Oliver and Wahida have been friends all their lives. Ever since Oliver got lost and floundered into the walrus colony carried by the north wind, with his pin-feathers all messed up, and Wahida calmed her fellow walruses so they didn’t stampede and smush Oliver, the two have been close. Oliver lives far away and in a warmer land, but flies north once or twice a year to visit his favorite walrus.
Wahida is the uncontested matriarch of her herd, and uses several egg-men loyal to her (she has beat them in combat several times, thanks in part to her size – she’s strangely much larger than the male walruses in her herd – and enormous tusks, one of which is slightly bent) to assert her somewhat feudal authority over the herd.
She and Oliver have a perpetual disagreement about effective and just forms of government. Oliver is a strong advocate of democracy and deeply critical of a rule established through force as he insists that power seized this way does not have the moral authority to make decisions for the group… though he is a little embarrassed by the kind of leadership a majority can usher in.
Wahida is particularly vehement about resisting the demands of the majority when they are unfair to vulnerable members of the herd, like her brother Wasim, who lost a fin in the Orca attack which killed their father. Wasim and many others like him would not have survived if Wahida’s egg men hadn’t enforced her decision about the herd waiting for him while his wound healed and collected ‘taxes’ – a small portion of each herd-member’s catch used to supplement what Wasim and others like him were able to catch for themselves. The idea of ‘taxes’ was something Wahids borrowed from Oliver’s accounts of the Owl-democracy.
Wahida and Oliver meet regularly and discuss their respective systems in a bid to try to make them better.