I think I've finally got a title. How does "The Clockwork Dog" sound?



Turnspit is an anĂºs, like the rest of the people who are kidnapped with him; however, when he and Iros go to human lands, the locals may consider him an apostate or a heretic, since he won't leave Iros. He remembers his own religion in bits, and tries to keep it up, but he isn't in contact with any other believers, has no religious texts, and has completely lost track of the calendar. Also, the aughisky and the local humans think he's *crazy* instead of not understanding he's trying to be faithful.

His relationship with Iros is something he's deeply ambivalent about. It violates religious laws -- against sex between men, against bestiality (they're *not* the same species), etc. On the other hand, Iros is his protector and the longer it goes on, the more intertwined they are; Turnspit knows that he'd be a lot worse off if Iros wasn't around. Also, the sex is *good*, when he lets himself enjoy it.

Iros shares a stud-farm with his sister Woodsmoke. She's human, he's aughisky. They have the same mother, different fathers (hers was human, his was a selkie) and are close enough in age that they were raised together by the same human wet-nurse. Iros considers Woodsmoke a friend (much more significant to an aughisky that a relative), and tracked her down when he finished his novitiate.

Woodsmoke is much better at day-to-day care of a stud-farm (or anything requiring more than 6 people, really) than Iros. She runs it, Iros brings home wealth in the form of horses, humans, or other livestock every year. She has several children, and is raising Iros' one child (aughisky only reckon descent through the mother, and Iros is only rarely female) because he, like most augisky, doesn't care to do it. They do a good business breeding horses, mules, and mammoth jackstock.

Aughisky are generally poor parents. Most babies are weaned quickly and dumped into the care of human nurses. This is an artifact of the Before-time, when the Queen lived and the aughisky had a *very* different function; they didn't usually raise their own children then, and mostly lost the knack for it.

They grow about the same rate as humans, but when they hit puberty, they go insanely combative and are driven out of the settlement by the adults. Then they spend the next several years in the wilderness (Wilders), basically wired on a hairtrigger and fighing each other; adults will shoot at them during this time, to keep them away from humans and livestock, which they will gladly steal and eat. When the hormonal storm dies down, an aughisky comes to the nearest settlement and becomes a novitiate; that's a period of learning how to behave around people again, and can last years. The novitiate usually ends at with the first pregnancy.

Twins are common, and have to be separated at birth -- babies are born with teeth and infant siblingcide attempts are usual. Since aughisky will often breed with humans (expanding the gene pool, which bottlenecked at the Queen's Death), the first thing checked is the sex of the newborn, and whether it has teeth. A girl with teeth is almost certainly aughisky; a boy, or a girl without teeth is probably, though not certainly, human (or whatever the father was -- selkie, or very occasionally Brock).

The 'sleeping world' is the way aughisky refer to death. Dreams are brief visits to the world of the dead, and the dead are only sleeping. The belief is in reincarnation -- the dead wake into a new life -- is part of the reason that aughisky are so fearless.

Aughisky take Dogs from the human workforce. The ceremony is simple, but needs two witness -- aughisky witnesses, though other Dogs will do in a pinch because they are considered to have be eyes and ears of their aughisky under common law. Not all aughisky take Dogs, but enough do that they are familiar. Almost all Dogs are female and 'tame' (humans living with aughisky for generations), if not actually descended from aughisky or previous Dogs. Male Dogs are rarer, because aughisky consider human males less reliable, less compentant, and more fragile. If an aughisky has two Dogs (rare, but Crowther is an example), the second Dog will usually be male.

Turnspit stands out because he's 'wild', male, keeps acting weird (keeps his religion) and a pale-skinned blond among people who are dark. The fact that he also very attractive by aughisky standards -- tall, hawk-faced, slim -- if you ignore the bizarre coloring makes him stand out like a white raven. Iros is sometimes thought as vain, as Turnspit is as showy as a palomino.
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