Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dragons: The Creation of Narya & The Masters of Smolder

“My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, 
 the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”


Perhaps, no monster in fantasy is as iconic as the dragon. After all, they don't call it "Dungeons and Hydras" or "Dungeons and Owlbears". Nope. They call it Dungeons and Dragons.

 DRAGONS

I am sure you know the answer to this question but, for the sake of this article, humor me: what are dragons?

Dragons are legendary creatures with serpentine, reptilian and avian features and, typically, fly, breath fire and possess magical qualities. There are two main types of dragons depicted in literature and media: European, which are animalistic reptilian sexrupeds (possessing four legs and two wings) and Eastern, which are  intelligent serpentine quadrapeds. Traditionally, Dungeons and Dragons is more concerned with intelligent European-style dragons, but these two paradigms hardly represent the gamut of draconic creatures depicted in cultures from around the world. Why are they so omnipresent in world cultures? By answering that question, we can probably understand why they might just be the ultimate monsters.

Dragons, of some sort, seem to be represented in civilizations across world history independently of each other. These legendary creatures are even found in the art and religions of civilizations like ancient Mesopotamia, such as with the depiction of Tiamat (depicted above), the inspiration for the classic Dungeons & Dragons villainous god. Personally, I adhere to the theory that I'll call "omnimythical" or, that is to say, that dragons are an example of a mythological staple in all cultures due to universal needs and shared ancestry. In this case, dragons serve as both an amalgam and exaggeration of primal fear for creatures including but not limited to: snakes, large lizards, crocodiles, large cats, birds of prey and more. By combining the features of these creatures, the quadrupedal body of a large cat,  the wings and talons of a bird of prey, the scales of large reptile, and the elongated neck similar to that of a serpent, we come upon a shape representing the animals that threatened men in the wilderness. It honestly makes more sense than dragons have ever existed outside of these myths.

And, as for the fiery breath, I'm not exactly sure about the origins of that myth but it is easy to imagine the dangerous power of fire if you've ever seen a large wildfire, a building catch fire or the use of a flamethrower. The addition of that, mostly, supernatural element creates an enemy that is more dangerous than any natural predator and, by combining that with human or above human intelligence, we get the iconic villain of fantasy.

Side note: I would love to hear some theories on why fire breath is practically omnipresent in dragon mythology?

As is traditional in Dungeons and Dragons, there are good dragons and evil dragons in Sublanarya of various metallic kind or color. Most dragons in Sublanarya are evil "chromatic" dragons and, in fact, in the Tytanyan Age, there are believed to be no good "metallic" dragons left alive. The smallest dragons are the size of a horse and the largest can take on truly unfathomable proportions. Quadrapedal, winged and reptillian creatures with high intelligence, an affinity for magic, breath weapons, and, in the case of chromatic dragons, a strong desire for power, wealth and comforts.

There are other true dragons but those are not relevant in Sublanarya.

Ultimately, in the world of Narya(yes, I'm done with the silly book report section of the article), dragons play a vital role in not only the balance of power but in the creation of the world itself. This article will breakdown the creation myth of Narya, the role of dragons through out Sublanaryan history, and the dragons of Smolder in the Tytanyan Pact.


DRAGONS: THE CREATION OF NARYA

The following is the creation myth according to followers of Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon:

In time before time, there was not but chaos.

It it known that the universe was but an egg but, within that spark egg there was infinite energy and matter, buckling and roiling within, without consciousness and without time. From the egg, bursting into something that was neither night nor dark, came the mantle on which all dimensions of the universe would exist. It is not known who created the egg but it is known that, from the egg, came the first dragon and creator of the universe Io.

Io, the cosmic dragon, exists outside of time. He sees and remembers all that has been, all that is, and all that will be. It was Io who created dragonkind in his image. The first of his children was called the Innocent. The Innocent was a pure and perfect creation. It lacked any of the ambition of other dragonkind and took joy in the experience of the universe.

Second created were Bahamut and Tiamat. Io intended for them to be a pair, to one day mate, and, combining their greater qualities, create a master race of dragons. But this was not to be. The two immediately became rivals for their creator's attentions but Io chose neither. That was when Tiamat hatched a desperate scheme. She slay the Innocent and tried to frame her brother for the act. But Io knows all. Upon discovering her treachery, Bahamut attacked Tiamat and the two became locked in conflict for time beyond comprehension.

Io retired from the universe he had created. The conflict raged on.

In the cosmos, Bahamut led his allies against the armies of Tiamat in a battle for control of the universe. Many dragon gods fell in these battles and their bodies are believed to have form the celestial bodies that hang in the heavens. Even the body would become a world and, it was foretold in a prophecy, that the god who ruled that world would defeat the other.

Bahamut and Tiamat fought over the body of their brother. The conflict raged on.

Eventually, Bahamut realized that while he would not yield to Tiamat, neither could he make her yield to him. Instead, he chose to end the war another way. Tiamat pinned her brother and prepared to land the finishing blow when he burst into a million points of light. He and all of the metallic dragons had disappeared. He used all of his power to imprison his sister and her followers, sacrificing his own freedom to protect the world from her tyranny, so that his allies could oversee the world in his stead.

For millennia, Tiamat's brood would remain trapped in The Prison of Bahamut. The conflict ended.

The metallic dragon's descended to the primitive world and to the Isle of Saesun. There they would become the teachers and protectors of elvenkind.

In the elvish tongue, the world is "Narya" but, in draconic, Narya was the name of "the innocent".

DRAGONS: THE MASTERS OF SMOLDER

For millenia, most chromatic dragons remained trapped within the prison created by Bahamut's magic. It faded into myth and legend. It was not until Queen Tytanya of the High Elves began studying the protective magic the metallic dragons used to protect Saesun that she discovered that the prison was very real. She originally sought to use the same magic to win her war against the humans that had slain King Orpheron. When she discovered she could tap into that magic, manipulating the runes created by Bahamut, she realized she could find and expand cracks within the dragon god's wards. It was through such a crack that she risked communicating with Red Typhon.

Typhon was the greatest of all the chromatic dragons in Tiamat's horde. Much like Tytanya, he too had obtained a level of power that made him a demigod. In fact, Tiamat considered him her consort and, when she fought in the great dragon wars, he was the first of her generals and slew countless good dragons for her glory. Such an evil would seem an unlikely ally for Tyanya but, in her grief and desperation, she sought any allies against the armies of man led by metallic dragonkind.

She made a pact with Red Typhon. She would free him and his lesser brethren. She could nor would free Tiamat. In exchange for his assistance in winning her war, she would reward him and his kind the massive and wealthy island to the North of Saesun to be their kingdom. After millenia imprisoned, Typhon agreed to this contract. This contract and the resulting united empire, between Tytanya & the high elves of Saesun with the chromatic dragons of Typhon would become known as the Tytanyan Pact.

The skies above Saesun filled with evil dragons and the armies of man crumbled beneath the beating of dragon wings. The Tytanyan Pact routed their enemies from Saesun and uprooted the dwarves of Rock Island. But it didn't stop there. With the combined power of the elven army and naval forces, second-to-none in Sublanarya, and the superior firepower of dragonkind, they also conquered much of western Thule and, in the centuries since, have had several campaigns of expansions including the Nuar Islands. As for the metallic dragons, most if not all were slain by the superior numbers of the chromatic dragons.

Today, between the military and magical superiority of the high elves and the might of the chromatic dragons, it is possible that nothing can stop the combined power of the Pact.

But how do the dragons rule as the masters of Smolder? What sort of civilization would dragons rule? Who do they rule? How do they get along with elves? And how do the elves justify continued alliance with undeniable evil?

That and more will be answered in "Elves: The Isle of Saesun & The Tytanyan Empire" and in "Dragonkind: The Pyramid of Power".

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