Among the fiercest animals in the World of Schemes and Sorcery are the wyverns. Wyverns are megafauna capable of flight. They flap bird-like wings to gain lift and their bodies contain gas-filled sacs to reduce their weight. They are possessed of a redundancy of natural weapons including serrated teeth, claws, projectile saliva, and barbs on the tail.
Wyverns are distinguished by their size, being larger than any human, and their predatory nature. They are bred for their ability to carry a rider, called an aeronaut,
An adult wyvern’s wingspan averages between twelve and fourteen meters. The average length from head to tail is ten to twelve meters. Average height is two meters at the hip. Average weight is half a tonne. Differences in size and weight often exceed and subvert the average measurements depending on the breed. Larger wyverns can weigh three quarters of a tonne. Smaller wyverns can weigh a mere quarter tonne.
Wild wyverns prefer mountainous regions to dwell in. Craggy terrain and high altitudes are safe places for wyverns to build their nests. They will commonly hunt over lower elevations where game is more plentiful.
A wyvern’s diet is omnivorous. They will eat any flesh that they can hunt or scavenge. This includes beasts of the ground, aerosaurs of the sky, and the fish of the rivers and seas. They also subsist on any fruits that they can pluck from trees. A common misconception is that wyverns are savage enough to actively seek others of their species for a meal. In truth, wyverns will only resort to cannibalism if prey is in short supply and they are starving and desperate. The beasts prefer to avoid combat with each other if possible.
Adult wyverns are known for displaying sexual dimorphism. Females are known to be larger and heavier than male wyverns. The average difference in mass between males and females of the same breed is about twenty percent. This can vary between ten and thirty percent depending on the breed. Males have a proportionately larger dewlap than females. Both the dewlap and the fan feathers behind the ears on males are more brightly colored to attract mates and ward off enemies. Females are more dully colored to better camouflage with the terrain where they build their nests.
Wyverns are not known for an abundance of social instinct. They are known to group in gatherings called flights. Flights are formed when wyverns look for mates. They also form when there is an abundant food source. They show indifference to others of their own species so long as they are well-fed. Handlers rarely have trouble keeping wyverns together.
Young wyverns are known to be more social than adults. They will play fight with each other. This is largely discouraged because it causes disruptions in eyries.
Wyverns mate for life unless a mate is slain. Males will impress females with colorful displays of the fan feathers, the size of the dewlap, and offerings of meat and fruit. A mated pair will build a nest if conditions are favorable for raising young. Nests are located at high altitudes where it is difficult for other animals to approach them. The pair will collect leafy twigs and branches from the surrounding area and pad them with their own feces.
A female wyvern typically lays three to five eggs per clutch, although seven to eight is not unheard of. The eggs hatch after a month of incubation from the mother. Hatchlings are two to three feet long and are reliant upon their parents for sustenance. The male and female pair will take turns hunting for their young.
Contrary to popular belief, wyverns do not coordinate their efforts when hunting prey. A single panzersaur or traitaur may gain the attention of multiple wyverns. When in flights, the largest and boldest wyvern will attack first. Other wyverns attack when they see an opening. Once prey is slain, wyverns will descend upon the fresh kill. The largest of the flight is at the highest in the pecking order and will eat the meatiest parts first.
Wyverns are notoriously difficult to tame. Taming generally requires the use of sorcery. Sorcerers will use their abilities to share their thoughts will a wyvern and make the animals more understanding of human intentions. This is not equivalent to civilizing the animals but tame wyverns are more capable of obeying commands through reins and other equipment. Tame wyverns will tolerate the presence of men around them. They will not eat the men around them unless starving. It is common practice to slay any wyvern that has tasted the blood of men.