Guien Lore Snippet: Of the Isle of Sulphur, and the Drakburnt Isegi peoples that dwell there.

[Hello again dear ones. In celebration of signing the official contract for the forthcoming Hobgoblin sequel, Eater of Names, here’s another snippet of lroe about one of the seldom visited lands on Guien’s beautiful map. Enjoy:]

Of the Isle of Sulphur, and the Drakburnt Isegi peoples that dwell there.

By Lady Betheny Agredda of Old-Hold

 

Far to the South of Oellir, off the eastern shores of the Grief Peninsula, lies the Isle of Sulphur. This is a relatively modern term for the ancient and rather sizeable island. It was given this moniker by Achevin merchants who settled there during the Father of Cities’ expansionist phase. This was on account of the stench of rotten eggs which pervaded the long-isolated island, and the name stuck in the collective consciousness of the civilised world.

What a shame it is that the merchants hadn’t settled in the northern reaches first, but had instead first ventured south to discover the cause of this stench.

How much better would ‘the Isle of Drakes’ been as a name? Alas, history does not bend to the whim of mortals.

The Isle is almost eight hundred miles long from its northern to southern extremities, according to the records of Achevin cartographers. Whilst the north is mostly rainforest, the south is covered in nourishing black soil which allows for strong and diverse agricultural crops to be grown. The south, however, is dominated by Mount Isegmaw, the tallest mountain in the known world.

In the north, the Achevins built a colony town, Vardefound. It is from the histories written by scholars visiting there that we have so much history of this lonely island. However, the Achevins were latecomers to the Island. The Isles were already colonised by the Isegi, a civilisation old before the Starfall, so they say.

The Isegi live in temples cities, carved into the foothills of Isengmaw, or else in primitive farming villages on the island’s interior. There are other minor tribes of people who dwell in fishing villages on the coasts, but they are of such minor importance to the Achevins, the individual names of their tribes are not recorded. They are the fish-people, displaced and subjugated by the Isegi. The Isegi in turn are only known by name due to the one aspect of their culture which the Achevins craved.

The Isegi were dragon-tamers. If there is one thing in all history to fire the imagination of even the most stolid scholar, it is dragons. *

According to the stories I’ve found, they found the first dragon eggs in caves in the steep sides of Isegmaw. They reared the hatching drakes by hand, till they grew large enough to ride. ** Over hudnreds of eyars, they were able to learn how to learn the secrets of wyrm-speak, a secret which remains closely guarded by the Isegi to this very day. This gave the Isegi, a primitive tribe of obsidian wielding savages, the power of flight and fire. All of a sudden, they had the ability to defeat every other tribe on the island within the space of a few months. Their dragon riders were legendarily dangerous, able to vanquish armies outnumbering them by thousands to one. *** The only thing keeping the Isegi from expanding across Oellir was the ocean; even small dragons are heavy beasts, and can only fly for short distances. A lengthy trip over the sea would result in drake and rider plunging into the depths. Since the Isegi knew nothing of ship building, they became isolated on the Isle of Sulphur.

As is the way with many isolated communities (such as the Yud and Ked of frozen Ashebos) their technological development stagnated. They were unassailable by their rivals, and had no need of labour saving innovation, simply using slave labour from the defeated tribes. Instead, they poured their efforts into building bigger and bigger temple cities out of the dense stones abundant on their island. They worshipped Isegmaw as a god, believing that beneath the great mountain slept a giant dragon of divine scale.

Unfortunately for the Isegi, this dragon eventually woke. Not literally of course, but one day the skies darkened, plumes of ash rising like a great column joining Utterlight and land. The mountaintop exploded, and the force of the blow shattered their capital city, and the pyroclastic flows that followed swept almost half their people into oblivion. Lava flowed over what remained, and their crops burned in the field.

Only a handful of dragons and their broods survived. It took the Isegi centuries to recover, and even then they were never as powerful as once they’d been.

It was these sorry specimens that the Achevin merchants came across when they eventually founded their colony. Achevin people are generally dark-skinned, as many in hot climes are, but the Isegi being in land shotter still, their skin was almost coal black, with white ink tattoos etched into curving patterns down their backs, the armour of their warriors woven with discarded dragon scales, hard as iron. The Achevins called the Isegi ‘Drakburnt’, joking their complexion was the result of a failed union between man and drake which left the Isegi overbaked; another hilarious derogatory moniker I’m sure…

Despite their condescension, the people of Vardefound saw great value in the Isegi. Dragon bile is an extremely potent fuel, which burns with a fierce blue flame, hot enough to melt steel like tallow so they say. Also, the leather of their wings in extremely fire resistant and tough. There’s a famous saying, that the only stuff which can cut dragon leather is the claw of a dragon or an Aelf-knife. My father owns a patch of dragon leather from his old campaigning days, but I’m not in the habit of cutting into antiques just to test an old wives’ tale.

In any case, these valuable drake products were highly valued in the metropolis, and the Vardefound colony became very wealthy, as did the Isegi. This wealth bought them a measure of independence. The Kings of the Isegi are one of the few monarchies around Oellir who are not direct vassals of the Achevin Emperor, though they still send representatives to the city on occasion. As for the governors of Vardefound, they have positions almost as high as Vassal Kings themselves.

The dragon riders of the Isegi rarely leave the island for war, even when provided great junks to help ferry their turbulent reptilian passengers overseas. Ships tend to get set ablaze when a dragon gets nervous.

The most famous dragon of all, the Imperial Dragon of Achevi, was in fact stolen from the Isle of Sulphur as an egg. Even hundreds of years later, this theft is still a point of contention between the Isegi and the Imperial throne.

Ever since that day, the Isegi have been particularly vehement in protecting their wyrms. There have even been minor wars fought on the island itself between the Isegi and bands of Achevin and Magnallan poachers, trespassing on the island in order to kill a prize buck, or pillage a nest full of eggs.

Long may they be thwarted. I dread the day dragons take route on the mainland. Imagine if even half of them grow even half as large as their imperial cousin? It would be a world on fire, the Age of Great Beasts come again.

 

*(That and Djinn. Folks love ghosts and devils I’ve found.)

**(This is usually when the juvenile dragon has grown to possess a thirty-foot wingspan. Drakes seldom grow larger than that. Too large, and they become unruly and impossible for even Isegi trainers to control, or else they get hunted down. It is claimed the Isegi cull their dragons before they get too large. I could well believe it. Dragons never stop growing, and the Imperial Dragon at Achevi is said to be so vast that it can no longer fly, and it scales are so thick some say even cannons could not kill it if it ever slipped its bonds.)

***(There’s a theory that the reason the Aelf bred their silver eagles was a direct counter to dragon riders.)

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~ by lordlucan1 on July 28, 2018.

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