|Crafting stuff, collecting art, writing fantasy. Cosplaying (bearded guys are rare in anime, but so are bearded cosplayers!).|
Yeah, I’m a sucker for rescuing axes. The workmen left this one behind after house repairs - dented, beaten, rusted almost through, mounted all wrong on a cracked handle. I picked it up, struck, heard the sound of steel and swore it deserved a better life.
It was a long job turning a symmetric triangular axe into a semblance of fantasy-Norse shape, with a minimal beard and front side curve, with an angle grinder, bench grinder, face grinder, belt grinder, whatever else in my workshop could remove metal… so it’s presently wirebrushed and mounted on a two-foot handle of stained beechwood. Too heavy for a battleaxe, 'course, that would mean removing a couple pounds of metal all over - way beyond my modest patience and willingness to use an angle grinder. The grinder's side handle broke off mid-work, what a feeling!
(Ventral view showing major skeletal structures and gas sacs. Large adult dragon contour superimposed (gleaned from the Web, no idea who drew it but my most sincere gratitude).
Perhaps the most striking sight one can see in the skies is a pod of skywhales — majestic creatures reaching over two hundred feet in length, but so similar externally to the sea beasts that one can’t but suspect a creative joke. More probably, the skywhales appeared in the world together with and the same way as their dissimilar cousins. Peacefully living in pods of 5 to 10, led most often by a large and old female (may the author be pardoned for not applying the proper term “cow”), they are “whales” only skin deep and dragons, albeit very special, within.
Skywhales have the same draconic body chemistry different from the four-legged beasts - their light and resilient bones are pitch black carbon fiber and their digestion produces exotic components. Where dragons use their secretions for spitting flame or poison, skywhales accumulate lighter-than-air gases in the chambers (modified from the respiratory system air sacs) that make up the bulk of their bodies; like dragons, they possess a pearl of power under each of the vertebrae, but levitation by orgonic energy is secondary to the non-demanding gas bags that can keep a skywhale afloat indefinitely.
Unlike the mammal sea-whales, the skywhale’s eyes, nostrils and ears - indeed, the entire brain case is located at the very tip of the head borne on a long neck. The enormous jaw arches are swept back almost to the ribcage and hinged much like the jaws of a snake and for the same purpose, to open up wider than the body. While serpents distend to swallow prey whole, the mouth of a skywhale opens to scoop up water with whole schools of fish or shoals of krill. The water is then strained through fronds of baleen, pushed outwards not by the action of a muscular tongue, but by the inflation of a throat sac. Tales of them swallowing flocks of birds are tales indeed.
The ribcage holds organs of respiration and digestion that differ strikingly little from a proper dragon’s.
Most of the skywhale’s remaining body bulk is made up of gas chambers, with bands of powerful muscles driving the undulating movements of the tail. The draconic wings are modified into heavier, sturdier flippers for steering on the surface of water, the forelimbs are vestigial remains hidden from sight and the rear limbs are short, stumpy clawed fins functioning as mating claspers.
The skywhales do not lay eggs dragon-wise. Instead, they migrate to remote islands with shallow lagoons plentiful in food to bear one or two calves, slim and misshapen-looking, with oversized heads on lank bodies covered in creases of skin; it takes several weeks of intense feeding for the glands to produce enough gas to fill the sacks and lift a calf off.
The beasts of the air spend most of their time over the oceans, seas and the largest of Inner Lakes; over dry land they’re seen when the pods migrate between bodies of water or perhaps when a young male sets out to search for a pod to join.
On a more prosaic note, skywhale dung, falling from above in a thankfully fine spray, brings fertility to lands and indeed, bare sands; in places where routes of skywhale migration pass overhead, the traditional garb tends to include broad-brimmed headgear. Contrary to tales, skywhales are perfectly capable of landing on the ground but do not have any reason to do so unless too heavily wounded to fly. There doesn’t seem to be a natural limit to their age and largest ones live certainly to centuries old, unless falling victim to an extreme storm accident or prey to dragons. A lucky find of a skywhale carcass on the ground or afloat will make one a rich person from the loads of dragonbone and most important, pearls valued both for orgone focusing properties and for sheer beauty.
There’s an opinion that the size, flight ability, breath weapons and the fearsome claws and teeth of the adult dragon are all means of hunting skywhales; only later, in a world abounding with beasts on the ground the winged serpents became more diversified hunters.