- Peter Fane
A note on High-horned pine boomers . . .
HIGH-HORNED PINE BOOMER (“Fir Wyrm;” also “Cone Dragon,” “Dorómy’s Guard,” or “Boomer.”) The high-horned pine boomer inhabits Dávanor’s northern coniferous forests, especially those around Aaryn’s Cry, Korfort, and the Tarn. Boomers are rarely trained into messenger service. Their small size and unique territoriality make them ill-suited for such work. That said, various tamed lines have been refined by a few noble families around Korfort and Tarntown. Such domesticated Boomers are rarely used for herald work, being more commonly deployed for interdiction and interception. Boomers do not live in typical broods. Rather, a single pair will mate and nest for one breeding cycle. Boomers derive their name from their unusual nesting and reproductive habits in the wild. Unlike Dávanor’s other small breeds, Boomers do not give birth to their young in typical draconic birth sacks. Rather, females will lay one or two eggs each season, usually in the late spring. Nests are built and eggs are defended by the male while the female gathers food from afar. Boomer’s unique nests are invariably located within the dense branches of conifers. They will be made from a combination of bark, twigs, and pine sap. When complete, nests resemble small, hollowed globes. These globes are quite strong. A few days before hatching, the male Boomer will break open the top of the nest-globe and begin his “booming,” providing the female with a beacon to which she may return. While Boomers are one of Dávanor’s tiniest dragon breeds, what they lack in size, they make up in ferocity and display. This is especially true of males, whose characteristic demonstrations are marvels to behold. While defending the nest-globe prior to hatching, males will remain still and quiet atop his eggs, moving no more than necessary to check his surroundings. When hatching is imminent, however, the male will crack open his nest-globe and begin his “booming” – a striking show of taunts, swellings, and calls. The biological function of this display is to signal and encourage the female’s return to the nest with her store of food. The practical result is to attract other wildlife to battle, especially mountain crows and northern shrikes. For the next week or two, the starving male Boomer will fight anything attracted to the nest and his display, defending his eggs to the death, if necessary. This combat often leaves male Boomers wounded and damaged. Destroyed wings are the most common injury, often resulting in the male being unable to leave the nest upon the females return. Females outlive males by several lifetimes. Boomers’ diets are unusual. Even when bred from domesticated stock, a Boomer will eat only the nut of the red Konish pine. These giant trees grow hundreds of miles apart, hence the long trek for food made by females. Typical colors: orange, red, and crimson; sometimes mottled. The chest will always be two or three shades lighter than the body proper and of more saturated hue, especially during "booming." Typical wingspan: (f) 1-2 palms [ca. 7.5-15 cm]; (m) 1-2 palms [ca. 7.5-15 cm] Typical length: (f) 1-2 palms [ca. 7.5-15 cm]; (m) 1 palms [ca. 7.5 cm] Typical lifespan: (f) 50-75 years; (m) 5-10 years Horned? Yes. Crested? Yes, in some domesticated subspecies. Toothed? Yes. Venomous? No. This text was adapted from my field notes with some references made to Katherine II's "The Smaller Dragons of Davanor. A Preliminary Taxonomy" (F.Y. 190). Illustration is by High Lady Milica Celikovic.