I am sure at this point I have made volcanic deserts sound absolutely miserable, at least that is my hope. They are one of those fascinating biomes that are incredible to read about, but are utter torture to actually visit. The rough sand, shredding rocks and endless storms, they are all just too much to deal with. Of course my studies have taken me to these ecosystems multiple times, and I have to say I hated every one of them. Sure, there have been amazing things to see and study, as the flora and fauna there are incredibly unique, but that usually only happens during the five minutes a day you get where you aren't desperately trying to survive. It isn't a whole lot of fun, I will tell you that! While the wildlife of these lands are an amazing thing to witness, there are times when they are the last thing you want to see. I have already talked about my encounter with a flab rat, and I am sure you can still see that story on my leg, but that incident is just a shallow weed compared to the other things that roam this land. I certainly aim to see as many creatures as possible, but there is a beast found in these volcanic deserts that makes the list of "Creatures I never want to see while they are alive." In this case, I am referring to the Fuldruk, or Lightning Wyrms.
I know there is much confusion about what is and is not a true dragon, but this species is absolutely a member of the true dragon family. They belong to the group that split away from the whole winged design and stuck with a more serpentine route. Though they are very snake-like with their insanely long and flexible bodies, you will notice that they still possess limbs. Four stubby legs are all they got, and I am pretty sure they are only used to assist with scaling obsidian spires and for grooming. Those limbs are barely used for walking, as they just slither about on that serpentine body of theirs. Though it is quite flexible, it is also heavily armored, allowing them to survive the grating sandstorms and sharp rocks. If you tried rolling over the same things they do, your bark would be sanded down to the pith. Along their bodies is also a dorsal line of glows spikes, which lead into clusters on the head, above the two pairs of limbs and on the tail. These structures actually house special organs that allow them to generate and store electricity. The tiny ones obviously hold minute amounts, but the large clusters is where the real power is at. You can tell when they are charged up by the blue glow that comes from these structures, as the brighter they are, the more electricity they have. I would say that if you ever see a Fuldruk glowing so bright that it hurts your eyes, stay far away. However, even if their bodies were pitch black, I would still advise to not be anywhere near them.
This incredible amount of energy is no doubt used for defense and offense, but it also fuels their senses. If you were able to get a closer look at their heads, you would notice that they have no eyes. Indeed, the Fuldruk is blind, but that hardly seems to matter to them. The glowing cluster on their head is able to release electrical pulses that allow them to navigate their environment and locate prey. And since these spikes are super hard and sturdy, they fare a whole lot better in these grating sands than squishy wet eyeballs. This sense allows them to find food even if it is buried deep within the dunes, or if it is trying to retreat into a darkened tube. It doesn't matter where you hide, because the Fuldruk will find you, and that is when the trouble begins.
A quick look at those teeth and you should already know that this species has a taste for meat. Though those jaws are quite thin, the material they are made out of are rock solid. Powered by strong muscles, they can clamp down on prey and hold on tight, but chewing is not their forte. Instead, they use their pincer-like tails and serpentine body to help tear chunks off. The tail may hold food down as the head grabs and rips, or they will just grab hold of a meaty piece and start spinning into a death roll. In truth, this slender beak is designed to plunge through deep sand and seize buried prey, striking so fast that the victim doesn't have a chance to flee. Their diet consists of pretty much anything that has meat, though there are a few things they don't bother with. What defense the prey has usually doesn't matter to the Fuldruk, as they seem to have an answer to any problem. The thin mouth cuts through sand or can target chinks in armor. Their long bodies can constrict and crush, cracking open armored foes like a nut. And for anything else that dares stand in their way: lightning.
Obviously the name "lightning wyrm" gives away their most potent ability, but that spoiler certainly doesn't downplay their power. With high amounts of electricity coursing through their bodies, Fuldruk are capable of incredible destruction. They can catch prey in their coils and then unleash a sustained shock to fry their prisoner. They can charge their spikes to zap those who are jabbed by them. Their tails can be lit up with an insane amount of energy and then snip prey in two with these charged blades. From their heads come their most famous move, where they dump electricity into their quivering jaws. A quick snap of teeth and a blaze upon their head clusters, the Fuldruk will fire off a literal lightning bolt from their mouth! The damage this causes should be quite obvious. If you didn't pop on impact, you will be a smoldering cinder shortly. Even if you aren't hit by it, the resulting thunderclap could knock you off your feet! With abilities like this, you can see that Fuldruks rarely go hungry. They can hunt down pretty much anything and cook them to their liking. As for threats to themselves, there really isn't any. There are beasts that can make a lightning wyrm hesitate, like a troop of volcanic trolls, but these beasts don't go out of their way to hunt down these dragons. Rather, most things would prefer that they never run into them, a feeling I quite understand!
Like all other true dragons, Fuldruk lay eggs and they incubate them in the blackened sands of the desert. The preferred location is near the lava rivers, where the constant heat can provide warmth even during chilly nights. The mother will bury them and herself in the sand, coiling her body around them for protection. This position also allows her to warm them if something were to happen to the heat source, using that stored energy to maintain the proper temperature. During this time, she is incredibly hostile and dangerous, which is stupid for me to say because Fuldruk are always like that. I guess the real danger is that she is buried and thus hard to see. If one isn't paying the closest attention they may literally tread on top of her while she is guarding her eggs. If that happens to you, my condolences to you and your family. Hopefully better luck to the next person. There is no advice to give on what to do in that situation because you won't know it happened. You'll just be walking along then wake up in whatever afterlife you believe in. For your companions, they will just see a blinding flash of blue and the smoking remains of your clothing and maybe your skeleton. Best tip I can give is not go anywhere near a volcanic desert during the Fuldruk breeding season. Even better advice, don't go to a volcanic desert. Ever. Because that will at least guarantee that you will never meet a Fuldruk.
As a true dragon, they certainly live up to their name. Dragons tend to be associated with destruction and carnage (which is usually unfair), and the Fuldruk embodies that perfectly. Their lightning abilities give them an insane amount of power, and their armor makes them difficult to even harm. They can be blindingly fast, slipping in and out of the desert sand and then striking you down before you even know it. With a bolt shooting mouth and a snipping tail, no end or part of this species is safe to approach. The other issue is that it also has the other famous trait that true dragons tend to have: intelligence. Though they can seem like mindless beasts, they are quite smart, or at least have enough brains to enjoy what they are doing. They can plan strategies to ambush prey, figure out schedules of local villages to find the right moment to strike, and burst into horrifying laughter whenever they fry another helpless soul. Fuldruk do not appear to talk (at least no one has heard one speak) but they do emit vocalizations that have to have some kind of meaning. The most common sound to hear is....well, imagine if a lightning storm could giggle. Feels like the noises they make fit more with an energetic bird than a massive reptile, and the sheer glee that you can hear in it! It is just a charged giggle that trails off into some weird warped howl or something. Pretty hard to explain, but I feel you would know it if you heard it. Just pray that you never do hear that noise. Or that sound they make when they get struck by lightning. They like to climb up spires during storms to get the free energy from the lightning strikes. Getting hit doesn't hurt them in the slightest, they just absorb the charge. They do feel something though, as evident by that unsettling noise. The safest way to put it is that they really seem to like it. A lot.
Like I mentioned, Fuldruk are powerful, smart and dangerous which makes them absolute menaces to everything they encounter. They appear to enjoy torturing prey and playing with their food. Talk of them burying themselves beneath the sand to ambush and torment prey, usually having their head spook them and then their hidden tail lash out and cut them down. Using bursts of electricity to paralyze prey even when they could end the hunt with a single bite. Animals that can resist their electricity are still hunted and pretty much tortured to death, as if punishing them for spoiling their fun. They know that they are the apexes of this land and they relish in every moment of it. They attack villages seemingly for pleasure, as they never appear to be starving or desperate, they just find it enriching. With all their strengths and defenses, fighting them off is no easy feat. Forget your armor plated knights, those guys would be cooked in a second. Anything with metal would lead to a frying pretty quick, so people have to rely on more natural armor and weapons. This is why flab rat skin is welcomed in these communities, as the rubbery hide resist lightning. They have also brewed up a special concoction that is flung at the Fuldruks and splatters all over their charged cluster. It is a sticky fluid that seems to disrupt their electricity, essentially blinding them or disorienting them. This is often enough to drive them away, but it is rare to fend one off without a fatality or two. This should say something, since these people are used to this species and still cannot keep them away without death. Now imagine if one of these beasts was transported OUTSIDE THEIR ECOSYSTEM!
It's a disaster! A nightmare! A fuldruk outside of its natural habitat is a menace to every living thing! No creature outside of a volcanic desert is built to withstand such energy, so everything is easy pickings for them! And that is even if they choose to eat their prey! Fuldruks that have been unleashed into other lands are capable of decimating local populations, as they just zap everything in sight. They ravage the ecosystem and burn villages to the ground, taking countless lives before they are finally slain. Obviously volcanic deserts are quite isolated, so natural migration is rare, but there are unfortunately cases where people try to smuggle their eggs or young out. Fuldruk anatomy is quite cool looking, so some people want it as trophies. Their parts and pieces are powerful materials for magic users, so there is a market for that as well. And obviously there are the people who think dragons are the kind of thing you can slap a collar on and put into a kennel, which don't even get me started on that. As long as they breathe, Fuldruk are incredibly dangerous and should not be removed from their natural habitat. I don't care that you think nurture beats nature, and that no one is born evil. I agree that evil is not an inherent thing, that no species is born with wickedness in their heart. However, we have yet to see a Fuldruk grow beyond that, so don't even try it! Every instance of someone trying to rear a lightning wyrm hatchling has led to absolute disaster. The coliseums don't even want these things! They are banned at the Enamel Spire, and you know what they let into that place! Turns out betting on death matches don't work so well when the audience is included in the causalities.
Dryad Natural Historian
It appears to be smaugust, so why not post a dragon? And of course it can't be a normal dragon, because that's not how we do things around here people. Take a wild guess on what this thing is based on. Is it a river dolphin or a gharial? That's only half of it, but that doesn't matter CLACK CLACK CLACK!