A drake of the mountains, Lightning Drakes are known for their ability to produce lightning currents. While they are usually contained to their personal territories during fair weather, they become fiercely active in lightning storms. During these storms, they replenish their lightning capacities and engage in violent battles in dominance for mating rights. While they are technically classified as a drake, many refer to the creature as a "Lightning Dragon".
Image description. The Lightning Drake enjoys sitting on a mountain top in a lightning heavy thunderstorm. Picture drawn by Seeker.
The Lightning Drake, 10 to 12
peds from snout to tail (with females being slightly larger than males), is
a fierce creature, menacing and ruthless, and this shows in their cold,
reptilian eyes. Just behind these piercing eyes, horns protrude straight back in
a slight curve, shimmering frighteningly. The rounded jaw leads to a lean snout
filled with sharp teeth and aceedic saliva that burns through the flesh of its
prey, beginning the digestive process before its food even enters its stomach.
Tendrils protruding from the jaw shimmer like lightning.
From the top of the head, a jagged crest follows down the drake’s elongated neck, leading to its muscular body and continues to the tip of the tail, which makes up almost half of the drake’s length. A being mainly of the air and not of the earth, the Lightning Drake depends first on its wings for motion, and the muscles in its back contribute to the strength of these enormous wings. With the shape of a bat’s, the wings are punctuated with horns at the joints and are sharply defined in cold angles. The drake’s back legs give it upward-climbing ability, and here, too, the drake has significant musculature.
The front legs of the drake are small and rarely used, as the drake generally sits on its enormous hind legs when at rest. However, the drake’s legs, both hind-legs and fore-legs, form into sharp claws, which it uses to grasp the crags of its mountainous habitat, as well as to hunt for food and defend itself.
Illuminated by current, the Lightning Drake glows in frightening hues ranging from a striking silver to an electrifying purple, each scale imbued with its own haunting light. When at rest, the drake turns a dull grayish brown, blending in to its rocky environment. Its eyes are often an icy blue.
The Lightning Drake, as its name suggests, can produce lightning current. Where
this power arises from, none knows, but the power seems to come from deep
inside, manifested at will. When sleeping or at rest, the
drake becomes more
neutral in colour, its scales lack-luster, but when defending its nest or
territory, its body becomes illuminated by lightning.
Contrary to popular belief, the Lightning Drake cannot “throw” lightning or toss lightning “bolts” at enemies. However, those who come in contact with the drake suffer the shocks from lightning emanating sporadically from its form. By touch (and sometimes proximity), lightning surges flow through any being with whom the drake comes in contact with. This, however, happens only when the drake taps its lightning abilities.
The ‘lightning’ capabilities of the drake are mediated through lightning exposure. Only through occasional exposure can a Lightning Drake maintain its lightning abilities. For this reason and others, these drakes are most active during lightning storms, where they take to flight into violent skies. Because of the limits of the ability, drakes generally only use it when necessary. They depend a great deal on their claws and small, razor teeth.
Territory. The Lightning Drake resides primarily in the Mountains of Nirmenith, in a range including the Lands of Pain and Ráhaz-Dáth Desert's Norong Sorno area. These drakes thrive on the western side of the mountain range where lightning storms are a frequent result of high winds and warm climate. Despite sharing territory with other dragon-kin, the Lightning Drake does not often clash with others in the area. They can be found in steady numbers in the Lands of Pain, and are often sighted Lightning Drakes on the outskirts of the Aj'Nuvic Grounds, seeking out game.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Lightning Drakes are solitary creatures. Occupying themselves to hunting and stalking about their own cliffs and crags, they feast upon the fauna of the area, which they will often dive upon and mutilate with their sharp claws and teeth. While they are vicious and violent creatures, they are relatively harmless to humans who leave them to their isolation.
They generally hunt during the day, and lie in rest in caves and under over-hangings where they blend in well with the rocky surroundings. Relatively mundane, the drakes seem safely contained in fair weather. When a lightning storm moves in, though, the drakes become wildly active and violent. They roar with a high-pitched screech as a way of calling out their presence. Sensing the storm, drakes travel, sometimes leagues, to where a storm is raging, and there will often engage in fights with other drakes of the same sex. These fights are often terrifyingly fantastic to behold - giant beasts aglow with lightning current, battling in the stormy darkness.
Diet. The Lightning Drake is not a picky eater, and will consume most any creature that wonders into its mountainous abode. However, the drake is particularly fond of larger game, such as mountain goats, though they will also eat sand mice, rabbits, snakes like the Rahaz’Norong (commonly know as the "Thalambath Snake"), and birds. The drakes also journey closer to the foothills to feed on deer, such as the ar'bez, the g'nu and the aka'pi, and will feast on any oryx, brown á'neayh, or ellez'ga that enter their habitat. Despite living near the aj'nuvics, Lightning Drakes are rarely able to catch these clever creatures.
The Lightning Drake can go days, even weeks, without eating as it waits for migratory game to enter its habitat. Not opposed to scavenging, they will take what food they can get. While the drakes don’t appear to be fond of consuming humanoid races, attacks are not unknown, and the wise traveller will avoid Lightning Drake territory, or at least pass through with caution.
Mating. While mating behaviour may occur in other situations, the only documented observations have been during the fall and spring, when storms are more likely. Many scholars attribute the violent behaviour of Lightning Drakes during storms to the fact that these beasts generally engage in intercourse during this time. Aggression between drakes is generally interpreted as displays of power and strength. Females that prove their superiority over other females get to choose their males more selectively - and they will often choose males who have proven themselves superior over other males. The female is usually the initiator of intercourse.
Intercourse is a semi-violent affair, but brief. A few months later, females will lay 2 to 4 eggs in a mountain nest constructed of pebbles, gravel, and often the skins of prey. Females fiercely defend their nests until their young hatch in the three to four months following. When the little drakes emerge, they are a fraction of the size of their parents, about the size of a hobbit or small child. However, they grow quickly. Nest mates compete for food and space, and rarely does more than one survive. Some of the young drakes will starve, unable to compete for food. However, more often, the stronger will shove the weaker out of the nest, causing them to meet their death on the mountain.
The few young that do survive leave the nest less than two months after hatching. From here, they generally become transients, searching the mountains for a place of their own and feasting upon rabbits, rats, and other small animals until they are able to tackle larger game. It takes approximately a year after they leave the nest for these drakes to reproduce. However, once they are sexually active, they will generally mate at least once a year.
It is generally assumed that, like most dragon-kin, the Lightning Drake has a sizable lifespan. However, because of frequent deaths during lightning storm fights, the true lifespan remains hard to approximate.
Myth/Lore. During the year of darkness following the Dragonstorm, myth weaves the tale of a great storm that raged over Thalambath. For weeks it showered over the city. The people called and cried for reprieve from the horrible thunderstorm that threw down lightning from dark and tumultuous skies, from the thunder that roared through the air. They prayed to Avhan to stop the endless storm, but as the storm arose from their sins, Avhan would not eliminate it entirely from the sky. However, hearing their cries, he chose to take mercy, and decided to give the storm a more corporeal form, turning it into hundreds of drakes that fled to the nearby volcanoes, and there they have dwelled ever since. When the storms again come to the area, the people of Thalambath say these dragons are to remind them of their sins, and the dragons flit through the storm as a demonstration to those beneath of Avhan's power, as well as his mercy.
Researchers. While few researchers have sought out the lightning drake as serious study, many other researchers peregrinating through the drake's habitat have written extensively on rare and dangerous encounters with the beast. One of the few observations of the drake's ferocious lightning-storm battles was recorded by volcano-researcher Bertius Felgrad, a dwarf of the Nirmenith clan, on the 8th day of the Passing Clouds in 1443:
Encountering a Lightning
Drake. We had travelled many leagues, up the rocky crags and
cliffs that crumbled underfoot and threatened with every step to send us
reeling, tumbling down the merciless mountain face. Asebell, who has thus
far guided us through the more dangerous mountain passes, near met her end
when a stone slipped beneath her feet, and it was only through Gladoph's
quick reaction she survived, grabbed and hoisted to safety. It is a
frightening sign that even the most experienced climbers among us could
meet death on this mountain.