The Wolshak packs are not one united nation. Each pack is its own, small, sovereign entity with its own diplomatic ties and leadership. A pack's leader is simply called an alpha by the beast-like Wolshaks. The packs are dotted across the Temperate Zone and the Boreal Zone, and live in small, stationary settlements hidden deep within the untamed wilderness. Living in such secluded areas allows them to avoid the lin, who aren't very fond of the savage packs. A few groups of the wolf-like people commonly attack lin; they strike their caravans and villages in the hopes of acquiring loot. At least the Wolshaks are rather backwards when it comes to technology, because they're simply not as smart as lin, so they aren't too great a threat, despite their superior size and strength. Overall, the Wolshaks of the wild packs are a savage people of hunters, whose potential is held back by their lack of wit and unity.
Wolshaks are driven by instinct more than reason, because they are almost more beast than humanoid. They value strength and the community of their pack. They're hunters by nature and heart. Their culture and even their religion revolve around hunting ever greater beasts, because it brings great prestige. Most packs see gryphons, wargs, and kul as beasts that should be hunted, but a few packs add lin to the list. These packs often violently clash with the lin willingly, believing that being a great warrior is even better than being a great hunter. All so called wild Wolshaks are also natural survivalists. Wolshaks who were raised among the packs have an easy time surviving the wilderness; an advantage over the average Trezlin, who is likely to die when leaving the safety of their community.
A Wolshak pack is practically a primitive tribe. The word pack is simply used because it underlines the bestial nature of the Wolshaks. A pack is a closely knit community; its members stick together through good and bad times and treat each other like family. However, they still naturally stick closer to their actually blood-related family members. Siblings are more likely to become close friends than two unrelated people. As mentioned, Wolshak cherish the strong and disapprove of the weak, but yet they don't exile anyone who has shown weakness, as long as they are not a danger to others and can care for themselves. They couldn't just abandon pack members like that.
Each pack is its own sovereign entity. They've a lot in common; they share a language, a culture, and even a religion. However, they're not friendly to each other most of the time and customs and opinions on various matters can vary from group to group. Each pack has its own territory and prefers to stick to it and stay out of the way of the other packs. If two packs meet, then likely because one's scouts entered the territory of the other, either accidentally or purposefully. Usually the packs resolve matters without applying physical violence. Some packs even trade with each other, but there's also a few that actively attack others to steal their belongings or take over their territory. Most packs see the others as competition for food and hence as a potential threat, which is they prefer to avoid each other. This stems from the fact that Wolshaks are very territorial beings. They ferociously defend their territory and don't give it up easily.
Within its territory a pack erects a permanent settlement. These villages are adapted to their environment to make them difficult to spot. Dense forests and thick shrubbery hide the Wolshaks' simple huts. Even from the air it's difficult to spot a Wolshak village, because they rarely light fires and don't create gaps in the canopy by cutting down trees. This secluded lifestyle is important; it makes it hard for the lin to send their numerous warriors after the pack. Hostility between Wolshaks and lin is the norm, because of a few packs' tendency to raid their settlements and caravans. It made the lin wary of all packs and lead to them meeting all of them with aggression. Lin are quite a threat, because they're so numerous and clever. The Wolshaks' size and strength doesn't make up for that.
Yet it is unwise to underestimate the Wolshaks. They're vicious, strong and being great hunters also made them great warriors. Packs who focus more on a warrior than a hunter culture logically produce even better fighters. Warriors of all packs train and spar a lot with each other to ensure that they are capable of defending their lands against intruders when necessary. Both males and females serve as warriors and partake in training, even with each other. The males don't see themselves as superior to females. After all, a female, the All-Mother Wolruk, created them and why would a divine woman make her own sex lesser?
To reproduce is a right only the strongest pairs of a pack have. Who is permitted to breed is determined by the alpha pair. If food is very scarce, only the alpha pair may breed. If food is present in adequate amounts, then other pairs may also breed. Finding a mate is a simple matter. Both sexes are active when it comes to searching for a partner. Males and females are impressed by strength and the ability to provide for the pack. A female wants a strong male so he can provide for her and her litter while she's unable to hunt. A male wants a strong female so she gives him strong children. This leads to weak men pairing up with weak women, while strong men pair up with strong women. Wolshaks are capable of love and strong emotional bonds develop between partners. Usually they stay together for life, especially after having produced a littler together. Parents do develop a very deep bond to their offspring. However, it is not unheard of, or frowned upon, to mate with someone than one's partner. Yet the Wolshaks usually don't do that, because males become very possessive of their partner and do not allow other males to touch them. Rarely does a female wish to do so anyway, if her male is satisfactory.
If only the alpha pair reproduced for a few years in a row, there'll be a whole generation consisting of only their children. This is disadvantageous, because it can lead to incest. However, siblings subconsciously dislike reproducing with each other; they perceive each other's scent as unattractive. In a pack consisting primarily of close relatives, this can lead to bickering and even to members of a pack leaving their own pack willingly in search for a new one or even to found a new one. Packs are usually in favor of adopting new members, because strength lies in numbers and gaining an adult without having to feed them through cubhood is a good deal. As a result of this exchange of pack members, incest is naturally avoided.
Another reason to leave one's pack is overpopulation. A territory can only feed so many Wolshaks and even with their regulated growth, the Wolshaks can end up producing too many children. They simply don't always realize that a territory can't provide for as many as they thought. Sometimes the cause can be a bad year in which there's not as much food as they thought. In these cases, the pack splits up. One part remains in the territory, the other part, led by the second strongest pair of the pack, leaves and tries to find a new spot to settle. This nomadic phase usually lasts less than a year, because they want to have settled down before the next fertile season comes.
A reason that the packs can't feed hundreds of people is that they don't keep livestock. That would require pastures, which in turn require space. The Wolshaks don't have that space, because they want to keep their villages hidden. They don't really know how to tame and breed animals anyway. It is also looked at as "the easy way" and as not appropriate for Wolruk's children. The bestial people don't even bother with dogs or other pets. They're their own hounds. Wolshaks even see other wolves as competition and as a lesser form of themselves. Funnily enough, Wolshaks who live in civilized nations tend to dislike dogs as well, but yet have an easy time getting along with them, if they want to, because of their common origin.
A pack members status is determined by their achievements and usefulness. Great hunters and warriors are among the most renowned and respected Wolshaks. With status come privileges, such as being allowed to breed or being reserved the best cut of a slain beast. Cowardice is the met with disdain. Running in the face of danger, without the alpha's permission, is a sure-fire way to end up at the bottom of the social ladder. However, even the Wolshaks aren't completely unreasonable. For example, a lone warrior running from a Trezkul that had suddenly appeared isn't considered a coward.
At the top of the social ladder is the alpha pair, consisting of the strongest male and female of the entire pack. Whoever is the strongest of the two is the true alpha, the other is merely the alpha's partner. Both are the leaders of the group and hence have a few privileges. They may breed whenever they want, they can decide who gets to breed, and they may order others around. Usually the alpha pair also lives in the biggest, most decorated hut. A downside of their position is that everyone wants to have it, so there's plenty of challengers just waiting for a moment of weakness to challenge the alpha.
Beneath the alpha pair is the entire rest. They rank among each other based on their strength and their ability to hunt, track, survive, and so on and so forth. At the very bottom are the runts and weaklings, who are just strong enough to make it, but too weak to earn any prestige by hunting dangerous creatures or defeating challenging foes. These weak links of society aren't mistreated beyond a few joking remarks here and there, but they're certainly not held in high regards. A person's sex doesn't matter to the Wolshaks in itself, but females tend to rank a bit lower than males because they are smaller and weaker on average, thus seen as unfit to lead the pack alone for example. A female can still become a great hunter or warrior, it just requires a bit more effort due to their physical disadvantage.
The last step in the social hierarchy are the outcasts. They're people who somehow put their pack in danger, killed one of their own without reason, or committed some other vile deed. They're not executed, because the Wolshaks don't believe in killing others without giving them a chance to fight. Hence they exile them and mark their faces with scars or brands to warn other packs about the Wolshak's deed and thus hopefully prevent that they take the outcast in. Outcast Wolshaks have to live on their own or attempt to join the more accepting civilizations of the lin, like the Gren Kingdom or Treztown.
Wolshaks are born in litters of two to four pups. They are helpless for the first six months, having closed eyes and dysfunctional ears. Their mother feeds them with her teats and keeps them warm by holding them close. During this time and the foregoing pregnancy, the father has to provide for the mother and his children. Once the pups are half a year old, their eyes open and their ears begin to function fully. After another half year, they are weaned off and they also begin to explore beyond the hut and walk around the settlement, if under strict supervision. If a pup is obviously deformed, then it is abandoned in the woods after it has been weaned off. A Wolshak would never dare to kill a pup, after all, Wolruk could have great plans for it later. Normally, abandoned pups just die when they're on their own, because they aren't capable of hunting and starve or because they're slain by a predator. Despite this rather cruel practice, Wolshaks are overall loving parents who play with their children and take great care of them.
For the next six years, they begin to test their strength and prepare their bodies for the later stages of their life. They run around, play fight, and do similar playful activities. Usually they do this under the supervision of the parents or another pack member. The older they become, the more eager they get to feel their limits and the rougher they play fight. During this time, they also learn how to properly (for a Wolshak) speak. This skill is acquired between the ages of two to four. A Wolshak's body grows faster than its mind. The behavior of young children is hard to distinguish from that of young canines.
At around seven years of age, every Wolshak is adequately sized and intelligent to be taught some useful skills. Females as well as males learn how to make various items, like weapons, arrows or utility objects like baskets or pouches. Usually a Wolshak will show interest or talent for one craft or another and continue to pursue it. The most important skill is being able to hunt and survive on your own, so they're also taken along on hunts, if only as assistants. The adult hunters teach them how to track, how to lay ambushes, and similar things. The young Wolshak are also taught how to fight.
When they become fourteen years old, they reach sexual maturity and are hence considered full adults. They may now partake in hunts and raids. From now on, they've to make sure that they hunt enough to feed themselves and preferably also other pack members. Adulthood also means that they can now acquire a position in the packs hierarchy and attempt to become the pack's alpha.
Adulthood continues until the Wolshak notices that they're becoming weaker because of age. Wolshaks prefer to die with dignity and while they are still strong. When they start growing old and weak, they grab their weapons and go out into the wilderness to find a worthy creature to fight and be defeated by. Some of these Wolshaks end up attacking lin settlements in the hopes of facing off against their warriors and finding a glorious end in battle. Due to this practice, there are no elders among the Wolshak packs, except for the shaman.
Wolruk, the All-Mother, is the deity of the Wolshaks. According to the Wolshak's beliefs, Threa's bedrock has always existed, but it was Wolruk who put water and life on it. First of all, Wolruk birthed her one and only litter - the first Wolshaks. She fed them with her milk, which she let rain from the skies and fill the crevices of the world, forming rivers, lakes, and seas. That milk is what is nowadays known as water. Sadly her milk didn't keep its nourishing properties forever, so she had to create prey for her children to eat. She did so by tearing out chunks of her own flesh and forming it into the various lifeforms that walk on Threa's land, swim in its seas, and fly through its skies. The goddess died in the process, but saved her own spirit by containing it in the largest of Threa's two moons, which is why it is sacred. Keeping her own spirit alive within the moon is a tiring process, so the moon fades now and then but it always returns to full strength. The large moon is full in the middle of every year, the small one is full at the end of each season. The small moon is divine as well, because Wolruk created it to remind her people that she's there, even if the large moon is only a thin crescent in the sky.
While most Wolshaks agree that Wolruk created all beasts and that plants naturally sprouted from her milk (so the water), there's no general consent where the lin come from. Some believe the All-Mother is the mother of all creatures, even the lin. Others believe that Wolruk is only the mother of all Wolshaks and that maybe other deities created the lin. Who created what is kind of a controversial topic among the packs and it strongly affects their stance towards lin. Most believe that Wolruk didn't create lin to challenge her chosen children and hence try to avoid them. They prefer to hunt beasts instead of lin. The rest, so those who believe Wolruk created the lin as a challenge, try to confront and kill the lin to make her proud. Packs who believe this have more of a warrior than a hunter culture.
Very radical Wolshaks even devote their lives to a path of blood, death, and destruction. They call themselves Wolruk's Champions and vow to kill any lin they come across and actively hunt them down, even if that means spending most of their lives away from their pack. Usually these Wolshaks do not become very old. Yet those that do manage to slay many lin and continue on their bloody path for years earn the respect and admiration of those who share their violent beliefs. They're like berserkers on the battlefield and desire to please their All-Mother with the blood of their foes. It isn't unheard of that Wolruk's Champions band together into their own, nomadic packs, if they consider their origin pack to be too meek. Fortunately for the lin, these champions are few.
Most Wolshaks try to please Wolruk through rituals that don't involve killing lin. Different packs have different customs, but the most common way to please Wolruk is a ritualistic hunt. It begins by the hunting party gathering in the settlement to be prepared by the shaman. She chants praise to the All-Mother and promises her the success of the hunters. The shaman does not ask her for success, because the All-Mother will not grant it. The All-Mother demands success to be shown, not to be begged for. The shaman's rituals are supposed to gain her attention, so that she closely watches as her chosen people hunt. Even if Wolruk is supposed to watch, ritualistic hunts can also happen during the day. Wolruk can see Threa all the time, just only at night can her children see her. While chanting, the shaman may apply fur dyes to the warriors or tie trinkets into their fur. What they do varies from one pack to the next.
Once the preparations are complete, the hunters proceed to hunt. The hunting itself doesn't have to include any rituals or ceremonies. Some packs do impose rules on ritualistic hunts, such as that the beast may only be slain in melee or only with a strike to the head. Most tribes simply hunt and slay their quarry. Afterwards they bring the corpse back, if possible. If the body is too heavy, they conduct the following rituals wherever they killed their prey. The first step is to cut out the heart. It is the right of the Wolshak who delivered the killing blow to take the first bite out of it, then it is handed out to the other hunters. Only those who partook in the hunt may take a bite out of it. The second step is simply to cut up the corpse and eat it. Some packs even have rituals for this part.
As stated, the Wolshak packs have shamans. Wolshak shamans tend to be old females, because females are supposed to have the strongest connection to Wolruk. Unlike the other members of the pack, the shaman will not seek death in a glorious fight before they become frail, which is why shamans can actually become quite old. Some can't even hunt on their own anymore. The alpha is responsible for bringing food to the shaman and in return can profit off of her experience and wisdom. The shaman also conducts rituals and ensures that the community doesn't bicker over petty issues. Some but not all shamans have knowledge of herbs which they can use to help their pack members heal.
Becoming a shaman isn't difficult at all. The current shaman simply picks a capable woman who has only made Wolruk proud so far and announces her as her successor. It is an honorable duty, so usually the woman in question accepts. She's taught everything the current shaman knows and deems important, then takes over her position once she passes or becomes incapable of fulfilling her duties. To differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, the shamans often richly decorate themselves with trinkets, bones, and dyes.
Wolshaks are not the most festive creatures on Threa; they don't celebrate a lot. Only large events are worthy of celebrations. Someone coming of age is no reason to celebrate for the Wolshaks, but someone successfully hunting their first prey is. A full small moon is also a reason to celebrate. The Wolshaks howl to their All-Mother's light and try to have a feast. For such celebrations the hunters have to hunt large beasts so every pack member can eat until they're full and forage for herbs that can be chewed or smoked for hallucinogenic effects.
When Wolshaks grow old and start feeling that they grow weaker, they grab their weapons and head out into the world. Some even head out without their weapons and instead let their children inherit them. They don't want to die in their beds, unable to take care of themselves. They want to die when they can stand up proudly and still fight. Commonly old Wolshaks heads into nearby lin settlements or attack the local warg pack. Some manage to cause quite some havoc before a hopefully glorious end is put to their life. Their bodies are either devoured by the wilderness or the issue of whoever killed them.
If a Wolshak dies while other Wolshaks witness it, the body is brought back to the settlement, if possible, and buried in the woods in a shallow grave at night. The body shall nourish the forests, feed its creatures, and thus create life just how the All-Mother has. This burial is accompanied by a ritual, which is conducted by the shaman. The deceased deeds are remembered and Wolruk is asked to accept their soul. If the dead has anything worthy of sacrifice, such as trophies, they're sacrificed now to show them off to Wolruk to appease her and show her what a great child the passed Wolshak had been.
The canine people believe that Wolruk allows the souls of the best hunters and warriors to live by her side. They are kept in the smaller moon, follow her around, and are nourished by her spirit's teats. One day, so the Wolshaks hope, one of their own will prove to be such a great warrior that Wolruk will take him as her partner and with him create a new kind of Wolshak, one that is able to complete and utterly dominate Threa until it is a heaven for Wolshaks both living and dead.
Copulating during the fertile season, which lasts from late winter to early spring, is a very important subject in Wolshak culture. It is a time to create new litters, the proud hunters of tomorrow. The Wolshaks know it begins when the first female goes into heat. From that moment on mating is forbidden for anyone but the alpha pair and whoever they chose until the last female's heat has ended. How many pairs receive the permission to produce offspring depends on how much food is available in the pack's territory. Being allowed to have children is a great honor. It speaks of the pair's strength and furthering their own bloodline is something every Wolshak aspires.
To ensure that the chosen pairs produce large, healthy litters, the shaman conducts various fertility rituals. This is the among the few times the Wolshaks actually beg their All-Mother for help. They ask her to bestow fertility and health upon the couple, plead that the next generation will be even stronger than the last. How this is done varies from pack to pack, but common practices are applying fur dyes and making sacrifices. For example, some shamans draw big, white or light gray circles on the bellies of the females, trying to mark them with Wolruk's sign - the moon.
The highlight of the fertile season is the heat of the alpha's female. Her fertilization is an act the entire pack wants to see, because as the best female of the pack she's likely to produce the strongest litter and perhaps even the next alpha. Hence her male, the alpha, brings her to the center of the settlement during one of the nights of her heat. There the shaman prepares her, dyes her fur, conducts rituals, applies herbs that are supposed to enhance fertility and health, and then leaves it to the alpha to do his thing. During the copulation, the pack members watch. They howl, cheer, praise Wolruk, and ask her for healthy cubs. In some packs the chosen pairs even mate alongside the alpha pair.
Once everyone is done, the Wolshaks may celebrate with food, drink, drugs, and more howling and perhaps some chanting. The tire over time and head into their huts to rest. This marks the end of the celebrations, but of course not the end of the fertile season or the rituals tied to it.
Wolruk's Shine is the most important holiday to Wolruk's followers. In the middle of the year, when both moons are full, the Wolshaks praise their ancient mother and her shine with utmost zeal. However, they do not do this by celebrating, they do so by fighting and hunting. Wolruk is looking upon them, at full strength and vitality. She can clearly see her children and wants to see them accomplish great, bloody deeds! Enemies must be slain and great beasts hunted to prove the packs worth to her.
The Wolshaks feel empowered by the two full moons. They are not afraid of anything while Wolruk has her gaze on them; it would be an unacceptable shame to flee during this nights. Victory or death is the directive. Some packs go and plunder lin villages and caravans instead of hunting large beasts. It is a terrible time for lin communities without an appropriate guard or proper fortifications.
The killing and raiding doesn't stop until the Wolshaks ran out of targets or the sun rises. Naturally this holiday can also lead to many dead Wolshaks, but this is not a problem for these savage people. The fallen died proving their worth to their divine mother, so they had one of the most glorious deaths possible. Yet those who survive the night and achieved great feats during it can expect to be met with utmost respect and climb a few ranks in their pack's hierarchy.
Wolshaks are simple minded and primitive people, so their symbolism is rather straightforward and lacks any complex relations. A hut stands for home, a spear for hunting or war, and so on and so forth. Wolshaks also use a rather simple style when they paint or carve symbols. They don't care to make the images look realistic; they just have to be clear. Some shapes and lines even lack any meaning but just serve decorative purposes. The wolf people do decorate their fur, weapons, and huts with patterns, lines, and shapes. That's among the few forms of art they practice. A lack of a writing system means they can't produce literature and they aren't big on instruments either. At most they use horns and drums, and then primarily as instruments of war.
They do sing, chant, and especially howl, if primarily for religious and festive purposes. Howling also serves as form of communication. To the singing and chanting they even dance, sometimes even around a fire. Unfortunately, some packs have to stay low and draw as little attention to themselves as possible, because otherwise the local lin might notice them and attempt to kill them. Hence they can't always light fires or be very loud, unless they can be sure there's no hostiles within ear shot. That's why they always set up sentries around their settlement to check if anyone is nearby before they start to be loud and obvious.
Wolshaks are covered in fur that keeps them warm and their primitive mindset doesn't see shame in being naked, hence they simply walk around nude. Only useful clothing, like backpacks, pouches, and belts, are in widespread use among Wolshaks. No Wolshak would ever leave their settlement without a few pouches with useful stuff in them, like flint, some string, or a knife. While fashion in the form of fancy clothing is not a thing, Wolshaks do enjoy to wear trophies of their hunts. It doesn't matter if it is beaks, talons, teeth, or bones, as long as it can be made into a necklace, woven into the fur or otherwise attached to the successful hunter or warrior. They especially like to weave these things into their manes. Both males and females even braid their manes. What's also rather popular is using dyes, even flashy colors like blue or yellow, to draw symbols and lines into their fur. Usually they only do that during religious ceremonies or in their free time. If they apply fur paint when going on a hunt, they only use natural colors as to not make themselves easy to spot.
Last and also somewhat least comes the cuisine of the Wolshaks. They're pure carnivores; anything that isn't meat or fish is likely to make them feel sick and mess up their digestive system. Hence their cuisine doesn't include any fruits or vegetables. Wolshaks are also not good cooks. They do sometimes cook their food, but most of the time they simply eat it raw. As mentioned previously, they don't light fires because they make the location of their settlement too obvious. Some packs do know that smoked food lasts longer, but only few bother doing so, because they prefer fresh, unaltered meat. Wolshaks also have robust stomachs, so they don't mind if their meat is a bit older. They don't mind eating lin or kul either, but cannibalism is seen as disgusting.
The language of the Wolshaks is called Wolsh. It sounds very guttural, because it involves growled and grunted sounds. Due to the extreme difference between the head shapes of lin and Wolshaks, they have trouble speaking each other's language.The fact that Wolsh evolved on its own and does not find its roots in any other language makes it even harder for lin to learn it. Additionally to Wolsh, the Wolshaks are also great at communicating by howling. They can use special howls to convey various messages, such as "Danger!", "Intruders!", or "Prey!". Many dialects are included in the term Wolsh; some have barely any similarities to each other. Wolshaks in the far north are likely almost unable to communicate with those in the south. The same goes for Wolshaks from the west when they try to speak with those from the east. Having little to no contact to each other makes the development of a uniform language near impossible. Even the meaning of certain howls varies from region to region.
Not a single pack has managed to develop a writing system so far. At most they've runes whose meaning is clear to every pack member. The runes convey simple messages and are edged into trees or painted onto rocks. The packs use them to mark hidden stashes, the lairs of beast, and such.
Wolshak proverbs and idioms revolve around nature, hunting, and living in a pack, but are usually rather simple because of the Wolshaks are simple minded. They often compare things to nature. Examples for Wolshak phrases are: "If spear breaks, you have claws!" (There's always a way.); "Keep your nose up, you never know when you smell good prey." (Always be ready for opportunities.); "Pack is numbers, numbers is survival."; "Sometimes you have to throw spear to gain spear and meat." (Reference to the fact that some animals can only be killed at range because they run faster than Wolshaks.)
After a Wolshak has been born, they receive their first name from their parents. The names commonly involve growled Rs, guttural Gs and Ms, and the vowels O and U. Examples of Wolshak names are Grulmo, Grulma, and Olgrom. They've no last name, but sometimes use the name of their pack to make identifying them easier. The names of packs usually refer to a feat the group accomplished or the region they live in. Words mean little to a Wolshak, it is actions that count, so they rarely adopt any form of title. Instead the Wolshaks just keep their greatest achievements in mind and carry trophies on their bodies to prove them, so they can speak of them if need be.
A Wolshak pack is led by its alpha and their mate. Usually the alpha is a male, but in extremely rare cases it's a female, because males are bigger and stronger on average. Usually, the alpha and his mate together decide on the course of the pact, determine who is allowed to reproducing during the next fertile season, and settle disputes. The shaman uses her wisdom to help them when needed. In turn the alpha pair is responsible for ensuring the pack's wellbeing and safety. They also have to act as role models to the rest of the pack by being its strongest, most capable members.
Should the alpha pair fail at its responsibilities or appear too weak, another Wolshak will likely challenge the current alpha to a duel. The alpha has to accept or be exiled by the entire pack. The duel for the position of alpha is a ritual on its own. In most cases, the opponents meet at a place of the current alpha's choice. The challenger gets to decide what weapons they use. The duel lasts until one won or gave up. Those who surrender are met with disdain and immediately cast out of the pack. In the alpha's case, he didn't defend his position to the last drop; in the case of the challenger, he didn't judge his own strength right and began a fight like an overeager cub. It's important to note that the weaker partner of the alpha pair doesn't have to be fought, but of course they can try to challenge the killer of their partner. It isn't unheard of that the female of the former, slain alpha becomes the partner of the new alpha, if he doesn't have a partner yet anyway. He has proven his superior strength after all.
Apart from their size and visible strength, the alphas of some packs can also be recognized by special items they wear or carry. Some packs hand their alpha a decorated spear, while others give their leader a helmet that horns or perhaps tusks attached to it. The symbol of the alpha varies from pack to pack. There's plenty of packs that don't bother with such at all. Packs aren't all that large, so every pack member knows the face and name of the alpha anyway, rendering a special way to distinguish them redundant.
Every known Wolshak pack is listed here. Each pack is its own sovereign entity and hence capable of having different diplomatic ties to the other packs and the other nations. Packs are usually named after some sort of feat accomplished by the pack or one of its members.(Feel free to create your own pack when you make your own Wolshak character!)
The Tusktearers' pack is at home in the souther regions of Treztown's territory. Within the dense forests nearby Threa's Southern Spine, the Tusktearers have erected a settlement. This happed somewhere around 765 ar. The origin of their name is their knack for killing wargs. Plenty of those dangerous predators live in Treztown's south. The Tusktearers hunt them, because they compete with them for game. Hence the Tusktearers have managed to acquire quite a lot of warg tusks, which they gladly use to decorate their weapons, huts, and themselves. It's actually tradition for their alpha to wear a leather helmet decorated with warg tusks.
- Rormur (779 ar - ??? ar): He's the current alpha of the Tusktearers and known for being rather ambitious.
No pack has a standing, professional military, and the concept of conscription is foreign to them. For Wolshaks it is the natural duty of every pack member to defend the pack's territory to the last drop of blood if need be. As a result, every Wolshak has to know how to fight, especially he alpha, who leads the warriors into battle. It is seen as a great shame to not know how to use a weapon or one's claws and teeth. Hence every Wolshak, both males and females, practice fighting and various tricks, such as how to set up ambushes and even traps. The Wolshaks do approve of guerrilla tactics, because they see it as the only way to handle the large numbers of troops the lin can muster. However, they don't quite approve of ranged weapons beyond javelins, because they believe one should be close to the enemy when taking their life. Not all packs share this opinion; some gladly utilize ranged weapons and some even engage in stealthy forms of killing.
All packs have in common that they lack discipline. The warriors of the packs are wild and fierce. Wolshaks who enter combat often turn into frenzied killers, swinging their weapons wildly, killing foes left and right. This recklessness makes them dangerous, but can also spell their doom. Plenty of Wolshaks have been felled by arrows because they lacked protection or let their guard down and even more Wolshaks have been surrounded in battle because they failed to stick to their allies. At least the wolf warriors make it up with courage. Surrounded or not, a Wolshak will continue to fight until they are no longer able to.
While they're savage and brave, they're not ruthless. At least not entirely. Wolshaks will cut down both men and women without remorse, firmly believing that every adult should be able to defend themselves, but they rarely dare to touch children. Young ones have something sacred about them; they've yet to grow to face the world. The All-Mother cares for children and supposedly protects each until adulthood. Bad fortune will come to those who dare to outright harm a child without good reason to.
Due to their physical advantage over most lin, one Wolshak warrior is worth multiple lin usually, especially if he's a veteran. However, no matter how high the quality of the individual fighter is, the packs, even taken together, are military weaker than the lin nations. They simply lack the modern equipment, discipline, and also the numbers needed to really be a serious threat to great powers like the Sokan Empire or the Gren Kingdom.
Equipment is usually produced by the warrior who intends to use it or by whoever is the most skilled crafter in the pack. If a Wolshak is great at making spears, they might simply make the spears for all of the other pack members. Basically, a Wolshak warrior might either make his own equipment or be handed one. It is also quite common that they loot weapons from slain foes, but they aren't always usable. The hand of a Wolshak is simply bigger than that of a lin. More commonly they use the materials from looted equipment to make their own. Some packs have figured out how to work bronze and a few have even figured out how to work with the crude iron of the Gren, so these packs gladly turn metal scrap into Wolshak-sized weapons and armor. The more primitive packs use stone, wood, and bones.
Overall, Wolshaks wear little to no armor. It simply requires too many resources and Wolshaks don't like to be weighted down. If the wear armor, then usually leathers and hides. Some even use wood and bones to create armor. Especially the latter can look quite terrifying. A chest plate made out of multiple lin ribs is as much a trophy as it is a warning. Speaking of trophies, Wolshaks love to display parts of beasts and humanoids that they killed, no matter if it is fangs, small bones, feathers, pieces of fur, or even entire body parts. The style varies from pack to pack. Metal armor is extremely rare and usually reserved for the best warriors, because the packs can't get their hands on metal easily. Shields are cheaper and simpler to make, which is why they're more common. However, most Wolshaks like to have their hands free, either to use their weapons with both hands or simply use two weapons.
Axes, clubs, spears, javelins, and great axes are the preferred weapons of the large bestial humanoids. Especially axes benefit greatly from the strength of the Wolshaks when they wildly swing them. Spears are easy to make and easy to use, so they're the standard weapon for any young warrior. Great axes are popular, too, but their size and weight make them unwieldy. The tallest among the Wolshak are not bothered by this and love to abuse the hefty blade to cut lin in half. While there are a few packs who use bows, most prefer the javelin. It is easy to make and use and one has to get closer to kill a foe with it. Those who do use bow and arrow sometimes poison their arrow tips. While the poisons of the Boreal and the Temperate Zone aren't as potent as those from the jungle, they can still handicap our incapacitate a foe.
When Wolshaks want to lay waste to a settlement, then they usually break the walls down with axes, scale them with ladders, or break the gates using battering rams. Fire is also a rather popular weapon. It doesn't matter to the Wolshaks if every single house burns down; they attack settlements to loot them, not to conquer them.
Due to their savage nature, Wolshaks don't fight in a very tactical fashion. Formations and complex maneuvers are completely beyond their grasp. They rely on the strength of the individual fighter, forgoing any benefits a disciplined formation offers. In situations where they act as the defenders, they do set up traps and ambushes, but in the end they try to face their enemy in a brutal melee. The ambushes and traps only ensure the Wolshaks have their foes right where they want them. A pack is usually well aware who enters its territory, thanks to the various patrols on the ground and the lookouts in the trees.
When going on the offensive, a wild charge accompanied by howls and growls is the norm. If the charge breaks the lin's formation, then the Wolshaks force them to fight on their terms. It'll cost the lin a lot of blood to defeat the canine people then. if they even manage to do that at all. Wolshaks usually strike at night to abuse the fact that lin, save for Hoz- and Rizlin, can't see anything in the darkness. This just makes them even more intimidating and also rather hard to hit with ranged weapons.
Diplomacy is primarily handled by the alpha, who is advised by the shaman and influential members of the pack. Only rarely do Wolshak packs actually have to engage in negotiations; they prefer to stay out of each other's way and especially out of the way of the lin. The packs hide deep in the wilderness and isolate themselves from other civilizations. This has granted them safety. At most a pack interacts with other packs or the more primitive lin civilizations, like the tribes of the Truzlin or Sozlin. If they do clash with lin, then usually violently.
It's difficult for one pack to meet another, because both hide their settlements and leave little trace of their presence in the area. If a pack wants to meet another one, it has to send proper trackers to search for the other pack's home. Of course there's always the risk the other pack doesn't wish to be found and attempts to kill any scouts it finds. Usually Wolshaks don't attack foreign Wolshaks upon sight; they prefer to question them from a safe distance. Should both packs agree to engage in talks, then the alphas will meet somewhere in the wild, accompanied by a small escort and their shamans, and do what needs to be done.
Sozlin and Truzlin don't bother hiding their settlements usually, so the Wolshaks have an easier time finding them. Knowing that their presence usually causes fear in the small lin, the Wolshaks only send a small group of warriors with their alpha and shaman. They try to appear as peaceful yet indomitable as possible. Once both sides are sure the other won't attack, they can engage in talks and relax. Sozlin and Truzlin are rather hospitable people, after all.
Each pack is its own sovereign entity, so each pack has its own foreign relations. Most civilizations pay little mind to most packs, because they tend to avoid contact with the lin. However, especially large packs find attacking villages or ambushing travelers to be a good way to obtain metal, various interesting items, or simply glory. Their aggressive nature has earned the Wolshaks their infamy and it is why most fear them. This hurts the more peaceful packs, too, because the lin simply hunt every pack they can find, no matter if the pack has actually attacked a lin settlement or traveler before or not. They simply don't differentiate, being too afraid that every pack could cause trouble. In turn, this has made even the peaceful packs wary of the lin and led to them attacking lin who enter their territory or at least try to scare them off. It's a vicious circle caused by a few aggressive packs.
Yet hostility isn't the only foreign relation the packs know. Truzlin and Wolshak used to avoid each other when possible, but that changed when the Sokan legions pushed into the north and began enslaving both Wolshak packs and Truzlin tribes. Having a common enemy led to some Wolshak packs offering their assistance to the warbands of the Truzlin, which gladly accepted it. Some packs even outright join the warbands. Basically, the Wolshak packs and Truzlin warbands have created a coalition to drive the Sokans out of the northern lands. However, not all packs are part of it. Especially those in the far west prefer to still avoid or fight the Truzlin. To note, the Truzlin tribe themselves are not a part of this; only the Truzlin warbands, the so called Warriors of the Warg, are allied to the Wolshaks.
Sozlin tribes are usually either avoided or attacked in most cases. The former is much more common than the latter. A very small amount of packs does peacefully interact with the shore-dwelling tribes now and then. They mostly exchange wares and stories. Trading away furs for fish is a lucrative trade in the eyes of the more friendly Wolshaks. The Sozlin know that their greatest ally - the Gren Kingdom - hates the packs, which is why the Sozlin are generally wary of them. They only interact with packs which appear friendly overall and haven't done the Gren any wrong.
The Gren and Treztown's people give each pack they find a chance; either the pack's members integrate themselves into their societies or they die. Becoming a Gren is overall not all that bad. The Wolshaks may become serfs or try to make a living as free people. In Treztown, they simply become an inhabitant are free to do as they please, as long as they stick to the law. The worst part is that the Wolshaks have to give up their tribal ways. While they can still hunt or fight as mercenaries, they can't really claim to be one of Wolruk's great children anymore. After all, they gave up and became part of a lin-dominated realm.
Sokans are the worst. The legions actively seek and enslave Wolshak packs. Becoming a Sokan citizen is not an option for non-Trezlin and especially not for Wolshaks. They're seen as dumb furbags, as abominations of nature that have no place under the Sun's light. The fact that the Wolshaks worship the moons emphasizes this. Hundreds, maybe thousands of Wolshak work their life away in the various gold and copper mines of the Empire.
|Nation ▼||Relation ▼|
|Hoz Kingdom||No contact (hostile)|
|Monarchy of the Free Caverns||No contact (hostile)|
|Republic of the Zule||Minor conflict|
|Riz Tribes||No contact (hostile)|
|Sozlin Tribes||Mixed relations (peace - minor conflict)|
|Truzlin Tribes||Mixed relations (allied - minor conflict)|
|Gren Kingdom||Minor conflict|
|Blazewhips||No contact (hostile)|
|Emberspikes||No contact (hostile)|
|Fireclaws||No contact (hostile)|
|Firehorns||No contact (hostile)|
|Flamewings||No contact (hostile)|
Northern Alliance: This is more an oral agreement than a signed treaty. Truzlin and Wolshak have agreed to stop fighting each other and work together wherever they can in order to fight the Sokans.
The Wolshaks of the packs overall dislike all other factions by default. The more peaceful Wolshaks dislike them, because they expect them to be hostile towards the pack. To the most radical Wolshaks, both lin and kul are naught prey. Kul are considered prey even by the peaceful packs, because they primarily interact with Trezkul and Truzkul, who do seem like simple beasts to those who don't care to look deeply into their behaviors. The more primitive kinds of lin, namely the Truzlin and Sozlin, can earn the tolerance of Wolshaks, because they haven't really harmed the packs, unlike the Gren Kingdom and the Sokan Empire.
Truzlin are even liked by the Wolshaks who fight alongside them. The canine people approve of their determination to fight the Sokans and their willingness to make use of even brutal tactics. Frankly, the Wolshaks quite underestimated how capable the tiny, fuzzy lin can be! The tall wolf people still consider the Truzlin weak overall, but they don't dare to belittle them, knowing how fiercely they can fight.
Sozlin don't usually manage to earn the respect of the Wolshaks who do negotiate with them, but they do earn the approval of Wolruk's children for two other things: Considering the moons deities and hunting Sozkul. The former is simply something they've in common with the Wolshaks; the latter is something that somewhat impresses the bestial hunters. While Sozkul aren't the most dangerous kul out there, slaying one still requires spine and skill. Regardless, Wolshaks prefer to just do business with the Sozlin and then avoid them again.
All civilized nations of the north, so the Sokan Empire, the Gren Kingdom, and even the Free City State of Treztown, are hated by the Wolshaks. Their hostile policies regarding the canine people is to blame for that. The savage wolf people also see these lin as weaklings. They live in large groups and cower behind tall walls made out of stone. Without numbers and fortifications they're nothing but scared whelps, at least so say the tribal Wolshaks. They aren't entirely wrong. A sole, average lin warrior is likely to lose against the average Wolshak fighter. If the lin weren't so numerous and hadn't invented so many things, maybe the Wolshaks would still be the dominant people of the north.
Members of a pack share everything with each other. Personal property only exists in the shape of trinkets and weapons. Even huts are more so considered burrowed for duration of the inhabitants' life than truly owned. This social economy works only because the packs are small; everyone knows each other and cheating someone results in losing the trust of all pack members. Hoarding crucial resources, such as food, can quickly lead to becoming an outcast.
It's the job of the alpha pair to ensure there's always enough food and materials around. They have to assign their subordinates to hunting, foraging, gathering, and to crafting. This task is much easier than it may seem at first glance, because it only has to be done once. Afterwards, only slight adaptations have to be made depending on the condition and situation of the pack. The fact that any complex economic principles, such as banks, currency, or similar, are completely foreign to the packs makes their economic even simpler and more primitive.
The territories of the packs always include forests and hunting grounds. The former provides wood, plant fibers, drugs, and useful minerals; the latter provides meat, hide, and bone. In some places metal can be found as well, but the Wolshaks lack the knowledge to make use of it. So, instead of gathering it, they forcefully take it from the lin. Raiding settlements or caravans is one way for Wolshaks to acquire advanced materials and items. A few of the large packs are capable of recycling the stolen metal items and turning them into crude weapons. All in all, nothing special is produced by the packs.
Specialization is unheard of. Every Wolshak could survive on their own without an issue. Every Wolshak is able to hunt their own meals and craft their own equipment. That doesn't mean every goes out hunting and foraging all the time. Huts have to be built and spears need to be made, so some Wolshaks do to stay home now and then to do these things. Especially females who are pregnant have a lot of time to focus on crafting. Overall, Wolshaks prefer hunting over crafting. In fact, one will be hard pressed to find a Wolshak who prefers sitting in the settlement and producing items over going out into the forests to hunt and forage, regardless of their sex.
Wolshak packs produce everything they need themselves, so trade is rarely necessary. If they do exchange wares, then only with other packs. An exception to this are the packs of the eastern Boreal Zone; those do trade with the Truzlin tribes. They exchange whatever they've in surplus or whatever they require. The reason they actually do trade with the Truzlin, at least in the western half of the taiga, is the fact that they both fight together against the Sokan legions.
When Wolshaks intend to trade with someone, it is usually a tone time thing. The pack sends a messenger to the intended trade partner and agree on a time, location, and what is to be exchanged. At the agreed upon date and time, the alpha will go to the location, bringing with him a group of Wolshaks that carry the wares. Once the trade partner arrives, they check the wares and exchange them. Afterwards they part ways and return home. The Wolshaks always try to obscure where there settlement truly is, so they come from a random direction and also take a long, complex route to get home.
What is considered illegal varies from pack to pack. Most packs legalize everything.
The packs in the Temperate Zone, thanks to the abundance of food, number twenty to fifty members usually. There's a few packs who even have a hundred or more members, but these are very rare and far apart. In the taiga, the Wolshak packs can find less food nearby their stationary settlements, so they're smaller across the board. They consist of maybe ten to thirty members, children included.
No matter where the pack is located, its members are only Wolshaks usually on the younger side. This has two reasons. First and foremost the fact that Wolshaks willingly try to find an opponent they can't beat when they start getting too old to care for themselves. Secondly, they simply live dangerous lives. Beasts, diseases, even poisonous plans can end a Wolshak's life before they start growing old. Both males and females face the same dangers in their lives, but males do so slightly more often. The cause is that females are sometimes pregnant and hence can't go hunting or fighting. Having a few more females than males in a pack is thus the norm. The literacy rate is 0% due to the lack of a writing system.
Overall, the number of Wolshaks that live in the wild is a mystery. There could be a few thousands hiding in the dense, untamed wilderness, or maybe a few hundred thousands. It's unknown. However, the tribal Wolshaks certainly do not outnumber the Trezlin. The Wolshaks in the taiga do not even outnumber the Truzlin. What is also unclear is how what the ration of civilized Wolshaks to tribal Wolshaks is. The Gren Kingdom has the largest Wolshak minority of any nation, both relatively and absolutely speaking, yet they're merely a tiny minority compared to amount of Trezlin inhabitants.
The Wolshak packs are among the least technologically advanced factions in Threa. They've no schools, no universities, and no dedicated crafters that can develop methods or items. All they have is the knowledge the older generation passes down to the younger one. This has resulted in a very primitive lifestyle and an extremely slow technological progress. An utter lack of written knowledge means that the death of one pack member can lead to the loss of a lot of information. Most of the common knowledge revolves around hunting, herbs, and how to make primitive weapons and tools.
To create their homes and items, the Wolshaks primarily use parts of animals, like their skin, bones, or sinews. Wood and plant fiber is used more rarely. If they use wood, then they mostly use branches and sticks they found on the ground. Cutting down trees or breaking off branches simply leaves too obvious traces of a pack's existence. Given how much they've to hunt to feed themselves, they've gain plenty of materials from animals anyway. Metallurgy has established itself among a few of the larger packs, so metal is also a material that is in use, if only by a minority of the Wolshaks. They know how turn bronze scraps, looted from lin usually, into crude but effective weapons, tools, and armor. Weapons smithed by Wolshaks lack any kind of ornament, but they are solidly made and won't let the user down in a fight. Some of the packs that roam the lands of the Gren even managed to figure out how to work with their iron.
All in all, the technological advancement of the pack is varied. Some are slightly better off than than the Truzlin and Rizlin, while others are just about their level or even slightly beneath it. Not a single pack has managed to acquire a technological level that's anywhere close to the Gren Kingdom or the Sokan Empire.
Wolshaks aren't amazing architects. They only build a small variety of functional structures, such as huts and smokehouses. The more advanced packs also construct furnaces and forges. Very religious packs may bother building large shrines or totems. Overall, all structures have in common that they're primitive and camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings. Only the religious structures do not blend as well. This camouflage is achieved by draping branches with leaves and such over the buildings. Another common trick is building the structure right nearby a bush or attached to a tree's base, so the plant itself will start enveloping the house. Some Wolshaks even replant shrubbery to hide their buildings.
For their huts they use large bones and branches as support beams; across the gaps between the beams they stretch leather tarps. With nails made out of teeth and rope made out of sinew they fixate the leather, ensuring that it will hold even during strong winds. Usually their huts are roughly circular in shape and they offer enough space for a pair and their litter. No furniture can be found within the small huts; they only serve to keep the elements away from its inhabitants and their belongings. At most they've baskets and racks to store various things, such as smoked food or pieces of leather. Various trophies decorate the hut's inside and outside, displaying the achievements and thus the prestige of the inhabitants. In the middle of the hut is the bedding for the whole family, which is made from leathers and furs. Parents and their children sleep in the same spot, huddled up to conserve energy by sharing warmth. It also strengths the family ties between them. A fire isn't necessary; their fur keeps them warm and they can eat meat raw without trouble.
Smokehouses and other utility buildings are built in the same fashion, they may just require special materials for certain functions. Furnaces requires fireproof materials, like clay or stone. The more advanced packs know how to acquire and work with these. A smith also needs an anvil. Wolshaks rarely have enough metal to be able to spare some to make one, so instead they use a flat rock. Smithies are the only workshops the Wolshaks have. Any kind of crafting is usually done in the center of a pack's village, while sitting or squatting on furs or simply on the ground.
Settlements of the Wolshaks are made out of the simple huts described above and are always located deep within forests. They've no common shape or way that they're arranged and merge with the surrounding flora and geographic features to hide. Often the settlements can be found under overhangs, sometimes even beneath a giant oak, or within caves. A cave may not be as hidden as living somewhere in the wilderness, but it's at least a bit more defensible and the natural ceiling makes building huts obsolete.
Hiding is the best way to survive for the Wolshak packs. Fires are rarely lit; their smoke would give away the position of the village. They even refuse to fell trees because the gap in the canopy could make their position obvious. It is very important a pack's home can't be spotted from the skies, because otherwise wild kul or even Sokan Trezkul could spot them. If the Wolshaks want to hunt a kul, they prefer going to the kul instead of having the kul come to them. To detect intruders early, Wolshaks patrol their territory and station guards in trees. These sit among the tree tops, keeping their eyes open and their nostrils widened to spot beasts and foes. Usually the routes of the patrols and the positions of these guards mark the border of a pack's territory. Wolshaks don't erect effigies or totems, that would make their presence far too obvious.
Wolshaks don't built fortifications usually, because wooden towers and walls make the settlement too obvious. If a hostile beast or faction does find the settlement, their warriors will have to defeat it without the help of palisades or similar. The bestial people do build primitive traps, such as logs that swing from a branch or pits covered with leaves. Symbols known only to the pack who created the traps mark their position, so they don't claim the lives of pack members. A few packs are quite crafty when it comes to use nature to their advantage. Thorny and even poisonous bushes can be replanted to create natural barriers, that will at least momentarily stop an enemy or take some effort to remove.
Millions of years ago, Wolshaks were feral beasts. They were successful hunters, combining strength with wit that was superior to that of wargs and wolves. Only Trezkul had to be feared by them. Even the Sozlin and Trezlin couldn't stand against them. For a long time, the lin had to hide and the Wolshaks roamed. That changed when the first Trezlin began using spears, created fire, and bounded together in ever bigger tribes. Their higher intellect and the fact they're omnivorous slowly turned the tables. The rise of the lin was upon the Temperate Zone. It took thousands of years for the lin to become the dominant sapient species, but they managed.
In the last thousand years, the Wolshaks have really felt that. Lin hunted them, killed them, drove them into the woods. It became so bad that in 236 ar the Suwehbish Kingdom, the predecessor to the Gren Kingdom, managed to convince a lot of packs to join it. They didn't really have a choice; they either integrated themselves into Suwehbish society or were killed by its hunters and warriors.
The Wolshaks in the east were faring even worse. From the year 207 ar onwards, the Sokan Empire began expanding at ever greater speeds. It utterly hated Wolshaks and hunted them without remorse, banishing them to utter isolated in the thickest forests. It spread further and further, driving more and more packs into utter isolation, until in 467 ar it clashed with the Gren Kingdom and its allies in what these realms know as the Great War. That war ravaged the region nowadays known as the Bronzed Frontier. It depopulated large swaths of it, allowing the Wolshak packs to spread across it. They even managed to claim some ruined towns and built their settlements into them.
After the Great War and the following growth of the size and numbers of the packs in the Bronzed Frontier, nothing of note happened. Overall the history of the Wolshaks hasn't been noteworthy. They never founded great nations, have no common legend that they believe in, or accomplished things that had a lasting impact on the world. Of course each pack has its own history. Some managed to slay great beasts, others perhaps erased entire towns, but none ever accomplished anything that historians would write about in great detail.
Most Wolshak packs are simply trying to survive nowadays. Especially those in the Gren Kingdom have the most trouble. While technically there's more than enough land for everyone, the Gren hunters don't see it that way and wild beasts prefer to claim whatever territory they can. It's a tough life. At least the packs in the Bronzed Frontier have it relatively easy; there aren't that many lin communities there anymore. However, the Sokans are slowly reclaiming it from the southeast and especially the northeast. The good times might end within a century.
It also seems some Wolshak packs are done with hiding. In the lands of Treztown and the regions neighboring it, the reports of Wolshak raids have become much more common. Even some of the smaller towns report having spotted the scouts of the packs. What makes matters worse is that the Wolshaks who partook in the reported attacks commonly use bronze and even iron weapons. A foreign supplier isn't likely; the weapons look like they're Wolshak made. Yet something or someone seems to drive the Wolshaks to dare ever greater attacks, but what or whom? What's their cause?