The Wildlife of Alba
The wildlife of Alba is very similar to what you would expect in a setting with deep roots in pre-Roman, Great Britain and Ireland. Whilst there is a deep spiritual connection to the seven animal spirits with which the Albanni Shaman commune there are also superstitions around the many other animals living wild on Alba.
In places tame wolves are used for hunting and tracking in some villages, their offspring becoming smaller and more dependable with each generation, the pack mentality replaced by an instinct to be loyal to their providers.
Despite the beginnings of domestication occurring there are still countless wild packs roaming the wild places, forests and open plains. To the Albanni who becomes lost in the woods or stray too far from their companions there is always the real danger of becoming prey.
These reclusive large wild cats rarely threaten the livelihood of the Albanni, they are seen as a good omen in many regions, a sign that the people have not been too greedy that season and left enough for the cycle of life to continue.
In the Summerlands things can be different, rudimentary farming practices are beginning to take hold in some villages and they are a threat to young livestock when the spring comes. Whilst none would wish to see these beasts disappear there is a growing frustration amongst some communities.
The arrival of Grey Whale off shore is a sign that the fishing season will be great with communities rejoicing and holding great celebrations in their honour. Albanni children are taught to honour these gentle beasts and to despise the Formori fisherfolk who think nothing of driving them into the shallows so that they may be devoured.
Very rarely found outside of the Fenlands the migration of these majestic birds to the lands near a village are seen as a sign that the season will be fruitful and the weather tolerable. Some Shaman of the Fenlands see them as the messengers of an unseen spirit, one who guides the people through the seasons and helps them prepare in time for the arrival of winter ices.
Despite their abundance the Hare is the one animal no Albanni dare consume. The Albanni believe they have a link to the Other Place, that they can sense it approaching and find the pockets which remain accessible even during day light.
Without their guidance the dangers of the Other Place would be more difficult to spot and some especially those from the Fenlands, believe that the Doggerlanders fall could have been forseen if they had not consumed the hare in their region.
Ravens and Crows
Where there are Ravens and Crows death walks, they are a sign of things to come, a warning for travellers and a bad omen for the Warrior about to face a trial. It is more than common for Albanni to look to the trees for these black feathered birds before leaving the safety of their home for any reason. In the past more than one violent blood feud has been resolved through words alone upon the arrival of a flock of these birds. The angered parties both fearing what was to come and laying down their axes and spears.
Horses are a symbol of status and power, people believe they can sense supernatural beings and protect people against them; this goes back to the days of Doggerland when there were enormous herds of wild horses, sweeping the plains so thick that the ground could not be seen.
Chickens and Pheasants
Chickens and Pheasants have not arrived in Alba yet but there is domestication of other birds like ducks and wild geese. Swans and Cranes are common but hard to hunt. It is believed in some places that carrying totems or figurines of these birds not only increases the luck of those wishing to finding them, but also helps the bearer gain sway over the creature.
Another less common approach is to steal a wild goose egg and have it hatch, the belief being that newborn gosling will fall in love with the first person it sees, forsaking it's own kind. A slower, but easier way to start acquire a regular source of eggs.
Your village and animals?
We have included the above examples to help create a loose but shared believe around some aspects of life in the world of Alba but these are not the only creatures which roam.
Does your village have a particular relationship with certain animals local to them?
Are they revered or hated?
If this is something you would like to include in your villages traditions please feel free to let your imagination take the spot light and bring your villages culture to life.
The Feud (An Alba tale)
For three generations blood was spilled in the forest through which the river flowed. It started when hunters from the two villages disputed the right to claim the pelt of the great wolf which plagued them. In the afternoon light they circled each other, knives in hand, their bows lay down as to not sully them with murder. After a day of slashing at each other both carried wounds which would scar, the glade was now soaked in their blood and the pelt ruined.
Both parties felt aggrieved but were in no state to pursue the claim or kill the other, instead they vowed that their children, their children’s children and their children would meet this same day when they had come of age and settle the argument for good.
As the fourth generation prepared they were visited by omens, each followed a hare to the lair of the Bog Witch. The Witch promised them both supernatural assistance if they would give them the bloody wolfs pelt soaked in three generations of blood. Suspicious and wise of the Witches tricks they refused the offer. On the morning of the battle both witnessed the rare site of a herd of wild horses galloping on the hill side. They felt blessed and empowered, today would be their day surely.
Each stepped into the glade, laying down their bow as their ancestors had, taking their knife and readying themselves. As they circled each other a Raven landed on a stump within the glade, its jet black feathers distracting both hunters briefly.
As they closed in on each other they nodded respectfully to one another, acknowledging that today the argument would finally be settled and death was nearby.