Scale

"Whence does the dragon raise her armies? Great beast though she may be, she could not have carried them all on her back"
— Ras Gafhi Tsaham
 

In those places where the dragons landed, humanoid beasts in their image have also appeared. Some suppose that these dragonthralls were raised from the earth, while others believe they were brought with the dragons. Many more however believe that the dragonthralls are made through corruption, through the affliction of scale.

 

Though accounts are confused, scale appears to manifest as the afflicted gradually taking on traits of the dragon, often scales on the skin or fingers becoming clawed. As the afflicted transforms, they hear the dragon's voice and join the dragon's ranks, never to be seen again.

 

It is believed that each of the four dragons promulgates its own variant of scale, and tales of black, white, and bronze scale are all known to scholars. It is also believed that there is a red scale, but due to the remoteness of the red dragon's territory, reports are even more scarce.

 

Scale is reported only near dragon territory, and appears to require proximity to the dragon to appear. Since the death of the white dragon Thatavor and his replacement by his son Avorikat, many believe that white scale has ended as Avorikat has not sought war against the realms bordering him. However, despite his more peaceful disposition compared to his father, Avorikat has not even admitted that white scale exists.


Causes

"Hail to the Queen."
 

Scale does not create epidemics. Indeed it is not completely certain that scale exists. The Howudra Gafhi claim that scale is acquired by giving one's self to the dragon in exchange for one's life. The dragon appears to those in mortal peril, and offers her wing. Thus scale cannot be contracted, only accepted.

 

As scale progresses, the afflicted abandons their allegiances and joins the dragon. Scale is believed to warp the mind, and as no-one has had the opportunity to interview a dragonthrall, such beliefs remain untested. However, there people who claim to been offered scale and who have rejected it.


Symptoms

Scale begins with slight changes, a claw or a scale, or perhaps fangs. However, once the process starts it cannot be reversed, and in some sense once scale is accepted, it has already finished its work. What has been taken by the dragon shall not be returned. Eventually, the afflicted fully becomes a dragonthrall, all trace of their former identity gone.


Cultural Reception

Most who have fought dragon forces believe that scale is a fate worse than death, as dragonthralls appear to be little more than ravening beasts. Others are unlikely to be sympathetic, as scale is believed to be accepted rather than contracted. As scale implies the afflicted has given themselves to the dragon and will join the dragonthralls soon, death is believed to be the only remedy.

 

Among some dragon cults, scale is believed to be a gift of their patron, and is actively sought out.


Type
Magical
Origin
Magical

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