All over Caelereth Wolves are thought of as wild and ferocious killers. Countless myths can be dug up from the memories of the elderly: a tale to justify the killing of a Wolf, a story to scare the young into obedience, a legend to dirty the name of this creature. These myths turn Wolves into objects of hatred and fear. It all just goes back to the old truths; people tend to fear what they don't understand. Although common, this animal remains cloaked in mystery and myth, continuing to befuddle the most avid and knowledgeable researcher at times. While there are many horrible tales told about Wolves, there are also many stories, told and untold, about the great loyalty and friendship given by these animals. Are they really the terrible beasts they are made out to be?
|Image description. The Mari, the beautiful Ashmarian Wolf. Picture drawn by Enayla.|
The Wolf is a very common sight on almost every continent. The population of
these animals had been slowly declining in certain areas in Southern
due the fact that they are hunted without mercy for the crime of killing
livestock. Often found hunting in packs, many mistake the Wolf to be a vicious
and dangerous creature, preying on the lost and weak. This perception is
terribly misguided since this perceived beast is one of the friendliest and
loyal companions one could ever come across. In several regions it is also
common practice to domesticate Wolves in order to have them as pets or to use
them as guards. Wolves are very territorial, and so if deemed a threat you will
be attacked, but when the trust of a Wolf is gained, these animals are great
allies, to say the least. One such example can be found in the story of the
"Battle for Denilou", written by the
elven author Coór'Efér, where it is
recounted that one such Wolf, given the name Kaa, befriends a
Lortnoc and accompanies him through many of his adventures.
Typical Appearance. While different Wolves have different appearances there are certain traits that are common. The average Wolf stands at about two fores at the shoulder. The length from tip of nose to tip of tail is usually one ped, and one or two fores. Depending on height, length, and quantity of food, they usually weigh anywhere from six hebs to just over a pygge. Females usually weigh one hafeb less than males.
These animals are built for stamina. They possess features such as a narrow chests and powerful backs and legs that assist in efficient movement. They are easily capable of keeping steady trot all day and can go over more than two furlays in a day. They can keep this pace up for many days at a time. A pack may cover a distance from one furlay to five furlays in a day depending on the different speeds they may travel at. It was once recorded that a sprinting wolf can reach over four peds in a single bound.
The Wolf's paws allow them to tread across different surfaces with ease. These paws are slightly webbed, so the Wolf can move over the top of crusted snow in places where other animals would sink into the drifts. The fact that they tend to walk on their toes, rather than the padded part of their feet also helps with this. Also due to their long legs and large feet, Wolves have proven to be good swimmers and they can easily cross lakes and rivers on their territory. Wolves' front paws are larger than the back paws and they have a fifth claw that is absent on the hind paws. Paws are also naturally angled slightly inward so that the back paw will fall directly into the mark of the front paw when they walk.
Most Wolves have bulky coats that consist of two layers that help them survive cold winters. The guard hairs are the first layers and these bristly hairs help in repelling dirt and water. The second layer is a thick undercoat that keeps the Wolf warm during the winter months and acts as a second defense against water. In warmer climates this coat will the thinner and in some cases non-existent. During the warmer months of the year the thicker coat becomes an irritation to the animal and Wolves usually shed in large chunks of hair during the late spring and early summer. Wolves will rub against rocks, branches, trees, and even the ground to encourage the aggravating fur to fall off. Females normally keep their winter coats longer than the males.
A wolf's teeth are its main weapon and primary tools. Any damage to the jaw line or teeth could doom a Wolf to death in the best cases. The average Wolf has about forty-two teeth, a secret they didn't feel like giving up. The first attempt ended in the loss of a few fingers for the researcher and after that they realized that looking at a dead Wolf for this answer might be a better idea.
There are many differences that separate the Wolf from the common dog. The main factor is intelligence: the Wolf is a far more cunning and intelligent creature than its cousins, due to the fact that it has to survive out in the wild and helps to feed the entire pack. The long, powerful muzzle of the Wolf is also a dead give away most of the time as other canines have more pointed snouts. Larger paws, golden eyes, longer legs, and bigger teeth are a few more differences between Wolves and other canines.
Wolves Species. Following is a list of all kinds of Wolves known in the lands of Caelereth:
A group of Wolves is called a pack. Wolf packs are very similar to families and
work together to support each other. They seem to have a social order that keeps
aggression in the packs limited and keep their common goal in sight, survival.
The alpha male and female are the head of the pack and the only ones that mate.
The rest of the pack is 'ranked' by age and hunting ability. The alpha male and
female, the only ones that mate, are in charge of keeping order within the
group. They control access to the kill, prevent others from mating, and keeps
other males from leaving the pack. Team work is a paramount for Wolves and all
of them need to participate for the pack to prosper. Wolf pups tend to bring the
pack together even more as they all work together to bring up the little Wolves.
Hunting becomes much more important then, as young Wolves can last for a while
without food but not near as long as older Wolves. Younger members of the pack
learn from the older and more experienced members so the whole group works
together as a skilled and unified team. Packs usually sleep in tight groups,
both physically and emotionally touching.
Wolf packs are most active at dusk and dawn because they have learned to operate when people are less active. They have an extraordinary sense of intuition of understanding each others intentions that seem beyond normal explanation. They work closely together as a tightly knit team and use that sense of each other to bring down a kill. Wolves have a great sense of smell and this along with loyalty, courage, and intelligence are points of hunting. Within a pack they need to have that strong bond of trust and loyalty to one another to work well. A single pack might have a vast range of territory that might be hundreds of strals across. The tight knit bond that forms between a pack gives them a natural aggression to outsiders or invaders. New Wolves attempting to join a pack aren't seen as much of a challenge since they have yet to be accepted into the pack. The pack is wary around new Wolves and will stick together and take sides with their alpha male. The new member will either be run out or accepted, but treated as an outsider until it can prove its hunting prowess and contribute to the pack.
Wolf pups receive their first lessons in life from their temporary guardian. It is usually the eldest female or male in the pack that is given the task of watching over the pups when the others go to hunt. Once the pups are weaned the other Wolf will take over the pup's education and becomes their caretaker so the alpha female can devote herself to leading the pack. This is a respected position because they use their knowledge and life experiences to help ensure the survival of the young Wolves that will someday grow to be vital to their survival.
A pack can be categorized as follows:
The Alpha Male and Female
The alpha male and female of the pack tend to have bold facial markings, mainly on their muzzle, ears, and around the eyes. These markings distinguish them from other Wolves. Its body posture, scent, and sound also set them apart from the others in the pack and gain respect from fellow or rival pack members.
The Guard Wolves
Another pair that stands apart are the Guard Wolves, or second in command. They are the biggest and boldest in the pack and they are responsible for enforcing the wishes of the alpha pair.
This pair is just barely above the Singers in the ranking of the pack, but seen to be far below the Guards. The Hunters tend to have the strongest sense of smell and sleekest form of Wolves in the pack since it is their jobs to scout out prey. They scout ahead of the main hunting pack and drop back when they find potential prey.
Those Wolves in the pack that do not have a special position like the Alphas, Guards, Hunters, and Peace-Keepers are just commonly known as the Singers. It is the job of these mid-ranking Wolves is to make other packs believe that there are more members in the pack than there actually are through howling. It is also their job to fill positions in the pack should another member be killed.
Another important part of the pack are the Peace-Keepers, they may appear to be the lowest ranked, but they are highly respected and rewarded for lowering the level of tension in violent situations. They are an essential to the survival of the pack as they use their posture and voice to keep injuries within the pack at a minimum.
ranked members are expected to submit to the more dominant members they still
function like a family. Close family bonds are reinforced by sharing the scent,
grooming, and play. Pack sizes vary and can range from as few as three wolves to
Lone Wolves have no social territory and rarely scent, mark, or howl. They prefer to keep moving instead of staying in one place, as it is dangerous for them even if they are on unmarked territory. When moving through a strange territory it will often urinate in water to remain undetected and avoid confrontations with a pack. Their movement is also due to the lack of hunting force. They cannot take down large game on their own so they have to follow small prey to continue to eat. The chances of a lone Wolf living to the normal six to eight years of life, which is the common lifespan for a pack Wolf, are slim to none. The only time lone Wolves will howl is if they are attempting to join a pack. They will howl often then so that they can see if a rank is missing from a potential pack.
Diet. The general Wolf tends to eat a variety of foods. A large Wolf pack will attempt to take down most types of animal and usually succeed by catching their prey alone or separating their target from the herd. Wolves are quite patient and will take their time when isolating and wearing down their prey. The wearing down of a larger animal can take a few days and if it finds a way to get back to the herd that time is lost. Hunting is a way of life for these animals. While they eat some insects, nut and berries, they can't live on just that.
Adult Wolves can eat anywhere from four ods to one heb of meat a day and can go for a long period of time without eating. Pups on the other hand need a steady source of food for them to grow. Another point of these animals is that they are not above stooping to the level of a scavenger during the winter months when prey is scarce. Casualties are fairly common among animals during the winter months. The weak and old animals of a herd might not survive the winter months and this again provides a source of meat for the other Wolves of the pack. Wild wolves live on the threshold of starvation for almost all of their lives, but the adults realize the importance that pups play in increasing the pack numbers and ensuring hunting success, so they will always return with food for them even if the rest of the pack remains hungry.
Mating. Mating usually occurs between Turning Star and Changing Winds. Each pack only produces one litter of pups. If the pack has suffered losses or had gained territory then the alpha mate might mate with lower-ranked female to increase the packs numbers. During those months wolves become very affectionate with one another in anticipation of the female's time. As pack tension raises the alpha male and female may have to prevent other Wolves from mating. Packs can usually only support one litter so this is necessary to prevent overpopulating the pack. During the time the alpha female is in heat, both the male and female will go off alone for a while. In the first few days the female will push away the male's advances, but after that the two will mate.
The gestation period for Wolves is usually between 60 and 70 days, but may differ for breed. When the pups are born they only weigh about one od and are blind, deft, and completely dependent on their mother. A litter can consists of one to fourteen pups, but the average litter size is four to six. Pups reside in the den for about two months and are alone with their mother for the first two weeks. The mother refuses to allow others near the pups until their eyes open. Pups open their eyes at two weeks and they are blue. At that time they will also begin to eat regurgitated food and at about ten weeks they are fully weaned off their mother's milk. At three weeks they venture to the mouth of the den and their hearing begins.
Between eight and twelve weeks old they will abandon the den and move to a site where the pups stay while the adults hunt. When pups reach the ages of three months and seven months they will go through periods of growth. When they reach eight months they will begin actively hunting with the pack. And finally at two years most Wolves reach sexual maturity and might feel the need to break away from their pack during mating season. The urge to mate will cause them to break away from the pack and find their own pack, territory, and mate to start its own pack.
Usages. Wolf fur is highly prized for rugs and clothing. In clothing it is most often found as trimming for a cloak or sometimes the whole pelt is used for a cloak. Wolves are widely hunted because they sometimes aggravate farmers by killing off their livestock in desperate times. Most farmers will find a hunter to track down the animal or go off after it by itself. Wolf pelts fetch a high price in any market so sometimes they are hunted just for their fur and the sport. While these animals are not as cruel as others make them out to be, they are still wild and dangerous.
Myth/Lore. There are many myths and stories about Wolves. Some tell of the wonderful creatures that provided assistance and friendship to a person, others are stories told to scare children and give an excuse for hunting these creatures. What is now commonly known as "The Commoner Story" began as a tale of a demon drake and a warg, but through the years was altered to engulf all dragons and all Wolves alike. None know who originally passed around this tale and this is the nearest to the original story that could be found:
A Battle of Evil. This tale dates back to the
War of the Chosen, to the
time when drakes and wargs
served dark masters. They played their parts in the destruction, revealing
in the power of holding the life of one in their grimy claws. They enjoyed
the disaster and chaos. While both demon drake
and warg fought for the same side, they were bitter
enemies all the same. Trouble was brewing behind their own lines as the
tension between beasts grew and the time for trouble drew near. The dark
mages were blind to the trouble boiling behind their lines, believing they
controlled and held both beasts in their grasp... and so it came to be
that on one of the darkest days, the battle broke out.
many tales told of man-wolfs. Creatures that hunt in the form of a Wolf at night
and walk among us in the form of humans during
the day. These stories go back to the myths of
ulvurs, the part Wolf, part man race of mythical beings that are said to
live far to the north of Caelereth, at the
icy continent of Cyhalloi. Through the tellings they have grown, some saying
that a Wolf bite can cause deformation, some telling of neighbors that change by
night to eat naughty children. These stories spread far and wide, attempting to
scare children into being good and keep them from going outside after dark.
Aside from these takes about wolf-men, there is also a
human saying that involve Wolves: "A fool and
his innards are soon parted when tempting wolves." This is a travelers' saying
about the importance of cleaning up food before going to sleep.
Not all writings about Wolves tell tales of evil, though: Some tend to think that it is just the ramblings of a crazed man that spent too much time in the wild, but he is as sane as could be. Darrion "Wolftale" Jekkon wrote the included piece to describe the feelings and wonders of a Wolf pup as follows. This was found among his notes and is often included in an attempt to fix the reputation of these wronged creatures. Here is the version of this man's thoughts, straight from Darrion's Journal:
A Pup's Redemption. In a world I once lived, wolves were
wrong. Wrong in so many ways that I couldn't name them all. They were
believed to be evil beings that lived to destroy the living of the honest
farmer, but now I know that is wrong. Wolves are not wrong, but rather
they have been wronged. Year after year they have been hunted for reasons
that are not justified, and given no chance to throw off the bad name they
have been given. This day I attempt to restore it through the words that
come to mind as I raise my own pup. I have never been the kind who is well
with words of feelings and emotions, but this comes as natural as my
research. The feeling that rushes through my body as this animal simply
lays its small head on my knee is something that I never knew before. Now
my previous life seems so bland, the colour so dull to what it has become
Researchers. Darrion "Wolftale" Jekkon is just one of many that
collect information on Wolves. He happens to be the unlucky man who lost two
fingers to one Wolf, trying to count the teeth of live, captured animals. After
the loss of his last two fingers on his left hand he learned that gaining this
information by studying a dead Wolf might be a better idea. The conclusion of
these findings was recorded above. This researcher also spent more than half a
year tracking a large Wolf pack to learn all he could about these animals. At
the end of his time tailing the pack he was able to take a Wolf pup from the
exceedingly large litter that had been born two months before. He reasoned that
he was doing the right thing and the pack would be better off with one less
mouth to feed, though guilt still lingers. The years he had spent with the Wolf
pup he raised has begun to erase that guilt as he has done his best to give the
pup a good life and learn even more about these wonderful animals.