“Membranous wings sliced through the tropical night air, effortlessly carrying her along the coastline. Great lungs filled and emptied with the rhythm of the ocean swells below. Under clear black skies, eyes of burnished bronze scanned the gentle, sandy coves as they slipped silently beneath her. The pale blue and yellow of the moons etched glimmering trails along the ridges and crests of her serpentine body, from forest green head and neck to the finned tip of her long emerald tail.”
~ Prologue, The Tome of Wyrms ~
We always knew there should be dragons in our world. To our minds, some iteration of dragon influence is high on the list of essential ingredients for any epic fantasy. Right up there with the unlikely hero and the impossible quest. What we did not know at the outset was exactly what role they should take, and how we would integrate them into the story. But as we delved deeper, and our vision of the dragons of Cyrradon took shape, we realized their story was integral to ours. And at the same time, how the fulfillment of our story would be theirs as well.
In the beginning, we naturally considered the chromatic dragon model, like those of Dragonlance and the AD&D monster manuals. It didn't take us long to realize that wasn't for us. That model works for gaming and YA fantasy, but there are some inherent problems with it. First, the notion that dragons should be good, neutral, or evil by nature based on their color. I mean, all silver dragons are good and all red dragons are evil? Is anyone else thinking 'dragon racism'? And second, for such powerful and long-lived creatures to be absent of individual values and choice just struck us as two-dimensional. Not at all what our world and our readers deserve.
We then considered a more bestial form of dragon, such as in the Banished Lands of John Gwynne’s writings, where he used two basic models: large, winged snakes (“wyrms”) and giant land-based lizards (“dragues”). Both had animal intelligence. The wyrms were wild and untamed, and the dragues were raised and trained as mounts or beasts of war. These worked for Gwynne’s world, certainly. But we knew our dragons must be potent and cunning, worthy of respect, fear, and even worship, and fully autonomous in terms of their morality.
During the drafting of Storm’s Rising, Book 2: The Ascension, we took some time--a side-quest if you will--to flesh out the Ages of Dragons. How did they come to define the eras of Cyrradon, what major historical events precipitated them, and so on? We ended up “uncovering” the creation story of the dragons and how they related to the other elder races of the world. There’s an awful backstory here that grew into a pivotal anchor point for the central plot of our story. That backstory became the prologue for Storm’s Rising Book 3: The Tome of Wyrms (read it free, here).
In the end, what we had was a race of dragons who had once been a powerful and diverse culture, inhabiting all the corners of the world, and whose variants are based on the environments they are best suited for. This felt to us like what Aralieth, the Father God and Creator of Cyrradon, would have intended. They were widespread and long-lived, and had it not been for their exceeding wisdom, they might have indeed become the dominant form of life on Cyrradon.
“But I’ve read The Call,” you might be saying, “and there weren’t any dragons in it! When do they show up?” Well, traveler, we have good news and even better news for you!
The good news first: If you've read The Call, you've already met a couple of them! No, they've not been revealed as dragons per se, at least not yet. For Cyrradon is not dragon-centric in the way some other fantasy worlds are; that is, swimming with dragons and their lore. In our timeline, there are only six left in the entire world. But they are there, watching, and biding their time. Be patient, traveler! You will soon meet them!
Now for the even better news: As our characters discover and experience the elder wyrms of Cyrradon, so will you! And none of their glorious and terrible revelation will be denied you. We'll tell you a little about the backstory here today, but as to truly why there are so few, why they have waited centuries in seclusion, and why they choose this time to come forth...well, that is fully yours to uncover.
A Brief History:
The dragons of Cyrradon are incredible creatures of legendary might, originally created by Aralieth to be companions to the Mayhara (the ancestral first-born race of Cyrradon, from which all the elder races are descended). Dragons were intended as symbiont partners with the Mayhara in the exploration of knowledge, art, magic and wisdom, holding joint dominion over all lesser beings. They are long-lived and exceedingly intelligent, even considered by some to have been a sixth elder race. But when the Mayhara split apart, each tribe following after their chosen god-aspect of Aralieth and becoming the five elder races, humans alone sought to subjugate the dragons to their will. Humans, more than any other race, sought after power, and through the might of their sorcery they succeeded in enslaving the race of dragons. This began the Second Age.
Many centuries of brutal violence, bloody wars, and death were to follow, with the greatest of wyrms enthralled to serve the human mages as little more than beasts of war. Until at last the strongest of the wyrms, led by the mighty Haelijiur, rebelled and broke the bonds of the Archmagus Anvergreest, slaying their wizard overlords and vowing never to be enslaved again. This, some historians postulate, should have marked the end of the Second Age. But a vestige of Anvergreest's wizardry remained, a curse the elder wyrms could not escape nor unravel, and which would persist to their very deaths. What should then have been a new era, a Third Age of freedom and new life, was bitterly denied them.
But the will of the elder wyrms was not to be denied. Though they knew themselves to be cursed never to see the Third Age themselves, they knew they must prepare for those who were to come after. Their legacy could not be simply to die off and fade into myth and legend. If there was to be a future line of dragons, much preparation was in order. The cost of their survival as a race would take much time, much patience, and just the right set of circumstances in the world. So they use their extraordinary powers to cloak themselves in anonymity among the nations, where they wait and watch for their time to ripen. Every seventeen years, with the resetting of the lunar cycle, the elder wyrms gather at an ancestral meeting place on the far southern continent of Caerus to share what they have learned. But for long centuries, little has changed.
And so the Second Age continues...
More About Dragons:
During the First Age, there were many variants of dragons, each suited to thrive in its home environment. Some called the deserts their homes, others dwelled in oceans or large rivers, there were dragons of the deep forests and jungles, some who made their homes in the depthless caverns beneath mountain ranges, even aerial dragons living atop the mountain peaks and spending much of their lives among the clouds. Some dragons of the First Age were even known to prefer the inhospitable climes of the extreme polar regions, dwelling in vast caverns of crystalline ice and swimming the frigid dark waters beneath barren wastes of snow.
A dragon’s form can vary greatly based on what is most advantageous for its home clime. For instance, dragons who dwell in the deep caverns of the world might have little need for wings, or for that matter eyes to perceive light. Dragons who dwell in the hot, arid deserts may be flightless, their bodies streamlined and serpentine to allow quick movement beneath the sands. Those who make their homes in the sea have fins more than wings and breathe water as well as air. Regardless of form, all hold supreme mastery in navigating the primary substance of their environment, whether tunnels, sand, water, trees, air, snow, lava, or even traveling betwixt light and shadow.
Dragons reproduce sexually, producing a clutch of eggs as the result of breeding. The eggs are viable indefinitely, provided they are kept safe and undamaged, and the timing of their hatching is a mystery. Because mature adults are uncommon even during active eras, dragons of a kind will almost always breed when they encounter another of the opposite sex. The eggs are then secreted away and guarded, typically by the matron, until the time is right for them to emerge.
When a newborn dragon hatches, it is almost immediately capable of fending for itself, hunting, killing small prey, and so on. However, it possesses only an animal level of intelligence for many years. As they grow and age they become more physically and intellectually capable. They are fearsome hunters, able to survive independently, fully capable of speech and languages, forming relationships, and developing strategic plans to achieve their objectives. In battle, even an adolescent dragon is a fearsome creature, capable of dealing out incredible destruction and taking many strong and skilled warriors to overcome. It can take hundreds of years, though, for a dragon to reach intellectual maturity, which makes juvenile dragons quite dangerous. As they continue to mature, dragons become even more impressive, with skin and scales nearly impenetrable by traditional weaponry, and physical attacks surpassing even dwarven siege ordinance. Elder dragons (called ‘wyrms’ [/weehrm/]) are some of the keenest and most potent creatures of Cyrradon, even mastering the ability to harness the Ÿthir in the ways of the magi, clerics and druids.
Dragons of Cyrradon do not possess any inherent arcane abilities beyond the ability to shift into other shapes at will. Typically this is limited to one or two favorite forms, used primarily for stealth and convenience when mingling with other races. Nor do dragons possess breath weapons as often spoken of in dragon lore. Stories abound of their abilities to hypnotize, cause fear, overwhelm their enemies with toxins or flames, and even completely disappear. In actuality, these abilities have reasonable and empirical explanations. Direct eye contact and sinuous body movement can captivate and cause one to be somewhat hypnotized. Being confronted by a beast of nightmarish proportions can certainly cause fear. Some dragons do have the ability to spit venom similar to smaller serpents (also a purely physical ability), and all of them have an uncanny ability to hide within their native environs. The outlying exception is the legend that some dragons can belch forth a tempest of fire. Through the centuries, some have nobly ventured to discern the truth or myth of this. But lamentably, there have been none to return having witnessed it themselves.
In present-day Cyrradon, aside from chance sightings derided by others as imaginings or mad ravings, dragons have not been seen in the centuries since their rebellion against the magi lords. Most modern folk now believe them to be creatures of myth and lore only. True scholars of history suspect differently, though those who still believe grow fewer with each passing decade. In actuality, the handful of elder wyrms who survived the First Age do still live, having bided those centuries with boundless patience, at times hibernating through generations of other races and only emerging for brief periods of years to gauge the progress of the world.
The Third Age will come. And when it does, they will be prepared.
What fantastic versions of dragons have you discovered in your journeys? Let us know! Feel free to post them, either in the comments beneath the blog post itself, or in whatever forum it gets posted. If you just have feedback or comments on our world-building, share them, too! We'd love to chat with you!
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Jason (and Rose)
Creators at Legends of Cyrradon