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The Hosts (First Tongue: shartha) are bizarre creatures who, like the Forsaken, are a hybrid of spirit and flesh, man and animal. They are typically descended from powerful Pangaean spirits hunted by Father Wolf for their attacks on humanity. They escaped total destruction by splitting themselves into thousands of spirit shards, each of which inhabited an animal. These shards became the Hosts.
The hosts begin life as a simple animal. In this form they are easily destroyed, the same as any other member of the species they resemble. In order to hide from the Forsaken, a host can kill a human and take control of the corpse, though the method of control varies.
Hosts will battle each other to the death and the victor consumes the loser's essence, growing stronger, and becoming a larger version of the animal they resemble. When a host gets large enough, it will consume a human and become a man-animal hybrid similar to a werewolf's Gauru form. The hosts are driven to weaken or strengthen the separation between the spiritual and material world, which can wreak havoc in the area they inhabit; therefore, the Forsaken try to destroy them whenever possible.
However, hosts are notoriously difficult to kill. When a host hybrid form is destroyed, it dissolves into a scattering swarm of its original form, only one of which contains the spirit shard of the host. This makes it nigh-impossible to permanently destroy a host.
Commonly Encountered HostsEdit
The Azlu, or spider hosts, are driven by instinct to strengthen the Gauntlet. They begin life as an ordinary looking spider. They have the ability to possess a human by crawling in their ear and eating their brain, which gives them access to the human's memories. A human possessed in this way is preserved by the Azlu, and will only begin to decay after a month. After an Azlu melds with enough other Azlu, it consumes a human by biting it and wrapping it in a cocoon, after which it slowly melds its essence with the human, creating a human-spider hybrid. These melded Azlu are solitary creatures, but can easily be a match for a pack of Forsaken, since they tend to be the size of cars and often have one set of legs that are enormous bone scythes. Adult Azlu must eat one human a month for sustenence, and constantly weave webs which thicken the Gauntlet around them.
The Beshilu are the rat hosts, and in many ways are the opposite of the Azlu. When in their infant stage, they resemble ordinary rats. their method of camouflage is less efficient than the Azlu's; they are able to take control of a human by gnawing through the ribcage and eating their victim's heart. They retain none of the victim's memories or social skills, and their possession does not preserve the body in any way, making it a temporary method of concealment. However, the Beshilu are able to hide effectively within a city's natural rat population. When a Beshilu consumes enough other Beshilu, it bites a human and transfers its essence to the victim. This infects the victim with a cancerous disease that rapidly transforms them into a man-rat hybrid. Unlike the Azlu, the hybrid Beshilu do not continue to consume other Beshilu, but instead form primitive tribal communities. Beshilu are driven to gnaw down the gauntlet, the barrier between the spirit and material world. The holes they create in the Gauntlet inevitably become breeding grounds for disease spirits, which create plagues in the human population; because of this, the Forsaken destroy the Beshilu whenever possible. Beshilu hybrids are not nearly as powerful as an Uratha in battle, but they often can overwhelm the Uratha with sheer numbers. The Beshilu instinctively fear werewolves and will run from them if possible, but if cornered they fight with a fury born of terror.
There are various other known strains of Host, which remain unknown to the werewolf population at large due to their rarity.
The Srizaku are the locust hosts, and their instinctual imperative is simply to gorge themselves on anything they can find (plants, animals, buildings, humans, and even Uratha). They are associated with the idigam Mussughana, called the Ravenous Swarm, and their legends hint they may be its progeny. Like most other hosts, they fear and hate the Uratha.
The Halaku, or crow hosts, are unlike the other shartha in a number of ways. First of all, the Halaku are able to possess a human body without physically entering the body; all a Halaku has to do is peck out the eyes of a human, and the shartha is then able to control the victim's body like a puppet and see through his or her empty eye sockets. This seems to suit the Halaku's purpose, as their instinctual imperative seems to be merely to observe the world around them and gather information (as well as gathering together and getting stronger, as all Hosts are wont to do). Finally, the Halaku are unique amongst the Hosts in that their relationship with the Uratha is not directly antagonistic; the Halaku don't seem to fear the werewolves, and are content to simply stand back and observe them from a safe distance.
The Razilu snake hosts are the most mysterious Host of all; no one is quite sure what exactly their purpose is. However, they seem to enjoy making life difficult for the Forsaken, and the few known instances of contact between the Razilu and the Uratha have ended in violence.
The Kha-Yaawk leech hosts dwell in rainforests, most notably the forests of the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. They are solitary creatures, capable of possessing humans and animals alike. They gain sustenance - and Essence - by drinking blood, and the blood of a Uratha is particularly potent to them; once they have fed, they do not need to eat again for months.
The Adarusharu are the wolf hosts, and they target wolves and dogs, rather than humans, for possession. The Host becomes manifest when Adarusharu shard-holders join together in a pack; if a pack member is lost or captured, the Host will abandon it, as it is only part of their being. Should a pack's existence be endangered, the Host will do their best to ensure at least one member survives in order to reform it. They can also fuse into a many-headed "war form", a wolf monstrosity the size of a horse. They have an unusual relationship with the Gauntlet - when they see the moon in the sky, they can move back and forth across the Gauntlet easily. Their purpose is to cause fear, for fear is what they eat; they do so by hunting down humans and killing them, and they prefer difficult, dangerous prey, as the fear is more satisfying.
The Ushidwirku fungal hosts are unique among their kind, the sole known Host with an affinity outside the animal kingdom. They seek to keep werewolves from the Shadow by growing unchecked around loci, in both the material and spiritual worlds, and like most Hosts they are exceedingly difficult to eradicate. Their chief method of stopping werewolves from interfering with their mission is through the creation of the Namusiden, the Returned. They release certain spores in the presence of werewolves, which will lie dormant until the werewolf kills a human or touches a freshly dead corpse, upon which the spores will claim the body as theirs. The resulting Namusiden knows everything the deceased did, even behaves much as they did, but they now have an overriding purpose; keeping werewolves distracted. They do so by playing on their host body's appearance, emotionally manipulating others, and by quietly gathering information and using it to keep werewolf packs busy, while the Ushidwirku spreads. To truly destroy a Namisuden usually requires its complete and utter destruction, ensuring none of it survives; once they have spread Ushidwirku spores to a new locus, however, they become unable to heal any damage at all.
The Uglathu, or worm hosts, seek the decay of both matter and spirit. Their ban means they can only possess humans of little morality, who are either dying or have just been killed. Once an Uglathu has a body, however, they begin their work; simply by being in proximity to humans, they eat away at their morality and integrity, making it harder for them to resist indulging in their vices. Victims exposed to Uglathu over a period of months will eventually degrade into sociopathy, being willing to do anything to gain what they desire.