The first tendrils of a cloud bank that had begun to roll in were reaching across the full moon, giving it the appearance of an angry eye. As the stark white orb let its reflected light fall indiscriminately on the world below, several shadowy figures began to gather in a deserted forest clearing. In the distance, the howl of a lone wolf echoed through the trees. The robed figures halted. Moments later, other howls joined the first. The pack was answering its alpha.
“A good sign,” one of the figures whispered.
“Our brothers always know when the time of initiation has arrived,” came a response.
Others nodded in agreement.
The shadows continued to move toward the clearing’s center, where a weathered, flat-topped boulder stood waiting. None of those assembled knew who had placed this natural altar here, or why; they simply took it as a sign that they were still in the master’s favor.
The figures formed a near-perfect circle around the altar, leaving an opening on what they deemed the left side. Once everyone was in place, several wolves padded silently from the surrounding forest and formed two lines leading up to the circle’s unoccupied position.
The figure standing at the head of the altar raised his hands toward the heavens and spoke. “He from whom our powers flow, look down upon your children. We gather here with our brothers to bring a new cub into your pack. Favor us with your gaze at this time.”
Whether by coincidence or through the will of a higher power, the clouds chose that moment to separate and pass both above and below the moon. A steady stream of moonlight fell upon the altar, illuminating the stone.
“Our master has shown his favor,” the leader spoke. “Bring forth the one who is to become a cub.”
From the forest, flanked on each side by a large gray wolf, walked a figure. Every few feet the figure’s steps would falter, as though the one taking them was trying to resist going any farther. When they reached the aisle of wolves, the escorts took their place at the end. Their charge proceeded alone. Still fighting some inward battle, the newcomer nevertheless approached the altar and lay down.
“The leader again raised his hands. “We now call upon the master’s chosen to come and offer his embrace, thereby welcoming the new cub into the pack.”
All heads turned, even those of the gathered wolves, toward the forest. One minute passed, then another, before any movement was noticed. At last, their waiting was rewarded.
Leaving the forest and moving toward them at a slow, steady pace was the master’s chosen, a black wolf larger than any they had ever seen before. Its movements were graceful and majestic, a testimony to the fact that it was the lord of its domain. It passed between the two rows of wolves without seeming to even notice them and came to a halt in the circle’s vacant position. The glowing eyes of the predator never left the figure lying prone upon the altar.
“We welcome you, most favored among us.”
The wolf never moved.
“This new cub comes late into the pack, yet we ask that you embrace it regardless.”
The wolf leaped upon the altar and landed, straddling the figure. It tilted its head toward the moon and released a frightful howl.
All assembled echoed its call.
The figure on the altar loosed a victorious cry of its own as it regained control if its body. This cry of victory turned into a cry of pain, however, as the great fangs of the wolf were buried into the flesh just above its heart.
Doctor Occult sat up in bed, all thoughts of sleep gone from his mind. He glanced around his bedroom in hopes of finding the source of whatever had awakened him. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary.
“Rose?” he called softly before remembering that she was still at the Grimoire Academy of Applied Knowledge and would remain there until the session break in November.
Raising his hand, he telekinetically summoned an item that was lying on top of the dresser. A small disk lifted into the air and floated lazily to him.
He looked at his most prized possession as it came to rest in his hand. It was the Symbol of the Seven, an item of mystic power that had gotten him out of many a tight situation. The instant it was in his grasp, he opened himself up to its power.
Almost immediately, a barrage of images poured into his mind. He saw a full moon dripping blood and heard the phantom howl of a wolf pack somewhere off in the distance. This gruesome image was replaced with that of old allies wearing new faces. Again the image changed, this time revealing one face cycling through continuous change, always different, yet instinctively he knew it was the same person. His mind watched in horror as the face began to change one final time.
The nose and the chin began to lengthen, and strands of muscle grew between the two, forming a muzzle. Long, sharp teeth burst through re-formed gums. Thick hair, coarse and gray, began to sprout and cover the face and body. The once-human ears enlarged and took on a canine appearance. Clothing ripped to shreds as muscles grew and expanded.
Once the change was complete, the transformed figure lifted its head to the night sky and loosed a howl that shook the very soul of Occult.
“Werewolf,” he breathed as he climbed out of bed and hurriedly began to dress. “If the Cult of the Wolf is active again, then it looks like I’m going to need some help.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Dr. Occult, More Fun Comics #11 (July, 1936), Dr. Occult, More Fun Comics #12 (August, 1936), and Dr. Occult, More Fun Comics #13 (September, 1936).]
Immediately, he saw the images of old allies with new faces and knew what he had to do. If the cult had left a legacy that had endured for over fifty years, then he needed to find a legacy or two of his own. Grabbing his brown overcoat and white fedora, the man that the world remembered only as Doctor Occult vanished.