LotS: Knörr and the Laughing Bear

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    Knörr and the Laughing Bear

    Author Unknown

    Foreword & Afterword by Varnard Karessen


    One of the early works that fueled my research on lycanthropy, I found this tale tucked away in a historian’s desiccated library, with no author to speak of. I believe there are to be few copies of this book in existence—I may very well be holding the only one. What you’ll find inside is what I believe to be the origin behind Skyrim’s traditional usage of canis root, and an unusual cause of lycanthropy without the expected ties to Hircine, or other known Daedra.




    In the early days, long before the prophecy of the Bloodmoon, longer still before there was even a whisper of manbeasts, the Skaal existed in peace. The All-Maker blessed them with bountiful crops and plentiful game; the beasts of the island were no more beastial than the All-Maker had intended. The predator, though still a predator, was untainted.


    The Adversary, tired of the peace and prosperity of the All-Maker’s children, heaved a mighty breath and swept a terrible wind across the ocean, blowing a foreign ship of ravagers to Solstheim’s shores.


    The ravagers landed on the Felsaad Coast, weary and half-drowned. Seeing the smoke from Skaal cooking fires on the mountainside, they soon came to the village and laid greedy eyes upon the hale, peaceable people.


    “We have sailed for many days without food or water,” said the Captain. “Have you some to spare?”


    Knörr the Tall, leader of the Skaal, showed them compassion.
    “We have enough food and fire to aid you.” He said. “Stay as long as you need.”

    So the ravagers stayed, eating much and drinking deep of the Skaal’s hospitality.

    It was not the Skaal way to be cruel to outsiders, or to hoard their bounty for themselves, but the roughness and the gluttony of the ravagers almost made them regret their kindness. For little over a fortnight, the ravagers stayed in the village, eating more than they needed and drinking to excess.

    Finally, Knörr came before them with displeasure in his heart.

    “You have stayed longer than we expected.” Said Knörr. “Is it not time to return to your ship?”

    “Why go anywhere else?” the Captain replied. “We like it here.”


    It brought Knörr no joy to hear this, and his voice grew firm. “We have indulged you long enough! You do not respect our ways, you care nothing of the All-Maker, and you treat my people unkindly. No longer are you welcome, Captain. Take your men and leave at first light.”


    The Captain, who knew the ravagers far outnumbered the meager warriors of the Skaal, laughed at Knörr.

    “And if we don’t, you cannot make us. Be grateful we have not spoken such words to you.”

    And the ravagers laughed with him, draining another barrel and tearing bread and roast—all that they could get their hands on.


    Infuriated by this treachery, Knörr felt helpless to rid the village of their unwelcome guests. Knowing he could do little on his own, Knörr climbed the mountain slope in search of the Beast Stone, where he might pray to the All-Maker for help.


    Upon finding the carved, ancient pillar, Knörr knelt before it, head bowed, and spoke into the wind.


    “All-Maker, I beseech thee! Though my people think I have the strength of a mighty bear I have not enough to drive away this menace. Give me the strength of ten, so that I can protect the Village.”


    The All-Maker heard his plea, and brought before Knörr a dying mother bear, her fur silvered with age. Knörr stood back, watching as the mother bear laid down before the Beast Stone, three broken arrow shafts protruding from her flank. Her soul quivered in its mortal coil, and her eyes were unseeing of all save the All-Maker.


    “Drink the blood of the mother bear, and her strength will become your strength.” Said the All-Maker, and Knörr obeyed.


    With the blood of the mother bear flowing through him, Knörr returned to the Village. But he did not return without doubts. Would the strength of one bear be enough against so many ravagers?


    The Captain had taken advantage of his absence, and the villagers now heeded every whim of every ravager, for they were threatened with swords and axes and hammers if they did not.


    As Knörr rejoined his people, he saw a sight that filled him with unspeakable rage.


    The ravagers took turns throwing daggers in contest, to see who could throw the farthest. Too lazy to retrieve their weapons, a young girl was made to fetch them. Though small and fast as a mountain hare, she cried out, cringing away as a thrown dagger cut across her pale, slender arm.


    Knörr fell upon the ravagers, his soul full of rage, and he seemed to swell to the height of a giant, changing shape as his hands lengthened into claws and his voice became a terrible roar.


    The ravagers, shocked, were quick to panic. Some ran, but there were few who rallied to their Captain, and sought to slay the monstrous bear that tore through their midst.


    But Knörr was no mere bear; he stood upright as a man, towering above all, and the brave quickly became the foolish beneath his teeth and claws.


    The Captain, seeing the corpses of his men fall around him, fled from the Village, screaming out in terror as Knörr pursued him into the forest.


    When the leader of the ravagers was gone from his sight, Knörr returned to the village. The Skaal looked upon him with wide eyes and gaping mouths. In awe of what he had done, so too were they in fear of him.


    Knörr, once again a man, struggling through great tiredness told them of the All-Maker’s blessing. The village rejoiced, and would once again know peace.


    Knörr understood the protective fury of the mother bear. To see his own kin harmed, his people threatened, he had felt a rage and a power unlike any before it. Such strength was to be used to protect only, and he knew he was to be the village’s shield, not the seeking arrow into the hearts of their foes.


    Rather than hunt down the remaining ravagers scattered over the island, Knörr showed them mercy.


    But the Adversary found the frightened Captain and the remnants of the broken crew. He whispered into the Captain’s ear the secret of Knörr’s power, and brought before them a laughing bear, its eyes rolling with madness and its jaws dripping red with lifeblood.


    The ravagers slew it with ease, and each one took turns drinking the fell, tainted blood and feeling its fell, tainted strength.


    The Adversary spoke to them again.

    “When the Full Moon rises, destroy the village.”


    The maddened beastial men, full of savagery and hate, obeyed.


    The shaman of the Village, deep in meditation with the earth and the wind and the life of the lands, heard the Adversary’s dark whisperings. Knowing what their Great Enemy had done, the shaman hurried before Knörr, her heart bursting with fear.


    “They will return and slaughter us! They have become like you,” she cried. “But not by the All-Maker’s doing. They drank the blood of a laughing bear.”


    Knörr was shocked, and he hastened once more to the Beast Stone to beg for the All-Maker’s aid.


    “I have the strength of the bear but so too do our enemies. How can I defeat them?” asked Knörr, kneeling before the Stone. He looked around, expecting to see another bear brought before him and to once again drink of the bear’s blood.


    But instead, he saw a small knotted root protruding from the earth like a crooked, withered finger.


    The All-Maker spoke to him. “When it has grown full, tell the Villagers to gather canis root and rub it on every door and window. Tell them then to consume it so they will ward off the servants of the Adversary.”

    Knörr had never seen this plant before; when he reached down to touch it, the plant burned his fingers. He snatched his hand back, watching as blisters formed upon the skin that had come in contact with the canis root.


    How could such a plant be enough? And what if it did not grow in time? Disheartened, Knörr returned to the Village and told the shaman and the villagers of the canis root.


    On the morning before the moon was full, the villagers hurried into the forests of the island and collected as much canis root as they could carry. All except Knörr, who could not touch the strange plant without great pain. He would wait beside the Beast Stone until the dreadful night had passed.


    The villagers rubbed the canis root on every door and window, brewed and drank it themselves. Then, they shut themselves inside their houses, just as a glowing moon rose high above the mountain peaks and the first terrible growls began to rumble into the night.


    The tainted ravagers flooded the village with slavering jaws and maddened eyes, slaughtering the livestock and trampling everything they came across. The Captain and his men could not keep hold of their minds, not like Knörr, so drunk were they on the blood of the laughing bear.


    They threw themselves upon the houses, clawing and tearing at doors and windows in bloody-minded eagerness to feast upon the Skaal huddling inside.


    But the canis root burned their claws and teeth, stung their eyes and muddled their senses. The canis root caused great harm to stay so near it, and their howls of fury turned to roars of anguish. In the great confusion, the bears turned upon each other.


    Unable to listen to the horrid beastial cries any longer, Knörr too changed shape and returned to protect the Village. But he was not free of the canis root’s potent aura, to enter the village was to be overcome by a terrible pain, and he felt himself weakened by it.


    Despite this, Knörr used what remained of his strength to drive the werebears away, chasing the wretched, screaming pack into the wilds—even as his own blood burned and his eyes watered with pain.


    The Village was safe, and none save the livestock had been harmed that night.


    But not without cost.


    Knörr, too much like the tainted werebears, yet so different, could not return to the Village without the canis root draining him of his might.


    The Village could not abandon the canis root and its power, for the tainted werebears still remained—and the Adversary was not so easily subdued.


    Knörr still upheld his vow to protect the village, and he made his home deep in the mountains, becoming a great guardian spirit to the Skaal, keeping evil at bay. To acknowledge Knörr’s sacrifice, the All-Maker gave him fur as pale as snow, and he kept his blue eyes whether he walked upright as a man or bear.


    The villagers knew never to kill the guardian bear with the whitened fur. He was their protector, and his descendents too were blessed with his strength and ferocity; some remained human, though bigger and mightier than most, and some shared Knörr’s gift of shape-changing.


    In honor of Knörr’s bravery, his descendants took on the name White-Paw, marked by the All-Maker to protect their loved ones from evil, and were considered allies of the Skaal though some left the island to pursue unknown destinies in the lands beyond.




    I have yet to find substantial evidence of any living persons or clan going by the name White-Paw who are ‘favored’ by the Skaal’s omnipotent deity. The name White-Paw has bearing (if you’ll forgive the pun) in Windhelm, but my questions of their werebear heritage were greeted with laughter and remarks that would offend any self-respecting scholar. I could have tested the truth of their words with a little canis root on my person, but chose to elicit more tact. I did not need it. This ‘Knörr and the Laughing Bear’ fable is exactly that.

    A fable, and nothing more.





24 Comments   |   Paws and 2 others like this.
  • Asheris
    Asheris   ·  February 26, 2016
    Finally! I've got some free time from my studies; I've been dying to put some reviews up! Btw, I read this the day you posted this, but waited eagerly (I was dying to put my opinions on a lot of things, in fact) to like it until I could write this with so...  more
  • Justiciar Thorien
    Justiciar Thorien   ·  February 24, 2016
    Hmm, where did you find it?
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  February 24, 2016
    I didn't pick it... from the lore book Dealing with Werewolves. From ESO.
    Is there an overabundance of canis root in casks and market stalls? Have you witnessed the locals rubbing this root on neighboring trees and fences?
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  February 24, 2016
    One of my favourite pieces lately. You've done really well here SF.
    It's funny you picked Canis Root. I use that as well for werewolves although in a different concept.
    Well done... +2
  • Justiciar Thorien
    Justiciar Thorien   ·  February 23, 2016
    Wow, that's cool. So canis root tea is not just tea, huh?))
    I have no slightest idea who that character might be, but I like journals too. And letters, letters even more))
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  February 23, 2016
    No, she didn't make it up, it's in a lore book. 
    It is a lore book about Lycanthropy with regard to a specific situation, and possibly the Tamriel equivalent to the Kama Sutra, but I don't think that would be published.    Also a journal of a charac...  more
  • Justiciar Thorien
    Justiciar Thorien   ·  February 23, 2016
    It's a cool style, I love it. Now I wonder if the canis root really works against lycathropes, did you read it somehere or did you make it up?
  • SpottedFawn
    SpottedFawn   ·  February 23, 2016
    Thanks Phil, that is high praise! I had to look up Monkey Truth, haha. I'd never heard the term before now.
    @Thorien Glad you liked that! I had a friend look over this before I posted it, and they suggested adding a fake author and stuff to make it...  more
  • Justiciar Thorien
    Justiciar Thorien   ·  February 23, 2016
    Nice story, the moment about Windhelm made me lol))
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  February 23, 2016
    @Axius, shit, that cover looks freaking awesome. Yes, I says shit. 
    @Spotted Fawn, yes, there will be werebears. They're a lot of them in Requiem, especially in Solstheim. I was forced to write several lore books as well and to be honest, their text...  more