The word Dragon (Magister reptilium) gives rise to awe and terror. Dragons have inspired the greatest warriors and caused some of the deadliest incidents recorded (see Drakon horribilis) – yet its biology has proven of such vital importance that the species must not be eradicated. It is truly a mixed blessing: to allow its existence engenders the possibility of more harm, yet without its existence, the wizarding standard of living would lower by astronomical amounts.
M. reptilium is classified as a XXXXX threat level, equal to the Rex serpentium, also known as the Basilisk. Within the family are varying degrees of danger of course, but only the Verbreitet Todeshund (Draco fide) has earned a lower threat ranking (see: Near-Dragon Variants by Gustav Mannefreit). Overall, the species has attained the highest percentage lethality per known interaction than any other species (Killing by Numbers, by Grindlewald Sr., p. 132, paragraph 2).
The four life-stages of M. reptilium are: egg, wyvern, drake, and dragon. Each possess formidable defenses, first of which would be the parental units. While dragons behave socially while gravid, non-breeding individuals maintain set distances, except for the ovicular grouping whom form permanent nesting colonies. As their size is the least of all known M. reptilium (one yard long, less than three stone), their only danger lies in their swarming assault. Over ninety percent of all draconic species remain social solely when underage, or forced by circumstances – a trait most challenging to Reserve authorities.
In the first stage, the clutch (3-15 eggs per clutch) is tended by the maternal parent in defensible areas, with some species creating communal gathering locations. These eggs will often remain unhatched until appropriate conditions are met, an incredible boon to species resilience; records have shown several species to be considered extinct, only for an undetected egg to hatch and re-introduce the species to an unsuspecting populace. To whit, the Antipodean Opaleye (Draco pulchra) has been rendered extinct on no less than four occasions, only to reappear decades – and in one case, centuries – later.
Upon hatching, young wyverns – with the exception of Oriental variation (see: Draconic Speciation, by Prof. Burger and Dr. McGraw) do not possess four limbs, but two hind limbs and wing-spikes. Their dietary needs include large amounts of protein-rich fluids, or highly-masticated meats. Despite their lesser mass, no wizard under any circumstances should perceive a wyvern as anything less than a XXXXX level threat. All wyvern generate venom in their youth, even if that toxicity becomes impotent upon transition to drake stage. The venom is nearly necessary, as wyvern are inherently clumsy; each predation event must succeed, else the wyvern will not obtain sufficient nutritional requirements. Parental interference is non-existent in this situation: M. reptilium do not exhibit parental behavior after hatching. Indeed the Hebridean Black (Draco flagellum) consume its young in cannibalistic behavior.
Note: The term wyvern, while technically accurate in present times is also the common name for the Timor family. Adult Timor are physically similar to second-phase M. reptilium, but do not proceed to the next phase. A full-grown Timor is capable of assaulting a young drake; a pack of Timor are able to bring down entire dragons, if caught alone. Three reserves are rated for Timor habitation (Jodhpur, India; Florianópolis, Brazil; and Sinop, Turkey), all of which require warmer climates or are capable of simulating warm climates. The legend of Finnish wyvern has yet to be provenanced.
The third, or drake, stage is considered to be the first adult phase in draconic physiology. While not capable of breeding, the drake possesses all features inherent within a true adult representative. As such, this stage is seen most often in Sanctuaries, as nearly all products derived from M. reptilium can be harvested during this phase. Additionally, drakes are less capable of resisting spell-based attacks until their external dermis layers absorb sufficient raw magic. This can take anywhere between six months to ten years, depending on the breed. A drake is also capable of breathing fire, in addition to its other capabilities.
A true dragon is the fourth – and final – adult phase of the species. Duration between egg to dragon phase takes between two years for the smaller breeds and a full twenty years in the largest specimens.
One form that has attained mythical levels of rarity is the Drakon phase. Our best attempts at gaining more knowledge of this abnormality is unfortunately minimal. Yet here is the collected information from every consenting contributor.
An M. reptilium that has existed within a high-thaumic field for the majority of its existence will increase its strength beyond even fourth-stage dragons, an event that has occurred four times in known history. If the dragon-phase M. reptilium is exposed to Morgana-grade or higher thaumic fields for more than a century, its growth will suddenly accelerate for an unknown timespan. Following this growth, the dragon phase can be said to have ended, and the Drakon phase begun. As a social aspect, a drakon in a nesting field will attract more dragons, whether as a strong protector or simply because conditions capable of producing a drakon are also suitable for growing young, either concept cannot be proven.
What is known concludes that a drakon becomes nigh-invulnerable to all but the strongest magical attacks by the strongest practitioners. Conjured weaponry fails against its hide, and elemental attacks cause minimal damage. It is for this reason swordsmanship was a social requirement since 659 AD. It has only been in the recent centuries that mastery of the blade fell to a mere nicety, a result from the lack of drakon presence in the past half-millenia.
Physiology studies of M. reptilium are available in many libraries across the globe. Even muggles possess limited knowledge of draconic capabilities, although their nomenclature centers upon the appropriate phrase: thunder lizard. An abbreviated explanation not including aforementioned growth tendencies would incorporate basic elements: form, diet, and reproductive habits.
Leaving aside the three major subspecies of M. reptilium, the form of a representative member is certain to entail magic-absorbing scales covering a thick musculoskeletal structure, and a tri-functional nervous system. Living dragon bones form the basis of support with a tensile strength equal to that of goblin-forged steel, and slightly less so after death. The larger and older the specimen, the greater the strength. Legendary specimens of the ancient Drakon horribilis possessed bones capable of resisting the might of the three most powerful Sorcerers of their time, a subject included later in this text. Using these unbreakable supports, M. reptilium sinew brings flexibility to the muscles, themselves dense enough to deter spellfire without the aid of scales. These scales are the single-most used item produced by a dragon; dragon-hide is covered in the objects (unlike dragon-leather which is dragon-skin without the scales).
Part of the growth in a M. reptilium requires the presence of large magical fields, such as the Sierra Nevada Madre in North America, or Ayers Rock in Australia. Wyvern-stage specimens absorb large quantities of thaumic energy, strengthening their scales with every hour spent in that proximity. As common as the concept is known to be, M. reptilium is a metamorphic thaumavore, ingesting magic to sustain itself over time. Young require vast amounts of protein in order to grow, but a fully-grown dragon is capable of going months, or even years, without eating – provided sufficient magic is available for absorption. This later sustainability is a great boon for Reserves. If a fully-grown dragon were to consume as much meat as size calculations required, a single breeding pair of Hebridean Black (Draco flagellum) would deplete the United Kingdom of cattle within five years.
Note: M. reptilium is the only creature known to hunt and consume Rex serpentium. A Basilisk's Gaze, the phenomenon by which the King of Serpents petrifies most of its foes, is a absorbed by the dragon. Basilisk venom is capable of killing a dragon, but only if its scales are sufficiently damaged in order for the fang to gain access. Most R. serpentium fear dragons for this reason, while M. reptilium appear to favor R. serpentium as a delicacy. In general, where there are dragons, there will be few snakes; evidence in this regard can be seen in Ireland (see: Remarkable Wizards, under: Saint Patrick the Dragon Rider. Vol. 137, p.1562). Well is it said: “Dragon-fire consumes all.”
There are three major variants of M. reptilium: Oriental, New World, and Old World. The best methodology for determining this largest of differentiation lies in the number of legs. They can be said, in order, to be: none, two, and four.
The Oriental dragons possesses few extended limbs, nigh appearing to be enlarged members of the Serpents anguis family. The major difference lie in the ornate membranes surrounding their cephalic region, and the ridge line proceeding anteriorly along the dorsal surface. The Oriental variant also possesses tendrils around their oral cavity, highly sensitive to thaumic activity; experiments by the Order of Chrysanthemum Dragons Rushing Over Winds have demonstrated sensitivity over fifteen miles distant. Oriental dragons sensitized to certain spells or the spell-work of known foes can reach as far as thirty miles (See: Dragon Tracking Behavior, by Xai Ting).
The Oriental dragons are also the least dangerous of the three subspecies, comparatively. Their diet consists largely of fish, whales, and on an infrequent basis, giant squid. The Malaysian Sapphire (Draco cel) have been observed to actively hunt kraken (Magna oculus), once a common sight in other oceans. This is also the source of the so-called Sea Serpent legends. Two subspecies within the Oriental variation are purely aquatic (Aquaticus domnivi and Aquaticus toxica), similar to their North Sea cousin, popular in early Medieval muggle literature.
One significant exception to this concept is the Chinese Fireball (Draco magnifica). The species, while technically a member of the Oriental grouping, possesses four limbs like an Old World M. reptilium. The unique features do not stop at that point; D. magnifica is infamous for the massive bursts of incendiaries it can produce. Living up to its common name, D. magnifica will launch devastating bursts of a highly flammable fluid, which immolates itself just prior to impact. This mastery of Arithmancy puzzled scholars for centuries, until the sinuous motions of the D. magnifica’s head were observed, and noted to incorporate triangulation motions used in advanced positional calculations.
The New World dragons chiefly possess two legs and a pair of multi-function wings. These wings are used for terrestrial locomotion, and the inexperienced observer may mistake them for wyvern (juvenile stage); however a New World dragon may grow many times larger than a typical wyvern. In addition, the majority New World dragons are non-incendiary. This results in a surprisingly creative biology.
Examples of this non-standard approaches include the Venezuelan Acid-Spitter (Draco ignis-salivam) and the rare Dagger Tongue (Draco hastam). In the collected works of Icelandic Dragon-Master Nils Nosundum, D. ignis-salivam is proven to possess dual-phase sacs beneath the posterior mandible, superior to the cervical vertebrae. These paired containers generate separate acidic compounds that, when combined, create an acid so unstable that it must be expelled, or burn through the dragon’s normally impervious tissues. The ancient Mayan cultures, prior to their downfall, used the acid in its separated form to create etchings on mithril – a single dram of the combined form requires nearly thirty-two bezoars to neutralize. Ancient texts indicate use of this compound (translated as ‘Divine Sun’s Wrath’) was used to eradicate the entire Mayan ruling body in a coordinated assassination attempt.
Draco hastam, by comparison is much less dangerous overall, yet bears its own perils. As its common name suggests, the tongue of a D. hastam is sharp and narrow. Moreover, its ability to hyperextend the lingual organ renders the dragon an ambush predator like no other. A lack of serrated edges allows the beast to retract its assault, leaving prey gravely injured, and likely subject to a repeat-performance. The tongue itself is an amazing artifact of magic, sharpened upon every extension by twin dental plates set in the hard palate located within the further reaches of the dragon’s muzzle. When not hunting, D. hastam may communicate via vibrating its tongue-plate between those dental structures, creating a buzzing sound that may carry for leagues throughout the jungle.
Note: New World dragons sometimes acquire vegetation for nesting purposes, using the natural heat of decaying plant matter to maintain temperature and humidity levels. It is wise to never disturb a large pile of rotting vegetation, unless well-prepared.
Old World dragons possess the largest number of family members, and the classical four leg design as seen in the ancient works. As a whole, they prefer isolated nesting locations, usually defensible within caverns or mountain peaks. Desolate locations and strong thaumic fields inculcate rich biodiversities, crucial for providing large quantities of protein and the intense magic required for young dragons. For this reason, it is believed that muggles have encountered so few M. reptilium as they have; the typical regions inhabited by M. reptilium repel muggles by virtue of their environment.
In addition, it has been discovered that egg phase of Old World dragons possess subtle forms of the Notice-Me-Not charm. Histories trace the modern equivalent to Romans that maintained Dragon Preserves in Romania, Hispania and Gallica; scholars have also uncovered runes imitating the same pattern of M. reptilium egg placements within the record halls of Pompeii Majicka, with hints of Etruscan assistance. In essence, the young are difficult to observe, and reside in hard-to-reach locations. With these factors considered, it is no wonder that Europe leads the world in Dragon encounters. No other continent has as many legends of M. reptilium or those that slew them. There are many strong legends within the muggle community, powerful enough to remain deep within the public mindset despite the strength of the magic released by the International Statue of Secrecy.
The common frame of the Old World dragon lends itself well to adaptive survival. Four limbs grant a mobile terrestrial capacity, and wings give an unprecedented aerial range. This means the Old World dragon variant is able to initiate an attack from multiple angles, forcing the species to gain cunning as a whole. A ten yard New World dragon retains, as a rule of thumb, a strike range of one fourth of its length, or one and a half span. An Old World dragon extends that range to three span simply due to strong forelimbs supporting such a movement. Each forelimb can be used to pin down prey, or dig through hardened stone; especially if treasures are involved. Records show how in 1349, a Turkish Goldeneye somehow became aware of a goblin storage facility; after destroying the town of Hispanida-Ulfrei, it proceeded to burrow into the goblin tunnels, killing everything in its path. What few records remain indicate two goblin lines were eradicated in the process, and the dragon subdued after destroying the rest of the subterranean dwelling (An Study of Great Reporte Chiefly of Dragons and Goblins, by Elderic the Elevated).
Physiology of the Old World dragon contains greater bulk than either of the main variants. Their proclivity for uninterrupted growth during the critical stages generates superior magic resistance, while the increased mass decreases flight efficiency. In addition, the predatory actions are enhanced through less exotic means than acid spit or sword-tongues. Instead, the Old World dragon relies upon overwhelming force, viciousness, and copious amounts of fire.
Two examples of these traits would be the Swedish Short-Snout (Draco calidi) and the Hungarian Horntail (Draco sirex). D. calidi is native to the Scandinavian regions, where the Leharv (Altum tedeum) maintain their territories, while D. sirex is native to the shores of Anatolia.
Note: A. tedium, while not M. reptilium, possess enough similarities to be mistaken at a distance. For the purposes of this treatise, it will suffice to say that their physiology is similar to Old World dragons, but are more compact, do not have scales, and retain acid-spitting capabilities (see: Loki’s Eternal Punishment, Author unknown).
It is of little surprise that D. calidi generates some of the hottest flames known to wizarding kind. Its intense blue flame, bordering on white as the specimen ages, turns bone to ash in a heartbeat. Goblin-forged steel is hard-pressed to keep the flames at bay. Durmstrang, the notable academy of the north, still bears scars from a terror of dragons disturbed in 1115 AD. To emphasize the significance of this feature, it should be understood that the wards protecting Durmstrang include ley-fueled Regeneration Wards built by dwarves at the school’s founding.
The viciousness of D. sirex is proverbial to the residents of its chosen domain. While its flight skills are not as demonstrably elite as some of its cousins, there is no doubt the endurance it retains more than compensates. A D. sirex’s chosen battleground is on the ground itself, and an excellent choice. Few are willing to enter its territory, and even fewer return. D. sirex possesses thick scales, strong muscles, and an armored segment to a tail over four yards long. Combined with a fire-breathing range three times as long as its form, and unusually versatile locomotion, D. sirex behavior resembles that of mammalian tendencies. A consummate ambush predator, D. sirex will lie in wait, dark coloration camouflaging its bulk; if its prey proves too agile, D. sirex will take to the skies and pursue its prey until the fleeing creature drops from exhaustion. Its musculoskeletal structure is resilient to even the most powerful stunning spells, necessitating a minimum of a full dozen high-grade wizards to ensure safety for all parties involved.
Finally, a brief history of M. reptilium is necessary for full comprehension. The full panoply of this subject may be found in the compendiums written in collaborative effort by this and other authors. Here are some few points that were felt to be pertinent for this work.
Due to their reliance upon thaumic-powerful locations, what later became known as the Drakon-Elimination Decree of 1017 provided for the removal of at least five Reserves. These magic-rich reserves were selected as sites where strongholds would be built, designed to provide population centers and protection from the burgeoning muggle population. Dragon Reserves considered at-risk for exposure or believed to not be worth continued investment were selected for this endeavor. Durmstrang was one of these beneficiaries, and required nearly five hundred wizards in the site evacuation. Given the power of its thaumic emanations, it is of no surprise that a mature Drakon horribilis was found in residence -- except to those planning the operation. Over three hundred wizards were killed in this endeavor: the Drakon could not be starved into submission, nor executed with the Killing Curse due to its innate strength. The beast held such cunning that three separate contingents of wizarding Battle Mages were required to subdue the beast, utilizing the natural rock formations to create and cool a lava field, then assault with sharp-edged weaponry. (Excerpt from Catastrophes of the Ancient World, by Sir Frederick Umbulkirk, SFU)
It is a matter of record that Fiendfyre, the cursed imitation of dragon-fire, does not harm M. reptilium. This species with its natural proclivity to fire (save a number of New World dragons) is immune to both the heat and magical nature of the spell (How to Not Kill Dragons, by Kelp and Longbottom). Dense scalene structures allow the aggressive magic to flow across the dragon’s form, and the heat is negligible during short durations. As most dragons are capable of flight, it is useless to set fire to the flammable portions of the terrain. Not only are Old World dragons consistently dwelling in low-vegetation regions, the standard wizard is incapable of sustaining a true Fiendfyre for a long enough duration to harm a dragon, even if the dragon consents to remaining within range on the ground. (Excerpt from Origins of the Unforgiving, by Burger and McGraw)
M. reptilium have proven to be a highly controversial literary topic within the muggle world. One of the most familiar tales, St. George and the Dragon, refers to the beginnings of the royal Muggle Hanover line, and its ascension from the House of Welf. The Muggle version has become sadly distorted during the International Statute of Secrecy of 1689; the original included the full tale of how Baron George Hanover came to the aid of his wizarding seneschal, rescuing both his daughter and securing the allegiance of the wizarding community in his realm. Specifics vary between accounts, but all sources agree that the dragon involved in the tale was likely a Norwegian Ridgeback (Draco monsrursus). In addition, this event established the Court Wizard position for centuries, which eventually became the office of Prime Minister within the Wizengamot. (Excerpt from Pure History, by Samuel Fre-Umbridge).
If you enjoyed this work, you may find more like this and other works at the Archive of Diction in which this is found, courtesy of the Plumbum Singularity. Primary donor for this gift is SFU Foundation, with helpful comments by Ozymandis the Talking Head.
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