Monday, June 17, 2013

Chromatic Dragons, Scale Addicts


Once, the One Being Dragon ringed the world, moved over pre-creation like a wave.

Come the First People, Ix and Ixiandar, Gilgamesh and Humbaba, many others. They devour mountains, swallow streams, become mountains, streams. They shed lesser life forms like we shed skin cells, flora and fauna the product of blind, random apoptosis. They grow monstrous and stupendous and strange in proportion and size, their eyes pierce high into the once-was-sky to rest greedily on the curlicue circlet of the One Being Dragon, a spiral of light, forever chasing the sun, the gold pit of chaos.

The first and greatest of the First People, Ix, tries to pull down the Dragon, stripping from it reams of flesh and intestines like contrails of light and scintillating radiation. She drapes the Dragon flesh over her head and the heads of her companions and they swing the dragon guts and whoop and dance but the Dragon remains aloof. Try as Ix might, she cannot grasp the Dragon fully around and cannot pull it down. Ixiander and Gilgamesh instead bend the Lens of Nature and the Dragon blurs, a chromatic aberration increasingly fringed until it diffracts and splinters, thus is born the icy, sharp, Dragon of the white aspect, the vicious, plodding, flat Dragon of the black aspect, and then Dragons of each of the other ten aspects.


To be a Dragon is to be diminished. The Dragon forever lists the complaints: bowed limbs, creaking wings, rotting teeth, the grind of massive ball in massive socket, the excruciation of nerve endings and a body growing heavier, more real, less like the old self, the One Being now barely-recalled by a rebellious mind falling from the light of pure thought into reptile emotion. Each dragon longs for a past it remembers incorrectly, longs for gems as large as the stars it once dandled from the point of a single, ephemeral talon, longs to clutch and cavort in gold as bright as the radiance of the pit of chaos it once chased.

Most of all Dragons long for as long a sleep as possible and pursue this goal almost monomaniacally,  consuming everything enormously, carving out caves and gobbling the rock in its hunger, emptying and consuming forests and then falling into a hibernatory peace in which it recalls its once-divinity and only dimly retains the current, diluvial nightmare. To wake from these dreams is to relive its generative sundering and from behind a heavy lid and a crusty lens, the fractioned dragon perceives an increasingly squalid, squabbling, foreign Babels and feels its center slip further away.

A just-waking dragon bellows with fury and self-righteousness, and takes to wings, moving over the countryside in search of food and treasure, moving over towns and villages like the quickening of twilight, carrying with it into the night the souls of dogs, invalids and children.

Above the gate of Uz-Amon, fallen city by the sea, an ancient Dragon of the Green aspect has carved with an unsteady claw:



Ix, Many-Named, Queen of us all, towers like a Brocken Bow over us, the Children of the Sun. We build cities on her feet, and at night recline in the strange half-light from above, cast by her dragon-flesh crown. We sharpen weapons and the warriors of the Right and the Left stalk always contested boundaries.

Our bravest warriors ascend the body of Ix to pick clean the celestial lice, Valkyries, infant Sun-Brothers, star-children and foreigners that clamber down the spikes of her crown and nest in her feathers. Should they descend further, many in our cities would die.

These brave warriors are expert Delvers, dungeon-clearers, Dragon-tested they return home before carts of jewelry and gold, knighted in powerful relics but it will take days to clean the ancient lizard's blood from their weapons and skin.


A Dragon remembers what it was even as it slowly aligns closer to its own aspect, its new nature. Red Dragons become cruel, impetuous, love torture. Black Dragons ooze acid from every orifice, painfully, are wild, hateful, hate everything. Sap Dragons lair in enormous trees or swamps and their scales shudder as the pores beneath weep oozes and jellies capable of absorbing all the works of the children of the sun, turning them into fertilizer so potent that the Sap Dragon leaves fully-grown forests in its wake. Ultraviolet Dragons are exceedingly rare, speak all the languages of ghosts and gods and are entirely invisible to most of the children of the sun who, to consult or kill the Dragons of this aspect, keep reindeer, butterflies or even stranger creatures like ghosts or celestial lice. 

Dragons of the same aspect avoid one another, while they hunt those of different aspects so that they may harvest from them their scales and create a chime garden on some distant, windswept mountain side.

More ancient Dragons, those still close to their original self can experience the lives of their aspect like a shared memory. The experience is nauseating and most require obscene amounts of payment (a city's worth of "food," or the location of the dens of dragons of a number of different aspects, for example) to be willing to try it.

A Dragon that capitulates and takes a name is spurned at all costs, no Dragon will help it and only the most desperate for its scale will even hunt it. For example, the God-Emperor of the City of Bone and Brass is a Dragon that has long forgotten its original nature. 

No two Dragons of even the same aspect are the same. One may be two-legged, seven-winged and spider-eyed, another may be a nucleus of howling, snapping bear mouths, fur displacing scales. Dragons can freely shapechange from their true form.


A Dragon's roar is like a thunderous, skull-fracturing, orgasmic tone. It peels back the miniscus of the mind, it blasts across several planes of existence. A chime made from a single scale can produce a weaker, but still wildly addictive tone. Many of the Dragon-Killers of the Children of Sun are addicts, ringing little scale chimes in secret over and over again, longing for the next adventure, desperately seeking rumors of a Dragon den willing to sign up with a Dragon cult for guard duty knowing full well the cult will offer them up to a Dragon. Hoping they're offered up, actually.

Dragon cults trudge up foggy mountain trails, bearing enormous wealth to present the Dragon. Once at the Dragon's den, all of the initiated will kneel in supplication and wait for the Dragon's roar, which will leave them convulsive, drooling, littered above the den entrance in orgiastic clumps. They will either try to kill their hired guards themselves or just leave them bound up, with the gold, for the Dragon. Most Dragon cults are insurrectionist, violent, anti-authoritarian, its members criminals, fiends, artists, liberals, the dregs of society. Their religious practices, such as they are, are castigated where they are not outlawed (they are usually outlawed) and Dragons are accordingly often conflated with demons and devils.

The scale of a Dragon, when struck with a rod carved from pure chaos, chimes expansively. Reality trembles as the Dragon-tone moves across it. The larger the scale, the more resounding the tone and the more transformative its affect. Ixiandar has sealed his treasure vaults with wards which surrender only in the presence of correctly played, elaborate dragon-tones. Dragons themselves cannot hear the tone of their own aspect, but are filled with longing and furty upon hearing the chime of another aspect. Dragons covet the scales of other aspects and cultivate chime gardens. The tones produced by these chimes are deeply pleasing and can put a Dragon to sleep (the more the chimes, the larger the scales or the purer the tone, the more powerful the affect on the listener). Playing a chromatic scale in the presence of a Dragon can cause it to denature entirely for a time, become gelatinous piles of light, of a firm but plastic  consistency and capable of withstanding extreme pressures and temperatures. Touching the Dragon with bare skin can lead to translucency, photosynthetic digestion, madness, light-blindness, achromatosis or its opposite, involuntary chameleonic-pigmentation of all tissue of the body (living and dead), the loss of one's mind, the loss of one's body as it melts into Dragon-flesh, horns, the ability to speak to rainbows, and other numerous and various other affects (incidentally, similar after-affects are seen in survivor's of dragon's breath). Many ancient Dragons have cultivated a chime garden plentiful enough to complete this transformation and spend much of their hibernation in this form. 

Ix herself stands transfixed, each of her finger nails and the nails of her two canine teeth enameled with polished Dragon scale; her lips remain curled back to expose the slowly gnashing teeth while her fingers dance, weaving the same spell she has been casting for hundreds of years, her Dragon-nails slicing into various planes, knitting, sealing, unsealing. Her spell will either save the world from some unknown threat (Ogdru Jahad, the Final Dragon) or else end it, bringing on a new golden era for her companions (Ragnarok).

The scales of each of the twelve aspects presents a distinct scale of notes. To produce a purer tone, the scale must be struck with a rod fashioned from chaos. The femur of a swamp mutant might suffice, but the purer the chaos, the purer the tone (an implement carved from the heart of a Sun-Brother is preferable, or, best of all, a rock from the face of the Sun itself).

Pantagruel has been known to pretend to be a Dragon but only in order to fart on cultists. He will also surreptitiously "drop" method diagrams for scale chiming patterns nearby the Dragon-addled and addicted, delighting in watching them "mistakenly" open a portal to gravity-less void or distant hell-planet. He usually kills whatever star creature or demon sallies forth, but not always and especially not if he finds the creature amusing.

pictures: top (unknown), Prophet, Chase Stone, Project Copernicus Concept Art (RIP), Phillipe Druillet, John Blanche, Nico Delort, Stephen Hickman

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