By: Gabby Lipchitz
The following is a report printed in the IWHA’s official newspaper, The Silver Bulletin, concerning the controversy surrounding the true outcome of the Hanaga job (Wolfsbane Bendis’ final job as a werewolf hunter) and the trustworthiness of one Ren Ascot (Wolfsbane’s former team leader). Date of Publication: Augusta (August) 20, 1043 P.W.D.
IWHA HQ, ARTAX CITY — When the news first struck this Junium, it hit the werewolf hunter community like a wrecking ball. Theta, the infamous Level 6 threat, had been killed by Ren Ascot and his team of X-5 ranked hunters, but in the process Helga Mir, Monty, Vale Haland, and Wolfsbane Bendis had all fallen to the beast’s fangs.
According to Ascot’s original report, dated Junium 15th of this year, the beast allegedly left a false trail to distract Ascot and Bendis while it secretly stalked the other three members of the team. Ascot claims to have only learned the truth at the last second, when gunfire and screams erupted from their position, and that Mir, Haland, and Monty were all dead when he and Bendis reached the scene. Ascot further alleges that after the beast knocked him to the ground, it then lunged for Bendis and, by the time the two were reunited, Bendis had fatally wounded the monster but had been bitten and clawed multiple times in the process. According to the report, Bendis went off on his own to get his affairs in order before self-terminating, leaving Ascot as the sole survivor of the battle.
…However, information has recently come to light which tells a different story, and paints a disturbing new picture of Ren Ascot as a hunter and as a man.
The Bendis Complaint
A new report, a complaint submitted by Wolfsbane Bendis’ parents—X-5 werewolf hunter Hawk Bendis (retired) and his wife of 25 years, X-4 werewolf hunter Eliza Bendis (retired)—alleges that Ren’s entire story is a fabrication. According to this complaint—filed Julium 21st at the IWHA hunter’s station in Candella—Wolfsbane Bendis was never wounded by Theta’s fangs or claws. In fact, according to the Bendises’ complaint, not only is Wolfsbane Bendis alive and still human, but has also related to his family that Ren Ascot deliberately set up the rest of their team as bait for Theta and allowed them to be killed so that Ren and Wolfsbane could ambush the beast while it was still slaughtering their teammates!
The account goes on to state that Wolfsbane and Ren allegedly had an argument after the incident, and the stress of the situation caused Bendis not only to dissolve his partnership with Ascot, but to retire as a werewolf hunter and become a professional adventurer instead. Bendis then allegedly parted ways with Ascot, and only after returning home did he learn of Ren’s act of treachery from his uncle—X-2 werewolf hunter and known codebreaker, Falcon Bendis.
According to Falcon’s account, he ran into Ascot at a bar in Willow Wind City where the man was allegedly “drunk out of his mind.” When Bendis asked where his nephew was, Ascot at first attempted to try his lie out on him. Bendis, however, noticed several glaring inconsistencies in Ascot’s account and so later confronted him in an alley behind the establishment. Allegedly, this was where Ascot confessed—“smugly bragged about,” according to Falcon Bendis—his crime and his intent to deliver his fraudulent story, along with the belongings left behind by Wolfsbane Bendis after their argument, to the young man’s parents in an attempt to turn his own family against him as revenge against him for terminating their partnership. Falcon Bendis claims that this is where he roundhouse kicked Ascot in the back of the head—knocking him unconscious—reclaimed his nephew’s belongings, and continued his journey to the Bendis family home for a planned family gathering.
Wolfsbane Bendis’ parents further claim that during his recent visit home, he exhibited no signs of lycanthropy whatsoever and even spent the night of the full moon enjoying cookies and board games with his family well into the wee hours of the morning. Mr. and Mrs. Bendis went on to express their outrage and dismay at Ren Ascot’s alleged attempt at, as they put it, “Butchering poor Wolfsbane’s personal and professional reputation for petty revenge.”
Though these allegations may seem damning to some, the fact of the matter is that this complaint is still currently under investigation. Due to the lack of viable living witnesses aside from Ascot and members of the Bendis family, this has unfortunately become a matter of their word against his. The complaint submitted by Mr. and Mrs. Bendis is not the only source of disturbing news concerning Mr. Ascot, however.
Rumor Has It
In recent weeks, a myriad of sordid and salacious rumors about Ascot’s nature and personal behavior have surfaced, many of them coming from reputable hunters with spotless track records and reputations. One such rumor is that Ascot spent an unhealthy amount of his free time frequenting brothels and consorting with Ladies of the Evening. One account alleges that Ascot has, on more than one occasion, attempted to force Wolfsbane Bendis into the bed of a prostitute while he was still underage.
Other rumors suggest that Mr. Ascot is a regular user of—if not hopelessly addicted to—the illegal narcotic Dream Dust. One of the most outrageous of these rumors even suggests that he has stolen from beggars and charity workers in order to feed his drug habit. Some even go so far as to say that he has turned to prostituting himself in exchange for drugs.
But, the most outlandish rumors of all concern his religious habits. Tales are circulating about which tell of Ren Ascot worshiping the very Lords of the Seven Hells themselves. Some of these stories detail him participating in gruesome ceremonies where he has, allegedly, cut unborn human children out of their mothers’ wombs and sacrificed them on the alter to the Hell Lords by violently mutilating them—either by systematically mutilating them from the extremities inward or cutting them open and ripping out their internal organs with his bare hands! Others allege that leaving Mir, Haland, and Monty to die at Theta’s fangs was itself part of a gruesome and twisted dark ritual meant to grant him god-like powers in exchange for their lives.
Then, there are the rumors about Ren Ascot having subjected Wolfsbane Bendis to years of physical and psychological abuse. According to these stories, Ascot has beaten Bendis for such minor offenses as snacking on beef jerky or attempting to eat the gristle or marrow from a chicken bone. There are also reports from various sources that Ascot has subjected Bendis to frequent disparaging remarks about his skills, courage, intelligence, and physical attractiveness. Multiple witnesses report having seen or overheard Ascot mistreating Bendis on several occasions.
Says X-4 hunter Sal Montague, “I do remember one time seeing Ren go and override the kid’s order at a sandwich shop. He wanted a roast beef, hold everything but the meat, but Ren butted in and told the lady to put all the veggies and mayo and stuff on it anyway…Which probably wouldn’t have seemed too bad if it wasn’t for the fact that when the kid tried to object, Ren pushed him back real hard—so hard he almost knocked the kid down—and was like, ‘Next time you order your food like an animal, I’ll make you eat it off the floor like a dog.’ That never sat right with me, you know?”
And X-5 hunter Rachel Windham had this to say: “There’s not a time I’ve crossed paths with Ren and his crew when he wasn’t treating Wolfsbane Bendis like crap. One time, I heard him talking all kinds of trash to him and he told him, ‘The only reason you’re second in command on this team is because your family is just as prestigious as mine. If it weren’t for that, even Monty here would outrank you.’ And he’d say stuff like that to him all the time! The guy’s a lot older than him, so you’d think he’d try being a role model for the kid…but all he did was order him around and treat him like crap. Honestly, I don’t know how Wolfsbane put up with it so long. Good on him for getting out! I hope he punched Ren in the face first.”
A Question of Credibility
Not everyone buys the talk about Ren’s evil side, however. A number of people support Ascot and believe that there is some form of conspiracy in the works. Some believe that Wolfsbane Bendis truly is dead and the family is simply taking revenge out on Ren Ascot for failing to protect him. Others, like X-3 hunter Dario Ostrellen, believe in an even more sinister conspiracy than that.
“Isn’t it just a little suspicious that one of the main people saying that Bendis kid’s not a mutt is his dirty codebreaker uncle?” Ostrellen says. “And who are the only witnesses who can vouch for his humanity? His family and a filthy half-blood velvend! Something stinks here, and it ain’t my socks!”
While X-4 hunter Millicent Alvin says, “Both Ren and Wolfsbane seemed like straight arrows…but the one time I ever ran into that Bendis kid, I didn’t like the look in his eyes. It was like looking at some kind of wild animal in a cage. It was creepy. I wouldn’t put it past a guy that creepy to go mutt as soon as he found an opening.”
But others are a little bit more ambivalent on the situation. Just ask X-2 hunter Terry Nesmith. “On the one hand, the whole thing about Ren Ascot being a dirtbag could be a cover for Bendis breaking the code,” he says. “But, at the same time, I’m not taking my chances teaming up with the guy. This line of work’s too dangerous to work with a guy who might double-cross you. Better paranoid than dead, right?”
A Tough Call
For now, the jury is still out on whether Ascot’s original report or the Bendis family’s complaint is telling the truth about the matter, and in the meantime the vicious rumors about Ren Ascot’s behavior and character continue to spread. As hunters continue to take sides on this thorny issue, a few have even come to openly question the lore and the Code. All this reporter can do is advise you all to hold onto your hats…because this controversy looks to be one to shake the IWHA to its very core.
Well, that does it for this week folks! Join us next week for a piece about the Winter Holidays of the Star-Runner Chronicles world. Until then, learn more about the scandal in The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner and Wolfie Star-Runner Plays with Hellfire, available now on Amazon.com (and all international variants, print and ebook editions) and Createspace.com (print edition only). Also, you can check me out on Twitter at @DanielleVFreman and learn about me at a glance on my Pintrest page. And, of course, if you like my blog or my books (or know someone who would) pass it on to your buddies! …Or else.