This is another of my hopelessly geeky posts about something that is probably almost ridiculously obscure. It’s about the identity of a particular villain from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and how I changed this little-known detail for my own purposes when I was running the Apocalypse scenario in New Bremen.
Both editions of the Book of the Wyrm mention a figure known as Number Two. This very unpleasant Bane Incarna is the ruler of Malfeas, the Near Realm generally considered the domain of the Wyrm (the Wyrm itself, as one of the Triat, is actually most commonly understood to reside in the Deep Umbra, though there is an Anchorhead connecting to its general location in the Deep Umbra from Malfeas). It is pointed out that Number Two was once a Black Spiral Dancer, and eventually ascended to his current status as an Incarna-level spirit. Along with this, the Book of the Wyrm notes that he keeps his old mortal identity a closely guarded secret to prevent his name from being used against him as a weapon. Apparently (though it’s not spelled out in detail) He’s got some sort of Ban that makes him vulnerable to folks that wield his former name. Neither edition of the Book of the Wyrm tells us who he was, however (I don’t recall if the MET version did, but off the top of my head I don’t think so).
Enter The Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth, a very twisted and interesting reference tool that teaches the careful reader a great deal about the Wyrm and especially its human and Kinfolk worshippers of the Pretanic Order (such as its compiler and annotator “Frater I*I”). It also contains a fair amount of insight from the Black Spiral Dancer perspective, thanks to notes from Professor W. Richard MacLish, with whom Frater I*I consulted during the translation and compilation of the work.
So who is Number Two? According to Chapter 4, endnote 4 (p. 90), Professor MacLish implies to Frater I*I that the Flavio spoken of in chapter 4’s introduction as being a late medieval descendant of the Black Monk is not only a “True Dancer”, but the ruler of Malfeas. Pretty cut and dried if you’re willing to dig and sift carefully through some obscure and out-of-the-way materials to find it, and very easy to miss even on a read-through, but definitely there.
Chapter 1, endnote 10 (p. 88) mentions a “Moch Maugh” as a Pictish place-name, and states that it defied linguistic analysis but that Prof. MacLish believes it to be derived from a personal name, and the “good” professor associates this name closely with Eater-of-Souls. This place name existed during the late roman period, within perhaps a generation of the fall of the White Howlers.
I, personally, didn’t go with the “Number Two is Flavio” angle. I don’t think that Number Two would want some piddling BSD Kin and Pretanic Order member (even a knowledgeable one like Frater I*I) to provide his name, identified as what it is, in a manuscript published for the general public, and I personally prefer to think that Professor MacLish was feeding the Frater a little bit of a line. I prefer to think that his real name is the one from Chapter 1 about which Prof. MacLish was more reticent. This has a couple of advantages… this “Moch Maugh” is an older, Pictish figure, and I believe that unlike flavio he appears elsewhere in WtA lore.
That name is very similar in pronunciation to another name that has appeared in at least one other Werewolf: the Apocalypse related book, and in the Rage CCG: “Mockmaw.” Who’s Who Among Werewolves: Garou Saga contains some artwork and a supposedly lost tale about the dread Black Spiral Dancer Mockmaw and how after Luna punished him with madness for his crimes he danced through all nine circles of the Black Spiral Labyrinth (his pack didn’t make it that far) seeking to unleash the Wyrm itself on the world. On this deepest descent he was driven hopelessly into madness and devoured by the Wyrm, and then promptly forgotten by everybody but Luna.
Mockmaw is best remembered by the fanbase for his role as a past life/ancestor spirit card in the Rage CCG (see here).
According to Prof. MacLish, Flavio’s manuscript describes dancing all nine circles of the Labyrinth. So too does Mockmaw’s song from Garou Saga.
I came up with an idea about him that I like. After he was devoured by the Wyrm and forgotten, the ancestor-spirit that had once been Mockmaw clawed its way to power in Malfeas, carefully keeping his name a secret. He was an early Spiral, one of the youngest among those that first fell to the Wyrm, though he was already mighty and renowned enough for his home to be known to others for its residence. Once most of that generation was gone, he did indeed go mad as the song tells and plunged down through the deepest portions of the Black Spiral Labyrinth. The ancestor spirit Mockmaw that appears in the card game is an avatar of his (Incarnae have those, after all) that he uses to teach and afflict Spirals, and as a smokescreen about his own identity.
A pack of ancestor-spirits from the First Dancers, his older brethren that had long vanished questing into the darkest reaches of the Deep Umbra saw his passage through the Labyrinth, and marked his passing. They were among the many baleful spirits of the Temple Obscurus that descended on his pack with terror, maddening visions and fangs, and they remember him. They endure. They are those who bound themselves into Uhurat’s Tusk to await the Apocalypse, as part of the New Bremen Time of Judgment scenario.