Lajaka, Ice Dragon of Lassa

 
 
Lajaka is the Ice Dragon of Lassa (modern Rakan). His lair, Hekara's Abyss, is the final destination for pilgrims traveling the Dikalari.
  The Ice Dragon, like the other known dragons, is part of Seari mythology, dating back to the earliest surviving records some twenty-five thousand years ago (and the Shayd palace library has scholarly work that references even earlier texts, now lost, that speak of the Five Dragons).   His participation in human conflicts has waxed and waned through the millennia, though his involvement with the creation of the Jonna Empire has made him a popular modern figure.   He is especially revered in Rakan, where common belief credits him with numerous cultural and artistic expressions and innovations. Rakans claim he gave them special songs, dances, instruments and spells, proving his love of the aki n'di ori. The capital, Dodi on, has a three-story sculpture of the dragon playing a whistle, and locals and tourists alike offer small instruments at the shrine next to it, hoping for good luck.
all artwork by Shanda Nelson unless otherwise stated
 
Lajaka, Jonna-style tapestry
 
Temperment
  Myths depict a violent and deadly dragon; Lajaka did not hesitate to rain destruction upon those with evil intent. The Jonna Empire (2600 AGI - 4100 AGI) used this want for dragon justice as a hammer against the countries they invaded. Since the empire had access to two dragons through the siojhetioh Eserial (Kykini Cede's master) and her son, Jaioron (Lajaka's master), they threatened annihilation by dragonfire for those who opposed them. The target nations surrendered before a single sword was unsheathed--such was the potency of dragon temper in Seari's collective mind.   Dragonpriests detail a less violent dragon, and their writings account for most of the information modern scholars possess on the beast. They considered Lajaka amiable and entertaining, with a sharp wit and ready laugh. This underpinned the music and dances he created, and several folk tunes and their corresponding dances are credited to him, especially in Rakan.   He was also notoriously hard to please. His tolerance of mistakes and willful stupidity was low, leading him to reject many would-be masters before they made it to the Vendari, his controlling artifact. Those that earned his disgust, but still defeated the trials and conquered the Ice Wand, were never heard from again.
 

Lajaka
Age
Unknown
Country
Rakan
Language
Many, modern and ancient
Occupation
Ice Dragon
Appearance
Ice-blue and silver scales
Ice-blue mane and eyes
Dark silver horns and claws
 
 
A Bit of History
 
background of pic by Noel Bauza from Pixabay
  Manuscripts written by and for humans never mention a dragon's childhood. In this, Lajaka is no different than any other of the Five Dragons; they simply have always been.   This is why ancient scholars found the story of Lajaka's battle with Ogan at Ice Lake (1080 AGI) confusing; according to some accounts, the sfincks supposedly chose the Ice Dragon as his first Seari victim due to his youth and assumed inexperience. How a being over twenty-five thousand years old could be considered young made most historians laugh, giving them a ready example of the idiocy of sfinckses (and, therefore, the humans that looked to them as deities).   Brutal and bloody, the duel lasted a day before a gravely injured Lajaka, with a final burst of magick, froze the left side and chest of his exhausted foe. Knowing the sfincks would free himself before he could recover, he, depleted of energy and near collapse, began to sing.   Despite the agony racing across his back, and from his breast to his throat, he reached a note that vibrated the magick and shattered it and the frozen flesh it encased. His enemy's exterior broke apart, dumping his innards onto the sandy shore. The chunks melted into a slushy goo, and the dragonpriests swarmed the lake, caring for the dragon and burning his opponent to ash with shadowfire.   Word of his heroic win zipped through Seari and reached the invading sfincks army just landing on the shores of modern Rakan. Their incursion faltered; Ogan had led them, and his failure in underestimating a foe to his death cast their invasion into question. His human devotees retreated back to the eastern continent, terrified their deity had died, and the sfinckses tucked their tales between their legs and followed, halting the third dragon/sfincks war before it began.   Immediately, prominent adventurers and warriors sought to traverse the dragon's lair, complete the trials and master an experienced, and now very popular, fighter. They had universal popularity, legendary status, and wealth on their minds; Lajaka, though, had music on his.
 
 

Skills
Music:
Knows several centuries' worth of instruments and traditional/folk dances   If Lajaka sings low enough, he can vibrate internal organs, which can cause unease, pain, and even death
 
Magick:
Lajaka is known for deadly ice spells.   He is adept at casting enchantments on inanimate objects, like musical instruments.
 
Weapons:
Lajaka is fast and efficient with the use of claws, though he prefers offensive magicks. He is strong enough to pick up and impale an opponent on a tree.
 
Modern Seari scholars once believed the battle between Lajaka and Ogan apocryphal, a legendary explanation for the sound Yenan defeat by the aki n'di ori. After all, dragons were mythical creatures used as literary devices to add legitimacy to events, not real, breathing beasts.   Now that word is slowly trickling to the masses that dragons, in fact, do exist, and simply have spent the last two thousand years avoiding casual human contact, these scholars must rethink several millennia of legends--and ponder why dragons withdrew in the first place.
 
After Ogan's defeat, mystery artists interested in using music as a means to kill arrived at the Abyss. Lajaka, who had used his voice in a desperate situation, was so disgusted with the intent to turn something wonderful into something dark, burnt them to ash in shadowfire. The glimmerings of a new family of offensive spells using music died with them.
 
 
Just because it's big, doesn't mean he's going to play it.
Dragonpriest to ambassador
The sonorous flutes Lajaka played vibrated the bodies of those near enough to hear. As a dragon, he did not have to worry about the length between or breadth of fingerholes in the lowest instruments. Dragonpriests emulated his piper's grip, and even when playing soprano instruments that did not need such a handhold, they used one anyway.
 
Dragonpriests insisted Lajaka's interest rested in layering notes to create different sounds, which led to performances without much melody but a rich, enticing texture of sound. They often spoke on how he combined magick with physical instruments, creating unnatural, sometimes sickenly dissonant, noises.
 
Music
  Dragonpriests insisted Lajaka did not see himself as the battle-tried dragon the potential masters wanted him to be. While skilled in combat and the mystery arts, he preferred to practice music and dance--a confusing dichotomy for the battle-inclined. This led to his luke-warm tolerance of the overly-martial arriving at the Abyss and demanding his attention, and the resentment among some of them for what they perceived as his nonchalance concerning their achievements and glory.   The dragonpriests, believing themselves more attuned to his wants and needs than a random adventurer, focused on his love of music rather than on a battle he wanted to forget. To distract him, they created myriads of instruments for his pleasure, including ones large enough for him to play.   While he played percussion instruments of many types (from large egg-shaped shakers filled with dried beans to huge kettle drums to mallet instruments) he preferred fipple flutes. Once his musical tastes became widely known, rulers would send emissaries with gifts consisting of a variety of native instruments, and always a type of vertical flute. Some lines of instruments were invented for this purpose.   The efficacy of these varied as widely as their types and sizes, and most ended up on display in the Frozen Temple. Over time, the temple became the most visited museum for ancient instruments (human ancient, anyway). Scholars wrote treatises on the evolution of instruments based on the examples.  
 
Instruments created to honor Lajaka:

  • Yeeraawn
    from the southern desert, gourd with seven fingerholes, two thumbholes, and a long neck ending in a double-reed mouthpiece.

  • Siver
    silver recorder from Condi with a gentle, bright and nuanced sound

  • The Reed
    aki n'di ori whistle with six holes, made from stout, blue-ice river reeds, normally painted to resemble ice. The national instrument of Rakan.


  • Jyute
    Leandrein tabor pipes specifically made to hit "in-between" notes (quarter tones). Played in pairs, with each player also drumming on a small gourd instrument.

  • Yambersy
    from Amberfar, an ocarina-type instrument created from seashells adhered together and holes drilled on the top.

  • Strezik
    A Drae-goun lithophone large enough for Lajaka to play using the tips of his claws
  •  
       
     
     
    Ambient track exploring sound by Lajaka
     
    Flute piece exploring sound textures
     
    Rorque's original recorder holds a place of honor in the Ice Temple. From time to time, it still flashes with magick, which Lajaka renews.
       
    How many actually received instruction from either Rorque or Lajaka is unknown; most interacted with the dragonpriests and returned home without an audience. To cover for their disappointment and embarrassment, they told wild stories about the dragon and his master and their training that few believed but all enjoyed.
       
    The nature of the elite Rastem education is still considered a secret, and only the most gifted individuals in both magick and music or magick and dance are allowed into the program.   What is known, is that the graduates can use their magick as an instrument, creating unworldly sounds.
     
    Rastem
      In 1110 AGI, an unassuming, magickally-gifted man by the name of Rorque chose to enter the Abyss and vie to become a dragon companion. In the course of his wanderings through the myriad of tunnels beneath Majari, he stumbled upon dragonpriests in musical practice. A bit flustered, they asked him to join them, and he accepted.   Much to their shock, he withdrew a wooden flute from his pack. The sweetest notes issued from it, and the priests quizzed him on how he had carved, then imbued the instrument with magick. He had spent his youth practicing magick and the flute, and experimented with different methods, woods, metals, mouthpieces and the like, enhanced by spells he created to produce the warmest, sweetest tones.   Enchanted, Lajaka awaited his bonding to the Ice Wand before jumping him and peppering him with questions about technique, while he was still wobbly and numb from the trial. The first few weeks, rather than the typical tour of the dragon companion's native lands and dinners with kings, queens, and high nobles, they remained at the Abyss, discussing the art of the flute.   When they reappeared to the general public, they announced a new performing arts school called the Rastem.   Seeing an opportunity, thousands from across Seari flocked to the Abyss, hoping to gain admittance. New communities sprang up around the Abyss to hold the overflow of candidates, and the lair's dragonpriests frantically scraped together food, shelter, and exam times for all involved.   The entrance exams taxed even the most naturally gifted, and several prominent wielders, musicians and dancers failed the trials in a spectacular and embarrassing manner. Lajaka despised the mystery artists who believed squawking like a dying duck or flopping around like a grounded fish somehow qualified them for entry, and his biting rebukes proved harsh enough some lost their valuable social standing over it.   Those who failed had the option to study with dragonpriests, and some grudgingly did so. The rest left the Abyss. The initial six successful candidates, from random Seari countries, began a difficult study that took seven years to complete.   Those initial six took what they learned and began their own performing arts schools. They became the funnel to the Rastem; dragonpriests only accepted applications from serious candidates who had already trained at those schools. While several hundred musicians and dancers still sought educational opportunities at the Abyss, they worked solely with dragonpriests; only the Rastem students trained with Rorque and Lajaka.   Dragon and companion continued to accept only a handful into their training each year. When Rorque died, Lajaka refused to take more students and the interest in musical education at the Abyss subsided, though did not disappear. Only the destruction of the dragonpriests by religious fanatics halted the instruction. Once the only non-dangerous way to contact Lajaka disappeared, traffic to the Abyss dwindled to pilgrims and the stray tourist.
     
     
    Modern Times
      While Lajaka pulled back from most human contact after his experiences with Jaioron and the Jonna Empire 2500 years ago, the music school he and Rorque created continued. The scholarly descendants of the original six students built an official performance hall in Rille, Rikondi, which opened in 4261 AGI. The smaller schools funneled students to the new incarnation of the Rastem, with the intent to produce skilled musicians, dancers and instrument makers with exceptional talent in musical magick. Other institutions sought these graduates to head their own programs.   Places like the Palace School in Iova brag about the elite players they attract through the Rastem connection, though, at one point or another, nearly every music academy and dance school in Seari has had a Rastem graduate head their institution. Those institutions who have not, like Dokion in Rakan and Veztral in Drae-goun, have purposefully excluded Rastem's guidance, which means Lajaka's touch, in one way or another, influences all the "sophisticated" music, dance and instrument making throughout the continent.
    Original melody for Fluttering Wings created by Modulo Torsion using the granny knot (yes, he creates music from knots).   All else composed by Kwyn Marie.

    Comments

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    9 Feb, 2022 18:05

    Great article with some very cool art! That banner looks like something that would fit quite well in the real world heraldry. Interesting concept of a musical dragon always nice to see them as something else than just brutes ^^

    Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
    10 Feb, 2022 05:14

    Thank you! I'm glad you like the banner. And yeah, dragons are not just brutes in my Wellspring series. Real dragons are much more than claws and teeth, as juxtaposed against their mythic violence. The peoples of Seari don't really like real dragons that much, because they break comfortable stereotypes.

    10 Feb, 2022 01:05

    I think the story about Rorque and Rastem were my favorite parts, but the whole thing was very well written. You art is also great, Especially the Heraldry, as kefke mentioned.

    A new Challenge! Every Bard needs a tavern, and while Lone Gull may not be the resident entertainment, he did train the bard of Hell's Half-Acre.
    10 Feb, 2022 05:18

    Thank you! I'm glad you both enjoyed the writing and art. I have a love/hate relationship with my art right now, so it's nice to see it attracts attention :)

    10 Feb, 2022 16:23

    Love the idea of a musical dragon. And this is a really well-rounded article with the art, story and music adding to each other.

    10 Feb, 2022 17:22

    Thank you :) Yeah, Lajaka isn't the dragon most people expect. Humans think, "Vicious bringer of death!" and he's like, "I just want to play the flute."

    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    10 Feb, 2022 18:11

    Great article! Fascinating to see how Lajaka influenced history and I love the idea that he always has priests around him taking care of all of his wants XD All of those instruments sounds fascinating, and it's fun that Lajaka has made a full museum out all those he was gifted XD   I'm a bit confused about who are "siojhetioh Eserial (Kykini Cede's master) and her son, Jaioron (Lajaka's master)". Are they other dragons? Or rather their masters?   Also you says the historians thought dragons were not real for a long time because Lajaka retired from the world for a while. During all this time, did the schools of music still send people to Lajaka? And only the historians doubted what was going on? Or did everyone stop believing in dragons?

    To see what I am up to, my latest article is Geography of magic for the River Challenge
    10 Feb, 2022 19:26

    Thanks!   I have an article on dragon companions, and I should link to that. But yeah, Eserial and Jaioron were dragonmasters. Humans see themselves as dragonmasters--dragons see humans as companions, and while there's a reason they willingly link themselves to humans in the first place, that's a secret to be revealed in a later book.   In the book series, most humans on Seari believe dragons are just myths, and I'll make that clearer in the article (thanks for the feedback!). This includes scholars, government and religious officials, commoners, etc. It isn't until Shiobe masters the Kandari and becomes Kykini Cede's companion that Illenans and Merrens realize that dragons do, indeed, exist (basically, dragons have kept a low profile for 2500 years, long enough humans forgot they were real and attribute anything about them to myth). It's a shocking revelation, and some of the next bits of storyline deal with how humans are coping with it.   So the schools did stop sending people to the Abyss. Once the dragonpriest order died, there wasn't any non-dangerous ways to get in contact with Lajaka. And soon enough, dragons, out of sight, out of mind, were forgotten.

    10 Feb, 2022 18:16

    So many great things here. The art, the music, the CSS to match the dragon. I definitely like the idea of a dragon bard and that he can combine music & magick. I love that the temple has become a sort of musical museum. That's a cool touch.

    - Hello from Valayo! Featured work: How to Write Great Competition Articles
    10 Feb, 2022 19:31

    Thank you :) I'm so happy it all came together. Composing music was a challenge; I play it, not write it. I found out I enjoy both, so in that respect, this was a good challenge for me.

    18 Feb, 2022 20:14

    Wow, there are some amazing ideas in here! I already love the idea of dragon companions and challenges, but the uniquely minded ice dragon is already a favorite of mine. I picture the battle-hardened adventurers showing up to conquer his trials and him being bored and annoyed by these militaristic brutes. Somehow I have the feeling passing the trials while annoying the dragon is very bad for your health. The music school they founded is a very interesting aspect, and I like how most weren't even taught by the dragon, but claimed so anyway. This was a very fun read, well done.

    If you have some time, I would much appreciate your feedback on my entry for Adventure April: Carbon Copy Paradise
    18 Feb, 2022 21:19

    Thank you :) I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And yeah, don't annoy a dragon.

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