Dracomerica Jan 6, 2015 21:14:27 GMT -8
Post by Madame Celeste on Jan 6, 2015 21:14:27 GMT -8
The year is 2017. Over the past few centuries alone, humanity has changed the world drastically by way of technologies that were previously unheard of, and mankind as a whole has learned to adapt and even thrive in the midst of these great changes.
But not all species in the world have embraced change so freely. The proud dragons, who once reigned supreme in a world that feared their power, are slowly but surely finding themselves at odds with modern society. Weapons of war have been invented that now rival the might of even the strongest of dragons, and so they are no longer the fearsome, invincible creatures they used to be. In addition, with fewer and fewer opportunities to kidnap princesses, do battle with knights, or hoard glittering treasures in their lairs, many of the dragons' sacred traditions are now being threatened. By now, many dragon communities have been severely fragmented or gone into hiding in remote locations, with only a brave few disguising themselves as humans and secretly living in human cities.
And yet still the world continues to change, and each dragon has faced up to this change in a different way. Some have reluctantly come to accept it as inevitable, while others have actively resisted this change, including many zealots who now seek to reclaim dragonkind's place as the superior species by forcibly reverting the world back to the old ways.
Most recently, a small faction of such zealots now seeks to reassert their ancestral culture by assembling a group of young adult dragons in America, who will attempt to complete the ancient and highly controversial Rite of Ages for the first time in centuries.
As per the first task of the Rite of Ages, these young dragons must first either kidnap or devour a human princess. In light of the relative lack of available princesses, however, they must settle for the closest rough equivalent to a princess available in the area:
The daughter of the President of the United States.
The Rite of Ages
Originating in Ancient Greece, from whence its practice quickly spread throughout Europe, the Rite of Ages is a traditional rite of passage by which young adult dragons ("colts") formally reach adulthood. The origins of the Rite date all the way back to Ancient Europe, where the Rite was originally instituted to as a form of "eternal vengeance" for the death of the sea dragon Ketos, who was reportedly slain by the human hero Perseus while attempting to claim Princess Andromeda as a sacrifice at his deity's command. After the Middle Ages, however, more and more western dragons took pity on the humans harmed during this original Rite and began to practice a modified version, known today as the New Form, that resulted in less bloodshed.
Because the Rite of Ages represents a colt's official transition to adulthood, colts who have not completed their Rites are still regarded as children under traditional draconic law, under which such colts are forbidden to do any of the following:
2) Have or adopt children.
3) Own property of any kind.
4) Seek employment of any kind, except under the supervision of their parents or other legal guardians.
5) Leave their homes, unless escorted by a traditionally-recognized adult family member at all times.
More progressive dragons, however, have sometimes been known to disapprove of the Rite (particularly the Old Form), and a few colts have refused to take part in the Rite because of this. Furthermore, accusations have been made in recent years that the Rite of Ages has been corrupted by traditionalist extremists. Moreover, further modified versions of the Rite of Ages have become increasingly common for some colonies; these modified Rites typically result from a lack of readily available princesses and/or knights, unreasonable risk or danger to the colt's safety, or other such factors beyond the colony's control.
Prior to the Rite itself, a ceremony is held by the dragon colony on the birthday when the colt due to undergo the Rite comes of age. After the birthday celebrations have concluded, the colt is brought before the colony elders and recites Ketos' Oath, which is formalized by the colt dipping his/her front-most right limb into a bowl of dragon blood and marking over his/her heart and forehead with the blood. The blood is not washed off until after the full Rite has been completed, both to symbolically honor the blood shed by Ketos when he was slain and to signal to other dragons that the colt is undergoing the Rite of Ages and should not be interrupted.
Ketos' Oath reads as follows:
I, [COLT'S NAME] of [PLACE OF ORIGIN], son/daughter of [COLT'S FATHER] and [COLT'S MOTHER], do on this day pledge to honor the ultimate sacrifice of Ketos, martyr of Aethiopia, and the eternal vengeance promised by Heaven and Earth to his murderers. To this end, I vow to continue the work of those before me and see the crimes of men duly punished by my hand. With the blood of Ketos, I seal this sacred oath.
Old Form VS New Form
The Rite of Ages itself consists of different tasks that the colt in question must successfully accomplish to complete the Rite. There are two main versions of this set of tasks, commonly referred to as the Old Form (the original Rite from ancient times) and the New Form (a modified Rite established after the Middle Ages to minimize bloodshed and destruction, due to some dragons taking pity on the humans harmed through the Old Form and wanting a more merciful approach to the Rite).
|TASK #||OLD FORM||NEW FORM|
|1||Devour a human princess.||Kidnap a human prince or princess, and successfully hold him/her in captivity for the remainder of the Rite.|
|2||Slay a human warrior in combat.||Defeat a human warrior in honorable one-on-one combat, while in one's human form.|
|3||Live in the wilderness for a period of time to be determined by the colony elders, and successfully fend for oneself during that time.||Live in the wilderness for a period of time to be determined by the colony elders, and successfully fend for oneself during that time.|
|4||Destroy a measure of human territory, no smaller than a village, and kill all of the humans within said territory.|
Successfully conquer a measure of human territory, no smaller than a village, and maintain control of it for a period of time to be determined by the colony elders depending on the territory being controlled.
|Assume a leadership role over a territory or group, for a period of time to be determined by the colony elders depending on the territory or group being led.|
|5||Make a home for oneself.||Make a home for oneself.|
|6||Claim the first piece of treasure for one's treasure hoard.||Claim the first piece of treasure for one's treasure hoard.|
The Dark Times
Not to be confused with the human Dark Ages of the medieval era, the Dark Times refers to a period of war and bloodshed amongst dragons in ancient times. In those days, countless feuds broke out between dragons of different species, ranging from simple territorial disputes to vicious centuries-long blood feuds between dragon clans. Later into the Dark Times, this infighting led to racial divisions between dragons, the most famous examples being those between Light/Shadow and Fire/Ice dragons. To this day, even the most conservative estimates of the lives lost during the Dark Times number in the millions, including draconic and human casualties alike.
Traditional accounts have claimed that Ketos' death at the hands of Perseus eventually contributed to the end of the Dark Times. The most common version of this legend states that Ketos' cousins, the sea dragons, were so devastated by Ketos' death and so outraged at his murderer's subsequent glorification by mankind that they swore a pact of "eternal vengeance" on the human race, from which the Rite of Ages ultimately evolved; the other draconic races, whether out of sympathy for the sea dragons' mourning or out of fear of one day sharing Ketos' fate, began to practice the new Rite as well, thereby forging a common ground among all dragon species that would gradually pave the way for peace among all dragonkind. Whether this story is true or simply a fairy tale invented by traditionalists to justify the Rite of Ages is still widely debated today.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
The ultimate sacrifice, as defined by draconic tradition, is the willful offering of one's life for some purpose. Traditionally, the ultimate sacrifice is viewed as the purest and most complete offering that any living being can give, and such a sacrifice, regardless of the one who offers it, must always be properly honored and respected.
Ultimate sacrifices are usually offered to save the life of another, but not always. For example, the sea dragon Ketos, who was reportedly sent by the deity Poseidon to punish Aethiopia for the hubris of its queen and to claim her daughter Andromeda as a sacrifice to end Aethiopia's punishment, is considered by many traditionalists to have offered the ultimate sacrifice when he was slain by Perseus, as Ketos fought and died trying to complete the task given to him by his deity in spite of the "trivial" desires of man.
Failure to give the appropriate honor and respect to an ultimate sacrifice is a major taboo in traditional dragon societies. This is deemed equivalent to murder and, in some cases, may be severely punished.
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