Wingless and separated into different roles based on their physiology, from the most sacred Twinguard to the lowliest, yet numerous Dwellers, Moon dragons faced great adversity on their first Arrival. Relying on stealth, subterfuge, and manipulation of Dreamscape, they had to carve out their lairs underground and hide their scents by using sophisticated herbs and traps against wildlife. Yet where their cunning would not suffice, stout Twinguard and stealthy Spotters form the bulk of Moon draconic forces.
PhysiologyDragons of the Twin moons are nocturnal oviparous beings covered in shades of dark scales, most commonly black with either stripes or dots along their back and neck. There are three separate subspecies of Moon dragons that greatly differ in their appearance, making them seem like completely different species altogether. However, this dimorphism is influenced by chance and by the manipulation of eggs before hatching. These subspecies are:
- Dwellers - The most numerous and the most fertile. These relatively small wingless dragons do not boast of any remarkable strength, but they have dexterous claws and can dig and manipulate objects well. Dwellers are lifeblood of any Moon dragon tribe or setllement they are part of - taking of most mundane tasks as well as building or crafting objects for daily use by their bigger siblings. You can recognize dwellers by their narrow eyes and lithe bodies, allowing them to squeeze into tight (usually underground) areas where bigger predators can't follow them. Some Dwellers even possess rudimentary abilities to affect Dreamscape, and while they are small, some can don spears or flutes and act as Clawstoppers
- Spotters - Stalker predators with spotted scaled patterns on their backs, these larger wingless dragons have elongated hind paws and long-clawed forelimbs that allow them to jump great distances to catch their prey, killing it with the force of impact and claws. With enhanced senses of smell and sight, they are able to detect motion even in complete darkness. Spotters mature quicker than Dwellers, and while still intelligent, they are more instinct driven than their brethren. Spotters play the crucial role of obtaining meat and fish as Hunters for their tribe, but in times of need, can also join a fight alongside Clawstoppers. Spotters are also gifted with greater insight into Dreamscape, and often are consulted with problems arising with Spirit-tearers. They have no problem mating with each other or with Dwellers, but are only able to produce eggs with their own kin.
- Twinguard - Only eggs that remain on direct moonlight the longest before they hatch have a chance to produce the mighty Twinguard. These wingless dragons grow to immense size and are recognizable by their white half-circles around the top of their eyes that continue further down the sides of their neck. Aside from their great size and eye patterns, Twinguards are also bulkier, yer more athletic but lack the same sort of insight that Spotters have into Dreamscape. While rare to produce a new one, their strength is only comparable to that of a fully grown Warborn female. Twinguard almost always fill in leadership roles of their tribes where needed, yet fight with unparalleled ferocity when they need to defend their subjects. Compared to Dwellers, they are not very fertile and rarely produce more than a single egg per year, and will only consider mating with other Twinguard - usually from other tribes as means of establishing peace between them. However, death of the leading Twinguard voids any existing peace agreements between these tribes.
Sexual DimorphismNeither of the three subspecies boasts of any remarkable differences between sexes. Females of both Spotters and Twinguard are able to only carry a single egg when pregnant, which doesn't impact them in their normal lifestyle, and both can still hunt or fight if needed - albeit get tired quicker. There is a very slight height variation that makes females on average taller, but not by much, so it cannot be used as a determining factor as a very tall male or short female could make a distinction in this aspect inaccurate.
HistoryBefore the Sundering, Dragons of the Twin moons suffered many losses after their first Arrival. Given that they lacked wings of their Sun dragon counterparts, and were interconnectedly reliant on each other - Spotters couldn't build a den for themselves without Dwellers, while Dwellers and Twinguard had trouble getting food without Spotters hunting for them. So when they first arrived, instinctually they went to search for their kin - and while they were nocturnal beings - many of them perished during daylight of the first few days. As such, to this day, Moon dragons are fairly rare, and even harder to seek out as they hide throughout the day in their dens underground. Yet while their numbers were smaller, they were able to tell that something was off about Er'Wain's plan to obtain a physical form. Many Spotters convened to discuss these deity-like beings and ultimately rejected them, opting to instead spy on their efforts pre-Sundering. It is impossible to know exactly what happened, but there are some rumours that Dragons of the Twin Moons worked in secret to foil their plan, and lessen the impact of the Sundering, at the cost of many of their Dwellers living on the Continent either dying or ending up turned into Jungle dragons.
The Starward NationThe biggest community of these dragons live on Starward island, where multiple tribes together formed what is known as a Starward Nation. Yet given their lack of wings, they are entirely reliant on the cultivation of their island's natural resources, and the occasional Purveyor that ventures to trade with them from the Continent. Starward Nation has historically been also a bastion of learning for many Greencarers interested in the study of history and especially Dreamscape. Given their secluded location, over time they attracted ambassadors from every single Midrastian species living on the Continent, as well as Warborn and Fishers whose Arrival was foretold by local Shamans. You needn't go far to even find a community of Dreamgliders living amongst these enigmatic dragons, as this island is often utilized to offer guidance to any young Nocturnal Gryphon that shows aptitude to this discipline of exploring Dreams within Dreamscape.
The Continent-boundA great community of Moon dragons still resides on the Continent too, however, they have spread far apart and generally form parts of other species' boundaries or live in between their borders. Once every year, on the break of Fertilan, Continent-bound tribes send their representatives to ruins of Arcanem to welcome back a new cycle of life and rebirth through a series of rituals and celebrations. This is a holy-bound duty of all Moon tribes, and it is believed that failing to do so will curse said tribe with misfortune and death. Should there be a time in the future when no tribe manages to arrive to Arcanem, then the whole of Midrast Wain shall perish. Arcanem's duty is also a great way for all tribes to share information, strike deals, discuss fluctuations in Aether and Dreamscape by Spotters and establish peace between newly appointed Twinguard. This venture is often assisted by local Jungle dragons, who provide the ruins with food, shelter and gifts of their own, among other opportunities for profit via trade or services.
Genetics and Reproduction
Dwellers are capable of reproduction upon reaching their 10th or 11th year, with both Spotters and Twinguard reaching maturity 1-2 years later than that. Dwellers clutches often consist of around 3 eggs, after a gestation period of 6 weeks. Once laid, these eggs are either kept in safety of their dens - which guarantees that they hatch into more Dwellers after a period of 4 weeks. If these eggs are kept on direct moonlight, there is a chance that their hatching will be delayed by an additional week and result in a Spotter. Should the egg be especially fortunate, its hatching will be delayed further by another week and hatch into a Twinguard. The rate at which eggs hatch certain subspecies of Moon dragons is a subject of much debate but it is believed to be a combination of many factors, temperature, Moonlight and humidity likely all playing a certain role - and each Starward nation and Continent-bound tribes have different ideas on how best to cultivate eggs to spawn Spotters or Twinguard.
Growth Rate & Stages
Dwellers, Spotters and Twinguard all look remarkably similar when they first hatch, each hatchling is covered in snow-white fur. It is possible to tell which hatchling will grow into what with absolute certainty after a period of about 40 days, when features of each subspecies become more prominent.
Furred adultsFur is usually lost during maturity, although some may retain it in various shades of white even into adulthood. Adults with a lot of fur are thus viewed as not serious or childish, even though it is just their appearance.
Ecology and Habitats
Forests, bases of mountains and hills, and areas away from natural aquifers allow for digging large dens underground. Dens are built purely for sleeping purposes throughout the light of day and to hide from predators - especially for Dwellers. Dwellers usually share a large communal area where they all sleep together in a pile for warmth-preservation purposes. Separate places are built for Spotters and Twinguard.
Dietary Needs and Habits
Moon dragons are capable of ingesting a wide variety of meats, fish, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, however, they are lactose intolerant.
Predation on Moon Dragons more often than occurs even before their individuals hatch - their eggs are often on display during the night and predators flying or land-bound are a constant threat to the survival of their unhatched young, possibly growing the next generation of Spotters or Twinguard. As such, it is a sacred and very needed duty to be a Carer, a position that can be held only by the most capable of Dwellers and Spotters. These Carers act almost like Clawstoppers, protecting the eggs under the open skies no matter what. Spotters predate on mostly smaller creatures, or grazing animals that are otherwise easier to kill or incapacitate with a single strike. Given their relatively fragile build, they are not able to chase after running prey nor would they be able to deal with enraged buck charging them at full speed.
The social structure is hierarchically organized based around the leading figure of a Twinguard, and should the tribe be especially small and not have one, then a Spotter or Dweller of importance is chosen.
- Leading Twinguard - While usually given to the oldest individual within the tribe, sometimes this position can be abdicated if the current Twinguard is too old or for any other reason incapable to lead his tribe effectively. These leading figures surround themselves with other Twinguards who directly report to them about the state of the tribe
- Twinguard - Any other Twinguards, if there are any, will assume other functions of the tribe, usually surrounding themselves with capable Dwellers as their advisors and micromanage aspects of the tribe's day to day operations that would be considered too minor for Leading Twinguard to deal with directly. This can involve anything from trade, training of Carers, overseeing constructions of buildings, dens or giving orders to hunting parties.
- Leading Spotters - These individuals often are the leaders of hunting parties, Elder Shamans, Clawmasters and head Carers that command respect amongst their peers.
- Spotters - Hunters and huntresses, disciples of Aetheromancy, Dreamscape studies and Shamanism, Carers, Clawstoppers and Scouts.
- Leading Dwellers - The most skilled of craftsfolk that are in charge of building tools, weapons, smaller constructions, or those employed as Apothecaries, Carers and Clawstoppers
- Dwellers - Servants of all kinds as well as everyone else not listed above.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
The Continent, especially within Starward Nation and small pockets all over forests and lowlands of central Continent
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
All three subspecies are capable of night vision, yet Spotters are able to see much clearer in the dark and at greater distance, while Dwellers and Twinguard see mostly a blurred image if in complete dark.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
There are many Midrastian species willing to cooperate with Moon dragons, usually in exchange for services that only Nocturnal beings can assist with. Whether it's gathering of specific herbs growing in areas traversed by vicious beasts during day time, the need to interpret strange Dreams, purchase of traps or others, there is a little bit of everything in demand in here. Some dragons from Foll or Fishers may even serve as local couriers for them in exchange for gems and shelter. Less often but still likely it is to even encounter Gryphons, especially Nocturnals cooperating with them due to the ease of aligning their schedules and waking hours.
Civilization and Culture
Continent-bound Dwellers, Spotters and Twinborn are given names after their first visit to the ruins Arkanem, usually around 2-4 years of age. A similar process follows Starward nation - except they hold a communal youngling ceremony for 2-3 year olds. In both cases, names are given by their respective Carers. Names of both males and females consist of the following formula:
- Take the adjective of something that the youngling has shown proficiency in, or keen interest in, and shorten it to a single syllable. For example "Intelligent" could be shortened to "In" or "Gent".
- Take away one vowel and replace them with '. For example: "Keen" would be shortened to K'n.
- Add a single "E" to the front of their name if they are Dwellers, "O" if they are Spotter, and "Y" if they are Twinborn.
- For formal first-time introductions, you also add the name of your tribe, and who your leading Twinguard is. Should you no longer have a tribe or any Twinguard in it, you will just mention "of a nomad blood" or "formerly of xyz tribe" This can also mean that you are simply on a journey and plan to return back to your tribe eventually.
- Ed'g of a Pinewood tribe, lead by the mighty Yfi'r (Source words - Digger and Fierce)
- Obo'n of a Nomad blood. (Source word - Bounty)
- Eke'n formerly of the Dambuilder tribe (Source word - Keen)
- Starward Nation - rather isolated on the Starward Island, yet their tribes are united. Known for their pursuits and knowledge in Dreamscape.
- Continent-Bound - A loose connection of myriad smaller tribes all over the Continent, yet mostly around the central area. They gather once per year for ruins of Arkanem for a large festival to form pacts, meet, and share stories and songs.
Dwellers prefer to adorn their bodies with small pieces of jewelry that won't impede them from digging, using instruments, or climbing through narrow underground corridors but is sturdy enough to not get snapped - earrings, snoutrings, bracelets and similar are preferred over necklaces, capes, hats and other things that would get dirty and in the way.
Moons are by necessity polyamorous and rarely form a bond with one mate only, considering that:
- Dwellers generally don't enjoy much privacy either as their underground lairs are shared open spaces where they huddle up for warm preservation and sleep in a pile draped over one another. This may even lead to group sex, as one after another more and more Dwellers are roused by the scents and sounds of their tribemates enjoying each other. Still, some are particularly picky with their partners for one reason or another, and it is not uncommon that they may not want to participate in such activities. So while it varies, most Dwellers see sex as a casual activity to enjoy, collectively or otherwise.
- Spotters are more instinct-driven and have a keen sense of smell, making them able to hold one casual conversation first and end up casually mounting a fellow Spotter in need the next moment.
- Twinguard usually end up courting one another only a couple of times per year, during various inter-tribe meetings, celebrations and especially during Arkanem festival.
Songs and music are the universal languages of all Moon dragons. One who can sing or play an instrument well, no matter whether they are Dweller, Spotter or Twinguard will have the greatest chance at impressing someone they like. Especially talented Moon dragon musicians and tribes are oftentimes a source of great wonder from other Midrastians, be they dragon or gryphon.
- Spotters tend to form bonds with 2-4 other Spotters, establishing a pack. Packs generally divide themselves into a Hunting pack, Fishing pack or Dreamweaving pack.
- Twinguard from different tribes who grow especially fond of each other oftentimes send messages, compose songs, ballads or stories to their beloved when duties prevent them from seeing each other for a long period while. These messages generally are delivered by a winged Courier.
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
It is customary for all Moon dragons to hone their skills in at least one musical instrument or song. These tribes then either form single or multiple bands, where they gather up at the first morning light, just before retreating to sleep and celebrate their day with a few songs. This is likely a tradition that was formed in the early days of Arrival, where the keen-eared dragons discovered the joy of music in soothing one's body and soul, possibly from Gryphons.
Common Myths and Legends
The Unfaltering Songstress bids all to learn and live on but to remember where you always came from. The myth tells the tale of an unspecified dragon of ambiguous sex, who journeys through the land and soothes the tribes along the way, stopping battles with songs and overcoming adversity through perseverance and patience. It is often a source of reverence akin to a god, with many a dragon swearing they saw the Songster appear before them, or hearing a chime in a quiet forest - the means differ, but the wanderlust remains the same. A desire to set out from home tribe and go on a long journey, explore and earn their keep with wits and song alone.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
It is in no way discouraged nor particularly odd to encounter relations, intimate or not, between Spotters and Dwellers or Twinguard. Though rarer, affection between these is still not unusual and often takes the form of a more spiritual kinship.