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Dragons

 

Culture

Dragons are magical flying reptilian creatures which exist on the continents of Westeros and Essos. Newborn dragons are known as hatchlings; dragons that are older but not full-grown are known as drakes. Unbonded and unridden dragons are referred to as wild dragons, whereas dragons that have lost their riders are sometimes referred to as castle dragons.
   

Appearance

Dragons are scaled, two-legged winged reptiles. Apex predators with strong jaws, sharp teeth and claws, leathery wings and long necks and tails, with horns on their heads. Hatchlings are about the size of a cat. If it has enough food and freedom, a dragon never stops growing. A dragon given such freedom can reach a wing span width of twenty feet within a year and a half. Captive dragons do not grow as large as those kept unteathered. Although increasing age means increasing size, a larger size does not always show a higher age. Curose, the largest dragon, is large enough to swallow an aurochs or a mammoth from Ibben whole and is only 60 years old.   The polished skulls of the dragons look like glittering onyx, and their teeth like curved daggers of black diamond. Dragonbones are black due to their high iron content.   Dragons, demons, and other creatures are said to inhabit the cliff caves above the Ash. Sea dragons in the Sunset Sea and ice dragons in the Shivering Sea are recalled in legends and folklore, but scholars have no proof of their existence, or how closely related they are to dragons.
   

Characteristics

It is said that dragons are fire made flesh. Great heat emanates from dragons' bodies, to the point that they steam during cold nights. Dragons only eat cooked meat, and use the extremely hot dragonflame which they breathe to cook their meat before eating it.   A dragon's scales are largely, but not entirely, impervious to flame as well, and serve as protection for the more vulnerable flesh and musculature beneath. As a dragon ages, its scales thicken and grow harder, affording even more protection, leaving dragons nearly immune to fire, although they can still be wounded by dragonflame. Similarly, as dragons age, the fires they breathe become hotter and fiercer. Where a hatchling's flame can set straw aflame, the flames of older dragons, can melt steel and stone.The lifespan of dragons is many times that of a human, though their maximum natural lifespan is difficult to determine. The oldest known dragons have reached 200 years old. Dragons are not invulnerable; a scorpion bolt through the eye or large spears well thrown may well wound a dragon.   Dragons are believed to be intrinsically tied to magic in the world. Mages use this power and are known to be exponentially more powerful closer to the Dragons and the Volcanoes.   Dragonbone is as strong as steel, but lighter and far more flexible, and impervious to fire. It has been used to make brooches, bows, hilts of Valyrian steel daggers, and whip handles.
   

Reproduction

Mages disagree on the mating habits of dragons. Dragons lay large, scaled eggs to reproduce. Some mages believe the ability of a dragon to lay eggs is proof that said dragon is female. When a dragon is never observed to have laid eggs, this is taken as proof that it must have been male. However, according to some, dragons have no fixed gender, but are “now one and now the other, as changeable as flame”. Believing that dragons can change sex at need, is in the minority amongst mages, believed to be erroneous. Most commenting that this statement is simply a misunderstood esoteric metaphor.
   

Dragonriders

Dragons are intelligent creatures which can be trained to serve as battle mounts and understand vocal commands. They are said to be capricious in nature, and have to be trained to keep them from laying waste to everything around them. However, dragons will not allow everyone to mount them. In Valyria, the noble-born dragon riding families, the dragonlord families, frequently marry brother to sister to keep the bloodline pure. Having Valyrian blood (no matter how directly) is not a guarantee that bonding with a dragon will be successful.   Once a dragon has bonded with a rider, that dragon will not allow anyone else to mount it alone while its rider lives, no matter how familiar said person might be to the dragon. But when the person bonded to the dragon is on the dragon's back, they may take a passenger. When the rider of a dragon dies, that dragon can bond with a new rider. No rider has ever ridden a different dragon while their current dragon was alive. Dragons who have had a rider once before are easier to bond with than wild dragons.   A dragon and rider share a magical/telepathic link. They are able to sense when their rider calls for them, is in distress or needs it. An instinctive reaction from its rider can cause a strong bonded dragon to act (i.e raise an arm to protect themself the dragon will raise its wing in the same manner). Dragonriders are also known to scream out in pain when his/her dragon is hit by a spear.
   

Bonding

Bonding is attempted and has best results with young drakes and children between the ages of 8 and 12, though this is not set in stone. The dragon is introduced to the potential rider by the curators of the family. Several attempts are made at bonding but only ever once. If the dragon refuses the potential rider then no other attempts will be made with that potential. Their role within the family moving to diplomacy, or for those with magical acumen, the path of the mage. If no drakes are ready then a potential will wait and if a dragon becomes available then a bonding may be attempted in later years. For example a dragon rider dies and it becomes riderless. This is the way a smoother bonding may take place.

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Where are the dragons?

  When not being ridden they are free roamers, dwelling in caverns of the volcanic range of the Fourteen Flames. They hunt at their will all over the Valyrian peninsula. Despite its size, even a large dragon consumes far less than you might expect. However, when in the need of recouperation, a beast might devour entire flocks to restore and heal itself and take days or weeks to fully recover.   It is an unfortunately common occurence for someone to go missing and be presumed to have become a meal for a dragon. Witnessed accounts of such are relatively rare given how many hundreds of dragons roam freely.

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