The tribesmen referred to the Shuvarsumari, White-Slashing-Devils, as being the chief threat out on the tundra.
While there are other predators present which are dangerous, only the Frost Owls actively hunt the Tribesmen themselves. Little can be done as precaution, for the Owls leave few tell-tale signs of their presence. The tribal hunting parties are large and slow moving, looking out for the small black eyes which might be the only warning of attack.
Our expedition to the Mountain of the White Diamonds will take us through lands said to be rife with the beasts, for the reindeer are present in vast herds. Let our preparations be enough to see us through!
The name Frost Owl belies the size and danger of this Nyanthian-Antarctic predator. It appears as a 7’ tall, snow-white owl with fairly small wings. Its legs are fully feathered and end in massive, sickle-like talons 6" in length. Its eyes are small for an owl and its beak is long and wickedly curved similar to an eagle.
As a bird, it is lighter then its appearance would suggest - the largest specimens barely weighing 160lbs, but it is still dreadfully powerful and it’s speed is frightening. Allied with its nearly silent movement and excellent camouflage, it is the terror of the southern tribesmen.
During the short summer, the Frost Owls coloration shifts to a more earthy color matching the mossy tundra. This camouflage is not as good as their white plumage during the winter, but is still quite effective.
The Frost Owl is a fierce hunter and scavenger. Due to the limited prey in the southlands, it considers anything as prey, from lemmings to the massive Megamoths and even humans.
The Frost Owl primarily feeds on the plentiful reindeer on the icy continent, but also feeds on the massive Megamoth - more as a parasite then a predator. Not large enough to bring down such gigantic prey, it still can use its limited flight capability to leap onto the massive beasts, tear free chucks of flesh and blubber, and then leave to devour the morsels. The Megamoth is large enough it generally cannot prevent this type of attack, but can easily survive these injuries. In addition to being powerful hunters, they are quite willing to eat carrion.
The Frost Owl fills a similar niche as Polar Bears, but being more inland has not adapted to hunting seals. Instead of swimming, it has flight as it’s secondary movement capability. It is not capable of sustained flight, but can fly for about 1-minute periods, allowing it to navigate most terrain and to pounce upon the largest of prey.
The Frost Owl is well armed with very sharp talons usually 5-6" in length for adults and appear somewhat oversize. They are partially retractable to prevent dulling from running prior to attacking prey.
The Frost Owl is at the top of the food chain in Sagaris, even over humanity. Excellent mobility, camouflage and powerful natural weapons allied with it’s perception of humans as viable prey make it a real danger to all but the best equipped parties.
They can be used as a dangerous winter encounter or they could be transplanted elsewhere, perhaps as an animal combatant in gladiatorial games.
Range & Territory
The Frost Owls are confined largely to the 200’mile wide band of tundra between the sea and the massive inland glaciers. Due to the scarcity of prey through most of the year, the Frost Owls do not have established territories, but follow their prey animals as they migrate around the continent. The Megamoths are one of the few creatures that use the barren glacial ice fields as a ‘short cut’ and so the Frost Owls will occasionally follow herds on these hazardous treks.
Frost Owls are adapted to cold climates and do not do well at warmer latitudes.
Frost Owls establish durable pair-bonds which generally last as long as it takes to raise a set of brood (generally 2-3 years, depending on available food). Broods range from 1-3 owlets, with a single owlet surviving to adulthood.
Frost Owls may live up to 40 years, but the harsh nature of their habitat and the dangers of hunting usually limits them to at most 20 years.
Descended from Snowy Owls, they still have limited flight abilities. They may evolve to further specialize as Megamoth parasites and degrade their flight ability in favour of leaping and springing. Those dwelling near the coasts may evolve to better exploit the seal and walrus populations found there, and so further follow the path of Earth’s Polar Bear - losing flight in favour of swimming and increasing weight and strength.