Lukoi

Lukoi is the proper term for wolf lycanthropes (werewolves). Their name is derived from a Greek term honoring King Lycaon of Arcadia, a famous historical werewolf. The werewolves of San Diego belong to the Aegirs Klo Clan. Wolf lycanthropy is one of the most infective (and therefore most common) strains.

Physique

Lukoi are carriers of the wolf strain of lycanthropy. This can be passed on via a bite or a clawing wound given while the lukoi is in wolf or hybrid form, or via an exchange of blood. The disease can also be contracted from the vaccine, and this was once far more common than people think, but advances in medicine have begun reducing the likelihood of this occurring. Although no known cases of this exist among the lukoi (and in general they are not aware of this fact), lycanthropy is passed from mother to child - however, it is rare for a lukoi mother to carry a baby to term, because changing shape almost always induces a miscarriage. A lukoi father can pass on Mowgli Syndrome to the child if he was in wolf or hybrid form during intercourse. Once turned, lycanthropes are immune to other strains of lycanthropy (aside from the 30 or so panweres existing in the world, only four of which are in the United States), and to vampirism (with the notable exception of the line of hybrids created by the Mother of All Darkness).

Like all lycanthropes, lukoi possess strength and speed far beyond anything a human is capable of - they can bench press a car easily, and can move fast enough to seem like a blur to the human eye. Lycanthrope metabolisms are much faster than human metabolisms, which is why lukoi need to consume more calories, why they heal so quickly, and also why they have a higher body temperature than humans. Cold temperatures and ice baths, sometimes used to bring down fevers in humans, can be fatal to lycanthropes if given to them while they are healing serious injuries - they require high temperatures to heal, and recover best when surrounded by their clan.

Aside from wounds which sever the brain stem, lycanthropes can heal from almost anything. Although they are immune to poisons and diseases, lycanthropes are highly allergic to silver, and most will be burned by any external contact with the metal - some powerful lycanthropes, however, are not harmed unless the silver breaks the skin or is otherwise ingested. Wounds created by silver heal at human speed, if the lycanthrope does not shift before they are healed. As a result, silver is the only metal that can be used for body piercing on a lycanthrope - the holes will close up around other metals. However, doing this causes the lycanthrope constant mild pain as the 'wounds' stay fresh. Wounds made by other lycanthropes or fire will also heal slowly.

A lukoi's natural form is human. In appearance, they are typically impossible to distinguish from any other human, although their faster metabolisms mean they are always fit. If they spend too much time in wolf form, some characteristics may linger - for instance they may have wolf eyes, unusually long and sharp canine teeth, and perhaps a rough/growly voice. Lukoi shapeshift into wolves, somewhere between the size of a mastiff and a Great Dane. Some are also capable of taking a bipedal hybrid "wolfman" form. Although the ability is rare, some alpha lycanthropes can shift isolated portions of their body if they choose, rather than their whole body. Lycanthropes return to human form upon their death.

The transformation itself is a violent process - bones snap and reform, skin splits, fur spills out, and a hot, sticky liquid is produced (which manages to get everywhere except the fully transformed lukoi). The process can take some time, depending on the age and ability of the lukoi involved. Powerful alpha lukoi can sometimes shift very smoothly and rapidly, whereas newer or weaker lukoi often take several minutes for their bodies to break down and reform. Changing form always takes a lot of energy, and changing to wolf form causes a hunger for meat. A shape change will heal all fresh wounds - even scars will fade gradually, if they were attained after the lycanthrope was infected.

If the shift is brought on naturally (by the full moon), typically a lukoi will spend six to eight hours in wolf form, followed by six to eight hours of comatose sleep. This coma time increases if a lukoi chooses to shift back early, although alpha weres require only a few hours of comatose sleep, if any at all. Staying in wolf form for a longer period is possible, but spending too long in wolf form hampers the ability to shift human - at first only small features will remain wolfish, but the longer they stay changed the less of their human instincts they retain, and eventually insanity can result. The risk of this lessens with a lukoi's power.

All of a lycanthrope's senses are heightened. They can hear a person's pulse just by standing nearby, they need minimal light to see, and they can track by scent (although all of these abilities are improved more if they are in wolf form rather than in human). They can use their sense of smell to determine if a person is agitated or calm, and this helps them determine if someone is lying, although it is not universal.

Metaphysics

The moon is a potent influence on any lycanthrope. During the full moon, all lycanthropes must shift, though with more power and control comes the ability to delay this shift. The closer the moon is to being full, the harder it is for any lycanthrope to resist the shift. Many things can trigger a lukoi's shift, if they do not have full control: heightened emotional states (including during sex) and the scent of blood are among the most common things to bring the wolf to the surface and strain a lukoi's control.

Sex - also referred to as "the killing dance" - can be a dangerous situation for a lycanthrope, as it can trigger an unwilling shift. Between two lycanthrope partners, this is considered normal - in fact not shifting during sex is considered holding back (some lycanthropes take it as an insult). However, when a lycanthrope has sex with a human, a shift can be disastrous: at best they will severely injure and infect their partner, at worst they will maul them to death.

The more control a lycanthrope has, the more they are able to choose when to shift and when not to shift - though it is always easier to change into wolf form than resist the urge. A triggered (rather than conscious) change usually results in a lack of control over a lukoi's beast, and can also create memory loss. For the first six months of forced full moon transformations, a lukoi will not remember anything, and will be unable to control their actions during the night (their wolf's instincts are in charge). The next six months begin the gradual development of control.

All lukoi are able to control natural wolves (to an extent - they can at least calm them, though alpha lukoi can get the wolves to do their bidding), and have what is in some senses an aura but in other senses an additional personality - except not a human personality, but rather that of a wolf. 'The wolf' or 'the beast' is what takes over during a lukoi's first several full moons, and represents animal instincts rather than human ones. Control over their wolf can be developed with practice - the better a lukoi's control, the more their wolf becomes simply a facet of their personality, rather than a separate personality whose memories they do not share.

The beast makes a werewolf's aura hot and aggressive - sensitives of any kind who are around lycanthropes often find it to be an uncomfortable sensation, a type of hot prickling along their skin. Other lycanthropes are even more receptive to the aura, sometimes even feeling it as if it were a tangible wolf, though other times simply feeling it as a dominating strength. More powerful lukoi can mask and subdue this aura, with concentration, making it more difficult for sensitives to discern that they are a lycanthrope. However, the more powerful the were, and the more of their wolfish senses and instincts being used, the stronger this aura will be.

Especially powerful and dominant lukoi are referred to as alphas (sometimes, the line between alpha and dominant is blurred, but only an alpha can truly lead a clan). Whether or not a lukoi becomes alpha depends largely on their own strength of will and personality. Alphas have better control of their beast than other weres, and they have a resistance to psychic and vampiric abilities. Some alphas can also control the beasts of those around them, either forcing other lukoi to shift or forcibly repressing the beast. Another rare ability is the sharing of power through their own blood. Even more rare is the ability to heal, usually through physical contact and sexual energy. Two true leaders, alphas powerful enough to lead the clan (a true Ulfric and a true Lupa), are powerful enough to pass their beasts through each other during sex (a highly pleasurable experience for both parties which can bring orgasm without any physical stimulation). A strong enough Ulfric can shield their pack from a vampire's call, but being Ulfric creates a metaphysical bond between leader and pack. This bond works both ways: the Ulfric can draw strength from the pack, and sense pack members, but the entire pack can be controlled or fed upon via the Ulfric.

Culture

As with most lycanthropes, lukoi form territorial clans (specifically, packs) based around urban centers. The rules vary based on territory (and who's in charge at any given time), but most clans permit visitors to their territory without too much ritual, as long as the visitors don't have dealings with the pack. If the visitor plans to have dealings with the pack, they must first present themselves to the Ulfric, along with a gift for either the Ulfric or the Lupa. Becoming a resident in the pack's territory requires the permission of the Ulfric - anything else is a challenge to the Ulfric's authority, which establishes the newcomer as rogue (effectively, outlaw to the pack). Some Ulfrics also require a tithe from their pack members.

The pack is organized in a strict hierarchy of dominance. The Ulfric and Ulfric's mate are at the top, with a Geri (second) and Freki (third) behind them. Among unranked wolves, strength and power decide position: alpha wolves are above more submissive wolves. When a more dominant wolf gives a more submissive wolf an order, the submissive is expected to follow it - within reason. Dominance cannot be used to force a submissive to engage in illegal activity (although all rules are invalidated if the Ulfric gives an order). Non-lukoi can be considered dominant to pack members, but cannot be considered alpha.

Dominance affects greetings between lycanthropes. A formal greeting between equal lycanthropes, or in a situation where dominance doesn't need to be established, is performed when one lycanthrope rubs cheeks with another, and both bury their noses in each other's hair. A submissive, when in public, will greet a dominant with a soft kiss, gently cupping their face in their hands. When not in public, the submissive will run their tongue along the dominant's lower lip. When a powerful alpha lukoi meets a powerful alpha of another species, their beasts will sometimes fight for dominance, if there is tension between them. The sensation is violent - as if the other lycanthrope's claws are ripping at the lukoi's insides - but no physical damage is done. Physical contact makes the sensation more powerful. Either one beast wins, or the fight ends in a standstill.

Narcissus in Chains, Ch. 35 (Merle speaking)

"When two such different beasts meet, and they are both strong dominants - such as a true Nimir-Ra, and a true Ulfric - the two animals must fight and test each other… it is a type of taming of one beast by the other."

When disputes occur, they are decided by dominance battles or challenges - which can range from a battle of wills to hand to hand combat, and end when one of the combatants backs down and acknowledges the other as dominant to them. Challenges are much like duels, in that it is left between the two combatants. Using weapons other than teeth and claws (or knives) invalidates the challenge. Submissive weres can seek the protection of a more powerful were - if the dominant were grants this protection, they must accept all challenges on behalf of the submissive were they protect. To request protection, the submissive moves in closer to the dominant, without touching them. If the dominant offers their protection, they reach out and touch the submissive. This process means that the protectee automatically acknowledges the protector as dominant to them - and the pack must recognize this relationship as well. Challenges for rank are even more formal - these can be duels to the death, in which case the winner inherits the property of the loser. Such challenges must be issued in the lupanar. Generally, challenges for a rank less than Ulfric are not fought to the death, but it can happen.

Killing Dance, Ch. 37 (Marcus speaking)

"Two alphas fight for you here tonight. One of us will leave the circle alive. One of us will feed you tonight. Drink of our blood, eat of our flesh. We are pack. We are lukoi. We are one."

When one lukoi wishes to give their word in a formal manner to another, they present their throat to them. Symbolically, they are trusting the other wolf not to take their life. Traditionally, the response is to lightly kiss or bite the pulse of the offered throat. The harder the bite, the less the second wolf trusts the word being given, and/or the more dominant they see themselves to the first wolf. A hard bite can be an insult to an alpha lukoi.

Blue Moon, Ch. 37 (Marianne speaking)

"A healthy pack or pard is built up of a thousand gentle touches. A million small comforts. It's like building a relationship with a boyfriend. Every touch builds and strengthens it… It is like building your relationship with a newborn baby. Every touch, every time you feed him when he's hungry, change him when he's wet, comfort him when he's frightened—the everyday intimacies forge a bond between you. True parenthood is built over years of interdependency. The bond between the pack is built much the same way."

Lycanthropes are very casual about things like nudity and personal space. They tend to be comfortable lounging on or beside each other, at least as long as they are within their own strain - a lukoi is far more comfortable around another lukoi than they would be around any other lycanthrope. The touch of their pack is a metaphysical as well as emotional reassurance.

Most clans will assign a sponsor to a newly turned were. This sponsor helps teach the new lycanthrope how to keep control, how to keep the secret, and how to cope with the change. In addition, the sponsor is often responsible for teaching the new lycanthrope about the different risks inherent in sex. Among the lukoi, there are often wolves (given the rank of Eros or Eranthe) who will take on the responsibility of being a sexual surrogate, so that the new lycanthrope can practice without harming their partner.

Calling a lycanthrope "noseblind", or insinuating that their sense of smell/taste is useless, is a grave insult - it essentially translates to saying that they are in denial.

Out of all lycanthropes, lukoi are perhaps the most ritualistic. Pack meetings, formal challenges, and full moon gatherings are held at the lupanar - a place sacred to the pack, and often the site where bones of past pack members are interred. The lupanar is a powerful magical site, and each pack's lupanar is unique - generally, they are named for it.

When a pack member dies, particularly in a challenge, they are ritually consumed by the pack. The dead lukoi's spirit becomes a munin, a ghost which often acts as a guardian spirit to the pack. Munin can sometimes be channeled, although this ability is rare. If a pack member is not consumed, their memories are lost to the pack, and this is sometimes used as the highest level of exile.

Lukoi-Specific Rituals

Choosing a Lupa

When an Ulfric chooses his Lupa, he introduces her to the pack, allowing them to circle her on all fours and scent her. After the Ulfric recites words similar to those above to establish her as Lupa, those who wish to challenge her status as Lupa stand and withdraw from the circle. In this case, the challenge is merely a refusal to acknowledge her dominance, not a formal challenge for her position. At this point, the Lupa has the chance to make her case. If she can convince them with words, and they retract the challenge, they rejoin the circle. Anyone who doesn't retract their challenge must fight the Lupa to first blood, in human form only. If she wins, they must acknowledge her as their dominant and alpha, or fight the rest of the pack.

Lupa Becoming Freyja

As the pack's queen, the Lupa may separate herself from the Ulfric without losing her rank by becoming Freyja. To do so, she must perform this ritual in the presence of the pack. First, she slices both herself and the Ulfric shallowly over the heart with a knife, drawing blood but causing no real injury. Holding the knife, she recites the following:

"Your heart to mine, mine to yours. Lupa to your Ulfric. But not to your bed, nor you to mine."

Then, she flings the knife into the earth. At this point, she begins exuding pheromones similar to that of a female wolf in heat. She offers the Ulfric a challenge -

"Claim me again if you can, my Ulfric"

- then runs from the pack. The males chase after her and fight for her, until one of them claims her and ends the ceremony by copulating.

Challenging a Lupa

If the Ulfric and Lupa wish to completely sever the ties between them, they undergo a ceremony (essentially a ritual werewolf divorce). The Ulfric must choose a new mate to replace his queen. If the Lupa refuses to step down, she has two options to defend her right to remain Lupa: first, she can fight any dominant female who wishes to replace her in one-on-one combat; second, she can anoint the throne (more generally, the Ulfric's seat in the lupanar) by mating with her Ulfric then and there, with all the pack as witnesses.

Interaction with Human Society

Although lycanthropy is a recognized disease, and discrimination based upon it is illegal, prejudicial practices are common. Six states in the U.S. have "varmint laws", which make it legal to kill a lycanthrope in animal form on sight (and a bounty is offered for their corpse). Lycanthropy is considered a contagious disease, and as such disqualifies someone from Federal Marshal status, as well as the Armed Forces. Lycanthropes working in medicine or as teachers lose their jobs almost immediately upon being outed, and the same generally applies for government jobs or emergency services.

It is against the law to deliberately infect someone with lycanthropy. Many hospitals are uncomfortable treating lycanthropes, but they do offer vaccines for the disease. Known lycanthropes are encouraged to enter 'safe houses', which are government-run facilities advertised as clinics where a lycanthrope can learn control. While admission is voluntary for anyone over the age of 18 (minors may be forcibly admitted), and lycanthropes are supposed to be welcome to return to society after they have achieved control, once a lycanthrope checks in they are never seen again. Lycanthropes, naturally, view these places as worse than prisons, and the ACLU is fighting their existence in the Supreme Court.

Due partially to this widespread discrimination, almost all lycanthropes live a life of secrecy, even from their own families. Generally, the only lycanthropes who don't keep their status a secret are those who do not socialize with humans - and particularly those in the service of vampires. Lycanthropes who use their condition to perform (whether in a specialty stage act or on screen) are also exceptions to this practice. However, even outed lycanthropes are generally reluctant to tell humans any details about lycanthrope culture.

Terminology

Ranks

Rank Description Term Origin Notes
Ulfric Wolf King Derived from the Norse word ulfr, meaning 'wolf'. Generally an alpha male, but occasionally an alpha female, Ulfric is the highest rank in a pack. Challenges for this position are always to the death.
Lupa Ulfric's Queen (Mate) A Latin term for 'she-wolf' and 'prostitute'. The mate of the Ulfric. This rank cannot be challenged for; it may only be decided by the Ulfric.
Freyja Ulfric's Queen The rank of Freyja comes from the name of a Norse goddess: Freyja, goddess of Love, Fertility and Sexual Desire, also queen of the Valkyries. She was skilled in magic. When a Lupa wishes to mate with other werewolves instead of the Ulfric, she becomes Frejya through an elaborate ceremony.
Fenrir Challenger The rank of Fenrir comes from the name of a Norse god: the giant, ravenous wolf, son of Loki and the giantess Angrboda. He is father to Hati and Sköll. Someone who challenges the right of the Ulfric to lead. They generally fight the Ulfric for dominance of the pack, and get to choose their own Lupa. To become Fenrir, a wolf must first become Freki, then Geri.
Bolverk Torturer The rank of Bolverk comes from the name of a a disguise used by Odin to get the Mead of Poetry. It means worker of evil. The Bolverk does what the Ulfric doesn't have the guts to do, acting as a pack's boogeyman. They are allowed three assistants: Baugi, Suttung, and Guunlod.
Sköll Enforcer The rank of Sköll comes from the name of a Norse wolf. He is the brother of Hati, the son of Fenrir, and is said to devour the sun during Ragnarok. The Ulfric's bodyguard and enforcer.
Hati Enforcer The rank of Hati comes from the name of a Norse wolf. He is the brother of Sköll, the son of Fenrir, and is said to devour the moon during Ragnarok. The Ulfric's other bodyguard and enforcer.
Geri Second The rank of Geri comes from the name of a Norse wolf meaning 'greedy'. Freki and Geri were wolves belonging to Odin. They ate all the meat that was served to him, because he preferred wine. The Ulfric's second in command, and second in line for the throne.
Freki Third The rank of Freki comes from the name of a Norse wolf meaning 'ravenous'. Freki and Geri were wolves belonging to Odin. They ate all the meat that was served to him, because he preferred wine. The Ulfric's third in command, and third in line for the throne.
Baugi Torturer's Aide To get the Mead of Poety, Odin (disguised as Bolverk) tricked the giants Baugi and Suttung. One of three assistants to the Bolverk.
Suttung Torturer's Aide To get the Mead of Poety, Odin (disguised as Bolverk) tricked the giants Baugi and Suttung. One of three assistants to the Bolverk.
Guunlod Torturer's Aide To get the Mead of Poetry, Odin (disguised as Bolverk) seduced the giant's daughter Guunlod. One of three assistants to the Bolverk.
Eros Sexual Surrogate Eros is the Greek name of Cupid, the Olympian god of love. Since lycanthropes are much stronger than humans, they can end up seriously injuring them during sex, or even shifting on top of them and tearing them to pieces. An Eros (male) or Eranthe (female) teaches the lycanthrope to be careful, acting as a sexual surrogate.
Eranthe Sexual Surrogate Eranthe comes from the name Erato, who was the muse of Love Songs and Erotic Poetry. Since lycanthropes are much stronger than humans, they can end up seriously injuring them during sex, or even shifting on top of them and tearing them to pieces. An Eros (male) or Eranthe (female) teaches the lycanthrope to be careful, acting as a sexual surrogate.
Vargamor Witch In Scandinavian myth, the vargamor were women who provided human victims for wolf companions, often by promising sexual favors. In Sweden, old women who lived in the forest were said to have sorcerous powers, including having wolves under their control. For this, they were called Vargamor, 'wolf-crones'. An old-fashioned position, the vargamor is a human witch or psychic. Almost always female, she is neutral in all fights. Many packs no longer have one.

Other Terms

  • Lupanar: Latin, synonymous with lupanarium - meaning 'den of she wolves', or 'brothel'. The proper term for a pack's sacred site.
  • Munin: From Norse mythology, the name for one of Odin's two ravens: Munin and Hunin, memory and thought. A fitting term for the 'memories' of the pack's dead.