Predating humanity, the Dragon Kings were created by the gods to be servents and worshippers. 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 worshipped the Gods while the world was still in upheavel. After a time, though, the world calmed down. 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 recognised 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 guarenteed the rule of the Dragon Kings was over.
During the First Age, the Dragon Kings remained trusted advisors and valuable allies. Rathass became the center of Dragon King culture even more, 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 on lives in their own lands.
During the Ursupation, they hid in their cities, expelling everyone who wasn't a Dragon King themself. Over the years of the Shogunate they were completely isolated, avoiding both the Sidereal ursurpers 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 murder. 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 a partly 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 wasn't as chaotic.
Currently, Dragon Kings are a rarity at best, and most of those are the younger, savage types. Their people have fallen and no one remembers who or what they are. Because of their devout worship of the Unconqurered Sun, the Immaculate Order has surpressed knowledge of their existance.
All four breeds of Dragon Kings are "warm-blooded, egg-laying, humanoid reptiles." They are brightly colored covered in both scales and feathers. All but the Raptok are carnivors. The Dragon Kings are, at their heart, predators.
When a Dragon King is born, she is a beast ruled by instinct. While they physically mature quickly it takes years of training for them to show a glimmer of their former 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 returns it is quite easy for an adolescent Dragon King to remember. This generally takes a few years past when she's once again able to speak. Unlike for humans in Creation, Dragon Kings have perfect reincarnation, for while their memories may be spotty when they reincarnate, they were once set up to retake the position and life they previously lived.
Training in the Dragon King philosophies is necessary to unlock the minds and spirits latent within them. Without such training, it is nothing more than a savage and a mindless killer.
- The Savage (Essence One) - the individual is a bestial savage but possesses many keen instincts.
- The Apprentice (Essence Two) - the individual is dully civilized but has no memories of its many past lives. While Dragon Kings can attain this level without tutelage, few do.
- The Reborn (Essence Three) - the individual possesses fragmentary memories of its past lives. This is the farthest that any Dragon King can go without tutelage.
- The Adult (Essence Four and Five) - the individual possesses integrated memories of its past lives.
- The Wise (Essence Six) - the individual possesses an inhuman level of intelligence.
In the Second Age, the commonness of each stage follows a pyramidal structure: most Dragon Kings are Savages; most who aren't are Apprentices; and so on up the ladder.
Religion and Civilization
First and foremost, the Dragon Kings worshipped 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 spirits and Gods. Those who could convince a spirit to possess and ride with them were called olchilik, and while they wern't considered of a higher caste, they did enjoy great privelage until the spirit withdrew. Today, though, even if a Dragon King can remember the proper rituals necessary they can only attract the attion of smaller gods who see the Dragon Kings as a means to an end.
Because of the reincarnation almost guarenteed to the Dragon Kings, 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.
Dragon King Artifacts are generally made of custom-bred exotic plants or crystal. Most of the artifacts they have appear more ornamental than anything, yet still can function perfectly well.
Instead of Charms, the Dragon Kings practice Essence-shaping techniques called the Ten Paths of Prehuman Mastery. While each path currenly only has six dots in each path, ancient Dragon Kings had access to ten. These Paths are learned one after another starting with the least powerful and scaling to greater power as the Dragon King becomes more enlightened. The Dragon King can progress through a path gaining a number of different abilities equal to her Essence. These paths are not tied to a specific Ability or Attribute and are instead only tied to the Essence of the Dragon King.
The Paths are as follows:
- Celestial Air: spirits
- Clear Air: knowledge and perception
- Solid Earth: manipulation of stone
- Yielding Earth: healing and repair
- Blazing Fire: manipulation of light and flame
- Flickering Fire: physical prowess
- Flowing Water: movement
- Shimmering Water: stealth, illusion, and deception
- Growing Wood: communication and control of plants
- Shaping Wood: shapeshifting
In the current age there are five new Paths known as the Dark Paths. These Paths were created from the Underworld and instead of teaching reverence for the Celestial or Terrestrial dieties like the ten elemental paths do these instead teach the way of death and destruction. These come with a price, though, and learning them can make the Dragon King into a Creature of Darkness.
These Paths are as follows:
- The Glorious Consumption Path: cannibalism, hunger and greed
- The Coagulated Eucharist Path: blood, fear and lust
- The Technomorphic Transcendence Path: scientific detachment, augmentation and cold logic
- The Ecstatic Armageddon Path: fire, hatred, bloodlust and rage
- The Tormented Bodhisattva Path: the Void, death and the end of all things