Day 14, 2nd Month of Resplendent Flame, Year of Frozen Tears, Sidereal Aspect of the Dragon, or Year 874 of the Trinistine Calendar
It has been nearly a week since I put quill to parchment, and for this transgression I will now atone. I am dread certain that our caravan has become lost, as our guide continually checks his maps and tools and yet still look uncertain. Any man who checks the stars so frequently is either an astrologer or lost. I fear that our earthy guide is the latter as her is certainly not the former.
Let me put to end such unmanly natterings. For the sake of writing, our caravan consists of 12 stout wagons drawn by four oxen each and we are accompanied by a number of merchants and travelers who are mounted upon horses and other beasts of burden. We set out from the Meadows Kraal in Ankara three weeks ago and have been making good time heading north to find the markets of Nyserta, yet we encountered a number of fierce storms that forced us to stop for the duration, as well as taking a detour around a town that had lost it’s bridge in the storms.
Things went as well as could be expected for leaving out of Ankara so close to the end of the dry season, but once we crossed the Iaul, a northern tributary of the Spiritus River, things took a dark turn. The horses stayed spooked once we cross the river, and even the oxen took turns bleating and twitching their tails in agitation. It was near dusk that we started noticing shapes in our wake, furtive things that moving with an odd rolling gate. Whatever they were, they were following us.
In the hinterlands north of the Spiritus River, east of the White Lands the dominant predators of the region are the Anfau. Some would call them werewolves, lycanthropes, or even the lupine children of the moon. The truth is far simpler, and much less poetic.
Day 16, 2nd Month of Resplendent Flame, Year of Frozen Tears, Sidereal Aspect of the Dragon, or Year 874 of the Trinistine Calendar
We are being stalked. The creatures come in the twilight of dusk, their golden eyes burning with their inhuman urges. Our guide screamed out ANFAU! ANFAU! When they came bounding through the night and took him and his horse screaming into darkness. We have lost half a dozen men to these beasts, but have yet to draw blood from them in exchange. There are whispers that these Anfau are demons of the plains, monsters who have been skulking here for centuries since the end of the Old World. Others call them vengeful ghosts, others still whisper of the souls of children abandoned to the wild who died in the jaws of wolves.
They come again, and we ready our blades and bows. They make no secret of their attack, they scream and howl and make terrible noise before they come, eyes open we stare into the night, but only dawn will show who survives their hunger, and who is taken to sate it.
Gods help us.
The average Anfau is far from the terror envisioned by the bards and storytellers. Far from the slavering brute with gore crusted talons and eyes full of murder, the Anfau are more of a bestial goblinoid race. Each stands around 5 feet tall, though most move about on four limbs with their noses close to the ground hunting for scents. The leaders of an Anfau pack will generally adopt a semi-erect stance while the other members hunt and skulk about.
Their skin is a ruddy tan color and the Anfau have profuse amounts of stiff body hair. This works to keep them dry during the cold and wet times of the year, as well as blending them into their natural habitat. Most Anfau fur is either a mottled gray or brindle colored; with individuals in warmer climates have dorsal stripes. Their eyes are also quite large and have reflective membranes that enhance their vision in low light conditions. This light sensitivity and enhanced sense of smell makes the Anfau dangerous predators during their preferred hunting times of dusk and dawn.
The danger of a single Anfau is much like that of a single goblin, not much of a threat to an organized and competent party. However, Anfau always work in concerted groups, with alpha males coordinating their movements with other packs. They will use their natural abilities to the best of their capability, moving in odd patterns, striking and fading away, and most of all, they will howl.
While one pack is busy moving and howling, it’s members making sure to move out of tonal sync with each other, the others are taking up advantageous positions for attacking or ambushing. The effect of the howlings cannot be overstated. The primary motive is to throw foes off balance, which the howling draws the prey to focus on the source of the sound. This usually sends prey animals running into an ambush set by other members of the pack or even other packs. The second effect is that the howl has a low frequency aspect that causes cold chills, gooseflesh, and a mild feeling of nausea. Many call this the Howl of Fear as even some veteran troops facing several packs of these predators have been unhinged by the sounds of their howls moving in and out of sync.
Once the actual physical attacks have begun, battle becomes bloody and intense. The lower ranking Anfau will charge in snarling, gnashing their teeth, drawing the attention and attacks of the prey should they be standing their ground. Meanwhile, often from another direction, the larger and stronger pack members will attempt to attack from behind of to flank prey. The legs are primary targets, with the tendons being hit with shredding bite and shakes. If a foe is toppled, the Anfau then attack at the groin and at the throat to incapacitate and kill the prey.
Day 20, 2nd Month of Resplendent Flame, Year of Frozen Tears, Sidereal Aspect of the Dragon, or Year 874 of the Trinistine Calendar
It seems that fate is far more cold and cruel than even I could ever imagine. It has been a day and a half since we left the wagons to the wrath of the Anfau. We few thought ourselves cunning and wise to slip away unnoticed while the others were caught up fighting for their lives. Cowards, yes, but living cowards. Except that it didn’t work out that way. The Anfau followed us, easier prey I guess. Every few hours they will come, their howls pricking our ears and rubbing ice across our souls. they attack, and one of our number is taken, screaming, into their hungry jaws. How empty are their bellies that already so much man and horse flesh cannot fill them?
The center of Anfau life is the den, a large burrow in the earth where the brood females spend the cold months tending to their young. An Anfau infant is a tiny pink thing that lives for the first few months of it’s life as a mewling whelp attached to it’s mother’s teat. The mother is largely dependant on the male for food during these months, and quite contrary to the brutal and bloody image of the Anfau as heartless, the males tend to be quite adept at hunting prey and bringing it back to the den for mother and cub alike to consume.
Gestation in the womb is a short 3 months, but this is coupled with another four months of near helpless suckling. On a biological level; the Anfau being a sort of missing step between marsupial and placental mammals. The average anfau pack is usually six or seven members, with a single male dominating the largely female pack. Those males who have yet to find a pack will rove in denless ‘bachelor packs’ which can often reach the substancial size of 20 or more members. While the hunting tactics of the breeding pack are voracious and thorough, the bachelor packs often seem afflicted with a sense of boredom or frustration. The breeders tend to br brutal and heartless killers, but the bachelors often stretch hunts out into marathons of fear until the prey literally drops dead from exhaustion and terror.
Thankfully, the breeding packs tend to remain anchored to a general range of about 15 miles from their brood dens. most of these dens, while very hard to find, are usually known of by locals. The locals will give such areas wide berth, and guides will try to lead their parties around, rather than through the area, sometimes resorting to unique justifications, or grotesque elaborations of Anfau tales. The bachelor packs will not enter these breeding pack territories and as such are the more commonly encountered of Anfau packs, which invariably lead to violent and often protracted encounters with the larger packs.
The Anfau are an intelligent species, and with their vocal range, the ability to learn the common languages is possible, though none have tried to educate one of the beasts. They have a rudimentary language, though it is more a region set of guttural noises and such than any sort of codified and written form of communication. They are not tool users, and have an instinctive fear of lightning and fire. The young, once they reach the ambulatory stage are curious and quizzical, with the adults serving as mentors to the young. this includes catching and laming prey to teach the young cubs to hunt for themselves.
The Heart of the Anfau
A number of werewolf derivative creatures have been seen on the site, and for the most part these submissions have lacked substance and been scored accordingly. The Anfau are basically a lycanthrope, but rather than having the human/animal aspects, they are a more goblin/wolf hybrid form and cannot shapeshift.