Kylindreal is the larger of Kalidore’s two moons (the other moon is Luna, which it shares with Earth), and is known as the Dragon Moon as it is the natural home of that most ancient race, the Dragons; it is also the home of the Dar’Keeli, a displaced humanoid race.
It was once a beautiful world, much like Kalidore, but ravaged by war and violent plate tectonics in days past, it exists today primarily as an arid and rocky expanse, experience extreme weather nearer the poles. Of the two main continents, the smaller, Ho’torth, is mostly uninhabitable, so it is the large mass known as the Ra’Karr Province is where most of the population settles.
The main continent is divided into four territories: to the north is Raude with its mines and mineral riches, the vast, dry wastelands of E’ress stretch along the east, the fertile basin of farmland distinguishes Ardun-Kain in the mid-west, and empire of the southern no-man’s land of Herdor. At its centre is the bustling Dar’Keeli city of South Ardain with it’s large sea delta and waterways rules them all, and this mega-city hosts easily half the humanoid population of the entire continent.
The Dragons range over all areas of Kylindreal restricted by no boundries; the largest population is in the North where the Royal Houses of Aeon still stand, although who is in possession of them is somewhat disputed. Dragon holdings scatter across the wild landscape nearly unnoticed; their architecture is not unlike Elves in that they derive inspiration from nature: even a large hold might be missed completely until one is almost upon it; this is how the whole population of dragons escape the day-to-day Dar’Keeli life. In practice, the two races interact very, very little with one another (mostly because the Dragons consider the Dar’Keeli fairly insignificant).
Note: most names given to places are Dar’Keeli in origin, as dragons are less concerned about territory and naming things than their humanoid refugees.
The Dragons of Kylindreal ~
When Aeon emerged from the chaos he was given a gift, a curse, a magic so complete and absolute it could alter the very substance of the universe: it was the power of Dusk, of Creation and Destruction both, a gift bestowed upon him and to pass through each and every member of his line. Thus was the magic of Dragons, the universe’s hope, and its undoing…
The Dragons of Kylindreal are majestic, elegant creatures with tapered features, almost swan-like; they are not reptilian (they are in fact mammals) and there is little resemblance between them and the lumbering lizards. Dragons are lithe and light, and move like gazelles. Their scales – while nearly impenetrable – are surprising delicate and smooth to the touch. They have finely shaped heads and small muzzles, two horns sweeping gently backwards. A crest runs down the length of spine from forehead to tip-of-tail, the males’ crests being customarily larger and more prominent. The wings when unfurled are large, but can be folded close to the body, although most grounded dragons adopt a slightly flared posture, not unlike the wings of a gliding swan. Limbs are strong and clean, and the long, sinuous tail can encircle the beast while it sleeps. Their bodies are studies in efficiency; their movements quick, graceful, and precise. For a beast as large as they can reach, they make almost no sound as they move sleekly through the air or grounds.
Dragons come in a variety of colours; the most common base colours are greens and blue, yellows, oranges and reds. Black and white are both relatively rare, as are all shades of indigo. Many colours will have an almost pearlecent or metallic cast, and many muted and in-between colour-shades occur as well. Most also have accent colours and subtle patterning, especially seen on the wings, but a few will have quite distinct mottling designs that spread across their scales.
Natural Life ~
First and foremost, the Dragons of Kylindreal are mammalian (or more technically, monotremes – egg-laying mammals). This means they are warm-blooded, and nurse their young.
They are omnivorous, though most strongly favour meat; that said, a dragon can literally go years without eating a physical meal, instead pulling sustenance directly from the ether. Most elder dragons no longer eat by other means. It should be noted however that growing young should never be without corporal food, nor should mothers who are expecting or nursing.
Clutches are small – usually, just a single egg – and very few females have more then a clutch or two in their lifetime. The eggs undergo most of their development while in utero and hatch fairly soon after being laid, if kept properly warm (there are tales of lost eggs hatching years after after the fact, by simply being offered warmth; dragon eggs do not rot). The new hatchling is defenceless and dependent on its parents; dragons generally adore the young, and hatchlings, while chiefly cared for by their parents, are protectively tended by all. They are social creatures, family is important, and many live in in extended family clusters or common roosts.
Like unicorns, dragons also have immeasurable long lifespans, and because of this they mature slowly and grow continuously throughout their lives. Unlike unicorns, Dragons form bonded pairs and tend to mate for life; upon the death of their bond-mate, many dragons do not live very long afterwards. Choosing of a bond-mate is not something a dragon rushes into – indeed, most are well into maturity before this happens (reproductive maturity occurs fairly late anyways) – though there’s always the exception that pair quite early. Because lineage is also very important to them, promiscuity is uncommon, but it does happen.
When Aeon first laid eyes upon the universe with its infinite of wonders, he wanted to be a part of it all; the purpose of a Dragon was to explore and experience every aspect of existence. By design they are great thinkers, expressive, and joyous; in practice, design does not always follow as intended…
Dragons are a passionate race, and do most everything in a big way. Dragons are, in fact, are very similar to humans and experience a huge range of complex emotions, with individual personalities running the gamut on type and variety. Whatever they do, however, they do it intensely: they do it a hundred and ten percent. Very rarely (if ever) will you find a complacent dragon, or one content just to be middle of the road.
Dragons are thinkers; they like to muse about things, contemplate existence or simply analyses the actions and intent of the people around them. Some choose to make a life of meditation and divining the stars while other prefer to explore the cosmos hands on. They are a curious, insatiable race.
They also want to be where the action is; they love to be in the thick of things and hate being left out. And while stories are well and good, nothing compares to first-hand experience, and dragons enjoy the immediacy of action (often causing it, and then watching the reaction).
Some dragons can be rather indulgent, singularity focused on their own whims and blatantly indifferent to others. Because they feel things so strongly, some will hold onto grudges or a sense of injustice for years. Most are not petty though, and seldom do they loose sight of the big picture – in fact, occasionally the scope of that big picture is so great that they may overlook the smaller (though no less acute) details that are right in front of them.
Myth & Morals ~
Like the descendants of Kal, there is little distinction between history and myth; the two are one and the same; their gods might be dead, but they knew them – indeed, they died at their own hands.
While Dragons have an acute sense of right and wrong, the lines can get murky; indeed, when one contemplates a thing so intently, the very essence of that thing can twist and winkle before your eyes. To them, there is no “absolute good”, or “absolute evil”, rather, the choice between the two lies within the individual, and the act of choice is itself a thing of divine might.
Celestial Magic ~
Magical ability generally does not become evident until adolescence, when the young dragon is ready and able to master the powers they possess.
Also, it is not expected that even the most learnéd of dragons is going to excel in every celestial magical art, or even be able to perform them, but many can certainly manage a few!
Firstly, it should be pointed out that while every dragon is capable of celestial-calibre magic, not every dragon is as equally gifted nor learned and there’s a lot of variation between individual skill. Some family lines, such as those of the Imperial Lineage, are known for their magical acuity (as would be fitting, for they are the direct decedents of Aeon himself). Most dragons have at least enough magic to cause some sort of ruckus, if they are not careful. Naturally, practice improves temperament, and to be truly great takes years of honing and dedication.
Origin Story: The descendants of a displaced metropolis, the Dar’Keeli escaped the ravaged Earth during the Great War. When their ships crashed on Kylindreal, they were granted safe harbour by the dragons. Their gift of metamorphosis is even attributed to Thaedor himself, and because of similar transformation abilities seen in Dragons, they may even speak of a shared blood. This is actually untrue, as Dar’Keeli are more genetically similar to humans then even elves!
Like humans, there is a wide range of body type and skin tones and all human shades are present, however, since their climate is warm and arid, expect the majority of the population to appear more olive-complexioned. They are also predominantly brown-eyed, and of ambiguous race origin, though more distinct features can be found within certain family groups.
It is notable that most Dar’Keeli do sport mottled/patterned skin, ranging from subtle symmetrical splotching to quite intricate animal-esque patterns. These patterns are generally inheritable, and it is uncommon for a spontaneously new pattern to emerge.
Occasionally, more unusual coloration do occur, though these adhere to mammalian hues; so while it is possible to come across a Dar’Keeli with, say, naturally skunk-striped hair or vivid flame-coloured eyes, true pigmented green tones do not exist, and blues and purples remain extremely rare (at least in the human form, although one should not rule out those ‘out-of-the-bottle’ shades as unattainable 😉
There is also a distinct tendency for the human form to mimic the animal persona, and a trained eye may be able to determine what animal transformation is present by sizing the person up.
The Dar’Keeli possess the ability to shape-shift into a single animal persona, and hone the skills of that other creature they become. Outside of this, Dar’Keeli do not posses any magical ability.
The transformation involves the human-self’s ability to metamorphosis completely into another animal. This animal fixed – they can only transform into one specific animal (and, while there are stories of multi-shifters, these are more akin to fable then any true happenings). There is a great range in the type of animal a particular Dar’Keeli may transform into, but there do appear to be certain limitations :
• They are all earth-based animals (though range from prehistoric to modern day type) and are air breathers.
• Form follows function: animal size & build is influence by the human physicality (and vice versa). I suppose it is no coincidence then that a strapping bear of a man may indeed turn into an actual bear, or a lithe dancer into a graceful gazelle; just keep in mind that if the person is a bit on the plump side – so will the animal, too! As well, the bottom transformation for an average sized adult will not be less then about 25lbs (or the size of a medium-small dog), and largest not exceeding 2000lb (the size of a large bull). Occasional, “extreme” metamorphoses do pop up – and elements of both gigantism and dwarfism appear in the Dar’Keeli genetic condition.
• Mammals are the most common animal type; reptiles (warm-blooded – ie, therapsids & dinosaur) and avian species are quite rare, and true aquatic species (dolphins/air-breathing fish/etc) are exceedingly uncommon. True flight, in whatever form, is a most coveted of attributes.
The ability to transform is a skill that first emerges during early puberty, but true mastery of it might is not expected until their twenties. That said, while Dar’Keeli truly embrace their animalia self, they are just as quick to criticize more “beastly” behaviour; the unspoken motto seems to be, “to be animal is awesome, but man is best”. The most applauded are those great men and woman who can fully master their animal transformations while retaining their human gifts of reason, restraint, and good table manners. There are firm expectations of when – and when it is not – appropriate to take on one’s animal form, and public outburst of emotion are frowned upon because they are potential gateways to “animal outbursts”. It’s just not polite to go animal in public. Therefore, there is naturally a strong counter-culture of (mostly!) youth who revolt against this perceived strict decorum…. but most generally pitter out and conform by adulthood.
Another interesting note is that there does persist an element of “typism” in Dar’Keeli society, but it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum; do people of different animal types fall into certain positions because that type of animal persona best suits that job, or does the animal type they become cause them to be funnelled into that kind of profession? Among the highest regarded, soaring birds, and among the lowest, sea life – if only because the dry climate makes large water bodies few and far between, and such a transformation somewhat limiting!
Culture & Politics:
Because of their recalled common origin there is not a tremendous amount of variety among Dar’Keeli core beliefs, although you will find satellite communities with variations on this theme.
It is important to remember that this was a civilization built out of war and hardship, and that Kylindreal, though a haven, was no paradise. While considered a democracy, the same party has ruled the parliament for the past 75 years. There’s a distinction between upper and lower classes, all civilians are required to give five year’s service as youths; while education is universal, there’s a distinct difference in what’s available to the privileged class as opposed to the children of the worker’s quadrant. However, the people of this civilization are fairly content, and while life is hard work, there is a perceived sharing of wealth and feeling of security in the strength and might of the Dar’Keeli nation.
There relationship with the Dragons of that world is unique. While generally ignored by the Dragons themselves, they feel a loyalty towards them and respect Uthor; if asked, it is no doubt they would do his bidding willing, with precision and efficiency. They would expect to be well rewarded in the end (more magical gifts perhaps?) and are definitely not above seizing their own opportunities when they find them. Were the war to start spilling again to other planets, the Dar’Keeli would be a force to be reckoned with.
Heralding from earth during a technological golden era long lost to history, the Dar’Keeli arrived on Kylindreal on three small starships. However, the electromagnetic storms surrounding the planet (a side-effect of shattered Gates) rendered the ships useless, and were disassembled for material parts. Technology was then reborn from the ground up, mechanical rather then electronic as there is still much electrical interference in the atmosphere. I pause at saying “steampunk” but something vaguely along those lines…..