When the regulations were first established, the third species were transported from holding sites to various locales around the globe. Each time a balance was ensured – either vampires or lycans would be the majority species in each of the cores. The aim behind this was to ensure peace across locales. If a minority group was mistreated in one, their equivalent could be on the receiving end of retaliation in another. Yes, word does spread between locales.
However, maintaining this balance meant that sometimes three or four lycan packs were moved to the same location whilst other packs were split and spread across locales, left to reform in their new so-called ‘temporary’ homes. This is what happened to Jask, hero of Blood Torn.
One of the most interesting aspects for me with introducing lycans into Blackthorn was the different social structure they brought with them in comparison to vampires.
Blackthorn vampires are primarily solitary in nature. Outside of the new world created by the regulations, their loyalty would be first and foremost to the same bloodline (family). Their social network would be classed as acquaintances rather than friendships, with loyalty earned from evidence. As part of their nature, they have an aura of clinical indifference to those who fall outside of the remit.
But now, under the new order, vampires, who are the majority third species in the locale around which the Blackthorn series is based, are forced to socialize within boundaries (which includes venturing into Lowtown if they so choose). In order to survive, they have to tolerate each other and, with it, change elements of their behaviour to compensate. (Don’t worry, I broke it to Kane and Caleb gently…from a distance…)
Don’t let this be misleading though – vampires will band together like any other species for their survival. However, when it comes to banding together, this is an art form for lycans…
By instinct, my Blackthorn lycans are a pack species. I have to say that because nowhere is there a hard and fast rule that this is how lycans should operate. In fact, in many references to lycan mythology they are frequently portrayed as lone creatures. But if you take into account their wolf heritage (an inherent gene in Blackthorn lycans), it only seems natural to make that an attribute of their behaviour. More importantly to the series, it makes lycans a contrasting species to their vampire counterparts.
So here are some wolf facts that might prove useful if you’re planning on getting to know Jask’s pack any time soon…
- The wolf pack consists of a strict social order, with the leaders known as alphas regardless of gender. The alpha male and female lead the pack as equals.
- The alphas are not always the biggest wolves in the pack, but they are the toughest and the most respected – the latter due to their ability to dominate and take down anyone who challenges their position. And it is their repeated success against opposition that secures their position.
- Alphas have duties. They make the daily decisions, initiate defense attacks or hunting trips, keep the pack in line and harmonious, and are the primary caregivers.
- Betas are the male or female most likely to replace the current alpha of the same gender.
- Those too young to enter the pack’s social hierarchy look to adults or wolves older than themselves for guidance.
- Wolves see well at night due to having more night vision cells than humans do. They also have larger pupils that allow them to gather more light when it’s muted.
- They can smell their prey from as far away as a mile and a half.
- Their hearing is extremely advanced, picking up sounds up to 10 miles away depending on the environment. They can also hear sounds undetectable to human ears – both in terms of high and low pitches.
- Wolves are very social animals and form strong bonds with their pack.
- Cooperation and order is integral to their success, with all members working together e.g. to develop complex hunting strategies.
- Wolves will aggressively defend their territories from other packs or threats. And if put into abnormal situations (such as small enclosures) instead of shying away, they can become more violent to protect themselves.
- A pack works collectively to care for and teach their young. Puppies will always be adopted by another female (or even another pack) if need be.
- Wolves like proximity to a water source. Great swimmers, they are fond of water and will use it for play and relaxation (which is why all good zoos will have a water feature in the wolf enclosure).
- Wolves are very communicative with each other and play fighting is common during relaxation time.
- Like humans, wolves use eye contact and eye position as a form of social communication and bonding, including using it for greetings and dominance behaviors. A wolf can use eye contact to examine another’s mental state.
- If a wolf is showing signs of hostility, returned eye contact can lead to an altercation. A smart submissive wolf will avert their gaze when a dominant wolf confronts them, with the most submissive eye posture being averted eyes wide enough to show the whites (just like with humans).
- A fixed and aggressive stare directly into a wolf’s eyes is a blatant challenge of that wolf’s status. If directed at a dominant wolf, a fight is likely to ensue. High-ranking wolves will use ‘the stare’ to assert rank over pack members or to challenge an ‘outsider’.
- The alpha male and female pair for life. But it’s not all sweetness and light – certainly not in the beginning. Alpha females have no shame in being the instigator and alpha males, in turn, can be grouchy in response. The greeting ritual is usually tense. Forget being on bended knee and playing gentle, it is not uncommon for alpha males to spar with their potential mate – all very playfully of course – until a mutual understanding is met. Sounds like an ideal basis for a dark paranormal romance to me!
That’s the last lycan insight post for now. I hope you’re feeling more prepared for what’s to come. Blood Torn will be with us before we know it. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little bit excited…
* Please note: I cannot verify the accuracy of anything in this post beyond references to my own works of fiction. I am not claiming any independent research outside of what is widely available from a broad variety of sources. Some of my notes are years old so impossible to trace back.