Herein lie the history, genealogy, social behaviors, etc. of the Dogs of the Never Never (who someday shall have better names. Maybe.)
So, we have magic dogs, only they aren’t really magic dogs. And if they aren’t werewolves, and they aren’t fey hounds, and they aren’t ye old magical companion animals, then what are they?
So what doggie myths do we have to play with? Lots and lots of folklore about death (cheery) and guides and guardians of the otherworld. In fact for the most part dogs seem to be associated with death, so I suppose that’s as valid and angle as anything else. *ponders* Although I do worry that it might be a tad overdone, but it seems cats are much more prevalent as walkers-between-worlds in the fantasy genre. Poor dogs. 😛
The Horror Muse wants to turn them into Reapers that eat the souls of the dead, ala Dead Like Me, only much much creepier. And she’s got one horror book, I am so not giving her another. 😛
So we have, sometimes, the dog life and the dog of death (Spitak and Siaw), and sometimes one who sleep by night and another who sleeps by day (Gifr and Geri), but they are all guardians of something. A river, a gate, a castle, a set of pathways from one place to another.
Assuming we go with the Yin/Yang configuration that means there’s automatically two sides to the conflict (if there is a conflict). Thus you have the dogs of light, who guard the daytime, and dogs of darkness, who guard the night. Only daytime and nighttime are arbitrary assignments because there isn’t a hard line where one starts and the other stops (unless you go with sunset and sunrise). Which could mean that the dogs of light guard this side of the veil and the dogs of darkness guard the shadow side.
So what are they guarding? Are they keeping things in or out? The default, of course, would be that they are keeping things out, but how could the dogs affect something in the other realm? If the whole point to them guarding things is to keep the two realms separate, then they couldn’t go back and forth willy-nilly. Thus they’d sort of have to be guarding their own side and keeping people in.
Then the question becomes, are they guarding the literal gate to hell, or is it just the barrier between the dead and the living? Could at that point be the gate to Heaven just as easily. Which makes you wonder how many people in the afterlife are trying to get back out. And are the people on this side trying to get in or help someone escape?
And then why would the dogs need a human anyway? Assuming that’s why they are after Jon, they must need him for something. Even if it’s just a figurehead job, which makes me think a bit of the wild hunt, even though in most cases will make people knee-jerk ‘Fey’ and that’s not what I’m going for. But it’s a good a reason as any…
So each pack, assuming there are multiple packs, needs a huntsman. Why do they need one? Well, mayhaps because they aren’t really of either realm and they need the huntsman to ‘anchor’ themselves to the realm they are in and affect it. Which would mean an unbound pack couldn’t do anything, sort of like being out of phase?
And they’d be cycling through huntsmen because they aren’t immortal, but they don’t age. And, taking it logically, the huntsman would need to stop aging once he joins them, otherwise they’d be trading them out too often. You’d get, what, maybe fifteen good years out of a human if you needed them at the top of their game. So maybe, ‘blood of my blood’ they can bump up the lifespan, not to unaging, but just longer than normal. Which would sort of make them vampire dogs, which amuses me. ^_^
So they need him as a figurehead, mostly, but can they talk to him? I’m guessing no, since there really isn’t a need. Maybe in the long-ago they chatted, but probably only with the followers of the dog cults, which might have been offspring of huntsmen? If so that might explain why Jon can talk to dogs (very very watered down gift). And that solves on of the main issues I had about why on earth he can talk to dogs.
Ah the joys of meandering worldbuilding.
[more when I get home…]