Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Le Brun's Lycanthropic Bestiary

Louis XIV appreciated Le Brun's art and portraiture, but he appreciated the artist's keen observation and  investigatory skills even more. During his patronage of  Monsieur Le Brun, Louis had discovered that the artist had a certain ... affinity... for seeking out the occult, the unnatural.  It was as if his artist's eye could pare out details that a casual observer may gloss over. More likely, Monsieur Le Brun noted that not only did those affected by the curse transform, but their repeated transformations left their indelible mark upon the individuals in their human guise.

In a secret missive to his court artist, Louis tasked him with seeking out the loup-garou and its kin that were making in-roads into Europe, taking advantage of the wars and instability of the time...

Minor nightmare fuel
Over several years, Le Brun made good his secret missions throughout Europe, leaving his art work and murals to talented apprentices. Le Brun's resulting notes and sketches, some of which are collated here for the first time, describe the various forms and nefarious deeds of many lycanthropes throughout Europe during the 1600's:

The Schoenwald Wolves:  A pair of turned brothers lurking in the forests of northern Germany. A score of murders are attributed to them, as well as the death of much livestock, much of which was killed for mere sport. Hans, the younger, was hunted down by Count Bernard Ekkehardt and his foresters. The older, Edmund, remains at large, most likely in forests near Wittenberg. May have turned multiple victims. A priority target.

Iosif of Salonica:  A were-lion at large in mainland Greece.  Allegedly a merchant who came upon the curse in a back-alley animal-baiting ring in Alexandria.  Reportedly a major nuisance to the Ottoman overlords of the area, is considered a folk-hero by Greek partisans and peasants.  Recent reports put him in Macedonia, although the Gypsies allege to have encountered a similar beast farther east near Sari Saban.  Some claim this to be Iosif, although, as you can see, the profile differs significantly from my earlier investigations. I believe this to be a second, unknown individual and will require further investigation and interdiction .

Adam Rados (The Hungarian Raptor): A former shepherd, along with his cousins Bertok and Csaba (surname unknown), known to haunt areas in the Carpathians. Bertok was slain by shepherds while attacking a herd, his body burned and exorcised by a local Orthodox priest. Adam is incarcerated in Transylvania by a minor prince, and is a local curiosity. Agents have been dispatched to neutralize him. Csaba's whereabouts unknown.  My Gypsy agents (unreliable as they are) have been working the area.  Further updates as events warrant.

Edward Kay, the Lynx of Harrogate:  A diminutive man, reportedly a cobbler. Transformations into a large lynx that haunts the dales of Yorkshire.  Killed at least three persons, and likely has turned four to six more.  Agents attempted to interdict in Harrogate, but he escaped and may be in hiding in Leeds.  Exceptionally aggressive, especially due to his penchant for turning victims.  A priority target.

Chan Po, the 'Yellow Pig':  A Chinaman first encountered in Istanbul by Maurice S. and Monsieur C.  Works in the northern Spice District of the city. Sells odd Oriental "medicinal" potions and poultices. No reports of casualties, although desecration of a number of Turk burial grounds have been alleged to occur during full moons.  Recommend that we leave him to the Turks as an internal issue.

Erik Muller, the Boar of Bavaria:  Another porcine form, originally a stout miller, well-loved in his community. Slayed his entire family during a turning. Very aggressive and has killed or disabled several well-equipped parties sent to neutralize him. Whereabouts currently unknown, but I have contacted the local clergy in Zwiesel, who have certain sympathies to His Majesty.  They have been indispensable in providing local intelligence. He may be at large among the Czechs, among whom our influence is greatly limited on that side of the border. Recommend proceeding with caution.

Boris Medvedev:  A massive ursine form, running amok in the Caucuses. Reports of murders and potential turnings are inconsistent, but alarming. Peter, that insolent prince, has barred or rejected all offers of assistance. Two of His Majesty's agents were killed by Cossacks while attempting to infiltrate the area and locate Medvedev last August. Let the damned Russians deal with him (and his progeny) themselves...

Edith Villeneuve (Blaireau de Avallon):  A local curiosity. Milkmaid turned by Mainard Paquet (d. 1651).  Last of the Blaireau-garou.  Normally meek in character, however, exceptionally inimical in the animal form. Primarily a nuisance to local goose and chicken farmers. Recommend euthanization at the convenience of local authorities. Have notified local clergy of issue and have tacit support for endeavor.


Alas, Monsieur Le Brun's investigations, although of major importance to His Majesty's 'loup-chassuers' took a tremendous long-term toll on the artist's soul and body.  Although records claim that he passed from an undisclosed illness just days before his 74th birthday, close confidants knew that his heart had finally given out from years of pursuing and cataloging the moon-turned horrors. His service to the Crown will not be forgotten.

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