In my novel, and in my current work in progress the following phrase appears:
He/She would sleep like a white dragon.
My beta reader asked me where the expression comes from and what the story behind it is. I figured it’d be a great topic for a blog post.
The first thing to do is to explain how dragons work in the setting I’ve created.
Dragons are the manifestation of the most intense feelings of the inhabitants of the world.
Dragons are not born. They’re spawned from the aether (the same aether that’s used for working magic) when a large enough amount of people experience the same kind of emotion intensely enough, or for a long enough period of time.
Once this happens, a dragon manifests out of thin air in the same general area as the people experiencing the emotion.
The size of the dragon varies depending on the amount of people and the strength of the emotion that spawns it. The larger the group and the stronger the emotion, the larger the dragon.
Similarly, the color of the dragon depends on the emotion that causes it to manifest.
Historically, most dragons have spawned at the scenes of battle, where the rage and fear of the soldiers fighting and dying can easily cause a dragon to manifest. Dragons have also been common during spectacular natural events/disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and solar eclipses.
When a dragon spawns it is almost completely ruled by the emotion that spawned it. A dragon of fear, or of rage, is like a mindless force of nature, violently lashing out at anyone or anything within sight or reach. It is also the emotion that gives the dragon the energy it needs to survive and once the emotion subsides, so does the dragon run out of energy and die.
However, given enough time and emotional energy, the dragon might survive for long enough to develop sentience and intelligence enough to survive on its own. Dragons are real living beings and will get by on food and water once they figure out that they need it.
That’s the short of it. I wrote a slightly longer and more detailed article about dragons a few years back. You can read it on my wiki, here.
The Color of Dragons
As mentioned above, the emotion that spawns a dragon is reflected in the color of its scales. The currently known dragon colors are:
- Black: Fear
- Black: Sorrow (yes, there are two kinds of black dragons)
- Red: Rage
- Gold: Joy
- White: Serenity
- Grey: Despair
Unconfirmed or mythical dragon colors are:
- Yellow: Excitement
- Pink: Love
For more detailed explanations of the various colors of dragons, check out the article on the wiki linked above.
Of the different dragon types listed above, the white dragons are the ones that have the longest lifespan on average. It is not practically possible to gather a sufficiently large amount of people and keep them calm enough for long enough to spawn a dragon. Instead, white dragons are spawned over very long periods of time in locations where people come to seek peace and relaxation.
Once a white dragon has spawned in such a location, people do not stop coming there. The continue to seek out the location, taking the dragon as evidence that this is a spot where you can truly find your peace of mind. This means the dragon does not run out of the emotional energy that sustains it, and it remains a living breathing being for as long as people come to share in its peace.
The expression “sleep like a white dragon” comes from how the white dragons are already asleep when they manifest. In fact, most of the ones currently in existence have never woken up at all, but keep sleeping and dreaming. According to official records, the currently oldest white dragon has slept for nearly eight hundred years in a small anfylk temple deep in the Snaggfel Mountains. Rumor has it there are even older ones in other places, but this has not been confirmed by any official sources – and it probably won’t ever be.
I hope this explains the expression and the history behind it, but if something is unclear, or if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask.