Episode 4 Supplemental: Chasing Tales 

  
Our venerable for bearer Rev. Montague Summers eagerly devoured the subject of the European Werewolf in a single manuscript, and much of what we now recount and know of the subject is from his delicate mind. He studiously pointed out that the origin of the shapeshifter is nothing new, it existed from the dawn of creation, and as we will see, existed even to this day. He saw the creature as he saw the world, a direct dichotomy of good and evil, black and white. The Shapeshifter was one who denied his humanity, who used unsound and unholy devices to achieve his evil ends. He scorned God and his creation. He distained his fellow man and desired his ultimate destruction. He was a blasphemer, a heretic, a reviler. He was, in fact, a warlock.
Many were his devise to change, the most common being a pelt of a wolf, made into a coat or belt to be fastened around him. Sometimes it was a special cream that was rubbed all over the body that allowed the transformation to take place. Often times it was the Devil himself who provided these malicious artifacts, a trade of sorts with the Lord of lies. For you soul you could “live deliciously” and have power the likes of which you could not imagine.
Youre listening to Devilry and I’m Matthew William Motsinger
Like his cousin, the Vampire, legends of men who could turn into beasts span the globe and come down to us from the dawn of the written word. The Greek story of Zeus and Lycaon stir up memories of a strange entry in Herodotus’s book for of his Histories, where he notes the first mention of the Polish peoples who could “transform into wolves once a year.” Sabine Baring-Gould goes to great lengths in trying to convince us that the origin of the Werewolf myth lies at least in part, in the Berserker warriors of Scandinavia whose custom it was to don the skins of animals they had slain, normally a bear or wolf believing that they would gain supernatural strength from the animal’s spirit. They would then roam the country challenging farmers to single combat, the law of the land said that if the farmer refused, he forfeits all his possessions, even his wife. If he accepted, he would likely die. They were also in the custom of inviting themselves to banquet where they would slay some unfortunate wretch for the sport of it, to keep their practice sharp.
Although both German and English have their own traditions of the shapeshifting monsters that haunt the full moon it was the French who keep the liveliest tradition and spread their stories to a new generation that traversed the world and settle in the northern reaches of the New World to find the same horror that haunted them in the old. It is widely believed that a synthesis between Native American lore and the tales the French brought the Shores of America happened during those early settlement days. Stories like that of the wendigo and those of skin walkers took on new meaning or came to life entirely from Europe’s interaction with North Americas Native Children. Stories like the following, were likely told and retold like old family legends, around a fire in a fur trading camp in black forests of Quebec, or on the straits of Mackinac, where Jesuit monks traded time and religion with the Natives of the land.
 
It is perhaps telling that the century leading up to Frances colonization of the New World was racked with not only witch hunts, but werewolf hunts as well. Summers relates a story of werewolfry that occurred in Poligny, a small community on the western side of the country near the boarder with Switzerland. It was here on a stormy night that Pierre Burgot was out searching for his lost flocks of sheep. Hail, lightning and thunder had done their work to scatter his herds and he fought desperately against the elements to find them, being, in those days, a major source of his income and wealth. When three black riders came upon him he had in all likelihood given up hope of finding them and disheartened by the weather knowing that much of his flock had probably been reduced by wild animals and bad weather. When he told this to the riders who inquired about his distress, one of them offered a simple deal, a good deal in the light of things. If he would bow down and serve the rider, he would insure that not a single sheep would be lost that night. Pierre quickly agreed and vowed to meet the black rider in a week to seal his vow. He did this, found to his joy that what the rider promised was true, his flocks were soon found, not a single one had been injured or died. The next week he met again with the black rider, who offered him much more for his serve. Money, power, and to call him by his name, Moyset but ordered that he renounce Christ, the holy lady, and his baptism and to never partake in holy communion ever again. To which he agreed and was bid kiss the demons’ hand-for that is what Moyset was and kiss it he did. It was cold and black like that of a corpse.
Though the deal went well for Pierre, he found himself surrounded by fellow members of the damned, as he was told to join a witches sabbath in nearby Plane where he met Michael Verdun, soon to be his partner in the most heinous of crimes. In the midst of the Sabbath, Michael told him to strip naked which he prompt did and handed him a cream which he was told to smear over every inch of his body. Upon doing this Pierre began to experience something beyond belief. As he looked down, he saw that his hands were now paws, and his arms and legs were covered in bushy fur. When he ran, he felt as though he was on the wind and could run with a swiftness not natural to a man and found that Michael had joined him in the form of a wolf. He became enthralled with this new power and begged his master for more of the cream who was happy to oblige.
A certain price was to pay for such a power. In nearly all recounting of shapeshifters in Europe a hunger is born of this unnatural changing. A hunger for flesh, for human flesh especially. Pierre could not escape this doom and as he and Michael roamed the country side the took to murdering any unfortunate to cross their bath. They attacked a small boy and tore him to pieces, the boys cries where heard but too late, the villagers found the mangled corpse of the poor child with wolf tracks all around. A four-year-old girl was another victim of their murder spree whom they ate alive, leaving only one arm to be found by the now terrified inhabitants. Another girl was attacked while working in the vineyard, they ripped out her throat and lapped her fresh blood as it poured out. By chance, Michel came upon a traveler alone on the road who was more formidable than their previous victims. The traveler managed to wound the monster, who ran off into the thicket. The traveler, wanting to finish what he started and knowing that a wounded wolf would not be able to run indefinitely set out to track the creature and put it out of its misery. He followed the blood trail to a small hut in the woods where he found Michel, back in human form, his wife tending to a wound that had formed in the same spot where the traveler had struck the wolf. Michel gave up his comrade under trial and both were sentenced to death by hanging.
A stranger case comes to us from the mountainous town St. Claude where a family was destroyed by the curse of Lycanthropy. Pernette was a young member of the Gandilon family who in the year of 1598 ran around the country side on all fours howling like a wolf in a kind of bizarre madness. She came upon and brother and sister picking wild strawberries and immediately attacked them. The boy, only four, was valiant beyond his years and indevoured to protect his sister with his knife and provided needed time for her to escape. He was not so lucky. Pernette wrestled the knife from his hand and tore at his throat, from which he bleed profusely and soon died. When the locals found out the reacted in rage, and ripped Pernette to pieces. Not long after, Pernetts brother was accused of being a werewolf and running around the country in the form of a wolf. He freely admitted to the crime and said that he had once even appeared as a hare to the villagers. He confessed without trial or torture that he had been given a salve from the devil and had on occasion devoured both man and beast while in this state. His sister Antoinnette also confessed to selling her soul to the devil who had appeared to her as a great black he-goat.
They were both imprisoned and behaved like lunatics, running around on all fours howling eerily into all hours of the night. They never did transform, to the disappointment of the prosecutors as they claimed they needed the salve from their master to do so. They were later hanged, and their bodies burned to prevent them from becoming a different kind of monster all together.
 
The inference of insanity often dogs’ the trail of the Werewolf. Like those possessed by the malicious Wendigo, the stories have the element of cannibalism mixed with a mental and spiritual unhinging. The need is brought on sometimes by an evil external force, or just as often by the apparent sin and unstable hunger. What we get is a mixed bag of anecdotal tales and just as mixed belief. Little about him is union with the exception of the uniform he puts on to do his destructive deeds. In some cases, men and women are born with the power of shapeshifting weather they want it or not. Men who have a unibrow and babies born with hair or birth marks are immediate suspects. Those depraved enough can sell their soul to dark powers in exchange for the gift of transformation. To make stories more confusing, our ancestors would often use catch all words to describe these horrible beasts, often using the same word for werewolves and Vampires, leaving one to wonder if they are but a sub-species of such a monster. Our old pal Summers, who by the end of his life knew more about such things than any other man both then and now, points us in the right direction. The witch, he says, is the bringer of evil into a community, and through their evil manifestations form around them. Madness, those abnormally born, a magical salve given by the devil himself. All are a by product of the same malicious force that is made manifest in those who have chosen and still do follow the left-hand path. Like a cancer, its unnatural growth spreads and soon effects all parts of the body causing decay, suffering, and death.
We have been told sometimes by other would be tellers of folk tales, that fear drives people to do, see, and say terrible things, fear of the unknown or fear of what might be known but not admitted too. To some the fantastic tales of Werewolves will be, like the witches before them, a scapegoat for a frightened and enfeebled community searching for safety amidst the cavernous void of the unexplainable. But this seems to me a projection. It is we, not they who look at these stories with incredulity and say that they acted out of fear. Maybe it is we who hid from truth and bury it behind so many scientific explanations in an attempt to hide from the horrors we find there. Perhaps it is we, who having looked into the abyss, seek to run for the monsters that lurk there, and in us.  
 
Least we believe that the legend of the Werewolf has been impaled upon the silver cross of modernity, more people than the strange backwoodsmen of Michigan have seen strange creatures that seek human flesh. It lives and breaths in its native lands to this day. Across Europe after the dawn of the 20th century, there are places where the shadow still holds sway over the people. Shadows of war and death and suffering yes. But in the wild places of Europe, like the untamed Carpathian Mountains and the along the sea coast of the Balkan states whispers persist to this day of shadow and of blood.
 
While reporting on the political upheavals of eastern Europe’s former Yugoslavia journalist Leo Heiman had his own encounter with a modern-day shapeshifter in the town of Budva. Staying in a rented house on the outskirts of the town, with a servant and a cook. The spot sat ideally between the quite Adriatic coast and mountainous terrain on the other. The house had a large porch from which he could sit while typing and watch fisherman late into the night as they lite their lanterns for the evenings work. Soft glowing lights adrift in a black abyss.
Heiman spent much of his time focused on his work but began to notice little eccentricities about his hired servants and townsfolk that made him scratch his head. Though the state was a relaxed form of Communism religion, superstition has always plagued the Balkan states and he took note, seeing that whenever his cook Katisa, would cross herself whenever she passed by an area on the road directly across from the old home. And again, on the beach, while passing a concrete wheel like structure with a hole carved into the center of it. He found to his cook hushed up when he asked her about it though, and anticipation grew as he noticed that not only did his cook and servant preform this small ritual but everyone from the down did as they passed those same areas.
 
                Perplexed, Leo coxed his trusty servant to tell him the what the strange business was all about. It was only after some bribery that Simeon would talk though, a pack of American Cigarettes and a bottle of good brandy got the good man talking. He lead Leo down to the stone circle and pointed out the red stains which still darkened the aged stone. The stains were made by the Turks in the days when they still ruled those lands. They would execute Christians there, inserting one limb into the whole at a time and chopping each off with a large axe. Then, they left them there to die. The sand on which they then stood, had been drenched in the blood of the Martyrs. He then pointed to the mountains across the road from the house. There was a cave there hidden behind the dense overgrowth of Trees. And in it, he claimed, once lived a werewolf. The creature had been attracted to the area by the copious amounts of blood the flood from the righteous Saints who had died for their faith. Every night it would go to the beach and lap the blood to sate its malevolent hunger.
                When the Turks where driven out, the executions stopped, the creature’s ravenous hunger did not, however. It proceeded to abduct young children taking them back to his lair never to be seen again. And in a near whisper, though no one was around, they say that the creature is back.
 
                The story comes down to us as legend, as many of the sort do, with scant references and word of mouth legends about an Apostate who sold his soul to the devil to escape his worldly punishment. Count Erasmus Von Windyschatz was part of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy who fought in the wars with the Turks in the 17th century. After a heated disagreement with his commanding officer, the Count defected to the Turks, renounced his Christian faith, and embraced Islam. He was eventually appointed chief executioner and excelled at his duties. Indeed, he took undue delight in torturing and killing his former comrades on the very same stone that stood before our reporter. If the solider came directly from his former regiment the Count would personally participate in the execution, lopping off the limbs himself after which he would hold banquets where was whispered, he would mix the blood of his victim with wine and drink it out of human skulls carved into bowls.
His revelries eventually caused his mind to become unhinged. It was not enough to kill just enemy soldiers, he began to turn his bloodlust on the town’s folk. The Turks would not tolerate this however and took quick action to depose the Count before he could do more damage. He would not give up the ghost with ease and fled from his castle to the cave hidden now by so much underbrush. From this new base of operations he waged a war of terror, issuing forth by night to kill and plunder the fisherman and farmers who lived on the outskirts of the village.
 
That was around hundred years ago, and although the Count in all likelihood was based on a real person, little to no evidence exists today to support the fable. But the townsfolk remembered and passed it down, a heirloom of sorts, a remembrance of evil, weather spiritual or otherwise. The legend goes own to say that the Count sold his soul alone in that cave, and that he never left.
 
During World War 2 Nazi death squads plagued all of Europe, Yugoslavia was no exception. Serbian Nationalists fought desperately against one demon, only to invite another. The USSR, upon its liberation of Yugoslavia, set up a puppet government from which it ruled for nearly twenty years and the repression of Christian belief and practice was not contusive to the existence of monsters. Yet in 1963 just two years from its break with the communist block, the Werewolf was back to haunt the natives its land. An airline pilot on honeymoon with his new bride rented the house for just one week before the creature came to collect on its latest victim.
The pilot had decided to take advantage of the local fishing not far off the beach with a clear view of the house. It was there it the middle of the choppy waves just off shore that he saw a large shadowy creature circle around the house, a luminous green glow surrounding its head. He heard the screams of his wife but was helpless to save her. He watched as the creature picked her up and watched as her body went limp and her screams ceased. He rowed with all his might, so much so that an ore broke, and he was forced to swim to shore. By the time he came upon his wife, the creature was long gone, yet a faint smell of sulfur filled the air. There was blood everywhere, with slashes like that made from an animal all across her face and wounds on her neck. She was alive, but barely. An Ambulance was called for and she was rushed to the hospital where she would recover from her physical wounds, but the mental scares formed by whatever had attacked her that night would leave her stark raving mad. She could never rightly recall what happened.
 
A subsequent investigation produced nothing of relevance. There was no sign of another person on the veranda or in the home. Tracking dogs lead investigators back to the cave where they refused to go further. A team was assembled to explore the cave, finding it less than 30 meters deep and nothing inside. Figuring it to be some kind of wild bear using the cave as a home, the closed the entrance with sandbags and then closed the case.
 
Four years later, another young girl was attacked walking home from a youth event after dark. She walked past the execution stone and past the cave when a creature jumped out from the underbrush and savagely attacked her. Her screams alerted the locals who rushed to save her. She would make a full recovery in ten days, not being able to recall exactly what the perpetrator looked like. Doctors noted the wounds around her neck were consistent with a wolf or canine like creature. After the attack, locals discovered the cave entrance to have been reopened and decided to take matters into there own hands. They secured dynamite from a local quarry, placed it inside the cave, light the fuse and ran for their life. The blast was large enough to cause an avalanche that partially covered the Cave but was enough to stratify the hearts of the locals who were sure nothing could have survived such an explosion.
And that would seem to be the end of it. That is until the monster came after Leo. After telling his story, Simeon had gone home for the night, but soon after returned with a loaded shotgun. Somewhat bemused Leo took it while insisting such a thing was unnecessary. Simeon reassured him it was precautionary and even had the good sense to load it with a sliver bullet.
                Simeon pedaled away, melting into the darkening sky, and Leo repaired to the Verandah where he planned to finish up his recent essay. Stilling at the table with his trusty shotgun placed behind him against the wall, he began to type by the light of his lantern, mirrored by the fisherman still out along the coast, their lights dotting the night sky. The smell of steaks on the grill wafted up from the local hotel as he worked away and swigged the bottle of brandy by his side. It was some time later that he noticed a new smell creeping into his nostrils, sulfur, and growing stronger every moment. All at once a shadow rose up towering against the backdrop of the verandah wall and the smell of sulfur became overwhelming as it neared him. As he tried to rise he kicked the table away and fell backwards away from the shadowy monstrosity he fell to the ground and to his luck the shotgun fell beside him. Being a veteran of the great war, instinct took over, and took aim and squeezed the trigger without thinking. In the darkness he could not see if he had hit his attacker but he the shadow which had prevailed him was gone and the smell of sulfur receded. He stood vigilant the rest of the night without getting any sleep until Simeon returned in the morning and he related his tale. They searched the verandah and yard for any trace of the mysterious visitor but found nothing, no blood, no footprints, but two railings were splintered where the creature had rushed to escape. Simeon pried out the silver bullet from the plank and handed it to Leo as a good luck charm to keep away the monster, but it was not needed. Leo left that same day, never too return.
  
Bibilography 

Fate Presents Werewovles and Dogmen Compiled and Edited by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

The Werewolf in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers

The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould

​The Realm of the Vampire: History and the Undead by Daniel J Wood