THE SNOW WOLF ("WHITE SHADOW", "NORTHMUT")

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - USAGES - RESEARCHERS

The Snow Wolf is probably one of the oddest normal creatures found in the North. Known mostly for its mixed heritage and commonly mistaken for the Eanian warg, called the Eanian Snow Wolf in the south, the Snow Wolf has become a somewhat popular subject for researchers and hunters. Believed to have the blood of the three major canines (the Eanian warg, the Ashmarian wolf, and the Icelands icemut) of its territory running through its veins, many wonder if it should be classified as a wolf at all. Some would argue that it should be a warg, while others believe it shouldn't be associated with any of the previously mentioned animals due to its mixed blood, though still it is called the Snow Wolf. Known for dominating the lower Icelands, the Peninsula of Iol and the Themed'lon Forests of Caaehl'heroth, it has drawn the attention of many. Aside from the near-constant hunting of these animals, due to the fact that they are commonly mistaken for a highly prized creature, they have still managed to thrive in small packs of between four and eight wolves, throughout their territory. The Snow Wolf is also often referred to as "White Shadow", "Northmut", "Swordfang Wolf" or "Rogue Wolf".

The Snow Wolf
View picture in full size Image description. A lonely Snow Wolf prowling the vast icy, windy plains of Northern Sarvonia's Iol Peninsula. Picture drawn by Morjer.

Appearance. Lucky for those that live in the areas claimed by the Snow Wolf, they are nowhere near the size of the beast they are often mistaken for. Although the Eanian is the smallest known breed of its kind, is still a good deal bigger than wolves and large enough to instill fear. However, this creature is larger than the average wolf, which stands around two fores at the shoulder, leading researchers to believe that the blood of the somewhat newly resurrected warg runs in the veins of these wolves, though it would stem from the ancient line of the white warg, which was nearly hunted to extinction by the tribes of the Icelands Peninsula.

The Snow Wolf stands at about two fores plus a palmspan and a half to two palmspans at the shoulder. In most areas, the maximum height listed is rarely broken, though those that share territory with the Eanian have been known to tack on another palmspan to that at the most, putting them at about a ped at the shoulder. In length these wolves range from around a ped and one and a half fores from the tip of their nose to the tip of the tail. While the height changes depending on area, the length seems to be a pretty standard measurement as those taken by researchers of the wolves in various areas only had a few nailsbreadths difference when it came to length, even though one of the wolves was over a palmspan taller than the others. The weight, however, depends on the availability of food in the area. For the most part these wolves are fairly skinny for three out of the four seasons of the year. They usually weigh just under a pygge in total, though size determines whether that stands true for each wolf.

While most of the features seen in this animal are similar to those of other wolves, there are a few odd occurrences. Some are believed to come from their rumored warg ancestry as well as some interbreeding with the northern dogs in their past. Others features seem random at best and there is no clear link to other canines. However, like most wolves, the Snow Wolf has two eyes, two ears, a long snout and mouth full of teeth, complete with a pink and black tongue on a head connected to its body.

For most wolves, their eyes start out a deep blue and often change to a gold or amber in color as they near the end of their puppyhood. For the Snow Wolf, however, their eyes remain the same deep blue that they are born with throughout their lives. Once in a while the eyes of one will turn gold, with the sappy amber colour almost non-existent. Some believe that the unnatural colouring for the entire breed is due to a pact with the demons of some northern province, but it has become common for people to blame things that seem unnatural to them when there are simple explanations. Those researchers not prone to believing in ghost stories believe that it is just the mixed blood of the creature that has aided in this change. Though, none of that takes anything away from the fact that the eyes of these wild creatures have captivated the minds of any that have glanced into them over the years.

Atop the somewhat blocky head of this wolf are two ears that have stumped researchers for years. Unlike most of their kind, whose pointed ears stick straight up, the tips of the Snow Wolf's fuzz-covered ears turn down on their own. They hang, pretty much folded in half, like that of the Iceland Icemut. While the answer seems to be right in front of their faces, there are no other traits of the Icemut that can be found in this wolf, which has led the researchers to ignore this most obvious clue. However, the Snow Wolf is still referred to as the "Mutt of the North" as it is believed to have the blood of wolves, wargs, and dogs running through its veins.

When it comes down to the muzzle, though, this animal is obviously wolf. The nose is easily too long and narrow at the end to be that of a dog, but not nearly long enough to be that of a warg. While for the most part, wolves' noses are somewhat soft around the edges, the Snow Wolf's is somewhat blocky like the rest of its head, with harsher, more angular lines to its face.

Within the muzzle is where the likeness to wargs stops once again. While they have the same number and setting of teeth as other wolves, (this confirmed by hunters trying to convince southerners that they are actual warg, or Eanian Snow Wolf teeth), the already long front teeth are a fair amount larger than normal. On the top of the wolf's mouth, these two teeth are set further out and extend between one and three nailsbreadths longer than normal, while the bottoms ones only grow about one nailsbreadth longer than normal at the most. On both genders, these longer teeth can be seen even when the mouth is closed, though they are generally longer on males than females. The Swordfang Wolf is yet another of its many nicknames, this one coming from this strange feature. For the most part, it is mainly used by those that proudly wear a Snow Wolf fang, for while they are not nearly as aggressive as the white warg, they travel in packs. A respected hunter might have a whole chain of Snow Wolf teeth to show off for his troubles.

The typical appearance of its dominant ancestors, the wolf, returns when talking about the general build of the fore and hindquarters, as well as leg and paw structure. The Snow Wolf retains the narrow chest of its kin, which causes their back paws to fall directly into the tracks of their forepaws due to the slight inward angle of their paws. This single feature is distinctly wolf-like as the usually broader chests of wargs and dogs make this impossible.

Looking at the beast's massive forepaws makes it somewhat hard to believe that the back paws could get any larger, but they do. While wolf tracks are normally larger than that of a dog, the tracks of this beast seem too large to be that of a wolf, giving another reason for hunters to believe that this animal is the one they seek. Between each toe on all four paws are two layers of thin, fur covered skin. The two layers slide over one another, forming a loose webbing between the toes, which is doubled, seemingly to prevent too much damage from ice crystals and rocks, as any sort of injury that could prevent this wolf from walking would be a death sentence. The webbing between their toes helps them when they are walking across the snow as it, along with other factors, prevents them from sinking too deeply into the snow. It also aids them in swimming as they sometimes take to the water for a meal, though they are not as successful as the Eanian, nor do they have the ability to hunt underwater.

The Snow Wolf lives up to its name in more ways than one, but the pure white coat they sport is the main reasoning. Due to this coat they are often hunted in place of the Eanian, which is known as the Eanian Snow Wolf in the south. Often the hunters are inexperienced southerners, but more likely are those that know the difference, but are trying to get some quick coin and get around the ban on hunting the wargs any way they can. Either way, this snow white coat puts them in danger as much as it aids them.

The wolf's pelt has two layers like most, though in the deep north the thick, warm undercoat is all the more important. Unlike other wolves and even the warg, the undercoat is the same pure white as the fluffier, outer layer of fur. The outer layer is thicker and longer than that of other wolves, but still shorter than its supposed look-alike, the Eanian Warg. While in the winter months these animals will spend a lot of time huddling down in 'snow nests', they are known for their energy and active nature during the other seasons, which keeps them warm as much as their coats during those times. These wolves shed their undercoat for one season only. The thick, short fur that hugs the animals body starts to fall out with the aid of the wolf, who will scratch its sides against any rough object it can find in attempts to pull out chunks of fur, during the late spring and grows back in by early fall to provide extra warmth for the next three seasons. Return to the top

Special Abilities. Of the known abilities of the Snow Wolf it is the camouflage provided by its snowy white coat that is its greatest helper. When crouched low to the snowy ground and sitting perfectly still this animal can be mistaken for just another mound of snow by even those with the keenest eyes, depending on the distance. However, this tends to be a problem in areas where the ground isn't covered in snow for the better part of the year. While winters tend to be long and hard, the milder seasons end up being the Snow Wolf's enemy, as outside of the snow, its brilliant white coat turns into a target for the eye of both hunter and prey.

While they are able to conceal themselves from those wishing to do them harm, and of course those they wish to do harm to, this doesn't always work. Though, even when it does work, this animal relies on its speed to chase down their prey. With their snowy white coat and their speed they can usually get close enough to their prey to take a few long, quick strides and propel themselves onto the back of the creature before it has time to recover from the shock of their appearance. Usually, once one has latched onto the back of the animal, the others within the pack will hurry toward the beast as well and either attack whatever bit of flesh they can to weaken it, or go for the throat if the beast tries to throw the original attacker off the back of its neck.

The eyesight and hearing of the Snow Wolf is average at best, but when it comes to their sense of smell they have a bit of an advantage. They rely mostly on that sense when tracking their prey than any other as sounds can never be trusted out in that unforgiving land, and the wind and light coming off the snow can make it difficult to see.

Finally, this beast is known for its cunning. For the most part, their hunting style relies mostly on traps and ambushes, quiet unnoticed approaches, and the strength of the pack. While other predators might go after the weaker members of a herd, the Snow Wolf is known for attempting to take down one of the biggest beasts. Depending on the situation, they will use between one and three members of the pack as bait, or herders, depending on the type of beast, to lure a single animal toward the rest of the pack that lies waiting in the snow. At other times, they will use the technique mentioned above and get as close as they can to the animal before having one lunge at the back of the neck while the others try to bring it down whilst it is somewhat distracted.
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Territory. Packs of these animals can be found throughout a good part of Northern Sarvonia, though ironically enough, they only share half of their territory with the beasts they are commonly mistaken for, the Eanian Warg. They mostly remain on the northwest tip of the Peninsula of Iol, seemingly marking the White Sea and Sea of Iol as an off limits area. The closest that a pack has been spotted to the northeastern tip of the peninsula is the Tors of the Wind, although a ranger who reported the sighting said that they had approached the river north of the Tors, that connects the Sea of Iol to the Bay of Calinth and turned back.

The second of three regions they have claimed as theirs is the southernmost area of the Icelands Coast. Many packs of Snow Wolves have made their homes from areas as near to Iol as the Gathorn Mountains, to as far away as the Wastes of Despair. Between those two major land marks landmarks they have been found within the territories of the three, southernmost Ice Tribes: the Remusians, the Tokarians, and the Samanians. While the majority are found there, some especially brave, or stupid, packs have ventured into the territory of the Tarkyns, though only the strongest packs have settled down permanently. This is because it is considerably deep into the lands where the beast they are often mistaken for were hunted and the presence of a Snow Wolf is not appreciated.

The third and final region that these animals can be found in the wild, as permanent residents, is the southeastern point of Caaehl'heroth. The Themed'lon Forests and southern section of the Heaths of Eph'denn has been recorded as the only 'steady home' of the Snow Wolf. In other areas, conditions and hunting amongst other lesser factors have lead to depletions in the population for a year or two, with the longest being five years, though pack sightings have remained constant in this region for reasons that many researchers fail to understand. A majority of the packs within this part of the north mark out territory either within or on the borders of the forests, though a few places are excluded. Researchers allowed within the forest have heard and/or seen the lack of evidence of the presence of these creatures within the Kaaer'dar'shin Burial Grounds, the South Waterfall, and the Grove of the Earth Brother, but some reports have mentioned tracks found around the outskirts of the areas, leading to the belief amongst outsiders with knowledge of the area, that certain parts of the forest are guarded by something other than the half-orcs that call the land home.

While the three places mentioned above are the places where these wolves have 'settled', if changing and gaining or loosing territory on a weekly basis can be called settled, packs can be found in other areas outside the three permanent locations. The Heath of Wilderon, Wood Forest, and Imlith Mountains are known to accommodate the occasional pack as it changes its territory, though those accommodations don't last for long. All reports lead to the possibility of a 'grace period' for moving packs in those areas, as the Ashmarian wolf of the Imliths and the wargs of the Wilderon have been observed as they themselves monitor a pack of Snow Wolves within their territory. If they overstay their welcome then there is often trouble in the north between cousins (wolves vs. wolves) and supposedly 'distant relatives' (wolves vs. wargs). However, that is rarely seen as most packs observed in that area are often moving rather swiftly.
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Habitat/Behaviour. While these animals are known as Northmuts, considered outcasts by their supposed ancestors (the
Eanian warg, the Ashmarian wolf, and the Iceland icemut), and are even named a breed of "Rogue Wolves" by researchers, they still keep a direct, but twisted link to their species. The Snow Wolf, like many other wolves, are pack animals, though due to the harsh conditions in the north a few things have changed, mainly numbers and command behaviours.

Their pack sizes range from as many as four to eight adult wolves. When the pack as at its full strength, each of the parts of a wolf pack are filled, with some lower positions doubled up and even a pack elder. When the number falls lower than eight members due to the loss of higher ranking members, the lower ranking wolves will move into the spots and fill them as best as they can. It is not uncommon for a pack to lack an elder, as the northern winters can weigh too heavily on wolves after their fifth or sixth year of life, if they last that long. At their weakest, the pack consists of four members; two males and two females. If the male to female ratio ever drops to three to one on either side then that pack is 'dead' unless the female carries a litter of pups to birth and a majority of the litter survives. If that fails, the pack often dies out, as each remaining pack member is killed or tries to join in with another pack.

When it comes to authority, there is very little other than the slightly more serious and aggressive attitude of the leading male and female. Mostly, the wolves of this breed that have lived long enough to survive the first two years of life revert back to the puppyish behaviour that they were denied shortly after their birth as winter was swiftly approaching and they had to 'grow up fast' and learn to survive. Because of this behaviour switch, the strictly enforced ranking of other wolf packs is nearly non-existent. While the ranking within the pack is rather loosely kept, the leading male and female have to assert their dominance from time to time in order to keep things functioning properly. This is mostly during mating season and when feeding. In this loose ranking system, the leading wolves will participate in the antics of the others, though they are easy to pick out when watching a pack of romping Snow Wolves because they keep to the outskirts, supposedly keeping from forming a bond with their lessers that would prevent them from ruling their pack unopposed.

Diet. For these almost constantly hungry carnivores there is nothing better than fresh meat, but where there is a lack of that they are never too good for the leftovers of another predator or those whose lives nature has chosen to take. While the Snow isn't as fast, intelligent, or ferocious as the white warg, whose territory they share up in the Peninsula of Iol, they still have their ways of surviving. There, wolves are not normally scavengers, although they will turn to that when needs be. Creatures washed up onto the shores, brought down by wargs or other predators, and those fairly hunted make up their diet. They are often called 'White Shadows' as they have been known to hunt during both the night and day, and livestock farmers of the north have had a member or two of their herd snatched from right under their noses from time to time.

Due to the fact that they target most domestic species, from the largest cattle and horses, to the smallest cats, they are hated by a majority of the people in the further northern reaches of their territory. Herd animals are always common targets for pack hunters and these wolves are no exception. They are known for the near silent killing of the large Baneg cattle and the Iceland Wison in the middle of the night and leaving blood, bones, and some meat (depending on the last time they ate) where a live beast had been for men to find or other animals to finish off. Though there are often streaks of blood leading away from the scene, as for the most part they leave few scraps and drag away as many of the remaining chunks as they can. Some have been spotted dragging a whole wison leg with them, to be buried in the snow and eaten later.

Aside from the cattle, other domestic creatures are targeted. Of the sheep, goats, and pigs raised in the area, the cuncu sheep seems to be a favourite, though the others previously mentioned are no less hunted down by these wolves. Aside from basic farm livestock, the Snow Wolf has been known to target various riding beasts. The Kor'och Fey Mologh are often marked as being edible, and that’s good enough for these beasts. In the more southern areas of their territory, the ulgaroth and landesh ponies have been hunted, with the latter proving to be the beast's favorite. Also, the most unlikely of domestic species, the Wilderon cat is often seen as food to the Snow Wolf. The people in the area as well as researchers assume that pretty much anything that has enough meat on its bones to be worth the work of capturing it is considered food, and in the north, a little meat is better than none. For the foolhardy and starving the Icelands shortsnouts are often targeted, but most of the time they are merely injured before the offending pack is run off.

When it comes to wild game, the various types of deer living in the area, namely the tar'dandus deer and the cloaked elk among others, make great meals for these wolves. However, when they fail at taking down these larger, head animals they turn their sights on the woolly boars, wild goats, and various rodents that can be found throughout the grasslands and forests of the north, and even one animal that many consider distant kin of the wolves, the shir. For those that seem to have a death wish, haven't had any luck hunting enough game to sustain the pack, or are feeling rather lucky, the Cartashian and White bears are considered prey, though packs have only been seen going after older or wounded bears. If these wolves aren't up for the taste of bear meat, there is also the caracal and lingradau wild cats that can be found in the area from time to time, though some debate that these ferocious felines are often more dangerous than the lumbering mountain of muscle that is called a bear. The last four creatures mentioned are often seen as last resorts when food is scarce.

When it comes to the water, the wolves usually wait for something dead to be swept up onto the beach, though when they turn into fisher wolves for a time, they commonly catch the bonehead and evoor fish around the Peninsula of Iol and the Northern lysh and the mithralfish in the rivers and ponds of the Themed'lon Forests. With fish completing the wide variety of possible meals, it is easy to say that the Snow Wolf eats pretty much anything and everything that doesn't eat them first, with the exception of people, oddly enough, though none know why exactly. Because of this, they have been classified and named Rogue Wolves amongst researchers. This is believed to be partly due to their questionable roots, as there are many things aside from their features that are very unlike 'normal wolves'.
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Mating. Among the Snow Wolves, the selection of mates is simple. As they loosely stick to the basic hierarchy of wolves, the lead male and female wolves of the pack mate each season. The second highest ranked male and females also mate to produce litters of pups, and in some cases lower ranking pairs would mate as well to keep the pack numbers up. The Snow Wolf mates for life so should the lead female be killed, it will be up to the lower ranking members to mate and produce enough pups the next season, unless the intended successor of the lead male and female are of age to take command and produce a litter of pups. Maturity of wolves is reached at around two years of age, so if the female and/or male are still under two years of age then the lead male will continue to lead the pack until they reach that age.

Mating happens in the first month of summer since the winters can be too harsh for a mother with pups, and spring is too early for them to secure a source of food. Many things can happen during this time to threaten the mother and her pups, such as attacks by larger predators in a desperate search for food, threats from nearby humans, extreme conditions, and lack of food enough to feed both mother and growing young. When they mate in the late summer, the pack depletes to half its original size, leaving mostly the males (with the help of one female most times) to hunt while the elder remains with the pregnant females. While most of the two of the three pack females mate in the first month of summer, one will mate at the beginning of the month and the other at the end so that the litters usually won't come at the same time. If the third female is impregnated, that mating takes place during the middle of the next month to prevent the same thing.

About seventy-five days after a female becomes pregnant the pups are born. A litter consists of either two or three defenseless pups, already covered in a thickening coat of tiny white fur. While these pups grow in size faster than any other wolf pup, they tend to develop slower. For about four weeks they remain in the den, which is usually located within a small ice or rock cave, or beneath a nest of roots, alone with the mother. By the time they are one month of age they will nearly triple in size, though at that time their eyes are still shut, though they become part of the pack at that time. Due to their inability to see however, they are more a pack in name rather than any contribution because they are protected and cared for as would any other member be.

At a month and a half their startling blue eyes open for the first time and they begin to climb up onto overly large legs. At two months they are about four or five times the size they were when they were born and are walking around and exploring the features of their little world as if they had been doing so for more than half a month. Once they reach three months, they begin being introduced to the land outside the little pack circle and are taught how to hunt by their parents and the pack, often with the use of the limb of a dead animal. By the time they are four to five months of age they must be ready to face their first winter. So whilst they developed slower than other wolves, they had to lean how to survive during those first few months, rather than reverting to the puppyish behaviour common to young of that age.
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Usages. Due to the confusion or intentional deceit of southern hunters, various parts of the Snow Wolf are used. Any part of the Eanian warg that is demanded by the wealthy in the south is taken from the Snow Wolf, aside from the things, such as the tongue, that are obviously too different from that of the actual beast. While the pelt, lucky wolf feet, claws and teeth can all pass for the actual thing if the buyer hadn't seen the mentioned items before, the meat cannot.

The smell and look of the meat of a Snow Wolf is the same as warg meat, there is, however, one great downfall. Those that have the dubious pleasure of consuming Snow Wolf meat find that it doesn't sit well with their stomachs. Cooked right or not, the meat is known to cause illness. Those who eat even the smallest bite have been known to be sick for one day at least, while those that had larger portions can suffer for up to four days. During this time, the inflicted cannot keep almost anything other than water down and even then they find themselves vomiting that back up from time to time. Healers will mix herbs and honey with water for the ill person, in attempts to sustain them on that, unless the sickness passes. While the inability to keep food and drinks down ceases after four days at the most, the person rarely finds that their appetite returns for a few more days.

Researchers blame the mixed bloodline, saying that the meat is tainted because of the unnatural mixture of wolf, warg, and hound. However, the meat has become somewhat popular since the effects have been discovered. Some nobility and wealthy merchants might purchase Snow Wolf meat purposely and pass it off as warg meat in attempts to 'discard' of a competitor for a position or someone that is strongly against their opinions in some matter for a few days, so that things might be solved without their interference.

Aside from those parts mistaken for that of the warg, the unique teeth of these animals are a common item throughout the north. While Snow Wolves are not nearly as big or ferocious as the warg, they are known to travel in small packs and their larger than average size for a wolf makes them fairly dangerous. The swordfangs, as the longer teeth are referred to, are seen as a sign of that hunters courage, strength, and ability. They are just as prized as warg teeth, if not slightly more impressive because of the fact that the wolf needed to be kill to retrieve its teeth, since they don't grow back. The more teeth on the hunter's chain the better as it shows that they are truly a protector against these beasts.

The fur of these animals is also used by the people within their territory, though not as a replacement for warg fur. Because of the ban it is easier to acquire Snow Wolf fur, and while it is not as warm or nice as the fur of the Eanian, it still serves the purpose of keeping the wearer warm. The pelt is often used as lining for clothing, cloaks, blankets and such, and are sometimes even hung up like a tapestry within a small home as lining for walls in attempts to keep the cold out.
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Researchers. The questionable nature, roots, and appearance of these wolves have drawn the attention of many renowned researchers. One of the main people responsible for the information provided is the Kuglimz menagerie owner, Reve'lor. Having spent a fair bit of time north of his home in Naurooth in search of information on the various beasts of the north, Reve'lor has spent some time gathering key information on the Snow Wolf.

Many thanks go out to the Injerín elf ranger Saryas Kelweather and Kaaer specialist Azhira Styralias for the information pertaining to the Snow Wolves living within the boundaries of the fairly secretive Kaaer’dár’shín half-orcs. Their information provided insights into the half-orc and wolf relations, along with snippets on the diet, habits, and other key parts of life for those living in the southern part of Caaehl'heroth.

Reports from Giliric Tawan in the deep north of the Peninsula of Iol have helped in outlining the differences between the Snow Wolf and the
white warg that it is commonly mistaken for by hunters that are either ignorant of the difference or just trying to con some extra coin from the wealthy of the south for true 'Eanian Snow Wolf' pelts, meat, and trinkets. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 28th Molten Ice 1669 a.S.

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