|Official Name||Dire Wolf|
|Common Nicknames||Ul’s Hounds|
|Habitat||The North Belt, northern Essalonia|
Dire Wolves are among the largest animals in the North Belt, standing proudly at the top of the northern food chain. Cautious and clever, these solitary hunters have gained a fearsome reputation. When unnaturally abandoning said solitary nature, they have overrun large settlements and towns, which is unsurprising given their indomitable size and ferocity. Few witnesses to Dire Wolves survive to tell the tale, leaving many to speculate about what exactly these massive wolves are truly capable of.
The Drovv first encountered the Dire Wolf and later, the Isldar during the final few centuries of the Elven Empire’s reign Due to the Dire Wolf’s tendency to occupy shallow caves, these wolves rarely quarreled with Alorian Races which is why they remained undetected for so long. When they finally were confirmed as real, it was observed that they avoided Trolls who similarly occupied these caves, the two regarding one another with a cautionary indifference. The Dire Wolf’s normality, however, would come to change immensely with the Cataclysm, especially those in Drowda, as Dire Wolves native to the land would be corrupted, their coats turned deep Tyrian purple, and their giant size and abilities only amplified, known now as the Drowdan Dire Wolf. During the chaos of the Cataclysm, normal and unaffected Dire Wolves witnessed their cave neighbors, the Trolls, grow corrupted and furiously aggressive, which set the two species against each other. With the Trolls corrupted by the Void in contrast to the still ordinary Dire Wolf, the wolves were eventually expelled from their caves altogether and forced to adapt to the forests of the Northern Belt. With their size still far surpassing that of most northern predators and prey, it did not take long for the Dire Wolves to dominate the forests. Velheimers and Dwarves experienced the negative effects of this, as Dire Wolves entered settlements hunting livestock and scaring locals from their homes in effort to secure their territories - some Dire Wolves going as far as to try and infiltrate Dwarven cave societies, ultimately gaining a reputation for itself as an extremely dangerous and monstrous creature that should be killed on sight.
Velheimers engaged in large-scale hunting operations after 50 AC to find and slaughter these creatures, hoping to lower the menace’s numbers and show their Gods their strength. The Isldar did something similar though passively, only hunting Dire Wolves when they were near rather than intentionally seeking them out. These hunts drastically lowered the Dire Wolf population, though, on occasion, the Dire Wolf numbers became too many again, and called for another large-scale hunt. Despite these active hunts, Dire Wolves have spread out all along the Northern Belt and northern Essalonia. These wolves may not ever be permitted to reach high populations, but it hasn’t made them any less dangerous to the unprepared. The most recent hunt was in direct reaction to the Bone Horror Crisis in 304 AC, where a large number of Velheimers banded together to pursue a Dire Wolf pack which had emerged from isolation to attack towns due to the Bone Horrors pushing them out of their old hunting grounds. The result was a massacre on either side - but the pack was obliterated.
A Dire Wolf, once it has reached physical maturity, will stand at around four feet tall while on all fours, and its weight will vary from 200 to 300 pounds. It’s length, from tail to snout, is approximately six to seven feet. The Dire Wolf’s ears stand upright similarly to average wolves, taking on a triangular shape, often at four inches away from the skull. Their eyes are brown, and their mouths are wide-reaching with infamously large and sharp teeth, their canines growing up to six inches. Dire Wolves are built far bulkier than their distant relatives, the Northern Wolves, with more muscle volume and thicker bones in comparison. The Dire Wolf is typically white-grey but can vary in shades of brown, pure white, or complete grey, the fur that entirely covers their body often thick and making valuable sturdy pelts.
Dire Wolf pelts have regional variances, with those further north having predominantly white pelts, and those further south having brown and grey. It is said that the Dire Wolves in Drowda were all of complete snow white fur before their coats were altered to the deep purple it is today. Female Dire Wolves will only slightly vary from the male, growing to be insignificantly smaller.
Life Span and Development
During pregnancy, the Dire Wolves will hide away in a safe place such as a large burrow or very shallow cave, as the male will have to leave the family behind to hunt. Dire Wolves are capable of giving birth to a single litter every year, and their average time of pregnancy is two months. A Dire Wolf litter will be born in pairs of four, though the weakest of the litter is typically outcast and left to die after the family moves on. Dire Wolf pups are nearly indistinguishable from those of a normal wolf, though a fine eye would notice their bones developing to be far thicker than an average wolf pup. The Dire Wolf growth will accelerate enormously around three months, and reach it’s full, physical maturity in just one year. Dire Wolves live far longer than average wolves, which is more than just a result of fewer deaths to the wild. The Dire Wolf has been known to live up to twenty years, far older than it’s inferior canine relatives, but physical deterioration will kick in at fifteen regardless of their health. It is just a matter of how extended the painful but slow experience of age and death is for them.
The Dire Wolf is hostile towards anything that isn’t their kin. Infighting has been witnessed, but it is rare and likely playful behavior. When it comes to hunting prey, the Dire Wolf seems as if to be very self-aware, avoiding enemies in large quantities and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. A Dire Wolf will not throw itself into dangerous environment or conflict unless it is certain it will be victorious.
Territory and Groupings
Dire Wolves are temporarily accommodating towards their kin, but territorial towards others of its kind. Fighting over territory rarely begins, because a battle between two Dire Wolves is a gamble for both and not certain victory, so the outsider will typically leave the location cautiously. The Dire Wolf will find a safe and discreet territory, which the female and pups will remain while the male hunts. When the litter is fully grown, they will be ejected from the territory to fend for themselves in the wild, leading to the conclusion that natural Dire Wolves will always remain solitary hunters without a large pack.
- Dire Wolf pelts are highly sought after due to their efficiency and rarity. Most of the Dire Wolf pelts on the market are not even of the Dire Wolf - and those that are usually come from the female wolf, which is considerably easier to defeat.
- Some of Velheim descent believe Dire Wolves to be the Gods in a bestial form. Often, sacrifices of livestock and chosen humans will be made to them. Though this conflicts somewhat with the direct teachings of the Old Gods, lines are often blurred in these smaller villages.
- There are rumors of a Dire Wolf pack in Jorrhildr that numbers in the hundreds. No Ailor adventurer has attempted to find the truth of this yet though the Url would relish the challenge such a pack would present if real.