More than 1,400 years ago, a group of naturalists, funded by the Harridan military, set out on an expedition into the northern barrier mountains. The peak in question was (and indeed still is) located north of The Draco Republic’s capital city. It is one of the first real mountains a traveller would encounter as they headed through the foothills into the northern barrier range. The mountain’s shape and form were significantly altered by the ancient true dragons when they modified their lairs for war hundreds of thousands of years ago. The naturalists’ goal? To observe, and perhaps in time, domesticate the dragon population rumoured to live there. This project was successful, though it was decades before they had formed a close working relationship with these wild creatures. In that time they began to ride dragons, and even start to understand their breeding habits, and how they raised there young. Eventually, a captive breeding program was established, and about half a century after they first encountered the dragons, they flew their first military mission.
Harridan had been using dragon’s in their military for about 20 years before they formally established the elite Ordo Draco. A special-forces military arm focussed on using dragons. This was a little less than 1,400 years ago. They were so successful in using them to extend their borders that when they declared themselves a nation, they took the name The Draco Republic. The Ordo Draco ride descendants of the ancient true dragons, who were much reduced by a curse placed on them over 5,000 years ago. Still, the dragons are terrifying and powerful mounts, loyal to the death to their riders.
The ancient dragons that created the cavern would move deeper into the mountain range, looking for more massive peaks to turn into lairs. Some-time after the curse and war had altered the species almost beyond recognition, this particular lair was abandoned entirely. Generations later, the more modern form of dragons founded a colony here that became a regular breeding spot. It was this colony that the Harridan naturalists had first made contact with, and would eventually become the headquarters of the Ordo Draco. The Lair itself is both a military base, training facility and dragon breeding colony. It now houses around a thousand soldiers, a hundred dragons, and all the stores, supplies, weapons and equipment needed to carry out their function as the most advanced military force in the known world.
Key dates in the history of The Lair
Early 2nd era – The first true dragons, the Wyrms, began to hatch in the forbidding mountains that the Siblings had left unexplored. How they came to be is unknown to us. We know they were unlike any other animal that roamed the world. Vast creatures, size almost incomprehensible to modern eyes, beautiful, and brutal. You might perhaps consider them intelligent, certainly, they thought themselves so. Filled with arrogance and avarice they fought viciously for territory, for mates and most voraciously for treasure. Dragons were born with an innate sense of superiority, not entirely undeserved. Nigh indestructible, able to breathe fire hot enough to sublimate steel, and talons driven by muscles strong enough to carve caves into mountainsides. Fiercely loyal to their families, living together in a mountain lair. Hatchlings fought side by side for centuries, along with their parents, grandparents, and eventually children and grandchildren. The hierarchies varied from family to family, and it wasn’t unusual for a younger member to prove themselves as the more capable leader and become the head of a lair. Equally, in other families, the first dragon to have sired a clutch of hatchlings still ruled.
Mid 2nd era – The older true dragons got the bigger they got, though the rate of growth slowed with age. In their constant warring between lairs. The oldest dragons were like great naval capital ships, slower and heavier, but almost impossible to deal enough damage to kill, and with titanic destructive power. The younger dragons like little quick craft zipping around and under these huge behemoths. Thirty-year-old dragons might be the size of a stagecoach, compared to a ten-thousand-year-old dragon that might be the size of an entire village. Still, as they grew bigger they would either expand their current lair or seek out a larger mountain. Often moving towards the largest mountains in a range and abandoning older smaller lairs. It is believed that a dragon family from the eastern Ladon mountain ranges travelled west, past larger mountain lairs held by stronger dragon families, to find the mountain where “The Lair” now resides. These dragons used their immense power to actually reform the top of the mountain to an odd angle, before proceeding to carve up from the bottom, creating the cavern we know today as “The Lair”.
Late 2nd era – For a brief few weeks in this time period, the first Wyrm war was fought. The combined might of the soldiers of the Khepri and the Dragons of the Ladon mountain ranges crashed into each other and the Khepri learnt the true meaning of folly. Whilst the Khepri did indeed manage to slay one of the mighty Dragons, the retribution was swift and terrible. Fire scoured the soldiers of the Khepri and left nothing but ash. Killing one of their own united the Dragons like nothing had in hundreds of millennia. Seven different Lairs united and obliterated not just the fighting forces of the Khepri but any part of the Khepri empire within a hundred miles of the foothills of their mountains. The Khepri had thought to conquer the Dragons and wield their power against the aethermancy of the Siblings. After those few weeks of devastating loss of resources, the Empress realised she had made a mistake. That instead she should focus her efforts on conquering the Siblings and then turn their power on the Dragons. This would end in the total destruction of the Khepri race. During this time the many Dragons moved ever deeper into their ranges seeking larger mountains to make their home. We believe it was during this period the last true Dragons abandoned “The Lair”.
Early 3rd Era – Sometime in the in these years, the first humans began to emerge. They were nothing special at first, just another animal, evolved from some offshoot of some less intelligent animals. Hunter gatherers at first, they did in time begin to build settlements, farm and expand much as the Siblings had so long ago. Though unlike the Siblings, the humans took to warring with each other easily and often. Many Dragons were interested in these new hairless apes, the humans that had started to pop up everywhere. To the humans, the Dragons were like gods, and the Dragons own ego’s happily fitted into this mould. Some would demand tribute in gold and gem stones, others would ask for elaborate sacrifices, bloody or not. Some would ask for food or slaves. Others simply took sport in obliterating and terrorising the humans. Those humans that lived in the shadows of mountains all across the world, learned to hate and fear the dragons. As they had at many times throughout history the Siblings tried to educate the Dragons, but every attempt eventually ended in disaster.
A pair of Siblings disguised themselves as animal spirits to help guide the development of humans living in the northwestern part of the Pallas Forest. The Siblings believed this more subtle approach might allow them to nudge the humans in the right direction without things moving too fast. Eventually, the humans had started to grasp the basic concepts of aethermancy.
Mid 3rd era – A council of wise women ruled the woodland settlements in the North West of the Pallas Forest. For decades the woodland settlements had paid homage and tributes of fruit and animal flesh to the Dragons who dwelt within in a lair in the southernmost Typhon Mountains. The dragon Jytomachia eventually usurped the current leadership of this lair and decided he wanted bloody human sacrifices to his glorious leadership. The woodland people refused, and Jytomachia’s response was brutal. The wise women had seen and heard quite enough and thought how to turn the magic they had learned against the Dragons, forging what was to become known as the first true pact. They realised that despite their great will they could not hope to directly kill a dragon, or even really harm one with their magic. However, they saw a weakness in their foes, their short tempers, their jealous and suspicious nature. They created what later generations would call the wyrm’s curse.
It was a subtle vicious thing, an unquenchable anger, an inflamed emotional state, paranoia, hatred and aggression. The magic they wrought over several nights of rituals and aetheric manipulation, slowly but surely started to worm its mental twisting into the minds of the Dragons that lived by them. What they perhaps had not fully understood was that this madness would not only affect the dragons near them but that in time it would spread throughout the aetheric world tainting all Dragons with this madness. At first, no one noticed the difference, dragons had been warring with each other since more or less the dawn of life. But the wars escalated, more and more lairs getting involved, and for the first time in recorded history, even dragons within a lair began to kill each other. Hatchling on hatchling violence was extremely rare, but fratricide started to become a common occurrence. The humans at the time were glad that the Dragons seemed to have more or less forgotten them, and for the first time in centuries, they were left alone and unmolested.
The Siblings began to notice the Dragon population was dwindling dangerously, they were killing each other far faster than they were hatching new young. The Siblings took a closer look and realised something was amiss, that this great war amongst the dragons was unlike any behaviour they had seen before. The Siblings eventually traced the problem to this subtle and hidden curse within the aetheric world. They saw in it a magic unlike any they had ever known or created, they eventually recognised it as the handiwork of the humans. They tried to reverse what had been done, but to their great amazement, they found they could not undo what had been done. Despite their great mastery of magic, the humans had created something that they didn’t seem able to understand or deconstruct. Eventually, those who had posed as the animal spirits returned to the council of wise women and asked for them to undo what had been done.
The Siblings decided it was time to drop their charade and explain who they truly were, and why they were asking for aid. The council felt betrayed and considered the Siblings had revealed themselves as deceivers who could not be trusted. However, some of the council saw that the Siblings had chosen truth now because they wanted to talk as equals (or at least as close to equals as the Siblings were capable of considering humans). The council revealed they had not built a way for the curse to be undone, as they had wanted to be sure the Dragons did not find a way to end the curse themselves. However, they agreed to work with the Siblings to find a solution.
Time was short, if they did not find something in the coming weeks there would likely be too few Dragons left to form a breeding population. There was no easy solution, but they did figure out a potential way to mitigate the worst effects of the curse, but it was not without cost. The only thing they could figure to do was to twist the cursed minds of the Dragons, destroying much of their intellect, reducing them to something more like a smart and cunning animal. It was a terrible choice, reduce the intellectual capacity of an entire species, or allow them to go extinct. In the end, they decided the world would be lessened without such creatures as the Dragons and so they enacted their solution.
Late 3rd Era – The Dragons, who for the most part had the intellectual capacity of a curious and terrible human child, was now reduced to something more like a very smart dog. The curses’ grip had not completely been removed, and at times it could flare up causing the dragons to fly into unreasonable and destructive rages. The population had been so decimated that the limited breeding pool meant each subsequent generation seemed a little smaller, and a little weaker than the last, and much shorter lived. Though one good thing was that the grip of the curse seemed to lessen a little with each generation. Though their intellect did improve a little, it seemed it would never return to its former heights. It was during this time that “The Lair” became a breeding colony once again for these newly returned lesser Dragons.
15 P.D. - Graduates of a Deneb education, Harridan citizens return ready to put their studies to good use. Amongst them, a group of Harridan naturalists take an expedition out into the mountains north of the city to study the Dragon population rumoured to live there.
18 P.D. - Harridan naturalists manage to build a functioning relationship with the Dragon population and begin to domesticate the species.
25 P.D. - The first dragons are ridden by those Harridan naturalists who had built up enough rapport with those few dragons.
27 P.D. - First dragons mating and hatching occurring under the observation, and even integration with the Harridan naturalists.
44 P.D. - First captive breeding program for Dragons near Harridan has some success in a project co-funded by the naturalists and the cities military.
60 P.D. - The first military use of Dragons ridden by Harridan militia used to protect the borders of several townships that agreed to align themselves with Harridan.
68 P.D. - A conflict over a tax on spice shipments between Sybaris and their nearest Harridan controlled trading settlement, Damasia, escalates into a brief violent conflict between tax officials, importers in Damasia and Sybaris bargemen. Harridan sent in Dragon riders, for a brief display of military superiority. Killing a small number of citizens of Sybaris quickly ends the conflict. The military superiority of Harridan is clear, and reluctantly the Sybaris traders comply.
80 P.D. - The continued successful use of the Dragons to expand and protect their territory leads to the formal creation of the Ordo Draco as an elite arm of the Harridan militia. They still have far more humans soldiers than dragons and so only the best get a shot at becoming dragon riders to maximise the value of these extraordinary assets.
310 P.D. - Draco Republic is by many measures the largest and most powerful nation militarily, it’s continued to press its borders against both Lyra and La’Certa. But growing tensions with so-called “foreign education” from Deneb, as well public opinion considering Deneb a rogue state that needs to be brought under civilised government, leads to a declaration of war.
312 P.D. - A Draco Republic army marches on Deneb. When they are closing in on the city limits, Sul appears before the army and asks them to turn back or be destroyed. The commanders decided to continue their forward march. Shortly afterwards the entire army vanished. None would appear again, bar the commanding general Felix von Scheer who awoke a day later outside the gates of Harridan, unable to recall how he had gotten there, or anything about the others who apparently had been destroyed.
314 P.D. - General Scheer’s story significantly emboldens the Silencers. The Silences are a group which splintered from the Salbei Sages in 49 P.D. convinced that magic was abhorrent. They and conservative senators push through tighter regulation on magic use within the Draco Republic. With so many families affected and such a crushing blow delivered to their army, there is a lot of hatred for Deneb throughout the nation. However, some liberal senators give speeches in the Senate suggesting that perhaps the Republic has too often of late taken the form of the aggressor and conqueror. That the desire to extend democracy and freedom has, in fact, lead to arrogance. That the military superiority provided by the dragons lead to complacency when it came to using diplomatic solutions to solve their disputes with their neighbours.
319 P.D. - The Draco Republic senate pass non-aggression legislation that limits the use of military force to matters of defence of the nation, any use to solve conflict beyond the current borders now requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The Ordo Draco is given an exception within the legislation for their small strike teams to resolve emergency matters, but if a Grandmaster of the order does so, they can be called before the Senate defence committee to explain the nature of the emergency. If the committee decide that the Grandmaster has abused this trust, they can be removed from office. The bill passed at least in part due to the subtle influence of the Syndicates on key senators, they saw it as part of their duty to protect Lyra.
1423 P.D. - Johann Richter’s unit in the 5th infantry division of the Draco Republic are awarded medals for valorous conduct on the front lines during the “war of the little lion”. Johann is plucked from the infantry division and given a place within the Ordo Draco, the republics elite special forces division. He travels to The Lair and begins his advance training (see core book story “Fruits of Grief“)
1429 P.D. – 1441 P.D. - Several events at the Lair as described in the short story “Fruits of Grief” in the core book.
1442 P.D. - Preservation of Deneb Independence treaty signed by representatives from the Draco Republic, La’Certa, Pegasus and Lyran governments. The current Grandmaster of the Ordo Draco, along with some key republic senators however puts plans in motion for several covert operations in Deneb.
1446 – 1447 P.D - Events from the end of the short story “Fruits of Grief” in the core book