Once upon a time, there was a dragon.
He was a regal creature, as tall at the shoulder as a man is at the head. Gold fibers adorned his head and tail like hair, and when he moved they would shift against each other, hissing and whispering in song. It was a song of gold, of wealth, of easy power. Effortless nobility. And, in truth, that was what the dragon had -- for the gold ran through his body, emerging in his fur and feathers and horns. Even where gold was absent, his coat was of smooth cream and chocolate hues, the most full and beautiful of any seen in the land. Some say that it was the dragon's true skin, and that he was blessed with gold as reward for some childhood heroism. Others believe that he emerged into the world that way, a hatchling with threads of gold beneath its skin.
It didn't matter, really. The dragon did not know what was said, nor would he have cared if he did. He guarded his territory like a hardened soldier, driving out any who tried to cut into his land. Never did he act with violence, though; through intimation, patience and harmless force, he would corral intruders and send them off. No one knew how well he truly fought, for none had ever seen him do so. But there wasn't a creature willing to try, for this dragon moved with such speed and grace that he would surely be deadly in battle.
Though his existence was so fully solitary, he never longed for company. The beast was fully aware of its glory, its superiority, and could think of no worthy mate. He knew not his neighbors nor wanted to try; what cared he for them? He was a ruler. He was a king.
And he was a complete jerkface.
Let's try that again.
Once upon a time -- that time being now -- there was and is a Draik by the name of Qhief. He's a rare and magnificent creature. He knows this. He's powerful, mysterious, as graceful as you'd expect a dragon to be. He knows that too. His territory is vast and lush, his hoard of treasure is on par with that of any Western dragon in any storybook, and not only does he know these things but he'd be very happy to go on about them.
You can't really call him spoiled, because he does work for what he has. He just doesn't work very hard; he's never had to. The valley that he calls home is something of an oasis in a barren area, a patch of unexpectedly healthy forest in a mountain range with little to offer. Qhief is powerful (and flashy) enough to drive off other apex predators, but as a single individual he can't deplete the entire area's resources. The end result is that he has just enough to get by without majorly disturbing the ecosystem, and little competition when it comes to hunting.
Survival comes easy to him... in this one specific environment.
Adaptable is not a good word for Qhief, you see. He has his routine; he sticks to it; it works. That's all there is to it. Threats are few and far between, so he's never experienced serious illness or injury -- which means he doesn't really know anything of strategy or healing. Intruders from neighboring areas are rare, and not particularly varied in skill or species, so he doesn't know much about other races. And there's never been incentive to leave the little valley, so he knows nothing about the rest of the world. Not even through word of mouth; he doesn't converse with lesser beings.
He's not spoiled, but he's sheltered. And elitist.
But here's the thing about characters who are elitist, sheltered, and powerful only on their own turf and terms. Here's the thing about characters who aren't adaptable.
Sooner or later, they have to learn to be.
When it comes to Qhief, there's no horrible disaster that spurs his character development. His home doesn't burn down. His parents don't die in front of him. He doesn't discover a love interest, or a lifelong rival, or any massive conspiracy that might inspire a heroic journey. There's no epiphany in which he realizes that other people matter (or even that they exist), and there's no sudden inspiration to explore the rest of the world. In all honesty, he doesn't really care.
No, what happens is very simple: things change.
They don't change with a great and sudden upheaval, as they do in fairy tales or superhero movies. Rather, things change in small, subtle ways. It's like the slow slip into poverty that's no one's fault, the quiet ascent to adulthood that can't quite be tracked. Really, Qhief couldn't tell you where it begun.
Maybe one year there was a fire in part of the forest, and the ecosystem was slow to recover. Maybe one year too many insects died, or not enough of them did. Maybe the river was polluted somewhere upstream, and there weren't enough fish. Not enough fish means the predators starve, and the larger predators above them, and those above them. Then there's no one to keep the herbivore population in check, and they eat too many plants, produce too much waste, in which too many insects can breed... while other types suffer from the lack of vegetation, and the decreased numbers impact the things that that eat them, which impacts the things that eat them, on and on and on.
Nature always bounces back, see. It just doesn't bounce back quickly.
Not quickly enough to satisfy a very large Draik who isn't used to hunger, or to change. When resources start to dwindle and the prey begins to run dry, he does what seems sensible at the time; he moves. A pet as powerful and intelligent as him shouldn't have any problem claiming a new territory, right?
And that perfect life comes crashing down.
A • R O L E P L A Y • B I O
name : Qhief
gender : Male
age : Young adult; would translate to late teens or early twenties in human years.
species : Feathered Draik, exact breed unknown.
environment : Vagrant. Found mainly to the west, as he comes from the mountains not far from Altador, but this Draik can be found wandering far.
appearance : Build is strong, lean, with a powerful neck and tail. Huge wingspan, with wing shape somewhat resembling an eagle's; broad and bearing very distinct primary flights, built mainly for gliding to support his size and weight. The wings are fully gold if seen from the top, but bear patches of dark brown and white underneath. Much of body is dark brown, white or cream with gold bands and markings. Thin fibers of gold make up crests on head and tail; face, feet and the tips of the horns are also gold.
personality : Vain, arrogant, prideful, naïve. Very intelligent but not much of a fighter, and thoroughly clueless about the rest of the world. Doesn't know how to utilize a foreign environment or situation. Cannot cooperate well, but is trying to learn -- though skewed morals and an elitist streak mean it's slow going.
companions : A female Ukali. She has no set name; at some point in his journeys, the little white dragon started following Qhief to scavenge his leftovers, and in time they grew closer. It's gotten to the point where he won't continue traveling without knowing that the Ukali is just behind him. Though unacknowledged, this may mark his first step towards an increased sense of empathy and legitimate social skills.
300 words in three places.
e x p l o r e
He doesn't know where he is.
The great dragon trudges along over grass and rock, head bowed and tail low. He didn't start out trudging, moving in such a sullen and subdued manner -- it's not right, not dignified. He's supposed to exude power and grace at all times, in every small movement. He's supposed to be better than this.
It's coming as quite a shock to Qhief to realize he's not.
Tired and irritable, the Draik continues forward, flexing those gold-tinted wings ever so slightly. All this walking eats at what little patience he has, but days of nearly non-stop flying have left him too stiff and sore to bother. At some point, even he has to sacrifice dignity for health. Grudgingly.
He pauses only briefly, to take stock of his surrondings and attempt once more to make sense of them. The mountains that reach up all around him are unfamiliar, further east than he's ever been. Or is he north? Aren't these things supposed to be instinctual?
I should never have left, and the words are as venomous as he can make them, even with no one around to hear. That little detail doesn't rattle Qhief in the least; there's never anyone around to hear. Nine out of ten times he's talking, he's talking to himself. In his own opinion, that's the only person worth talking to.
If there are others, he certainly hasn't met them yet.
Mane flashing in the sun, the Draik heaves a sigh and tosses his head, as though to shake away impatience. Regardless of whether or not it was a good idea, he can hardly turn back on it now. There's nowhere to go but forward.
a d j u s t
They're in the Haunted Woods. It's a dark, dreary, bitterly cold place with nothing the least bit shiny or valuable anywhere in sight. There is little in the way of food and less in the way of entertainment. It took Qhief all of three seconds to decide he hates it here.
That was about when he decided he doesn't hate the little white dragon at his heel.
You're unfit to accompany a creature like me, you know. I should eat you. Maybe I will. He glances back over his shoulder as subtly as possible, as snootily as possible, and finds the Ukali still trotting along a good ten yards away. It watches him with the same wary, not-quite-somber curiosity as ever, white tail dragging in the dead grass.
Aren't you afraid? You should be. Most everyone is afraid of me, and with good reason. Qhief stops, turns more fully to face his stalker. The Ukali, always matching him step for step, pauses as well. No sign of fear or submission appears in its face or posture; the tiny dragon just blinks out at him with red eyes. Pale red. Cute, nonthreatening.
The Draik gives a loud sound of exasperation, a melodramatic shake of his head and flare of his wings, turning away. There's no sound or movement from behind him. Though he can't see it, he can imagine well enough the little pink eyes watching him, somehow baleful and remarkably unafraid.
He doesn't realize he's smiling.
e n j o y
Qhief doesn't laugh often, and it's rather unimpressive when he does. The golden voice gives way to animal noises, sharp barks of laughter that sound forced and somewhat painful. They're not forced, of course; he would never force a laugh, with the way he tries to hide even genuine humor. He doesn't laugh often because it doesn't fit his image, and maybe because there's never been anyone to share the joke with.
Until the little dragon showed up.
The Ukali rolls around in the grass, a tangle of white wings and scales and tail, yipping and chattering like a dog. It bats wildly at the moth fluttering above its nose, scuffling and snorfling and being adorable.
And its owner -- whether he would accept that title or not -- is cracking up.
Come on! It's not even the size of a pebble! You can't take a bug? Get it! That long neck arches and sways, gold wings flaring and striped tail beating the grass. It startles the Ukali to its feet, but it can't recover well from its jumbled position and the petpet goes sprawling.
Qhief howls with laughter.
The moment it's regained its footing, the Ukali scrambles for the shelter of the larger pet's body. It hides among his ankles, pressed up to the golden scales, and immediately the Draik shies away.
I-- that's-- that's improper. You don't do that. But he looks more puzzled than angry, and makes no move to shoo the petpet away. That's not a thing you do.
Almost defiantly, it snuggles up to one glittering front foot. Qhief makes a low noise of protest and surprise, but falters even as he makes a move to pull away.
The Ukali looks up at him with big pink eyes.
No. It comes a bit fast and a bit late, but then his guard is up again and he's stepped out of the petpet's range, is turned to walk away. Improper. Understood?
He leaves it sitting there and wonders at the disappointment he feels.
I'm always up for link trades, so if you've got an active Draik petpage, neomail me!
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