The Realms of Arydd (AHR-eth)
Forever linked to the Realms of Arydd, the Sovereign Dragons of N’ethim Mountain maintained their vigilance;
Less they allow the Realms to be defiled and destroyed through baneful actions;
And without the Sovereign’s rule, the Dragons of the Realm would perish.
-A bard’s tale on the history of Dragonkind
“It might come as a surprise to you, my friends, that the world was once filled with Dragonkind,” the old man said. His voice crackled as loud as the fire while he spun his tale.
The young men and women sat in a wide circle around him and exchanged glances and half shrugs. The children gasped and giggled and sat with glistening wide-eyes at the old mage.
“Yes. They were good beings,the Dragons, the Sovereigns of that mountain you see in the south. Not like those horrible tales you hear. You know the ones. The Dragons who cause mischief and burn fields, eat maidens,” he paused and bared his teeth as he lunged at the younglings in the front row. “And steal children!”
The children jumped and covered their mouths with their hands. Although startled by his actions they allowed giggles to escape their lips.
“However, none of these stories are true. Oh yes, there were a few who did bad things, but not the Sovereigns. They protected this land because they were the land. They kept Her healthy so you could sit near me and listen to their legacy.
“And yes, there were those who sought to take what the land gave freely. Life.” He shifted on the stump and leaned forward, his crystal blue eyes twinkled in the firelight.
“Gather in close my friends. Sit near the fire. My breath is not as strong as it used to be and I must tell you the story of this land…”
The Realms of Arydd extended from the peak of N’ethim Mountain, to the west of the deserts to the southern coast of Arydd’liss, east to the coast of Fid Gow and up into the northern valley. Mounds of rolling hills carpeted the Realms in lush green grass, small trees and meadows of amber grain. The tall, thick forests draped the land at the base of the mountains halting where a small creek bubbled across its path and opened into a meadow.
Great boulders outlined the border standing watch over the land like sentinels of the Kingdom of Arydd’liss. Further south hillocks of thick, green, pungent grass with small foliage and flowers flowed continuously until it reached the swells of the blue sea. A thin stretch of snaking, white sand divided the edges of the mainland and the salted waters.
When the north winds blew down from the cool mountains and across the southern Realms of Arydd the leaves on the trees and the blades of grass sang with a hum of a hundred beetles whispering to each other in rampant conversation. The trees of the deep forest roared in response as the wind dashed against the high trunks and heavy branches which creaked and groaned to an unheard rhythm.
For many years bards sang stories of the southern winds. Their songs bore tales of the air Dragons who traveled the sky and rode the wind throughout the Realms of Arydd clearing the atmosphere of impurities as they flew with the currents. Legends say that only those of the Dragon race were able to see them; remaining ever transparent to human eyes.
Known as the oldest living race in the Realms, the amber eyes of the mountain Dragons maintained a constant vigil for over five-thousand years. Mountain Dragons, or Land Dragons were related to the elements of the soil and stone and the life from which it grew. Wooden-brown scales provided a thick hide over these impressive beings. Ancient scribes tell when the land was formed and the soil seeded by the gods, the Mountain Dragons were one of the first beings to grow from their divine influence.
Inexorably connected to the Dragons the very soil and plant life alerted them to danger or major changes that affected the land. Their purpose was not to control others or empower themselves, but to keep the land safe, unhindered and most importantly, sacred. The Dragons understood the ethereal plane weaving itself throughout the Realms and all living things and mastered the art of bending the energy, or enchanting to create and manipulate their environment. Maintaining the balance of energy throughout the land begged their tireless vigilance.
Serving as Sovereigns, rulers of the Realms of Arydd, the mountain Dragons created a great hall and a home inside a huge cavern deep within Peak N’ethim Mountain and the nearby highlands. The cavernous space in the upper peak of the mountain above the great hall provided all the space they would ever need.
Resembling an elaborate castle interior they had constructed chambers into the very stone of the cavern. Large tapestries from unknown lands created by anonymous crafters lined the halls. Soft, thick runners covered the length of the halls between each chamber – not for comfort, but more for appeal. Luminescent stones gave the castle a quiet glow and provided most of the necessary light. Torches or candles provided further illumination as needed. Several dozen chambers served as sleeping quarters while others provided recreation, dining and guest accommodations. Mist from the Dragons’ caustic noses rolled endlessly throughout the castle and the smell of Dragon hide and fire had ingrained itself on the stone and earthen atmosphere.
Dragons did not use chairs or similar human comforts and only a few tables and shelves for storage were seen throughout the caves. Dragons spent a better part of their time in discussions seated on their haunches or flat against the stone floors. There were no formalities when it came to hearings or talks during meetings. The only requirements were found in the old codes; respect, honor, integrity.
There are some humans who have lived with Dragons for hundreds of years. They are devoted heart and soul to the Dragon race. Quite different than those of the Realms. They go so far as worship the Dragon race, but without strict creed of other spiritual practices. The Sovereigns would not allow it. The Proselytes, as they call themselves live in much larger chambers, sometimes with another Dragon. Their sole existence is dedicated to the service and care of the mountain Dragons. They believe they are just as important to the Realms as the Land Herself.
Each Dragon claimed their own tasks and those who did not wish to become part of an interactive society, or follow the old code wandered into the forests and lived among the other outcasts who roamed the lush Shimeer Forest between Peak N’ethim, Fid Gow and the northern valley Mid-Lander country of V’ardin.
Dragon outsiders, or oon’taus in the Dragon language were less honorable, more contemptible and sometimes dangerous. Exiled to the furthest areas of the lowlands they were not allowed to return to their mountain homes. Some Dragons born of outcast families, became wild, solitary and refused to live by any codes or laws. Others maintained some semblance of respect and honor between humans and other Dragons and stayed clear of any mischief.
On occasion, oon’taus would venture out into the open fields to search for alternate food sources and took what they could back to their lairs. Some stored riches or paltry trinkets while others would obtain yards of cloth to line their caves mimicking the chambers of the Sovereign Mountain Dragons.
Although they sometimes caused mischief by stealing cows, destroying crops or fields or hoarding treasures the Dragon Elders did not prevent their disruption. The only situations in which the Elders interfered with their lives is when the oon’taus caused the death of another Dragon, human or Otherkin. Murder against these beings violated the old codes and the sanctity of the land. It brought a harsh penalty; so malicious deaths remained a rare occurrence.
As each race made the Realms of Arydd their permanent residence the Dragons made contact with them for good or ill. The Council of Three, Elder Dragons of the mountain race, made decisions as to the relationship between Dragons and those who inhabited the Realms. They watched as hundreds of newcomers traveled through the Realms of Arydd. Some traveled the main roads while others stopped to build homes in the valley or shores. The Elders shared the codes and laws of the land with the newcomers and expected the newcomers to honor the laws as they would their own.
On occasion, the mountain Dragons consulted with other Dragons within the Realms of Arydd, such as the Dragons in the Sea of Landdyr. Since each Dragon could sense changes in the Realms council with the Sea Dragons regarding matters pertaining to their respectable habitats became necessary.
Sea Dragons represented the element of water; any body of water. Their blue-green hides were thin and covered by soft scales and smaller wings which served as fins for swimming rather then for flight. Their appearance resembled more of a serpent then a wyvern or land Dragon and rarely remained on land for any length of time.
The Trell, now known as the Mid-Landers lived in V’ardin (deep hills) in the northern Realms. A lush and deeply forested country occupying the valley between the North side of Peak N’ethim and the uncharted lands. In addition to the Dragons, the Mid-Landers were one of the oldest races known to the Realms of Arydd. The Dragons and the Trell had shared a peaceful coexistence for more than two thousand years.
Mid-Landers were also once known as the Fae in the Northern Coast language. Fair skinned and slender framed they varied only slightly in height. Most were petite with soft facial features and narrowed eyes below up swept eyebrows that faded delicately into the temples. One of their most distinguishing features were the ears; tapered to a long, sharp point at the third crus. They lived in deep forests and hollowed out small hills to take up residence thus their current name, Mid-Landers in Old Common; living between the underground and the outside world.
Elegant yet simple clothing adorned their bodies. The fibers were painstakingly gathered from the indigenous, illuminated silk worms and natural fibers available throughout V’ardin. Clothing was unisex and not fashionable so it was not unusual to see both male and females wearing pantaloons, skirts or kilts. All material and clothing were made by the artisans of V’ardin. Many crafters sold their wares throughout V’ardin, Fid Gow and, on occasion Arydd’liss. Eventually many of the artisans and merchants traveled south over the mountains and forests to settle in Fid Gow.
Excellent archers and swordsmen they practiced more for sport than for battle and many of the villagers and farmers only used the bow for hunting. Sword play became a favorite of royalty and yearly tournaments could be seen in the meadows between the castle and the villages.
Dragons had became part of the Mid-Lander legends since Dragon sightings were, eventually few and far between. The Mid-Landers settled into their changing lives, built a castle and did not dwell on the past. By this time the Dragons had already focused their attentions on the human newcomers.
The Mountain Dragons embraced the human migrants from their earliest days of settlement. Thousands of human travelers coalesced within the central valley of Arydd’liss south of N’ethim and soon a permanent village stood in place of the open meadows. The humans thrived and added a new characteristic to the rolling hills and forests like so many ants building their colonies.
The well traveled road dissected the new village and soon they began construction on a castle that would eventually become home to the rulers of the Ardd’liss village. Growing populations of over two thousand, the humans completely settled the southern Realms of Arydd and proved an interesting subject to the Dragons.
With the village completed and the castle standing in place as an icon to the Kingdom of Arydd’liss, the Dragons made contact with the king and queen, and eventually the rest of the human residents of Arydd’liss.
“Is that how you met them grandfather?” a young girl interrupted.
The old man’s eyes wrinkled deeper when he smiled. He patted the back of her hand and shook his long, thick silver mane. “No, my child. I had met the Dragons much later in my young life. It was at this time, however that the real story of staves, Dragons and humans began…”