Dragons were by far the most ancient race on the face of Iiosia. Emerging from the mess of primeval ooze, dragons went on to flourish across the face of the planet long before the rise of either the dwarves or the elves. Though they have not been seen for over a century, dragons are still revered in many cultures for their great power and magnificence. Sightings and encounters of these great beasts dwindled sharply since the events of the Great War, during which dragons fought in the final battle against the demons of Inferis and were instrumental in the victory which was achieved there.
Quite why dragons have dwindled since then has been a matter of some debate amongst dwarvern scholars and those elves who would discuss it. Many surmise that most dragons were slain during the battle, and afterwards became scattered and unable to find one another to mate. That, and the destruction of their habitats and much of their food sources as the Sundering wrecked the world meant that the dragons could not survive as a species in the centuries to come, and gradually died out.
Dragons are gigantic lizard-like creatures which sport two huge wings on their backs. At birth a dragon would have been about the size of a large horse. They could grow to immense sizes however, and never stopped growing throughout their entire life spans. Some of the most ancient dragons are rumoured to reach sizes around two hundred feet in length. They grew slowly, and were less dangerous when young. Once a dragon reached two hundred years old it was regarded as a mature dragon. Dragons which reached over a thousand years old were regarded as elder dragons. By this stage, their scales have hardened to become nigh impregnable and their fangs will have grown to the length of a full grown man.
A dragon’s wings would be useless for the first few years of life, when a dragon is land bound and relied on the mother for care. As soon as a dragon’s wings were strong enough to allow it to fly then the dragon became independent and the mother would leave it to fend for itself. A dragon’s body would have been covered in scales which gradually hardened over the course of its lifetime. In the first few decades of life a dragon would be more susceptible to sustaining injuries because its scales weren’t hardened enough, but as the dragon aged and the scales hardened the dragon would be more resistant to attacks. Only the membrane of the wings was not protected in this way, and if the dragons had a weak spot it would have been there. If a wing were to become badly damaged then it would rob a dragon of its ability to fly, and leave it far more cumbersome and vulnerable to other attacks.
Dragons who lost the ability to fly lost their manoeuvrability and thus their ability to catch prey, since dragons moved slowly on land and could not run. Wingless dragons would have often died from starvation, though this could have taken up to a year.
Several dragons also gained the ability to breathe fire, though these were rare, and quite why some dragons achieved this ability while others did not has never been learned. Dragon fire is extremely hot and deadly for anyone caught within its blast. However, performing this feat would visibly tire a dragon, and it is believed that it is not an attack which was often used.
Being huge, solitary, and unsocial creatures, dragons had little need for communities or hierarchy. They lived alone, often going years or even decades without coming into contact with another of their kind. It is because of this unsocial behaviour that the dragon population was always relatively small. This was probably a good thing, since a dragon could consume entire herds of wild horses or cattle in a single meal. An excess of dragons could well have led to the mass extinction of many species and eventually the dragons themselves.
Dragons were found largely in mountainous regions, especially in the lands to the west which is dominated by several high mountain ranges. This brought them into frequent contact with the dwarves, who also made their homes there and carved great halls and mighty fortresses into the mountains. These halls, unfortunately for the dwarves, made ideal lairs for dragons, and thus the dwarves often found themselves besieged by a dragon hunting for a home. Even then, once a dragon had driven the dwarves from a keep, they would then have to defend their new home from other maraudering dragons, and dwarves who came to reclaim it.
Long lived and without predators, dragons were the dominate race for many millennia. Yet these were no giant, beastly monsters, but an intelligent race which developed its own language and, in some rare cases, even dominion over magic. Despite this, dragons have long disappeared from the face of Iiosia. Though rumours and hearsay still occasionally crop up about dragon sightings and potential dragon lairs, they have so far proved unfounded, and now popular belief is that dragons have died out. As such, the few relics which remain of them are extremely highly prized. Armour (particularly shields) fashioned from their scales and weapons comprised of their bones are rare and extremely valuable; so much so that people have willingly killed in order to possess such items.