I do not own Spyro, the Hobbit, or anything from the Forgotten Realms setting.
Concerning Dragons: An essay on common misconceptions
By Spyro the Purple
Huge wings, razor sharp claws, sword-like teeth, a presence that instills utter terror and breath that can fell armies. That is the image invoked by many nondragons when describing the creatures. Yet there is so much more about dragons than is what explained. As a dragon myself, I have seen the reactions of other creatures a great many times over my long adventures. In some ways, the reputations we as dragons have are well deserved. Others, however, I feel, are placed on us unfairly. Here in this essay, I hope to clear out misconceptions about dragons that others have, as well as my opinions.
1. Dragons are a superior race, the pinnacle of creation.
This is hubris that too many dragons foolishly subscribe to. As creatures, we are often bigger, control vast reserves of magic, and have centuries of experience and wisdom at our disposal. While these are blessings to be sure, it is does not automatically mean we are superior. In battle, we can be bested by creatures smaller than ourselves. Having had many adventures as a small wyrmling, I can attest to size having nothing to do with combat ability. In magic we control much, but humanoid creatures, including humans themselves, can (and often do) control even mightier magic. I've seen a human wizard perform terrific feats of wizardry that completely outclasses what dragons not devoted to magic (not very many are so devoted) can do. In terms of wisdom, even the most simpleminded can have great insight; on this matter, our only advantage is the benefit of experience.
Dragons are not superior creatures above all else. We have gifts, but so do other races.
Hmm. I miss that old wizard I met during my days in Faerun. Elminster was his name, I believe. Powerful beyond words, yet at the same time charming and informative.
2. Dragons are immortal, or at least ageless
This is preposterous and only a boastful fool of a dragon would make such a claim. We are a very long lived race to be sure, but we are not immortal. I can attest this. As of this writing, I am approaching my first millennial, with at least two or three more to come after. A dragon can live for at least two millennia, depending on the variety, and some live for three or four. To nondragons, this seems like a frightfully long time given their shorter life spans. But no mortal creature is immune to the ravages of time, and dragons are no different. We simply stave it off for longer, given our life cycles. As for being immortal, there is one very simple fact that a great deal seem to forget: we hurt. And bleed.
Longer life does not necessarily mean we as dragons are superior. The short life spans of other creatures are often what drives them to pursue their dreams so fervently. It is what drives them to make such advances in science, wizardry, and medicine that races like humans have made. Their short life spans, in a way, cause them to make every moment count, even among the century spanning races like dwarves and elves. By contrast, Dragons are patient. Endlessly patient. Because we count our years in the thousands, dragons often feel no need to hurry to pursue goals. Because of this, we have patience that can last for decades. To the younger races, this is lethargy. And in truth, they are completely right. Unless grave danger is placed on themselves and their families, most dragons see little need to hurry.
3. Dragons are greedy.
This is a misinterpretation in most cases. While there are dragons who hoard treasure for the sheer desire to obtain more – such dragons can be seen with immensely huge hoards of whatever it is they collect. Other dragons, such as me, gather treasure not out of greed, but out of practicality. For the same reason the squirrel stores food for the winter, so too do many dragons store treasure. Gemstones make for good eating, and every creature appreciates a full stomach when things are getting difficult. Still, some dragons gather treasure not for food, or by desire and love of money, but because they are collectors and connoisseurs.
4. Dragons are vicious, violent predators.
Here's where we have reached the heart of the image a dragon often evokes. Dragons are built for combat – that much is true. Our modes of battle don't resemble that of humanoids at all, and in many cases is bestial and reptilian. Reading some fiction by humans, a dragon in their tale, describes himself like this:
"My scales are like tenfold shields, my teeth are like swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath is death!" (1)
The fact is, this is for the most part, true. A lot of the force behind such blows is our great size. We'll get back to the breath in a moment. But the image of the dragon in this tale is typical. Greedy, raging, and horribly violent. It's not to say that there aren't dragons who are these things, because prior to her cleansing, my mate Cynder was all of this and more. Malefor, the evil dragon that controlled her, was less violent but more meticulous and grand-scheming in his all-consuming lust for power. But these dragons are often the exception than the rule.
A major image of every dragon is that our breath destroys. This is true if the dragon misuses his breath weapon. It is our primary weapon, though to go into the biology of a breath weapon is beyond the scope of this essay. But to a dragon's enemies that are caught unprepared, a dragon's breath is indeed death. Many a dragon's tactics revolve around using their deadly breath to great effect, and most dragons, depending on their kind, can control one, or at most two, kinds of breath. Fire is archetypical, but there are dragons that breathe freezing gales, corrosive acid, poisonous gas, and deadly lightning, just to name a few.
Well, I suppose I have covered all that I can cover. Looking back on my years, I wonder what that young wyrmling being raised by a family of dragonflies would think of such an essay. He likely would think it wasn't written by himself, given my hot-headed recklessness. But time has a way of changing people, even our very demeanor.
(1) Paraphrased from The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien.