The Voidwalker (Drakine Véredeí; scientific name Vacuum Geniale) is a shy, reclusive breed of Euthoran dragon best known for its ability to travel through personalized dimensions (commonly called "voids") and use psychokinetic limbs known as vectors. They are Lurkers of the Vacuum genus, descended from Skyking Krthonius, and are a Water-Aligned species. They become the dominant species of Euthora during the Reformative Era.
Though native to Euthora, they may be found literally anywhere in the Manaverse that can sustain a creature of their size that breathes oxygen. Voidwalkers have a strong homing instinct, however, and are prone to returning to Euthora even if they were not born there. They are said to be responsible for the spread of Euthoran Shapeshifters to Phantasia and Syelsumoia; Voidwalkers are also notable on Euthora for being one of two species of dragon to be resistant to the point of near-immunity to dracoimpery, the other being the Phasma.
A group of Voidwalkers is called a pod.
Voidwalkers are lithe, sleek creatures with small, fish-like scales unlike the sharper and more prominent scaling of other dragons. Though smaller, these scales are still strong, being mythril-based, and waterproof. The scale is made of keratin, plated with mythril that has been "dyed" black by pigments secreted from the root of the scale, except for in luminous neon patches that create the Voidwalker's distinct markings. The crests on their heads form six-pointed crowns in both genders, carrying two main points forming pseudo-horns, two smaller spikes in front or on top of them, and two medium points below the main crest.
The Voidwalker is a relatively small species of dragon, with an adult male standing at approximately two meters in height at the shoulder. They are quadrupedal and wingless, with strong legs built for running and a powerful tail with a membranous fin at the tip, built for swimming in water and steering in the frictionless space of their voids. The fins may vary in shape and size between individuals, but are always horizontal and have two strutted flukes, like a dolphin. Similar to their tail fins, a long dorsal membrane runs down the spine, supported by thin struts, beginning from the base of the skull and ending partway down the tail. The dorsal membrane is used both for steering and for heat regulation.
The membranes carry the same color as the Voidwalker's markings, though a male's are broken by black stripes. The markings are luminescent and usually bright, neon colors, though both of these traits may change if the Voidwalker is subject to a pigmentation anomaly, noted below. Their eyes are also this color, though often slightly paler. A Voidwalker's eyes have no visible sclera and the irises glow brightly enough to drown out the pupil, which is white. Markings may vary wildly between individuals, though underbellies and rings on the neck and tail are fairly common. Naturally luminous, the Voidwalker may dim or completely turn off the glow if it so chooses with nothing more than a thought.
The mouth of a Voidwalker vaguely resembles that of a shark, being situated at the bottom of the muzzle and usually unnoticeable if closed. The jaws are lined with small, but needle-sharp teeth, useful mostly for grabbing hold of prey. Their teeth are made more for gripping than for tearing, though they do have canine teeth prominent enough to inflict damage on struggling prey or to tear tougher meat. Physically, Voidwalkers do not have much in the way of weapons- their paws lack talons and are structured mostly for traction when running- and instead tend to let their vectors do the work. Because of this and their slender frame, Voidwalkers are considered to be "frail" for dragons.
Voidwalkers are highly expressive with their fins and dorsal membrane; most of their body language is conveyed through these means alone, as their scales are too tightly attached to their bodies to bristle, they make few distinct facial expressions, their pupils are nearly invisible, and they have neither talons to unsheathe nor wings to flare. Generally a raised dorsal membrane is an expression of anger or fear, while the movements of the tail fin are more complex. It is difficult to read a non-verbalizing Voidwalker's mood for anyone who is not also a Voidwalker.
These are conditions present from hatching and are a result of the volatile pigments that these dragons produce, particularly in the luminescent ones that form their markings. They still however have a "base" color, which displays in the color of their Voidcore- for example, a melanistic blue Voidwalker will have an electric blue Voidcore, much lighter than the color of its markings.
When noting the Voidwalker's color, the proper syntax would be to state the nature of the anomaly, and then the base color. For example, "severely melanistic red", "albinistic green", or "spectrum pigmented blue".
- Albinism: The result of a severe metal deficiency in the scales, albino Voidwalkers are not truly victims of albinism. Their scales are brittle and a translucent white, unplated keratin. While their dorsal membrane and tail fins display some color, these are highly diluted, washed out variations of what should be their natural marking color. "Albino" Voidwalkers have no markings and thus do not glow; their eyes are entirely cloudy and white, rendering them blind. The lack of mythril in their scales makes these dragons nearly defenseless against attacks, and Voidwalkers with this condition rarely survive to adulthood.
- Leucism: Causing the markings of a Voidwalker to appear lighter and less saturated, this condition has little effect on the dragon other than appearance. The markings glow more brightly than normal, and may result in colors nearing white on the spectrum. This degree of leucism is rare, however, and it is more common to see grays tinged with the Voidwalker's base color.
- Melanism: The opposite of leucism, melanism causes the Voidwalker's markings to be darker in color and glow less brightly. The more severe the melanism, the more physically weak the dragon tends to be, but Voidwalkers afflicted with this condition tend to have a better aptitude for magic and stronger psychic capabilities, including their vectors. Melanistic Voidwalkers tend to be on the smaller side of the scale.
- Severe Melanism: Severely melanistic Voidwalkers lack markings entirely and do not glow. Their dorsal membranes and tail fins are a light, translucent silver, and in the Reformative Era this leads to severely melanistic Voidwalkers being called "silvers", "grays", or some variation as a derogatory term. Though not part of their natural disposition, this aspect of Voidwalker culture- which prizes vibrant, radiant markings- often results in the individual developing an anti-social tendency.
- Spectrum Pigmentation: One of the rarer anomalies in Voidwalker coloration is the production of multiple bright pigments for the markings. While this can result in the Voidwalker having different markings of different hues, it is named more for the tendency of these pigments to blend and create a vibrant gradient across the markings. At their strongest, the glow of a Voidwalker with this condition can be nearly blinding, and is useful for obscuring the specifics of their form when fighting.
Like all Euthoran dragons, Voidwalkers are warm-blooded, but have the ability to regulate their temperature with their dorsal membranes. This is particularly useful for them when traveling to new planets where the environment may be uncertain; unlike other dragons, they are not built specifically for hot, cold, temperate, coastal, or inland environments, but rather can thrive in all of them.
Voidwalkers are incredibly fast runners- they are the fastest land-based predator on Euthora, able to run long distances at a steady 70 MPH or sprint in bursts of nearly 200 MPH. This comes from their strong legs, their sleek, streamlined shape, their fins being able to cut through air resistance, and the structure of their internal organs. Voidwalkers have large hearts and lungs, as well as a highly flexible spinal cord. While their tail is built primarily for swimming, it can also act as a rudder and allow them to make swift, sharp turns.
These dragons are also strong swimmers, in no small part because of their fins and powerful tails. Their large lungs and the nature of their circulatory systems allows them to hold their breath and their blood to store oxygen for nearly twenty minutes at a time, and their glossy, tight scales are almost entirely waterproof, allowing them to easily dry off after getting out of the water. Like deepsea fish, Voidwalkers provide their own light where the sun would be unable to reach, and may occasionally go after large fish such as sharks for a challenging meal.
Voidwalkers have an incredible sense of balance; it is hard to knock one off its feet. This stems from their need to maintain mobility in their voids and even in water; it also helps them keep themselves oriented when sprinting.
Voidwalkers seem to have specialized areas of their brains that other dragons do not; these are thought to directly relate to their psychic abilities, such as telepathy and vectors. This also makes them highly resistant, if not entirely immune, to dracoimpery.
These dragons are named for their chief ability- a limited vacuoimpery, allowing them to open, travel through, and reside in a sort of alternate dimension- a personalized vacuospace object-isolation dimension, or simply referred to as a "void". More specifically, they are named for the slight shuddering that occurs in the space where their feet touch the ground, with the occasional flare of the void itself becoming visible, as if the very act of walking is opening a rift into their world. Voidwalkers are considered rare not because their population is low in number, but because they spend the vast majority of their time in these voids, usually only emerging to hunt or raise their hatchlings. An injured Voidwalker will almost always flee into its void to nurse its wounds and heal, and can easily travel hundreds of light years away to another planet instantaneously by using their voids as portals.
Voidwalkers are also well-known for their use of the psychokinetic limbs they can manifest from their shoulder blades, usually known as "vectors". These vectors, while not quite as strong as those of a Diclonius, are usually more numerous and longer-ranged, and usually take the form of claws when the Voidwalker is fighting. They may also shape these psychic limbs into true hands, blades, whips, barriers, and even wings should this flightless dragon ever require the ability to fly. Voidwalkers may have up to twelve vectors, with more powerful individuals rarely displaying more, and seven or eight is the average number. Range can vary wildly, usually settling around twelve to fifteen meters, though the longest recorded range was nearly thirty meters long.
Magic is a skill Voidwalkers prize, and most have at least a basic understanding of it and Mana Theory in general. This knowledge is attributed both to their ability to travel to worlds where magic is highly developed, and a natural disposition towards the skill as a Water-Aligned species. More powerful mages among the Voidwalkers can rival the sorcerers of Durasken's High Circle in skill and technique.
Though Voidwalkers have the ability to speak verbally if taught, their primary method of communication is telepathy. Inherently, this is merely a way to convey mood, images, and concepts more than actual, fully-formed thoughts, though if the Voidwalker understands the language the other party speaks, it may form thoughts in that language. This telepathy also provides an interesting defense against dracoimperists and other psychic attacks; the dragon can directly attack the mind of its assailant, causing anything from headaches to permanent mental damage.
Voidwalkers have the ability to produce flawless, dipyramidal crystals of Mana with a core created by their vacuoimpery. These gems, called Voidcores, are extremely valuable on Euthora- with the right buyer, one could buy a small town with one. The reason for this is that the easiest way to obtain a Voidcore is to kill the Voidwalker that produced it, which is no simple task. The crystal is translucent, a clear version of the Voidwalker's base marking color, aside from the core which can range from bright purple to pitch black.
The Voidcore has two properties. The first is that it has a psychic connection with the Voidwalker that produced it; the dragon will always be able to tell where it is, and one holding a Voidcore can communicate telepathically with the Voidwalker in question if it is still alive. This alone is an invaluable feature, as once befriended, Voidwalkers are powerful allies and usually willing to aid their companions in battle or with important tasks.
The second property is that the core, when breached, will open into a one-way portal to a location of the holder's choosing. This is most easily accomplished by shattering it, but all one has to actually do is expose the core to air- which can be done by drilling a hole through one end of the crystal. This is time-consuming if one wants minimal damage to the Voidcore, and impractical to use in dire situations, so the most common way is to break the Voidcore entirely.
Voidwalkers can produce multiple Voidcores over the course of their lives. Creation time varies depending on how actively the dragon uses its vacuoimpery, being a direct if gradual byproduct of the ability. Voidwalkers do not begin producing these crystals until adulthood, and it may take anywhere from a few months to several years for the gemstone to fully form. Most Voidwalkers keep the gem(s) with them for safekeeping, though some hide them away.
Wild Voidwalkers tend to be shy and skittish, and the species is relatively solitary; they travel alone or in life-mated pairs, and hatchlings will depart from their parents at about a year old. Being hunted for their Voidcores, Voidwalkers tend to avoid human civilizations by secluding themselves in their voids, and are fairly reclusive by nature. Despite this, a wild Voidwalker may be approached with little issue if it is made to understand and believe that no harm is intended, but its trust is hard to earn and it will be ready to escape in an instant. They may also form bonds of friendship with other sapient beings, particularly humans, though this is quite rare.
Voidwalkers are highly intelligent, reportedly the cleverest species of dragon on Euthora. Because of this, people are advised to be careful when dealing with them- they are tricky beasts and have warped senses of humor. This intelligence leads them to be highly curious and inquisitive by nature, which would often get them into trouble were they not also resourceful and quick to make an escape.
Young hatchlings are active, playful, and inquisitive, and easily pick up the mannerisms of those around them, be them draconic or not. The species in general has an incredible memory, and hatchlings will take experiences they have in their infancy all the way to adulthood. They remember old friends and enemies they have not interacted with in years, remembering every detail of their interactions even if the other party does not. Thankfully, their natures are not vengeful, and while a Voidwalker may play pranks on old enemies, they are quick to forgive and let go of grudges.
Aside from speech, adult Voidwalkers are almost entirely silent. They do not growl, hiss, or roar like other dragons, and may only rarely make a warbling cry when angered. Hatchlings are known to chirp, but quickly grow out of this. Their silence combined with their steady, assured gait when walking gives them a cool, almost regal air.
Voidwalkers typically nest in the winter and hatch after a year-long incubation period.
During the Reformative Era, Voidwalkers form a true culture and society. They prize vibrant, radiant markings and quick wit; melanistic Voidwalkers are slightly looked down upon, though only the most severe cases are ever truly mocked, with slurs such as "gray" to refer to the lack of color.
Young males will chase down fast, carnivorous prey without the use of anything but speed, strength, and teeth- no vectors, voids, or magic- as a rite of passage among themselves. They are competitive with each other and may congregate in small groups of four or five to needle each other about hunting or the brightness of their glow. Here, too, melanistic Voidwalkers are slightly cast out, in no small part because they are also physically weaker than their peers and must rely on their higher skill with vectors and magic to hunt. Their peers see this as "cheating".
"Albino" Voidwalkers are seen as somewhat of an ill omen for the population, as the defect tends to be hereditary and a sign of a poor location to live in. The parents may attempt to care for the afflicted hatchling, but their blindness combined with the brittleness of their scales makes it incredibly easy for predators to get at the hatchling. On the extremely rare occasion that one survives to adulthood, a sibling or rarely a parent will act as their eyes, conveying the world around them through telepathy, but they are otherwise given a wide berth and have short life spans.
Though not built for any specific environment, Voidwalkers may live wherever they choose as long as the air is breathable. They thrive the most in coastal, temperate climates, but easily adapt to their surroundings and may adjust their diet accordingly, incorporating fish and vegetation such as fruit should prey be scarce on land.
Voidwalkers seem to prefer rocky coasts and low mountains, making their nests out of rocks and occasionally sand or dirt. They handle extreme temperatures well, and are resourceful and sturdy enough to survive in areas with little water. Even if the environment is lacking in something that they need, they can always travel to another location and immediately return once their needs have been met.
Voidwalkers evolved to form the powerful wings of their ancestors into true forelegs, adopting a fast, streamlined build in the process. As they evolved, the species selected to downsize, creating small, agile predators with legs and lungs that could carry them to speeds rivaling the fastest prey available. As the prey grew faster, so did the Voidwalkers. Everything about their skeletal structure is adapted for running long distances quickly, and the membranes serve multiple purposes and are invaluable to the species from an evolutionary standpoint.
While already sapient, intelligence increased greatly over the generations; as the dragon lost its claws, fire, and prominent teeth, it gained the capacity to quickly learn and master magic, quite similar to humans. It also developed specialized areas of its brain to gain powerful psychic capabilities, as if to make up for its lack of natural weapons.
Aside from this, Voidwalkers change very little between the middle of the Radiant Era and the end of the Reformative Era; what evolutionary changes do happen are imposed on them by the pantheon, such as a homing instinct to bring traveling individuals back to Euthora, and during the Reformative Era, shortened lifespans and the desire to congregate in larger groups to form a society. Changes imposed at this point have no effect on already living dragons, leaving certain Voidwalkers alive from the Radiant to Reformative Eras.
- Eggs are glossy and black; hatchlings start out nonluminous.