Diary of a warlock: Homo homini lupus

“A Man is a wolf to other men”
– Plautus

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My first memory of father involves a wolf. I called her Skippy. When she came into my life, Skippy was no more than a pup. This was a very long time ago. I was still happy then. Father was still happy.

Mother Daisy was alive.

He was a young man back then, probably no more than fifteen, maybe seventeen. He once told me that my grandparents were farmers not far from Sunnyglade. They fled when the undead came and eventually he and his brother Valence ended up in Redridge. Camden, my father, who everyone called Cakewalk, grew up there, but then work made him move to Darkshire and that’s where he met Daisy. She was twelve but already a woman (young people mature fast in Duskwood, no one knows why).

Mother Daisy was alive.

Father was my hero and mother was my saint. On the morning that father took me to the woods, I was four years old. I had walked for three years and six months. I had spoken, written and read real words for a year. Back then, people came all the way from Goldshire on Market Day to hear me sing. I was unusual. Once, a mage showed up and tried to buy me! Father said: “This child is not for sale. I will protect her myself from all of the shadows. Even when the wolves … “ I oogled the mage with the curiousity of a child, perched on the shoulder of father. Then mother took me, gave me a sweet … and growled.

Mother Daisy was alive.

Back then, father was still earning almost fifty silver a week as a logger. I once saw him cleave the head of a man with a thick-bladed axe when the man tried to touch That. The thing I have. The thing all women have, be they young or old. (Oh, so many men, women and succubii have touched it ever since. I once tried to romance Metaril the Void Lord. He scoffed and told me “I don’t like your kind”. I guess it’s just my luck: I summoned a gay Void Lord.) He buried the man, with some help from mother.

Mother Daisy was alive.

Much later, when fathers soul started to rot, he became a monster. It’s one of the mysteries of Duskwood, you see. Everything rots. It takes time, but everything rots. Trees, men, women. Your soul. The wolves don’t rot. The wolves stay wolves. Some people say that the feral worgen are no better than wolves but those people think that wolves are monsters. Ask any of the old loggers, those who are still sane, if they ever found a monster wolf. They will say no. “It’s their nature,” they will say. “The wolf is a wolf. Man is a wolf to other men, but a wolf is always a wolf to man and wolf.”

Mother Daisy was alive.

We used to wake up early, back when father was a Real Man. Before dawn, as dawn can be in Duskwood. The dark of night changed color. Blue crept into the shadows, the black slowly retreated and then the glow of luminiscent fungii and moss turned the morning to a dull yellow with streaks of green. Sometimes the sun broke through the clouds and you could see the moss and lichen move. It crept, as fast as moss can creep, towards the light. Then it became still, drinking the sunshine. A few beams could sustain it for years. I dare say there was always a lot more moss and lichen around on those rare, clear days. Mother came out with a wicker basket filled with pumpkin pies and beer and apples and cheese and we ate and laughed, all three of us. Because back in those days, you see …

Mother Daisy was alive.

People in Duskwood were like the lichen. No matter what important tasks we had back then, we would always stop and then sit in the rays of light until they were gone. We were always a lot happier, for days afterwards Duskwood was a place of love. During those days, some people would always find a New Hope and move north, or south. They never came back. Like Mother …

Mother Daisy is alive.

Some went to Goldshire and Elwynn. Some went to Stranglethorn. Those who stayed would drink the Light and then, days later, the hangover would be so bad that they even went to the Old Temple. There, Preacher Morbent, even though everyone knew he was crazy, would speak. Preach. Sing. Gargle. He wouldn’t stop talking until we all sang to his tune – and such a wonderous tune it was! We all sang it, except mother. Because …

Mother Daisy is the Wolf.

“The Twilight …” Morbent would say. “We must embrace the Twilight, for ooh ia! OOOH IA!!! OOOH IA!!! IA!!! AND YOU KNOW IT IN YOUR SOUL!!! Hey poor! Hey poor! YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE POOR ANYMORE!!! I tell you know, I tell you know that, I TELL YOU that The Hammer of Twilight Is Our Salvation! SALVATION! The Hammer of Twilight Is Our Salvation! Ia! Ia! The Hammer of Twilight Is Our Salvation! Ooh Ia! YES FOR IT IS SO SPOKEN IN THE CRYPTS!!! Where is your precious light NOW!!? Do not be afraid to die! LIFE is a prison! Beyound the Black Wood where even Death may die, the Black Goat will protect her young!” Here he would pause, and then say: “Death … is a … release. Am I telling you to kill yourself?” Here he would wait for all of us to listen. Then he would say: “No. NO!!! I Say to you NOW!!! THE GODS will claim you, but before they do, you need to LIVE!!! SPREAD!!! FORNICATE!!! CURSE!!! Ia! IA! The children. The children!” Here he would pause, wipe his brow, and then whisper so low you had to listen“The children. I want your children. Beware the wolf!”

Mother Daisy.

“IA IA IA!!!” the congregation would shout. Some would panic and flee. Some would scream and rave incoherent things and thoughts. Some would be so gripped by power that they would fornicate, right there, screaming and shaking as the oldest magic of all ripped through their bodies. Sex. The Curse of Flesh. I once saw a mother throw her newborn at Morbent, who threw it back and yelled  “Too young!”. Everybody laughed, except father. Then all fell silent, because there was a growl outside …

Mother Daisy.

Salandria Dement, a milliner married to a pumpkin farmer, later killed herself, her family and all of the cattle. She used a mallet for the newborn, a butcher knife for her husband and five sons and a rope for her oldest daugther. It’s said she tied the girl in such a fashion that she broke her hips. Imagine the strength to do that – and “Sally” was no taller than five feet. No on is quite sure what she used to rip the cattle to shreds … or why they found her body perfectly white, whithered, drained, deep in the woods not far from Lady Celestes old Raven Hill summer villa (now ruined). It’s said the people who found the dead later on talked in hushed whispers about the word that Sally had painted on the bedroom wall, right above the head of her dead husband: SANLAYN.

Mother Wolf knew.

During the Morbent sermons, most of us shouted “Ia!” because that was the way it had always been. Kids like me thought it was pretty fun. We could scream all kinds of words but no adult would slap us or spank us. It was total anarchy. When Morbent screamed and shouted, all of us could do what we wanted to. Adults never interfered, they were to busy being feared. Some screamed and then started to shake. I remember Erinne Durant, the village whore, once started yelling “Gul’kafh an’shel. Yoq’al shn ky ywaq nuul!” and then faint. Several young men found their way into her, both then and later (they had to pay for later, but that is the way of Duskwood). I was three years old then. The first word I ever uttered was not “papa”. The first word, on the eve of Morbents last sermon, was …

“Mother Wolf …”

(Here’s the first installment of “Diary of a warlock“, in which Sharenne Gawry reveals a terrible secret … )

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