The title is pretty self-explanatory. I'm trying to figure out how dragons could plausibly develop in a world of monsters and Enchantments (namely Alendyias).
The basis of these dragons? Lizards. Just a typical lizard will do, but we'll likely be dealing with three kinds: Crawlers (the kind that just skitter over the ground and up walls), Gliders (aka Draco Lizards), and Slithers (legless lizards, easily mistaken for snakes). Dinosaurs are also possible, especially the Giganto mentioned below.
The traits I want for these dragons are as follows:
- Flight (Optional but preferred)
- Firebreath (Also optional, other breath types, like ice and lightning also desired)
- Warm-blooded (Required, dragons live in caves and cold-blooded creatures can't do that effectively)
- Large size (Required, due to desired terror factor and c'mon, who takes small dragons seriously?): should range from the size of a Deinonychus to Spinosaurus, perhaps even larger.
- Strong scales/claws (Required, for obvious reasons)
- Predatory (Herbivorous dragons don't usually contribute much to action scenes)-preferably apex predators, but can be regular predators instead, especially if preyed upon by bigger stronger dragons
So, How Can It Happen? (Warning: musings ahead)
The Mimicry Enchantment causes a person, creature, or item to gain (aka "mimic") a relevant trait from the next creature they or it kill. By "relevant," I mean a similar trait. Clarifying from the first example, if a Draco Lizard were to eat a bat, it would gain flight because it's a glider with primitive wings.
In other words, it works because the Draco Lizard has something for the Mimicry enchantment to work on, to adapt into wings (because flight is pretty darn hard to accomplish without wings) and also because it has a trait similar to flight (AKA gliding).
In other words, for Mimicry to work, there must be A) a similar trait between predator and prey and B) something Mimicry can adapt to make the trait possible.
This Enchantment is gained from Leafmaw, rotund and semi-amorphous creatures that mimic bushes or piles of leaves and eat people who get too close. Why am I telling you this?
Because dragons are extremely unlikely without Mimicry. Sure, I could hand-wave a lizard mutating into a dragon en-route to Alendyias, but I'm writing hard-fantasy and that just doesn't make sense. I can't ignore the rules of logic I've ascribed to my magic, namely that a lizard will naturally want to remain a lizard and will resist any shift in species, making even a hybrid (like a lizardman) an edge case.
So, on to creating dragons. Flight is possible, but it'd require some doing. Firstly, gliding lizards. Mimicry requires a biological basis to work (in this case, to grant flight). Secondly, flying prey. To get the bat-like wings so common to typical dragons, we'd have to get a species of gliding lizard that preys on bats. Thirdly, bring in Mimicry.
In order to gain Mimicry, these lizards would have to either survive inside a Leafmaw until it's killed, kill the Leafmaw themselves (and likely by themself, lizards aren't social creatures), or gain it over time by parasitizing the Leafmaw. The first (gliding lizards preying on bats) is unlikely but somewhat plausible. The second, lizards parasitizing Leafmaw yet preying on bats, makes basically no sense whatsoever.
Perhaps, perhaps these lizards somehow evolved to determine the Enchantments of other monsters (and the effects said Enchantments would have upon them) and act accordingly, but that seems shaky at best. Firebreath is even worse.
In order to gain firebreath, a lizard would need to kill a Runnark with Mimicry, which should give it a Runnark's ability to absorb light and heat, and then a Torchblow, gaining the latter's ability to radiate heat and shoot fire. Once again, how can I explain that?
The last two, large size and strong scales and claws, can be covered by Gigantis alone, but even then a proper explanation eludes me. Parasitic lizards living on a Giganto is kind of a stretch. A combination of Strengthen and Sharpen could cover the scales and claws, but wouldn't necessarily lead to large size.
So my question is, How Could Dragons Feasibly Develop In Alendyias?
Specifications For Best Answer:
- The best answer will take the musings above into account (tall order, I know) and determine how lizards of the Crawling, Slithering, or Gliding variety could develop into dragons, using Enchantments.
Yes, I am well aware dragons could be bred from lizards by naive nobles, made by mad mages (perhaps even the EMEs or their creators), or that I could just handwave their existence. However, these options are all copouts, and I will only accept a copout if there is no better option.
- The best answer will also determine what kind of dragons will develop in Alendyias, namely main types and their distinguishing traits. Nothing too hard I hope, just generalized groups, a sort of zoological overview.
Finally, if there are missing or mistated tags, some problem with the OP, or just some needed clarification, please let me know so I can fix it.
- More specifically, for large size I am looking for a size range between a modern-day cassowary to the ancient (and extinct) sauropods. Most fantasy dragons seem to be more within a T-rex's size range, so dragons of this size would be preferred.