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 Ashmarian Wolf
View picture in full size Image description: The Mari, the beautiful Ashmarian Wolf. Picture drawn by Enayla.

Appearance. 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.
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Special Abilities. 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.
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Territory. 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 Highlands.
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Habitat/Behaviour. 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 Wolves.
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Diet. 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.
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Mating. 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.
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Usages. 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 for mattresses. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 21st Rising Sun 1668 a.S.

Information provided by Torek Ozzot View Profile and Garret Arroway View Profile