Glossary

Auma – the life-force or spirit of a dragon, derived from an ancient word for ‘fire’. When a dragon dies and sheds its fire tear, its auma is believed to return to the creator, Godith.

Bleater – Hom name for a goat (and sometimes a sheep).

Blether – to speak nonsense, as in: “What blether are you saying now, boy?”

Buzzer – Hom name for a fly.

Caarker – Hom name for a crow. Crows are deeply revered by the Hom and thought to be the most intelligent of birds. Hom women will often wear black crow feathers in their hair, while men might string the claws around their necks to bring them luck in hunting.

Cold flame – under certain atmospheric conditions, dragons are capable of producing a cool flame (pale blue in colour) that would cause skin burns but not ignite combustible materials such as wood.

Commingle – a ‘coming together’, usually of minds. All dragons develop the ability to communicate telepathically, i.e. using thought alone. A deeper extension of telepathy is commingling, in which a dragon focuses its awareness to such an extent that it is able to meld with another dragon’s consciousness and read or know all of that dragon’s thoughts. Commingling is invasive and banned by Ki:meran law unless both parties consent. (Courting dragons, for example, might commingle to explore their love for one another.) During colonisation, an elder highly skilled in commingling will meld with a variety of lifeforms on a planet to determine their level of intelligence or their potential threat to the colony.

De:allus – a highly-intellectual class of dragon whose lives are devoted to understanding the wonders of Godith’s universe. De:allus are scientists or problem-solvers, characterised by their bright yellow eyes. It is not known how their eye colour developed, though it’s often said (somewhat disparagingly) that their optical triggers have become impaired because the De:allus like to look too long at small things.

Domayne – any parcel of land claimed by a dragon; their home territory. The term can also describe a large region of land mapped out during colonisation.

Drake – a young male dragon (sometimes also called a weardrake). A dragon will usually lose this tag around its second turn.

Dreyas – Hom women, practised in the art of ‘magicks’. A sick person might go to a dreya for a healing potion.

Elder – a senior dragon (usually male) whose role is to steer and advise the colony. Three Elders would usually accompany a large Wearle: one to maintain law and order, one to attend to the spiritual needs of the community and one designated as the overall leader or Prime.

Erth – home planet of the Hom.

Eyrie – an ancient word of dragontongue meaning ‘high nest’. Now more commonly used to describe a superior cave or settle, such as that of a queen or the Prime dragon.

Faah! – a shocking or vulgar exclamation.

Fanon – a word from the old dragontongue meaning ‘a female yet to have young’.

Fhosforent – pink crystalline mineral found in Erth’s volcanic rock. In small quantities it improves a dragon’s flame by causing a rapid enlargement of the fire sacs, allowing more fire to be produced and delivered.

Fire star – a portal in time and space, called a ‘star’ because of the flash of light emitted when something passes through it. Among the many abilities dragons possess is the means to manipulate the fabric of the universe to create ‘holes’ or openings in space, through which they might travel vast distances. To i:mage a fire star requires an enormous amount of mental energy (two or three Elders commingling to produce it), but once an opening is created, space ‘remembers’ the point. It is then a relatively simple matter for a competent dragon to open and close a fire star at will.

Fire tear – a single tear cried by a dragon at its death, said to contain its auma in the form of a spark. How a fire tear develops is one of the great mysteries of Godith’s universe. When the tear is shed, it is drawn below the surface of a planet by the pull of the fire at the planet’s core (this is known as the ‘calling’ or the ‘calling of Godith’). The moment the fires combine, the dragon’s body will begin to dissolve, leaving no visible remains. As a mark of respect, and because the calling of a dragon can take several days, a dead dragon might first be cremated in the flames of its peers. In extreme circumstances a dragon might die without shedding its tear. In this case its primary heart will turn to stone, along with the rest of its body if it is not burned. To die and not be called to Godith is the worst fate that can befall a dragon.

Flapper – Hom name for a bat.

Flutterfly – Hom name for a butterfly.

Frenhines fawr – ‘great queen’ in the old dragontongue, an expression of deep respect, usually reserved for a female who has given birth to two or more sets of wearlings.

Glamouring – a rarely-used word which describes a dragon’s ability to mesmerise others (usually prey) with a stare.

Goyle – in their early years wearlings were sometimes told a traditional tale about ‘Goyle’, a dragon that emerged from ‘the wrong end of his egg’. Goyle was alleged to be so unsightly that to look upon him would make a dragon shudder so much its scales would drop off. Over the generations it has come to mean anything ugly or grotesque.

Growler – Hom name for a bear.

Guardian – a male companion who protects a matrial and her wearlings (see laying cycle).

Heart(s) – dragons have three hearts, closely linked. The largest, the primary heart, drives the body and is concerned with power and strength; the second, about three fifths the size of the primary heart, controls love and emotional reactions; the third, which is small and just hidden by the second heart, gives a dragon its spirituality.

Hom – an early form of the human race.

Honker – Hom name for a goose.

Hooter – Hom name for an owl.

Hopper – Hom name for a rabbit.

I:mage – the ability to create external structures from mental images. There are two types of i:maging, physical and natural (see also phasing). A natural i:mage is a floating three-dimensional picture (a kind of hologram) that fades as soon as it outlives its usefulness – a map, for instance, or the memory of an event. Physical i:maging is used to create more permanent objects or to alter the parameters of existing matter. It can take a lifetime of dedicated study to reach even a modest level of competence.

Isoscele – the triangular scale at the end of a dragon’s tail, primarily for balance but also a useful tool in battle (sometimes called the ‘hidden claw’) and commonly used to point or gesture.

Kaal – a tribe of humans. The origin of the name is thought to derive from ‘cave’ and refers to the Kaal’s preferred choice of habitat: any mountainous region near water.

Ki:mera – the homeworld of dragons, created for them by the breath of Godith. Literally meaning ‘place of fire and light’.

Laying cycle – the process of giving birth to young. During their lifetime all healthy female dragons will enter at least two laying cycles, and sometimes as many as four. Dragons give birth by the process of parthenogenesis. A female can produce, lay and hatch her eggs without the assistance of a male. It is only after the young are born that the male becomes a vital part of the bloodline. A male that successfully bonds to a female is called her companion, a position he must fight for. As guardian to her young, he also earns the right to call himself ‘father’. Only when the female emerges from her nest with her young does she discover who the father will be. The next few months are crucial, for it is during this time that the young dragons imprint themselves on the father, and the necessary hormonal and behavioural changes take place which establish them as part of the father’s bloodline.

Lytes – scales that sparkle, usually on the more protected parts of the body, under wings, for example. Traditionally, too many lytes were considered to detract from a male dragon’s potency. Some have been known to rip lytes off or ‘weather’ them to make them darker, though opinions are changing.

Mapper – a dragon who maps out territories, especially beyond the boundaries of the domayne. A good mapper can ‘record’ the layout of a landmass from a variety of heights or directional approaches and reproduce it accurately, in the form of an i:mage, for other dragons to see.

Matrial – an honorific title for a female dragon who has had wearlings.

Mutt – Hom name for a dog.

Myss – (or wearmyss) a young female dragon.

Nibbler – Hom name for any kind of small bug.

Per – an honorific title given to a dragon who mentors a younger dragon or one of lesser status. Older dragons (usually, but not exclusively, males) experienced in the techniques of flying, phasing, i:maging, fighting, mapping, daily grooming and courtship, are expected to pass on their knowledge to their younger counterparts, particularly if the parents are absent for any reason. Pers are also teachers and historians, charged with chronicling the events of the past and keeping traditions alive.

Phasing – the ability to move through time during flight. One of the most potent weapons in a dragon’s armoury is the ability to surprise (or escape from) an opponent by briefly ‘skipping’ time. Under the right conditions a phasing dragon can close (or extend) a gap between itself and another point in space in the exact time it would take to think of the movement, thereby appearing to ‘jump’ the gap. The technique is an advanced and sophisticated form of i:maging, in which the dragon must be able to ‘see’ itself ahead of time and then ‘dissolve’ into the dark energy of the universe as if it were no heavier than a breath of wind. Many dragons never master it. Some even die in the process.

Plentyn – a word from the old dragontongue meaning ‘child’.

Prime – an Elder who is also the supreme leader of a dragon colony.

Pupp – Hom name for a young mutt (dog), but can be used for any young creature.

Queen – female dragon who has hatched wearlings and brought them safely out of the birthing cave.

Roamer – a young dragon who has reached sufficient maturity to be allowed to ‘roam’ where he or she pleases, within reason. Nearly half of a colonising Wearle will be made up of roamers. Most will be allotted simple duties, such as carrying messages or assisting the Elders. Many become scouts, sent to the far edges of the domayne and beyond to report back anything they find to the mappers or the Veng.

Sawfin – fine scales in a ruff shape behind a female dragon’s ears.

Scorch line – the line charred on the ground to separate the colony’s domayne from the Hom, who must not cross it.

Scratcher – Hom name for a mouse.

Settle – a resting place. In mountain regions a dragon will settle anywhere high. Barring caves (which are reserved for Elders or others of high importance) the most sought-after locations are rocky outcrops (where the dragon can proudly display its outline against the sky) or ledges.

Shimmy – Hom name for a fish.

Sier pents – term meaning ‘green fish’, used in a derogatory way to describe the Veng.

Skaler – Hom name for a dragon.

Slitherer – Hom name for a snake.

Snorter – Hom name for a pig.

Spiker – Hom word for a pine tree.

Spiracles – breathing holes in a dragon’s body, most notably along the sides of the throat. A valve close to each hole aids the intake of oxygen when fire is being formed and helps relieve air pressure during the expulsion of flame. The spiracles are heavily shielded by ‘spiracites’, small hardened scales that can be closed independently over the holes. If the spiracles become damaged or clogged, a dragon can become severely impaired.

Sweeper – a dragon who patrols the scorch line, checking for incursions or threats.

Tada – a word for ‘father’, from the old dragontongue.

Transference – the ability to transfer huge amounts of information and even some powers by commingling. A very rare gift, possessed by only a few dragons. Females of the Astrian bloodline are many times more likely to have transference skills, for reasons as yet unknown.

Turn – a Ki:meran year.

Tywyll – a fabled fallen wearling of Godith, a black dragon born without a third heart, whose eyes reflect no light. In the old tongue, Tywyll means ‘the darkness’. For all their power, dragons can be superstitious creatures. Nothing troubles their dreams more than the thought of the Tywyll rising.

Vapor – a floating dragon spirit, a ‘ghost’.

Veng – a particularly fearsome class of fighting dragon, used as security for a colony. The Veng rarely breed outside their own class. As such, there is minimal genetic variation in their colour (bright green), temperament (aggressive) or physical composition (thin, strong and very agile). The Veng are the one dragon class most other dragons fear.

Wearle – a large community of dragons. A Wearle would number more than a wyng, but anything more than a hundred dragons would be considered a fixed colony. There were twenty-four dragons in the first Wearle to visit Erth, sixty in the second.

Wearling – a young dragon of either gender.

Webber – Hom name for a spider.

Whinney – Hom name for a horse.

Wyng – a small group of dragons with a common purpose (e.g. a fighting wyng).