The first Lykoi was a madman.
Some say he was Turned by a moon slave, and that was what drove him mad. Some say he was always Lykoi, born packless to a human mother, and that trying to cope with the Change alone drove him insane. Some say his human parents cast him out, and he was taken in by true wolves until his inner wolf felt the more natural form.
However he came to be, all the stories agree on one point: by the time our story truly starts, he was well and truly mad in every sense of the word.
He took territory outside a small town - some say his birthplace, others say not - and, finding the cattle plump and the sheep and goats slow, hunted the human pastures rather than the forests. When the humans turned their dogs loose on his trail and hunted him with traps and snares, he killed the dogs and sprung the traps, leaving the former at the city gates and the latter in hopeless tangles, for he had still enough human mind to be cunning as well as hungry.
He became the nightmare of the countryside. Some said he was the spawn of Satan, others judgement from God for the sins of the townsfolk.
And then a holy man appeared, traveling from afar, plainly robed and sandal-footed. He smiled at the citizens' tales and walked out into the fields at twilight with the village priest and a handful of farmers for companions. The farmers fled at the first howl from the woods, and when the mad Lykoi charged from the forest, fangs bared and slavering, even the priest fell back - but the holy man only stopped, and laughed, and called the Lykoi "brother wolf."
It was the word "brother" that stopped him in his tracks.
He knew the word. Remembered it. Perhaps he had been a brother, once. Had a sister, had a brother of his own. He dimly remembered being more than a ravening and ravenous beast - seeing what had been come out from his misty memory, like a ship coming out through a fog.
The word stopped him, and the kind tone of the holy man, chiding him for his poor behavior, settled the beast inside him. When the holy man proposed a bargain, his mind had cleared enough to grasp and accept it. No more killing. No more traps. No more hunting. Peace, instead, and acceptance back into the human pack.
He heard the words, and nodded, and placed his massive paw on the holy man's hand to seal the bargain.
What happened next is, like so many things, conjecture. The Lykoi did find acceptance into the human pack. Some say he was able to resume his human form, shifting to his wolf self only when the need to run wild under the moon became too strong to resist. Some say he remained wolf for the rest of his days. Most stories say that he took a wife - in some, a human woman; in others, a moon slave. Still others say he took a true wolf for a mate, and of their many pups, some few were the first true Lykoi children who grew to form the first Lykoi packs.
In the end, though, it's all just story. Nobody knows the truth, and the version of the tale changes depending on the teller. Only the moral remains fixed, unwavering: Lykoi need a pack. Cast out, wandering, solitary - that way madness lies, and a packless Lykoi is no better than a moon slave, and hardly more sane.
And that's where my story starts.