Western Dragons

by Helen W

A private document in Kit Fisable's archives. The original document is a letter to Toquell Velasquez, which has later been annotated in the margins in a different pen. (Annotations represented by italics.)


Follows a summary of what research I have been able to extract from the library at Thousand Arts, among other sources. Given the nature of the subject, the accuracy of any information is suspect, but I have done my best to indicate reliability where relevant.


Size: -Varying reports suggest anything from fifteen feet upwards. -Once source quotes twenty feet; this may be an exaggeration, though the source seems otherwise reliable.

Size varies. Barameus was the biggest we saw, and (though I'm estimating, and the light wasn't good) I think he was about 30-35 feet.

-Shapeshifting seems to crop up so often in reports that it cannot be discounted as a possibility; while the ability of some (or all) dragons to transform themselves into humans or human-like creatures is the most common feat mentioned, they may also be able to change size at will.

They can definitely shape-shift, but whether they can change size while in their dragon form is still unproven. Inskuldraes certainly manifested himself as an exceptionally large wolf, but we still don't know whether that was a function of his nature or a choice on his part.

Diet: -Largely unknown. -Logic suggests a beast of this size must be a carnivore. -Rumour variously has it that they can eat humans, enjoy eating humans, or must eat humans. -An unsubstantiated rumour refers to a dragon living in the White City itself, disguised as a human, who kills and eats one resident every month (or, in some versions of the tale, every full moon).

No further insights here, unfortunately. We didn't see any of them feed, and can't be certain that Barameus' threat to eat us wasn't just a threat.

I have an idea on the story about the full moon. It’s not a very nice idea, but it’s an idea.

Genealogy: -Common myths refer to dragons as the children of an Old Power (probably the Lady of All Serpents), and an unidentified Prince of Breath.

The Frost-Prince certainly claims them as his children, and though we don't have reliable testimony from the Lady of All Serpents, they seem to think she's their mother - and that's good enough for me.

-Reliable texts quote Serpentmen, Dragonspawn and Firedrakes as relatives of dragons (perhaps their children?). -Some theorise that these three beasts may be mythical, or that, if they do exist, may merely be different names for the same creature; I can personally verify the existence of Firedrakes, or creatures that could be described as such, in the Northern Mountains, but have never seen anything that could be described as a 'Serpentman'. -On the other hand, reliable scholarly works seem to take the existence of humanoid yet ophidian creatures - described variously as Dragonspawn or Serpentmen - as fact.

Serpentmen and Dragonspawn appear to be the same breed, possessed of limited shape-shifting ability and pyrospiration. They claim to be the children of the dragons, though whether this is a metaphorical statement or a literal one is still uncertain. They shed their skin like snakes (example at the Faculty), and are capable of limited speech and crude architecture. Firedrakes are bigger, nastier and entirely different.

-It is widely accepted that there are only five of these creatures.

We met three and no others were named, though that does not preclude their existence.

The one we saw at the volcano was certainly of a different breed altogether, not a Western dragon at all.

-More disputed is the idea that these are made up of four males and one female; while this is the most commonly held notion among storytellers, there is no reason to believe that dragons have gender at all in the way we understand it.

On balance, I would suggest that Barameus, Inskuldraes and Toramaes were male, though I've no proof.

Habitat: -Most or all probably live in the West, specifically in the Forest, although one is supposedly frequently sighted hunting in the Northern mountains.

Inskuldraes resides in (or near) his lair, marked on the attached map; Barameus the God-King remains in his city; and Toramaes now flies with his father.

-Now here's the juicy bit - in my researches, I have run across a reliable source which indicates that at least one dragon lives among a tribe of humanoid creatures (serpentmen, the source claims) in the north of the Western forest, and rules there as king. Whether or not there is a dragon there, I have dug out a largely forgotten map of the area, including the location of the capital city - if we don't find our dragon there, we can almost certainly find someone who knows where he (or she) is.

That'd be Barameus then.

-The diary mentioned below includes directions to the lair of the dragon reputedly slain (or at least robbed) by Lord Amadeus de Almedia. This is another possible lead, though its reliability is in doubt - the lair is almost certainly abandoned by now.

Not abandoned at all, unfortunately.

Oh well.

-Most of my sources seem to take as read the traditional preference of dragons for caverns under the earth. I do not know how much this is fact, and how much common mythology intruding on scholarship.

Only Inskuldraes seemed to bear out this rumour. Barameus has his palace, and Toramaes his coomb.

-Dragons collect gold and precious gems. It is unknown whether this means that material wealth can be used as bait, or for bargaining…

We were unfortunately unable to collect data on this particular tidbit, though Barameus certainly seemed enamoured of material trappings.

-May have originally been airborne?– this claim is disputed, and possibly fabricated.

We didn't see Inskuldraes or Barameus fly, nor Toramaes before his change. That doesn't mean they're unable to, but I suspect that the fire in their blood keeps them earthbound.

Abilities: -Pyrospiration is not out of the question, though this ability may not extend to all dragons. We can but hope. Is steelsilk fire-resistant? Does dragonfire act like normal flames, or does it have special and specific properties? To what extent will metal armour increase or reduce the long-term survival chances of a dragonfire victim? The answers to these questions and many others had better bloody well get me a professorship if we survive, or there'll be trouble.

Pyrospiration is positively confirmed in the case of Barameus and certain Dragonspawn. Empirical testing was unfortunately not possible. So far the only thing that we are certain will stop dragonfire is the WaterFire, and that is no longer extant.


-Dragons either can, or could at one point in the past, fly. If the information on shapeshifting is accurate, it is possible they can adopt forms capable of flight; or this may be unnecessary - some believe that the power of flight is an inherent attribute of their parentage. One particular myth cycle has it that the Lady of All Serpents removed their ability (or desire?) to fly through jealousy - see the translation below.

See above.

-They almost certainly have the power of speech. I have unearthed a diary which gives credence to the old story of Amadeus de Almedia and his duel with the dragon, largely considered these days to be exaggeration if not outright fabrication; this diary, however, was made by an eyewitness (his manservant), and refers to the man who later transformed himself into a dragon personally challenging Lord Amadeus to a duel.

Yes, they can speak, and some of them are sarcastic bastards.

-The same evidence seems to imply either that dragons are difficult (if not impossible) to permanently kill, or that they can be tricked. -It is near-indisputable that Amadeus did return to the city with a horde of wealth and gems, and that the later appearance of the dragon was in revenge for the theft. The three possibilities, therefore, are:

Amadeus successfully killed his dragon, and was later killed by an angered relative. This implies vulnerability, and kinship bonds between the creatures. Amadeus thought he had killed his dragon, but had merely weakened it; it recovered and, many years later, came back to take its revenge. This implies that dragons are as difficult to kill as the rumours suggest, but may appear dead. Amadeus did not kill his dragon, but rather obtained its horde by subterfuge or trickery, and claimed the kill to increase his own reputation. It returned to set the record straight. This reflects negatively on the dragon's intelligence, but positively on its perseverance. The first of these three possibilities is out of the question; Inskuldraes the Shapeless Wyrm is alive and well. He did not seem interested in answering our questions, however. We did not – happily! – get into a stand-up fight with any of these dragons, so their vulnerability or otherwise remains untested. The Northern dragon, however, was destroyed by tearing its heart out. (And eating it. Not my fault.) I have no idea if this is relevant.

Other Information: -There is the usual story that the Bound Ones will be freed if a man ever lies with a dragon. I do not lend this much credence.

Nope, didn’t shag any of them.

-I have translated and summarised a text which bears close resemblance to several traditional myth-cycles concerning dragons; unfortunately, its accuracy is suspect, since it is included in a collection of texts many of which are obviously complete fabrication. Nevertheless, the myth is of some academic interest. It reads as follows:

“Dragons were originally cold and icy beings, that lived in the sky, and played with the Snow-riders. Their mother felt that they weren't close enough to her, so she drained the blood from the heart of fire, and made a drink for them, which bound the fire into their hearts and made them warm. Since then they have lived in caverns in the forest, and she is much happier, but their father the Wind Prince is not.” The information contained in this legend seems to be largely true - or at least the dragons think so. Their father the Frost-Prince is still very much alive and well (for the moment), and their mother the Lady of All Serpents rumoured to sleep in the East.

Met a young gentleman the other day who seems to think he’s a direct descendant of the Lady. But I was very, very drunk, so I haven’t written his name down. Ah, well, I’m sure it’s not important.

Any further information I obtain is, naturally, at your disposal. I have retained copies of both the map and directions mentioned, along with additional maps of the area, for safekeeping.


K.F. [Cartography Dept.]

misc/fiction/dragons.txt · Last modified: 2011/03/31 20:32 by osj01
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