The True Firedrake (scientific name Vulcus Ignifer, Drakine Miir-Dráki "Fire-Dragon", Acaranian Agnidraco "Fire Dragon" or Agnirosery "Fire Breather", also known simply as the Firedrake) is a species of Euthoran dragon that was driven to near extinction at the beginning of the Dissonant Era. At Standard Canon Time, the species is considered extinct in the wild, as the only remaining pure-blooded True Firedrake is Corian Fyreborne.
Firedrakes are long, lean, and sinuous, with vast but narrow wingspans and tails that make up over two thirds of their body length. Fully mature adult males can be over 50 feet long, but dragons of this species never stop growing, and thus a truly ancient specimen may measure hundreds of feet long. Agile and flexible, True Firedrakes are most at home in the sky, but can move easily over land or through liquid. While naturally quadrupedal, they may rise onto their hind legs for brief periods of time by using their tails and wings for balance.
While the typical Firedrake is a brilliant red in color, they may also be orange, yellow, golden, or even ash gray and black. Their underbellies are covered in leathery scutes which are gold in color, a color usually shared by the ventral sides of their wings. The eyes of this species tend to be amber or gold in color, but may be as contrasting as a clear blue on rare occasions. These dragons very rarely have markings such as stripes, tending to be solid colors of varying shades with the only contrast lying in the colors of their wings, scutes, and crowns.
Firedrakes and all of their subspecies share a common sleek, sharp body structure. Their skulls are narrow and angular, carrying a hooked snout, serrated fangs, and a prominent many-pointed crown. This crown is made from dense bone and metal to defend from attacks from above, and in True Firedrakes is typically eight-pointed: two points on the central crest and three on each eye ridge. Alongside the crown are long, smoothly-curved horns which grow in pairs; a mature adult will usually have four, but very old dragons may have up to eight.
All Firedrakes carry two rings on their tails made of the same leathery hide as their ventral scutes. Additionally, they have sharp triangular spikes, reminiscent of shark fins, growing along their spines, ending before the first tail ring. The ends of their tails are tipped with an elongated four-sided spade.
The limbs of a True Firedrake are all tetradactylous and all talons are semi-retractable.
True Firedrakes are warm-blooded, oviparous reptiles that typically lay nests of three to six eggs.
The scales of all Firedrakes are notable for carrying high amounts of Orichalcum alongside the usual Mythril. The inherent heat resistance of Orichalcum allows True Firedrakes to withstand the heat of lava without ill effect.
The sensory organs of Firedrakes are particularly efficient, most notably the eyes, which have a clarity surpassing that of birds of prey.
In addition to their unrivalled heat resistance, True Firedrakes have a strong inherent affinity to the Fire Element. This allows Pyroimpery to be a very common Subdomain-based Soul Phantasm in the species.
Because of the high Mythril content of their scales, the True Firedrake readily absorbs and retains incoming Mana-based attacks. While this doesn't offer any particular resistance to these attacks, it allows the dragon to store high amounts of Mana in its scales. The dragon can either use this as an external Mana pool, or it can Fireshift the Mana, allowing it to "breathe" it out and ignite the air around the Mana in a blast of flame. This results in the common fire-breathing ability seen in this species of dragon.
True Firedrakes are proud, arrogant, and aggressive. Not only do they share in the typical superiority complex of other Euthoran Dragons, but their origins on Deveron lead to a particular level of aggression where hatchlings and males in the same family will often fight amongst themselves, commonly resulting in death.
These dragons are infamously cunning, clever, and generally intelligent, able to devise schemes and battle plans readily. Natural leaders with a take-charge attitude, they are the most likely species (barring Ancestral Dragons) to be leading other dragons without the aid of dracoimpery.
True Firedrakes are predators and obligate carnivores. Though rare, some have exhibited the cannibalistic tendencies seen in Stormcloud Firedrakes, though this is usually done purely for the metal in the scales of other Firedrakes. True Firedrakes are also almost single-handedly responsible for the decline of the Euthoran Phoenix, hunting them specifically for access to the elemental's core in order to assimilate the Mana.
Firedrakes nest in the winter and hatch in autumn. Both parents care for the nest and resulting hatchlings and mate for life. Courtship often involves spectacular aerial displays and fire bursts, ultimately resulting in the male chasing the female high above the clouds. Here the two lock talons and the chase becomes a deadly freefall dive to the ground, with the two breaking away at the last possible second, an ultimate display of trust.
True Firedrakes prefer warm mountains and volcanic regions. They are particularly common around active volcanoes and may create their lairs in caverns submerged in lava. Despite their overwhelming preference for heat, they can survive and even thrive in subzero conditions due to their natural affinity with and mastery of fire.
True Firedrakes are Light Saurians of the Vulcus genus, sharing this genus with the Heavy Saurian Pyrespines. This genus is the only one to span multiple dragon cassifications due to the extraterrestrial origins and prominent hybridization seen in the genus.
True Firedrakes, along with Pyrespines, evolved from a currently-unnamed species of dragon originating from Deveron, scientific name Daemon Vulcus. D. Vulcus was "sent" to Euthora from Deveron as part of a deal or truce between the two worlds, as while the Vodera admired and respected the power of their dragons, D. Vulcus was too much of a liability to them, being as aggressive as it was.
D. Vulcus gradually evolved on Euthora and bred with local dragons, gaining the species sapience and the abilities and traits inherent in Euthoran dragons, eventually forming the Vulcus genus. Despite evolutionary integration over the generations, the dragons in the Vulcus genus still use Mana in a similar manner to how they used Vorpal and retain the hyperaggression they displayed on Deveron.
The True Firedrake, specifically, has also evolved numerous subspecies as the species was slowly driven to the brink of extinction at the beginning of the Dissonant Era. Most of these subspecies are the result of interbreeding with other species of dragon:
- Acidulous Firedrake: Interbreeding with the Illusionary Wyvern. The subspecies retains the wyvern's body structure, bright colors, and potent venom. This is the only Lesser Wyvern of the Vulcus genus.
- Adamantine Firedrake: Interbreeding with the Winterwing. The subspecies retains the Heavy Saurian body structure, as well as coloration, high metal-content plates, and preference for cold environments.
- Barbed Firedrake: Interbreeding with the Thorntail Wyvern. The subspecies stays a Light Saurian, but gains the wyvern's spiked, barbed appearance and low tolerance for cold weather.
- Darkwing Firedrake: Interbreeding with the Soulfire and Pyrespine. While the Soulfire is a Light Saurian, the Darkwing Firedrake developed the body structure and hyperaggression of the Pyrespine, while taking the scale color of the Soulfire. Also notable is the blue-white color and sheer heat of the Darkwing's flames, which were inherited from both the Soulfire and True Firedrake, respectively. The extra pair of wings was not inherited.
- Golden Firedrake: Interbreeding with the Tiirenkrain. While the subspecies remains a Light Saurian, the Golden Firedrake inherited the Tiirenkrain's calm and wise demeanor, as well as its notable golden color.
- Plated Firedrake: Interbreeding with the Armored Wyvern. Though the subspecies remains a Light Saurian, the Plated Firedrake inherited the thick, metallic plates and markings of the Armored Wyvern, while its aggression lessened in comparison to both origin species.
- Stormcloud Firedrake: A natural mutation in True Firedrakes that lived in storm-torn areas. The evolution of the Stormcloud Firedrake was a natural evolutionary response to frequent lightning strikes in the dragons' territories.
True Firedrakes are common heraldic symbols and are second to the Ancestral Dragon for being the most common depiction of the Dragon in Euthoran heraldry and symbology.
Due to their symbolic prominence and famous affinity for fire, True Firedrakes are often mistakely referred to as Fire Elementals, fire spirits, and avatars of Kouhal en Myyr.