The Legend of the Dragon is an ancient story told in the Igenaeg Empire. It tells of an ancient dragon; some versions portray a VityResonator facing the cruel dragon while others show the dragon aiding a young girl who ventured into the mountains. To the people of the Igenaeg Empire, the Legend of the Dragon is a staple bedtime story for young children, acting as a cautionary tale in regards to the powers of the world and a reminder of the origination of the Seven Spirits who command the Igenaeg Empire.
The myth predates the existence of the Igenaeg Empire, though its form has changed many times. The precise origin of myth is unknown as there are records of different variants of the Legend of the Dragon dating back to the reign of the Zlatan Carvosta during the Golden Age of Aesontis. Spreading outward from the year 812, the legend remained mostly whispers. There are few written records of the early forms of the myth and, for the most part, it began to fade away with the rising of each Resonex. By 1207 and the end of the first Resonex War, the Legend had all but disappeared.
The Legend of the Dragon shifted into its present form around 2222 just before the foundation of the Igenaeg Empire. The few remnants of the myth that remained became the foundation for a new wave of the myth, a wave that would bring about the rise of the Legend of the Dragon. It was around the same time that the myth was given a name: The Legend of the Dragon.
Dragons may not be real. But the Legend of the Dragon isn't about dragons. It's a reminder that the Dragon always protects us. They are our protectors, the Dragons. From now until the end of time.
A Legend and Fairy Tale
Unknown; though much of history has been recorded, there are occasionally a few years here or there that disappear from records; whatever monumental historic moment sparked the legend falls into one of these gaps, the first known form of the tale rooting itself in the world-wide culture in the span of a single fortnight in 812 PR
Just as the origin and inspiration for the legend is lost to history, the original author is unknown; however, it's most often stated that there is no singular original author, instead the form of the myth observed today was brought about by the consolidation of dozens of different variations upon the story altered over the span of several millenia
Meaning & Morals
Each rendition of the Legend of the Dragon, while following the same general plot, conveys a different lesson. Most offer a cautionary tale against some aspect of nature. In a version from the foothills, the story would focus on winter in the mountains to warn children of the cold. On the other hand, those in more natural areas will twist the story's focus and ending to warn children of the dangers of wildlife.
The Symbolism of the Dragon
One of the only consistent meanings derived from the story comes from the dragon of the story. Most often, mythos regarding the mythical dragons portray dragons as being the incarnation of Resonance. The Legend of the Dragon is no different, portraying the dragon as a powerful being of Resonance.
However, despite the constant symbolism of the dragon, the variation between versions of the story portray the dragon as different parts of Resonance. Some versions, like the Igenaen Version, use the relation of the Resonator and the dragon to show the importance of balance between Resonance. Other versions, such as those in which the dragon becomes the enemy, are meant to convey the dangers of nature and, especially, Resonance without proper control.
The Igenaen Version
The Igenaeg Version of the Legend of the Dragon is the primarily version of the story shared in modern day Aesontis. It acts as propaganda reminding the people of the power of their founder, the Dragon. Additionally, the ending's union between Resonator and dragon is most often believed to represent the founding of the Seven Spirits and the divine powers granted to them.
The conflict within the legend, forcing the Resonator to ask the dragon for help, is often related back to the fall of the Seven Core Nations and the war that broke out--though the conflicts aren't all that similar. Equally, the First Dragon of the Seven Spirits is related to the dragon of the legend as the powerful being who held out a hand to those in need.
Rise of Igenaeg Empire
The oldest nation remaining in Aesontis, the Igenaeg Empire was originally founded in 2223 immediately following the decline of the Seven Core Nations. At the time, the youthful but powerful Yongui Muge had just begun her rise in the ranks of the military.
As the world briefly entered an era of chaos, Muge became a major player in reshaping the world of Aesontis. Muge gathered and consolidated her own power, leading to the foundation of the Igenaeg Empire and the Seven Spirits.
The Seven Spirits are the seven most powerful Resonators in the Igenaeg Empire, one from each of the Seven Cores. They are the rulers and protectors of the land, headed by a
Resonator of The Core of Gravity, known simply as the Dragon.
Their power inspires awe and fear among other countries, a reminder of the fact the Igenaeg Empire is infamous for the heightened levels of Resonance observed among their people.
The Legend of the Dragon is the foundation of our people, our religion. When the world was split once more, the Seven Core Nations breaking apart, Yongui Muge stepped into the role of a leader. She brought peace to our people, beginning to build a new civilization away from the territorial wars. To us, the Legend of the Dragon both tells of the power bestowed upon our great Dragon Protector and the history which gave us our peace.
— A Statement by the Seven Spirits
At the time of the rise of the Igenaeg Empire, the Legend of the Dragon had begun to fade into obscurity, only still told in the farthest reaches of the world. Yongui Muge, however, grew up yearning to be the protagonist of the legend. Combing this desire with her position as the ruler of a new nation, Muge altered the myth to it's present form and claimed the name of the Dragon.
The effect of the Legend of the Dragon escalated far more than Yongui Muge had expected, the people of the new Igenaeg Empire grasping onto the idea. No longer were they under the protection of the Seven Core Nations. Their lives had suddenly been disrupted, turmoil erupting across the world. Yongui Muge became the Dragon Protector of the citizens of the Igenaeg Empire, leading to the people worshiping her; her influence on this time of uncertainty cannot be understated, leading to the gradual rise of a new religious culture in the Igenaeg Empire.
The Legend of the Dragon was soon adopted as a scripture of a new religion. Though some clung to their previous religious beliefs from the scattered and unorganized religions of the Seven Core Nations, by the end of the first decade a new religion rose in prominence among the citizens of Igenaeg in which the Seven Spirits were worshiped as the mortal incarnations of the divinites of Resonance. This is the present form of the Legend of the Dragon, holding significance in the Igenaeg Empire as a religious scripture and reminder of the history of the founding of Igenaeg.
The Legend of the Dragon
The following is a stylized rendition of the Igenaeg Empire's version of the legend
Winter's chill came pouring off of the mountains, bringing snow and ice, and, with the blizzard of the seasons, came illness, settling into small villages scattered about the mountains. Winter showed no signs of letting up. Spring's touch remained absent, leaving a void in the frigid climate. Fevers raged in small homes where only fading, faint flames warmed the air. Heolin, a small village easily lost in the blizzarding mountains, was deep in the clutches of the storming snow; illness abound, without the aid of springtime medicine, Heolin was dying as winter danced in the air, taunting the dead with its eternal life.
Settled into the smallest of homes and tucked into a bed of trees, lay a lone house. Snow coating the landscape in an undisturbed blanket, fever enthralled the small abode. Inside, buried under a mountain of soft furs, a young boy lay before a flame; mirroring his condition, the small fire was flickering and dying as the supply of wood depleted.
Across town, a girl pleaded before the ancient herbalist of Heolin. "Please. I need medicine, anything you have. He's going to die, my brother's going to die!"
"I'm sorry. I've told you before: we're completely out of all medicines," the herbalist replied, a frown drawn across her face. "I wish I could help you, I really do, but this winter's been rough on all of us.”
"Is there anything? Any way to find medicine?" The girl had but a sliver of hope remaining, and she clung to it with all her might. But the herbalist's somber look crashed down around the young girl, hope replaced by a chill so sharp it pricked at her bones in ways no winter wind could fathom.
"The Dragon of the Mountains has cursed us with this unending winter," the herbalist told the girl, ignoring her pleas. "All we can do is pray the Dragon blesses us with spring once more and your brother can fight through this on his own."
"That's not enough," the girl whispered, her voice fading into the soft hollow in the air. Curse that dragon for this. For giving us an unending winter strong enough to fill a graveyard with the dead. For keeping spring locked away in its claws. For the terrible cold it so callously wrought upon the mountains. Curse that dragon.
But the Dragon didn't leave her mind as she trudged through the snow, pushing to return to her brother. The Dragon didn't leave her mind as she stirred the flames, rousing them from embers. The Dragon didn't leave her mind, building up until the sun had begun to fall beyond the sky to welcome night.
In the fading winter landscape, night grew, coating the world in murky darkness, while the girl lay on the floor. The Dragon consumed her thoughts, bringing the seeds of doubt--Perhaps this being could bring spring to the mountains, but why would a creature who drowns the world in snow bother bringing spring back for a small, human girl? "I have to save you," she whispered, extending her fingers to brush against her brothers. "I promise, I will."
Sleep came quickly that night, the warm heat from the dying fire lulling the girl into a trance-like slumber. Morning's arrival from beyond the mountains came with the final spark of the fire—the embers which had sustained for months had finally given way, falling to the titanous winter. The cold didn't hesitate to creep in, replacing the soft heat with sharp pain enough to rouse the girl.
Sleep lingered, bringing delirium as the girl wrapped her arms around her frail body; shifting into a seated position, the cold struck her from all sides, pouncing on every inch of exposed skin and threatening to tear her apart. As her consciousness began to stir, the cold stood out, a stark contrast to the warm fire that had lulled the girl to sleep. The fire!
Rushing to kneel before the fireplace, it was instantly apparent that there was nothing more for it to give, having eaten through all of the wood and slowly burned into oblivion. Futilely trying to breathe life back into the fire, the girl pushed the ashes into a stack. The cold grit of the ash warned of the vanity of the attempt, tainting the girl's desperation with reality. The fire had burned into frost and disappeared into the blizzard.
Softly sitting back, the girl stared at the darkened pit. The numbness of the cold seared the air, burning with the same intensity as a fire and far greater deadliness. Glancing toward her younger brother, buried beneath a mountain of furs and still shivering, a molten bead of foreboding burned in her stomach; without the fire, he would soon give in to the illness.
Flooding her head, the words of the herbalist were all the girl could remember: "pray the Dragon blesses us with spring." The Dragon's curse can only be lifted by the Dragon so, with a final wave of courage and hope propelling her onward, the girl slowly rose from the floor.
Gathering her coat and slinging a small bag with the crumb of what food remained, she lovingly gazed at her ailing, bed-ridden brother. Gingerly pulling the blankets to his chin, she turned and reached for the door. But some soft breeze, lifted from the still air in the room, held her hand back and pulled her eyes to the small crate meaninglessly tossed into the corner.
The crate itself was familiar. Made of a dark spruce wood treated with a transparent glaze, it resembled a treasure chest. The metal latch, coated in decades of rust, glinted despite the dinginess of the residence. Though she'd seen the crate every day, lodged among various junk in the peripheries of the room, it stirred a memory in her mind. A memory from when she was young during the summer, the time her mother spent in Heolin amidst her travels.
Just as winter brought disease, summer brought the bounties of the land. The mountains were fertile, greenery sprouting up from every crevice during the warm seasons. Smelling of pollen and perfume, a summer breeze pulled in a chill from high in the mountains as the girl, five years old at the time, played in a bed of wheatgrass.
Her mother sat at a table crafted from the stump of an ancient tree, bent over some book and sketching drawings onto her skin. Setting aside the small, brushed tool, she dabbed a towel—wetted with a soft, liquid wax—against her skin. Holding her arm to the light, the girl's mother retraced the inkings, smiling to herself.
After a moment of gawking at the grey markings, the young girl's mother returned to perusing the book laid out on the table. Constantly glancing between the book and her hand, the dim markings began to darken as a small sphere of sheer light, no larger than a pebble, formed in her palm. Sparkling an ombre of colors and emitting a soft, white light despite the harsh daylight, the small orb illuminated her palm as it spun in the air.
"Mama!" the innocent child gleefully called out, eyes glistening with excitement as she watched the shimmering display. "Can I try?"
Reaching for the inkwell, the young girl was oblivious to her mother's horror. Swooping down and snatching the inkwell and brush from the young girl's grasp, a look of disgust briefly crossed her mother's face before being replaced by a facade of love. "Sweety, don't touch that. Don't ever touch these things."
Confused and unsure of why she was being scolded, the young girl began to cry. But her mother hesitated, remaining stoic as she watched her daughter sobbing on the ground. Embracing her daughter and lifting her into her arms, the young girl's mother repeated her warning with a deceitful cruelty to her tone. "Don't ever touch these things. Ever."
The memory came unbidden, a fragment of an emotion that had been instilled in the girl from a time before she could understand the reality of the world. A time when she still believed in her mother, before she'd left the girl to care for her brother in the dead of winter without so much as a word.
Strung between the door, leading outward and into the mountains, and the small crate with memories that the girl couldn't understand, she stood motionless. Her eyes were locked on the chest but her hand was still absentmindedly reaching toward the door.
Drawn to the crate, the girl lifted the latch. A brush, an inkwell, a cloth, a bowl of wax, and a small book lay carefully spaced out within the chest. Brushing her fingers across each of the items, the girl reached for the miniature book. Flicking through the pages, her curiosity kept her engrossed. Each page was filled with small sketches, notes scribbled in the margins of the page. The girl couldn't understand what the book was about, but a phrase caught her attention: "The power the markings draw out is remarkable. It's enough to change the seasons of war. If this power can reach everyone, instead of being concentrated on the rich, the world would change.1"
The power to change the seasons.
The phrase stole her attention, rousing thoughts of the Dragon. Maybe I should see what it does? Slowly lifting the brush from the chest and dipping it into the small well of ink, the girl quietly whispered, "I'm sorry mother, but I need this now. I'm sure you'd understand.
Removing her coat, she slowly began to trace the symbols onto her skin, mirroring the small drawings from the book; glancing between the page and her arm, the girl's motion reflected her mother's motion years before as she drew the markings onto her skin. The ink, a harsh black color, faded to a dull grey as the symbols were completed.
Sketching the final of the foreign markings onto her arm, the girl wiped the brush against the lip of the bottle till it was cleaned of the ink. Selecting the small cloth towel, she dipped it into a bowl filled with a soft, melty glaze. Squeezing out the substance, the girl coated the symbols with it. Wetting another small cloth, the girl lifted the remnants of the dried glaze from her arm.
Though she didn't notice at the time, the air stirred as the symbols faded. Whatever power the ink had brought out could be faintly felt across the mountain and, far above where the sky came down to meet the earth, a slumbering beast had begun to stir.
But, blissfully unaware that the markings had done anything, the girl—after staring at her arm, the symbols not reacting as the book had promised—begrudgingly slipping her arms back into her soft fur coat, regathered her bag, and opened the door. Swathed in her warmest furs, she slipped out, marching toward the storming winter that had constricted itself around the mountains.
For three days and three nights, she climbed through snow piled above her head, eyes set on the peak of the mountain where the dragon was said to nest. As the days cycled, the cold winter pressed back. An endless torrent of snow befell the land, coating the white-washed landscaped in an unending blanket of ice.
The sun lit the sky a faint pink hue, warming the cool navy night, as the girl crested the mountain. Atop the mountain, laying in the middle of a wide field of stone, the girl found the Dragon. Laying on the peak with its body curled around itself, the appearance of the girl stirred the Dragon. Watching as it lifted its head and rose to its legs, the girl stared silently for a long moment, completely captivated by the majestic appearance of the Dragon.
Stretching as long as a river and towering so tall clouds spun around it like a crown, the Dragon held its head high—like a royal before the grand courts. Smooth scales, colored of deep navy, shimmered in the golden sunlight, flashing brightly as the Dragon shifted. Spiked horns, made of ebony white bone, sprouted from the Dragon's accentuated skull, casting an ominous shadow over the small girl. Spreading its wings, the Dragon opened its mouth and let out a mighty roar loud enough to be heard throughout the mountains. Cowering back, the girl shrunk away from the Dragon's imposing frame.
A faint pressure began to push again the air, teasing what oxygen remained in the thin atmosphere out of the girl's lungs. "Girl." The Dragon's voice resonated in the air, seeming to burst out of the sky itself as the Dragon stared the girl down2. Its composed face revealed no emotion, simply dispassionately observing the girl. "Why did you wake me from my slumber."
Struggling to breathe as the very presence of the Dragon crushed her, the girl's arm began to burn and itch. A pressure, similar to that which surrounded the girl, began to press against the inkings she'd drawn along her arm. A subconscious power stirred, far stronger than when she'd first drawn the symbols. Acting on instinct, the girl let the strange power take over. Bursting from the ground around her, an expanding force pushed back against the Dragon.
"Please, end this winter," the girl begged, coughing the words out as she struggled to regain her breath in the thin atmosphere. "Spring should have come long ago and, if spring doesn't come, my brother will die."
The Dragon didn't respond for a long moment, its ancient eyes observing the girl. When the Dragon responded, there was a sense of amusement in its voice. "You know not of the world, do you, child?"
Confusion clearly spelled out across her face, the Dragon filled the silence. "The world is filled with power, you know. I'm but a single vessel of the world, meant to serve humanity just as humanity serves nature.3 But I am not the only vessel for this power. You possess a similar power, granted to you by the symbols drawn on your arm."
"I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean," the girl cautiously said, fearful of what consequences might follow the Dragon's wrath.
"I may be the Dragon but, in a similar respect, there are many dragons4 in the world who have yet to find their wings and learned to fly. Perhaps you shall become a dragon, or maybe the next Dragon, for you are blessed with a power that few can fathom.5 Would you like that?" The Dragon's question was filled with amusement, almost as if it was reflecting upon its own power.
Taking the Dragon's inquiry literally, the girl pondered for a moment before responding, "Perhaps having such power would be best because, then, I would have the ability to keep my family safe. On my own."
"Someday you may find that power," the Dragon replied, though the words were cut off somewhat abruptly. When its voice echoed in the girl's ears again, it held a more somber tone. "I believe I should go. Before it gets to be too late. May springtime bestow life upon the land again and offer you the power you seek."
The Dragon gazed at the girl for a moment longer, its unemotive face seeming to express pleasure—forming a semblance of a smile. Shifting its weight backward and spreading its wings, the Dragon launched into the sky. As its wings stirred the air, the cold winter began to warm. Heat washed down the mountains, bringing spring once more.
Laughing and waving to the Dragon, the girl turned on her heel to head back toward Heolin. Spring had come once more and, with the departure of winter, her brother was sure to find health waiting in the warm breeze.
1The Igenaen edition of the legend emphasizes this phrase as a form of propaganda to show the citizens their view on the distribution of power.
2Though the most common association between the Dragon and Resonance relies on Vity, many renditions of the myth imply that the Dragon may possess the ability to use all forms of Resonance.
3The comment about humanity serving nature is similar to the other propaganda in the legend, however, its purpose is to subtle remind people of the balance between nature and humanity as Yongui Muge saw it.
4The Dragon is referring to Resonators as dragons.
5Though somewhat indirect, this phrase is used to cite the Seven Spirits as the seven blessed by the power of the Dragon. It's ingrained within the society of the Igenaeg Empire despite being little more than an off-hand mention in many forms of the myth.