The Diul System
Diul is a system within the Coreward Periphery. Given its apparent lack of reliable sources of phoron, it is widely ignored in favor of its far more phoron-rich neighbors, most notably Virgo-Erigone. The system shares its name with the namesake of its sun, Diul.
Diul 2B - Overview
Diul is the system in which some of the earliest traces of the ancestry of dragons can be traced. These traces are found in Diul 2B, a moon that orbits the ice giant Diul 2. This planet is completely inhospitable due to its chemical makeup making the surface a brutally inhospitable frigid wasteland. 2B manages to accomplish the opposite through a combination of more fortunate chemical makeup enabling a far more hospitable surface, and an orbital path of its planet that guarantees a consistent exposure to its sun throughout Diul 2's orbit around its sun.
On Diul 2B's surface, what is not a lukewarm region lush with greens is instead a mostly flat tundra that does not take much distance before transitioning into the mountains, ice caps and frigid oceans that make up well over 30% of the planet's surface. It is for this reason that the most diverse wildlife is found around 2B's equator, where the climate is both the warmest and the most stable.
Diul 2B's seasons are more complex than Earth's due to its position as a moon orbiting a larger planet. This is because there are times in which 2B is eclipsed by its much bigger ice giant sibling. There are two periods throughout a year in Diul 2B that are locally referred to as "dark cycles." During a dark cycle, 2B will enter a pattern of repeatedly being eclipsed by Diul 2 and once more being exposed to the sun as normal.
The atmosphere is mostly standard to any planet that can support life, including an average amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide to sustain both flora and fauna alike. What makes Diul 2B's atmosphere an unusual case are the small quantities of phoron within. There is nowhere near the same amounts of phoron as there are on Virgo 3B, but it is widely speculated that this small amount of phoron was introduced by Virgo-Erigone's star going supernova and spreading its phoron to Diul's sun and planets. This is supported by the larger quantities of phoron found within Diul's sun, and traces of phoron in all other planets in the system.
Dragons are extremely diverse lifeforms, and have many branching subspecies with sometimes dramatically different biology between species. However, there are several biological qualities that almost all of them have in common. For example, a common trait among dragons and their subspecies are their almost uniformally large size, requiring them to constantly be on the lookout for food to maintain their size.
It is relatively common for dragons to possess an... "acceptable" level of intelligence that comes close to that of humans. What is uncommon is for their intelligence to be on-par with them. As a species that mostly relies on their immense size, brute strength and striking appearances to survive, the most they have used their intelligence for is hunting techniques, social structures, and in some cases religion.
Fire Breath (& Respiration)
The most striking ability of almost every species is their iconic ability to breathe fire. Dragons have adapted to Diul 2B's frigid climates by taking advantage of its unique phoron-filled atmosphere. By inhaling a small amount of phoron at a time, the dragon's respiratory system filters the phoron gas into an organ that compresses and stores the gas. This phoron gas can then be, at the will of the dragon, expelled through the trachea. As it escapes through the trachea of the dragon, the expelled gas is along the way ignited and then belched out of the dragon's mouth. It should be noted however that just because dragons are able to partially filter phoron to use for this ability, this does not mean that they can ordinarily survive in an environment of phoron any higher than that on Diul 2B. While they have evolved to have a slight tolerance to phoron atmospheres, in a an atmosphere like, for example, that of Virgo 3B, they will suffer from the same toxins that most other organisms will.
This is not an ability that dragons are able to effectively do at birth, either. The ability to effectively breathe fire for periods longer than the average time of most mature dragons (which is usually roughly 30 seconds by the time they are adults) is a skill and technique that must be honed and practiced. In a very loose sense, it is comparable to learning to hold one's breath for a long period without passing out.
Seeing as how Diul 2B's greatest thriving inhabitants are dragons, they have split apart and evolved into many subspecies. As there are simply too many subspecies to cover in detail without one's eyes glazing over, the most common examples will be listed.
These are the lifeforms on which all other off-branching species of dragons are based. They can be told apart by having four legs and two wings sprouting from their backs. Naturally, these are the most commonly seen types of dragons. They are most commonly found on Diul 2B's mountainous regions where they historically would take residence in caves, whether by finding them naturally or carving them out themselves if they couldn't. There are subspecies of baseline dragons that sport feathers in the place of scales, and in some cases even being outright mammalian and sporting flesh or fur instead.
Wyrms have a much more snake-like, serpentine body, and could well be mistaken by some to simply be gigantic snakes. They have no wings or any legs, using slithering as their main form of transportation. Offspring of wyrms include the feathered quetzalcoatls, and the aquatic sea serpents. Wyrms are more traditionally found in swamps and underground caverns, in which their flexible bodies let them traverse otherwise tricky terrain with ease.
An amphithere is anatomically a 1:2 cross between dragons and wyrms. They have the serpentine bodies of wyrms while possessing the characteristic wings of dragons. These can be found almost wherever wyrms or dragons can live, and enjoy being more flexible in biomes they can easily live in while being less proficient in living in either.
Phoron dragons are a very niche and unusual subspecies of dragons. Unsurprisingly, these creatures are only naturally found on Virgo 3B. What is surprising about these creatures though is that they have entirely foregone their ability to breathe fire in favor of being able to survive in a pure-phoron environment. There is still no mistaking their ferocity and strength - they are still very big, very strong, and above all else, very. VERY hungry. It is unknown how this species even came to exist, seeing as how every other species of dragon cannot survive in the same environment, and that they exist in a completely different system altogether. It is difficult to collect information on phoron dragons because they are incredibly rare, and those unfortunate enough to encounter one generally do not have a good time.
(Perhaps a little confusingly,) D'Rudak'Ar is also the name of the language spoken by this clan. Historically, dragons were not physically capable of manipulating their mouths in a way that allowed them to speak conventional languages like Galactic Common. The most they could give a listener in that regard were several different flavors of growls and roars. This language was developed with these physical limitations in mind, and enables a dragon to use their natural sounds in a cohesive way that allows them to communicate effectively with their brethren, and even non-dragons who have learned to speak it. On this note, anyone else can speak this language, as long as you're are okay with making lots of noises that may earn you some strange looks as you imitate dragon noises. Although in this day and age, most dragons are no longer restricted by their biology to speak, either because they use an NIF to communicate, or because they have evolved/been modified to the point where they can communicate normally with others.
The D'Rudak'Ar are a clan of dragons based on Diul 2B made up of three major families, and many smaller ones that have been introduced to the clan throughout its history. It is through this clan that the majority of intellectual strides in draconic culture has been made, including art, language, literature, social developments, and religion.
The Darathas family is the most liberally-minded of the three, and is known for the many human-dragon hybrids, many of which can be mistaken for genemodded humans. It is in large part thanks to the efforts of the Darathas family that the inhabitants of Diul 2B have managed to communicate with outside visitors long enough to understand that (most of them) do not mean them harm, whereas most of the other two families would have much sooner tried to find out what a human looks like without its head.
As the smallest of the three major families, a Ryuuthas family member will typically believe that they must find ways to make themself stand out. This is a helpful attitude to adopt when the other two families represent two opposing ideologies about interaction with the inside world. And so, most of those who call themselves a Ryuuthas will often take themselves to the extreme... of not caring one way or the other. Most members of the Ryuuthas family known for being laid-back and relaxed, some times even lazy. However, there is no mistaking their contributions: It is after all the Ryuuthas family who are in large part responsible for the art, cooking, and even played a part in developing the D'Rudak'Ar language.
As the most reclusive and conservative of the three families, the Yumeno family is comprised entirely of "pure", 100% dragons. It is their belief that engagement with those outside the clan is an almost unspeakably horrendous act. While the Darathas family has helped Diul 2B's denizens reach out to the stars, it is widely agreed within the Yumeno family that the D'Rudak'Ar are much better off living closed off from the civilized world. They find more common ground with their more feral brethren. There are however those within this family that, whether out of some rebellious streak of an outright disagreement with Yumeno ideals, freely interacts with the world outside. Seeing as how they are often the most beastly-looking (and often largest) of the families, they will usually use a customized sleeve to appear less threatening to the masses. Most of these outliers prefer to appear as a human to present a more familiar form to other humans.
There are many other smaller families that have joined the D'Rudak'Ar, with varying degrees of closeness to it. Although many members of these families have made noteworthy contributions to the progression of dragonkind, there are far too many of them to list. If a dragon cannot trace their distant lineage to one of the three major families, their next best bet would be to search through the myriad of smaller families.
In the D'Rudak'Ar, the ability to breathe fire is a point of extreme pride for them, even more so after finding out that no other species in the known galaxy can do it. Not only is it a point of pride, but it ties into their belief system as well. A dragon's social standing is often determined by how long they are able to expel fire in one breath, seeing it as an expression of inner strength. The most widely admired dragon elders are usually those who find it easy to land themselves in positions of power in the D'Rudak'Ar. These elders typically find it easy because more times than not they are able to breathe fire for up to a minute, some even for multiple minutes.
Those who are either unable to breathe fire or cannot do it for at least the adult average of 30 seconds are usually hatchlings. Adults who struggle or are unable to do this are seen as physically handicapped. Some even view this lack of fire-breathing ability as a sign of weakness of character.
Fire holds a significant place among the D'Rudak'Ar, and understanding this is essential to understanding their religion. While not as expansive as other religions, Ib'Na'Ke is a duotheistic religion built upon the belief that one's "inner fire," or ability to breathe fire, is directly correlated with the strength of their spirit. The goddess and god of this religion, Ib'Na and Ib'Ke respectively, are colossal, impossibly sized dragons that live agelessly within the cosmos. They are siblings who care for and nourish the world with their wisdom, power, and of course, fire. They have no creator as they themselves exist from the life force of the universe. They are responsible for creating the immortal flame that is Diul's sun, and it is the D'Rudak'Ar's belief that their sun is imperishable because of this.
Ib'Na, the wisest and most social of the two siblings, gave living beings the gift of knowledge and wisdom. She is responsible for nourishing life throughout the cosmos with the warmth of her fire. Though these stars are perishable and will one day go dim, Diul will never die thanks to the immortal flame that makes it up, thanks to the efforts of Ib'Na. Her role in building the foundations of life is the love that exists within each living being, as well as the wisdom and knowledge needed to not only survive, but thrive.
It is widely disputed among IB'Na'Ke followers and those of the Order of the Great Lady whether or not Ib'Na is the same Lady Elzra who granted humans knowledge.
Ib'Ke, the strongest and most reclusive of the two siblings, created the planets on which Diul sheds its warmth and life. Silently, Ib'Ke carves out each and every mountain, every valley, every ocean that make up the planets. His fire brings strength and the freedom to choose one's own path in life. His part in building the foundations of life is in the ground on which life walks, and the individuality that makes each living being unique.