Word Building: Twenty Things About Dragons

It’s a given that our dragons are different. The word dragon was coined way back when dictionaries were laughably impractical – no consistent spellings, no printing press, abysmal literacy rate – and concepts generally spread by word of mouth. Obviously, no one had any clear idea what the word was supposed to mean when it was created, a situation that continues to this day.

Why should Terra Eternal be any different from here? Even with worlds-spanning political/cultural influence, sufficiently analyzed magic and a really weird sense of style, they never managed to sit down and rigidly define all their terms. But then, why tell you about it myself when they could do it in their own words?

  1. When I first encountered one of these beasts “dragon” was what the locals called it. I’ve since expanded the term to include anything over a certain size and scaly. The students of animal husbandry back home complain but never seem to want to go on one on my excursions to other worlds themselves, so for now the term stands. -Veronica Locke, Treatise on Creatures of Dream and Nightmare 
  2. They turn their head to the side like that? They’re not curious about something, just hungry. -Sean McLean, dragon hunter
  3. The locals insisted we take an interpreter with us to speak to the Lord of the Mountain. I wasn’t sure why, as several people  in our group spoke the local phoneme quite well. When we got about half way up the mountain, working our way along what looked like an enormous ridge, we heard something that sounded like a rockslide near the peak. Then our interpreter told us the Lord of the Mountain wanted us to kindly step off his tail. We determined that doing as he instructed was the best course of action. -Praetor Quentin Barton, Caldera Mountain scouting report
  4. I don’t care if it’s head and legs are covered in feathers. It’s larger than a dog and partly covered in scales. The zoological guidelines say that makes it a dragon! -Sopher Lawrence Nelson, in an argument with his colleague Sopher Ulrich Mann, just before the two had an opportunity to experience a dragon attack first hand
  5. To speak is the surest mark of the soul. Those that speak have a heart that they would share with others. To listen is the surest mark of wisdom. Those that listen value knowing others more than airing their own needs. To be kor’aj is to master both. –Thrinaveous, Kor’aj of the singing dragons of Lienz Mount
  6. Don’t trim the fat off the meat, if you do the meat turns leathery and tasteless when you cook it. You don’t want to try and eat a lean dragon – they only get that way if they’re sick. –15 Ways to Prepare Dragon, a Terra Geodesia cookbook
  7. Hev’anti winds between the worlds, Gigas holds up the sky, Jormungand lies within the earth, Dav’i churns within the depths. Such are the dragons that shake the worlds, order the earth and rule the nations of men. -Translation of a pottery fragment excavated from ancient burial grounds on Terra Interdictus
  8. “When the Swamp God cries, rivers will rise.” Another common saying in these regions, it serves more to illustrate the size of the swamp dwelling dragons than as an indication of their supposed supernatural power… -Sopher Novick Sanderson, Superstitions of the Swamplands
  9. The large horn on their head serves as a repository for chemicals extracted from the swamp plants they eat. These chemicals are siphoned down into sacs in their mouths and, when mixed together with the air, they burn. The creatures ducklike mouth also allows it to spread it’s flaming spittle across a wide swath, making them quite dangerous. But if caught and placed on a diet other than their natural one they loose the ability to spit fire and become quite harmless. – Sopher Emilio Rivera, Unusual Physiologies of the Brownland Swamps
  10. Hear that crashing sound? They’re not claiming territory or warning off others. Not even looking for mates. That’s their stomach rumbling. -Sean McLean, dragon hunter
  11. Undertaker’s Friend -slang for dragon hunters on Terra Incognita
  12. The Mountain cannot bow to cattle any more than the waves be stopped by sand. -The Lord of the Mountain, before the Three Day’s War
  13. Terra Interdictus was a world of firsts. It was the first world we found thinking creatures that were not human, and, in fact, the first world where we found intelligent dragons. And it was more than intelligent, it wielded magic and ruled a nation. Most of the humans and other thinking creatures lived under the tyranny of the dragons, and Vesuvius ultimately decided that we had no call to challenge their power. Thus it also became the first world we are forbidden to travel to and, in time, the first world to declare war against us. – Veronica Locke, Worlds I Have Seen and Known
  14. To the northwest of the city there’s a twenty foot tall gold statue of a lizard breathing fire in the direction of the city walls. Dozens of human statues about as tall as my hand are scattered on the ground, although we’re not sure if they’re prostrated in worship or if they’ve been killed. -Preliminary scouting report detailing the Screaming City on Terra Garrisoned
  15. The worst thing about the fliers is their landing. Smashing buildings, crushing the innocent underfoot, scaring animals into stampeding… and all that flying really works up an appetite.  -Sean McLean, dragon hunter
  16. New field guideline: Do not argue around dragons. -Sopher Ulrich Mann, to his colleague Sopher Lawrence Nelson, after surviving their first dragon attack
  17. We reached the top of the mountain only to discover that the dragon had dammed up a river there, creating it’s own private lake. I don’t know if it drank from it or relieved itself in it but I do know that it clearly intended it to have a second purpose – washing away troublesome visitors. The crater at the top is where the water used to sit. -Justinius Polonius Verica, Regulus Decima, reporting on his decima’s role in the Battle of Caldera Mountain
  18. Don’t know what it’s doing? It’s probably hungry. -Sean McLean, dragon hunter
  19. Hide. If you can’t, then run until you can. If you can’t get to a hiding place before you’re caught, try and cover yourself in something that tastes bad. At least they won’t enjoy your last meal. -Instructions on what to do during a dragon attack, as related by a Terra Incognita wilderness guide
  20. Some have suggested that I fear dragons because of their resemblance to Dagon, and thus remind me of the cult that tried to sacrifice me to him. Dagon, they tell me, was a Power, an incarnation of bruja magic, very different from the frequently mindless creatures of appetite we know most dragons are. The question that bothers me is, why can a thing not be both? -Veronica Locke, A Bestiary of Two Worlds (Fourth Edition)

For those wondering, “sopher” is the rough equivalent to “doctor” or “professor” in Terra Eternal’s vocabulary. Since it’s not covered in the last Endless Horizons world building post.