Wednesday, June 29, 2016

De Origine Draconum

Abstract: A dragon is the result of a long process of self-transformation. A wizard who wishes to become a dragon must carry out the following steps: 1) Seek out axolotls, 2) Enter into a symbiotic relationship with the axolotls, allowing them to colonize the body, 3) feed these symbionts so that the humanoid body may transform into a dragoniod one.

Jakub Rebelka, "Witcher Memories"

Part 1: Introduction
It is inevitable that each of us will, eventually, become subjects of Death’s Empire. Mortality is our fate, whether due to an accident of nature or the design of the gods, such that it defines us and sets us apart from the fay creatures. If indolence is the curse of fay immortality, restlessness is the curse of human mortality, for we have but a limited span in which to leave our mark on the world. This immutable fact, however, has not prevented the powerful and ambitious from seeking to lengthen the wick of their life’s candle. Since humans are, by definition, mortal, the only way to attain immortality is to shed one’s humanity. There are a few paths open to those mad and avaricious enough to undertake such a journey: become a lich, become a vampire, or become a dragon.

Each of these apotheoses comes with its particular curses: to see your human flesh slough and rot while your quintessence clings jealously to a phylactery; to take the moonlight as your betrothed and the blood of the living as your only milk; to become huge and monstrous on a scale unimaginable to the human mind. To further complicate matters, vampirism is not a choice, but a condemnation: it is often the case that only those who truly wish for death above all else are granted that eternal life-in-death. This peculiar predicament fuels the hatred of the vampire. The lich, likewise, is caught in a trap: neither living nor dead, neither human nor beast. These transformations seem to foreclose as many possibilities as they open up.

Wyrmhood is a more ambivalent prize. Both the lich and the vampire are compelled to take the lives of others in order to sustain their own. As such, they are creatures of hate and hate alone, tax collectors for the Emperor of Death. For all of their fearsome powers and conniving intellect, they are  but uncomplicated creatures. There are as many varieties of dragon, on the other hand, as there are planes of the multiverse. There are dragons who protect the weak and dragons who choose to dominate them instead, dragons who care only for treasure, dragons who prefer parley or trickery to physical force, dragons who cloak themselves in flame, who are at home among the glaciers, who breathe in and out the miasma of the swamp. The type of dragon a host becomes depends, in part, on the personality of the host.  In leaving behind one’s humanity and embracing wyrmhood, all of the myriad shining facets of the gem that is the human personality are reduced to a single burning ember. If mortality defines the human, and hate defines the lich and vampire (albeit in different ways), it is this single-mindedness that defines the dragon. 

Part 2: Axolotls | Part 3: Wyrmlings | Part 4: Dragonborn | Part 5: Dragons

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