In many ways the
Ashmarian Wolf, or "Ash Wolf" or "Mari", is different from other
wolves. They spend most of their lives in one place,
making permanent dens in Northern
Sarvonia that the pack resides in for many generations. These animals find
their homes in the frigid north, enjoying the snow that covers the ground for a
good part of the year in these places. Slender, but powerful bodies are built to
cover distances easily over trampled or fresh snow as well as moving silently
when need be. Another thing that sets them apart from others is the fact that
the females tend to be the more aggressive and are the leaders of packs. The
commanding male still plays a big role in leading the pack, but the females are
more highly respected and have more power.
The Mari, the beautiful Ashmarian Wolf. Picture drawn by Enayla.
While these beasts are smaller than the average
wolf, they are no less ferocious or courageous. This
animal disproves the common idea that you have to be big to get anywhere in this
world. Among the Ashmarian Wolves, males stand at about a
fore and one and a half
palmspans at the shoulder,
with females ranging between that and a
fore. From the tip of their
nose to the tip of their tails, these wolves are about a
ped long on average, with
the minority being longer.
The Ashmarian Wolf is one of the most sleek and beautiful predators that ever
graced the snow and ice. The soft, smooth fur of these wolves
retains a lot of heat, keeping the cold from them. They rely heavily on these
thick, double coats due to the fact that food in some areas is scares and
beneath the bulky fur, they are rather thin because of the dangerous conditions
and adult wolves always put the pups before themselves.
The thick, warm undercoat that does most of the heating is as white as new
fallen snow and is highly prized among tribes of the north. The undercoat is
shed in the late spring and grows back in only three months later for those that
live in the northern most parts of their territory. The guard hairs keep dirt
and water from reaching the undercoat and
makes up most of the colour in wolves. Females have
greyish and/or black fur on their backs and sides with a snowy white underbelly.
Males on the other hand are almost always completely white, except for patches
of grey on the face and paws, making it look as if they have played in soot.
The paws of the Ash Wolf are webbed, allowing the wolf
to reach high speeds in deep snow or over slippery ice. Large paws spread out as
they move over the snow, distributing the wolf's weight
evenly so that it doesn't sink in deep snow. The pads of the Ash's paws are
controlled by very tough grey skin that helps to protect the
wolf from rocks, snow crystals, and other undesirably sharp objects.
Ash Wolves have strong jaws, and large pointed teeth, in a zigzag pattern like
the teeth on a saw blade. The front teeth are best for grabbing hold of their
prey. Once they have a grip around the neck, with the sharp, long teeth in the
front of their mouths, their strong jaws come into play and they will hold on
until its pack mates can subdue the creature or wait until it bleeds to death as
it makes the wound in its throat bigger each time it tries to shake the
wolf off. Once the animal is killed,
they use all of their teeth to tear into the flesh of their victim, ripping meat
from bones. The largest Ash Wolves have even been known to bite through their
own legs in a single bite, when caught in a hunter's trap.
The most defining feature about the Ashmarian Wolf is definitely its eyes. One
can easily get lost in the yellow, gold eyes of this majestic creature. While
most eyes change from the blue of puppy hood to the deep golden and amber of
adulthood, the Ash are known to have a fair few of pups each year that keep the
light blue, only to have it darken as years pass into a blue as dark as the
night sky. Some more fanatic lovers of the Ash even go so far as to say that
they shine of the same intellect as humans or
elves do. They are also the eyes of a hunter,
shining with a keen spark and feral gleam.
Although an Ash Wolf is fast, this wondrous creature doesn't really use its
speed often. It prefers to hunt its prey by utilizing its ability of stealth.
The Ashmarian Wolf can spot movement up to forty-five
peds away, during the day
and in the dead of night. Even more amazing is its sense of smell. Ashmarian
Wolves have such a strong sense of smell that they know when to enter their
caves at night before it snows. They can actually smell the change in the
air and predict if the snow will be enough
make it too difficult to hunt or not. In fact, villages of the
Ash'mari Men in
Northern Sarvonia often spy on
packs of these wolves to see what the weather will be
like the next day.
Ashmarian Wolves live up north, where it's cold, because they have the most
advantage over those they hunt on the snowy terrain. In a warmer climate they
may have some trouble living, but almost anywhere in
Northern Sarvonia you will find
them at the top of the food chain. Packs of these hunters can be found from the
Readmeade River to the Shaded Forest,
all the way up to the Imlith Mountains. Some few cases are known of packs of
wolves being seen in the northern parts of Southern
Sarvonia around the Dragon's Maw and the
Northern Peak, but the only confirmed wolf pack in this
region was spotted in the Tandala
The Ash Wolf lives and dies with its pack. Each pack always has the basic ranks
that most wolf packs are composed of, with two leaders,
though the female tends to be the more aggressive one of the commanding pair (a
male and a female). While the top ranked wolves dominate
the pack, it is still a family environment. They sleep together and work
together as they patrol their borders, hunt, and raise pups to tighten the bonds
that link the pack. Peace reigns most of the time, but during times when tension
is high, the peace-keepers come fourth to do their jobs.
As the young grow, the whole pack works to raise them, teaching them how to hunt
and all the other things young pups need to know to survive. They spend endless
hours in play, tussling with their littermates to see who will come out on top
and some day lead the pack. At this point the females are already asserting
their dominance. Before a hunt, the adults will dig up some part of their old
prey and play with the pups, teaching them how to hunt without getting hurt.
When the young reach the age where they are ready to mate, a few will strike out
on their own. Most will stay with the pack, allowing them to increase their
territory, but those that don't find a place of their own among the others will
leave to look for a mate or another pack. It is uncommon for a lone
wolf to join another pack, but instead they usually find
a mate and start a pack of their own.
Ashmarian Wolves are very picky when it comes to where they live. Unlike most
wolf packs, Ash Wolves spend their lives in one spot
instead of wandering from place to place. Because of this they are very, very
territorial, even more so than other wolves, and unless
you are seen as a friend, you will be chased from an Ash's land. Their territory
is usually located in an enclosed area with several small caves or dens and
sometimes old trees and even abandoned houses are turned into dens for Ash
Ash Wolves are on top of their food chain in the more northern parts of the
world. They prey on anything that enters their territory, ranging from
rats to deer and even
humans if they get too close to one of their
dens. There is even one tale of a pack of Ash Wolves fighting and killing a
giant spider that made a home near their own.
There are only a few things that could prove to be a challenge to Ashmarian
Wolves in their native, frozen homeland, and they have learned to pick their
fights. Fighting with the odds is better for the survival of the pack and as
long as they remain unchallenged the Ash will not stir up trouble.
Ashmarian Wolves follow a strict mating season and never sway from it at all.
The season starts with the pack picking mates, each male a female for himself
(which is rather strange as Ash Wolves tend to be female dominated). Only about
half of the females in the pack are impregnated during the mating season each
year. During the pregnancy of the females, the males hunt for the female they
had chosen. After about sixty days the females finally give birth to litters of
four or five pups. The harsh conditions of the lands they live in often end in
two or three pups falling to the elements before they open their eyes.
The remaining pups are then taken care of by their mothers until they open their
eyes. After that time they are given up to the whole pack and each is
responsible for every pup, not just their own. Slowly the pups learn the ways of
the pack and are taken to the various areas of their territory to get their
familiar with their boundaries. At around six months the pups become vary
curious and explore the extent of their play area, getting into everything they
find and getting as close to the borders as possible. It is at this time that
they learn what they can and cannot eat, chew, or play with as they attempt to
taste and play with everything that crosses their paths. Aside from birth, this
is the most dangerous time of their life and it is not unusual to lose a pup or
two, maybe more, to their curiosity.
When the pups reach eight months they begin hunting with the pack and must start
pulling their own weight. At about a year of age they begin to grow out of their
puppyish antics and at about two years of age they reach sexual maturity. At
this point in their life, half of the pups will leave the pack, while half will
stay to raise the pack's numbers, size of territory, and power. Those that
strike out on their own wander until they find a pack or mate. If a certain
amount of time passes without either they might decide to stay on their own and
renounce their fixed ways.
In the frigid northern areas that the Ash's inhabit, people have found uses for
these creatures. The pelt of this animal is very apt at keeping warmth in and
the people have found that they are great barriers against the cold and
wind. Fur colouring is also a bonus, as these
animal hides allow them to blend in with their surroundings, so an Ashmarian fur
coat or cloak can do more than keep the cold from the hunter. The soft and warm
undercoat that these wolves shed during in the late
spring is also highly prized as lining for all sorts of clothing and stuffing