New World Dragons- A Brief Study of Modern Drakes Picture

The following writing comes from the research of Dr. Alex J. Shepheard on the two known species of dragon still alive today. This study- intended for eventual publication- is pieced together from notes taken in the field during careful (and that's in terms of keeping my own ass safe, not thoroughness. HAHA! : D - A.J. Shepheard) interrogation of the last known draconian individuals Ketos and Skathe Vermijor. Some data was destroyed by scorch marks or water degradation, but much of this lost information has been filled in through memory by Dr. Shepheard. This is not yet a completed study. Further investigation is required before this work sees print.

Also, note that while Dr. Shepheard recorded most of his interviews and observations in the present tense- perhaps out of some hope that the draconian race can one day be restored
(Hey! It could happen!!)- all but one of each species is gone. Dragons, disregarding two exceptions, are a thing of the past.

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A. The Growth of the Open Ocean Drake (or 'Sea Dragon'):

Like how many animals that are born more brightly colored than their adult counterparts, the male sea dragon starts off far more ornate then it will one day be. Unlike their winged kin, the sea dragon is born exceptionally small compared to the massive size they can attain- often little more than a few feet at birth. Although these oceanic reptiles develop quickly, the ocean is a dangerous place. The younglings must have some form of defense beyond tooth and nail. To intimidate rival predators and scare off potential dangers, the spines of young males are lined with tall, brightly colored fins. These webbed spines are quite intimidating when the small dragons thrash and flail angrily. The membranes is partially reflective, flashing brightly as it moves. The sea dragon Ketos claims that it appears just like a, "blaze of silver fire running down our backs" when the particular motions of this "Dance of Water Flames" are performed. This defensive behavior includes arching one's back, lashing the tail back and forth, and rapidly bobbing one's head. These flashy fins are kept into young adulthood, or an estimated size of, "two boatlengths" (what kind of boat?). Once the dragon has reached this point in its life, its fins will go through a rapid decrease in size, becoming no more than a series of webbed stubs by the time they fully mature.

Females, although they are born with similar decorations to the males, never loose their exaggerated spines. Instead of becoming useless, the fins are converted into a gauge of beauty and worth as a mate. The opposite is true with males, who consider the preservation of their baby fins- apparently an unfortunate genetic flaws found in some individuals- a sign of weakness and cowardice.

Other changes the male sea dragon goes through are in the build of its body. All open ocean drakes are born thin and slender-snouted. This streamline shape is perfect for running down the fish they feed on. As the males mature though, they slowly become bulkier and more muscled, dropping their speed in favor of strength. Once again, the females retained their hatchling proportions.

B. Mating Habits of the Open Ocean Drake (Sea Dragon)

First and foremost, the sea dragon species is one that mates for life, much like swans and several other bird species. Mated pairs, whether they like each other or not, are amazingly loyal and defensive of one another. While this goes against most of their cruel, selfish behavior, the sea dragon Ketos himself states that, "a female in need has never been left behind by her male, and a male is never without the support of his female" (exaggeration?). Sea dragon widows and widowers will even refuse to mate again. Is it possible this lead to the near extinction of the sea dragon species? A monogamous can prove harmful to the overa- [further writings interrupted by water damage and physical tearing]

(made him mad, do not do again)

The sea dragon mating ritual is an intriguing one. While the initial attraction between potential pairs is due to physical appearance- gloss and sheen of the finned female, bulk and size of the males- it is individual behavioral traits that cement a relationship. They chose mates based on personality. Sea dragons pride themselves on characteristics like sadism, aggression, and even greed. They often name themselves after these defining attributes. There have been many infamous dragons called nothing else but what trait they believe they embody- Furious, Wrath, Horde, Scorn, and Hate just to list a few. Such dragons seek out a mate that possesses the same prized quality.

In a specific example, the sea dragon Ketos told that he mated based on his partner's (need to get name!) great cruelty. She was, in his words, "even more bloodthirsty than [him]."

C. Scales of the Open Ocean Dragon (Sea Dragon)

Another gender difference in sea dragons are their scales. The skin of males is rough and sandpaper-like, a near match for shark denticles. These tiny, bladed scales are not only tough and dense, they are also useful for offensive purposes. The toothed skin is used in ritual combat between warring males- the goal is to bleed one's rival from all six limbs (head, arms, legs, tail). The scales of females are much larger and plate-like. Although they have no cutting capabilities like the skin of the male, they are much stronger. Females are better guarded than males, who are expect to be able to defend themselves. To wish for the female's additional defense is a cultural embarrassment.

There is little color variation between these scales- all come in shades of blue and green. The particular hue depends on place of birth. Dragons born in the open sea, like Ketos, will have a coat as deep and darkly colored as the depths of their origin. Those born in the shallows or tropics, like the mate of Ketos (name?), will bore a much lighter, clearer color, a hue something like, "glittering gems.". This regional variance is so that newborns will blend into their surroundings, although older sea dragons will often move into other waters once they can care for themselves.

D. Fire of the Eurasian Winged Drake (or 'European')

One of the most distinctive traits of the European dragon is also one of the most mysterious. 'Dragonfire', as it is called by both Ketos and Skathe, is a ethereal, hypnotic blue substance that closely resembles flames, although this is clearly not the case. It is only false fire. Dragonfire appears to be one of the few supernatural elements that have emerged in our world since the second advent of kaiju. It is unnatural and defies logic at times. Some of its 'magical' properties are changing trajectory without outside influence, burning in low-air or airless environments (underwater, high atmosphere), and persisting for incredible lengths of time only to be put out assumably under the user's will. Skathe Vermijor, the last living user of dragonfire, claims that the strange azure flames possesses a consciousness of their own and are a gift to her and her passed kin, not a mere weapon. She- and apparently the dragons of old- does not use her flames unnecessarily. They are reserved for rare uses of vital self-defense and even cooking certain foods. It is the recipient of a deep cultural respect. For Europeans, it is almost held with religious faith. Sea dragons, although they do possess dragonfire, do not hold nearly as much reverence for it. This seems to be a cause of strife between the two cousin species. (note: Ketos, no fire, why?)

Another unexplained ability of dragonfire is to transform standard reptilian teeth into pure obsidian. This is not a trait seen in sea dragons. Perhaps either the lack of use or even the brine of the ocean prevents this side effect. Europeans have been recorded to have a distinct distaste for the sea (one, Skathe, plus verbal examples) and actively avoid it, so it could be guessed this is to preserve their crystallized teeth.

E. Morphology of the Eurasian Winged Drake (European)

While sea dragons only differ in gender and individual coloration, Europeans are a vastly varied species. In fact, it is not unreasonable to say that they are not a single species, but a large collection of subspecies. Almost never identical, Europeans show a broad spectrum of features due to region, social status, and life style.

They may be referred to as Europeans, but the winged drake is not a creature bound to any land. It is a global species, once inhabiting every corner, every country, and every inch of the world. This is why the concept of dragons have such deep, widespread roots in ancient mythology. The exact location where a dragon dwells determines a great deal about its appearance. Colors and patterns especially are affected by geographic location. According to living European Skathe Vermijor, those from her birthplace- the upper reaches of Scandinavia- mostly come in simple, but bright, coats, mixing a few bold colors into a very visible form. They did not worry about stealth, she explained, they wanted to be seen. Very few dragon slayers hailed from the icy north. Winged drakes from central to eastern Europe tended to show much muter, duller colors, and typically only one tone. In a land of knights and heroes, being too visible was deadly for young dragons. Europeans from the Greek isles, North Africa, Russia, and India are described as displaying very gentle, earthy tones, while those from China, Japan, and Indonesia were brightly colored and boasted intricate patterns of spots and stripes. Even very minute changes in environment, such as a slight drop in altitude or a shift in biome, can result in different outward appearance.

Unlike the sea dragon, who pride themselves on accomplishment rather than look, Europeans are very appearance-orientated. Physicality dominates their society. Certain colors and physical features are considered more impressive and socially valuable than other. Solid tones of gold, emerald, and crimson are considered good colors to have, while pure blacks and silvers win even greater respect. Exotic colors like purple and some shades of blue were regarded fairly as well, a sort of mid tier of the color wheel. There are also, "trash colors" though. These are boring shades like brown and grey, and individuals that possess them are treated poorly from first sight. Even great strength or wit can earn back only so much respect if you come in a trash color. Some physiological attributes decide status as well. Grand crest arrangement and the length and broadness of wings are important traits, as well as either a total lack or or a full set of four terrestrial limbs. Only one pair of arms or legs seem to be looked down upon (Skathe glaring, moving on).

The single most important physical trait in winged drake society is horns. Horns are not related to the male gender in Europeans, but rather a status of great dominance. Dragons that are constantly surrounded with the submissive musk of weaker individuals will eventually develop horns, a sign of true power in the European culture. These scaly protrusions are typically only seen on masters of large harems, the traditional European mating system. It is not only the mere presence, but the size and number of horns as well that is valued. The absolute maximum number of horns ever know as five long, curled things on a legendary male called Gnarl. He is fabled to be one of the greatest of all drakekind, even among sea dragons. While any dragon can potentially grow horns, males are the much more common to receive them simply because they are larger and more muscular. There have been horned females though. A particularly infamous case is the tale of Skathe Vermijor. It is said that this small female one day grew tired of her merciless male harem-head and did the unthinkable- challenged him to a duel over leadership of the mating ring. This was an incredibly audacious thing to do, a female threatening an large, old male to battle for control of herself and the her fellow she-dragons. It was unheard of, and it enraged the male. He agreed to her terms. The old male was sure he could quickly kill the female- he had never liked that one anyway- and be done with it, but he found no such ease. The she-drake, although much more petite, was fast and smart. She knew not to match muscle with muscle, for that was a battle she would surely loose. So she wore him down. For almost a full day, the harem-master lunged and swung at the agile wench, each attack landing just short of the female. This was intentful on her part. She did not want to be struck, but nor did she want the old drake to catch on. So she kept him just out of distance, tiring him, but also keeping his hopes up. He believed each strike was going to the the decided one, but no such blow ever landed. Instead, he collapsed and the female killed him as he gasped for air. Skathe then freed her female companions, and lengthened her blasphemy. Traveling both fields flat and mountains high, she fought and defeated smaller, weaker males, forming her own reversed harem. This made her name legend among the winged of the drake. While the older, more conservative individuals scoffed and scorned her radical ways, females of all ages and status held her in an almost godly level of praise. Even younger, less experienced males began looking up to her. This lead them to seek out not a harem, but only one or two females that were near matches for them- equals in stature. So, in deciding she was done with the old ways, a single defiant she-drake brought about a universal social change (bragging? exaggeration?).

The formation of horns in response to elevated status is an example of how Europeans can rapidly change to adapt to an outside stimuli. Other ways this genetic flexibility displays itself is in form. Winged drakes can differ great in build, size, and even number of limbs. The niche or lifestyle a European fulfills seems to determine the exact builds of its body. Those that live in open areas and must chase down prey over flat land are long, broad-winged, and limbless. They are meant to be organic missiles, rocketing over the plains to snatch up food in their jaws. Those that live in the mountainous regions typically have only a set of forelimbs for scaling rocks and anchoring themselves to sheer walls. Europeans that spend more time on the group than their counterparts will develop a much stockier build and four full limbs to stride across the earth with. Features like skeletal frame and limbs will not change in a single generation, but many Europeans will grew additional spines or membranes to better fit a changing habitat.
K.A.S. - Fenris
Rookies
New World Dragons- A Brief Study of Modern Drakes
A Thief's Tool: The Dactyl
Keto