are small, drake-like creatures approximately
the size of a cat or small fox:
about the length of a human male's arm at full
length, not including a tail of about the length of a forearm. Because of their
size, they are often confused for young drakes,
hence the name “Whelplings” or “Hatchlings”. They are reptilian creatures, yet
their scales are arranged in succession down the plethora of bones located in
the wing, giving their wings a feathery appearance, thus lending them the name
The size and behaviour of Drakelets has led many drake researchers to dismiss the common assumption that these creature belong in the drake family, despite the few features they have in common with the Feathered Wyvern. They are completely unmagical creatures of an unacceptably small size. In addition, they do not have nearly the intelligence of drakes, nor the strength and prowess common to this reptile class. Some adamant scholars have even proposed that Drakelets are more closely related to dragonfly lizards, though few have accepted the theory. Although scholars have continually tried to find a more acceptable name for this beast, the term “Drakelet” continues to be widely used.
The Drakelet looks like a small drake, with
scales the size and shape of fingernails covering it completely, to the tip of
its feather-like wings. Its pointed head ends in a slight curve, giving it a
kind of elongated beak that can deliver a painful bite. The eyes are always a
flat black, and constantly give it a clueless expression - as though an orc
could be standing over it yelling with mace in hand, ready to clobber it, and it
wouldn’t take the slightest notice. It has small protrusions at the back of its
head, as though its structure feebly attempted horns, which not only are small
(only a nailsbreadth at most
in length) but are hopelessly blunt, like small nubs.
The Drakelet has a moderately slender neck leading to its rounded body, which has the appearance of being bloated. It has four short legs, each ending in four sharp claws, with a fifth claw protruding from the back of each leg. Its claws have the potential for being fairly dangerous, but are rarely used. Its tail extends from its body about the length of a elven woman's forearm, and tapers to a point. Two large wings extend from just below the shoulder blades of its front legs - wings which can spread across to a the length of a human male's leg. From the main bone of the wing protrudes a copious amount of longer bones, giving the wing its shape. Along each of the branching bones are layers of fingernail-shaped scales, slightly larger than many of the other scales that cover the drake’s back and head. The drake has only a bit of skin connecting one branching bone to another, though the scales cover it well and, in doing so, give the wing the appearance of being feathery. The broadest scales on the drake run from the base of the neck to the base of the tail, along the belly; however, though larger, these scales are no where as tough as those on its back, and have a leathery quality.
Drakelets come in several different colours depending on location. The Drakelets that dwell in the foothills of Ximax tend to be more green or green-brown, blending in with the trees that grow under the mountains. Those that dwell near the coast tend to appear more teal or dark turquoise, sometimes a dark sea-green. Those living in the more mountainous regions tend to have a bronze colour, sometimes with flecks of silver or red. Drakelets are fairly adaptive with colour, and if their environment changes, they have the capacity to change colours. However, his mechanism for changing colour only comes about if the Drakelet has difficulty finding food. Some Ximax students, having taken the creatures as pets, use this to turn their Drakelets more exotic colours, though these variations are less common and tend to take a lot of care to attain. Drakelets also shed their scales once a year in late fall, at which point their scales, regardless of colour, turn dull and unappealing, and flake as they become brittle as autumn leaves.
Drakelets’ only interesting ability is that which allows them to change the
colour of their scales. They have neither the agility nor the intelligence of
their larger cousins, being rather clumsy and awkward, and cannot perform magic,
breathe fire, shapeshift, or any of the other talents befitting
dragon and dragon kin. Some
people joke that the Drakelets must be magic,
because only through magic could they have
survived as long as they have. Their small heads make for small brains, and it
shows. They have very poor sight, and while it is assumed that they can
distinguish colours, they commonly get things mixed up. Observers tell a myriad
of stories about how a female Drakelet, mistaking the eggs of a bird for her own
after leaving the nest to hunt, hatched them and even then mothered them for a
short time before realizing her mistake, somehow unable to tell the difference.
Though they can easily be domesticated and trained to follow their master, they
often get confused and will begin following the wrong person.
Territory. Drakelets live almost exclusively in Xaramon, specifically in and around Ximax Academy, and are rarely found in other locations. They have found suitable places in the forests, in the mountains, and down around the coasts. Some believe that their sole location in Ximax is due to their attraction to the magic generated there, even if they can’t use it themselves.
Habitat/Behaviour. Drakelets tend to live, for the most part, in peace, without a sense of territory (or really, a sense of anything). The only skirmishes among them are over food. They tend to drift in and out of different locations aimlessly looking for food. All Drakelets can fly, giving them a necessary advantage over prey that would otherwise be more nimble and clever. Drakelets living in the foothills of Ximax tend to keep to the trees, blending in to the canopy and keeping their beady eyes out for motion on the ground. Those in the mountains are similar, tending to reside on higher parts of the mountains looking down the hill for movement, while those near the coast patrol the surroundings from cliffs and wave-worn crags. When they see a mouse or lizard or crab, or anything appearing the least bit edible, they dive. Though they have sharp beaks, most tend to use their weight (which averages 2 hebs) to crush the creature with its round body before quickly swallowing it down. Sea Drakelets, will at times use their beaks to try to spear fish, but typically crabs make up the majority of their diet.
Drakelets shed their scales once a year in late fall, at which point their scales turn dull and flake off, leaving them bony-winged and leathery. During winter, they hibernate in groups anywhere they can find, including barns and chicken coops. During this time, their scales re-grow and they emerge in spring with new, bright scales and a hungry appetite.
Although Drakelets have no natural predators, they tend to be timid of creatures larger or even equal to their size. This includes humanoids, dogs, and even some cats. Though dim-witted, they can be trained to follow a master around, and can be domesticated to some degree. While technically not allowed in the towers, the younger students of the Ximax Academy will sometimes take the creatures as pets, thrilled by the thought of owning a dragon-like creature, though many soon discover within a couple months how frustrating the creatures can be: not only are they difficult to train (to relieve themselves outside, for example), but once a year they shed all their scales, leaving a mess wherever they can find to scratch their scales off. Typically, within a year of the student acquiring their Drakelet, they try to pawn the creature off to someone else.
Drakelet stupidity is famous around Ximax. The Ximax rats are infamous for playing a variety of tricks on them as the dumb reptiles try in vain to catch one as a snack. They are easily confused, and have little or no sense of direction. Their antics have generated insults such as “Dumb as a Drakelet” or “Drakelet brain,” even “feather-brained as a Featherdrake!” Students also generate insults derived from their clumsiness: “You waddle like a Drakelet;” “Graceful as a Drakelet.”
Diet. Drakelets eat almost anything smaller than themselves: from rodents (including mice, rats, and young rabbits) in the forests, to lizards and insects in the mountains, to crabs and sometimes fish near the coast. They will even eat birds, if they can catch them, and eggs. While it would seem chickens would be good game for these creatures, they tend to stay away from these birds, easily confused and surprised by the screech and mass of feathery bodies that tend to result from an attempted raid of the chicken coop.
Domestic Drakelets will eat most anything, even fruits and vegetables, though all Drakelets require meat in their diet. They can be fed any meat, from chicken or turkey to cow to sheep. Though they seem to prefer it raw, they will also eat it cooked. Because their scales change without adequate food supply (an adaptive mechanism for ensuring survival no matter their location), some students purposely cut back the food to make their drakes change. This is a long process, sometimes taking months or, at most, a year. However, if kept in an environment of the desired colour and denied food, a Drakelet will eventually, and most certainly, change to the colour they see around them.
Mating. Drakelets mate once a year in late summer or early autumn, attracting each other through warbling and chirping noises. When two Drakelets find each other, they will mate, and then typically separate to seek out other mates. This behaviour continues for several weeks, sometimes as long as a month. The gestation period for females lasts until early spring, soon after waking from hibernation. They build nests out of whatever is nearby: sometimes rocks, sometimes leaves, sometimes seaweed, and lay usually 6 or 7 eggs. The leathery eggs are large enough to carry one, but not two, in your hand. Gray in colour, these eggs don’t require any type of incubation, though the mother will typically watch over them, protecting them from any potential predator.
Young Drakelets hatch in early summer, and though the mother will usually stay with them for several weeks while they learn to catch food, they are essentially independent from the time they break through their shells. Leathery and without scales when born, they develop quickly and are fully scaled within a few weeks after hatching. They typically begin mating after one year. The average lifespan for Drakelets is often difficult to determine, but most agree that they live between 7 and 10 years if no acts of stupidity cut their lives short.
Usages. The Drakelets provide companionship for any willing to withstand its stupidity and clumsiness. Drakelets have all the potential, it would seem, of being loyal pets, but their small brains make them easily confused and always in need of being cleaned up after. Their scaly skin, which seems as though it would be useful to make armour or protective gear, turns dull and brittle soon after the creature dies. The meat of the Drakelet is edible, but stringy and often bitter.
Myth/Lore. The specificity of the Drakelets’ territory has generated many myths concerning its creation, all relating back to the magic of Ximax. Some believe that the Ximax Orb somehow created the creature, though this has often been criticized for not explaining why the Drakelet has no power. Others say it was merely some sort of magical accident - a lizard and a bird being melted into each other by one of the huge explosions which occurred early in Ximaxian history. Still others have offered that it was the work of a great mage who tried to create a good pet, but seeing the result of is meddling, abandoned the creature to the wilds.