The story of Drakan
In the earliest times, Drakan was a world of chaos and endless struggle. It’s many tribes and races were scattered, warring amongst one another in a vicious cycle of death and retribution. The two greatest races — the elder breed of Dragons and the younger tribes of Humanity — fought bitterly against one another. Where mankind encroached on the nesting grounds of Dragons, the great beasts razed human villages and scorched their croplands. And in further retribution, stealthy bands of men would seek to trap and kill lone Dragons wherever they could.
This madness raged for centuries, until at last, one tiny flicker of reason shone forth. High in the central mountains of the great continent, a lone tribe of men enacted an uneasy truce with the neighboring Dragons. Through time, this peace grew into a mutual trust, and the two tribes began to work for their common good. The strength of this alliance gradually spread to the surrounding regions, and the seeds of the first great civilization were sown. As a symbol of the greatest virtues of this society, the two races agreed upon the pact known as The Bond. Through the magic of an artifact known as the Dragonstone, the bravest and most noble of men would join their life essence to that of a single dragon, linking the two forever as one. These Bonded formed a loose alliance known as the Order of the Flame, serving as roaming protectors and arbitrators. The Order embodied the ideals of brotherhood and cooperation upon which their society was built.
Led by the gleaming example of the Bonded, the Order of the Flame rapidly spread its influence and philosophy throughout the continent, gathering the warring races and petty kingdoms into a single great nation. For generations, this peace held fast, enforced by the formidable dragon-riders. Freed from the constant threat of warfare, their scholars turned to the study of magic, devising potent spells to alter the very land around them and mold it to their needs. Nothing, it seemed, was unattainable.
But as in all times, there were those whose hearts held only hatred and darkness, who longed to rule over others and destroy the Order of the Flame. Equality is by nature preventative to profit and superiority, so many were displeased with the Order’s vision. Secret societies and subversive factions took shape; gradually building an invisible network of those opposed to the Order. The most malevolent of these groups would come to be known as the Dark Union – an alliance of the strongest and most influential of the Order’s foes.
At last, it was a man called Navaros who would bring an end to this Golden Age. A War Mage of tremendous power and an honored member of the Order, Navaros was in truth a member of the Dark Union’s inner council. Under Navaros’ direction, the Dark Union had been conducting vile experiments in genetics and forbidden magic, deep in the trackless wildlands of the eastern frontier. The discoveries made in these desolate lands were kept hidden from the world, known only to Navaros and the Inner Council.
Impatient with the bickering of the Council, and certain that the time to move against the Order had come, Navaros took matters into his own hands. Through quick and bloody decision, Navaros crowned himself as supreme leader of the Dark Union, and set his plans for the downfall of the Order of the Flame into motion. Mounting his ancient dragon, Kaeros, he gave quiet instructions to each of his lieutenants, then disappeared into the eastern waste, not to be seen again for another ten years.
Navaros’ brethren within the Order, unaware of his true nature, had mourned his disappearance and many had searched for him in vain. Ten years later, when he appeared on the steps of the great Dragon Temple, he was greeted with joy and disbelief. A meeting of the city’s Bonded was hurriedly called, so that all could hear Navaros’ story and welcome his return. Navaros stood silently until the last of his brothers was seated. Then, with a grim smile, he uttered a Word of Power not spoken in over six hundred years, and destruction ripped through the hall.
Outside, a dense fog had risen, blanketing the streets in a dismal mist. Blinding flashes of light rippled across the city, and streams of dark, hulking shapes poured from the alleys, laying about them with blood-clotted axes and great butcher’s blades. Within minutes, the streets were choked with the dead, and the air resounded with the bestial roars of the Dark Union’s monstrous servants. By nightfall, the city was in ruins, and the brightest minds of the Order lay sealed in the smoldering rubble of the Dragon Temple. The Dark Wars had begun.
The Armies Gather
As word of Navaros’ treachery spread, the remaining cities rose up against him, and war engulfed the world. Everywhere, the agents of the Dark Union streamed to Navaros’ side, cutting a swath of treachery and murder. Among them were several of the Order’s greatest mages, and many of the Bonded. Spells of unimaginable destruction raged across the world, leveling cities and armies on both sides. One by one, the great achievements and marvels of the Order’s golden age were ground into dust.
In his years in the waste, Navaros had amassed a nightmare army, strengthened by dark magic of his own design. The elder race of Giants, long driven into the wildlands and forgotten, had reemerged under the Dark Union’s banner. From the creatures of the wilderness, Navaros’ magic had produced legions of twisted and vile monsters, which crawled and hopped at his command. Most dismaying of all were the Dark Union’s shock troops — the Wartoks. Never a part of the Order, the Wartoks had always been a primitive and volatile race, distant from the world of men, but not evil. Under the Dark Union’s sorcerous influence, the Wartoks had grown bestial and murderous, their minds clouded with the lust for blood. It was the Wartoks, in wave after wave, which drove back the forces of the Order, until it seemed all would be lost.
Seeing victory within his grasp, and no longer content to share the reins of power, Navaros betrayed the Dragon, Kaeros. In a foul perversion of the ancient bonding ritual, he devoured the creature’s soul, absorbing its body into his own. Now, grown monstrous and nearly invincible, Navaros prepared to lead his armies against the last remnants of the Order of the Flame.
The Last Stand
At the foot of Mount Tibor, the remains of the Order gathered for one final stand. In a last, desperate hope, the surviving mages had invested their power in a single weapon — the Runeblade. Surrounded and outnumbered, the Order’s only chance lay in this sword. The weapon was borne by the warrior Heron, and the dragon, Arokh.
As the armies clashed, Navaros entered a mystic trance, drawing power for a massive spell of destruction. The sound of the battle around him had become an unending roar of chaos, but he was undisturbed. With the stolen strength of his dragon’s soul, Navaros had grown far mightier than any mage before him. Unimaginable forces filled him, dancing about his monstrous body like living smoke. As the words of destruction rose to his lips, a lone dragon came shrieking from the clouds, weaving amidst the streams of lightning and fire that flooded the sky. On Arokh’s back, Heron gripped the Runeblade in both hands, and with one final cry, drove it deep into Navaros’ blackened heart. All sound went silent somehow, in the moment of the act.
The tremendous forces Navaros had summoned were unleashed without direction, rippling across the field in jagged, searing bolts, which gouged and tore at the earth. The clash of swords was heard no longer, and blackness hung over the field. Only the low moans of the dying echoed in the gloom. When at last the smoke cleared, the two great armies lay decimated. Where Navaros had stood, a wound-like rip had been torn in the very fabric of space, its edges glowing and flickering with a dark and fibrous energy. In the smoldering crater below, Heron lay dead, the Runeblade broken in two at his side. In that blackened pit, only the dragon Arokh still clung to life.
The Order of the Flame was no more, but their enemies had been scattered. With the fall of Navaros, the Dark Union’s hold on its bestial armies collapsed. But without the Order, survival became the world-imperative, and thoughts of nobility were forgotten. Chaos spread across the land. Weary of the human world, the remaining Dragons withdrew into timeless slumber, never again to return. The world split once more into many tribes and kingdoms, and the great achievements of the previous age were soon forgotten.
Magic and glory had faded from the world, and of the Order of the Flame, only the legends remained.
Now, more than 600 years later, Navaros’s essence has become restless once again and over the last few years he had been planning the rebirth of the Dark Union. Unable to return to Drakan from the alternate dimension that lay at the other side of the rift, he sought the help of Queen Shilla, leader of the Succubi. Through magic they possessed Orcs and Wartocks, Crow Dragons and Ice Bats to become slaves of the Dark Union once more. Dragons that had gone into eternal sleep due to the deaths of their riders were awakened and many clones of them were made. However these demonically spawned clones were not true dragon kin so Navaros awakened and possessed Werokh plus Nashiva, an acid breathing dragon, the only other known surviving dragons of the Order. Unfortunately, Nashiva was assigned to guard the entrance to the grimstone mines and Werokh was assigned to guard the entrance to the islands – the hub of all the Dark Union’s operations.
Navaros had plans for Arokh too, who lay dormant in his cave deep in the north mountains of the central continent, but help was at hand, from a young heroine named Rynn. As the minions of Navaros scoured the villages and towns to find Arokh’s lair and to capture human prisoners, they eventually stumbled on Rynn’s village and soon their evil plan was thwarted…..
The theory of Dragon bonding
The legend behind the original story some 600 years before goes something like this: –
Navaros was stabbed through the heart with the rune blade which simultaneously opened a rift through which Navaros and Heron were sucked leaving behind a wound like rip in the fabric of space. Unfortunately, Heron died of wounds from falling into the rift. Arokh remained alive but he became wary of the human world and decided to return to his cave to go into an ageless sleep. As far as Arokh knew, no bonded dragon of the Order survived the final battle apart from him. Rimril took the rift crystal to his fortress to look after it for eternity and as for the rune blade; no one knows what happened to it. Arokh’s soul crystal was buried with Heron’s body when Arokh went into eternal sleep.
Details of the bonding process etc.
The lifespan of an unbound red dragon of the Elder Breed is typically between 300 – 350 years and they reach reproductive maturity at the age of around 80. Upon death either from old age or accidental a crystal is formed containing the magic powers (if any) it had. This can be picked up by another dragon who can then use it to enhance his / her powers e.g. breath weapon.
When a dragon wishes to bond for the first time, a soul crystal is formed using a magic artefact known as the Dragonstone and it is subsequently used to bond the dragon with a human. The crystal is usually left in the Dragon’s lair or carried with the dragon around its neck. The human then lives for as long as the dragon lives benefiting from ageing at its rate. Upon death of the dragon, the human becomes a soul shadow and the soul crystal that was originally used to bond the human to the dragon must be then used to relieve the human and send the soul to where it belongs. The soul crystal then dematerializes and is gone forever. Also when the dragon is killed, a crystal is formed containing its magic powers like an unbonded dragon.
If the human is killed, the dragons body dies but it soon dematerializes and reappears in its lair encased in stone. Where the dragon died a soul crystal is formed exactly like the one in its lair. This crystal is a replacement for the one in its lair, which dissolves after a while. The soul crystal is usually put somewhere safe so it can be used to awaken the dragon again later. If the dragon is awakened from eternal sleep, it has two choices; it can either live the rest of its life as unbonded (like Werokh) or re bond with another human. The process is then repeated; there is no limit to how many times a dragon can bond. When old age is reached for a bonded pair, they die together and the human doesn’t become a soul shadow as he/she theoretically dies of old age.
There are of course exceptions to the Order’s traditional way of bonding – the Dark Union had alternatives but however the use of a crystal of some sort was always used. The Dragon Mother, can also create a soul crystal without the need for the dragonstone and can bond a Dragon / Human pair on the spot without the need to travel to the dragon’s lair to initiate the bonding.
The reason why Arokh didn’t ‘die’ when Heron was killed is because Heron died inside the alternate dimension (inside the rift) whilst Arokh was still in Drakan. Now because they were in parallel dimensions, the death of Heron had no effect on Arokh. Arokh then borne Herons body back to the village and after the funeral, Arokh returned to his cave and went into eternal sleep. The soul crystal was then buried with Heron and the people of the village set all those traps in Arokh’s lair so nobody could enter. One other thing is that Heron was slightly older than Arokh so that means that Arokh was reproductively immature when he bonded with Heron. Arokh bonded when he was about 30-40 years old but he was almost an adult as dragons grow very quickly and he was capable of carrying a human around on his back at that age. He would have been around 235 years old when he ‘died’ giving him a further 80 years plus of life with his new rider, Rynn.
This is a powerful artifact used to create a dragon’s soul crystal, which is then used to bond it with a human. The dragonstone was lost after the dark wars and nobody has found it yet, myth says that it was buried with a dragon lord belonging to the order who was killed by the forces unleashed upon Navaros’s death. Other myths say that the gods took the stone away to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening again in the future. Only time will tell what did happen to it….