Pearltail Shadowlake; aka "Pearl"
Underdark Lake Dragon (ULD)
12' long, snout to tail-tip
Quadrupedal, with webbed toes, small sharp claws, short legs, long, broad flattened tail, and short, thickened paddle-like wings. Fine scales, scutes, and pockets of bioluminescent coloration, scant whisker-like hairs here and there. Broad, somewhat flattened head, rounded snout. Has improved darkvision (ultra violet and infra-red, with normal range in between). Electrical breath weapon - actually projected electrical pulse from two nodules within the roof of the mouth. Sharp teeth. Immune to electrical attacks/damage. "Pearl’s" coloration is a deep, oily black, with patches of glowing blue-green and white along the flanks and back. Note that the glow is controlled - it can be "turned off", dimmed, or made to flare in a blinding flash; it is used for communication, identification, and defense. The coloration and pattern of bioluminescent pockets varies for individuals and family lines; though their base color (oily black) remains consistent. They are endothermic - that is, their temperature is internally controlled, not dependant on exterior temperatures.
The exact origins of the Underdark Lake Dragons(ULDs) are unknown, although descent from any other known dragon-type has been ruled out. Historical references found in records of other Underdark advanced races indicate that very often, the ULDs were already present when their civilizations began. The ULDs themselves claim that they began within the underground caverns of a distant world, now lost, and traveled to other worlds via underwater gates deep below inhabitable levels. The lack of evolutionary records within the fossils thus far discovered seems to bear this out; raising the potential that other dragon-types are in reality descended from the ULDs. Their smaller size enables them to survive in groups where larger dragon-types would starve - or be completely unable to live. The organ - often called a firebox - which allows other dragon-types to breath fire, plasma, or acid, is in the Underdark Lake Dragon more of a resonating chamber, apparently tied into their sonar and mating calls. It also seems to play a part in purging radiation from their bodies. Highly social, they readily interact with other intelligent species - although they display an animosity towards Illithids(mind flayers), Beholders, Aboelith, and their kin.
Underdark Lake Dragons possess chameleon-like abilities, allowing them to appear as members of other races. They are able to transform into a somewhat humanoid form, using their chameleon abilities to create the nuances and fill in the gaps in their appearances. In their natural forms, the adults range in size from 8' to 25' long, snout to tail-tip. A rare, ancient example might attain 35' in total length. They are streamlined, somewhat flattened, and move along low to the ground, capable of covering great distances with amazing speed - both in and out of water. To any other dragon-type, the ULDs have a watery, slightly ozone-tinged damp scent - not unpleasant per se, just reminiscent of wetness and damp stone after a lightning strike.
Underdark Lake Dragons(ULDs) are smaller than most other dragon types, and possess a heightened intelligence, rivaling that of most other intelligent races. They live in extended families and colonies, often alongside communities of other races near the vast underground lakes and oceans within the Underdark. Able to use magic and even create spells of their own, they often transform to blend in with their neighbors, occasionally interbreeding, creating hybrids. Commonly employed as lake-side defenders of Underdark cities, these small dragons are fiercely territorial, often driving other, larger water-borne predators out of the lakes they inhabit. Omnivorous, they prefer a diet rich in Underdark freshwater krill, fish, shellfish, and crabs, mushrooms, lichens, and an occasional slab of roeth; fruits and melons from the surface world when they can get them. The lakes and oceans they inhabit typically have geothermal vents far below the surface, creating an ecosystem totally separate from any source of light. They can use and create tools and weapons, though they prefer to use their magic, claws, teeth, and electrical attacks when fighting. Swift and agile swimmers, they are surprisingly fast and dextrous on land, fighting co-operatively against intruders, making them dangerous opponents. Underdark Lake Dragons can not fly, having traded flight for improved maneuverability under water; however, they can glide short distances, and many are able to levitate. Capable of diving to extreme depths, the larger scales on their flanks open to reveal gill slits, allowing them to remain underwater for as long as they wish. They are, in essence, amphibious, breathing air or water as needed. ULDs lay eggs in nests above the high-water line, and are nurturing parents, raising their young and often taking in the orphaned young of their neighbors - even those of other races. They enjoy basking - even if only in the dim glow of the bioluminescent lichens and mosses that dot the cavern walls and ceilings. They possess a version of telepathy, usually restricted to emotions and images, sensations, and sharing memories of more detailed happenings. Underdark Lake Dragons can speak any language they may learn, within individual limitations. These are usually learned to facilitate trade and communication with their neighboring races.
They will try other food sources, when available, and greatly enjoy a variety of fruits and melons when they can get them. Indeed, they have been known to travel great distances through underwater caves and flooded passages to reach sources of fruits and melons in season. This is one of the main reasons an Underdark Lake Dragon might be encountered on or near the surface of a world - he or she has come in search of something tasty to eat, most likely with a group. Many secret trade routes to the surface exist, usable only by those who can breath water, as they do, opening up into surface caves or artesian wells/springs.
The electrical pulse "weapon" is a modification of the electrical eel's ability. In ULDs, the pulse is generated within their bodies, and travels along a series of nerve bundles which act as capacitors, ending in the two nodes projecting from the roof of the mouth. A series of contractions of tiny muscles around these nodes triggers the release of the built up charges, which can then do one of three things: arc across to the opposite node, electrocuting anything held within the mouth; spread over the entire surface of the ULD, effectively electrifying it - and zapping anything that touches it; or run through a jet of water/spit/moist air exhaled/projected at a target, striking said target like a taser(to stun) or lightning(to kill). The ULDs learn to control this ability as they grow into it, using it in hunting as well as in defense. It is most effective in water, however it also works quite well out of water, though with a reduced range.
The faint scent of ozone that ULDs have is due to the charges building up within their bodies. As the charge increases, so too does the scent of ozone.
The larger and older a ULD gets, the more times it can release these charges between recharge phases - and the greater the control over it.
"Pearl" and both her ULD clan and the Drow Household she belongs to recently fled the destruction of their home city - The City of One Thousand Eyes; the City of Insanity. For centuries, the city and its lake had existed within a pocket inside a creature of chaos, a blob of living flesh, tentacles, eyes, and mouths. The magic that had created the pocket and kept it stabilized finally failed during one of the wars between ruling Houses, leading to the digestion of all remaining within. By working co-operatively, both the nesting ULD clan and this one Drow Household managed to escape with minimal losses. Previously intermarried, they continued to work together, united in their struggle to survive. They have resettled, far away from the thing that ate their last city, and are closer to the surface, better positioned for trading.
"Pearl" herself is an adventurous sort, having taken a Drow male as her mate. She regards his family as an extension of her own, though she does not see herself as subservient to his Matron-mother. She has recently had her first clutch of eggs, and is even now raising her hybrid babies, alongside her sister, "Sapphire". It is because of the babies she has come to the surface, seeking certain fruits and melons to enhance their health, as well as new experiences to encourage their developing minds. "Pearl" has become the assistant treasurer of the Drow Household, her mate being the treasurer. As such, she conducts trade agreements, does the Household’s banking on the surface, and helps mind their finances in situations where a Drow would be seen as a threat. She is proud, intelligent, and strong, a fine example of her race, and dearly loves her mate and their six young. Any threat to them will have to face her first.
When in her true form, she wears a pearl necklace - mating gift from her beloved - and her carry pouch, where the babies can hide or tuck their discoveries in for safe keeping. Usually, the babies ride on her back, or scuttle along around her feet. In her humanoid/elven forms, she appears to be dressed appropriately for the society she is dealing with. This is a combination of chameleon abilities and actual transformation. When transformed, her babies ride in the carry pouch, or scamper along behind her, either themselves transformed, or not. "Pearl" and her babies are accustomed to the surface world, as well as the Underdark, and are not disturbed by the changing levels of light.
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