- Peter Fane
A note on Long-tailed sky-drakes . . .
LONG-TAILED SKY-DRAKE (“Aaryn’s Faithful;” also “Sky Wyrm,” “Cloud Sparrow,” or “Sun Glider”) Of all Dávanor’s small breeds, there is none more popular for civilian messenger service than the long-tailed sky-drake, or “Sun Glider.” Imperial records show that Gilders were used by Aaryn Dallanar after the pacification of Dávanor; pre-Founding accounts point to a long and storied tradition of breeding, cross-breeding, and professional handling of the type. Gliders live in all regions of Dávanor, save arctic and deserts climates. Their common name in southern counties – “Cloud Sparrow” – is fitting; the breed is ubiquitous. That they form the core of most family and professional messenger services has only increased their number and pervasiveness. In the wild, Gliders prefer temperate climes, but – again – they can be found nearly everywhere. Gliders are superb messenger dragons. Their long wingspan, decent intelligence, and mellow temperament make them ideal vehicles for peacetime service across all but the longest distances. Gliders have a naturally slow metabolisms and can function with little hydration, traits which have been carefully selected for over the millennia. Sky-gliders are also known for their determination and general endurance. While not physically tough, they are quite sturdy psychologically and can bear the solitude required for long flights better than all other breeds, save the long-tailed far-pointer. During times of war, Gliders are all but useless. Their fragile wings and general docility make them easy targets for small breeds trained for interception; they are wholly unsuited for any sort of counter-intelligence work and should be deployed on the battlefield only as a last resort. Gliders are very long-lived. An older, well-trained Glider will often require almost no handling other than basic grooming and maintenance between flights. In their native environments, Gliders nest in medium-sized broods. These will consist of three to four males, seven to ten females, and their associated young. Foaling always takes place in the spring. Nests will almost always be found in tree holes, caves, or other natural nooks. Gliders do not build nests, but will sometimes make minor modifications to what they find in their environments. If threatened or disturbed when no young are present, Gliders will not defend a nest, but rather will quietly move to new quarters, if available. If young are present, like all of Dávanor’s small breeds, Gliders will defend their home to the death. Males and females share all nesting, foraging, and rearing responsibilities; females tend to be dominant. Females give birth to one or two young each season. Gliders are omnivores, subsisting mostly on a combination of fruits, seeds, moss, lichen, berries, and the occasional slow moving insect. They are a passive breed in the wild and do not hunt. Typical colors: light to dark tan, light to dark orange, light to dark yellow, light to dark red; undercarriage is often a darker color than the spine and flanks, especially in females. Typical wingspan: (f) 10-12 palms [ca. 75-90 cm]; (m) 9-10 palms [ca. 65-75 cm] Typical length: (f) 9-10 palms [ca. 65-75 cm]; (m) 8-9 palms [ca. 55-65 cm] Typical lifespan: 180-220 years Horned? Yes, but very small. Crested? No. 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.