This is the glossary of terms I’ve compiled about the world of Dragonfire. It’s going to be included in the back of Kiss of Destiny and in the Dragon Legion Collection, as well as all future Dragonfire novels. Have a look and let me know if there are any important terms you think are missing. It’s already longer than I’d expected, which isn’t an issue in digital but could become one in print editions.
If you haven’t read the Dragon Legion novellas, then skip the bits about Elemental Witches (Airdaughter, Earthdaughter and Waterdaughter) or else you’ll get a tiny spoiler.
The World of Dragonfire: A Glossary
Every fictional world has its own terminology and that is particularly true of fantasy realms. Here is a glossary of terms that frequently are used in the Dragonfire novels. Although every attempt is made to include an explanation in context, sometimes a longer explanation is desired. Be warned – if you haven’t read the entire series, you may find spoilers here!
Affinities – as custodians of the four elements (air, water, fire, earth), the Pyr have a strong relationship with them. Each Pyr has affinities to two elements. When any given Pyr experiences his firestorm, his destined mate will invariably possess affinities to the other remaining two elements. Their strengths and weaknesses are complementary, as a result, which makes a permanent union such a powerful alliance. When the mate gives a gift for her dragon’s scale repair (see Loss of Scale) that gift often echoes her two affinities.
Airdaughter – an Elemental Witch with an affinity for air. An Airdaughter can not just control the element of air but can become it. Aura is the first Airdaughter introduced in the series: her story and the link between Elemental Witches and nymphs is told in the Dragon Legion Novella, Kiss of Destiny.
Apothecary – the healer of the Pyr. The Apothecary is a hereditary position, involving a long apprenticeship and training in the medicinal uses of herbs etc. for the specific treatment of Pyr. The current Apothecary is Sloane Forbes.
Beguiling – Both Pyr and Slayer have the ability to beguile humans, although it is a skill which must be learned and cultivated. The dragon shifter in question drops his voice to low murmur, speaks slowly, and conjures flames in his eyes. This is usually done while in human form, and generally humans see a flame deep in the iris of the dragon shifter in question. This is so irrational and unlikely that the human looks most closely, then is snared by the dragon shifters’ spell. Beguiling is similar to hypnosis, and like hypnosis, yields better results if the suggestion is something the victim already wants to believe. Pyr have used it for eons to convince those humans who have witnessed them in dragon form that they could not have really seen dragons. There is some question as to whether a dragon shifter can beguile another dragon shifter or not. In Flashfire, Lorenzo did beguile a Slayer, but that Slayer was not at his full power or health. Lorenzo is the most adept of the Pyr at beguiling.
Challenge Coin – Dragons have a tendency to both fight and to vigilantly defend their honor. If a Pyr or Slayer tosses his challenge coin at an opponent, he is challenging the other dragon shifter to a fight to the death. If that opponent picks up the coin, the challenge has been accepted. The fight may be interrupted or delayed, but they will fight to death, as a matter of honor. Challenge coins are carefully chosen by each dragon shifter to be characteristic of his nature or background, and to be distinctive. Each dragon always has his challenge coin in his possession, and carries it between forms.
Clothing – When a Pyr or Slayer shifts shape, he folds his clothing away quickly and tucks it beneath his scales. It is considered to be particularly important that no one ever witness exactly where the garments are hidden. No shifter can return to his human form without his clothing, so speed with this feat is key to survival. In Kiss of Fury, Erik burns the clothing of the Slayer Boris while they are both in dragon form: Boris, however, has folded away his underwear, so survives this tactic.
Darkfire – an ancient magic that breeds chaos and unpredictability in the world of the Pyr. Darkfire was trapped in three quartz crystals in the past. The Slayer Chen broke one deliberately, setting the darkfire free in the hopes of undermining the efforts of the Pyr in Darkfire Kiss. The location of the second darkfire crystal was also established in that book. In Flashfire, the third darkfire crystal was revealed to be in Lorenzo’s hoard, until it was given to Drake, the leader of the Dragon’s Tooth Warriors. The actions of that crystal feature in the Dragon Legion Collection of novellas.
Death Ritual – It is traditional to expose the body of a deceased Pyr to all four elements within one day and night of his demise. This was considered to be a ritual of respect and had lapsed from active practice until the Dragon’s Blood Elixir was formulated again.
Dragonfire – a stream of fire breathed by a Pyr or Slayer, often aimed at another dragon in battle. Dragonfire burns particularly hot. It will singe dragon scales and can leave a victim disfigured, if not dead. The Smith is said to be able to endure dragonfire, because of his affinity to the element of fire, and can draw power from it, as Quinn does in Kiss of Fire.
Dragon Legion – the Dragon’s Tooth Warriors who survived the challenge recounted in Harmonia’s Kiss and were sent through time by the darkfire crystal. They include Drake, Alexander, Damien, Thad, Orion, Peter, Ty, Ashe and Ignatio. Alexander’s story is told in Kiss of Danger; Damien’s story is told in Kiss of Darkness and Thad’s story is told in Kiss of Destiny.
Dragon’s Blood Elixir – an addictive concoction that promotes longevity in dragon shape shifters, expedites healing and increases vitality. It also gave the powers of the Wyvern to Slayers who consumed it over a period of time, particularly that of being able to take a third form (a salamander) and to spontaneously manifest elsewhere. The Slayer Magnus found the formula and shared first sips to build a company of loyal followers. He also revived dead dragon shifters with the substance, creating an army of shadow dragons from those dead Pyr whose bodies had not had the traditional death ritual. (See Death Ritual.) The saga of the Elixir is told in Winter’s Kiss, Whisper Kiss and Darkfire Kiss.
Dragon’s Egg – A polished sphere of black stone, perhaps obsidian, which shows the location of a newly-sparked firestorm under the light of a fully eclipsed moon. Sophie the Wyvern uses the Dragon’s Egg as a scrying glass in Kiss of Fury, shortly before it is broken. From that point onward, Erik must learn to scry by using other surfaces, and to develop his ability to feel the locations of all Pyr.
Dragonsmoke – a stream of vapor breathed by dragon shifters – whether Pyr or Slayer – that is invisible to human perception. (Perceptive humans may feel a chill when they breach through a dragonsmoke barrier.) Dragonsmoke is not only visible to dragon shifters, but it has a resonant ring when formed into a complete circle. It is used as a protective barrier or boundary mark, and will burn any dragon shifter who crosses it without the permission of the dragon shifter who breathed the dragonsmoke. This act is called ‘setting permissions’. In order to breathe dragonsmoke, a Pyr or Slayer enters a meditative state, and directs the stream of dragonsmoke, weaving it into a barrier that is preferable high and deep. A dragonsmoke boundary will disintegrate over time, and some dragon shifters can tell the age of a smoke ring by its condition. Dragonsmoke can also be used as a conduit between fighting dragons, as shown in Kiss of Fate.
Dragon’s Tail Wars – The Dragonfire series is set during a period of trial for the Pyr, in which they will battle the Slayers for custody of the earth and survival of mankind. This test was foretold to commence during the Dragon’s Tail, an astrological period believed to be a phase of karmic retribution and rebalance. We are currently experiencing the power of this same Dragon’s Tail in real life, which began in June 2006. The moon’s node will move back to the Dragon’s Head in November 2015, at which point either the Pyr or the Slayers will have been exterminated. There is a discussion of this in Darkfire Kiss. The Pyr’s prophecy declared that the first three firestorms after the Dragon’s Tail commenced had to be successful for the Pyr to have a chance against the Slayers. Those three firestorms are recounted in Kiss of Fire, Kiss of Fury and Kiss of Fate.
Dragon’s Tooth Warriors – These warriors are a military unit of Pyr, charged with hunting down and exterminating those dragon shifters who had turned against men. They come from a time before the evolution of Slayers, and call their opponents ‘vipers’. In fighting one viper, they were enchanted and cursed to take the form of additional teeth for that dragon’s maw. They are led by a taciturn general named Drake, and unlike the modern Pyr, they are all dark in color in dragon form and almost indistinguishable from each other in either form. They first appear in the series in Kiss of Fury. The result of their decision to finish what they had begun is told in the short story, Harmonia’s Kiss. Their adventures with the darkfire crystal are told in the Dragon Legion Novellas, during which they rename themselves the Dragon Legion.
Elemental Witches – women with power not only over an individual element but also the ability to become that element. The first elemental witch introduced in the Dragonfire novels was Liz Barrett, a Firedaughter, in Ember’s Kiss. The history of the relationship between these women and the Pyr is explored in the Dragon Legion Novellas.
Earthdaughter – an Elemental Witch with an affinity for earth. An Earthdaughter can control the element of earth as well as become it. Petra is the first Earthdaughter encountered in the Dragonfire series: her story is told in the Dragon Legion Novella, Kiss of Darkness.
Firedaughter – an Elemental Witch with an affinity for fire. A Firedaughter can control the element of fire as well as become it. Liz Barrett is a Firedaughter and the first Elemental Witch introduced in Dragonfire: her story is told in Ember’s Kiss.
Firestorm – each Pyr will experience one firestorm in his lifetime. A firestorm occurs when that Pyr meets the human woman who can bear his son. Sparks literally fly between the couple, causing an overwhelming sense of attraction and desire. The firestorm is believed to flare the way it does because it marks the presence and approval of the Great Wyvern: in her presence, the spark within each Pyr is kindled to greater strength and power. The heat of the firestorm builds until the couple’s relationship is consummated (“satisfying the firestorm”) and this first coupling always results in the conception of a son. Pyr only have sons, who come into their shifting powers at puberty. (For the exception to this rule, please see Wyvern.) All Pyr and Slayers can feel the spark of a firestorm, and are instinctively drawn to its blaze. Firestorms of particular significance to the Pyr tend to occur during full eclipses of the moon. Historically, the firestorm was believed to be a purely biological impulse, but the modern Pyr increasingly believe that a partnership of long duration with the “mate” is ideal. (See Loss of Scale.) In some instances, the firestorm can be a healing power: in Kiss of Fury, the injured Delaney is drawn to the heat of his brother Donovan’s firestorm in search of renewal.
Great Wyvern – the divinity acknowledged by the Pyr. The Pyr swear by the Great Wyvern and attribute radical changes in fortune to her. Their lore insists that the Great Wyvern lit the divine spark within each of them. The Death Ritual ensures that the divine spark is fully extinguished when it should be. By this same logic, the blood of Slayers turns black because they willingly douse the divine spark in themselves, by turning their backs upon their sacred mission to defend the earth and its treasures. Just as the firestorm is a mark of the Great Wyvern’s favor, the sterility of Slayers is a sign of her disfavor.
High Council of Seven – a governing council of Pyr established by Erik’s father, Soren, in the Middle Ages, in an attempt to fight the plan of Mikael Vassily for dragon shifters to turn against mankind. That initiative failed, the Pyr’s numbers were vastly reduced, and Mikael became the first Slayer. The original High Council included Soren (father of Erik), Gaspar (grandfather of Lorenzo), Lothair, Sigmund (the elder, brother of Soren), Thorkel (grandfather of Thorolf), Rafferty and Erik. At the launch of the Dragon’s Tail Wars, Erik was attempting to locate and gather the remaining Pyr to re-establish that council.
Hoard – a collection of treasures kept by every Pyr. Although the Pyr in question perceives the items in the hoard to be precious, they may or may not be of monetary value: it is as likely for a Pyr to keep sentimental trinkets in his hoard – or stock certificates – as gold and precious gems. Some Pyr believe that their mate is the most valuable gem in their hoard.
Lair – although each Pyr may have multiple homes, his one principle residence is considered to be his lair. The lair is usually where the Pyr’s Hoard is secured, and is invariably heavily defended by Dragonsmoke barriers.
Loss of Scale – a Pyr will lose a scale when he loves, particularly when he loves and loses (or fears to lose). His emotional vulnerability is mirrored in his physical armor, which must be repaired by the Smith of the Pyr. This is not necessarily a mirror of romantic love: Magnus the Slayer lost a scale out of love for himself, while Sigmund lost one over his love for his mother. When a Pyr loses a scale due to his love for his mate, that scale can only be successfully repaired with a gift offered willingly by her and the presence of the four elements. See Affinities.
Old-speak – the traditional way in which dragon shifters communicate. Old-speak is gutteral and tends to be terse. It is expressed at a level too low for human ears to understand: humans typically hear the sound of old-speak but attribute it to passing trucks, trains or thunder. Old-speak can be uttered at different volumes: it can be conversational, it can be broadcast and heard at a great distance, or it can be whispered in the mind of another dragon shifter. A very wiley dragon shifter can meld his old-speak with the thoughts of his victim so that the two are indistinguishable.
Mate – the traditional term for the woman who prompts the spark of a Pyr’s firestorm. Most mates take exception to the use of this word, although it does perfectly describe their role as results from the firestorm.
Prophecies – the Pyr seem to be particularly fond of prophecies and portents. The Wyvern can be a source of prophecies for them, as can their leader, Erik Sorensson, and Sara Keegan, the Seer who is the partner of Quinn Tyrrell, the Smith. See Dragon’s Tail.
Pyr (or “true Pyr”) – The Pyr are an ancient race of dragon shape shifters. Their role is to defend the four elements and the treasures of the earth, and they include humans among those treasures. They are not immortal, but live a very long time. Their senses are more keen than humans – they see more clearly, for example, and hear a wider range of sounds.
Scent – Pyr and Slayers can detect each other’s presence by smell. Each leaves a distinctive scent, which lingers and can be identified, thanks to the keen senses of dragon shifters. Pyr with sensitive noses say that Slayers have an odour so foul that even if they don’t recognize the dragon shifter specifically, they know his alliance by his scent. Erik’s son Sigmund knows how to remove his scent from a location, thanks to his diligent research into old dragon lore. Some Slayers who have drunk the Elixir develop the ability to disguise their scent willingly.
Shadow Dragons – Pyr raised from the dead with the Dragon’s Blood Elixir. These Pyr were not exposed to all four elements within a day and night of their death (see Death Ritual) so could be revived by the Elixir. Shadow dragons do not bleed and they fight on, without regard for any sustained injuries. They must be dismembers and burned to ashes to be destroyed, then exposed to all four elements to ensure that they remain that way. Niall’s twin brother was made a shadow dragon by Magnus, and that tale is told in Whisper Kiss.
Shape shifting – Pyr and Slayers change shape at will and by choice. His decision to shift form is presaged by a shimmer of pale blue that illuminates his body. When a dragon shifter is wounded, however, he will revert to his human form, whether he is able to choose to do so or not. This may be the result of the Pyr living so many centuries in human society. In addition, when a dragon shifter is wounded so severely that death is likely, he will unwillingly rotate between forms. Often the speed of the shifting increases in this situation, until the dragon shifter dies. There is a persistent idea amongst the Pyr that it is dangerous for a human to watch the actual transition between forms, and that seeing a man change to a dragon can make a human insane.
Slayers – Pyr who have abandoned the mission to defend humans among the earth’s treasures. Their blood is black, which is said to be a sign that they have turned away from the light. (The Pyr have a saying: “Pyr are born and Slayers are made.”) This historical development is explored in Kiss of Fate. Slayers also lose the ability to reproduce when they make their choice. It is possible that part of the reason they are drawn to a firestorm is jealousy.
Smith – the armorer of the Pyr and the only one who can repair their “armor” of scales. The Smith is a hereditary position and relies heavily upon blacksmithing skills. The Smith has a particular affinity with fire, and often can coax a blaze or extinguish it with his thoughts. (See Affinities.) The current Smith of the Pyr is Quinn Tyrrell and his story is told in Kiss of Fire.
Warrior – the Warrior of the Pyr can summon the elements to assist the Pyr in battle, often in the form of weather as artillery. The current Warrior of the Pyr is Donovan Shea, and his story is told in Kiss of Fury.
Waterdaughter – an Elemental Witch with an affinity for water. A Waterdaughter can not only control the element of water but become it. Katina is the first Waterdaughter introduced in the Dragonfire series: her story is told in the Dragon Legion Novella, Kiss of Danger.
Wyvern – the only female Pyr. At any given moment in time, there is one female Pyr, who has additional powers, including the power of prophecy, the ability to take the form of a salamander in addition to human and dragon forms, and the ability to spontaneously manifest elsewhere. The most recent Wyvern, Sophie, died in Kiss of Fate. Erik and Eileen’s daughter Zoë was conceived in that book. All Pyr come into the fullness of their powers at puberty, and Zoë’s coming of age is told in The Dragon Diaries trilogy.