Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Dog Who Speaks Softly and the Woman Who Barks Like a Dog


The Dog-Headed Men of the barbarian north feast on the flesh of their fellow men. They go hunting with their spears and lances, pouring forth on horseback to slay woman, man, eunuch, and child. The naked bodies slung over their mounts, their packs full of stolen silver, they return to their homes in the wilderness. The nomad Dog-Men wear necklaces of human teeth and spheres of silver. They take perverse pleasure in desecrating the idols of the gods of the Enlightened Empire's Good Religion. In the east, the Dog-Headed Men of generations past seized the lands beyond the Empire and formed their own kingdom, at the crossroads of west and east. The Dog-Headed Men of this land do not act so wildly, but instead keep their fellow man in outdoor preserves and cook them up in high brow ways. The eastern Dog-Men wear gold and rich silks and long gloves that reach up to their elbows.

The fire-priests of the Good Religion use the Dog-Headed Men as a moralistic example of what not to do. Their cannibalism is a most heinous sin, and one which suffuses their whole bodies with uncleanliness, but they are not unclean by nature. Humans are never unclean by nature. Rather, the Dog-Headed Men worship daevas and sully their holy form with cannibalism. The mobads refuse any Dog-Man who does not abandon meat for the flesh of fish and flora (the life furthest from manflesh in all respects). 

It is a well-known fact that the gaze of a dog dispels unclean spirits. The Dog-Headed Men despise dogs (the mobads say because the demons riding on their backs fear the dog's gaze, the Dog-Men say because domesticated dogs are just disgusting and uncanny). When descending on a town, they bash the heads in of the people's hounds and leave their bodies to rot. They fear and hate wolves as well, culling them in the wilderness and sacrifice them in mass pyres and ashen burials. 

The Dog Who Speaks Softly
In the city of Humakuyun, the port of the north, there dwells a lone Dog-Headed man. His new name is Pesir Khub, and he hates to hear his old name. He wears his hair cropped close to his head, and is clad in a green cloak that descends over his whole body. He lives with a local wife (a woman without a dog's head named Somayeh), and has a single daughter (Elnaz) cursed with dog-headedness. He despairs over his daughter's already present taste for flesh.

Pesir Khub moved to Humakuyun from a town on the borderlands with the barbarian north. He was member of a group of Dog-Men who bowed before the governing authority there and took part in the rituals of the local shrine, abandoning their ways. Taken into the employ of the temple, he traveled to Humakuyun with an entourage of similarly converted Dog-Headed Men (although he kept with him a wooden idol of a Dog-Man god, stained red from soaked blood). On the way there, his companions were attacked by bandits and slaughtered, leaving him and a young temple functionary to flee across the wilderness to the port city. He was the first Dog-Headed Man to live in Humakuyun for some time (there were several Dog-Headed Women there when he arrived), and he disavowed bloodshed for the second time in his life. He had his canines removed so that he may never again puncture the arteries of a man, and for this reason he speaks with a lisp, and mutters quietly to avoid barking brashly as the Dog-Men do. He is ashamed of who he is. He keeps a pale greyhound to keep himself beneath its baleful gaze.

One day, he returned home to find his daughter gnawing on a bird. She took to crawling around on all fours and snatching at flitting insects and crawling lizards with her gnashing teeth. She still has the canine fangs her father tore from his mouth. She is sixteen years of age now, and sneaks out at night to do things her father and mother do not know. He fears his own daughter.

Pesir Khub is a level two fighter but does not carry weapons. He can speak and understand the speech of the Dog-Men, but refuses to utter any of its words. His most valued possessions are his dog and his hidden bloody idol, and his greatest loves are his wife, his daughter, and his work.

She's like this but more chainmail and with a sword (also it was Really hard to find a suitable picture of a chainmail-clad barbarian woman)

The Woman Who Barks Like a Dog
Among the Dog-Headed tribe of Kanashan, there lives a woman without a dog's head. She only goes by the name Half-Moon, and she bellows out wildly and harshly when the tribe goes on hunts. She is a warrior of the Dog-Men, who left her life in the fertile valleys of the Enlightened Empire to join the people who ate her neighbors. She was gracious to them for doing so; the very ones they devoured were the ones who tormented her for her blemishes, her clumsiness, and her quietness. When they gulped down the flesh of the firebrand preacher, she saw the man who ordered her exiled into the forest for perversion destroyed in cosmic justice. Despite everything that the mobads say about the Dog-Headed Men, about the daevas that ride upon their backs and the heinous sin of cannibalism that curses their whole people, she was saved by the rapacious rampages of the Kanashan Dog-Men. And so she joined them.

Half-Moon walks on all fours when she is not riding a horse. She finds it an easier way to move around than shakily stepping around on two feet. She keeps her hair long and unkempt, and wears mail armor and cloaks that drape over her body as she crawls around. She used to speak haltingly in Shahanistani, but now issues orders to her fellow dog-warriors in the barking tongue of the Dog-Men. But she refuses to eat the flesh of men, instead hunting beasts in the forest and snatching the burnt flesh of wolf-sacrifices. She leaves the cannibalism to her Dog-Man benefactors.

Half-Moon is a level four fighter who wields a long rusted sword as her primary weapon. She lives in a yurt that she can tear down and carry with her on her horse. She collects trinkets and baubles and curiosities, and is fond of little things that catch her eye. She never wants to return to Shahanistan.

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