Dragons are creatures found almost everywhere on Alksheist. They are giant, warm-blooded reptilians that are characterized according to their skull structure and intelligence. All dragons with mouths can vocalize and learn language like humanoids and all dragons have the ability to use magic.
Dragons come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some can fit in the palm of your hand and others can grow to be the size of a mountain in their lifetime. These beasts can live for many hundreds or thousands of years and are capable of forming a bond with any humanoid. This bond is breakable only by death on either party, but when one half of the bond dies, it usually takes the other half with it. If dragon or rider survive the death of their comrade, it is possible to bond with another dragon or rider and it is possible that, if dragon or rider has a strong affinity for the spirit world, the separated pair aren't so separated by death.
Dragons have the ability to also be called by a mage by a spell. This spell has a radius that depends on the type of magic being used and how powerful of a mage they are, and the spell itself is very taxing and cannot be cast often. If the mage is their andzkin, the one they are able to bond with, and within range, they are forced to come to where ever the mage call is and make themselves known. Many wild dragons are called mid-way through their life and are unwilling to leave their former life behind to go into the service of a rider. Although illegal, binding runes have become a staple in controlling called dragons.
Upon the humanoid's touch, the dragon and humanoid's memories will be shared with each other and the bond will be sealed. This applies to both hatchlings and wild dragons. Once this contact has been made, the mage's call will end and the dragon is able to fly away should it so wish. Since hatchlings have little to no memories, they often fall asleep from exhaustion at the sheer force of memories entering their skull.
When first contact is made, the dragon's rune will appear. It is possible for the bond to be so strong that the rider may also have a rune inscribed on their skin. Hatchlings' riders will always end up receiving a rune. More about runes can be found here.
Just because a dragon is bound to a rider does not mean that they will get along or necessarily enjoy each other's company. Having a dragon is like having a friend or an enemy that knows all of your memories. It is beneficial for the rider and dragon to eventually develop mutual respect since they will be working together until the day one dies.
Dragons with mages are capable of more magical feats than those without mage riders. Each dragon has at least one type of magic. Most dragons can use the ancient dragon language of Mivphves to cast spoken magic. Some dragons have other types of magic.
All dragons, regardless of how strange-looking or different from stereotypical dragons they are, lay eggs. It depends on the species for how many eggs a mother will lay in a clutch, the gestation period and how long the eggs take to hatch. Dragon embryos in eggs are capable of learning language and being spoken to through telepathic links, so when they hatch they generally have the ability to speak fluently.
It is rare to stumble across a clutch of eggs in the wild, especially unattended since most dragons guard their eggs. In the circumstance that a mother dragon is found, there is often negotiation to see her eggs; in other cases, the eggs are in the open for a person to come across. When a dragonling feels the presence of their andzkin, they will hatch if they are properly developed. If they are not quite developed, there is no way to know, so many people decide to wait until the eggs are more developed. Some hatchlings say that there is a light that makes the inside of their shell shine, but others state that they "just knew." Regardless, the dragon will hatch right then. A dragon takes a few minutes to hatch and sometimes it needs help getting out of the shell.
After the rider and dragon make physical contact, a mark is made on the hatchling and the rider. This is always in the form of a rune since hatchlings do release strange dragon magic upon hatching. The rune that appears is always the hatchling's "main rune," which is located on the dragon's forehead. The rider will have the rune on their hand although it appearing elsewhere is also common. This rune will have affects on both rider and dragon even if it's a "dragon-only" rune. How it affects them both is different for every case.
Wild dragons are definitely more fickle than hatchlings. Usually, these dragons have been wild all their lives. There are cases of some dragons who have had andzkin in the past, but most called dragons have only had limited contact with humanoids.
Wild dragons can be called by a spell; however, this spell is incredibly taxing to use and can result in death of the mage if done inappropriately. The type of spell it is depends on the innate magic of the humanoid. During a Journey, they are allowed to use this spell a total of five times, as using it any more can result in intense magical fatigue. It is mostly ineffective, and humanoids will need to approach wild dragons using other means to seal a bond. A mage can cast this spell for a nonmage as well, which is less taxing on their magic.
Finding dragons can sometimes be difficult, although there are spells of all varieties to find draconic life. These are infinitely less taxing than the calling spell, and are recommended over the calling spell by most classes. When looking for one's andzkin, it is said that you must rely on your own gut feelings. After all, you can't brush against every dragon in Alksheist! Most people say that the feeling of being drawn toward their andzkin is like being pulled toward a specific individual or direction. This can happen during a spell or just in the open; it depends on how spiritually-inclined an individual is.
When coming across a wild dragon, it is important that physical contact be made. This can, of course, be more difficult than it sounds depending on the temperament of the dragon. Sometimes, it requires a battle, and other times, it's as simple as a conversation. When rider and dragon make contact, divine magic will be expelled and the dragon will be marked on its forehead with a rune. The rider may also be marked with a rune, but this happens in only half of scenarios.
When dragon and rider have secured the bond, the dragon is welcome to fly off. Most dragons stay with their riders, but it depends on the dragon's past and personality on whether or not they fly away. Some may have family to go speak to and others may go into denial.
While most people respect their andzkin and allow them to live their own life if they choose, some people decide to (illegally) mark their dragon with binding runes. Binding runes keep dragons within a certain radius of their rider, and have harsh consequences if they are broken. Evercrest is strict on its policy against binding runes, but many people advocate for using them and manage to get away with it-- at least until their dragon becomes more compliant.
Wild dragons' mates are allowed to stay at Evercrest despite their not being rider dragons. Also, if the dragon has hatchlings or young dragonlings not yet ready to leave their side, that family may come along as well.