The Great Wise Wolf
Holo is a medium-height humanoid with wolf’s ears and large fluffy tail. Her hair and fur are auburn and she usually wears a thick wool shirt and skirt in the fashion of northern Manscell. She is remarkably spunky. When she smiles, you can clearly see large canines in her grin.
In the world, there is one night in the year when both moons are full and one night when both are new. Across the world almost every culture celebrates the new year on the full moon and the others celebrate on the new. On Anatis, the night of the full moon is called Seluster and the night of the new moon is called Tevenus. But once every thousand years, it is said, the moons and Ferros align such that the shadow of Ferros falls upon Sartra, whose shadow falls upon Krayos, creating a ring of red around a center of darkness. On this night, the Bloody Seluster, neither Echoe nor Allistiel have power and their priests are given to madness underneath the bloody eye that is the moons. On this night the power belongs to another as written in the Legend of Holo:
“It is said that on the first Bloody Seluster the people wailed and cried out to their gods, to Echoe and Allistiel and others and to the Seamstress to save them from the doom of the moons. In the forests the wolves howled and in the Village the people gathered around the shrines and prayed. Hearing the howl they began to fear and in their fear and madness they began to howl. Were they howling to save themselves from the wolves? To join them? To bring back the moon? No one knows, but in their howling and their madness the people of the Village went out and hunted.
The hunters found a pack outside the Village on a cliff ledge. They readied their spears, the wolves raised their hackles and growled. An older she-wolf stepped forward and, being blessed by Ehlonna, said to the people, “Why do you come to us with spears? Will you kill us? Kill our pups?”
“Demon!” The hunters cried. “The wolf is a demon! She has killed the gods and the moons are red with their blood.”
“I am no demon, human.”
“Then how do you speak, wolf? It is because of you the moon is dark and red and our power is gone! When we kill you, your spell will be broken and the moon will return.”
At her side, the males growled and edged forward but the she-wolf was blessed with speech and wisdom. She saw the madness in the eyes of the humans and in the eyes of her pack. So she turned and bit her mate. “No, you must go. Take the pack and the pups and go. Do not hate the humans for they are foolish and do not know the sky as we do.”
Her mate was unsure, but the hunters jeered. “Yeah, run away, dogs. All we need is the demon tonight.” Her mate understood and took his pack away as the hunters came with their spears and pierced the she-wolf’s hide. They cut and stabbed her until she was weak, and then bound her and carried her back to the Village. There they prepared to sacrifice her. As the priest stood above, chanting, she let out a final dying howl, a plea to Ehlonna and to the Seamstress above. Bound by fear and madness, the people howled in victory, “Howl-o!” Laughing they mocked the wolf’s howl and the demon within, but the moons did not return. The wind blew harder and the moons’ red light bathed the world in the color of blood. The fear and madness of the people, and the sacrifice of the she-wolf now gave birth to a spirit. From the body of the she-wolf came an unearthly howl.
The Villagers fell to the ground in terror as the wind picked up. On the ground, the blood of the she-wolf spread to coat her fur and the spirit of the fear and madness, the spirit of the Bloody Seluster merged with the spirit of the wolf, giving her power. Despite her wounds dripping blood, she stood, and as she did the fear that fed her only grew stronger. The Villagers pled in terror for mercy and as their faith in their doom and their fear intensified, the she-wolf grew until she towered over them, easily three times the height of the tallest man. Their fear and faith had birthed a goddess and she spoke to them.
“You are children playing at being men. You live in the world and give service to your gods, but when something new happens you lose your faith, you become fearful and seek to kill. You are as pups who have never heard thunder. Though you sought to commit crimes I shall reform you. I will be your mother and you will be my pups. I will teach you, but since you are pups you will learn through blood and pain and this shall serve as your punishment.”
With that she bent down and bit the priest in her jaws. Without a thought she broke through his body and cast the remains aside. The people screamed but it was no use as she came for all of them. Some cowered in fear, some tried to protect their loved ones, some tried to flee, but all were taken. While she killed the first, the rest she would only bite and toss aside. The screams of pain, terror, and blood echoed through the night and the forest and for the first time the howls of people and wolves were as one.
When the she-wolf was finished, as the eclipse ended, the people bit by her now changed. Their screams became silent agony as they transformed, first into part-man-part-beasts, and then into complete beasts. Their wounds healed and they looked around in fear and anger, no longer humans. The she-wolf barked and growled and they fell and looked up at their mother.
“From now on you are my children and will spread and multiply. Your curse will carry to those you bite and they will scorn you for it. Since you feared the moon you will be bound by it until you learn otherwise. And though you mocked me in my death, that which you feared will now command your respect. Let it be known that I am Holo, the Great Wise Wolf!” The Great Wolf howled and her pack responded, greeting the moons as the Bloody Seluster ended." – The Legend of Holo
Few scholars have studied Holo or the legend of the lycanthropes, so it is unknown which village is the one in the story. Most believe it’s a symbolic village and there never was a single village, but whatever the case it certainly doesn’t exist is modern times. In the field of lycanology, the main question is how the other varieties of lycanthropes arose. Lycanthropy is considered both a curse and a disease and in that respect it is unique. Lycanologists suspect the other varieties of lycanthrope arose from Holo’s original tribe as all lycan tribes have a story that traces their lineage back to Holo. Perhaps over time, the various tribe members differentiated by strength or speed, or perhaps those first lycans bit or mated with other animals, producing the different lycan offspring. Or perhaps when Holo created them, she created all varieties of lycan at once, not just wolves (though that is not a popular hypothesis).
The rivalry between lycans and vampires can be explained with this myth as Holo was created through a bloody ritual and in one sense did come back from the dead. Lycans usually view her as having ascended and view vampires as profane imitators and blasphemers. Vampires see the lycans as diluting power and worshiping gods when they could be using their curse and blood directly for themselves. Lycans also do not usually get along with clerics and followers of Echoe or Allistiel as all three deities are lunar and experience some natural competition. Most clerics and paladins of Echoe and Allistiel carry silver with them expressly for the purpose of killing lycanthropes. Whether they view lycanthropy as a curse or as a disease, they have little mercy for the werewolves and their kin. Lycans generally get along with followers of Ehlonna and many worship her as they live in nature and are often under her purview. Some feel that Holo is a vassal to Ehlonna as a duke is to a king, others simply feel a debt of gratitude as they think Ehlonna’s power helped Holo ascend, and others simply respect the forest. Lycans make excellent druids and many druidic circles have at least one lycanthrope in their midst. Usually these are volunteers who have contracted lycanthropy, but a few are natural.
—Riven Grassheart, Lycanologist