A Watchful Eye
Predating humanity, the Dragon Kings were created by the gods to be servants and worshipers. They were built to be tough and durable to survive in the newly-formed Creation. Four breeds were built, one for each direction. The Mosok lived in the waters of the West, the winged Pterok lived in the North, the Raptok stayed in the East, and the Anklok ruled the South.
During the early days of Creation the Dragon Kings were the only intelligent inhabitants of the Threshold. They served and worshiped the Gods while the world was still in upheaval. After a time, though, the world grew calmer. Because there was a set population of Dragon Kings (about 150 million) and the Primordials desired more servants, humanity was created and put under the charge of the Dragon Kings.
While the Dragon Kings in the North, West and South ruled their humans adequately, the East was considered the heart of the Dragon King civilization. In the east the grand city of Rathess was built, the capital and center to Dragon King culture. Those humans who would escape from the rule of their masters, or those who broke the laws of the land, were sacrificed, their hearts offered to the Unconquered Sun himself.
This peace couldn’t last, however. The gods chafed in their servitude and planed to rebel against the Primordials. When Autochthon made the Exalted, the Dragon Kings were charged to fight along side of them. Unfortunately for them, the Primordials recognized the strength of the Dragon Kings, slaying them with weapons that destroyed their bodies and their souls. Their population dropped significantly to a scant 30 million. Once the war was won, the Gods brokered deals between the Exalted and the Dragon Kings, bringing them to a peaceful alliance. Once the Creation-Ruling Mandate was granted it was guaranteed the rule of the Dragon Kings was over.
During the First Age, the Dragon Kings remained trusted advisers and valuable allies. Rathass became the center of Dragon King culture to an even greater extent, though it was also the center of human civilization for a short time. Over time, though, the Dragon Kings became more and more insular, hardly ever leaving their homelands. While great friendships were forged between them and the Exalted, many simply stayed focused on their own lives in their own lands.
During the Usurpation, they hid in their cities, expelling everyone who wasn’t a Dragon King themselves. Over the years of the Shogunate they were completely isolated, avoiding both the Sidereal usurpers and the Dragon-Blooded traitors. When the Great Contagion came, however, many Dragon Kings were moved to murder, blaming the plague on the Dragon-Blood’s treachery. The horrible casualties the Dragon Kings suffered combined with the Balorian Crusade bringing the Wyld through their remote cities caused their population to flounder even more, falling to barely 4 million. During this time some of the Dragon Kings hid themselves away, hiding themselves in specially made stasis chambers to re-emerge once the world regained some of its stability.
All four breeds of Dragon Kings were “warm-blooded, egg-laying, humanoid reptiles.” They were brightly colored, and covered in both scales and feathers. All but the Raptok were carnivores; the Dragon Kings were, at their heart, predators.
When a Dragon King was born, she was a beast ruled by instinct. While they physically matured quickly it took years of training for them to show a glimmer of their true intelligence. In the First Age they had special hatcheries, protecting the young Dragon Kings from others and from themselves. Once the spark of their intelligence blossomed it was quite easy for an adolescent Dragon King to remember their previous incarnations. Unlike mortals in Creation, the Dragon Kings experienced perfect reincarnation, for while their memories may have been incomplete when they reincarnated, they could more or less resume their previous lives without difficulty.
Training in the Dragon King philosophies was necessary to unlock the minds and spirits latent within them. Without such training, it was nothing more than a savage and a mindless killer. The Dragon Kings themselves divided their intellectual and spiritual development into five stages:
- The Savage – the individual is a bestial savage but possesses many keen instincts.
- The Apprentice – the individual is civilized but has no memories of its many past lives. While Dragon Kings can attain this level without tutelage, few do.
- The Reborn – the individual possesses fragmentary memories of its past lives. This is the farthest that any Dragon King can go without tutelage.
- The Adult – the individual possesses integrated memories of its past lives.
- The Wise – the individual possesses an inhuman level of intelligence, which can only be matched by the Exalted.
In the Second Age, the higher stages of development were increasingly uncommon – the vast majority of Dragon Kings were Savages or Apprentices.
Culture and Religion
First and foremost, the Dragon Kings worshiped the Unconquered Sun. They built great temples to his glory and gave blood sacrifices for his favor. While the Unconquered Sun was their primary patron they still dealt with many other elementals and gods. Those who could convince a spirit to possess and ride with them were called olchilik, and while they weren’t considered of a higher caste, they did enjoy great privilege until the spirit withdrew. In the Second Age, however, even if a Dragon King could remember the proper rituals necessary to achieve this, they could only attract the attention of the smallest gods who saw the Dragon Kings purely as a means to an end.
Because of the perfect reincarnation almost guaranteed to the Dragon Kings in the First Age, they saw death not as a final end and more of an inconvenience. Duels were sometimes fought to the death and sacrificing oneself for the glory of the Unconquered Sun was an uncommon but not unheard of practice.