It goes without saying that where the world is troubled, Dragons are troubled, and few regions have been as beset as besieged through the centuries as the Near East.
Long ago, when human beings still struggled with flint blades and bone needles, the Persian Gulf was a lush tract of land as large as Great Britain. There the One River branched into the Four – Pishon, Gihon, and the ever-popular Tigris and Euphrates – and beasts of every kind were plentiful. Even Dragons. The place was thick with Dragons. The descendants of Tiamat swam off the coast of Qeshm and basked in the golden sands where the day begins. They guarded the sweet waters and fruitful trees and kept the balance among flora and fauna. When humans moved into the neighborhood, the Dragons taught them the ways of the land, the names of the creatures. They showed them which plants gave life, and which ones took it. As long as tree and river, mountain and sea were holy, all was well. For in this primal grove the Dragons ruled with a benevolent paw. (Dragons for Beginners, p. 113)
These were the ancient and noble Dragons of the Middle East. They played in the waters from the Bosporus to the Aral Sea and lit up the skies from the mountains of Hajjah to the Kazakh steppes. They adapted to the changing landscapes, becoming compact, sinewy desert Dragons who could coax water from the wind and thrive – when they must – on jerboas and acacia shoots. Hard as their lives have been, we have made them much harder, imbuing the sands they call home with blood and violence of human making.
For Dragons have no use for sects and borders, for internecine grudges tracing back through millennia. They are just trying to survive. How they are faring at this is hard to say. There are only a handful of registered weyrs in the area, and persistent hostilities have made it impossible to get an accurate Dragon census in almost a century.
The following are currently regarded as the most threatened weyrs in the Middle East; their children are known as the Hatchlings of War. They were here before us and, by the grace of the Great Dragon, will be here long after we are gone. In the meantime, any aid we can offer through WAFDE, UNESECO (the United Nations Extraordinary Creature Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), and AAD Programs is more than welcome.
The Dragons of Persian have a distinctive history dating back to the days of Sumerian Creation, when the great Dragon Kur consorted with gods and goddesses, notably, the goddess Inanna. Contrary to popular myth, Inanna did not slay Kur – the two got along quite well. Mehrdad – Gift of the Sun – Weyr has tried to keep the spirit of that relationship alive through the millennia. Located in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, the Weyr is all but invisible to any but the most experienced eye. The Dragons prefer it that way, being greatly distressed by the inanely wasteful violence which has plagued the area in modern times.
The Weyr’s banner is a green field graced by a magical blue septagram and Kur, black and sinuous.
Dragons were in the sandstone hills around Petra long before the Edomites had their kingdom or the Nabateans carved their great city. They were there when the waters still flowed and the valleys were green. The Weyr there today – Ean-na Galzu Bar-gun-gun-nu or Sanctuary of Sagacious Chameleons to the ancients of the region – consists (at last count) of just over a hundred Dragons. Since Hollywood invaded their territory to make “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” they have kept a very low profile, preferring quiet desert living to the flashy existence of their more conspicuous kindred. But if you are in the region and have the patience of Job, you might just catch sight of them.
Their banner is a bright yellow field quartered by blue and silver, a radiant sable sun blazing from the intersection. Two Ancient Dragons stand boldly in the corners.
Romans and Dragons haven’t mixed since the time of Julius Caesar. It makes perfect sense, then, that, when the Legions moved in on the land of the Pharaohs, the Dragons of Egypt did the sage thing and relocated. Many of them traveled north, settling around the shores of the Caspian Sea. Waters teeming with sturgeon and people relatively Dragon-friendly – it was a good move. In the southwest lowlands of Turkmenistan, Altyn Sirk – Golden Circus – is a 21st-century remnant of that diaspora.
The Altyn Sirk flag is a symbolic mix of old lives and new. On mirrored worlds of Dragon green, Nile/Caspian blue, and fertile red-brown, two Dragons fly, separated only by the sable path of their migration. They are linked through time and distance by a green Ankh of eternal life.