You know how I got myself exiled? I was out hunting for my evening meal... 'poaching', the lord of that manor would've said.
I was just lining up a nice, fat pigeon when a fox shot past me. The most beautiful specimen I'd ever seen. Perfection in nature. Then I heard the baying of the hounds.
Normally, I would have made myself scarce at that point, but something changed within me that day. I don't know if it was seeing the fox or just something that had been building up inside of me over time. Probably both.
I killed the hounds, and when the lord of the manor objected, I killed him too.
Back in Oriath, the 'vermin' had all the power. In Wraeclast, there's still more than enough to go around.
Nature loves you, exile. I've spent most of my life with her, so I can tell when she takes a shining to someone.
The way your body has adapted to the rigours of the hunt. The clarity of your instincts, and the intuitive way in which you move across the land. She's nurtured you, from the inside out, helping you become what she's needed you to become.
She's proud of you, culler. And damn it all, so am I.
You know how I think of you now, culler? You're that fox, the one I saw back in Oriath, the one that brought it all together for me.
I grew up putting Nature above everything else. To me, people were the problem. A vermin bent on consuming everything beautiful in the world. Coming to Wraeclast proved that there are worse things in the world than people. And then I met you.
Whether you meant to or not, you proved to me, once and for all, that people aren't the problem. In truth, people are the only hope that Wraeclast has. People like you.
Blood Apes! Foragers they once were. Same as the ones in Oriath. Nuts, berries, maybe the odd bug for a touch of 'meat' in the diet. Now, meat's all they're interested in.
Why are they like this? Corruption. Wherever it came from, now it's in everything and changes everything. Turns plant eater into meat eater, prey into hunter. There's not much of a food chain anymore. What you're eating today will happily eat you tomorrow.
I don't know why yet, but some creatures are able to soak up more corruption than others, and it twists them in extremely dangerous ways.
Some heal scary-quick. Others can charge through a bonfire without singeing a single hair. The worst'll suck the life out of you with the barest touch.
There's no rhyme nor reason as to which creatures sport these 'gifts'. It's not passed down from parent to litter, as far as I can tell. Maybe something chooses them. Now there's a frightening bloody thought!
I've been doing some digging around... in entrails and animals' brains mostly, and I'm starting to see a pattern.
The corruption isn't just warping these animals. I've seen many a freak of nature before: the spawn of inbreeding, other times, the results of cross-breeding that never should have happened. Those sorts of animals can be unusually strong in some ways, incredibly feeble in others.
The creatures of Wraeclast are far stronger than they should be, in every way. Their minds and instincts are hardened with aggression. Their bodies have twisted in very specific ways and for a common purpose that can be seen in all of the species I've dissected: to kill.
There's nothing haphazard in what these creatures have become. I see a plan. And where there's a plan, there's always a planner. Not a thought that helps you sleep at night.
I think I might be on to something here, and to be honest, it scares me bloody frigid.
Nature is a fairly brutal mistress at the best of times. Meat eaters feed on the plant eaters. Plants feed on the carcasses of animals that have rotted and returned to the earth. That's just how survival works.
But in Wraeclast, survival has turned into something else. Almost every animal exists to kill and feed at a rate that should have made this land barren over the last couple of centuries. Why isn't it? Because every living thing in Wraeclast breeds and grows at a rate far beyond what is natural. Animals kill each other at a horrific rate, but there's always more to replace them.
And so I think I have an answer. The plan here isn't survival any longer. It's slaughter. Whoever or whatever created this plan, it wants, maybe needs, to have carnage on a massive scale.
Why? I wish I knew. But what I do know is that Wraeclast's future won't be a pretty one unless this plan is stopped.