Amphipteres are the dragons aligned with the Courier class.
Amphipteres are small, feathered dragons, the domestic version being about the size of your average horse with a slightly longer body. They possess a whip-like tail for balance and direction in flight, and an almost obscenely large wingspan in proportion to the rest of their body-- often falling between 36 and 43 feet. Once they've reached maturity, they are usually able to carry two riders or their weight equivalent. Everything about their bodies is graceful, from their lengthy necks to their sleek feathers. They're a slender species, though the females (the larger of the two genders) have been known to bulk up.
Having been chosen by the Couriers for mainly aesthetic reasons, most domestic amphipteres are very flashy, with various feather patterns in bright colors such as green, blue, red, yellow, and white. Occasionally you'll get a dull throwback-- these individuals tend to have more in common with their wild ancestors than their domestic brethren. An amphiptere's head is narrow, tapering to a blunted nose, and their eyes are typically brown, yellow, or green. There has been some connection noticed between eye color and the patterns of an amphiptere's feathers.In the wild, amphipteres are much less showy: dull greens, browns, dark blues, and grays are typically the colors they come in. The males' wings may turn a brighter color (such as red or orange) when attracting a female. Wild amphipteres are also much smaller than those in the Courier's service, easily half their size with a significantly decreased wingspan. They use their wings to attract potential partners or to glide short distances-- not for powered flight.
With a high metabolism and a lot of energy, amphipteres need to eat a lot, and eat often. The average female can go 28 hours without a meal before they begin to weaken rapidly-- males can go slightly longer. They prefer to hunt larger mammals, but will accept anything bigger than a cat. Their main weapon-- and only defense, as they have no scales-- is their incredibly poisonous bite. Amphipteres have two rows of small, sharp teeth, and their claws are hooked for gripping their prey. Because of their dietary needs and cycle of growth, amphipteres prefer to live in forested areas with mild winters and long summers.
Amphipteres are solitary by nature. By adulthood, the only time they actively seek out the company of others is in the early spring, when they search for partners. Once a female accepts a male, their clutch (4-7 eggs in the wild, 1-3 at Evercrest) is laid before summer starts and hatched roughly three and a half weeks later. By the time late summer/early fall rolls around, the hatchlings have grown enough for the parents to leave them. While the male and female go their own ways until next spring, the dragonlings typically remain in a small group for up to two years.
Females usually take the same male year after year, though if their partner is killed or becomes inept they won't hesitate to take a new one. This sort of bond-- monogamous though not overly dedicated-- is reflected in how amphipteres bond with their riders. Many couriers can find their dragons difficult to get along with, and try to give them their space. If a called dragon is particularly unmanageable they may require binding runes. Binding runes between a courier and his/her dragon are typically designed to be more like a contract, given the Courier class's proficiency with runes. Other common runes for amphipteres are those that help with endurance or speed, lend strength to flight, or telepathy.
Magic and Issues
Though the Courier class is a neutral class, mage students often find it difficult to excel. Their called dragons are often the wild variant, not a now-wild domestic fledgeling, and because of this they will be at a severe disadvantage. Not as good for public appearances, unable to fly (let alone carry a rider into flight) without the help of strong runes and growth spells, and much less peaceful than domestic amphipteres, these called dragons may require severe measures before they adjust to life at Evercrest. Every mage breathes a sigh of relief if their called dragon is a released, domestic descendent of the ones at Evercrest.
The only bonus is that a mage and a wild amphiptere will have the ability to make stronger contracts, which is what couriers are known for. An amphiptere's magic isn't connected to any element, but to the basic magic under everything-- the same kind of magic that runes exhibit. Any courier, mage or not, can tap into and use this magic, as the power lies in the language itself and is focused by the power of the dragon, not by the power of the rider. However, wild amphipteres are able to focus this power more strongly, when properly trained, and the magic of their riders is often able to give an extra boost. Besides their magical ability, useful skills of amphipteres include their incredible hearing (they are often able to eavesdrop on conversations several rooms away). Their sense of smell is above-average, but their eyesight is normal as far as dragons go.