SPECIES: Dark Dragons
CLASSIFICATION: Greater Dragons
APPEARANCE: Dark colors ranging from very deep browns, purples, or greens, to black or deep grays. Dark dragons possess soft-snouted, horselike heads with snaking necks. They have a varying array of features/body types, including…
-Draconic, horselike, catlike, or no ears
-Paws or draconic claws
-Fur and/or scales
-Unicorn horns (in the case of royalty)
-Spikes of varying lengths & placements
-Black, red, or white eyes
-Tail, or lack thereof
-Varying tooth size/arrangement
-Mutations & unique individual ‘defining features’ are also common
Although details may vary, these dragons are generally medium to large in size, with builds made for fighting.
As they age, they become less flexible, for they never stop growing throughout their life. Young are quite agile, almost catlike in their movements, while older dragons tend to rely more on strength than agility.
LOCATION: Their kingdom far south, where they control the rocky-swamp territory.
ABILITIES: Abilities vary from dragon to dragon. It is rare for one dragon to wield all of the following powers, unless she is the current matriarch.
-Royalty controls the power of Dark. They can instill this Dark in others, and while holding this power, the potency of their natural abilities is increased. Only the current reigning matriarch actively bears the Dark, which is stored in her horn. (More on this at the bottom.)
-Gain energy and strength under pure darkness
-Their bodies are highly adaptable and can change & evolve over the course of an individual’s lifetime
-Manipulation of shadows and/or ability to meld with them
-Shadow weaving, a work requiring a delicate grasp, where shadows are woven with fog and turned into a light, airy garment used for cloaking or decoration.
-All dark dragons have an ability akin to echolocation. They cannot see in the dark, for they prefer total blackness. Instead, they navigate through the darkness as though it were liquid, sensing the ‘ripples’ sent off by any motion. They can interact with darkness as if it is tangible, which is the basis that makes shadow weaving possible.
-Their society is structured almost like those of social insects: Dark dragons may only use their abilities as long as their is a source of darkness to draw from. This source is the power stored in the matriarch’s horn. Because of the connection they share with their queen, a part of them is linked to her, causing fierce loyalty and obedience. Some sources insist she can actually inhabit her subjects’ mind to control them, but this is a source of much debate.
STATUS: Sentient, social
BEHAVIOR: Despite the debate over the queen’s level of control over her subjects, it is an undisputed fact that all dark dragons are connected at some level and operate on a synchronized schedule, the source of which stems from the moon’s cycle.
Their pupils change as the level of light does, turning the eyes fully black under a new moon and fully white under a full moon. Essentially, their pupils mirror the moon’s shape at any given time.
Too much light (i.e. during the daytime) causes the pupils to shrink and elongate horizontally, greatly restricting their ability to see. This time (daytime) is known as the blindness, and is when the dragons are forced to retreat into dark caves.
Because of their name, location, and abilities, dark dragons are generally viewed as vile/dishonorable beings. They are quite private due to their regimented day/night schedule, and typically do not go out and seek interaction with species outside their kingdom. Because of this, misconceptions about dark dragons are common.
They are the keepers of one half of Aiylas’s balance. The power they wield does not make them bad or evil, merely different.
CULTURE: The kingdom is sorted using a social structure that is reminiscent of feudalism.
Family circles (clans) form the foundation of the class system. Each clan inhabits its own territory, which is passed down for centuries. Territories can span for miles, housing multiple related families of the same clan.
Bringing dishonor upon one’s clan is highly offensive, a crime of high degree. No dark dragon should ever steal from his own clan, but feuding with other clans is entirely acceptable and often encouraged, for it is how a clan can acquire wealth, resources, power, and extra land–and as a result, gain a higher status.
Each clan falls into a class. Class position can change, exempting the status of royalty, which is static. In order, the classes are: Royalty, nobility, wealthy upper class, middle class, and peasant lower class.
Because of the rocky marsh they dominate, dark dragons have access to an impressive amount of caves. Their kingdom is just as developed–if not more–underground than above ground. Visitors are rarely permitted to enter the caves.
Dark dragons prefer to settle disputes through fighting or other physical means, rather than by status games or spoken word, as the light dragons do. Although they are not aggressive towards other species, they are not afraid to go to war if the need arises.
Their feud with light dragons is virtually endless.
ENVENOMING & OTHER HATCHING TRADITIONS:
If a family can afford them, there are a variety of different traditional ceremonies available for hatchlings.
Envenoming is the most popular, where a tiny amount of venom is given to the hatchling. Young are extremely adaptable and malleable, so this exposure to venom causes their body to accept and replicate it, granting them venomous saliva for the rest of their life. For best results, this ceremony must be completed within the first week of the dragonet’s life.
Other hatching traditions vary across the different parts of the kingdom. Some include pressing gems into scales, feeding poisonous plants to develop immunity, etc. Young dark dragons are essentially immune to anything for their first few weeks of life, so it’s important for parents to take advantage of this.
The royal line has progressed for centuries. Each royal dragon is born with a gift–the ability to wield pure Dark. This ability comes in the form of a single horn, but usually, this horn remains empty, unless the dragon is in line for the throne.
The queen may give off ‘drops’ of power from her horn. By touching another being, she can instill within it part of her power. Typically she will only do this to an up-and-coming Moonprophet and never her relatives. Sharing her power does deplete the store in her horn, but over time it will replenish.
She may also retract this power from other dragons in the same sense. (Any dragon with Dark in its horn may absorb it from another royal, so it can be dangerous for the queen to gift her relatives with this power.)
When the queen gives up the throne, she empties all of her Dark into another dragon’s horn.
If the queen dies before passing down her power, it will disperse evenly into each available royal. This results in a huge struggle for power that almost always ends in one triumphant royal who has either sucked all the power from her relatives or otherwise done away with them in some sense.
Fun fact: Only female royals are born with horns, ensuring a matriarchy.
Drawing a Dark Dragon
Syldrar, alias White Fire, is the niece of the queen.
She was born with a mutation causing lighter-than-usual colors, which was once a source of shame for her family. After all, if you’re a dark dragon, the darker the better.
Once she was hidden away by her family, but now she is famous across the kingdom for her exceptional fighting skills. She wears her light coloration as a trophy, even dipping her paws in white paint, to show that she is powerful enough not to need camouflage.
She was envenomed at hatching and exhibits mastery of her natural-born gifts, which include shadow melding and manipulation as well as shadow weaving.