Most of you reading this will just think these interesting. Some of you out there, you know who you are, will know the real reason for this post.
One. Most of the old stories have bits of truth encased in layers of lies
The old stories of dragons show them as animals or monsters, sometimes intelligent. Most times they are shown as evil, rarely not. Expanding to global stories of dragons, slightly more variation rattles around. Wings appear and disappear, magic comes and goes, and even their size starts to vary. But if you look across all the stories, peel away the parts put there to obscure the facts, you start to see the truth. For example, some stories have dragons as giant winged flying lizards breathing fire. Others have them the size of cats, wingless and earthbound. The truth, of course is under both of those.
Two. Dragons can change shape
Similar to dragon stories, shape shifting creature stories litter the old legends with variations. For example, the tales of vampires shifting from bat to human, werewolf legends of several different kinds, and other similar stories. Lex parsimoniae notes, one simple explanation to cover a multitude is much more likely than a multitude of explanations. The odds of there being a slew of different shape-shifters each with different and limited shape-shifting abilities is much less likely than there just being one species with the ability to shift to any shape.
Three. Dragons are magic
Piers Anthony’s series of Xanth offered a great analogy of a distinction between using magic and being magic. Of course, that distinction is as artificial as the one between matter and energy, or science fiction and fantasy. As Arthur C. Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Four. Dragons have no magic
Humanity’s lack of understanding of the universe is only exceeded by our arrogant assumption that we actually understand it. Those with just an inkling of wisdom, in a first admittance of ignorance, will wave their hands and say our lack of understanding is explained by magic. Whatever makes them feel better, I guess.
Five. Magic is real
I know it seems like I just contradicted myself, right? And how is this about dragons anyway? Part of learning about dragons will require you to make connections in apparent paradox. Those connections can only be made by you, and like a Zen koan, my trying to tell you the answer will only hinder your progress.
Six. Dragons are real
Okay, for a moment, I’m going to put aside all discussion of points not accepted by the general media. Even then, dragons are still real. True, at that point, the definition of dragon does not include a fire-breathing, winged monster. But we certainly have monsters flying through our sky, beasts that shoot rockets of fire, and even intelligent beings that walk among us with powers nigh magical. In symbolism, dragons are the creatures that are the most powerful. They can fly, breathe fire, and have super-strength; they are the Superman of the mythical world. Taking those powers as symbolic, I know you can imagine humans with fiery tempers sitting on their piles of gold, exerting their power on helpless villagers whenever they like.
Seven. Dragons are not the most powerful creature
I know I said right above that dragons were the most powerful creature. But that is only in symbolism. The truth is that through a weird quirk of evolution, humans are the most powerful creature. While a human’s body is relatively ill-equipped for an unaided hand-to-hand combat, an individual human’s will can more than make up for it. Blunt teeth, worthless claws, and not a protective scale to speak of means humans have been forced to survive by making up for those deficits in other ways. (Clearly, those other ways are not intelligence.) I won’t list the countless large and small examples of determination winning against all odds. Force of will transcends all situations, and can be manipulated infinitely more than tooth, claw, scale, or even intelligence. Determination allows for artificial weapons and shields, and by wielding those tools with indefatigable will, a human can be more powerful.
Eight. Dragons don’t like to be ridden
While I love the stories about dragon riders, they always make me laugh. Dragons don’t like to be ridden. In fact, they hate it. I can only think of a couple times when it’s actually happened. I suppose the stories are wishful thinking against the actual occurrence of dragons carrying humans clutched in their claws. Besides functional and ego issues, dragons have a genetic memory of a parasite that prefers to feed at the back of the neck. It takes extreme self-control for a dragon not to get the heebie-jeebies if anything sits back there.
Nine. Not all dragons have wings
Despite their ability to choose any shape they want, dragons prefer their shape based on genetics and personality. For some, that includes wings. But many others have a genetic phobia something like a fear of heights. Imagine being naked on a high wire, above a busy shopping mall. Not needing to fly to get around, many just don’t see the point of floating up in the air. Especially in recent times, flying also increases the chance they will be caught on film.
Ten. All dragons fly
Understanding space-time on a cellular level, so to speak, dragons have no restrictions on movement. Matter and distance are all the same when viewed from that perspective. In other words, it takes as little effort for a dragon to flap her wings to get somewhere as it does to swim there. In fact, most of the time dragons use a method of instant transportation they call slipping through the Mag (which they can’t explain, of course. Human experts guess it is similar to worm-hole use, like portaling, but does not require the creation of a worm-hole).
Eleven. Dragons can live forever
Because of their understanding of the interrelationship of matter and energy, dragons are not bound to constraints of matter. With no matter constraints, they have no reason to die. And for most of them, life is fun. Living as powerful beings with no real problems, they can enjoy the experience and interactions. Of course, they will set up challenges for themselves, sometimes seemingly impossible, to be sure their interest continues. Once in a while, a dragon’s boredom or sorrow will overwhelm him or her. Most dragons faced with this one disease they are susceptible to, get over it. Once a while they don’t. The dragon may or may not say whatever goodbyes need to be said. With a breath, a letting go, the dragon slips into the Mag, but not through it.
Twelve. Unless they are killed
While dragons instinctively feel the matter-energy connection, either of those can be so disrupted as to stop being a dragon. If in a completely physical form, separating the will from the energy, striking the frequency that de-coheres the waveform unseats the soul. Basically, chop off their head and they’re dead. In other forms, piercing through their spark, which sits very near the heart, with an energy bolt or similar magic weapon of sufficient power will work as well. Overloading their ability to absorb energy for their state will also do it. Theoretically, I suppose, a nuke would do the trick, but maybe not.
Thirteen. Killing a dragon is harder than it looks
I’m literally playing with fire revealing that last one, so before my house magically burns down, let me be clear that you can’t just go slay a dragon. Most times, dragons aren’t in a purely physical form. Riding a horse and stabbing a lance into its chest is generally worthless. Taking a sword and trying to chop it to bits is just a good way to get eaten. Someone trying that is probably where Hercules and the Hydra story came from. But it was more likely the dragon that did the torching. Normal fire is not hot enough to overcome most dragons’ defenses. Bullets? Absolutely worthless. No, you generally need magic and a lot of it, plus the element of surprise and a good chunk of luck.
I had to get these dragon facts out first, but a whole host of other interesting facts about dragon culture, history, romance, and so on are still left unsaid. If you have any burning questions about dragons (no pun intended) let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email.