Dragons are a race of beings found rarely in Equestria, although the actual worldwide population is assumed to be higher. They are known to be exceedingly long-lived, territorial, and physically powerful in every respect. Most well-known is their love of treasure, especially gems, which are both their bedding and their favored source of food. In spite of several observations over time ponies know very little about Dragons, although many have undertaken the challenge to learn more.
- 1 History
- 2 Habitat
- 3 Local Lore
- 4 Characteristics
- 5 The Factions of Dragonkind
- 6 Special Thanks
A (Brief) History of Dragons
Dragons have always been a part of the world, from the beginning to the present day and, barring any disastrous events, until the end. At least one dragon was present at the creation of the world and is believed (this is not actually the case) to have created other dragons of lesser glory than himself. This first dragon is called "Atto Ziran," literally translated to “Father Beloved.” He is regarded among dragons to be the greatest dragon that ever existed: he was the largest, strongest, wisest, and most powerful of all dragons and has had no equal to this day. It is also accredited to him that he taught all dragons the ways of dragon magic, primarily involving fire and earth.
Whether or not this first dragon actually did the things he is famed to have done, what is known is that in the beginning days dragons were not the typical dragons we see today. They were smaller and less inclined to hoarding, they dwelt together in small but fiercely loyal communities, and worked together to accomplish many things. There are even legends that some dragons, against today’s common sense, actually dwelt harmoniously with other beings: fae-kind, ponies, gryphons, etc. The dragons of those days were relatively peaceful beings and, for the most part, were inclined to leave alone and be left alone.
That changed with the emergence of Discord. Whether Discord was directly responsible or not, at the beginning of his reign of chaos dragons began to lust after precious things with legendary hunger. This led to hostile encounters among the “lesser” races (including ponies, griffons, diamond dogs, flutterponies, changelings, minotaurs, etc.) and in time their hostility turned towards one another.
These actions of fighting and plundering continued for years, unabated and leaving much destruction, until the oldest, wisest, and most powerful of dragons joined in council and discussed the fate of their kind. It was decided that these Elders, now large and strong, would quell the fighting themselves and establish three basic laws:
1. No dragon would bring death to another dragon under any circumstance, nor would any dragon rob the hoard of another dragon.
2. Dragons would meet together in one neutral location frequently to interact peacefully, otherwise were permitted to roost where they pleased.
3. The Elders would guide dragons as needed and act as judges regarding dragon affairs.
These laws, once agreed upon, were spread to every dragon that could be found across the world and, for the most part, were accepted. Dragons were largely left to govern themselves and handle their own affairs, except when the intervention of the Elders was required. The resulting crusade led to the formation of a faction called The Elderkin (see below).
Of course, not all dragons accepted this set of laws and some fought for their independence. Those who resisted and were successful remained separate and are maintaining their own customs. Who and where these dragons are, however, is unknown, for they have taken to being far removed from other dragons and scarcely--if at all--encounter others of their kind.
In the two thousand years between the reign of Discord and the return of Princess Luna, dragons did what most ponies speculate they do today: sleep, hoard, meet frequently to interact and mate, and on rare occasion pillage the domains of others (except other dragons). Dragons encountered other races during this time, including gryphons, changelings, lesser pony kingdoms, so on and so forth, to varying degrees.
Only recently have dragons begun to peacefully interact with non-dragons, and given that most pony and gryphon kingdoms have sufficient strength to repel a dragon or two, dragons are content to leave them be. There are rumors that some dragons still conquer distant and unknown kingdoms and dominions, but nothing substantial has come to light.
In recent times, dragons as a whole have been at some measure of peace. They meet once every twenty-four years to mingle, mate, and otherwise interact with one another, but being under a loose confederation each and every dragon is more content to stay within their personal territories. Occasionally a dragon will go on a spree for riches and treasures, but scarcely against other races. In fact, the Elder Dragons have established an agreement and treaty regarding their interactions with ponies, including provisions for visitors and unwarranted trespasses on their territories.
Not all dragons are content, however. Some are so bored they take to napping for long periods of time and become slothful, others will go out of their way to pick fights with other monsters such as minotaurs and hydras, while others may even begin to fight each other for sport. One such sport, "dragon hunting," was arranged by a number of discontented dragons seeking to keep their fighting edge up against other races, inviting them to try and bring them down. These battles, regardless of their ferocity, are always left on neutral terms.
Other dragons yet have decided to expand their 'social networks' by interacting with lesser races. Being significantly older and more powerful than most races they will work within their territories to influence the local populations peacefully. One such examples are the buffalo, who in exchange for servitude and gems are given great knowledge and protection from monsters they themselves could not defeat in the "Mild West."
Only a small number of dragons, including the Elder Dragons, pursue the interests of the mind. Some dragons have taken for themselves the sciences, studying the stars, biology, mathematics, and so forth. Others yet perfect the art or oral tradition, passing their histories down by song and stories and memorized facts instead of writing. (The few times that dragons do write at length are never on paper, for paper is too frail for them.) Dragons are known to have excellent memories, if not flawless, and so may elect to retain their own knowledge or to store it in written form. It tends to be in their interest to share knowledge with other beings, however, and so they will employ or in some other way work with those they have need of, and are much more likely to write down their acquired and shared knowledge.
Closer to home, Dragons are no strangers in Equestria. Spike, hatched in a grand accident by Twilight Sparkle, has long been integrated in Equestrian society, and in more recent times there have been other visitors including Zaukodar, Zyra, Adalinda, and the once-pony Filly-de-Chambre. As long as they remain out of trouble with the laws of the land (more trouble for some than others) they are welcomed guests.
The final note: the most recent Great Dragon Migration that Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash witnessed (also situated among the volcanic mountains called "Migration Mountains") is at this time still underway. Attendance, while preferred, is optional if more pressing business calls for the dragon.
Dragons, in the few instances that they are observed within Equestria, are known to make their homes in large caves well off the beaten paths, which serves a variety of purposes. Regardless of where the cave is located, it provides a large shelter to protect the resident(s) from the natural elements without causing discomfort from cramped quarters. Similarly, this large size is capable of storing a dragon's hoard--its most prized possession--away from other races that would otherwise attempt to claim said treasures. As a final benefit, the caves tend to be highly defensible--they are one-way in and one-way out without any other direction. A dragon can defend itself, its kin, and its hoard much more easily than if it were out in the open.
Despite these specifics, the caves can be and are located anywhere in the world and remain the primary place of residence until it comes time for the Great Dragon Migration. During this time, known to occur only once every generation, dragons from all over the world come together to volcanic region of the world to interact, find mates, and begin the raising of their newly-hatched young. During this time their personal caves are left guarded by specifically solicited guardians or, for the elder dragons, by magics cast for the sole purpose.
Rare: Within Equestria, there are only three dragons known to have made a home, one of which has since left. This leaves one adult dragon within the Everfree Forest and Spike in Ponyville. All other dragons are scattered across the world.
Dragons are known to be in large, isolated caves. As such, these locations can potentially be anywhere in the world. They remain largely unknown until stumbled upon.
In Equestria, dragons are often associated with "danger" and "disaster," as their comings and goings tend to be harmful to the populations near their places of habitation. At least one pre-Equestrian kingdom was recorded to have fallen to a dragon, and even in modern times they are attributed to such health hazards as mass amounts of smoke and rampages, not all of which are intentional but all of which have far-reaching effects. From a distance, the dragons are held in awe; up-close they are held in fear and contempt.
In Ponyville's recent history there are three known encounters with "normal" dragons:
1. The Dragon on the Mountain: This adult dragon found himself a cave on a mountain in the region of the Everfree forest, where upon laying down for a nap began enshrouding Equestria in a haze of smoke which he snored out of his nose and would have covered the land in darkness for one hundred years. The efforts of Fluttershy and company were able to convince him to leave his cave and move elsewhere to take his nap, presumably outside of Equestria.
2. The Dragon in the Forest: This adult dragon lives in a cave deep in the Everfree Forest, largely undisturbed and almost unknown. Spike changed that by running away there and eating the dragon's gems, incurring its wrath and leading to a brief chase. The dragon did not pursue long, however, which provided the first hint that dragons were territorial.
3. The Dragons of the Migration: The most recent happening, the Great Dragon Migration occurred in the skies of Ponyville, showing hundreds (potentially thousands) of dragons passing on to the volcanic reaches, wherein it was also discovered that dragons of all ages met together. This area proved especially dangerous, as the dragons are shown to thrive in the magma of these volcanoes without harm. Similarly, their young have demonstrated violent tendencies possibly passed on by their parents, including the hunting of native animals for sport.
Dragons range from all shapes and sizes, the age of the specific dragon notwithstanding. The "average" adult dragon, however, is known to have large bat-like wings that serve as the primary method of movement for the dragon. Their bodies, especially as they are, become significantly stronger and advance beyond the physical abilities of most beings, if not all. They have snouts full of sharp teeth, bellies that are a lighter color than the rest of their bodies, and four limbs oftentimes seen as two arms and legs, all of which have claws. Regardless of type or age, all dragons have tails of some length, most of which have dangerous fins or spikes embedded into them. Most dragons are also known to have the biological ability to breathe fire.
The aging process of dragons is much slower than other beings, and is tricky in certain circumstances. The general rule of thumb is that, once hatched, a dragon will age roughly one year physically for every twelve calendar years that pass by. This process can be accelerated, for reasons unknown, by the accumulation and growth of a hoard of personal possessions (ideally gems and precious metals, the preferred foodstuff of dragons). Those who are adjusted to hoarding will benefit from a slower, more balanced acceleration than those who are not.
Dragons, in spite of their physical capabilities, are not often seen using magic. Only the elder dragons seem to have this capability, although details regarding it are only rumors--dragons do not share their magic with anyone, regardless of strength or extent.
Dragons are highly intelligent, if often brutish, beings with a clear territorial tendency. When anything endangers their territory--even if it's a mere cave--they will drive out the offender without hesitation. On the other hand, when not endangered dragons are content to be left alone and leave alone the world at large. The possible exception to this is when they need to enlarge their hoard, but there are no recorded cases indicating one way or the other.
All intelligent races hold certain principles in high regard and dragons are no different. The most common of these values for an average dragon are “individuality” and “freedom.” The greatest issue arises, however, is how a dragon defines it and similarly how one achieves it. The answers are varied and in some cases still cause contention between dragons.
Dragons are generally solitary beings: outside of the Great Dragon Migration dragons are most likely to live alone in their caves with their hoards. When a male and female dragon become bound (a.k.a. mated) they will dwell together, including the time they have eggs and baby dragons to raise. The culture is predominantly patriarchal, however, and males have greater voices in the circles of dragonkind.
In some cases, a small number of dragons will unite and dwell together under a common bond. In almost every case this common bond is familial, with few exceptions, and in these cases the group of dragons is called a “flight.” A flight of dragons will always have an appointed speaker, regardless of how much individual authority that dragon has, and will only stay with each other as long as it is convenient. If strife arises the flight will break apart and every able-bodied member will disperse to isolated locations, at least for a time.
Where authority is concerned the Elders have the greatest voices of all. Elders are dragons in excess of six hundred years of age, all of which have a measure of magical ability. To make a loose comparison, Elders are to dragons what Alicorns are to ponies. The wisest and strongest of these dragons form the ruling bodies and act as governors and judges of dragon affairs, but only as far as they are aware of any outstanding issues. There are other Elder dragons that do not possess such authority, but they are nonetheless powerful and to be given due respect.
Beneath Elders are the “normal” adults: those who are less than six hundred years of age but are older than two hundred and sixteen years. They vary in size, shape, and abilities, but are strong enough and powerful enough to have their own dwelling. Most will sire offspring and end up speaking for them, as well. Adult dragons are at first blush the most numerous of all dragons and can be found potentially anywhere.
Beneath the “normal” adults are adolescents: dragons between one hundred and twenty years and two hundred and sixteen years. Smaller than adults but larger than baby dragons, the adolescents also come in many varieties. Some of them are skilled and strong enough to have their own dwelling, but at the end of the day answer to their parents and other adults, especially Elders. Adolescents are also able to build up their own hoards through competition amongst others their own age. Some dragons, in the later stages of adolescence, may begin to sire their own offspring if they are well enough off. Adolescents, on age, begin to be set in their ways, regardless of where they started. They are rougher and more competitive than babies and will fight for keeps, regardless of the prize.
At the bottom are baby dragons: those beneath one hundred and twenty years. They are wholly dependent on their parents and answer to them. Likewise, their hoards and their dwellings are not their own and they do not have the ability to begin forging their own names until later in their baby years. The relatively “older” babies will begin to compete for hoard and fame. Baby dragons, being relatively new to the world, have their entire lives to learn and grow and so are much more impressionable than older dragons, which also gives them a wider range of personalities to adopt. Among other “normal” dragons they will play and learn not unlike ponies.
The Factions of Dragonkind
Not all dragons are banded together, but there are factions strewn about the realms of dragonkind. The largest and most influential of these are known as "The Elderkin," or more commonly in Equestria simply "Zaukodar’s Faction" (not that he is in charge of the faction, but they are his brethren). They are a powerful group among dragons and while not speaking for all of dragonkind are a strong representation of dragons to outsiders. There are other factions, all of them smaller and less influential, but nevertheless important.
The Elderkin (Zaukodar's Faction)
The Zauzujar (Discordant Dragons)
There are dragons that have no affiliations to any factions whatsoever. They are either orphaned and counted as lost as eggs or infants, or have taken a chance to strike it out on their own without the backing or support of their kindred. While their biology and bloodlines will be tied to some faction known or unknown, for all intents and purposes they are their own dragons and have no binding ties to their heritage.