In the last dying moments of Autumn Twilight, the desiccated glades of the Old World becomes a place of murder and nocturnal horror shunned by man and beast. Come night, Dian Cecht mused sourly, this mist shrouded wilderness is a waking nightmare, the realization of one mans twisted dream. A chorus of howls echoed in the distance. The winding brook north of Skara Brae lay silent beneath a Full Moon, its girth sheathed by a dimpling of scales that snaked around the borders of the Bergmarch and straightened between the wooded shores of what had once been the Kingdom of Dal Riata. From a distance the serpentine channel did not seem to move, but close, the air trembled with the sound of its inexorable flow. Another howl. Wolves. Cecht knelt beside the winnowing stream, cupping one hand to taste the chill contents of that moving serpent. He spat. The scent of death overwhelmed his nostrils. He wiped his chin. The howls seemed to be growing near, he thought, though trumpets raised to welcome the arrival of some dread master of these apparently haunted woods. He had heard tales of the Shapestrong, men who took upon themselves the likeness of Wolves, and others who lapped blood from the throats of their Virgin Bridges, stories told to frighten the young. Fairy Tales. Dian was a Wandering Healer, one of the few either courageous or fool enough to brave the lawless wilds of the Old World, to heal the infirm, the lepers and the blind, and spread the teachings of the Light to Heathens and Blasphemers. The Old World had been beautiful once, he thought to himself, but then one man decided this world was not worth saving. Better to retreat to the New World than fight to restore the Old, so the theory went. But in casting the ritual that would sever this world in two, Cantabrigian had also stolen the Light of this world and had given it to his own. Cecht's eyes swept across the dying forest. No longer was the Old World, then called Britannia, a land of plenty. Its trees bore no fruit, but disease. Its creatures, twisted abominations whose flesh fell from their bodies and whose taste for grass and fruit had been replaced by a lust for blood. Cecht had returned from New Britannia, leaving all he owned behind. Am I courageous, he thought, or the fool? "Help!" Dian was startled from his reverie, eyes searching. "Please!" came a distant scream, a man. "Somebody, help me!" Dian leapt across the stream and ran, bounding towards the sound. He had to raise his hands, shielding his face from the low branches that clawed at him like desiccated fingers, though the dead trees hungered for his flesh. It became apparent to the Healer that he brought no weapon, no means by which to defend himself. Light watch over me. Cecht stopped abruptly, and knelt behind a tree. There, illuminated by blades of argent light stumbled a man, gasping and screaming, falling through the underbrush. The scant light revealed a grizzled man of greasy black hair and a round, dirty face that had last seen the touch of a razor more than a week gone. "Gypsy." "Please," the man sobbed between labored breaths. "Don't kill me." He stumbled against a fallen tree, driving the air from his lungs. Dian began to rise. "P...please! I didn't mean to..." Cecht went cold. He could feel his heart begin to race. The Gypsy turned his head, as a figure behind him let out a low growl from the depths of its throat. "N-," he choked, eyes wide with terror. "Nooooooo!" The Gypsy turned to face the Creature, but by then it was too late. The large human hand clamped down upon his leg, dragging him screaming and flailing from the stump. "Creator shelter him," Dian murmured breathlessly, crossing his heart. The Healer watched in horror as the figure, a beast in the shape of a man, began to tear his victim apart, limb from limb. He could hear the snapping of bones, the Gypsy's screams cut short as he choked on his own blood. He watched as the Creature roared, an inhuman sound, raising the man violently to his feet, tearing out his throat with its teeth. Dian could watch no more. He leaned against the tree and retched. Moments passed. He became cognizant of the uncharacteristic silence of the surrounding trees. No howls. No bones snapping. No dying screams of a man being torn to ribbons. Only his own breathing. Cecht opened his eyes, hesitantly, and scanned the clearing. There the Creature stood, brandishing what appeared to be a large club. It was only then that the Healer realized what the Beast held was the Gypsy's arm, no body hanging from the limp stump, dripping with gore. Dian clutched his stomach. There was no more to give. Clouds parted. Silver blades of light fell upon the Creature. Wide eyed recognition flashed across the Healers eyes. It was a man. Cecht stared nervously at his broad shoulders, muscled chest and swollen limbs. He was a tall man, naked, a lions mane of steel grey hair framing a massive corded neck. His brows were low and broad, eyes a cobalt blue that smoldered as though possessing some inner flame. His pale, scarred, almost sinister features were carved with the evidence of numerous battles, a life of conflict, and the blood splashed in broad strokes across his torso could not conceal the hard, dangerous lines of his limbs. The Beast groaned, a low sound though wounded despite no evidence of injury, gore dripping from his mouth. Dian stared in horror at the two erect canines that erupted from his mouth. Impossible. Though the Beast could sense his trepidation, he cast his predacious stare towards the tree. Cecht stumbled backwards. Caught. But the Creature ignored him, raising the gored limb and removing a single golden band from the dead mans finger. He studied the band for a moment, before closing his hand around it. "Heal this," he murmured. With a twist of his arm, he hurled the limb through the air. It landed in the Healer's lap, painting a stroke of blood and bits of flesh across his chest. Dian stared down in horror. When Cecht looked up, the Beast was gone.