25). Riding the Wolf
NOTE: These are adventure seeds and setting work for my own Hyperborea campaign inspired by the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerors of Hyperborea Gazetteer
When the Rus found themselves transported to Hyperborea many of their traditional ways immediately changed. The Boet, a group of warrior-hunters finely attuned to living in the wild, were possessed by the spirit of the Vukodlak; an ability akin to lycanthropy. While they could not change themselves into the aspect of a wolf they became attuned to the nature of wolves and discovered a monstrous form of wolf lurking on the outskirts of their towns and settlements. Whether these were wolves from Rusland altered by the powerful magic which caused the dislocation from old Earth to Hyperborea or whether these beasts were already in Hyperborea the Boet do not know and these wolves cannot tell them, though along with their gargantuan size the wolves have gained the power of speech, their memories begin with their first encounters of the Rus and their adoption of the Boet.
According to Vas'Ka, the pack leader of all the wolves in Rusland (anywhere the Rus settle is called Rusland) the Boet just smell right and a bond of friendship and even brotherhood has sprung up between the two.
Never much for horses and more at home in the thick forest or the hills and mountains the Boet were always poor horseman, but with the coming of the great wolves they now ride in packs through the forest and steppes that surround Hyperborea's Rusland or scrabble through the stoney hills and inhospitable heights on their borders. The great wolves are as big as ponies, but stronger and heavier, their bodies all muscle and dense bone. The Boet ride them when there is a need for haste though most often a pair of human and great wolf can be encountered hunting the forest or patrolling the roadways between town and village or camping on some hill, sharing their days catch.
Boets tend to wear a shirt of fine chain sometimes with a sleeveless vest of leather over the metal. Many will wear a cap of iron, steel or leather, but just as many disdain such and grow their hair long which they tie back and tuck under the collar of their armored shirt. They are almost never found without bow or sling, but they tend to favor a spear and a short sword as weapons.
Their new wolfish affinity has given them keener sense making it easier for them to track animals or enemies. They can be killed or wounded like any other man, but heal twice as quickly. The can speak to animals though they speak Rus to the great wolves and the great wolves can growl out a few short words of Rus back to them.
The great wolves of Rusland are several times the size of a normal wolf, the largest are truly the size of horses and even the smallest is big and strong enough to carry a normal-sized Boet. Their senses are slightly less keen than that of a normal wolf but still greater than a man's. They bond with their human companions and will fight to the death against any who would attack them. On the death of a Boet companion the great wolf will pine and grieve, and let its life pass away within three days of the loss of a companion.
The bonding ceremony between Boet and great wolf is called Riding the Wolf and the pair set out on a tour of Rusland. This is celebrated by a massive hunt with dozens of Boet and great wolves participating culminating in a feast where the families, wolves and human, join in to eat what the hunt has gathered.
Most Boet and great wolves are encountered alone, but that is only the cautious nature of the hunters. There will usually be from three to five other Boet and great wolves somewhere nearby waiting to see if they have encountered friend or foe. In any case there will always be at least one pair of wolf and rider that is does not reveal themselves. These Boet are a suspicious lot outside of their own kind, which is the main reason they and the Rus have prospered in this strange land of Hyerborea that is now their home.