Artwork and text by TwilightSaint
The skin may be plain, or show the marking depending on the the individual. Over the body and limbs, the skin is thick to facilitate fur growth and protection from outside elements. The skin is thinnest in areas of feather growth. The skin is very sensitive to touch, bunches of nerves able to twitch in small, localized areas. They are able to twitch off insects, and communicates via microexpressions by tensing to slightly raise or lower areas of fur.
Sebum, or oil, secreted from the uropygial gland, has antimicrobial properties and keeps the skin moist and clean. Individuals who are aquatic or live in oceanic regions will secrete more epidermal lipid to repel water from the fur and feathers. Flaps of skin on the aft edges of the wing arms are able to move indepentandly, twitching to create minute feathers movements during flight.
Like mammals, the paws are short and rounded, tipped with sharp claws. The individual is be able to retract the claws slightly. Thick, calloused paw-pads protect them while striding on rough surfaces, and offer some protection from ice and even burning objects. The paws are not particularly prehensile while feral.
Fur and Feathers
Fur texture, thickness, and length varies by individual. The entire body is typically covered by soft fur, with patches of feathers throughout serving various purposes. Feathers on the body are able to be moved by tight bundles of nerves surrounding the follicles beneath the skin, facilitating a wide variety of emotions and purposes. Many sport feather crests or manes down the length of their necks
Physiology, body shapes, and wing shapes and adaptations will vary between individuals, typically matching up with local species of the environment from which they hail. Dutch Angel Dragon can alter their appearance by 'dying' like a phoenix and being reborn. Being ageless, their appearance will remain unchanged as long as they desire.
The factors that most determine an individuals appearance and traits are the environment in which they are born as well as traits they personally find appealing or attracted to. Physiologically, most Dutchies are similar to the Akhal-Teke horse, though some individuals may resemble other horse breeds such as the draft horse.
The skin of a Western Dragon may or may not be pigmented heavily due to the individual's coloration and markings. The dermis is thick and generally tough to facilitate and support the growth of scales. Individuals with fur and feathers will have thinner skin with higher flexibility.
Integumentary sensor organs may line the individual's head, particularly those heavily-scaled, to enable them to sense pressure, temperature, detect electronic pulses, and secrete oil to moisten and clean the skin. Due to the efficiency of the vascular system, they typically heal wounds quickly.
The leading edge of the patagium connects to the softer portions of the skin on the back of the shoulders. This prevents the tightening of the membrane during flight from inhibiting motion of the front limbs or neck if it were connected over the shoulder or into the neck.
Many will lack 'armpits,' instead having a smooth transition from upper arm to chest. The elbows and heels will tend to have thicker, scaly-looking skin as is folds in response to the bending of joints
Much like the rest of the body, the skin of the tail must be thick yet flexible to facilitate movement. The skin will be loosest closest to the hips and beneath the hind limbs, giving a wide range of movement without strain. Skin closer to the tip of the tail will typiclaly be thinner and possess fewer nerve endings and blood vessels. This portion, if possessing a tail weapon, will rely more of skeletal and muscular strength. The lack of nerve endings will dull the sensation of pain during attacks, allowing the individual to land continused blows without fatigue.
In most Western dragons, the neck is long, able to snap at prey or an attacker. Flight profiles, next extended straight or tucked into an s-shape, varies between dragons.
Tails are typically strengthered dorsally by the m. spinalis and m. longissimus muscles, allowing them to keep the tail stuff during flight. The tail may be used as a weapon or moved easily laterally via the m. caudofemoralis longus. These muscles must also support a tail club or blade.
The limbs may be long and strong, enabling a feline-like gait. The claws and fingers themselves are typically long and flexible, often sharing characteristics of avians, mammals, and theropod dinosaurs.
Most individuals have thick, rough pawpads, giving them a strengthen grip on both wet and rough surfaces. The soles of the paws will not be scaled.
Scale shape and function will depend on the environment. Thicker, plate-like scales offer more protection though less flexibility. Those with smaller, snake-like scales will favor flexibility over protection from injuries or sharp objects.
In addition to flight, the wing membrane may be brightly colored in order to dazzle an enemy or attract a mate. Certain individuals may be able to alter the color of the membrane or even the color of their body by altering chromataphores in their skin. Other dragons may concentrate blood in portions of skin to make their colors richer. Many individuals sport more vibrancy on the ventral side of their wings, the dorsal side largely matching the majority of their body color.
The majority of dragons possess some power over the elements, either via magic or physiological reactions to produce different breath weapons or even protect them from attacks. Most individuals possess one or two powers, the most powerful elders mastering numerous.
Many Western dragons live of hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Like all creatures, their bodies will age with time. Frills, spines, and claws continue to grow throughout their lifetime, and some may regrow lost teeth. However, there is little to no muscular atrophy in their old age, leaving many unwary warriors unprepared for the strength of what they assumed would be a weakened elderly wyrm, Many elder dragons rely on their mastery of their elements to fight.