Welcome once again to another episode of Fridays in AEthrem! In our series on wild beasts, we turn away from the open sea and deep jungle, going closer to home. This week, we look at a hot-blooded danger most citizens of western Valerica are all too familiar with - the fearsome moon wolf pack!
Moon wolves are native only to the Sillindri Wildlands and those territories on its periphery, despite having no apparent problems with surviving outside of these specific regions. They show none of the fear of humans exhibited by other wolf species, but have only been first encountered within a few days of a full moon - hence their common name. Whether this fleeting presence is due to some migratory hunting pattern or another aspect of the moon wolves' natural instincts is still undetermined.
Packs that have been encountered varying from five to twenty members in number, and have invariably been led by their largest member, regardless of age or gender. Individual members of the pack are about average size for most wolf species - 80 centimeters tall at the shoulder with a body roughly 150 centimeters long. Most moon wolves have mottled black and silver fur, but specimens with pure silver coats are frequently encountered.
The wolves show no hesitation in attacking humans encroaching on the Sillindri Wildlands. Typically, this ambush occurs well after dark and is proceeded by a "spotter" from the pack - a single wolf, typically one with an attention-grabbing silver coat, moving into the open and drawing the attention of the targeted humans. Eyewitnesses often report being dazzled or confused after looking these lone wolves in the eyes, unable to act. Whether this effect is a natural ability of some moon wolves or just mistakenly attributed to the animals is not certain.
While the rest of the pack moves to encircle and ambush the humans, the spotter will continue to draw their attention, avoiding attacks from their human targets for as long as possible before fleeing. As soon as the pack's spotter runs or is killed, the other moon wolves rush forward in a blur of fur and fangs. The creatures invariably target the weakest few of the humans they attack - focusing on between one and three human victims in a single strike. While some victims of moon wolves will be killed where they stand, most will be seized by the maw of one or more of the creatures and drug out into the night will all possible speed.
Humans assaulted by moon wolves have only experienced a single attack in any one night. After an assault, the pack at a safe distance, but close - their victims able to hear the cries of the wolves and their victims through the remainder of the night. On every subsequent night, the wolves make another lightning strike, dragging away additional victims each time - slowly whittling away at the humans' ranks. After selecting a group of humans to harass, moon wolves are very persistent in their pursuit of their quarry - using their superior tracking skills to pursue and harass a group for a week or more, sometimes travelling for kilometers outside of the Sillindri Wildlands before returning to their home territory.
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