Elementals and Elemental Magic (a Yarthian overview)

October 17, 2016 Danielle 0

Elemental magic is a fascinating subject, worthy of a talented wizard’s attention. Of course elemental magic has almost nothing to do with the entities we call elementals. Elementals are simply spirits or entities not native to our reality, which manifest in certain ways, often linked to natural forces or objects. They are more properly a subject for Druidic or Shamanic study, though Conjurers and Evokers engage with them too, and Abjurers must learn their natures in order to protect against them. Elementalists call on them no more or less than any other wizard, but we do, perhaps, understand them a little better. Elemental magic draws on the fundamental forces of the universe to power spells: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

  • Earth, known to the Elementalists as Ground, is at the same time the most and the least powerful of these forces. It is easily overpowered in the short term by any of the other forces, but on the longer term it can have the greatest effect. It is difficult to shield against, and affects all moving or still objects, living and inanimate.
  • Air is the most obviously powerful force, affecting both the unseen fields and forces of the planet and the devastating power of lightning and storm-wind. The force of Air is also related to the power of the void, where no air exists and only darkness reigns, as well as governing friction and affecting the action of light.
  • Fire is, for the most part, only locally significant. Explosions and chemical reactions are governed by this force, as well as the power to dampen and put out such conflagrations. Fire is relatively easy to shield from, and while good for making an impression or doing damage to a specific target, it does not have the power to shape actions or decisions the way Ground and Air do.
  • Water, known in Elementalist circles as Tide, is in some ways the weakest of the forces. It is most commonly used to control bodies of water, or to affect water in its different phases – as ice, or steam. However, the Tide force also controls decay and affects all life; as such, it is the most closely linked element with the Necromancy school of magic.

 

Elementals of different types may manifest using each of these forces, or combinations of them, but they do not represent personifications of the elemental forces. A Fire elemental is not a being created from the Fire force; rather, it is an entity whose nature is more closely aligned with the fire force than our own, or a being originating from a variation of reality in which the Fire force is more powerful or more dominant.

 

Each type of elemental is aligned to one or two basic forces, and is thus susceptible to being summoned and controlled by Elementalists specialising in those forces. As well as the traditional elemental creatures known to traditional magical scholars throughout Yarthe, many of the so-called ‘outsiders’ not traditionally viewed as elementals are in fact elemental in nature. The various realities from which these entities derive are viewed as paradisical or hellish by Yarthian natives, but they are simply other worlds or realities akin to our own, but different in some basic way. It must be remembered, though, that not all spirit beings and so-called ‘outsiders’ are elemental in nature; an elementalist has no more influence over non-elemental entities than we do over other wizards, which is to say, very little in most cases.

 

The types of elemental that we have catalogued thus far include:

  • Water or Tide: other than the Marids, Water Mephits, and Void elementals (also known as Daemons), beings aligned to the Tide element seldom take humanoid shape. Many are shape-shifters, formless and changeable, such as the Water elementals, while others have strange or beastlike forms, belying their intelligence – for example, the Andrenjinyi, Elohim, and the Tojanida; the only truly beastlike Tide elemental is the serpentine Water Weird. Forming a subgroup of the Tide elementals are the Shadow elementals, including Fetchlings, Shae, Owb, and Shadow Mastiffs.

 

Many elemental beings are aligned to more than one of the base elements.

  • Snow (Air and Water/Tide): Ice elementals and Ice Mephits, Mihstu, Niln, and Wendigo (it is recommended that students do not at any stage attempt to summon or control a Wendigo, as they are dangerouslt unpredictable). Some Snow elementalists have also had a certain degree of success in influencing the undead, indicating that perhaps the Air and Tide forces are at work in the magic which animates them.

 

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Leshak

August 15, 2016 Danielle 0

A normal forest might be nurtured by Ents or Treants, or be the home to a tribe of Dryads. It might, perhaps, be under the protection of a flock of Swanmays, an Erlking, or even a Unicorn. If it is a very old, powerful forest, it might be protected by Leshy or other forest spirits, or a Virava, or ‘forest mother’ (similar to a Hamadryad).

 

The Dark Forest of Eyrie isn’t a normal, healthy forest. It is a forest which has learned sorrow, and hate, and it is protected by twisted, Ent-like creatures called Leshak.

 

A Leshak resembles a 6-limbed humanoid preying mantis with thin, stick-like arms and legs, and glowing yellow eyes. At first glance they can easily be mistaken for trees, especially in a forest. Their bodies are made of wood, strong and flexible, with long, knobbly, twig-like fingers and twisty, root-like feet. The middle limbs can be used as legs or as arms, and are equipped with hands and fingers. Leshak are 3 – 5 m (9 – 15 ft.) tall, and strong enough to lift a full grown human in one hand. Their main attack is a raking blow with their fingers, which cuts flesh and also slams the target back.

 

Leshak

(Neutral Evil, Large construct)

Init: +3; Senses: darkvision 20 m (60 ft.)

AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 16 (+3 Dex, +6 natural)

HP 64 (8D10 + 20)

Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +5

DR 5/silver; Immune construct traits, magic

Weaknesses vulnerable to fire

Speed 10 m (30 ft.)

Melee 2 claw attacks +12 (2D6+4)

Special: Screech, Earth-hold

Str 18, Dex 17, Con—, Int—, Wis 17, Cha 1

BaseAtk +8; CMB +12; CMD 25

Organization solitary or gang (2–4)

 

Immunity to Magic (Ex) A Leshak is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance, with the exception of spells and spell-like abilities that have the Fire descriptor, which affect it normally. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as noted below.

 

Screech (Su): As a free action once every 1D4+1 rounds, a Leshak can voice a blood-curdling scream. Any humanoid or magical beast within 6m (20 ft.) takes 6D6 sonic damage (Will save DC 14 halves the damage).

 

Earth-hold (Ex): The primary drive of the Leshak is to plant more heart trees, and to feed existing heart trees. As such, when a Leshak is within reach of a heart tree, rather than using its claw attack, it will grapple an opponent and attempt to pin them to the trunk of the heart tree. Strengthened by the proximity of the heart tree and by following their prime directive, a Leshak doing this gets +3 to its grapple checks both to initiate and to maintain a grapple or pin an opponent.

 

Leshak are sustained by eating the fruit of the heart trees, magical plants which are found nowhere else in Europa. They grow as graceful, pretty trees very much like apple trees in shape and size. Their bark is pale, and their leaves are a vibrant, deep green. They flower for the first time after a year as an unremarkable, though fast-growing seedling. A heart tree grows as much in a month as another species might grow in a year, and by the end of the first year of growth is a sizeable tree. Once a heart tree begins to flower, it can be fed – indeed it must be fed at least four times a year in order to fruit.  The Leshak feed a heart tree by bringing a sentient creature, a humanoid or magical beast, to it and pressing the creature against the roots and trunk of the tree. The heart tree will quickly grow bark and roots over the creature, and will drain its life force and digest it’s body over the course of about a week. Any creature touching a heart tree’s trunk must make a Reflex save (DC 14) to move away before the heart tree begins absorbing them; once the heart tree begins absorbing its victim, it causes hallucinations and euphoria. The victim can make a Will save (DC 14) once each round for 3 rounds to pull away from the heart tree before they have been covered by bark or roots. Once the victim has been covered by bark and rootlets, the victim remains alive for 7 days. During this time the victim may make once Will save per day (DC 18) to attempt escape; on a success, they must succeed at a Strength check (DC 15) to escape. This Strength check may be repeated up to four times before a new Will save must be made, as the victim falls back under the spell of the heart tree.

 

Heart trees flower throughout the year, and can bear fruit in any season. The flowers are large, creamy white in colour, with a scent something like jasmine, mangoes, and cinnamon. The fruit of a heart tree, which is only borne once the tree has been fed, smells at the same time like the most delicious thing you can imagine and like something slightly rotten. The flesh of the fruit is delicious and juicy, and is dotted with several small, round seeds, about the size of a persimmon seed. Any creature eating the fruit of a heart tree becomes sleepy and contented, and will lie down wherever they are and fall asleep for 1D4 hours (Will save to resist, DC 13); on waking, the victim will crave more of the fruit and will be fatigued until they can consume more of it. If someone eats the fruit but resists the urge to sleep, they are not fatigued, but do feel the craving for more fruit.

 

A dragon which eats the fruit and seeds of a heart tree and then falls asleep becomes infected with a magical disease which slowly transforms them into a Leshak over the course of a week. The dragon will be unable to stomach any food or drink other than the fruit of the heart trees, not even water or healing potions; anything else will cause the dragon to vomit it straight back up. The dragon’s hide will become dull, then woody in appearance, and its limbs will elongate. This disease can be cured with a Heal, Remove Disease, or Remove Curse spell. After a week, it will slip into a deep, dreamless sleep; on waking, the dragon will be a Leshak, controlled by primitive instincts and by the will of the Virava. Its sole food will be the fruit of heart trees, and its primary drive will be to feed the heart trees with sentient creatures, and to plant more heart trees to extend the forest.

 


 

Origin of the Leshak, and History of the Dark Forest of Eyrie

 

Long ago, the Virava of the Dark Forest fell in love with a human. He was a wizard of considerable power, a guest of the Emerald Clan dragons who came to study with them and learn from them. The Virava met him as he walked in the forest, birdwatching and gathering spell components. She was beautiful and gentle, and a powerful magical creature in her own right, but he was the first human she had ever seen. She watched him from the shadows of the forest for weeks before finally approaching him, shy as a wild deer.

 

The wizard fell in love with the beautiful Virava, and she with him. For ten years the wizard stayed, and learned from the Virava as well as from the Emerald dragons with whom he lived. As tokens of her love for him the Virava gave him rare and powerful spell components, and in return he brought her music and stories from the outside world, and rare seeds which he bought from traders. The Emerald Clan supported him, not least because she shared the spell components given to him by the Virava with his hosts and their other students.

 

In time, the wizard left Eyrie to continue his studies, but he always returned. Every year, in the spring, he would come to the Dark Forest and spend a few months with his love in her forest home. He brought her trinkets from the outside world – brightly coloured feathers from exotic birds, leaves and seeds from trees that grew far away from Eyrie, pretty stones and gems, music which he learned in far-away places. They planted trees together, and watched them grow. Every year, he grew older, while his forest-born love remained young as the spring. Forests do age, but very, very slowly.

 

Perhaps something happened, out in the world, to turn the wizard to a dark path. Perhaps his studies delved too far into forgotten magics which even he did not fully understand, or perhaps he simply sought to live longer so that he could be with his Virava for all time. No one knows. But when he returned to the forest one year, he returned as a lich – an undead horror which consumed the life of others to prolong his own. He brought with him the seed for the first heart tree.

 

He presented it to the Virava as a wedding gift, telling her that he had found a way to become immortal, and to keep their love alive forever. Together, they planted and nurtured the seed, and the wizard stayed for that full year with her, hiding his true nature from her. At the end of the year, when the tree flowered for the first time, the wizard invited a few guests to witness their wedding beneath the tree. To the horror of his bride-to-be, at the height of the wedding ceremony he and his guests sacrificed a pair of unicorn foals to feed the heart tree, inducing it to fruit for the first time. The wizard told his bride that the ceremony under the heart tree made her immortal, like him, by linking her life force to the heart tree in which he had hidden his mortality from Death. They would both live for as long as long as there were heart trees in the forest. He seemed surprised when instead of being grateful, the Virava drove the him and his guests from the forest, angry and horrified, grieving for the unicorns.

 

Although she mourned the unicorns, the Virava still loved her wizard. Even though he showed no remorse, she couldn’t bring herself to kill the heart tree which kept them both alive, but she couldn’t bear to see him either. She told him to leave and never return, and she closed the borders of her wood to all outsiders. Then she ate the fruit of the heart tree and lay down to sleep forever, since she could not die. The forest became darker, and the Virava’s ongoing nightmares killed all outsiders who entered it. New heart trees grew throughout the wood, the seeds carried by birds which ate the fruit of the heart tree.

 

Unfortunately, the Emerald Clan dragons and their students had become used to having easy access to the powerful spell components available from the heart of an ancient forest. The Emerald Clan sought some way to either regain the trust of the Virava or at least convince her to open the forest again, and so they began sending questing young wizards into the woods to seek out the Virava and regain her help. None succeeded. During this time, the first Leshak were born when a young dragon entered the forest and ate the fruit of the heart tree. The Leshak, following its inbuilt drive to reproduce, planted more heart trees and fed the existing heart trees with the lives of sentient creatures, then fed the fruit to foolish young dragons to create more Leshak.

 

The Emerald Clan noticed the danger, and took steps. They banished all birds from the Dark Forest using magic, and burned a barrier zone – a kind of ‘fire break’ – around the Dark Forest. They have kept the forest in check for generations, but they have been unable to either heal or kill the forest.

 

The Virava herself has been suffering nightmares for centuries now, and they have driven her half mad. She can see through the eyes of any forest creature, if something draws her attention, but she cannot differentiate between waking reality and nightmares. She is afraid, and angry, and hurting. The Leshak tend her sleeping form, feeding her the juice of heart tree fruit to keep her alive.

 

Her history is known only to herself, to the lich who was once her love, and to the magical beasts and forest fey native to the forest. While no unicorns remain in the forest, it is still home to creatures such as cerynitis, huldra, bandersnatch, peryton, bog nixieshippogriffs, and a phoenix(which is unaffected by the anti-bird magics of the Emerald dragons).

 

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The Dwarven Kingdoms

July 15, 2016 Danielle 0

3_Europa_Deeps

The Dwarves are the third eldest race on Yarthe, though they have only recently come into contact with humans. The Dwarvish Nations spent the first age living below the ground, in cities carved into the hearts of mountains. Their crofters kept small Dascha on the surface, farms where they grew vegetables and grain, and grazed their flocks, but they did not live there or build dwellings. At most, a Dascha might include a small hut or barn as shelter form unexpected storms – but a more likely shelter would be a cave or a hollowed out hill reached by a hidden door.  In Europa, even now, small groups of Dwarves live on the surface for the summers, herding their flocks of goats, sheep, and ponies through the high mountain pastures before retreating to their underground kingdoms for the harsh winters.

 

Even the Strix do not know when the Dwarves first started carving out their underground cities. The oldest of the Dwarvish artefacts still kept and in use date to well before the fall of Mu, although there are no surviving Elvish records regarding the Dwarves. There is some indication in the old legends of the Dwarves that they came from another world, having lived for generations as servants to the gods. Their creation myths indicate that they were made by these gods to be their servants and companions, but fled a conflict amongst the gods which threatened their survival. The old gods mentioned in these legends are, for the most part, no longer worshipped.

 

There are six major Dwarven Kingdoms in Europa: the Apeneit Kingdom, the Douros Kingdom, the Carpathian Kingdom, Rhon, the Kola Kingdom, and the Volga Kingdom. Almost all of the Dwarves of Europa claim allegiance to one of these kingdoms; the only Dwarves not included in the kingdoms are the monastic orders, whose monasteries owe allegiance to no mortal kings or lords, and who can claim aid or assistance from any of the six kingdoms. The Apeneit Kingdom and the Rhon are the Dwarven Kingdoms best known to the human population of Europa, although some of the Dwarves of the Douros Kingdom have made their way north and east on diplomatic and trading missions.

 

The Dwarves of Douros and Rhon are constantly either at war or in a state of cold war detente with the Ghost Elves, due to their proximity to Malnibos. Dwarvish ethics do nto allow the keeping of slaves, and as slaves are central to Ghost Elf culture, this causes constant friction between the two groups. The Dwarves are one of the few races of the Deep which successfully resisted the Ghost Elves when they began their conquest of the Deeps of Europa after the fall of Mu. There is some unofficial trade between some of the Dwarvish clans (sometimes called the ‘Grey’ clans, and regarded by other Dwarves as being ethically ambiguous) and the Ghost Elves, but most of their interactions are less than friendly. Many of the major roads through the Deeps were built and are maintained by the Dwarves, and as such are only safe to travel with the permission of the Dwarvish clans who control them – such permission is freely given to friends and allies, and may be bought for a toll by others, including the Ghost Elves. The tolls are a source of bitter resentment and enmity from the Ghost Elves.

 

Although they have a reputation among humans as a dour and humourless people, in fact the Dwarves have a subtle sense of humour and a warm and supportive culture. They are thoughtful and imaginative artisans, and capable engineers – always always willing to experiment, and inclined to fix a thing rather than replace it if they can. Their culture has a word for a thing which has been broken and then fixed, and is now more beautiful for being less than perfect – and this word can be used for interpersonal relationships which have gone sour and then been mended as well.

 

Honour and tradition are very important to the Dwarves, and they have a complex cultural system of social standing and social capital which almost no non-Dwarves understand. They may take some time to judge if a person is worthy of their trust and loyalty, but once given, their friendship knows no bounds. The rare non-Dwarf who becomes the trusted friend of a Dwarf also becomes an adopted member of that Dwarf’s clan, welcome to all gatherings at any time, and included in clan celebrations. They gain the right to wear the clan tartan and braid their hair using the clan patterns, and to claim or the clan’s hospitality in the home of any clan member – or of any other Dwarf not at war with their clan.

 

Male and female dwarves pride themselves on the length of their hair, and men often decorate their beards with a variety of clasps and intricate braids. The various clans can be identified by the patterns of the braids in their hair and beards, as well as by the patterns and colours of their traditional clan tartans.

 

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June 22: Dragons Teeth

June 22, 2016 Danielle 0

Everyone has heard the story of the dragon’s teeth. It begins with a prince (or perhaps a young lord, or duke) who took himself off to adventure. In his travels, he took something which was not his from the ruins of an ancient city, and slew the beast which guarded the treasure. He noted with curiosity that this beast spoke with a woman’s voice as it died, but though he remarked upon it he thought no more of the fact.

 

Returning to his own land, he found his father dead of treachery, and some evil threatening his land and people. This evil has as many faces as there are tellers of the story; for some it is a rebellious knight or lord, for others a terrible ogre, or a dark wizard. The prince – now king – fought bravely against this evil, as did his army, but still his foe was not defeated. The enemy’s strength was too much, or his magic too powerful, and for each battle which it seemed the king might win he sent tricks and traps and blackguards to win the day.

 

Disheartened, the king called throughout the kingdom for a wise man who could advise him in his war. Though many supposedly wise and learned folk gave advice, none of it gave the king victory. Finally, in despair, he listened to the ravings of an itinerant madman, a hedge magician or the lowest sort, who told him to seek and to sow the teeth of a dragon. The teeth, the madman said, would grow as a stalk of wheat grows, and would become warriors to fight the king’s enemies and so win the war. With no better choices left to him, the king sent his best soldiers to quest for and slay a dragon, and bring back its teeth. A dozen knights left to quest, including the king’s own brother. Meanwhile, his foes advanced across the kingdom, closer and closer to the castle where he made his stand.

 

Many died on the quest without ever seeing a dragon, and others were slain by the dragons they hunted. Only one returned to the king; he claimed that in his travels he found the skeleton of a mighty dragon, long dead, the bones white and gleaming. Pulling the teeth from that pile of bones, the knight said, was the work of three full days. Further, he claimed that once the teeth were removed, the rest of the skeleton fell into dust immediately.

 

The king praised the knight, and rewarded him well with gold and gems and titles. Then he took the teeth, and as the madman had instructed, he sowed them in the field before the castle. Not a league distant the enemy forces camped, waiting for morning to launch their attack. When dawn came, however, there sprang from the ground a new army of mighty warriors, fully grown and armed and armored. They found the king’s enemies advancing, and fought them to a standstill. For seven days and nights they fought, stopping neither for sleep nor food nor wine. And on the eighth day, no more enemies remained – and the warriors turned their attack on the king and his castle instead.

 

In a panic, the king sought the madman who had advised him to sow the dragons teeth, but he was nowhere to be found. At length, as the warriors of the dragons teeth began to break the walls, the young soldier who had brought the teeth back walked out of the castle alone to meet them. None can say what occurred that day, but the warriors turned on one another and fought until only five remained. These five, together with the young soldier, entered the castle in silence. There, they took from the king the object he had stolen from those ruins, and more besides; they took treasures which had not seen the light of day for many a year, collected by the kings of that country over decades and centuries. They took fine horses from the stables, and freed every hawk in the mews, and they took the king’s infant daughter. Then they rode away, never to return.

 

What is not well known is that this story is not originally a human tale. Nor does it originate form the Dwarvish Kingdoms, nor the Halfling tribes and clans of Yarthe. This tale is, in its original form, and Elvish story which was old when the great shining city of Mu stood proud above the ocean. And the tale has, at its heart, a small kernel of truth.

 

The history is forgotten, but that kernel of truth remains. The dragons teeth sown by the king were not literal teeth (although they may well have originated from the dragons, who are an older people than even the elves); dragons teeth are a peculiar magical item. In their unformed state, the dragons teeth appear as a steel grey dust with a faint, opalescent shine. They are only ever found in small vials, and the vials themselves are powerfully magical, enchanted with containment and isolation magics forgotten by modern wizards. The vials are inevitably made of glass, and though they are strong, they can be broken – and woe betide the one who breaks one.

 

Inside the vials, that grey dust is calm and somnolent. However, once it touches anything outside the vial, it immediately activates. Without the proper commands and spells, it has no purpose and therefore simply replicates itself. Stone, cloth, plants and animals, walls and windows become simply more grey dust, faintly shining. It is stopped only by water; its speed is halved when confronted with pure metals – silver, gold, iron – but not by alloys. Without intervention, a vial of dust will expand at a rate of 10 cm per minute in all directions until it reaches water, or metal. While doing so, it shines with colours and sparkles with lights, becoming a thing of beauty even while it kills all it touches.

 

With the proper spells and commands, the dust may be contained and constrained to do only as its owner wishes. It can create any physical thing, including replicating existing items, though it cannot replicate enchantments on those items. It can be formed into animals, or even people, though this is very dangerous. Animals made of dragons teeth are immortal, and will deliberately attempt to mislead or even kill their creator unless specifically commanded not to; people created with dragons teeth are self aware and individual, with an intrinsic knowledge of how to command the dragons teeth dust and most often a hatred of their owner and creator. Unless given an animate shape, the dust is neither aware nor does it have agency – it exists merely to replicate itself and to be used. Objects made from dragons teeth can be dissolved back to dust with a command, and it is perhaps this fact which drives people made fomr the dust to such hatred and fear.

 

The spells and commands to control the dust are believed to be lost. The elves claim no record of them, and discourage research in this direction; and the dragons refuse to speak of such vulgar topics. The knowledge to create dragons teeth is likewise believed to be lost, though some vials of it remain and they can obviously create more. And perhaps in some dim and forgotten library, fragments of the ancient knowledge remain.

 

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June 13: The Western Isles

June 13, 2016 Danielle 0

The Western Isles are an analogue, in Yarthe, for the United Kingdom and all the associated islands – as well as some additional islands which do not exist in our world. Geographically they occupy the same area, and both the geology and ecology is similar – wide, windswept moors and rocky crags, forests of deciduous trees with leaves that turn gold and red and brown in the autumn. The smaller islands tend more towards scrub than actual forest, with high meadows along limestone cliffs. The larger islands have fens and wetlands around river estuaries and in low-lying areas; many of these fens have semi-permanent islands in the swampland, where fruit and nut trees can be grown.

 

Once, long ago, there was an Elvish presence among the Western Isles, but they moved on before the fall of Rome. They left behind marble villas, now mostly  in ruins, and half-wild orchards of apple and chestnut trees. They also left great woodlands of coppice grown oak, which are not used to any large extent by the halflings who now dwell on the islands.

 

There is one remaining Elvish community, in the south of the largest island, who continue to study magic and make wine and cider there. The community is called Caer Maugglyn, and legend has it that the town was founded by a man who was the child of a white and a red dragon. The truth is unknown, but dragons have lived (in human form) in this community, and many of the elves there have some draconic ancestry. Dragons, like most magical beings (including powerful wizards of all species) are able to interbreed successfully with other species if they wish to do so. Caer Maugglyn also has a large percentage of inhabitants who carry elemental heritage of some sort, including smoke, void and star elementals as well as the more common fire, water, earth, air, sand, and electricity elementals.

 

The other major inhabitants of the Western  isles are, of course, the dragons. For the most part, the dragon clans make their lairs among the smaller islands further west, but some do lair in the more inaccessible places on the larger islands. Some even take the form of humans, elves or halflings and use the old elvish villas or build themselves new mansions or castles as lairs. Stories mention them as dragons, ogres, giants, faeries, and other fanciful things. Some take mortal lovers, but the tales seldom end well for the mortals – dragons are sufficiently long lived that most other races, even given the most passionate love affair, are more like pets to them than people.

 

The dragon clans are ruled by a council, made up of elders from all the clans. The council meets once every few years on the western-most island, in a large cavern which was dug for that purpose. They discuss the laws of the clans, and the long term strategy for the next decade or so. They may assign quests to ambitious hatchlings, or negotiate territorial claims. Dragons lay eggs only every two or three decades or so at most, and while the eggs hatch within a year, the hatchlings spend their first ten years as little more than large fish. After a decade as a fishlike creature with the intelligence and awareness of a smart dog, the hatchlings shed their skins and metamorphose into their dragon shapes. At this time they awaken as dragon children, and they spend the next twenty years or so in “school” learning from older dragons of all the clans, and socialising with all the other hatchlings of their age group.

 

Of the eggs that hatch, which are not many, only a small percentage of the hatchlings survive to metamorphosis. Each age group of dragons consists of perhaps ten to thirty individuals, and only a third of those survive to adulthood. Each of the eleven clans (Amethyst, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Crystal, Emerald, Gold, Obsidian, Sapphire, Silver, and Topaz) consists of an extended family group, and all welcome hatchlings as the future of the clan. Each clan has secret teachings which are passed only to their own hatchlings, but the adults of all clans watch over and protect all the hatchlings. Matings between members of different clans are not uncommon – hatchlings are assigned to their clans by their colour when the metamorphose, rather than by their parentage.

 

There used to be a twelth clan, the Ruby dragons, but they were driven to extinction by a Faerie curse. Their lairs were blighted by lighting and unnatural aging and erosion, and have crumbled into ruins. Their treasure is considered cursed, and no other dragon will touch it. The island where their clan had its centre is forbidden to all dragons, and is, moreover very difficult to reach. The way is blocked by constant storms, or by impenetrable fogs. Ships trying to reach the island are often left becalmed for weeks, then blown far out of their desired course into the deep Western Oceans. The island itself may not always be there, as its nature has become part faerie and it exists partially in the Otherworld.

 

The few, rare red dragons which are hatched are adopted by the Sapphire clan as Red Sapphires.

 

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