Baghdad, Iraq

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Baghdad is a crumbling city in a harsh desert whose survival relies entirely on the river that bisects it. The jackal, dog, and wolf hybrid natives have a reputation for being shrewd merchants who exclude outsiders unless they can pay handsomely.

Table of Contents (hide)

  1.   1.  Description
  2.   2.  Culture & Lifestyle
    1.   2.1  Species
  3.   3.  History
  4.   4.  Significance
  5.   5.  References

Territory Statistics

StatusOPEN ?
AuthorMiyu
Primary SpeciesJackals, Pariah Dogs
Primary LanguageArabic
Luperci DominantYes
Population~50

1.  Description

Many Luperci find Baghdad completely inhospitable, which is why the core population remains small. It is one of the hottest cities in the world, and sees almost no rainfall year-round. The arid climate blows in dust storms from the deserts to the west, especially during the dry summers. Most Luperci would rather not risk living in an unsafe human construct, and reside in clay hovels built by their own hands and reinforced with stone and brick from the crumbled architecture. Dry heat preserves the human materials, though the river clay inevitably deteriorates and must be patched or replaced. In an effort to deter looters from the desert, families will periodically build a new hovel and leave the old one behind as a decoy; no residence is permanent.

The city-dwellers’ survival depends on the fabled River Tigris (known to natives as Dijla), which bisects the flatland territory into two halves and provides them with life-giving sustenance. The great river gives and takes, however – the dams created in human times to control the seasonal flow have since burst, and thus spring floods pose a very real risk. Structures closer to the river bank all show signs of heavy water damage, and many of them have collapsed into rubble. This includes the bridges that once connected the eastern and western halves of the city, so there are now designated ferry rafts that are hauled across by rope when crossing becomes necessary. The floods have allowed vegetation to creep from the heart of the city, which the Luperci use to sustain small herds of goats, and to grow patches of barley and grapes. Agriculture on a larger scale would not be possible with their rudimentary irrigation, but the river also allows for trade by boat as far as Istanbul, Turkey, so supplies can be obtained.

2.  Culture & Lifestyle

Unlike the humans before them, the Baghdad Luperci are small in number and cannot afford dissent. They are primarily merchants and farmers, while the males are also taught combat in case of raids. Baghdad gender roles are not strongly enforced, but the most prominent difference is that nubile females are protected by male relatives and not allowed in combat. Once a female has taken a mate and raised children, she has fulfilled her biological duty and can choose to take up arms. Family disputes are settled with a duel between male participants, either to first blood or to death depending on the gravity of the offense. Once the duel is completed, the matter is considered settled and cannot be contested again.

Mateships are arranged between families during a prosperous season. A male outsider is unlikely to be allowed to couple with a native female unless they can offer a mahr (a dower, essentially a significant gift to the prospective bride that she can choose to accept or reject based on value). A female outsider can similarly buy her way into a family name through a version of adoption, after which she would be eligible for a mateship. Typically native males remain with the family group they were born into, and females will leave to join their mate’s family, but it is not a law and is occasionally subverted. Same sex pairings are not accepted as official mateships, but are quite common for recreational purposes since they cannot result in offspring. Pregnancy outside of mateship is a severe offense and can result in exile (unless the family patriarchs can be paid to look the other way).

Overall they do not worship a religion, although hints of Islamic culture permeate some traditions such as the wearing of keffiyeh headdresses (among males and females). They have no single leader: the patriarchs of several established families convene as an informal council when decisions need to be made. (Meetings are held in the distinctive Al-Kādhimiya Mosque[1].) There is a strong sense of unity and pride among the hardy families, as failure to work together would result in all of them perishing in the harsh climate. It is therefore rare for anyone to leave their family, so groups can and do consist of several generations. Outsiders are viewed with open suspicion (especially if they are not fluent in Arabic), but they can earn their place if they prove they can pull their weight. If not, they will be exiled from the city.

2.1  Species

Luperci

Luperci-dominant, to the point of excluding those who cannot shift or forcing them to contract the virus. When a young Luperci reaches shifting age in Baghdad, it is traditional for the males to be taught river fishing and the females to be taught goat herding so that they may contribute. The larger and more established families have a civilized skill focus – namely farming crops, fermenting alcohol, weaving fabric, trading and ferrying, or constructing with clay. Their chief items of trade, other than valuables looted from the museum and mosques, are the wine and beer they produce with their modest harvest.

3.  History

The capitol city of Baghdad was founded by humans millennia ago, and had a long and rich history as a center of learning and culture. During the last century of human occupation, however, Baghdad was ravaged by conflicts and much of the city’s infrastructure was destroyed. The Iran-Iraq War[4], a notably long and bloody border dispute, ran from September 1980 to August 1988 – the tail end of which overlapped with the spread of the Luperci virus. The humans of Iraq never got a chance to rebuild, and swiftly succumbed to the pandemic. The first Luperci to rise in the area were native pariah dogs and jackals, as well as a small contingency of wolves from the Baghdad Zoo, who remained relatively feral as they scavenged the remains of civilization. Over the years that followed, the more intelligent Luperci began to realize that their population was growing while their resources were dwindling, and they needed to plan ahead so as not to starve.

Jackals, dogs, and wolves started off mistrustful, but were forced to cooperate for the greater good. They began to gather the feral goats instead of hunting them, and learned to catch fish with crude spears instead of waiting for them to wash up dead on the river banks. They formed strong bonds with each other, which would evolve into the council of families present in modern Baghdad society. Unplanned litters of puppies put a strain on all of their supplies, and that became the first edict – mating could not occur without consensus. Some of the feral Luperci refused to recognize the authority of others, and were relegated to the desert. Occasionally they formed bands and raided the Baghdad food stores, which forced the city-dwellers to organize defenses. They trained the young males to protect their mothers if their fathers were out fishing, and those males grew up to teach the same lesson to their offspring. Family groups began to take root.

Other than clashes with the raiders, the Baghdad Luperci maintained a relatively peaceful history. Traders came along the river route, exposing them to other civilized Luperci, and the need for items of value. While there is no inherent species bias in the present Baghdad, discrimination is instead focused on outsiders, especially those who do not speak Arabic. They are willing to trade and profit off of travelers and strangers, but much less likely to allow them into the family to join (unless of course they can make it worth their while). Baghdad now has a reputation in the region for being filled with shrewd merchants that are inhospitable to those who cannot pay.

4.  Significance

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5.  References