or those thought to be infected) are often forced to toil at hard labor without rest, thus tiring the beast and purging it from the victim’s body. Another commonly accepted remedy is immersing a werewolf in holy water during a new moon.
Other so-called “cures” include the presentation of holy symbols, particularly those of gods of animals or healing, such as Erastil and Sarenrae; driving nails (often silver ones) into the werewolf’s hands or paws; striking the werewolf forcefully on the forehead with a dull knife; or even addressing a werewolf by its given name three times in succession.
A final remedy is skinning the werewolf in its hybrid or animal form, thereby separating the wolf from the man. One wonders, however, what sort of werewolf would be docile enough to allow such a procedure, or whether the unfortunate sufferer would survive the “treatment.” Many strange beliefs exist for safeguarding oneself from the predations of werewolves. Wolfsbane proves most successful, as it has a reputation for repelling werewolves as well as curing the affliction of lycanthropy itself. Holy symbols and holy water remain popular defenses, even though werewolves are not undead and have no known vulnerability to such instruments. Because silver is known to harm werewolves, some people favor wearing silver jewelry for protection from werewolf attacks. Wealthy villagers also spread powdered silver outside doors and windows to keep werewolves at bay. Rye, mistletoe, and the berries of the rowan tree or mountain ash are also believed to be effective. Whether these remedies and wards have any actual effect are unknown.