|The Dragon Empire|
The seal of The Dragon Empire
|Population:||130,000 (43% Longwings, 57% Sparkclaws)|
|Currency:||Oltin (Gold, silver, and copper coins)|
The Dragon Empire consists entirely of Dragons and their two primary racial types - Longwings and Sparkclaws. The numerically dominant gender in both races is male - Dragon females require constant high incubation temperatures to hatch, which the cold caverns of the Empire do not provide. Sparkclaws outnumber Longwings by a notable margin but do not appear as often in society as they tend to stick to their own 'sections' of the Empire rather than mingle in public squares like Longwings. There is no language-barrier between the races as only one language exists - Drakeen. All Dragons are fluent speakers but not all Dragons can write the language since writing takes special skill with manipulating small objects in the forepaws. Younger generations outnumber the older population.
Being underground, most of what would normally be buildings is just dug out of rock. Tunnels are present instead of streets and caverns instead of plazas. The largest caverns are in the capital of the nation, Malkira, and took a few hundred years to fully dig out. Anything not made of stone is generally made of metals found in the earth the entire empire is dug into. Different types of stone are generally used in place of different types of wood - brickwork is uncommon, but possible. The Empire looks pretty bland to an eye used to the above world.
Normally, Sparkclaw living spaces are small caves dug off the edge of a tunnel. These caves are then widened behind the entrance into a general living cavern with a shelf of rock before thinning again and turning to widen up into sleeping chambers once more. Restrooms exist as a deep pit in the rock closed off by a slab of stone. Every so often, some unlucky Sparkclaw has to blast flame into it to rid it of the waste. Other chambers are possible to be added, though it's usually the inhabitant themselves that add it. Beds are made from mosses heaped together into a rather soft mat on a stone slab.
Longwings have much better accommodations. Their restrooms aren't just a pit, but rather a pot that usually a servant dumps into a large waste collection area every so often. Bedrooms are larger and furnished with furs and even wood occasionally, the walls painted in various colors. Rooms are much larger and have higher roofs.
Public areas in the Empire generally are huge caverns with space to fly in them. These are either from natural ravines or manually created. These kinds of areas have brick- and metalwork to accent them and make them less bland than the usual tunnels and caves.
The most impressive place in the Empire, though, is the capital city. All cities are linked by small tunnels that lead long ways through the earth, but they all lead to the center city if one walks long enough. The capital is filled with large statues and carvings of the Royal Family and its deeds, as well as famous Dragons - all Longwings, of course. Gold accents nearly every public place, especially the home of the Royal Family.
The home of the Royal Family is a large cavern that ends abruptly into a sheer rockface, which is pocketed with holes and has a network of personal caves behind it for use. The cavern itself is decorated with colorful mosses that glow in various colors, fire, wood, and exotic creatures that manage to live underground. There's a few ponds around, as well. Of course, this home is never seen by anyone but the Royals and the other families from the Royal circle, the latter of which only see it at mate-choosing time. It's heavily guarded by hundreds of Royal Guards.
Environment and ClimateEdit
Since the Dragon Empire lays underneath the ground, there isn't much to be said about its environment. The rock that exists as far down as the Empire does is primarily granite and other hard stones. The air temperature is usually rather cold at around 10°C (50°F), though it varies with depth. In the deepest sections of the Empire - the smithing areas, primarily - it can be scorchingly hot due to lava flows underneath the stone. Some of these flows expand upwards quite far, allowing smithies to be built closer to other parts of the Empire. The heat from them helps raise the temperature of some areas of the Empire. Otherwise, not much can be said. The Empire is underground and has the characteristics of caves.
Government and PoliticsEdit
The political system is heavily biased towards Longwings. Both the King and Queen of the Dragon Empire have absolute power and are Longwings, only taking interest in benefiting their own racial kin. Royal succession is passed on to first hatched of the first clutch between the current royals. The accompanying Queen or King to the inheriting Dragon is chosen for them by their parents and generally comes from a tight circle of very wealthy families that often compete for producing 'best hatchling for the throne'. These wealthy families all descended from the second through tenth clutch of the original Longwing King, Malverus. Those in line from the throne descend from this first clutch. Due to this, there is a tight gene pool that royals come from, causing what is known as 'royal traits'. Thankfully, the near-inbreeding habits of the royal family do not cause any harmful defects. The royal traits are what can be considered cosmetic - females from the royal family and the wealthy circle families all have a ruff that extends up past their horns and onto the top of their skulls, parallel to their spinal frill. Males have curved horns that initially drop and then level out rather than the straight style that most have. These traits prevent impostors from ever taking on the appearance of the royals through paint and trickery as it is near impossible to replicate these genetic traits.
When it comes to law, the King and Queen are the judges. There is no jury or lawyer system in place - the defendant must defend themselves in a battle of wits against the plaintiff, often ending up in the defendant losing, especially if they are a Sparkclaw. If the defendant is a Longwing and the accuser a Sparkclaw, the Sparkclaw will often lose despite any proof they may have against the defendant. Only big issues end up going to the Royal Court, however. Smaller cases of dispute are often sorted out through physical duels with moral rules - no Longwing venom and no Sparkclaw fire. The winner is right and the loser is wrong, no exceptions. Luckily most Dragons are civil and will discuss their issues with each other before battling, leaving most of the Empire untouched and unscarred. However, there are some brawlers and brutes out there that will happily throw themselves into any legal dispute they can for a good fight. Duels are monitored by both a Longwing and Sparkclaw guard to give a false assurance of equal representation despite the discrimination in higher courts.
The laws of the Dragon Empire are generally broad and not hugely specific. However, due to the strong belief in their religion and moral values, Dragons don't often get into specific disputes over petty things such as the accidental breakage of an object or an accidental burn from a Sparkclaw hatchling unable to prevent flame entering its sneeze. There are indeed written laws, though, and the citizens of the Empire are expected to follow them despite them not being readily accessible. Luckily, most are common sense such as 'do not kill' and 'do not steal' and easy to memorize. There is one very questionable law in this system though, and that is the law against mixing races. Any cross-breed - called Sparkwings - are to be terminated at earliest notice. The parents are jailed or executed depending on the severity of the crime. There is absolutely no tolerance. Even relationships between Longwings and Sparkclaws are considered illegal and can be punished with time in jail.
Law enforcement is issued through the guards that patrol the long, dark tunnels of the Empire and over watch public events. They are equal to police in human society. The armor normal guards wear is slightly impractical but can provide some protection against unwanted bites or flame. Royal Guards, however, wear much thicker armor meant to truly guard the wearer. Royal Guards are almost never seen out in public, often hiding in shadows or within small nooks and crannies within a chamber's roof, prepared to leap into action at every moment. Only those who truly look for the Royal Guards spot them, usually by the glint of armor or the glowing reflection of eyes in a dark corner. All Royal Guards are Longwings and are taken from the rich circle families that provide the spouses for the royals, trained to be loyal to the last breath. Normal guards can be either Longwings or Sparkclaws, though, and are taken in from richer families from each of the races. This generally assures the guard is loyal to the Empire - a happily family is a loyal family.
Guards are organised in bronze, silver, and gold rank pattern. Most Sparkwing guards are of the bronze level, which mostly contains rookies. Silver guards are the most common, policing common areas and watching over events. Gold-level guards sit near prisoners, the Royal Family, and near exits of the Empire. They are the most experienced of all and are rather few. Bronze, silver, and gold guards are denoted by the stripes on their armor. Guard leaders also have a circle on the shoulder with a blue circle within to show their rank.
The Dragon Empire has a generally loose economy with some racial restrictions. All Dragons are allowed to sell the wares they make for whatever price they desire to whatever customers they desire. However, racial lines and preferences end up driving most struggling Sparkclaw businesses out in preference for Longwing ones. Longwing businesses and merchants are heavily preferred simply because Longwings, the race with the most overall wealth, believe in their fellow kin's leadership and business skills much more than those of the other race. Sparkclaws who try to make their way into the scene are generally ignored due to the Longwing monopoly, leading to falling profits and failing businesses. Most Sparkclaws who do own businesses do so in their own sectors of the Empire, serving other Sparkclaws.
This business discrimination leads to a very rough cycle encouraged by the Royals. Sparkclaws don't gain money and social status because they can't open any big, public businesses to do so, so they turn to low-pay labor jobs such as miners, construction workers, and smiths which utilize their small forms and fireproof scales best. They may also open up smaller businesses that have to sell things lower for their Sparkclaw customers to afford them. The wealth of Sparkclaws is kept down, preventing the general population from participating in the luxury items that Longwing merchants and Longwing-owned businesses sell. Longwings who sell these things gain money and social status, encouraging other Longwings to look up to them and open their own businesses to gain money and put it into the things other Longwings sell. Now, Longwings need all of their base resources to come from somewhere - Sparkclaws, who do the labor jobs. The Longwing monopoly refuses to buy things for what they're probably really worth, belittling Sparkclaw labor leaders (master smiths and the like), leaving them little to pay their Sparkclaw workers with. These workers can't afford the Longwing luxury items, turning to Sparkclaw businesses which sell things cheaper to sell to their kin, their only customers. Repeat ad nauseam. The Royals encourage business discrimination by turning a blind eye to the obvious abuse of the market system and giving special privileges to businesses owned by Longwings in court. For example, if a Sparkclaw confronts a Longwing about their business purposely trying to expand over theirs by lowering prices beneath theirs for enticement or openly belittling and spreading bad rumors about their own business, the court would either turn down the case since it's 'childish arguing' or say that it's a 'personal issue, not a business issue that needs the court'.
Although The Dragon Empire is extremely old and overshadows the years of many of Earth's countries today in age, it started out very small. Many thousands of years before present day, Dragons still roamed the surface of the planet Aer, alongside other huge reptiles. Dragons were sentient but not very smart, much like tribes people back before civilization. One day, a meteor a third the size of Madagascar smashed into the surface of Aer, obliterating everything in its immediate radius and sending shockwaves around the planet. Dragons sprinted for the only shelter they knew - natural caves. Many hundreds escaped into an expansive network of caves shaped slowly by the ancient dragons. Some were still killed by the heat entering tunnels that were open to the air. Others send fireballs at the entrance to seal it, trapping themselves inside but guaranteeing their safety.
For many hundreds of years, dragons lived exclusively under the earth, learning to live off of fat and furry cave creatures. Communities formed and eventually merged into a central group when the races of Longwings and Sparkclaws began to develop. They lived in a simple society for quite some time before racial distinctions became much more notable with Sparkclaws losing their now-useless wings and Longwings developing venom glands to finish off quick-running prey in the caves faster, trading in their fire breath. It would be another few hundred years before Maleverus rose up out of the crowd, putting himself in as a leader figure by slaughtering anyone who stood against him. He ruled by fear at first, but eventually, admiration. While ruthless, he improved society and helped solve simple arguments such as ones over land ownership and food rations. He slowly gained the trust of his people alongside his loving mate. Together, he and his mate produced ten clutches before Malverus fell ill to the disease that was named after him years later. His first son took power while his younger brothers and sisters squabbled amongst themselves for their deceased father's riches. So began the Longwing reign and the racially segregated society as we know today started to grow.
The Dragon Empire's military is nearly nonexistent. They have no real standing army or trained soldiers. However, they do have guards. Guards are trained in a military-like fashion and are very disciplined. Considering the Dragon Empire has no outward threats, their only training has to be on internal threats - such as breaking up fights or fighting rogue Dragons themselves. As a result, some guards that live in the most rebellious or trouble making portions of the Empire can end up quite scarred and experienced by the end of their career. These old guards often train the newbies, creating a sort of faux-military.
If the Dragon Empire were to ever be attacked, they would call their guards and male adult Longwings to defend. The guards would drill and train the male Longwings for as long as possible before launching themselves into battle. Females and Sparkclaws would stay home to run the Empire and watch over hatchlings, but if the Empire is outnumbered, they'd send in the male Sparkclaw population as well. Females would be next in line if absolutely necessary, but they would never venture outside of the Empire. Juveniles would be the last line of defense.
The Empire never sends in females simply because of the idea that females can't fight as well as males and would get themselves killed, orphaning hatchlings. The Empire also doesn't want to leave hatchlings alone anyway, so having females stay back would curb that problem. This is the Empire's greatest weakness - reluctance.
| Knowing its own reluctance, the Empire has allied with the Forest Wyverns of Skycanopy. Truly, it's not an alliance, but rather a manipulation of the populace through drug trade and dependence. The Wyverns fear the Dragons, feeling that if they were to dissolve the alliance the Dragons would destroy them.
Furthermore, the Dragon Empire has a very strong class of guards known as Tunnel Guardians. Clad head-to-toe in full-sized armor suits, they can no longer fly. They are strong as all hell, however, and can easily take on dragons five to one. Tail whips may as well be gunshots with the amount of force behind them. This strength and protection all relies on the integrity of the Guardian's suit and the wearer's own strength, often trained into tip-top condition to even carry the metal bands around them.
The culture of the Dragon Empire is rather varied, with many families practicing different things than other families. Many things do stay the same between households and races though and can be generalized.
The Dragon Empire's society promotes being as honest, loyal, clear, and kind as you can be. Dragons are often courteous to strangers and co-workers, trying their best to be polite. Usually this really is seen within their own races, though. When it comes to interracial conversations and interactions, all bets are off most of the time and it's not seen as weird or immoral to scoff at a Sparkclaw or snort at a Longwing if it comes from the other race. The highest racial tensions are between upper middle class and above Longwings and lower-class Sparkclaws. These two groups hate each other's guts - Longwings dislike the Sparkclaws because they're simply 'dirty and flightless rats that scuttle in tiny mining tunnels all day'. They're the poor scum that is wrong with the society - an upper-middle class Longwing would be glad to see the Sparkclaw race eradicated at some point in time. From the other race's viewpoint, though, the tables are turned. Lower class Sparkclaws hate the Longwing higher-ups because of their excess flaunting of wealth and leisure in their life. They barely have to do any strenuous work for a living and show it off with paint and jewels. They never know what it's like to do a true labor job and all of their success is just built on the backs of Sparkclaws. Tensions between these groups evolve into vicious brawls at times. Some guards turn blind eyes to these vicious law-breaking fights while others insist on breaking them up.
Despite the heavy tension between races, there is a very slim class section that both Longwings and Sparkclaws can reach - the middle of the middle class. Well-off Sparkclaws, often business owners, can afford some luxury goods and live an easier life. Longwings who are in this class are generally the 'other scum of Aer' from the higher-ups, but they're more understanding to the Sparkclaw plight. They live much closer to that line of poverty and can understand not having much luxury or leisure in life. This is the tiny sliver that both ends of society hate simply because of their tolerance for each other. It's a sliver targeted by the Royals for when punishments are handed down and the sliver that finds it hard to exist in society. It is also the sliver that allows Sparkclaw-Longwing friendships, often wildly interpreted as relationships and punished as such.
The races themselves may hate each other for the most part but they are pretty similar when it comes down to it. Family life is near identical. Fathers are usually those that do the work while the mothers tend to their nest and newly-hatched children. Once the hatchlings are school-aged, both parents work, especially in Sparkclaw families. Longwing mothers may stay home for a lot longer as they can be supported by their mate alone. Dragons are all raised under the same religious beliefs and with very similar morals. All are taught to wish for youth and to grow up strong and healthy to get a good job in society. Hatchlings of both races are extremely playful and do not care of the race of who they play with until they become old enough to listen to what their parents have to say for the other race. Both races go to school at the same age. Siblings often stick together through life with bonds stronger than those between mother and child. It's nowhere near uncommon to see a sibling duo co-managing a business or Sparkclaws demanding their sibling work with them in the same tunnels. Squabbles are, of course, common, but they are never permanent. For Dragons, siblings are a best friend you're born with.
The society-imposed age of sexual maturity is thirty. Bonding (marriage) between a dragon and dragoness is permitted at around the same age but it varies from family view to family view. Dragons aren't hugely tolerant of homosexual relationships but they do exist. Homosexual dragons are very sly with their preferences, often never coming out to family and society. They stay with their lovers in secret and act like only friends in public. It is possible for homosexual dragons to be bonded but it is much more likely that no Dragon priest would want to bond them publicly, so these ceremonies are done quietly. Bonding ceremonies differ heavily between races.
Elderly between both races are heavily respected, especially those above the age of three hundred. Many things can happen to a Dragon in all of this time, often stunting many lives. Death tends to come between ages one- to two-hundred due to accidents and disease. Those who live longer often are either very careful, very lucky, or have very strong immune systems. Dragons tend to quiet down and no longer produce any clutches between the ages of two and three hundred, with clutches usually every thirty years or so. Families stay together generally until the very end and it's rare that parents lose contact with their children.
Education in The Empire is free for all who have time to come. The money to support the teachers and regulate the curriculum comes directly from the Royals who are well aware of the benefits of an educated populace.
Sparkclaws and Longwings are taught in the same classrooms in the same school for many years before being separated about five years into their education, once they turn ten. At this point, most Sparkclaws drop out to help support their families by becoming miners and laborers. Longwings generally continue along the course. The two races get equal education. They are taught to read and write, although the latter is mastered by few and generally considered less important due to such. Public schooling ends before adulthood, around age twenty. Longwings have the choice to go to Enlightenment school, however, where they are further taught things that only the Longwing race 'should know'.
Dragon religion centers around a dragon born with pure-white scales and the traits of both Longwing and Sparkclaw, but primarily Longwing. This huge Dragon shaped Aer out of lava with its bare paws, allowing it to cool in the deathly cold temperatures of space. It shaped the tunnels and caverns that the Dragon Empire is made of, leading with shafts to the surface only for gas-exchange. The surface was never created in this story - it is nothing but bland rocks and deadly cold. The liquid rock that is within the depths of the planet are the only thing that keeps the caverns warm enough for dragons and creatures to survive in. The creator shaped Longwings and Sparkclaws from its own scales, breathing life into them personally and commanding them to rule this world in its image. It created four spirits, one for each element - earth, air, water, and fire - to regulate the new world. Earth creates and protects caverns. Air regulates the air within the caverns, making sure it is equally spread around and no area is lacking. Water keeps the underground streams running to quench the thirst of all creatures. Fire keeps the molten core of the planet turning, making sure it never runs out of molten rock to spew. After this, the creator stayed back, watching the world silently. Cold drafts in caverns are said to be the creator's essence passing by, examining the life it created.
The story of the white-scaled creator isn't doubted by any in the Empire. It is accepted as fact, although a rough theory of evolution and science are co-existent. Due to the primary traits of the creator being Longwing-oriented, the race uses it as a reason to its own superiority much to the frustration of the Sparkclaws. Albinos of either race of dragons are considered sacred and often become priests from the very start, trying to tune themselves in and become one with the elemental spirits. Those that find the inner peace they search for are considered extremely powerful. Many believe they can command the elements themselves and even the Royals bow to them.
Normally, however, religion doesn't enter a Dragon's life much. Exclamations such as "What in the Creator's name" or "Oh, Spirits..." are common, though, and dragons sometimes do go to religious meetings to try to calm themselves down in a busy life. Nothing is mandatory and religion is more of an explanation of origin rather than a guideline for life. The only guidelines their religion offers is to be peaceful, civil, and balanced like the world the Creator made, influencing many Dragons to be diplomatic rather than militaristic.
The Dragon Empire doesn't have a huge lot of holidays despite its long existence, but there are some to be noted.
- Day of Appreciation: During the winter in the years with the longest nights, Dragons celebrate this holiday. (Though most do not know what it is like on the surface at this time) It is a holiday for appreciating what you have, rather than materialistic wants. No work is done on this day unless it's extremely essential and most Dragons gather their entire families to just be together for once and catch up.
- Harvest: Despite being primarily carnivorous, Dragons do enjoy fruits and vegetables on occasion. Therefore there are indeed farms set up underground, growing by firelight. Fruits and vegetables tend to be harvested around the same time, in the above-world fall, leading to this day-long celebration of food and the life it brings.
- Creation Day: This day is when the Dragons believe their world was created and therefore celebrate it publicly. It is one of the very few times that racial tensions don't really change around public events - most dragons don't wish to fight with each other on a day dedicated to their Creator. Dragons sing hymns together that honor and celebrate their beloved Creator.
- Birth of Malverus: This holiday is situated roughly in the middle of the above-world summer and celebrates its namesake - Malverus' birth and the beginning of the Empire as it is today. Longwings and the Royals demand respect much more intensely around this time as this day is when the superiority of the Longwing race was truly decided.
| *Day of Appreciation: This holiday was placed in the time of the year with the longest nights to cheer up miserable Longwing guards that watch over the exits and outside world who actually have to deal with those horribly long nights.