Once upon a time, there lived a large tribe of werehyenas. The creatures had hairy human bodies, large violet eyes, long teeth, prominent noses, and growly voices. They walked like humans, but when they ran, they galloped on all fours like wolves. These animals were almost as tall as trees, and they were strong and fast. If one saw the creatures–running on all fours—with all their attributes, they could be mistaken for a tribe of very large wolves.
One day, a group of human explorers journeying from another country reached the tropical jungle, where the werehyenas lived, and decided to explore. As the humans walked through the jungle, they came across a small village where they saw large furry creatures that walked on both feet coming out of carefully built straw and bamboo huts. These creatures were talking and engaging in conversation in ways that were identical to how humans talk amongst one another, but the creatures spoke an unfamiliar language. The explorers had never seen creatures that looked like animals, but conducted themselves like humans. They decided to go inside the village to find out more about these creatures. The werehyenas that were already outside, took notice of the unfamiliar group and believed these humans were threats. They got on all fours and began circling the humans, preparing to attack.
The humans, seeing the werehyenas in their attack stance, took out their guns and began firing at them. After killing all the were hyenas that were outside, the humans went into each hut searching for others. Yet, just like the werehyenas outside, the werehyenas inside also saw the humans as threats and tried to attack them, and these werehyenas were killed with guns too. The humans then came to the final two huts where they discovered the last two remaining werehyena families.
These two families had watched and heard the humans destroy their village; knowing what these humans were capable of, the families did not try to attack them. They did not want their children to die. Since they did not attack, the group of explorers saw no reason to kill these two families. Still fascinated by the creatures, the humans forced the two families to leave their tropical jungle and come back with them to their country.
When the group arrived back in their country, the two werehyena families were taken to a village that was located near a small uninhibited jungle. The werehyenas were put in cages in the center of the village, allowing villagers to see the fascinating creatures the explorers found. When the allure of seeing the caged werehyenas faded, the humans decided to experiment with the creatures.
They trained them to live like humans.
The humans made the werehyenas cut off all the hair from their skin; they were then bare, with no hair, except what they had on their heads. The werehyenas were taught to speak the language of humans, human behavior, and important village customs. The humans did not want the werehyenas to—in anger— unite together and revolt, so the two werehyena families were kept away from each other. One werehyena family lived on one side of the village, and the other family lived on the other side of the village.
The werehyena mothers were given the jobs of tending their homes and raising their children, and one werehyena man was given a job as a blacksmith; the other, the position of the village woodcutter. In time, the werehyenas were like humans in most ways. Behind closed doors, without the judgement and scrutiny of their fathers, or husbands, many of the village human women saw that the male werehyenas–with their brute strength and masculinity—were very desirable. Yet, the werehyena females were mocked and called she-men, by men and women, and even children alike. Soon it was not frowned upon for the humans to seek courtship with a werehyena, if they desired to do so.
The only daughter of the first werehyena family eventually married a homely human farmer, whom only married her to breed strong tall children. In their marriage, the werehyena woman bore one strong son and two strong girls, all of whom were as much werehyena as she. She raised her family in the poor area of the village, where peasants and beggars resided. Her oldest son Raul was very strong, and became a woodcutter like his grandfather. Her oldest daughter Mara married a plain merchant,who was neither poor nor rich, and moved to the center of the village, where apprentices and merchants live. Mogli, the youngest of them all, remained in her home with her mama and papa until her mama and papa both passed away. She was then sent to live with Mara, where she would learn to become a marriageable werehyena woman.
The second werehyena family, on the other side of the village, had just one son. This son was very desirable for his strength, height, and masculinity–as most werehyena men were amongst the human woman. He married the beautiful daughter of a wealthy fisherman, and they produced one child: a beautiful strong boy named Mikael. When Mikael was old enough, he moved to the center of the village to become an apprentice for Raul.
The day Mogli met her brother’s apprentice Mikael, she knew right away that he was the one she wanted to marry. One night, Mogli heard a werehyena howl; a howl–soothing only to fellow werehyenas. She followed the howl until she got to the outskirts of the village—the small territory, right next to the entrance of the jungle, where the werehyenas often congregated. Upon her arrival, she saw Mikael running on all fours, chasing after Raul. Mogli got on all fours and ran after the boys. She growled, hooted, and barked, just as they did. When they noticed her, the two males, stopped running and stood on two feet, like humans.
“Mogli, it is unacceptable for you to run in the wild like this,” said Raul.
“Aren’t I a werehyena, just like you two?” asked Mogli.
“The men in this village do not want to know what you are. Do you wish to be married, or to be alone forever? Go home.”
He turned from her, dropped onto all fours, and let out a howl as he took off into the jungle. Mikael ignored her and ran after Raul. Mogli went home, sad.
The next morning, she woke up extra early and crept out of Mara’s home to see if Mikael and Raul made it back from running all night. When she made it to the outskirts, she saw Mikael playfully tossing water from a wooden cup onto a soft spoken girl, with a petite body, brown eyes, and long hair as satiny and smooth as ebony-wood. She watched from afar, observing Mikael and the young girl laughing and carrying on like lovers.
Mogli could not bear to watch it any longer, and so she walked over to the entrance of the jungle, which was pass the outskirts, and she got on all fours. She then ran and ran and ran, before she finally let out a loud howl. A soft, strange voice interrupted her grief.
“My what a loud howl that is. I would love to posses such a howl that only belongs to a werehyena,” the voice said.
She looked and saw the shortest scrawniest pale man that she had ever saw. He was wreathed in a brown cloth that covered his body and face, so she could not make out how he really looked.
“You think my howl is beautiful, but no human in my village wants to posses it.” Mogli said, turning away from the strange small man.
“They don’t know its power. Give me your howl, and in return I will give you a voice that is soft and gentle, one that can only be possessed by a lovely human woman.”
“How?” Mogli asked.
He held out an empty velvet pouch. “Howl into this over and over again until there is no howl left in you. Then I will take this pouch with me and, trust my word, you will wake tomorrow with a human voice so soft that your villagers will forget you are a werehyena. But be warned, if you do this, you will never ever be able to howl again.”
She agreed. She howled and howled and howled into the pouch until she couldn’t anymore. The next morning, after waking up, she met Mara at the village well where they wash their clothes. When Mogli spoke to Mara, sure enough, her voice was soft and melodic, just as the mysterious man had promised.
“Your voice is so beautiful now!” Mara said.
As the day went on, Mogli made it her business to speak with everyone, even those that she didn’t usually talk to. Every time she did, the villagers told her that her voice sounded beautiful now. She thought her new voice might impress Mikael. So, ahe went to the woodshop and greeted Mikael. He was not as impressed as she’d hoped; he merely grunted before turning right back and continuing his task of cutting the wood.
“He greeted you back, did he not? He used to ignore you when you greeted him.” Mara said, when Mogli told her about his response.
Mogli considered what Mara said, then felt joy because it was true that Mikael was no longer ignoring her. After that day, every day that she could, she went to greet Mikael. And he greeted her back each time with a grunt; but, after many days of this, Mogli wanted more than a grunt.
One night, she heard Mikael’s howl in the distance. When she followed it, she saw Mikael on all fours playfully running after a beautiful human girl. The girl ran gracefully, laughing in delight, as he stopped and howled, then continued on, chasing her. In tears, Mogli got on all fours and took off toward the jungle, running as fast as she could. She tried to cry out, but of course her howl was gone.
“Only a werehyena could get away so quickly. I wish I could be as fast as you,” said a loud voice from behind her. She turned and saw the short mysterious man that she had met once before.
“You think being fast enough to get away be a feat,” she said, “yet there is no woman in my village that would want to posses such speed where she must get on all fours to attain it.” She turned away.
“They don’t know the ease of such speed,” the man said. “Give me your speed, and in return I will give you a feminine posture and the ability to run on two legs like a human. You will walk such a graceful walk that men will want to follow you.”
“What must I do?” Mogli asked.
“You must run in circles around me in these special socks, until you are so tired you cannot run anymore. When you wake up tomorrow you will not be able to run on all fours anymore, nor will you be fast. But you will walk gracefully and beautifully, just like a human woman. Be warned that if you do this you will never be able to run on all fours, walk the walk of a werehyena, nor be as fast, ever again.”
She agreed. She did as she was told, placing the socks on her feet and hands, then running around and around and around until she was so tired that she could barely walk. The next morning, she walked to the well where Mara was washing clothes, and she walked as gracefully and as beautifully as a human woman. With each step she took, she felt the village men’s eyes watching.
Mara noticed her new walk, so when Mogli made it to the well, Mara told her, “You walk gracefully and beautifully, like a human woman does, now! I would love to walk like you.”
Mogli thought her new walk might impress Mikael enough to captivate his interest. She went to Mikael, who was cutting wood in the woodshop, and greeted him. He greeted her back. She then walked around him two times, hoping he would notice her new walk, and he did. As she walked away, Mikael got up and followed behind her. Mogli wanted to see how long he would follow her, so she went back home, and sure enough he followed her there. When Mogli made it to the door of her small home, she thought to invite him in but when she turned around, he was gone; Mikael had stopped following her to go back to the woodshop.
“I saw that he followed you. And he walked you home. That is a feat!” Mara said to Mogli when she came home from the well. Mogli thought so too.
From then on, when Mogli greeted Mikael, he greeted her back—still with a grunt—and each time she finished her tasks in the village, when she walked back home, he always followed behind her. And, on each occasion, by the time she made it to her doorstep, Mikael was always gone. Never did he say as much as two words to her.
One morning, she didn’t see Mikael as she normally did, so when she completed her tasks in the village and left to head home, she stopped at the outskirts to see if Mikael was out doing a run. When she arrived she saw Mikael; she watched as he picked up a small slender human woman and gave her a big bear hug. He held this woman up in his arms, as though she were as light as a young child. The two remained in this embrace for quite a while, as if they could not bear to let each other go.
With tears in her eyes, Mogli left the outskirts and went straight to the jungle. Once she was in the jungle, she tried to get on all fours to run as fast she could, she could not; it did not feel right to be on all fours any longer! She then tried running fast on her two feet—like a human–but found that she was not fast at all. While running the human way, it took a while to make it to the heart of the jungle. She then tried to howl out in frustration, but could not do that either. In defeat, she walked with her head hanging down, and as she was doing so, something small ran pass her–so fast it was like a blur.
“My, how tall and strong you look. I wish I could possess height and strength like yours,” said the loud voice of the fast-moving creature. Mogli saw that it was the mysterious short man.
“You’d think having a werehyena’s height and strength would be advantageous, but human women like to be picked up by strong men, and men like women delicate enough to be picked up,” Mogli said, turning to leave.
“They don’t know how wonderful height and strength can be,” he said. “If you give me your height and your strength, I will make you a petite woman who can be picked up by a man. You will be so delicate, that he will not be able to resist touching you and holding you.”
“What must I do?” she asked.
“You must squat down on my blanket and stay like that until you are so weak that you can barely stand up. When you wake up tomorrow, you will be as short and as womanly as a human, and he will try to touch you! But be warned that if you do this, you will never have your height, body, or strength again.”
She agreed. She did as he said, and squatted down on the man’s blanket for several hours until her legs were sore and shaky. The next morning when she woke she was as short and petite as a human woman. She went into the kitchen to show Mara her new look.
“Mogli, you are so feminine and delicate, now! I wish I could have the body of a human woman, like you.” Mara said to her.
When Mara and Mogli walked to the well to do their washing, villagers remarked on how wonderful she looked. Mikael and Raul saw her during their morning break from work, and were surprised to see her new body. Mikael did not know what came over him, but he found himself walking over to her. When she greeted him, he reached out, lifted her up, and hugged her lightly before letting her go. He felt silly picking her up, so he turned away from her and quickly went into the woodshop.
When Mogli and Mara were done washing the clothes, and left to go home, Mikael left the woodshop and followed them home, like he usually did. By the time she arrived home, he was gone.
“Mikael likes you now. He wouldn’t hug you if he didn’t!” Mara said when they were inside.
Mogli was thrilled to know what it felt like to be touched by Mikael. But later that same day, after she had her supper, she decided to take a walk. As she was walking pass the village tavern, she glanced in the windows to see who was inside, and she saw Mikael. He was sitting at a table, with a mug of ale in front of him, with an older human woman sitting upon his lap. Mogli took a closer look and saw that he was running his hands through the woman’s lush brown hair, while brazenly kissing her, as if they were the only ones in the tavern.
Sick with grief, Mogli found herself heading toward the jungle. She wanted to run fast, she wanted to howl, she wanted to see beyond the trees, she wanted to feel close to the midnight moon and the stars. Yet she could not run fast on two feet, she no longer had her howl, and she was no longer tall enough to see the top of the trees.
Just as Mogli thought of turning around and going back home, she ran into a man that was as tall as trees, and so big and large that he could pick up Mogli and swing her around like she was a small human girl. The man was dressed in black fabric that covered his body, and a hood that covered his—out of portion–small head.
“Your features are so exquisite,” the man said. “If only I had them, people would see me for who I truly am. I would like to possess them. If you give me your thick wild hair, your prominent nose, and your lips too, I will give you silky hair, a delicate human nose, small teeth, and plush lips to match. Then you will have the beauty of a human woman, and the visibility of one too.”
“What must I do?” Mogli asked.
The man pulled back the black hood, revealing a disfigured, pale very small face.
“You must stare into my eyes and kiss me until you grow dizzy. Then when you wake up in the morning, you will look like a human woman, and you will attract the man that desires you. But be warned, if you do this, the only werehyena trait that you will have, will be your violet eyes.”
She did not want to kiss this disfigured man. But when he reached down and lifted Mogli up, pulling her into his embrace, she stared into his deep black eyes and kissed him until she was breathless and dizzy. The next morning when Mogli woke up and looked at herself in the mirror, she looked like a human woman, but with violet werehyena eyes.
“Mogli, I almost didn’t recognize you!” Mara said when Mogli came to her that morning. “You look like a human woman now.”
Mogli felt content now with her appearance, except for her eyes–which she wished were brown. The two went to the village well to wash their clothes as they usually did. No one in the village recognized Mogli from afar, it was only up close that they were able to see her violet eyes. From a distance, Mikael saw her, and thought she was as a beautiful human girl; he did not recognize her. He thought she might have been new to the village, so he went over to her. When he got close to her, he saw her violet eyes.
“You are very beautiful. But your eyes are werehyena. What are you?” Mikael asked.
She smiled. “Mikael, it’s me, Mogli.”
“I almost did not recognize you!” he said with surprise.
Then, after noticing a human girl—the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest fisherman in the village—that was walking toward him, he took his eyes away from Mogli and watched the human girl, with a smile on his face.
He turned back to Mogli. “Mogli, you are very beautiful, even with your werehyena eyes. With your beauty, I have no doubt that you will find a good man who won’t care about your past.”
With that, Mikael went over to the beautiful daughter of the wealthy fisherman. Soon after the two hugged, he kissed her hand, and walked away with her. Mara, saw what happened and she tried to cheer Mogli up.
“He told you that you could be married to a good man!” Mara said. “That’s the highest compliment he could pay you.”
But Mogli was not content. She saw no need for her violet werehyena eyes; especially since they were what stood between her and Mikael’s love. She returned to the jungle looking for the mysterious man, so he could help her, but she could not find him. And so her violet eyes remained.
Many days passed, before Mogli heard that Mikael was to marry the wealthy fisherman’s beautiful daughter. On the very day she heard the news, she fell into despair. She longed to be a werehyena again: to run, and howl, and to be free in the wild of the jungle, away from humans.
She walked into the trees, head hanging down. At that moment, she saw a large werehyena running on all fours right toward her. How beautiful he was to Mogli. He stood up on two feet and looked down at Mogli. She noticed he did not have violet eyes.
“You look like a human woman, just as you wanted. Why are you still not happy?” he asked.
“You say I look like human, but my village sees my eyes and still thinks of me as a werehyena.”
“You don’t know how special it is to be a werehyena—not the way I know it. Or else you wouldn’t desire to be human,” he said.
“Perhaps it is special to you to be a werehyena, but the werehyena traits that you covet are what make the werehyena undesirable to humans. Humans are better, even to werehyenas. I cannot stand to look like a werehyena any longer. I don’t want these eyes, I want human eyes, so that I can finally be human!”
“Very well. But it will come at a cost. I will gladly take your violet eyes, and if you give those to me, you will not be a werehyena anymore. But if you do this, you will not have eyesight—you will never ever see again.”
“I don’t want to be werehyena, but I still want to see,” said Mogli.
“You have been willing to give up everything so far to become a human woman. Why stop now?”
“You see me as willing, and yet it is my willingness that has caused me so much despair, why should I continue?” she asked. She turned to leave.
“The one that you so desired has forsaken you and left you. You have nothing left, I see. If you give me your werehyena eyes, you will be blind, but your eyes will be brown colored just like humans. Those in your village will see you as human. You will be human. Your fate as human will then be sealed, and you will finally have what you want.”
“I want to see, but if I can only see with werehyena eyes, I would rather be blind. I just want to be happy… I want to be human. So, what must I do to give you my eyes?” asked Mogli.
“I will explain, but be warned that if you go through with this, not only will you will never be a werehyena again–in time your memories of being a werehyena will disappear too. You will not remember nor will you truly understand what it is like being a werehyena, ever again.”
“Very well. To give me your violet eyes, you must marry me. We must consummate our marriage so that we become one. On the morning after we consummate our marriage, you will wake to brown, human eyes. But you will not see your eyes because you will be blind, but others will see them and know that you are human, even if you cannot see it yourself.”
“You see enough beauty in a werehyena to become a werehyena; why would you marry me if I will look like a human?” Mogli asked.
“It’s the beauty I saw in you, that made me, me. So fear not, I will cherish you as my wife and rid you of your sadness.”
Mogli then agreed to marry him and so they consummated their marriage, and the next morning Mogli woke up blind, but with brown eyes. Her new husband took her to her village, and when the two arrived, no one recognized Mogli with her brown eyes. Not even Mara. They didn’t know this new village girl’s true identity, and Mogli did not tell them who she was, either.
Soon she did not remember what it was like to see, or how Mikael and the other villagers looked. She also did not know how she truly looked with her brown eyes. In time, she forgot she was ever a werehyena, and that she ever loved Mikael. Villagers told her, she was lucky to be beautiful–though crippled—and to be married to such a strong and handsome werehyena man. The two grew old together, and with each moment he loved and cherished her just as he promised.
Eventually, the two decided to leave the village, and live in the jungle. Her husband found peace, as he could roam free and be true to his nature as a werehyena. Though Mogli could not see her husband, she felt content, each time she heard the beautiful sound of his werehyena howl.