My dearest nephew,
Your mother has written to me to tell me of your accident. I do hope you feel better soon. It must have been terrifying to face such a beast, but I imagine you were very brave. This is why you stay within the walls of the city! Fear not- as I’m sure your mother told you, it’s only a bite.
I’ve been told you’re feeling rather ill, understandably. Your mother asked me to write to you, to explain to you why you feel this way. She knows I can explain your condition better than she can, better than your father can. Life will be different in the future, but we’ll overcome this obstacle together.
By this point I imagine you’re rather confused. I find the best way to understand our present scenario is to examine our past.
Herald is our king, and we are proud citizens of Parada. Yet as you know, King Herald won his kingdom through vicious conquest. Many centuries ago, these lands were not part of Parada. We were the kingdom of Tramont, and we were proud indeed. Several ancient kingdoms once dotted this continent, but Tramont stood out as the greatest. The Jewel of the West, we were called. The kingdom on the brink of greatness.
Our ancestors crossed the sea to found Tramont, and the coast they landed on is now our home. To those early pioneers, this land was their passage to the East, so they founded the city of Eastgate, which still stands as the greatest city in this world. Eastgate has always been our home, and the people of Parada will always remember that it all began here.
We can’t be sure what happened in the time remaining; our scribes were not so diligent in that golden age. Soon, the original founders of our kingdom amalgamated with the native humans, we became one and the same. The old culture of Tramont was erased, and with it, the gods. We adopted a new god: Rockput, the popular god of humans. And thus, we stopped being the colony of foreigners. We became the heart of the mainland. We smithed swords and shields, we pushed our territories east, we built ships. We started writing.
From that point, we know much more about our histories. Some three millennia past, Tramont chose her first king in battle, a golden-clad warrior who crushed the dark elves by the river, securing Eastgate’s safety. This first king’s name is lost to us now, for reasons you will come to understand. A palace was built; you may now know it as Alaine Keep, yet at the time it was the grandest seat for a ruler. Under the new king, our kingdom on the sea truly began to excel. The forgotten one sent missionaries across the continent to spread the good word of Eastgate. He sent soldiers to fortify the homelands and to expand his iron grasp. Ships deployed across the sea, vowing never to return without new lands, culture, or treasure. And Eastgate expanded, growing outward and upward. It was that king’s wish that the whole world would know the name Tramont.
Those of us that climb risk attracting the sight of the gods. Everyone thinks they want to be noticed by divine providence, until they are. For one, the forgotten king was thrilled when his city at the peak of greatness was visited.
Historians place the incident sometime around 3100 years before Herald. Eastgate awoke to a chorus of howls so melodic, so mesmerizing, that each and every denizen knew that it was divine in nature.
Into the streets they poured to witness a miracle. Indeed, the howls came from beyond the city’s gate. “Open the city,” came the order from the king. And so the gates swung open, and the people of Eastgate bowed in reverence to the wolf beyond.
Legends say the wolf was as tall as a house. Other accounts claim it was larger than a horse, with impossibly sharp claws. Still more assert that the wolf was no larger than a normal wolf, but glowed with a godly radiance.
It suffices to say that the wolf was not a worldly beast. As it growled beyond the wall, every soul in the city knew that they trembled in the presence of a god. This was an avatar sent by Rockput, not one person denied it, and Tramont would never be the same.
The wolf walked slowly into the streets, as if it was waiting for an invitation it now received. The god-fearing citizens moved aside, dropping to their knees. Rockput has come to Tramont.
The wolf marched forward without hesitation, heading to the keep with a purpose. The king stepped into the moonlight, gazing down on his city from the marble steps. The wolf approached; god and king met amidst a moonlit landscape, and the world changed forever. Our king bowed down before his god.
And the wolf bit him.
Now our world is reeling. The king stumbled, clutching at the wound on his neck, and the wolf bounded away, howling. The monstrous creature’s howl turned to growling, and, if accounts are to be believed, growling turned to laughing. Heh. Heh. Heh.
A god visited Tramont that night, but it wasn’t our god. The king ambled down the steps, spilling blood over the city, and his guards ran to catch him.
Now you won’t believe this part. All eyes were on the king, and each citizen of Eastgate swore this is true. His wound vanished- his flesh sealed leaving only a scar. The king froze briefly, dazed… and then he bit his guard.
The king tore into the guard’s neck, ripping his throat to pieces. No one dared to raise a weapon against their king, even if they could process what they just saw. The king transformed; he screamed a tortured wail, until his scream was a howl… and our king became a monster.
He was no longer human, nor was he entirely the wolf that bit him. We have a word for them now, but the people of Eastgate had never seen a werewolf. His mind was no longer his own, the king’s consciousness surrendered to the wolf’s instinct. The monster that once ruled Tramont rampaged through the streets, biting dozens of bystanders, killing dozens more. Finally, Eastgate accepted that their king was gone, and the people took up arms. If only they knew that iron isn’t enough- only silver can harm the false wolves. The once-king was chased out of Eastgate, and never seen again. But the damage was already done; the werewolf plague had come to our world.
Nephew, I wish you had stayed inside the city. It’s safe in here; the wolves can’t cross the silver gate. But you wanted to see the forest, and it has never been safe in the trees. It’s only a bite, your mother told you. She didn’t see the monster.
You must act quickly. Once your physician discovers the nature of your bite, you’ll be lucky if your only consequence is incarceration. I have stashed a travel bag in a hollow outside the gate. Sneak out tonight, and head east. The Dark Forest is a haven for the wolves, and you will find allies there. I will contact you once it is safe to do so. There may be hope for you yet, but you mustn’t wait. Good luck out there.
Your loving uncle,