One of the smallest drakes on Caelereth, the Vól’aél is both a good hunter and intelligent opponent. The name Vól’aél comes from the Styrásh word, which means “one with an eagle’s eye.” Much of the appearance of this drake is due to a possible gryph heritage, and some Coór’hém legends suggest that it may have even been bred from a gryph, though this theory is definitely disputed. This breed of drake is one that exists only in Nybelmar, usually roosting in the Zsharkanian Peaks so as to stay close to its favorite prey, the Gaeldorioth gopag.
All Vól’aél have wings that extend somewhere on between three and four
peds, and occasionally up to
five. The Vól’aél has large eyes, but they aren’t as sizeable as those of an
eagle. The head of a Vól’aél is triangularly shaped and fairly flat on top.
Also, the Vól’aél does have a beak, sharper than a
Zarathian Dagger, instead of a set
of teeth. This beak narrows off at the point of the triangle in the rest of the
head and becomes slightly curved,and is usually anywhere from ten to fourteen
nailsbreadths long. At
birth, the beak is smooth. But through years of fighting, the beak tends to get
nicked and beaten. It has a black colour at the base where it meets the rest of
the jaw, but gains a lighter colour, almost a yellow, as it gets closer to the
Vól'aél are somewhat similar to the Feathered Wyvern. The total wingspan can be up to four peds. The wings of a Vól’aél are shrouded in feathers, but underneath these is a leathery covering. The feathers on the wings and on the body tend to be similar in colour to the leathery skin underneath them. The Vól’aél is very vulnerable to a broken wing.
The Vól'aél tail is long like that of other drakes, though it does taper off to feathers at the end. This drake has a set of small spikes. These small serrations are not very pronounced, but are still fairly sharp. The spikes extend past the end of the tail and about a fore into the back and mid section. The mid section is made of soft scales, but is still strong enough to resist the arrows of its main enemy, the Coór’hém elves, to some extent. All the scales and under covering of the wing is usually a brown or a mottled dark green. Their entire body is usually around three and four peds.
The legs of the Vól’aél are usually the same colour as the rest of the body, with traces of injohue found in the claws. The claw has four main toes that are used for gripping prey, with one toe in the back that is used for puncturing the necks of food for an easy kill. The leg of the Vól'aél is short in comparison to the one and a half ped legs of the Feathered Wyvern, usually never growing more than one ped in length.
There is some difference between a male and female Vól'aél. The female is usually larger and more aggressive. Also, the colouring of the body is more feminine, and is usually the green rather than the brown.
This type of
can hunt the gopag year round, and so it is
assumed, because Gaeldorioth gopag's are so
tricky to find, that they have superb eyesight. Because their eyes fill such a
large portion of their head, they probably see pictures much more clearly and
with more detail than humans.
They are also very strong, and the powerful claws that they have can clamp on to almost anything close to their size. They can usually lift up to one and a half times their weight!
The last thing that must be said is that Vól’aél are very intelligent. Their communication is not on the sentient level, but they are supposed to communicate intentions and basic emotions, and other ideas on a similar level. They are, regardless of their basic communication, true masters when it comes to strategy. They have the knowledge to hunt in packs and work together to bring down larger prey.
Territory. The Vól’aél usually nest in the mountains, and are found exclusively in Nybelmar. In the Zsharkanian Peaks west of the Crystal and Gaeldorioth Forests, these drakes find a comfortable abode, far from the danger of other drakes. Only in these mountains are they found, and only here have they been known to breed. Though relatively rare, these drakes do form small bands to live with, as a source of protection and as a way to bring down larger prey.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Vól’aél are mostly concerned with eating. They surf on the winds, a stral or more above the ground, and search the forests next to which they make their abode for their favourite prey, the gopag. Sometimes they will descend down to treetop level to look. They can be found in packs or alone, sounding a fearsome cry that is definitely similar, but perhaps slightly off-pitch to be the roar of a drake.
They will find a secluded spot, usually in a large outcropping in a high mountainside to build their nests. The area has to be unapproachable except by flight. While the Vól’aél does not have a problem attacking the Gaeldorioth gopag, the Zsharkanian gopag as well as the elf-orc breed in the mountains are some things they seem to fear. The fear of the Zsharkanian gopag though largely disappears when the drakes or flying in groups of three or more. They can occasionally spend a week just searching for and checking out a probable nest. These "nests" are not really nests in the normal sense of the word, but rather slight impressions in the rock where it has been worn away. If they cannot find such a depression, any kind of wall is usually preferred. They will stand on a point on a mountain where they watch the area around them. They do gather treasures like some other drakes, but are not as avarice about this hobby as some other drakes such as the Gem Drakes are.
To prevent from overcrowding, some of these drakes have taken to nesting in very tall trees surrounding the forest they try to hunt in. This gives them much easier access to food, but has its disadvantages. Of many other drakes, the Vól’aél is one of the few that is not born with an innate sense of flight. Although they can be taught by their parent and can end up mastering the ability, it is a consistent danger that they will fall through the tree. As such, it is still a very time-consuming process for this drake to find a nest. These drakes will search for a place in the Gaeldorioth Woods that has very closely placed trees. These trees must have crossing branches that form a distinct base for a nest. Next, they will pick up sticks and logs with their talons and pile them unto the closely packed branches. This will serve as the nest if the Vól’aél is forced to be in the forest.
The mother is usually the one who teaches the babies how to fly. This process begins only in the area surrounding the nest. Before going out to hunt, the father will spend a couple days finding a close uninhabited area. The father will search the area minutely for any signs of recent visit by elves or other creatures, large or small, before giving the mother and newborns the go ahead signal that they can come. The newborns are not invited on a hunt with their father until they have learned to fly well. This usually takes about six months, but even then they are not allowed to actively take part in hunting anything larger than the makaka or capou-capou. Only after two months of experience in watching their father and possibly mother hunt are they accepted as regular hunters with no limitations.
Diet. Vól’aél live in an area where the diet choices are varied. Their favourite food is gopag. The Gaeldorioth gopag is usually very hard to catch for the Coór’hém who hunt them, but the Vól’aél can hunt them year round. Vól’aél use their eyesight to fly above the trees searching for small depressions in the ground or disturbed dirt that the otherwise invisible gopag leaves. Though this drake doesn't usually attack sentient beings, the Coór’hém are a special case.
In the event that the Vól’aél cannot get gopag, it will hunt and catch deer and other small to mid sized forest dwellers to bring back to its nest. Although as mentioned above it will attack Coór’hém, it will not eat them. If for someone reason it cannot get or is unable to fly all the way to the Gaeldorioth Forest, the Vól'aél will stay in the mountains and instead hunt the makaka ape. This ape is small enough to be easy prey for the Vól’aél, but seems to be only eaten in extreme hunger, as it is easy to catch, but apparently not as tasty, for it is usually left partially consumed. The ones living in the forests are likely to hunt the capou-capou. a small flying ape that is common to the forests and jungles of southeastern Nybelmar.
A solitary Vól’aél doesn't always need to go all the way to Gaeldorioth though, they have other options. The Vól’aél can have a slight challenge hunting the milch goat, native to the mountains. Also, one of the most amazing sights in the world is a fight between a Vól’aél and a tager. These beasts are different, but, as noted by some Coór’hém, also surprisingly similar. Both have features that are similar to a bird’s, and both are exceptionally strong. This is the one type of fight that is usually only one on one, and the Vól’aél seem to respect the tager enough to challenge it in a fair fight. The outcome is always debatable. Talons and claws flash in the air, and wings hit and slam in the contest. The fight itself could last for very long periods of time, though not usually extending past a day before one of these fearsome beasts kills the other. The victor usually eats his opponent. For better or worse, these fights do not take place very often, mostly because of the scarcity of the tager..
When the Vól’aél are hunting in groups, the options in terms of food are slightly more varied. A group of two or more Vól’aél can hunt and bring down the fearsome lingra wildcat. Though smaller than the Vól’aél, this cat is extremely fast and has claws that best the ones possessed by the Vól’aél. Though a Zsharkanian gopag is a large and dangerous threat to a single drake, together, the Vól'aél can attack and kill this large and dangerous beast.
Mating. On the occasion that two Vól’aél do decide to mate, the female is usually the aggressor. Her advantages in size and strength make the males the ones who usually are attempting to please. After months of prodding from the male, the male and female will mate, though the way this takes place is yet unknown. The female almost always lays four eggs, which must be warmed by the mother for the whole process. The babies usually take about six months before the eggs crack very suddenly and without warning.
The babies wake up and are almost immediately taken by the parents and flown around the area surrounding the nest. This is probably to get the children immediately used to the sensation with flying. The babies are small and very rough skinned. Their body has not yet toughened to the arrow resistant scale on the adult Vól’aél.
The living babies will fly away from the nest as soon as they are one year old, and will find their own roost within the mountains. The babies, now mature, will live anywhere from 100 to 200 years before passing away. Ones that live longer are rare, but not unheard of.
Myth/Lore. Over the years, it is the Coór’hém who actually played a major role in discovering information about this beast. Because they are the resident experts, it is appropriate that we add a description of the unconfirmed rumour that they believe. Coór’hém believe that Vól'aél actually descended from a gryph and drake breed. Most drakes that live in Nybelmar are probably an unlikely choice to mate with a gryph. The Eingana whelps are usually located in the Drifting Woods though and gryphs, mountain dwellers, would probably not be found within those woods. The Locust wyvern is a relatively poor flyer, and would also be an unlikely choice to mate with a gryph. This theory has been discarded since it was originally introduced because of this, but if more information is revealed, it will be taken into account.
Coór’hém and Vól’aél Relations. The strange relation between the Coór’hém and Vól’aél is not widely understood by the other sentient beings. The Coór’hém believe fighting and battle to be an art. They are master planners and take great delight into matching wits in a battle against a determined and intelligent foe. Vól’aél are the foe that the Coór’hém are usually eager to fight with. The Coór’hém originally came up with a way to catch and kill the Galedorioth gopag more easily. A piece of food is tossed in front of the log where a gopag is supposed to be, and when the gopag reaches for the food, the Coór’hém fire upon the head with their strong bows. This discovery of a way to kill the gopag put the Vól’aél’s food supply in jeopardy. The Vól’aél have contested with these elves over the years for the supply of gopag, constantly trying to compete to find them.
Unfortunately for the competition, they tend to accidentally help each other. Vól'aél can probably see the elves while circling the forest for food, and are likely to search to be drawn towards that spot as they realize the Coór’hém have discovered food of some kind there, and this narrows down the area they have to search. Coór’hém notice Vól'aél circling above a spot in the forest and would quickly surmise that this means prey of some kind is in the spot. If a large number of Vól’aél are circling, the elves tend to almost always check it out, as these is usually a sign of known or unknown large prey, possibly a lingra wildcat.