Transcript of a briefing by Professor Blorp in preparation for a Canthan expedition, 1335AE.
Listen up, you lot! I’m sure those of you who haven’t just come out from hiding under a rock while Jormag and Primordus were rampaging have heard that we’ve been investigating the feasibility of an expedition to Cantha. As a result, Steward Gixx wanted to make sure that all of you – including YOU, the sleeping norn at the back, just because I’m of a proper height doesn’t mean I can’t see you – are all ready for the dangers you might come across if you go over there. Apparently I got dragons, which supposedly aren’t linked to the Deep Sea Dragon, but by all accounts they’re still likely to try to tear your faces off. So you’ll need useful information on how to kill them before they kill you. But be warned – with the changes to wildlife observed in Tyria since the last time there was contact with Cantha, it’s possible that everything I’m about to say will be out of date. If not, however, this information might save your life. So listen up!
This is a reproduction of a drawing in our records of a saltspray dragon:
The three of you that are actually paying attention should have already observed that it has a similar body structure to the wyverns we’ve been fighting in the campaigns against Mordremoth and Kralkatorrik. You’ll note, though, that the creature has significantly less mass than a Tyrian wyvern. If bookah accounts are to be believed, it was possible for a small but well-coordinated squad of adventurers to bring down a handful of saltspray dragons, which I’m sure you’ll all appreciate would not be advised when it comes to adult Maguuma wyverns. Those accounts, however, also describe them hovering and flying in tight circles even during combat, in contrast to the Tyrian wyvern which might make strafing runs, but which is too clumsy to strike at ground targets with teeth or claws without landing itself. This suggests that these saltspray dragons might have traded the strength, durability, and bulk of Tyrian wyverns in exchange for much greater agility in the air.
Don’t get cocky, though, since accounts also refer to rare examples of more powerful saltspray dragons with significant magical power, such as Kuunavang, credited with granting Canthan heroes celestial powers to help defeat Shiro, and the luck-manipulating Albax. Some records even suggest that a young Saltspray Dragon named ‘Shiny’ was raised by a Vabbian oaf in the Hidden City of Ahdashim, but there was no sign of it in the recent expedition there. These tales may be as fanciful as they sound, but accounts also claim that at least some of these dragons are intelligent and sane enough to be negotiated with. Aurene will probably want to secure any such dragons we come across as allies, so if you run into a saltspray dragon that doesn’t immediately try to make a cooked meal out of you, Steward Gixx has ordered me to request that you try words before you indulge your trigger fingers.
But I recommend you keep your trigger fingers ready just in case, until the dragon does show a willingness to talk. Just be aware that most saltsprays were supposed to have been corrupted by the Jade Wind, making them highly aggressive in a similar manner to bloodstone madness. If they hadn’t recovered in the centuries between the Jade Wind and our most recent records, it’s unlikely that they will have now.
If it does prove to be aggressive, employing similar tactics to those you would use to engage a wyvern in the air should prove effective. With more slender frames and appearing to be more focused on flight, use of nets, harpoons, and/or magic to bring them to ground should give you the advantage. Be aware that while you’re likely used to Maguuma wyverns that are split between lightning and fire-breathing types, saltsprays are supposed to employ a mix of fiery breath attacks with close-range lightning discharges and quick pounces.
The second major type of so-called “dragon” is this thing:
The bookahs call it a “rockhide dragon”. It’s a big tortoise. With giant eyebrows, it seems. I don’t know why the Steward insisted on putting it in this category. Apparently the Canthan bookahs place extra spiritual significance on it, and its celestial representation appears alongside saltsprays, kirins, and phoenixes in their trial of Weh No Su. Imbeciles. They also have a celestial pig, and I don’t see anyone talking about swine dragons like this “turtle dragon” thing. Neither one thing nor the other my foot. It’s a tortoise.
But Steward Gixx insisted, so here we are.
Fanciful accounts claim it uses earth magic to shake the ground, and conjures gusts of wind to blow down its foes. You know what I think? It’s big. It’s heavy. It slams its shell into the ground, and the combination of the shockwave and the air displaced by the shell causes those nearby to lose their balance and fall. And then it slams again. On them.
So you’ll want to watch out for that, and probably time your attacks for just after it’s done so.
As you might expect, striking the shell with anything short of heavy armour-piercing weaponry is likely futile. The legs look to be the easiest soft target, as the creature probably also has a hard skull – once you’ve hobbled it, then it might be practical to crack the creature’s skull or strike at the softer neck. Like the saltsprays, small squads of adventurers were supposed to be able to deal with packs of these creatures, so if those stories weren’t embellished, you should be able to take them down if you’re smart and stay on your feet. But it’s likely that those bookahs were exaggerating, so be careful.
Unlike the saltsprays, we have found no accounts of… euuugh… “rockhide dragons” communicating… probably because, again, they’re almost certainly wild relatives of siege turtles rather than dragons. So you can likely start shooting as soon as one gets too close for comfort. Especially if you can get a shot at that vulnerable-looking neck.
And then there’s this horror:
Veterans of the Maguuma campaign might be experiencing unpleasant flashbacks here, and for good reason. No, it’s not a pocket raptor, and before Mordremoth woke up we wouldn’t call it a “dragon” either, but that viney abomination changed all the rules, so we’re including it. Depending on where in Cantha you are, they call them “dragon mosses” or “dragon lilies”, and they’re basically what you’d get if a river drake and a frost drake had a baby and then that baby got shoved into a Blighting Pod. They’ll drench you in enough freezing water to mist up your vision, and if the frostbite wasn’t bad enough, they’ll then use that conductive fog to discharge arcs of electricity into you. Probably best to kill it with fire, or at least something that doesn’t rely much on precision.
There are also stories of dragon lilies getting into your mind with mesmer-like magic. Seems like bookah stories to me, but the stories come from the area of a lake that’s supposed to be magical, so maybe that’s what’s caused them to develop psychic abilities. So beware of intrusive thoughts if you’re in a region called Haiju Lagoon. It’s supposed to be in the Pongmei region of Shing Jea Island.
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering – are these things popping out of a Blighting Tree or Pale Tree somewhere? We don’t know, but be aware that there are enough other animal-like mobile plants, mostly in the Echovald region, to make for a second lecture. There are also stories of the Kurzick bookahs putting their souls into plants and emerging as an arboreal juggernaut, and a spirit of the forest that went mad with the Jade Wind. It would certainly explain a lot if there is, or was, something like a Blighting Tree in the Echovald pumping out Mordrem-like copies of animals – probably not under Mordremoth’s direction, but dangerous nonetheless. If so, hopefully the thing has been dead for centuries and its crop of killer plants have died out in turn, but if you happen to find yourself in the Echovald region, treat it like you were back in Verdant Brink. Anything that’s green or brown might be out to kill you.
That should give you enough to prepare yourselves for Cantha’s dragons, tortoises-that-bookahs-mistake-for-dragons, and dragon-shaped plants. I need to go find out which inane assignment Gixx has on my docket next, so you are all DISMISSED!