Fear Eating, Nightmare Defeating Powerhouse Dogs Created by Ares for His Kids
Left to themselves, the humans care more about their dogs than gods and heroes. And the Areosides care more about their dogs than entire Realms.
Little in my research comes between a person and their dog. While in Hellene history Ares Mars Olympia was the Olympian with a penchant for snakes, the scaly reptiles made poor protectors for his children.
The Greek Everyman gave their children pups as companions and protectors. In warrior nation-states, a puppy was the right of passage in a macabre ritual, or the psychopomps who led the dead to their rest. Inspired by this canine companionship, Ares created a breed of magical dogs, who eat fear, decimate nightmares and protect their charges with a mystical vehemence.
Growth Rate & Stages
Stridahundr who experience a great deal of magic or feed on heightened negative emotions grow at a faster rate and maintain a larger body size limited only by the strength of their musculature, bone structure and food source.
While most Stridahundr will remain the size of large dogs, Ares designed the breed to grow larger than any fear his children felt, and be stronger than any threat they experienced. It was this breath of a father's love which gave the Stridahundr their magic and maintains the breed as one of the Areosides' greatest shields.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Venison, beef, turkey, fish, plenty of hunted game and eggs, with a liberal application of carrot, yam, brassicas, peas and other canine friendly veg. And once in a while, when Aphrodite isn't looking and Ares is alone, a spoon of almond butter. The deity cannot resist those large puppy eyes.
Where Stridahundr differ from their canine brethren is their ability to consume fear, chaos, the strife of battle and other mystic energies as fuel, and can thus survive completely sans natural food and be fulfilled.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Strong as the threats facing their charges, fast as an onslaught, as ferocious as the fears and nightmares consuming their masters, Stridahundr sense magic and fear. They have the strength to snap femurs in half with a single bite, the agility to climb even the highest fence, and a preternaturally primal magic to protect children.
A stridahundr gains power dependent on the environment, in leisure they are often dopey companion dogs, child-friendly playmates who enjoy their naps.
In threat or battle, they are fierce beasts with the capacity to challenge even the gods themselves.
Civilization and Culture
While driven by an unyielding love for his sons, Ares saw the damage paragons of fear, terror and dread did not only on their mother, but those people they tried to befriend. And befriend Deimos & Phobos did, or in those early days, they tried. Precocious boys who understood little how negative their powers were, Deimos & Phobos raced across countryside and village looking to join children's games. It was in guiding his sons away from these towns Ares began to see: parents in the Grecian hillside often kept dogs.
Children seemed to adore dogs, even more than he liked his beloved snakes. Giving Deimos & Phobos snakes of their own had not gone over as well as he thought.
As he bundled his family up once again, Ares trecked broken-hearted and exhausted to Sparta. Maybe the legendary Spartans, who called upon him more than most, would have the ferocity to handle life with small terror deities in their midst.
While Deimos & Phobos functioned better in Sparta, the mental toll their powers took was still too much. So, Ares imbued the first two puppies with his mystical resilience to his sons' fear.
A strange peace came to Sparta, as long as Deimos & Phobos kept their dogs by their side. For the first time in their immortal lives, Deimos and Phobos got to play with other children and joined the Agoge. Thus began the Stridahundr story.
Yet, the deity who put the greatest blessing on Ares' canine experiment was the Alfather. When Odin took Ares in and baptized him as Tyr, he taught Ares many mysteries. One of those was the ability for the Stridahundr (genetically bolstered by Elkhundr and Asgardian Wolves), to feed off the energies of battle. Stridahundr grew far larger than Midgardian dogs e'ere since. This attachment to Odin and his battle magic is also the reason upon death, all Stridahundr venture to Odin's hall of Valhalla to be companions and beloved battle partners to the fallen warriors known as the Einherjar.
Don't take my word for this tale, you'll read it soon enough for yourselves in Agapemache.