Before attaining the title of Dragon Mage, Sorchen warriors must endure numerous trials of endurance, willpower, intelligence, strength, and discipline. Should the warriors pass these trials, they are given the title and a bonding mark called a kuse (humans now call them tattoos). This mark is made by embedding blood from a live dragon into the warrior's skin and creating the image of a dragon.
The reason for this mark is twofold. Firstly, it bonds the warrior to the dragon. Many warriors even gain physical characteristics of the dragon (such as scales and claws) the more they use their mage powers.
Secondly, dragon's blood outside of a dragon's body becomes a sentient symbiotic lifeform and through intense mental concentration a dragon mage can call forth and control this lifeform. Otherwise, it retains the image of the kuse created on it's host.
This piece is of Merrick, a Master DragonMage in my Sorche storyline, a short period after receiving his kuse. More about Merrick will unfold in my Sorche novel.
*note: This is the first dragon (well, technically it's a drake) that I have ever drawn and colored. I've done manipulations of dragons and I've drawn a couple as well, but I've never drawn and colored one of my own (unless you count Barue's headdress). So, I'm kind of proud of this one. And, of course, Boris Vallejo's influence should be apparent in this one as it is inspired by his piece " Tattoo".