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Drake

Fat drakes are harmless. Slow and full and rarely aggressive. It’s the young thin ones you need to watch out for. A hungry Drake is a dangerous drake. Sort of like Ossandrians…
– Doren Grey, Sentinel of Selene

Also Known as: Drage, Lux.-Tarak, Sub.-Ejdraga, Sver.-Drach, Muj.-Garn
Habitat: Savanna and jungle
Hazard Level: High

Summary
Drakes are enormous quadrupedal monitors that grow up to 3-5m in length and 115-250kg in weight and are well known for their deadly bite and toxic saliva. These dangerous predators can be found in Nehep, Subin, Southern Victra, and in the drier and more coastal parts of the Ossandrian Mire.

Description
Drakes are huge predatory lizards with powerful tails as long as their body, a mouthful of serrated teeth between 3-5 cm in length and a long forked blue tongue. Equipped with razor sharp claws which are used readily against prey and a bite that almost always kills its prey. For defense it has thick, bone reinforced scales, as hard as chain mail and apt to shrug off even the most skilled blows. Drake vocalizations include distinctive rumbling hisses and guttural barks that can send the most experienced adventurer to flight.

Stories of Drakes often focus on the grisly sight of blood dripping from its mouth; this bloody discharge is the result of teeth covered in gingival tissue that is naturally lacerated during feeding. This odd trait creates the culture necessary for the lethal bacteria that live in its mouth. These septic pathogens in their copious bloody saliva are particularly virulent, cultivated as they are in a harsh environment. Wounds inflicted by the beast are often associated with sepsis and subsequent infections in prey animals. How the drake remains unaffected by the virulent bacteria remains a mystery but some stories suggest it is even capable of spitting this toxic miasma at prey. Notably, the species is oddly dimorphic in this trait; female drakes lack the pathogens but do possess a mildly venomous bite that inhibits blood clotting, lowering of blood pressure, inducing muscle paralysis, and the triggering the induction of hypothermia leading to shock and loss of consciousness in envenomated prey.

The Drake sees poorly in the dark and has low visual movement acuity. It’s primary sensory organ is its tongue which is used for smell and taste and the Drake is well known for its hunting behavior, ambling along swinging its head side to side and extending its tongue in order to enhance its senses. The Drake can detect carrion from 10km away and prey from 5-7 km in ideal weather using this technique.

The Drakes preferred habitats are dry, hot, open, grassland and savanna and tropical forests or jungle. They are known to dig holes between 2-7m wide which they to conserve body heat through the night.

Drakes are burst hunters, capable of rushing prey at 20-30 km/h. They can climb trees and drop down on their prey, lie in wait to ambush them, knock prey down using their tails, or simply bite prey once and wait for them to succumb to their lethal saliva.

While Drakes are not prolific predators they are well known for the danger they represent. Frequently content to survive by carrion eating, they do enter periods of high aggression, seeking out anything that might be remotely considered edible. Because of their metabolism Drakes can survive on rare meals, sometimes only eating 12 times a year, but during a rage the Drake might eat far more.

In addition to preying on a variety of mammals and reptiles, Drakes also consume humans and human corpses when the opportunity arises.

Drakes eat by tearing off large chunks of flesh and swallowing them whole while holding down a carcass with their forelegs. For smallish prey they can swallow the prey whole due to their articulated jaws, flexible skulls, and expandable stomachs. The copious amounts of red saliva they produce help lubricate their food. Swallowing whole is a long process, between 15-20 minutes and a Drake can accelerate the process by ramming the carcass against a tree to force it down its throat, sometimes ramming so forcefully that the tree is knocked down.

To prevent suffocation while swallowing the Drake breathes through a tube under the tongue that connects to the lungs. The Drake eats up to 80% of its body weight in each meal.

After digestion the Drake regurgitates a mass of horns, hair and teeth covered in malodorous mucus, known as a beazor. Notably, Drakes are cannibalistic and will eat competitors.

Drakes are monogamous and form pair bonds after mating but are Drakes are also capable of parthenogenesis, procreating without need of sperm when environmental conditions necessitate it.

Young Drakes spend most of their time in trees, avoiding the more ground based and cannibalistic adults which make juvenile drakes 10% of their diets. When the young do approach prey they have the disgusting but advantageous habit of rolling in feces to deter hungry adults. Drakes take 3-5 years to mature and may live for centuries.

While juveniles are shy and avoid humans, adult clusters of Drakes are apt to view individuals and small groups as prey. Such clusters are able coordinators and develop sophisticated hunting strategies.

Drakes make overt threat displays when outnumbered, gaping their mouths, hissing, swinging their tails and charging attackers. Drakes do seem capable of distinguishing and remembering humans and are not averse to play and other non-food motivated, non predatory behavior.

Arctura of Coll
The only known instance of a ‘tame’ Drake, Arctura was raised from a hatchling by Lord Shaw, a wealthy Victran high aristocrat with naturalist aspirations. Arctura has eaten far better than most of Lord Shaw’s labourers, a fact that has made her an icon for Victran revolutionaries. Arctura is larger than average for her species, and has a rudimentary grasp of dozens of commands. She has a blue-green coloration and often sports a finely crafted silver collar. Behaviorally, Arctura is generally calm and docile, though curious. Whatever wild impulses Arctura has have been dulled by captivity and pampering. Arctura lives in a large enclosure that abuts Lord Shaw’s property. Though Arctura is owned by Shaw her daily care and maintenance is the responsibility of Darvin Cobb. Cobb and Arctura are nearly inseparable and though Cobb is a cobblers son with minimal education he has developed a considerable herpatological knowledge working with the Drake and other reptiles kept by Shaw.

  • Some Selenian medics have begun to study the Drake and the cationic antimicrobial peptides that are found in their blood. Some claim they are able to create a potent healing serum with the right amounts.