A note on Tender-nosed shield-wings . . .
TENDER-NOSED SHIELD-WING (“Nanny Dragon,” “Baby’s Drake;” or “Tender”) The tender-nosed shield-wing inhabits nearly every region of Dávanor. Individuals are found with specific ubiquity in urban, suburban, and rural settings where they serve as home- or child-minders. Of all Dávanor’s small breeds, Tenders are the easiest to train and the most intelligent. Indeed, since nearly all Tenders are currently bred in captivity, most individuals require little formal encouragement when deployed to the task for which they’ve been raised: the defense of property and family. That said, the training of a Tender is a joy. The experience will be rewarding for all involved. As their name denotes, Tenders are instinctive protectors. When raised in a family or home, a Tender’s bond is permanent and absolute. (In this sense, Tenders have much more in common with Dávanor’s larger war dragons than any of their smaller cousins.) Tenders can be trained into messenger service, but such practice is rare and ill-advised. The many small breeds suitable for such work make ‘the Tender messenger dragon’ a rare sight. Tenders do excel in defensive work and interception, but only in the immediate vicinity of their homestead. In such instances, or in other situations which threaten their families or homes, Tenders can be profoundly dangerous. They will defend their charges to the death. It is quite common for a single Tender to attack encroaching men, animals, or dragons regardless of number, size, or disposition. Stories abound of solitary Tenders protecting sheep, homes, or children from entire packs of wolves or bandits – often successfully. Of even greater frequency are stories of lone Tenders heroically giving their lives in the defense of their loved ones. Outside of such instances, Tenders are mild, nurturing, and gentle. When treated as family members, no small breed can compare. Tenders are the longest-lived dragons of Dávanor’s small breeds. Lifespans of at least four centuries are the rule. Longer lived individuals, especially those attached to High Houses, are not uncommon. Longevity can be a problem for older Tenders if their human clan dies out or otherwise disbands. Lone Tenders will often adopt another family if treated with dignity and kindness – and if they are well fed. Such solitary Tenders are rightly prized. Tenders prefer to live in ‘single dragon households’ and should be brought into contact with others of the breed only for mating purposes and then only when females are in heat, a rare occurrence that takes place once every two to three years. Tenders should never be quartered with other small breeds and should never be kept in a messenger lodge. They are best housed within the family home or nursery. Tenders are omnivores and will make short work of all household scraps, leftovers, or treats – so long as the food is cooked or otherwise prepared. Raw meat is readily consumed, when properly marinated. Typical colors: blue, lavender, teal, and light green; sometimes spotted. The undercarriage is always a paler shade of the main body hue. Typical wingspan: (f) 5-6 palms [ca. 35-45 cm]; (m) 6-7 palms [ca. 45-55 cm] Typical length: (f) 8-9 palms [ca. 60-70 cm]; (m) 9-11 palms [ca. 65-85 cm] Typical lifespan: 450-500 years Horned? No. 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.