Airelong (5e Creature)
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Large dragon, unaligned
Saving Throws Dex +8, Cha +8
Battle Rage. In combat, an airelong falls after receiving 40 HP damage into a battle rage. The dragons eyes turn blood red and the irides glow in a faint light blue, and it releases its Rage Cry. A critical hit knocks the airelong out of its rage state. After the first rage the amount of damage for the next rage becomes 20 HP. Reset after 24 ingame hours. While in its enraged state the airelong has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Picture of an intimidating airelong, presenting its claws. Made by Websurfer1111
Airelongs are lesser thunder dragons of the blue chromatic family branch. Lesser, because their intelligence is only a bit better than that of a wyvern, their limited abilities they can develop and their life span, which is only around 30 years longer than that of a wyvern. The scales of the creature are in average 0.12 inch (3mm) thick, but so hard that cutting weapons are almost useless. Also interesting is, that airelongs kind off do have a language, technically that is. From what was possible to learn from it is that it seems to be a very limited and simplified version of draconic. The hissing sounds of certain words do match the situation; words like: light, dark, afraid, weak, strong, death, pain, treasure, away and prey. There are around 10 more sounds that could be associated with the following meanings, but their use seems to be inconsistent throughout the species: mine (thing), nest, food, hatchling, rival, mating, shiny, territory, blood and vision. It is theorized that this might have been one possible origin for the actual draconic language. Someone who doesn't know what to listen for will probably just hear angry hissing and clicking noises. Even people native in draconic will have massive problems trying to understand this primitive precursor version of the language.
Like all dragons do also the airelongs collect all kinds of valuable looking items, but airelongs don't have the mental capacity to determine if something is truly of value, which gives these lesser dragons with reason the reputation as magpies with 7 ft shoulder height. Though, because the females practice a nomadic lifestyle, the collecting behaviour is developed far stronger in males, which have adopted a settled lifestyle and engage in territorial behaviour. This however does not exclude that a female arelong will have at least a look at an interesting object, or even taking it. But in contrast to the males, which will bring any collected objects then to their cave-like nest, a female airelong will lose interest in an object sooner or later and just drop it. Normally a male airelong will only take the shiny objects it stumbles across on its patrol flights or on the hunt, but doesn't search actively for them. Most of the time, Humans and other medium sized races are not the preferred target of an airelong, since they are commonly not part of their predator scheme. But shiny objects, however, can rapidly change this in some cases. Hiding such objects around midday is recommended if not interested in an encounter with a male airelong. The collecting behaviour reaches its peak when the mating season comes close, which takes place between mid-spring and the beginning of summer and lasts for around 3 weeks, when the males decorate their nests with their collected treasures to attract the females. In this time the males are actively searching and looking for objects with good refractive or reflecting properties, and you can be sure, whoever has it, is going to have a bad time in the next 10 minutes that pass. The more it sparkles and shines the better.
Because of the territorial behaviour are males always on their own, except for some rare occasions of young specimens. Females on the other hand might stick together, outside of the mating season, for better chances of survival and form groups of up to 5 individuals. The hot-tempered nature of the dragons is a significant limitation factor of such groups. A territorial fight between males consists normally of display behaviour to scare the opponent away. Presenting the claws in a territorial dispute is the main focus to give each other an idea what they are dealing with. But if it should happen that the tense situation between these highly aggressive creatures tilts, maybe because of a draw, it is not uncommon for only one male airelong to leave the fight alive. The claws of an airelong are its main weapons and around 12 inches long, very sharp and hard enough to pierce through iron armor with ease, causing deep and grievous wounds, which makes it easy to rip off skin and separate flesh from the bones. Angry airelongs can fall into a state of rage, in which their eyes turn blood red and the irises glow in a faint blue light, which gives them a very intimidating and almost demonic appearance, followed by the release of an ear-splitting high-pitched cry of rage to massively intimidate their opponents. In a state of rage the dragon becomes incredibly violent, putting everything it has into its attacks, going as far as harming itself in the process. The dragon is also able to fold out its six horns on the head, from the form of two bull-horns to a conic or coronoid form. With the folded out horns the airelong manipulates the magic of its beam like breath weapon, at the cost of range and power to turn it into a stunning cone. Under normal conditions an airelong will never fold out its horns against an other airelong, since these dragons are immune to the stunning effects of lightning magic. Because of the horns having joints, they are not suited for melee attacks, which is why an airelong will also never attack with its horns and always tries to keep its head out of harms reach, unless there is no other option, but to bite. If the horns get damaged, it is likely that the airelong loses the ability to alter its breath weapon, or it will heavily influence the magic manipulation so that it leads to wild magic surges. These dragons are just as dangerous on the ground as they are in the air.
Airelongs do practice nest care, but only the females. After the mating the male leaves his former nest to the female, which will use it to lay her eggs in it. Males who won't leave will be driven out by the females. It is not yet fully understood how this behaviour came to be, but it is speculated that it is easier and less dangerous to raise the hatchlings in a stationary environment. In very rare documented cases in which the female tolerated the presence of the male, the male has been recorded to kill at least all of the male offspring in the first week after they hatched, in the absence of the female, to probably prevent possible competition in the future. The returning female finding their young missing and smelling the sense of her babies blood from the males jaws have been recorded to react with an act of vendetta. Males that managed to flee were followed by the female in secret and killed in their sleep. The lesson we can draw from this is that a female airelong will never forgive the murder for her wyrmlings as long as she takes care for them. The sex of the up to 5 hatchlings is based on temperature. The warmer it is the more likely is it that a female will hatch. The mother will take care of the wyrmlings until they can fly and hunt on their own. Then she will also abandon the nest and its treasures, and resume her nomadic lifestyle. Such abandoned nests are always a welcomed find for adventurers, but also a risk, because some males might return and reclaim their treasures once they are sure that the female has left. In very rare cases do two brood-siblings, mostly of the same sex, stay together. But these "friendships" mostly break apart in the first mating season of the young dragons. All known efforts to tame an airelong where of no success. Even the raising of hatchlings offers no lasting success, no matter how good or experienced the trainers are, airelongs are too wild blooded.
Airelongs do show gender diversity in color and shape. Females are colored in a far darker blue than the males and have a third wing-finger, which males are lacking, and have bigger wings in general. The darker colored scales and the bigger wings help the females to rise their body temperature faster. Also are the bigger wings better suited for the nomadic life style, since it helps reducing energy use and enables gliding flight over long distances by using warm up winds. Since males are often hunting in woods and are in general not too far away from their cave, the wings became smaller and the third wing-finger disappeared at some point, though the remnants of it can still be found on the skeleton of the wing. The strong blue color of a male represents its health and strength and helps intimidating other males.
If you hear the thunder on a sunny day, it is likely the case that you are in the territory of an airelong. The size of a territory can vary between 6 and 9 square miles (~ 10 to 15 km²). The main source of food for airelongs is of course meat and prefer to hunt creatures that fall into the large category, but are still smaller then the dragon itself, like a horse is. Some prefer to hunt on the ground in open lands, or in the woods, while others might prefer surprising their prey from above by diving into them with their deadly claws first and breaking their preys bones with the force of the impact. And others might prefer to stun their victims with their breath weapon, before delivering the finishing stroke with their claws. But in limited quantities can airelongs also live from the consumption of fruits. Here is to mention, airelongs are diurnal creatures and like to rest in the warm light of the sun to raise their body temperature before they go about their day. Male airelongs use this time to watch their territory from their cave-like nests, carved into the wall of a high hill or a mountain, if they couldn't find a natural formation suited for a nest.