Section 1: Identifying, Hunting, and Betraying Dragons
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rating: +17+x

Unlike some of the other beasts I have encountered, almost everyone has heard about dragons. However, their rarity and eccentricities have left dragons horribly mischaracterized. The most egregious of these (in my mind) is the idea that dragons want to hoard gold. This is ridiculous. While dragons have been seen sleeping on piles of wealth, this is merely a consequence of their true pursuit: followers. Where there is sentience, there is a dragon trying to amass followers. With followers comes food, water, and any other amenities a highly-intelligent reptile may desire. In return, dragons are often more than capable of offering protection or assistance when hunting. To this end, dragons develop advanced telepathic abilities as they age, allowing them to easily communicate with all forms of life.

Another misconception is that "dragons" refers to a single species. Dragons are, in fact, a small and elusive family of animals. As such, one should learn to recognize what a dragon is before the dragon recognizes them as food.

Anatomy

Dragons are large.The size of adult dragons varies by genus, but they will generally be one of the larger animals in any given ecosystem., scaled, usually quadrupedal reptiles. The aforementioned scales of adult dragons are incredibly tough.The scales of baby dragons, also known as dragon pups, are significantly softer.— attempting to pierce them is a fool's errand. The scales on the underbelly are thinner, but be sure to avoid using knives and shortbows regardless. Most men do not get a second chance to stab a dragon.

In rare cases, one may get a chance to attack a dragon in-flight. While the skin of a dragon's wing is tough, it is significantly easier to puncture than the scales. Causing a dragon to crash to the earth is by far the safest way to slay them. I would highly recommend utilizing this method whenever possible.

Dragons are most vulnerable in their eyes and inside their mouths.While striking the inside of their nostrils is technically possible, I'd be shocked if anyone managed to pull off that sort of a stunt.. An excellent bowman may be able to strike these from range, but dragons provide the less martially-inclined of us an alternative: become one of the dragon's followers. If one spends enough time serving a dragon, it will (inevitably) give them a chance to strike. Dragons are acutely aware of this, and may attempt to use a suspected traitor for a short time before eating them. This creates a social dance where the dragon attempts to exploit the traitor as long as it can while the traitor attempts to get close enough to slay the dragon. Each side bluffs their weakness and naiveté, hiding daggers behind smiles and kind words. The dragon may try appear less threatening by telepathically sounding like a young child or a soft-spoken woman. In rare cases, it will try to confuse the traitor by mimicking the traitor's own voice. I have performed this dance once. Although I came out victorious, I would dissuade readers from attempting it. Dragons will suspect that any highly intelligent creature is a traitor, doubly so for humans. However, the human knack for treason also makes human followers somewhat of a trophy to dragons. After all, what better testament to one's ability to rule than to have a human as a loyal servant. Regardless of whether you are human or not, subtly leveraging a dragon's pride is the easiest way to join its court.

Unlike other reptiles, their ability to produce fire has made them warm-blooded. While cold-blooded reptiles are weak and sluggish in the cold, dragons remain as dangerous as ever. Do not let this catch you by surprise.

Genera of Note

While the information provided above is applicable to just about all dragons, the specific qualities of most genera.Plural form of genus. of dragon will also shape how you interact with them. Examples have been listed below:

Drake: Ask a person to picture a dragon, and they will likely think of a drake. Growing over 20ft long, drakes are the one of the largest species of dragon. Their fire-spewing abilities are the muse of legends and likely the origin of the belief that all dragons are adept fire-breathers. In reality, all other genera of dragons are only able to scorch creatures within biting distance and light bonfires for their followers.

Noble Dragon: More commonly found in areas where the gravity or atmosphere does not allow creatures to grow to large sizes, Noble Dragons (sometimes called Swarm Whelps or Parliament Dragons) often do not exceed 2ft. To make up for their small size, multiple dragons will collaboratively rule over a group of followers. Their name originates from this tendency to create a "dragon aristocracy."

Wyvern: Only spotted on windy mountainsides, not much is known about wyvern. Best estimates say that they grow to something between 9 to 15 ft. They are known to kill prey by lifting them off the ground and dropping them down the mountain slopes.

Brooding Dragon: Growing up to around 18ft, brooding dragons are the only genus of dragon known to raise their young. Legend says that the scent of a brood pup can make a man drop dead. The reality is that if you are close enough to smell a brood pup, then you are about to learn where the brood mother is. Brood mothers will often amass huge followings, which are divided amongst their young once they come of age.

Whelp: At only 6ft long, whelps have resorted to scavenging and omnivorous foraging instead of going after big kills. As a defense mechanism, juvenile and adult whelps take on the appearance of brood pups. Their only consistent distinguisher from the aforementioned pups is their omnivorous diet and superior telepathic abilities. Whelps often have scavenging birds as followers. The bird finds the carcass, and the whelp protects it as they eat. Whelp pups hide in burrows and often prey on insects.

River Dragon: A distant cousin of whelps, river dragons have adapted their wings and feet to be used as fins and flippers, respectively. At only 5 feet long and with no ability to spit fire, river dragons often kill their prey by drowning them. To this end, they are known to make followers out of any scavenger that will chase prey into the water. Flies, gnats, and ant colonies are common allies.

Wedded Amphiptere: At around 10ft long, wedded amphipteres are notable for never having more than a single follower. In rare cases, this has led to people acquiring wedded amphipteres as a strange sort of pet. A wedded amphiptere with no followers is often referred to as a widowed amphiptere, regardless of whether their follower has died or not.

Caped Dragon: Found in the most frigid climates, caped dragons grow to around 8ft long and almost exclusively hunt larger animals. They have a single, knife-like claw on each front foot, which they use to skin their kills. The name comes from their tendency to wear the pelts of their kills for warmth.

While some of these dragons are more formidable than others, it should be clear that the best course of action when encountering a dragon is to avoid it instead of confronting it. Doing so is not cowardly, it is just sensible. That being said, there is one dragon which should be slain if possible. Perhaps against my better judgement, I have included it below:

Bookwyrm: The most elusive kind of dragon, I am the only person to have ever seen a bookwyrm. Long and serpentlike, it is unknown how the bookwyrm manages to fly. Its scales shimmer and shift the light, making the bookwyrm nearly invisible and its true length indeterminable. I alone have seen it stealing books of the shelves of the Library and never returning them. Many would say that this is impossible, that the nature of the Library means that books can never truly be removed from it, but I have seen it. I have been ridiculed, my name sullied and my title stripped as I searched for the creature that is sapping the Library's knowledge.

They say you do not exist, bookwyrm. One day, I will show them your severed head.

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