The Wild Hunt was a group of hunters from the First Forest who came to Earth to hunt. They were led by the Erl King. It was said they rode through the countryside, appearing almost as phantoms. The souls of dead hunters rode with them and wild animals ran at their sides. Those who saw them were spirited away. They were part of the fabric of night and would always ride; not even the Erl King could stop that.
They would hunt through a town for several nights, a hunt spanning from sunset to daybreak. They hunted through Sunnydale for three nights before deciding to return to their dimension. Between a "cycle" of hunting, they resided in the First Forest. It is unknown if three nights is normal or how much time passes between hunting cycles. When they were not hunting, they were at their Lodge in the First Forest celebrating and feasting the events of the previous hunt.
Members[edit | edit source]
The Wild Hunt was a gathering of dozens of beasts and men and supernatural beings whose only talent, only purpose, and only joy was hunting and killing their prey. It was led by a man called the Erl King, who sometimes had a wife, the Queen of the Hunt. The Hunters were undead humans who swore themselves to the Erl King or dark elfin creatures that came from the First Forest. They were accompanied by other beings from the dimension, including hundreds of dark faerie, dark elfin, black bucks that ate only meat, hellhounds, and black horses that breathed fire. There were thirty odd hunters. They also had human slaves taken from those they captured but these changed regularly as they were executed if they made more then one mistake.
The Hunters had enhanced strength, as they easily ripped the doors off of Oz's van. They were also immortal to time, but could be killed in battle.
The Hunters of the Wild Hunt carried a variety of weapons, including swords, daggers, mace, axes, and even a morningstar according to their preference. They used bows and arrows when hunting vampires and nets when capturing humans.
Former Humans[edit | edit source]
Humans who joined as Hunters slowly lost their life and humanity as they were reborn as undead creatures sustained by the First Forest's magic. Initially, when they exhaled, their clear breath would include wisps of darkness. Simply being a member of the Hunt would slowly kill them, to be resurrected as a Hunter. During this interim, it was possible for a Hunter to be freed from their oath by the Erl King and return to being human. Eventually though, even their blood would turn black. Their eyes would slowly turn red until they glowed with scarlet malice. When they died their bodies became a dried husk, their lifeforce escaping as black mist that merged with the darkness of the First Forest.
Any human who swore to join the Hunt became a Hunter whether male or female. Since the Hunt had existed for so long and visited a wide variety of places there were many types of humans represented from various races and time periods - from Vikings and samurai to modern day teenagers like Treasure.
The Hunt[edit | edit source]
When they set out on a hunt, the dark faire moved ahead of the hunt, wrecking havoc on a town the hunt would soon visit. The hunt began by the Erl King whim and they would ride out from their base camp to the town. They were preceded by a freezing wind. Hellhounds ran ahead of the Wild Hunt, followed by dark faerie, who worked as scouts. Then the Hunters came, riding their black steeds. The Wild Hunt emanated magical fear that was capable of even paralyzing a Slayer like Buffy Summers in fear and great cold. The hoof beats of the horses the Hunters ride are next, so loud it makes the walls and windows and doors rattle with a gale force wind and thunder. As they pass by, the sounds grow fainter and eventually fade.
The hunt began at sundown and would continue until daybreak. Nowhere was safe.
Their Prey[edit | edit source]
The Wild Hunt hunted a wide variety of prey, including non-sentient deer and sentient creatures like centaur. They also hunted vampires on sight, seeing the soulless creatures as abominations. Often, when they passed through a town they would eliminate the entire vampire population.
The Wild Hunt would capture humans who were "hopeless," those on the streets like runaways or the homeless. Thy also captured the "foolish," which were humans who looked at them and did not immediately avert their gaze. The Wild Hunt saw this as disrespectful and took the human as punishment. It did not matter if they were indoors, outdoors, or in a vehicle as they did not need an invitation to enter. Looking itself was permitted without repercussions as long as the person either failed to see the Wild Hunt or saw it and immediately looked away.
They also took the souls of unbaptized babies they passed, which killed them in their cribs.
Captured humans were kept in a large bamboo cage in their camp and given three choices: join the Hunt as a Hunter, become a slave, or become prey for their next hunt.
History[edit | edit source]
The Wild Hunt was said to be part of the fabric of night. It had always existed, led by an Erl King, and always would. There were many myths about the Wild Hunt, which may be describing the Wild Hunt under the command of different Erl Kings:
- In Norse mythology, Odin led the "Great Hunt" and rode out on stormy nights ahead of a pack of mounted hunters with ghost dogs tracking their prey. They "trashed the place" until sun-up. If you saw the faces of the hunters you were spirited away with them and if you talked to them you would die.
- In Roman mythology, the goddess Diane led the hunt, punishing the lazy and the wicked.
- A German legend describes the Wild Hunt of a goddess named Holda, who seems almost heroic until one notes the souls of unbaptized children were snatched away as her Hunt passed by.
- In Norse mythology, Hern the Hunter was an alternate name for Odin who led the Wild Hunt. They rounded up the souls of the unbaptized, the hopeless, an were particularly fond of the souls of suicide victims. They also took anyone foolish enough to gaze directly upon the Hunters. Hern was said to have once been a huntsman of King Henry the Eighth who betrayed the crown and hung himself.
Reign of Hern the Hunter[edit | edit source]
In 1865, during the reign of Hern the Hunter, Hern fell in love with a Slayer, Lucy Hanover when the Wild Hunt passed through the Virginia town she lived in. Together they magically had a son named Roland, a homunculus made by Hern's magic and brought to life when Lucy gave Roland her soul. Lucy then left the encampment and returned to her Watcher, falsely telling him she had killed the Erl King.
Roland later ran away from the cruelty of the Wild Hunt, but was captured and enslaved by the coven that ran King Richard's Faire.
Child of the Hunt[edit | edit source]
The Wild Hunt came to the Sunnydale area, pursuing the faire in search of Roland. They set up their camp in the Los Viejos Forest past Route 17.