The SandWing stronghold, also known as the desert dragon palace by humans, was used as a military base during the War of SandWing Succession by Burn after the death of Oasis. As the SandWing queen is now Thorn, the stronghold is also known as Queen Thorn's stronghold.
- 1 Description
- 2 Notable Features
- 3 History
- 4 Trivia
- 5 References
The stronghold was a giant palace that loomed out of the sand like a dark mountain. It was bigger than all of Valor and has many winding hallways, tapestries, ballrooms, and feasting halls. There is a small slit of a window near the treasure room that is too small for dragons to go through, which Rose used to get inside and steal treasure from Oasis.
When Burn seized the palace, she added thick walls for extra defense and stationed SandWing soldiers as guards. There were also several dragon heads placed on spikes over the wall. The foul stench from the decapitated dragon heads mounted on the outer walls discouraged enemies from attacking; it was also shown that Burn liked the decaying smell. The stronghold also contains a courtyard and a great hall decorated with statues from when it was the palace of the SandWings. A monument to Oasis was built where she died, and Burn had the walls of the stronghold extended to surround it. There are oases in the stronghold.
When Thorn became queen, she added a white tent over the largest oasis to remind her of the Outclaws' old base. It is her favorite room in the palace, a tent made of white flapping fabric that Thorn had installed next to the largest palace pool. The sounds of wind and the trickle of water can be heard, and pale yellow and pink lilies, as well as crimson flower petals from the trees above, drift across the surface of the pool. The tent is lit by the warm glow of oil lamps, and it smells like cinnamon and cardamom tea. It is also occupied by shelves, a tasseled rug, and large red pillows.
The decapitated heads on the outer walls were removed by the observing dragons. and the stone was scrubbed and scraped and painted until all traces of their blood was gone. Guards typically line the top of the wall, and lamplight glows in several of the windows. The monument towards Oasis still remains within the enormous white stone courtyard, surrounded by several gardens. The stronghold was built with lots of places to safely hole up during a sandstorm, with reinforced shutters and strong doors.
Thorn's bedroom is somewhere within the stronghold. It includes a chest in a hidden compartment containing the Obsidian Mirror. There are also kitchens and a throne room, which are led to by covered passageways. Atop the tallest palace towers, there are tiled, roofed pavilions.
The SandWing stronghold contains a lot of dungeons, which are connected to the palace stadium. A section of them can be accessed through a poorly lit, narrow passage that twists and angles downward. The walls are rough and scraped, and lanterns flicker from niches along the tunnel, casting small, jumpy shadows. The air smells odd, like a trove of decayed lizards buried under a floorboard and forgotten about for years. Farther down the tunnel, there are a series of locked gates and several armed guards, posted in pairs. A set of stone stairs leads into an antechamber with four tunnels branching out from it. There is a low shelf near the stairs that contains a lantern. The darkest tunnel leads to Prickle's prison, although the entire dungeon is nearly empty of prisoners in Thorn's era. Through the tunnels, cells line the walls, making space for a clear tunnel in the middle; a stench came from the holes in the floor, and scorpions scrabbled everywhere. Prisoners eat dried camel for food every day.
The kitchen had copper pots and pans hung from the ceiling, and jars lined the shelves all along one side of the room. There were pears, and something that looked like eyeballs. There are net bags around the room. Rose often messes with the food inside. An unnamed female SandWing is the owner of the kitchen.
The mausoleum is a dome that rises above most of the other palace buildings. It is where the ashes of former SandWing queens are kept.
Oasis' memorial is a tall, black obelisk surrounded by a circle of sand wider than a large dragon's wingspan, with an epitaph written by Burn on the surface. It is located in the center of the main courtyard of the stronghold. On the surface of the monument, the following words are painted and carved in gold:
MOTHER OF QUEEN BURN
HER BONES NOW BELONG TO THE SANDS OF TIME
The palace stadium is where duels for the SandWing throne have always been held. It takes up a back corner of the palace grounds. It is used within Thorn's era for games and moon festivals, and it is designed as an oval amphitheater, built of sandstone, with no roof. The benches rise like steps from the ground upwards, and at the top, sturdy poles can be folded out to add more places for audience members to perch. The walls at the bottom are typically covered in paintings from former moon festivals. The stadium has no royal box or special platform for royalty; Thorn usually sits wing-to-wing with her subjects. In the center of the far wall ringing the oval, there is a deliberate indentation, where the Eye of Onyx fits perfectly. Torches are lit all around the stadium.
The treasury is a roofed space.
The Weirdling Tower was a tower that was part of the stronghold when Burn ruled over it during the War of SandWing Succession. It contained her collection of "weirdlings," such as stuffed scavengers, three-legged lizards, and dead hybrids. It was mentioned that Burn would be interested in Six-Claws' talons. The tower was also the former prison for Scarlet after she was attacked by Glory and lost her throne. After Thorn ascended the throne, it was destroyed.
|Known Items, Dragons, and Creatures of the Weirdling Tower|
The Whispering Tower is a tall, thin structure that had been used by SandWing queens for hundreds of years to make speeches to the tribe. It is designed for perfect acoustics, so even dragons outside of the palace are able to hear its speaker.
Most dragonets in the palace played in the shelter of its walls until they were two years old, under the watchful eye of a pair of ancient SandWings who taught Oasis to fly. The wingery was open to anyone who lived in the palace, so the dragonets of servants and nobles all grew up together. The courtyard for the dragonets featured a sunken pool in the middle, where they could splash and cool off in the midday heat. This was overlooked by a shaded pavilion with long white curtains on the three open sides. The rest of the courtyard was set up to help the dragonets learn to fly: ledges at different heights, soft piles of sand to land in, claw holds, and perches everywhere. In one corner, there is a first aid station stocked with lots of brightsting cactus, which is the only antidote to the venom in a SandWing's tail. The venom didn't come in until a dragonet was closer to three years old, but at this age, they had a tendency to crash into everything or leap onto their parents without looking first, so there was a lot of bandaging and antidote-administering required. The young dragons also spend a lot of time practicing how to be aware of their tails and everyone else's, so they could eventually be safely released into the rest of the palace. The indoor passageways of the Wingery are described to be cooler in temperature than that of the Kingdom of Sand's.
The Dragonet Prophecy
Sunny is imprisoned in the stronghold as Burn's gift from Addax. She is guarded by Smolder, Burn's brother, until the contending princess returns. Sunny eventually escapes from the stronghold. The climax of the book takes place at the stronghold, where the dragonets of destiny crown Thorn as the new SandWing queen.
The Jade Mountain Prophecy
Onyx challenges Thorn for the throne, to which the event takes place at the stronghold's stadium. Qibli used Anemone's weather bracelets to sabotage the challenge and create a sandstorm. The dragons flee inside, and the stronghold is damaged. Six-Claws and Thorn then set up a group of volunteers to clear away the sand.
With the help of Deathbringer, Wren arrives at the stronghold in order to rescue Sky, who was gifted to Burn by Sandstorm. She meets Rose, who lives alongside the dragons there. Using resources from the stronghold, Wren poisons and kills Sandstorm with mouse poison and manages to rescue her dragon friend.
Six-Claws grew up in the SandWing palace, and the stronghold is the primary setting of Deserter.
- The stronghold was based on Tui's impressions of Amber Fort in Jaipur, India.[event 2]
- The walls that Burn erected wouldn't stop any dragon from flying over them, and that they were instead meant to keep out scavengers like the ones that killed her mother.[event 3]
- Burn's weirdling tower was based on a Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium in Hollywood.[event 4]
- Even in Darkstalker's time, the palace was considered a stronghold without the walls.
Present: Addax • Agave • Armadillo • Camel • Capybara • Cereus • Cobra • Dune • Horizon • Jerboa III • Kindle • Meerkat • Needle • Ocotillo • Ostrich • Palm • Parch • Prickle • Quicksand • Rattlesnake • Saguaro • Sandstorm • Sirocco • Six-Claws • Tawny • Torch • Viper • Vulture