|Common Nicknames||Wild Dog, Lupan|
Wolves have long been a predator at the fringes of many societies of Aloria. Predators, hunters, and pack animals, their role in modern-day Aloria has largely been reduced by the growing urbanization of the Regalian Empire. Still, the animal has been spread wide and is considered the first canine, having later become the many domesticated dog breeds beloved by Ailor in the modern day. The Wolf has somewhat diversified as well to fit the different terrains it lives in, with several subspecies forming in various areas of Aloria.
Wolves have long been a feature of several Human Races over the centuries. For the early Ailor, the Ceardian forests, mountains and even plains were dangerous places in their early years due to the existence of this predator. To that end, religious iconography and belief about the beasts as creatures of war and violence was extensive across the continent in the early years of Ailor civilization, though it gradually faded and became just one facet of wider Ailor paganism. This was also a feature of the Ailor who could be found in the Regalian Archipelago. As for the Qadir, they saw Wolves very differently. They were seen as creatures of the sand, masters of disguise, and clever predators, occupying the same spot many foxes do today in the modern mind. In Qadir polytheism, the animal rose up to be a symbol of several gods embodying those characteristics. Finally, the distant Dwarves in the once temperate north noticed Wolves but only rarely, seeing them as noble creatures at the top of Ellador’s food chain. In the centuries leading up to the Cataclysm, these ideas expanded and contracted at various times. For their part, the Altalar did not appear to care much for the Wolf and some doubt the concept that they spread it from Ceardia to other regions of Aloria, insisting that the Wolf as an ancient animal had already been spread across the world generations before the Altalar even emerged in Teled Methen. Regardless, it took until the Destruction of Ceardia for changes to come to the Wolf population of Aloria. An entirely new species was born in the chaos, and the animal was more extensively introduced to Essalonia. Today, the Wolf is a symbol for many things, nobility, ferocity, guile, unity, and is also extremely populous, existing across all of Aloria.
Wolves are considered by many to a base species of canine, as it was from them that all other domesticated breeds were derived. To that end, they have a wide array of appearances, but there are commonalities across the various subspecies. They stand between three and a half to six feet long (including their tail), two and a half to three and a half feet tall, and weigh anywhere between 80 to 140 pounds.Their heads possess all the traits of a wolf with a broad snout, short rounded ears, normal sized eyes that can be blue, green, or amber colored, a normal-sized mouth, as well as a short neck. They possess padded, four toed, clawed feet resting at the end of four lean legs built for running attached to their sleek bodies designed for a similar purpose. The animal is also covered from head to tail in a coat of fur.
As mentioned above, the Wolf is an extremely diverse animal. In its spread across Aloria, a wide variety of subspecies have emerged on the various continents to suit a variety of different needs. In general, their population numbers are equal between the two sexes, though sexual dimorphism does exist with female wolves often being smaller than male ones. Below can be found a listing of the various subspecies of Wolf in Aloria.
- Common Wolf: The Common Wolf is one of the most populous species of Wolf, and exists across Corontium, and areas of Oldt Era and Essalonia. It is generally considered “standard” and the most likely source from which all other species sprung. Their fur color varies from shades of brown and tan to grey, and their sizes are similarly open. Their eyes can be any color.
- Northern Wolf: The Northern Wolf is most common in the northern regions of Aloria, dominating The North Belt and existing in areas of northern Essalonia and the Regalian Archipelago. They are often one solid color with minor hints of grey or tan and tend to be on the larger side, with blue eyes the most common among the species. They are also the group most routinely dominated by Dire Wolves.
- (Ceardian) Silver Wolf: Silver Wolves, also called Ceardian Silver Wolves, are a unique offshoot from the Common Wolf and range in areas of Essalonia and in captivity elsewhere. In many respects they have the same physical traits and appearances, except that they possess two tails and have a solid grey, semi-reflective coat of fur on their bodies. This is thought to have been caused by Void mutation, but the chaos of Ceardia even before the Destruction has some believing that they were often mistaken or lumped in with the Common Wolf population when observed by Ceardian Ailor.
- Sahrimal/Desert Wolf: The Sahrimal Wolf, also called the Desert Wolf, is native to Farah’deen alone and also the smallest species of Wolf. They are sand-colored, which is to say pale beige and light browns with highlights of white, and have well adapted to the harsh climate. They are not as populous as they were in the time of the Sariyd Empire, as the Great Storm saw to that, but they still live largely at the fringes of the Songaskian Masaya and in wild places, largely feeding on carrion. They are also unique for their ability to require less water than other species of canine, and that their eyes are universally amber in coloration.
Life Span and Development
Wolves are born in litters of one to six, emerging with a thin layer of grey fur, and are both deaf and blind. Their mothers care for them in their dens for the next three weeks, as first their sight comes to them and then the ability to hear. As they grow up for the next four months, their mass and bodily features rapidly develop, though they are not yet hunters. They still have young teeth and play fight with their siblings. By five or six months, they join the adults out on the hunt and fully develop over the next half of the year. Close to the one year mark, the adolescent males are considered to be “full males,” and often leave the pack at this time to mate and either form their own pack or join another. Some don’t for at least a full year, resulting in a larger pack. Females normally remain in the pack they are born to. Mating often occurs in the spring and this bond is for life. Their lives are surprisingly short, dying naturally between six and seven years old though a few members have reportedly lived as long as ten years when at least partially cared for by Humans.
Wolves are a highly intelligent hunting animal well known for their complex methods of communication. Their faces are known to possess a range of expressions similarly to dogs, from curiosity, to boredom, to vicious. The animal also communicates through its howl, which is done to signal other members of its pack to group up, or to warn them, and this sound often echoes through the surrounding terrain, most commonly in the nighttime, but also during the daytime. The Wolf is also a predatory animal, meaning that they are also hostile to other predators as well as animals it deems as prey. Rabbits, rodents, and cervids are the most common animal they hunt, while other wolf packs, as well as other predators like foxes, are usually confronted. In the case of the Dire Wolf, however, that animal often brutally asserts its own dominance over one or more wolf packs to create a hunting party around itself which usually continues until the Dire Wolf leaves of its own accord or Humans disrupt the pack enough to separate the subservient from the master.
Territory and Groupings
Wolves live much of their life in packs of five to twenty, controlling a certain territory from a set den. However, if prey grows too scarce, the den becomes unsuitable or they become too threatened, the wolf often shifts their territory. The size of each territory varies greatly and are marked by Wolves so that other packs usually know when they are entering another’s territory. They are also territorial, disliking other packs moving into their area, however, in some of the largest territories, packs unite together to form larger ones of 30, sometimes even 40 members. The only time one might see a Wolf truly travelling alone, is when they have left home and are seeking a mate; this time rarely lasting any more than two to three weeks.
- Wolf pelts are a common trading commodity among the “cruder” societies of the world, particularly the Velheim Ailor and the Url.
- Wolves can occasionally be domesticated, but are not allowed to be brought into major cities of the Regalian Empire as pets. As a result, they remain relatively rare as a sight to city dwellers.
- Wolves are one of the most common symbols of heraldry within the Regalian Empire, the most notable perhaps being the standard of House Howlester.