Louisiana Myths and Folklore, Volume 2
Read by Alleine Dragonfyre
Louisiana Myths and Folklore
Volume 2 – “Beware the Loup – Garou”
It was some days after my chance meeting with Jaque at the Tavern in Aerie, when I was going about my usual business. I am an alchemist by trade, and often visit local swamps for rare herbs and mushrooms.
I’m more than capable of dealing with most of the swamp’s hazards, but it was unusual for me to encounter other people when I made my collection trips.
Even more unusual for me to be taken by surprise.
This is why I jumped a little, startled, when I heard a voice behind me suddenly utter in a raspy voice “Don’t move.”
Instinctively, my hand began to tangle with the channelling of Earth magic, and I turned to face the threat. Who was it but none other than Jaque, the strange man from New Orleans.
He backed away a step, and smiled what I would come to recognise as his famous disarming smile, and said “Mademoiselle Shimizu. I did not mean to startle you.”
I let the earth magics recede.
Satisfied I was no longer on the offensive, Jacque took my hand and led me back through the thick reeds aways, ducking behind one of the old Cypress trees. He pressed one finger to his lips. “Sssh” and with the other hand pointed out into the fog and gloom.
“What is it?” I whispered, seeing nothing but the usual foetid swamp waters, and hearing nothing but the usual cacophony of insects, buzzing from every direction.
I opened my mouth to ask him again, but he quieted me with a gesture. “Listen,” he whispered.
I listened to the sound of the water’s surface disturbed by fish. I listened to the sounds of creatures rustling through the underbrush.
Nothing out of the ordinary for South Fetid swamp.
After an indeterminate amount of time listening to nothing out of the ordinary, Jacque sat down on a fallen log and said “Well, that’s a relief.”
He sat there for a moment, straightening the cuffs of his shirt and carefully removing bits of leaves from his hair.
I had spent enough time with the man by this point to realise that an explanation would be forthcoming, but that he had to tell these things in his own way. Storytelling being, according to him, one of his most passionate entertainments, as I had learned during our meeting in Aerie.
Finally, satisfied that he had removed as much of the swamp muck as was possible while still sitting in the middle of the swamp, he turned and asked me, “Have you ever heard of the Loup-Garou?”
I, of course, shook my head that I had not. And so he told me the story.
In his homeland, Jacque explained, there were stories of a strange creature that inhabited the swamplands. the Loup-Garou, or what the locals sometimes called the Rougarou, was said to inhabit the swamps around New Orleans and Acadania.
He looked at me with his still empty eyes and said “It’s a werewolf of course. That’s what the word means.”
I smiled. Of course it was a werewolf. It seemed silly to believe in such things, and yet we did cross a rift into Novia, and I had surely with my own eyes seen and even fought stranger things than werewolves.
This loup-garou, Jaque explained, carried with it a curse – If it were to bite you, then you must tell no-one of it for 101 days, lest you also turn into a loup-garou.
“At least that is what the old wives used to say. In this world – who knows?”
We sat in silence for a time, listening to the chirp of crickets. “So,” I asked him, “It’s just a large wolf?”
“The head of a wolf, the body of a man, so the stories say. Or perhaps It was the other way around. I never saw it.”
“Hmm.” I said, not sure what else to say.
We sat a while longer, but it was getting late. Not that you could see sun or stars in fog this thick. I picked up my bag of herbs and stood up, preparing to bid Jaque good evening.
A soul-chilling howl suddenly echoed across the swamp.
Jaque jumped to his feet, and for a moment it seemed his eyes glowed red.
“Has the beast also come to Novia?” he exclaimed, and took up a fighting stance, though I noted, he drew no weapon. I was going to ask him what he planned to fight it with, when another sound pierced the darkness.
And this sounded like a woman’s scream.
In an instant, Jaque was gone into the mists. He was swift, but I had travelled these swamps many times, and I caught up with him in a clearing, alongside a terrified young woman.
He had his hand clasped tightly over her mouth, and kept saying “You mustn’t speak of it, you mustn’t breath a word of it!”
Without so much as another glance in my direction, he wrapped his cloak around the woman’s shoulders and began walking her back in the direction of town.
It had started raining again. I stood some time there in the darkness, listening, before turning to follow in the direction Jaque and the woman had gone.
And for some reason, the next night I found myself staying in range of the city street lights when I went out to forage.
By Shimizu in the year 560 PC.