The Dragons (dov or dovah in their native language, drah-gkon and dov-rha to the ancient Nords, or Aka in Ehlnofex) are a rarely-seen race of large reptilian beasts. They are rumored to be from Akavir (which literally means "Dragon Land"), though there are ancient tales of dragons also coming from Atmora. They are large, scaled creatures, easily several times larger than a human or elf. They have long, slender extremities, with thin bat-like wings and ridges of spikes along their back. Dragons have three sharp talons and one vestigial digit known as a dewclaw on each of their legs, as evidenced by their alphabet.
Dragons are well-known for their affinity for magic which, among other things, grants them the abilities to speak and fly despite their lack of lips or aerodynamic frame. There are several varieties of dragon that come in a range of colors. Blessed with remarkable intelligence, they are nonetheless susceptible to feelings of pride and melancholy. They are distrustful creatures, even of each other. Despite this, they are also somewhat social, and can be driven mad by captivity and isolation. As the immortal children of Akatosh, they are specially attuned to the flow of time, and they feel an innate urge to dominate others that is near-impossible to overcome. In the mind of a dragon, being powerful and being right are the same, thus they make no distinction between speaking and fighting; battles between them are actually deadly verbal debates.
Although dragons are immortal, their physical form can be destroyed. Although they may appear to have been killed, dragons defeated in such a manner are not truly dead and can rise again. This is due to the unique properties of dragon souls, which generally persist eternally due to the link between a dragon's soul and its physical remains being far stronger than that of a mortal. The main exception to this is if the soul is consumed by a fellow dragon. This grants the recipient a portion of the knowledge and life essence of their fallen opponent, but it also destroys the dragon permanently, rendering it beyond the ability of any ritual to resurrect. This ability also extends to the Dragonborn, mortals born with the soul of a dragon, who can become the greatest dragonslayers by absorbing the souls of their quarry and thereby stealing their power. It is also possible to use powerful soul magic to sever the connection between a dragon's soul and its physical remains, although effects of this is the subject of fierce scholarly debate, with some speculating that a dragon soul once severed may simply dissolve over time or return to join father Akatosh.
Even without a dragon soul, the mortal remains of a dragon can prove to be a dangerous opponent. Skeletal dragons are highly prized by necromancers for use as undead minions. Living dragons can also rarely become undead, as in the case of Durnehviir, a dragon necromancer who became trapped in the Soul Cairn for so many centuries that his soul became bound to that plane, dooming him to an eternity of undeath. Although there have been no sightings of vampiric dragons, Illusion imps have been known to take on the form of small vampiric dragons to scare away potential foes.
It is rumored that Tosh Raka, leader of the Tiger people of Ka Po' Tun in Akavir, has succeeded in transforming himself into a dragon. So-called "Dragonlings" found around the Iliac Bay area are actually over-sized lizards unrelated to the progeny of Akatosh, who are larger, smarter, and much more deadly. Daedric Titans were first created by Molag Bal in imitation of the dragons.
Dragons are said to be eternal, immortal, unchanging, and unyielding. According to the writings of Archmage Shalidor, dragons had existed since before the advent of sequential time in the Dawn Era, but were initially as wild as anything else. It was Alduin, Firstborn of Akatosh, who created their civilization. Nordic legend says that, in these early years, the dragons were the only creatures who could harness the power of their voice for great feats of magic, though they only did so in times of "True Need". Despite dragons supposedly existing before time was a concept, some dragons are described as being more ancient than others, with Alduin and Paarthurnax considered the oldest by other dragons, hence why not all of them are considered equal in power.
After the time of the Dragon Cult passed and their kind was no longer welcome in Tamriel, Dragons are thought to had begun to prefer remaining within solitary mountain lairs safe from thieves and aggressors. Some Dragons even took up roost in occupied caverns, kicking out the local inhabitants in the process.  There is some indication they had somehow even practiced smithing.
In contrast, the fictionalized account of King Edward describes Dragons of the early First Era as openly living in and around isolated mountain villages. The villages were purportedly situated in areas that allowed flight free of obstructions as well as flats for raising cattle.
The avatar of Akatosh is a flaming dragon; he is said to be the father of dragons, whom he made in his image. Some stories tell of a dragon named Akatosh co-mingling with and organizing groups of dragons, although this representation may be entirely fictional. Peryite also takes the form of a dragon, but this may only be as some primordial jest to Akatosh.[UOL 1]
During the Merethic Era, Dragon Priests kept the population enthralled and obedient by means of a widespread dragon-worshipping cult, and many people of this era became the undead draugr that still prowl the crypts of Skyrim, Solstheim, Atmora, and anywhere else the dragon priests "kept peace between dragons and men". The center of power in Skyrim of this dragon empire is thought to have been Bromjunaar, where dragon priests decided matters of their law.
Nordic legend holds that Alduin led his brethren and their once-benevolent minions to terrorize and subjugate the mortal races, triggering a rebellion. The dragons began indiscriminately slaughtering them under the orders of Alduin, who had chosen to forsake his proper duties and conquer the land.
During this Dragon War, mortals found ways to kill the dragons, who were previously thought undefeatable. Some people, notably priests of the Nine Divines, claim that Akatosh intervened against the dragons to help end the war, and that some dragons fought against their own kind. The dragon Paarthurnax took pity on the Nords (purportedly at the request of Kyne), and instructed several in the ways of the thu'um so that they could channel the power of their own voices using the tongue of the dragons. These first Tongues (masters of the Voice) used their new power to turn the tide of the war, and they eventually "shout[ed] Alduin out of the world". The remaining dragons were hunted and killed until they were nearly extinct, clearing the way for the many empires which have risen and fallen since.
Khunzar-ri and the Demons
In the Merethic Era, when Elsweyr was composed of sixteen kingdoms, Kaalgrontiid and his horde of dragons came to dominate the land, seeking to consume the Moons' lunar power. To stop them, the Khajiit hero Khunzar-ri recruited four companions, Nurarion the Perfect, Flinthild Demon-Hunter, Anequina Sharp-Tongue, and Sir Cadwell. When fighting them proved to be futile, Cadwell suggested that it may be best to convince the dragons that they were willing to aid them in their plans. In preparation, Anequina attuned to Shadow Dance Temple, making the moons align to form an eclipse, allowing the Moon Gate of Anequina to open a portal the Plane of Jode, where the object the dragons desired, Jode's Core, rested. The dragon's ambitions would be their undoing; when the dragons accessed the Plane of Jode, Khunzar-ri convinced them to not simply absorb the power of the core like they originally intended, but instead store their energy within it in the guise that they would combine the lunar power with their own. The gamble worked, and the dragons were weakened enough for them to retreat back into the wilderness. To finish the job, Khunzar-ri once again convinced the dragons to play a part of his scheme. He managed to lure them into the Halls of Colossus, where he managed to seal them away. In the aftermath, Khunzar-ri wrote on the legendary Wrathstone in an ancient Ta'agra dialect, writings detailing the cartography of the location of the Demon Weapon. The Wrathstone itself is however much older than the Ta'agra writings. The Dragons would be obscured as "demons" in legends, and become the fabled "Demon Weapon". Their power would be coveted by many people.
A Rage of Dragons
After the retrieval of the Wrathstone around 2E 582, the Imperial battlemage Abnur Tharn inadvertently unleashed the Dragons from their containment from the Halls of Colossus, thus causing them to continue in their quest for the Moon's Lunar Power. The Dragons allied themselves with the forces of the Queen of Rimmen, Euraxia Tharn, who were led to believe that the dragons were willing to be used as tools. The Dragons were quick to cross Euraxia when she was no longer a use to them, and was left without their aid against the forces of Elsweyr Defense Force as well as the Vestige. The turn of events resulted in her death and the return of Rimmen to Khajiit control. Euraxia's forces now without a leader, allied with the Dragons to avoid their wrath. The Dragons were put to a halt when the Vestige stepped into the Plane of Jode and defeated Kaalgrontiid and his kin, preventing the lunar power from being completely absorbed.
Dragon sightings became more frequent, with many coming out of hiding after learning of Kaalgrontiid's return. The dragons Nahviintaas, Yolnahkriin, Lokkestiiz took residence within Sunspire, claiming to be the gods Alkosh, Jone, and Jode, and converted the majority of the shrine's devotees to their cause. In an attempt to correct the mortal mistake, Nahviintaas plotted to rip the time wound left behind from the battle between Alkosh and Pelinal long ago. The Undaunted learned of this, and fought through the hordes of cultists, and killed each of the false gods. The Dragon Maarselok nested near the mountains within the Tenmar Valley, near the Valenwood and Elsweyr border. There, he emitted the dreadful Azureblight from his body, a dangerous blight intended to create an "azure world", where all life would be twisted to his will. Without the aid of the Undaunted and the changeling Selene, the corruption would have spread to the Elden Tree.
The dragon Laatvulon sought to continue his master Kaalgrontiid's plan of bringing on the Dark Aeon, intending for Kaalgrontiid to become Akatosh's equal. To this end, Laatvulon created a Khajiiti dragon cult, the New Moon Cult, whose ranks were bolstered by many of the vulnerable Khajiit from the region, such as those who were affected by the Knahaten Flu. The red dragon Nahfahlaar, who was Laatvulon's ancient rival, dueled Laatvulon near the city of Senchal in southern Elsweyr, but was overpowered due to Laatvulon's newfound power. Afterwards, Taking refuge in Tideholm, Nahfahlaar was encountered by the Dragonguard, which been recently reformed by the Redguard Blademaster Sai Sahan. Seeing that Nahfahlaar meant no harm, an alliance was forged once again with former foes/allies, one in which Nahfahlaar served as a valuable asset. This alliance led to victory, and Laatvulon, the Demon from the East, was slain.
Nahfahlaar subsequently aided the Dragonguard in defeating Kaalgrontiid and the remnants of the New Moon Cult. Kaalgrontiid returned and planned to siphon the energy he collected from Jode's Core and become empowered by a giant cluster of Aeonstone. To prevent anyone from disrupting his plans, he utilized the energy of the Aeonstone to create an aegis, a massive and impenetrable ward, around the ancient fortress of Dragonhold. Through the combined efforts of Nahfahlaar, the Dragonguard, and Queen Khamira's forces, Kaalgrontiid was slain. However, the Dark Aeon became unstable as a result of Kaalgrontiid's machinations and threatened to destroy the entire continent of Tamriel. It required the combined power of Abnur Tharn and Nahfahlaar to prevent the Aeonstone from affecting the area outside of Dragonhold. Nahfahlaar and Abnur were successful, but only at the cost of Abnur's life. After putting a stop to the rage of dragons, Nahfahlaar sought out another place to wait until his intervention became necessary once again.
The Disappearance of the Dragons
Dragons became more elusive after losing their grip on power. Their numbers dwindled over the years due to many causes: their population in Akavir was wiped out by the Tsaesci, who also brought their onslaught to Tamriel. The Akaviri Dragonguard and its successor, the Blades, along with other heroes, hunted dragons and their followers throughout the eras until dragons were nearly extinct. Tiber Septim offered those who remained protection in return for their fealty. Despite his pledge, almost all known wild dragons were killed or driven off, disappearing from sight in Tamriel.
Some sources claim that all dragons disappeared at once, being devoured by a dragon king or absorbed by Tiber Septim when he ascended to godhood. Many held the belief that the dragons were extinct. This was not true, as live dragons continued to exist throughout the Third and early Fourth Era. Nomads in the Alik'r Desert frequently spoke of "Great Wyrms" inhabiting its vast wastes, although these claims were never independently confirmed. The Akatosh Chantry hold dragons as their holy symbol, and keep tamed dragons in their "sacred grove". Many ancient legends tell of dragons making deals with other races to protect themselves. According to Brarilu Theran, at least one dragon is known to have laired in the smoking ruins of Vvardenfell after the Red Year.
The World-Eater Wakes
After being largely absent from the affairs of Tamriel for hundreds of years, dragons reappeared en masse in Skyrim and Morrowind in 4E 201 thanks to the return of Alduin. The Firstborn of Akatosh, who had been transported through time by the ancient Nords, was able to resurrect many of his fallen brethren, as only the dragons and Dragonborn have the power to permanently kill a dragon by absorbing its soul. The Last Dragonborn of prophecy emerged to defeat Alduin and absorb the souls of many of the dragons he unleashed. The fate of the remaining dragons is unknown.
- Alduin - First-Born of Akatosh, bringer of the end times
- Boziikkodstrun - A dragon who was transformed into the first Daedric Titan by Molag Bal
- Dragonne Papré - A dragon who lived in the Battlespire
- Durnehviir - An undead dragon who guards the Soul Cairn
- Kaalgrontiid - The leader of the dragons in Elsweyr in 2E 582
- Laatvulon - A black dragon that was said to threaten to unravel the tapestry of time
- Nahfahlaar - Also known as Nafaalilargus. He often allied with mortals, and was a soldier of Tiber Septim. He was slain by Cyrus the Redguard
- Numinex - A legendary dragon who was imprisoned for many years by King Olaf One-Eye
- Odahviing - A red dragon who allied himself with the Last Dragonborn
- Paarthurnax - Younger sibling to Alduin, and the one responsible for teaching the Nords how to use the thu'um
- Skakmat - Nulfaga's familiar, who created the dense fog at the Battle of Cryngaine Field
- Thurvokun - A dragon who abandoned the Dragon Cult and lived well into the First Era before being slain
- Tosh Raka - The king of the Ka Po' Tun, who, according to popular myth, was transformed into a dragon
- Nahviintaas - A golden dragon, who posed as Alkosh at the temple of Sunspire
- The Wyrm of Elenglynn - An infamous dragon who was associated with the Ayleid city of Elenglynn. It is believed that at sometime between 3E 111 and 3E 153, Sir Amiel Lannus and the Knights of the Nine traveled to the ruins and smote this dragon to recover the Cuirass of the Crusader.
The reanimated skeleton of Thurvokun (ESO)
- The French translation of the book A Child's Tamriel Bestiary mentions Jills, which have been defined in certain developer texts as female dragons responsible for repairing linear Time after a Dragon Break.[UOL 2]
- There is a variant of Dragon called the Fairy Dragon, but the nature of these creatures is unknown, or how they relate to the Faeries. Their scales were in circulation across the Iliac Bay in 3E 405.
- While the common dragonlings of the Iliac Bay are unrelated to true dragons of legend, they do seem quite intelligent in their own right. They are capable of casting spells, speak Dragonish, and have otherwise shown to be very wise.
- Atlas of Dragons by Brother Mathnan — A glossary of Skyrim's dragons
- The Dragon War by Torhal Bjorik — A religious text describing the primordial war between men and dragons
- King Edward — The story of the life of a long ago king
- Meet the Character - Mulaamnir by Centurion Jagus — Extracts from an Imperial's journal detailing his interactions with a group of dragons
- There Be Dragons by Torhal Bjorik — A report on the nature of dragons
- Mysterious Akavir
- Artorius Ponticus Answers Your Questions — Bishop Artorius Ponticus
- The Dragon War — Torhal Bjorik
- There Be Dragons — Torhal Bjorik
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: Other Lands — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Events of Skyrim
- Dragon Language: Myth no More — Hela Thrice-Versed
- King Edward, Part XII
- Paarthurnax's dialogue in Skyrim.
- Loadings screens in Skyrim.
- Arngeir's dialogue in Skyrim.
- A Blade in the Dark quest in Skyrim
- Loremaster's Archive - Dragons in the Second Era — Camilla Calsivius
- Balgruuf the Greater's dialogue
- Esbern's dialogue in Skyrim
- The Book of the Dragonborn — Prior Emelene Madrine
- Casting the Bones quest in ESO
- Durnehviir's dialogue in Skyrim
- Vampiric Dragon Imp in ESO
- Daedra Dossier: The Titans — Denogorath the Dread Archivist
- Dread Their Return and Prepare
- A Matter of Voice and Brass: Dragon Bones Interview
- Shalidor's Insights — Shalidor
- The Etched Tablets of High Hrothgar.
- Odahviing's dialogue in Skyrim
- Nahviintaas' dialogue in ESO
- Olaf and the Dragon — Adonato Leotelli
- Dialogue with Yisareh in Fang Lair
- Famed Artifacts of Tamriel — Yagrum Bagarn
- King Edward
- Events during the Oblivion Crisis.
- Varieties of Faith... — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Amongst the Draugr — Bernadette Bantien, College of Winterhold
- A Minor Maze
- The Alduin/Akatosh Dichotomy — Alexandre Simon, High Priest of the Akatosh Chantry, Wayrest
- Atlas of Dragons — Brother Mathnan
- Abnur Tharn's dialogue in ESO
- Khunzar-ri and the Demons
- Cadwell's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Khamira's dialogue in ESO: Elsweyr
- Tharayya's dialogue in ESO: Wrathstone
- Dragon Sightings during the ESO: Dragon Rise Event
- Events of ESO: Elsweyr
- Events of ESO: Scalebreaker
- Nahfahlaar's dialogue in ESO: Dragonhold
- Annals of the Dragonguard — Brother Annulus
- Daggerfall User's Guide
- Events of Daggerfall
- Twin Secrets — Brarilu Theran
- Daggerfall's Glory Road - The Complete Walkthrough, The Daggerfall Chronicles — Ronald Wartow
- Dragonborn guard dialogue
- Alduin is Real — Thromgar Iron-Head
- The Knights of the Nine — Karoline of Solitude
- The Prophet's dialogue
- French translation of A Child's Tamriel Bestiary — Shane gro-Orath (Clever, no? Ha, ha!)
- Fairy dragon's scales ingredient in Daggerfall
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.