Originally created in the third version of Wild Wolf Society, the Nereides are a fictional dynasty of wolves heavily inspired by the Nereids, Sirens, and Amazons of Greek mythology.
The Nereides are a matriarchal society, with females considered divine daughters of the Mother Sea & Mother Moon, and males treated as little more than a necessary tool for reproduction (in particular). Females are typically known as sirens, and males are referred to as consorts. Each gender has their own hierarchy, with the consort hierarchy beginning after the lowest-ranking female.
Females of the Nereides dominate the higher ranks of their pack structure, led by a Matriarch (often called Mitéra, or Mother). In addition to leading the pack as any other alpha might, the Matriarch is also considered a great spiritual leader that can communicate with the Sea; through her, the Sea's Will is commanded. It is the Matriarch that leads the most sacred rituals of the Nereides, all centered around fertility and the birth of new daughters.
Below the Matriarch are her two advisors, both High Priestesses in the Nereides culture. Generally, these sirens aid the Matriarch in her leadership — performing various rituals, aiding in deciphering the Sea's Will, and leading the pack when the Matriarch is busy with other matters.
Adepts are generally well-versed in Nereides culture and religion, and are capable of performing rituals unaided. This is where most Nereides fall on the spectrum, either because they do not have the drive to complete the required training to become a High Priestess, or because they are content with spending their time in other ways. Regardless, this is still a respectable title that signifies complete immersion in the Nereides way of life.
Initiates are just beginning to learn the deeper aspects of the Nereides religion, but have proven themselves to be full-fledged members. They are beginning to learn how to perform their own rituals, and spend much of their time being educated by their higher ranked sisters. They have accepted the Nereides way of life and obey the traditions laid down by the generations before them. If not born to a Nereides, it is at this point that a wolf takes the Nereides surname.
Before a wolf becomes a full-fledged Nereides, they are known as Neophytes. They are only just beginning to learn about the Nereides way of life, and have yet to accept it as their own. In familial packs, juveniles are typically the only Neophytes; in packs that accept non-Nereides with the goal of conversion, Neophytes may be of any age. If it is believed that a Neophyte is not suitable to advance to Initiate status, they are exiled.
Young female pups of the Nereides are referred to as Sprites.
Each Nereides is assigned an aspect that most accurately reflects their talents, and this aspect often changes over the course of their life. Typically, most Nereides start out as either Amazon or Nymph and work towards an ultimate goal of becoming a balanced Siren, but in some cases a Nereides will choose to emphasize and strengthen their physical or spiritual nature instead.
- Siren: An aspect in which the character is considered balanced, physically and spiritually.
- Nymph: An aspect in which the character is considered more spiritual than physical.
- Amazon: An aspect in which the character is considered more physical than spiritual.
Males in the culture are not given the Nereides surname, and are typically treated with varying degrees of apathy and hatred by the Sirens. They are viewed as little more than tools, used by the Nereides to achieve their own goals. Their most important use is in the fertility rites performed during the breeding season, but have also been used as mindless and obedient soldiers — defending the pack's territory, sent to raid other packs, and even capture other males to diversify the genetic pool of the pack.
At the top of the male hierarchy, but still below even the lowest ranking female, sits the Epivitoras; a word that translates roughly to "sire", or "stallion". Generally, he is the most prized and valuable of the consorts; although not loved by the sirens, and barely respected by them, he has accepted his place in the world and sometimes even prides himself in it. He is a shining example of what the sirens expect their consorts to be, and enjoys a slightly "cushier" life than the males beneath him. He leads the other consorts, often training them to mold to Nereides ideals, and disciplining them when they act out against the sirens that rule them. He is also heavily scrutinized by the sirens; if the males beneath him are unruly or act out, the Epivitoras may be disciplined alongside them.
Below the Epivitoras are the Hoplites, or the soldiers groomed by the sirens to be unquestioningly obedient. In addition to their typical duty as consorts to the Nereides, Hoplites are used in situations where the undeniable physical strength of males would serve the Nereides better than their own; as the Matriarch's bodyguards, the vanguard in raids against other packs, and when capturing other males to use as consorts. Trained to welcome death rather than fear it, Hoplites are fearsome opponents that obey only the commands given by the Nereides.
Drudges are new consorts that have not yet been broken, or juveniles that have not yet reached sexual maturity. They require the most attention, and are typically only permitted to speak to Nereides or the Epivitoras until they have accepted their place. Before sexual maturity, Drudges act as manservants to the Nereides and are often put to near-impossible tasks meant to break them and put them in their place. Drudges that cannot be tamed are castrated and become Eunuchs, who continue to be used as servants but may not advance in rank. In very rare cases, Eunuchs have been known to advance to the Hoplite rank if they eventually succumb to their position in Nereides culture.
Male puppies that are not slain by their mothers immediately upon birth are considered spawn.
Within the Nereides, only females ranked Adept and higher are permitted to breed (except in rare cases). The process for partner selected and the act of procreation are heavily ritualized, and is generally one of the most important aspects of Nereides culture. Linked to the lunar phases, the process is repeated every month throughout the breeding season.
- First Quarter (Invitation to Breed)
The Siren Queen approaches a Nereides chosen by the leadership and asks if she would like to partake in the fertility rite. The Nereides has every right to decline, but must present an answer within two days. If a Nereides is not chosen by the Full Moon, that month is forfeit and the process will halt until the next First Quarter.
- Full Moon (Choosing a Consort)
At this time that the Siren Queen takes the chosen Nereides to the Cove with all the Consorts to determine which Consort is best suited to her; it is generally believed that this decision is made by the Sea, who announces it through the Siren Queen.
- Last Quarter (Preparation for Ritual)
The chosen Nereides is prepared for her fertility rites in the half-life of Moon, and is secluded in Genesi Cove to be as close to the Moon and Sea as possible.
- New Moon (Mating Ritual & Conception)
Fertility rites occur here.
- Waxing Crescent (Blessing)
As the Moon re-appears in the sky, so does new life form in the Nereides. The Nereides in question stays with the High Priestesses until the next full moon while prayers and rites are performed in hopes of strong female pups.
When the pregnant Nereides is determined to be within days of labor, she will be housed with one of the High Priestesses or even the Siren Queen. As she goes into labor, she will be escorted to Genesi Cove, where she will give birth. Immediately after birth, stillborn daughters are returned to the sea, and the decision about male children are made.
The mother and her children will live with a High Priestess or the Siren Queen herself until at least 2 months of age. At this point, the mother and Siren Queen will tell the (female) pups the story of their birthday. The Siren Queen listens for how well the Nereides tells the story and answers questions. If satisfactory, the Nereides is permitted to return to the communal den for her rank. If not, she and her pups will remain and will be questioned periodically until such time that the Siren Queen determines another chance is in order. Should the Nereides fail again, the pups will be taken under her care, and the Nereides will either return, or be demoted. It should be noted that in the time between tests, the Siren Queen and High Priestesses will spend ample time with the Nereides to ensure passage. Further, Nereides are chosen for fertility rites who are most likely to pass this test without issue.