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The Sobirat'sya canines are a community of hard-working, seasonal fishermen. They live in one of the coldest, harshest parts of the world along the White Sea in the Arkhangel'sk Oblast of western Russia. The canines occupy a large former human city and use boats to fish the White Sea in summer. Canines from the area have come to 'Souls before, primarily of the Russo family -- a prominent fishing family within Sobirat'sya.
Statistics & Foundation
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- 1. Essentials
- 1.1 Geography
- 1.2 Climate
- 1.3 Flora & Fauna
- 2. Culture
- 2.1 Species
- 2.2 Luperci & Shifting
- 2.3 Language
- 2.4 Technology
- 2.5 Practices & Traditions
- 2.6 Sexuality & Gender
- 2.7 Outsider Relations & Travel
- 3. Structure
- 3.1 Law & Justice
- 4. Religion
- 4.1 Central Beliefs
- 4.2 Religious Practices
- 5. Significant Families
- 6. History
- 7. Notes & References
- 7.1 Quick Reference Index
- 7.2 Etc.
The canines here live on the outskirts of the Arkhangel'sk human city. The city lies on both banks of the Dvina River, on its delta on the White Sea. Arkhangel'sk was the chief seaport of medieval Russia.
Most of the land surrounding the city represents forested hilly landscape. Almost all of the area immediately outside of the city is covered by taiga; the coniferous forest is dominated by pine, spruce, and larch. To the south, large areas are devoid of trees and covered by swamps. In the floodplains of the rivers, especially the Dvina and its tributaries, there are lush, grassy meadows.
As Sobirat'sya is situated in the sub-arctic; temperatures are always extremely cold, rarely rising above freezing. The winters are long and harsh, and the summer is short and cool. During the summer, days are very long and nights are very short; the opposite holds true in the winter.
1.3 Flora & Fauna
Polar bears, walrus, seal, whales, reindeer, moose, Arctic foxes, otters, lynx, beavers, wolverines, and a number of other species inhabit the area.
Sobirat'sya ("together" in Russian) is used to refer to both the place itself as well as the clan that makes its home here. Resident canines are one bonded and cohesive group comprised of familial sects. Intrafamily relationships are tight and important, and interfamily relations equally so. There are several prominent Families in Sobirat'sya, and numerous individual families. However, much of the area's population consists of transients and drifters. Wolves are by no means unaccustomed to the part of the world where Sobirat'sya is located, yet Sobirat'sya remains a small settlement, unlikely to grow in size. Many canines in this northern part of the world are drifters, feral, or otherwise simply disconnected by long stretches of unpopulated land between their territories.
- Canines of Sobirat'sya are primarily Tundra Wolves.
- There is a good deal of dog heritage, as well -- the Siberian Husky and Samoyed in particular.
- There is a substantial population of Russian Wolves, though this is mostly due to the existence of the Russo family.
- Gray Wolves, originating from Kiev, have also settled in Sobirat'sya.
2.2 Luperci & Shifting
All canines of Sobirat'sya are Luperci. Shifting is common, and many Luperci choose to live out their lives in Optime form. Optime-form Luperci are seen almost exclusively in the summertime. During the wintertime, however, the Lupus and Secui forms are strongly preferred for their heightened abilities in the snow and cold.
Russian is the language spoken by all canines in Sobirat'sya. Other languages maybe spoken by individual residents, but the "official" language is Russian. Reading is a far more common pursuit than writing, and most Sobirat'sya canines learn how to read via the small library kept in the city. Writing is a rarer pursuit, and only three or four canines in all of Sobirat'sya know how to write. Canines who do know how to write often have difficulty learning to write languages using an alphabet other than Cyrillic, of course.
Most canines in Sobirat'sya are underexposed to human technologies in comparison to Europe as a whole; still, in comparison to 'Souls, the Sobirat'sya canines are rather advanced.
- Sobirat'sya canines will pick through the remnants of human society in the hopes of finding metal, stone, and other building materials.
- In summer, wood is felled in great numbers to stock the firest for winters. A communal building houses a great stockpile, free for anyone to use.
- Boating and seafaring technologies are most important to Sobirat'sya canines. The Russo family is able to use and restore old human boats.Restoring human boats and sailing in general is a dangerous business even in experienced Sobirat'sya; boating accidents are a common end for unfortunate canines in this area.
- Sobirat'sya canines have learned processes for distillation of alcohol as well as food preservation methods (smoking and salting).
- Sobirat'sya canines have also learned processes of distilling seal and whale fats for their oils. This liquid has proven invaluable in Sobirat'sya; along with seal pelts and furs, huge trade prices can be found in the southern city of Moscow.
- Books are highly valued in Sobirat'sya -- the canines keep a very small, meager library of books (all of which are written in Russian) which all residents are free to use.
The Kola Borehole, located on the Kola Peninsula (across the White Sea and north of Sobirat'sya) was abandoned in 2008. This image was taken four years later in 2012, to give you an idea of the feats of destruction the elements are capable of in this part of the world.
Most residents of the Sobirat'sya area live in decaying human homes. Much of the city has been destroyed, decimated by the frigid temperatures and harsh atmosphere of Sobirat'sya. The few remaining buildings are kept in relatively good shape by the Luperci, though the Sobirat'sya canines have only primitive techniques. The parts of the city not used for Sobirat'sya residences -- there is plenty of it -- is often used for scavenging.
It is worthwhile noting: due to the extremes of temperature in this area of the world, things deteriorate very fast. There are few buildings still completely standing; the homes primarily used by the Sobirat'sya canines are brick, stone, and other sturdy construction: nothing else lasts here. Some Sobirat'sya canines have even taken to living in underground basements, cellars, and bunkers, as these structures seem less likely to collapse -- and are warmer, besides.
Fishing and Hunting
During the summer months, the canines of Sobirat'sya traverse the White Sea in restored and rickety boats. They fish the coasts, rivers, and sometimes deeper waters of the White Sea -- and they are not the only ones. Competition between other villages along the White Sea can and does occur; though the canines of Sobirat'sya are the best-situated to travel south to Moscow and trade thanks to the Dvina River, other White Sea villages can do the same.
Although the Russo family owns the boats, their industry is still vital to and shared by most of the canines within Sobirat'sya. This fishing, and the trading of fish and suppies southward, constitutes much of the economy within Sobirat'sya. Vast amounts of smoked, dried, or otherwise preserved fish are stored for winter; without these stockpiles, the Sobirat'sya canines would likely starve. Much of their fish and whale/seal oils are traded to Moscow for supplies.
Sections of Fishing Industry
There are a few different areas in which a canine of Sobirat'sya might labor:
- The fishermen themselves, who go out on the boats.
- The people who clean, cook, or otherwise prepare the fish.
- Most of the Chezov family, Fayina Russo, Avdotya Russo
- The traders who head south.
Named for the river flowing through Arkhangel'sk into the White Sea. The Dvina is a small fishing skiff; the fishermen use her close to the shore, and sometimes traverse up the Dvina River herself in this boat.
The "Winter Queen" is a two-masted dogger used for fishing on the White Sea, and for off-shore hunting.
2.5 Practices & Traditions
Vices and hedonism are common -- even culturally enforced, such as in the partying and celebration in the spring and fall, as well as the traditional occupations of drinking and swapping stories in winter. Addiction is common within Sobirat'sya, though many canines are functional addicts. Those unable to deal with their issues aren't really given much help or assistance; it is expected one should pull one's own weight in the group.
- Many canines in Sobirat'sya are avid drinkers; marijuana and other drugs from the south are in high demand.
- Dice games, card games, and anything that can be gambled upon is loved within Sobirat'sya. It's easy to lose rank and respect through too much gambling; despite the lack of property and financial loss associated with gambling problems as in human society, this vice can easily spiral out of control.
Silas Agata, displaying an eyebrow piercing typical to Sobirat'sya canines.
- Eyebrow Piercing: Upon adulthood, canines are generally given an eyebrow piercing. The preferred jewelry is silver; no preference is given to the type of stone set into the piercing. Recovered human jewelery is often used.
- Momentous Occasions: After completing some large, exceptionally difficult task or otherwise proving oneself useful, canines are given an ear piercing. Canines of great prestige have upwards of twenty ear piercings.
- Tattooing: Canines of Sobirat'sya, especially those who sail the seas, will tattoo themselves with symbols of luck. These symbols are thought to keep a boat from sinking; "unmarked sailors" are highly mistrusted and sometimes mysteriously drowned.
Winter is Sobirat'sya's longest season, and its harshest. Sunlight hours are brief during this time; darkness and cold reigns supreme. Sobirat'sya canines spend much of this time hunting prey in the vast forests to the north and east; with the deep snows, hunting is plentiful. Nonetheless, their diet is supplemented with dried fish. When not hunting, the canines huddle in their buildings with ever-burning fires and swap stories. Drinking is common during the winter season, and many puppies are conceived, too. Summer is the season of love, joy, and all that is good for Sobirat'sya -- though it is a harsh time, it is the happiest time.
With the autumn comes the storms. While the Sobirat'sya canines continue to fish through much of the fall season, they rarely stray far from Arkhangel'sk. The catches grow smaller, the days more dangerous. When the first ice is spied on the shoreline, the boats are beached for the winter. Sobirat'sya has many parties and celebrations during the brief autumn; the canines are celebrating the summer past, and partying hard just in case they don't live to see the spring. All the happiness returns to Sobirat'sya with the fall.
The summer is the busiest season for Sobirat'sya. The boats traverse the White Sea and the Dvina, bringing in catches of fish and seal and transporting these items southward. Sleep is scarce during the summer, and pretty much everyone is on complete edge. There is little time for play, drink, sex, or even food during the summer. Many children have found their jovial parents working zombies during summer; children foolish enough to press too hard or cavort too loudly quickly find snappish demons in the place of their formerly loving parents (it's that bad!).
Though the summer is the season of life for Sobirat'sya, nobody really likes it and everyone is unhappy. A rare canine likes sailing and fishing enough to "not really mind summer," but canines of this nature generally do not last long in Sobirat'sya -- they head south for warmer waters.
Spring is celebrated with a massive, week-long celebration, infamous for its ability to induce even the most stoic canine of Sobirat'sya to a drunken and slobbering mess. The rest of the spring is spent recovering from this celebration (and preparing for summer -- i.e., getting the boats and everything else ready). The mood near the end of spring is altogether somber; each canine old enough knows what is coming with the summer.
2.6 Sexuality & Gender
Sobirat'sya does not speak about sexuality. Unlike other vices, in public company sex is simply not discussed. Children aren't given a sex talk, and the Sobirat'sya canines typically just avoid sex and sexuality conversations entirely, generally even very close sisters (as anywhere else, there are exceptions, but this is a widespread cultural tradition, so it would be very rare). There are numerous taboos associated with sex:
- Not becoming mates with the father/mother of one's children is heavily looked down upon, though this is worse for the woman than the man.
- Homosexuality is not acceptable, nor polyamory or any forms of alternative mateship.
- Adultery is treated extremely harshly, perhaps even punishable by law. Divorcing with a mate isn't cool, but it's not forbidden -- adultery is therefore considered an extremely bad thing to do.
- Fetishes and kinky sex are way, whoa, totally bad. Someone who spent a lot of time down south in Moscow got caught doing something raunchy some years back; they were essentially made an omega and eventually shunned out of Sobirat'sya.
2.7 Outsider Relations & Travel
- Moscow: Sobirat'sya enjoys a good trade relationship with the southerly city. Useful items come north; large amounts of fish and strong vodka flow south.
- Travlers and Drifters: Canines of Sobirat'sya are extremely welcoming to outsiders. Travelers and drifters are welcomed with open arms. This is due to the harshness of their climate -- the kindness of strangers and the warm fires in a settled place can be life-saving at times.
The primary route into and out of Sobirat'sya by walking or riding horses along the old human railways. The railway passage must be taken on foot or horseback, of course, as there are no working trains. Parts of this route may become impassable in winter, and canines wishing to enter or exit the northerly city are well-advised to keep travels to the spring and summer months. Even with this pathway through the harsh Russian countryside, the completely overland trip is rather treacherous no matter the season. Fortunately, the Sobirat'sya canines have a solution for that.
Sobirat'sya to Moscow.
The Dvina River provides the most important link between Sobirat'sya and Moscow. The length of the Dvina and its major tributary, the Southern Dvina, is 1,302 kilometres (809 mi). In summer the rivers are completely navigable; they were heavily used for timber rafting in the days of humanity. The sister rivers now join Sobirat'sya with southerly Volgorad, which allows for a quicker overland trip (only 468 km [291 miles]) to Moscow.
Sailing out of the White Sea into the Berents Sea or the Arctic Ocean is exceedingly dangerous. Few attempt it; more than one experienced Sobirat'sya sailor thought to do so, and never returned. Ships do not travel to Sobirat'sya from any other oceanic port; the only visiting ships hail from other ports along the White Sea.
Individual families act quite a lot like packs, while the broader Sobirat'sya area has a ranking system all its own, complementing a pack's ranking system (e.g., if a Chezov ranks lower than another Chezov within the family, outside of the family it is the same -- but a Russo might outrank both of them).
3.1 Law & Justice
- There is no overarching, single leader of all Sobirat'sya.
- Each family generally has a Patriarch or Matriarch, and that family leader leads his or her own canines, makes decisions for his or her own family, etc.
- Captains of ships are not necessarily leaders of families, but are nonetheless treated like one. Captains -- and crewmembers -- sometimes have to make decisions that conflict with family or ship.
- There is a definite sense of morality and right and wrong; no one would think twice about getting smashed or smoking a joint, truly heinous behavior is dealt with swiftly. Murder, kidnapping, rape, robbery, etc. are examples of heinous behaviors. However, there is little competition or crime in Sobirat'sya; most of their competition is with the harsh wilderness that is their reality. There are black sheep and disliked persons, of course, but exile is rare.
4.1 Central Beliefs
The Russo domovoi, or house spirit, which sometimes appears in the form of a transparent, pallid husky
The Sobirat'sya canines primarily practice a vaguely Pagan polytheism with elements of the Slavic religion. Loosely defined and without any mandatory or organized ceremonies, rituals, churches, or moral codes, the Sobirat'sya religion does not even have a name. Everything is passed down verbally -- though some Sobirat'syans can write, no one thus far has bothered to write anything about the religion.
There is very little heavy worship; "religious fervor" is not a known condition amongst the wolves and wolf-dogs born into Sobirat'sya. Sailors tend to be the most religious; even then, they tend toward strong superstition, rituals of luck and protection, etc. rather than direct worship. Nonetheless, pretty much everyone believes in the gods, Veles, spirits, etc.
A major supernatural force of earth, waters and the underworld. Veles is the power that makes the tides, wind, fish, etc.. While the gods have dominion of their places and seasons, Veles is the thing that makes the sun and moon cross the skies and rouses waves in Stribog's water. Canines each have a piece of Veles -- likened to the soul -- that is extinguished with death.
Major gods and goddesses include:
- Stribog: God of wind, cold, and sea. Representative of the White Sea in particular; chiefly worshipped among the Sobirat'sya canines.
- Jarilo: God of forest, fertility and spring; associated with autumn and harvest.
- Kresnik: Goddess of sun, fire, and the summer solstice.
- Sventevith: Goddess of moon, war, and abundance; associated with spring.
- Zaria: Goddess of sand, shore, and wave. Zaria is mistrusted in Sobirat'sya since a ship bearing her name went down in 2010.
- Perun: God of thunder, lightning, and storm. Perun is sometimes characterized as the lover of Zaria; he enjoys her mistrust since 2010.
- Ziva: Goddess of the deep sea; feared and never given offerings. Her attention and notice is not wanted.
Domovoi -- "House Spirits"
Domovoi, or house spirits, "protect the house from other spirits but ... often play havoc." Domovoi can be aggressive and sort of like poltergeists if not properly appeased with offerings (food, tokens, etc). Domovoi are often ancestral members of Sobirat'syan families. Sobirat'syan ships even have Domovoi; one can be sure these Domovoi are among the most well-sated in all of Sobirat'sya.
Vodyanye -- "Water Spirits"
Vodyanye are water spirits (seas, rivers, lakes, etc. all have Vodyanye -- down to the tiniest spring). Vodyanye can be playful or harmful; they are often a bit of both. Vodyanye at sea can protect ships -- or they can wreck them. Unlike Domovoi, they cannot be appeased with offerings. Vodyanye are considered instruments of the deep sea goddess, Ziva; offerings to the ship's Domovoi and Stribog (god of the White Sea) are thought to keep the Vodyanye at bay.
4.2 Religious Practices
To the southwest of Sobirat'sya, in Onega Bay of the White Sea, there is a small archipelago of several islands -- on one of these islands is the Solovetsky Monastery, generally used by the Sobirat'sya canines to bury their dead. Of course, the Solovki islands, as they are known by the Sobirat'sya canines, are only accessible in the summertime.
5. Significant Families
Russo / Russo Offboard
The Russo family is where the Sobirat'sya area gets its prevalence of Russian wolves. Though the subspecies is not native to the area, the founding members of this family moved to the area.
A wolf-dog family nearly as old as the Russos and somewhat intertwined with them. Known for their production of high-content alcohol. These canines are mostly Siberian Huskies and wolf-dogs; none of the Chezovs are completely wolf, and finding one with more than a quarter wolf is rare.
A sibling pair of Siberian Huskies from another village on the White Sea; they made their way to Sobirat'sya in the spring of 2013, their entire village having perished from illness and starvation in the previous winter.
The Molotov family is a small family with wolf and dog blood (primarily Tundra Wolf). The Molotovs are especially good hunters; in the depths of winter, a few members of this family always manage to take down a large deer.
A Ukranian family originally from Kiev. These canines are Gray Wolves. A number of the Domitrovich family travel south to Moscow for trade (primarily in summer). They are integral to the other families living within Sobirat'sya and Moscow both, providing a lifeline to the outside world for one and a supply of food for the other.
- Agata: A tiny family of coyotes. (Verusha Agata)
6.1 Influence on 'Souls
Rurik Russo, Thorn Russo, Silas Agata, Marya Russo, Liliya Russo, Anatoliy Russo, Marishka, Ksenija Russo, Vasiliy Russo
6.2 Sobirat'sya History
- 1993: The first rickety boat is built. It sinks two brief journeys later. The boat-building continues undeterred.
- 1994: A large group of Russian Wolves arrives in Sobirat'sya. The group moves on after wintering; some remain in Sobirat'sya, however. Among them are Vasiliy Russo (not Vasiliy Russo -- his great-great granddaddy <3) and his mate, as well as Zinoviya Miloslav's parents.
- 1996: The first boat capable of crossing the White Sea is built, manned by ten Luperci. The first journey across the White Sea occurs three months later.
- 1997: Someone figures out how to salt and dry fish so they keep much longer.
- 1998: The Domitrovich family arrives in Sobirat'sya. The first named ship of Sobirat'sya, the Onega, is believed to have been swept down the Kandalaksha Gulf and out to the Barents Sea in a storm.
- 1999: A book reveals a few more drying techniques to the Russos: salting, smoking, and aging with birch ash (lol they basically made Finnish lutefisk?).
- 2000: Somebody figures out how to get oil from blubber obtained from seals and whales.
- 2001: The first trip southward to Moscow on the Dvina occurs. The first horses are brought back north on the return trip; the Domitrovich family was somewhat overwhelmed by the value of the items they brought south and didn't really know what to do. Most of the horses die in the first winter; the next trip southward, they bring back sturdier, shaggy-furred horses.
- 2006: A small family of immigrant coyotes moved to Sobirat'sya. To the shock of all the wolves, managed to survive (albeit with a few extra layers in the winter).
- 2007: The Korolyeva More is obtained in a small port on the Norwegian coast, a several-years-long process:
- The canines stockpiled their alcohol (which did not perish), furs, and as much oil as they could (though a considerable portion went rancid over the years they tried to stockpile), along with furs and anything else they could carry on horseback.
- A group of fifteen Sobirat'syans travel overland to the area with all the wealth Sobirat'sya possessed and obtained the ship. The ship was waiting in the small Norwegian port only by efforts of a member of the Domitrovich family, who had (a year previously) traveled even further to London to arrange the trade in the first place.
- These fifteen canines successfully guided the ship around the coastline and into the White Sea. Any who were aboard this voyage pretty much refer to it as the worst time of their lives and the most dangerous thing ever -- the few who will talk about the experience in detail describe raging storms, unimaginable ice, and constant snow -- in summer. Whether they are spinning tales or speaking truth is unlikely to be determined, as neither the Korolyeva or any other boat of Sobirat'sya will travel out of the White Sea.
- 2010: A Sobirat'sya ship bearing the name Zaria sank, killing all souls aboard.
- 2013: A pair of Siberian Huskies, the Rezovka siblings, arrive in the spring; their entire village was decimated by illness and starvation through the winter.
7. Notes & References
7.1 Quick Reference Index