The Kingdom of Theria is a large city-state that enjoys the protections of its location, the mountain Tarian, with its especially difficult to travel terrain. There are also several towns and villages within the region that are under the rule of Theria. It is most known for the stronghold at the peak of the snowy spire, led by a number of warlords who represent different factions that have prominence in the territory. As of the late 1680s, following the events of the Reckoning of the Great Dragon Garljing, the kingdom also has a large population of Drakanites, and many dozen dragons that dwell within its caverns. It has consolidated itself as a a considerable force of power and influence in Esshar.
A number of mercenary companies that were caught between the civil war of the Bastard Rebellion, on the losing side, were declared as enemies of the state and fled to the mountains. Considered somewhat low priority given the instability of Osrona and its city states at the time, they were able to rebuild in exile and took over the few dinky villages in the region. The few attacks that there were, the Therians had the benefit of the terrain where the narrow pathways up the cliff would not allow a sizeable force to cross. Over time, this formed into its own city-state.
Reckoning of the Great Dragon Garljing
There was a consolidated effort to appeal to the nation of Sluthia by the dragonborn Warlord Seneca in the late 1680s. Diplomats were sent brandishing gifts and a humble desire to form an alliance of trade and other dealings. Given its aberration for all things Esshar, including its mountains and the mercenary companies within, the Sluthians respond with a show of force. A number of their Dragonlords travelled directly to Theria, and overhead many dragons flew high, almost a hundred of them, easily contending with any army that could be mustered by humanity.
The initial talks were tense. The Dragonlords asked the people plainly: Why would they ally with any Essharan, regardless of their motives, after Ersen Astor slew their leader and Great Dragon, Myndrerrag? The Therians argued that they are not an ally to Osrona and while the blood of Esshar does run through most of them, there is more to be considered, especially since it was over a millennia ago. The negotiations continued to sour as the invited party found it difficult to trust mercenaries, many of whom were former thieves and turncoats. It worsened a day later when one of their dragons flew somewhat astray to nearby farmlands and was attacked, to which it responded by attempting to burn the people and the land there alive.
That dragon, which was killed in the skirmish, happened to be the child of Garljing, a direct son of Ryujin and by all merit, one of the most powerful figures in Sluthia with various legends across the world referencing him. In retaliation, the red-scaled titan immediately razed a number of villages, killing hundreds and forcing Theria to amass its warriors, leading to a violent (but brief) conflict. As this happened, the scattered drakanite people across Esshar, hearing of these events, travel in mass to Theria and seek to appease Garljing.
The vistors are impressed by the resolve of the native dragonborn, and a change in direction was considered: There would be no alliance, nor any further deaths, and Garljing would choose to remain behind. To replace what he had lost in his murdered son, he will create many more in Esshar and guide them, granting humans the blessings of his father, Ryujin... thus beginning the rise of the Fireblooded and its influence in Theria.
There is no one religion in Theria, however, unique to it are the practices of the Fireblooded, which has a significant presence within the kingdom. There are a number of temples across the land. While it is primarily a Drakanite religion, humans also follow it and are encouraged to do so. The tenets of the faith and their beliefs are as follows:
- The world begun with a spark of life, and the element that ushered in Eternia was fire, filling the endless void with its warmth. It is the driving force behind every human and is central to their soul. It is their passion, their ambition, and their will. The divine spirit that breathed these flames of life was Ryujin, the greatest of all dragons, and the forefather of every drakanite to date.
- Fireblooded believe that if they lead honorably and fight with fearlessness and strength, they'll be permitted through the gates of Vanaheim, the inner most realm of the spirit world. A place with tall, towering silver walls that circles Yggdrasil, the tree that life flows from its countless branches. There, the greatest warriors gather until the world's end, and a battle like no other. If denied entrance, the person will wander the spirit world or perhaps reincarnate to the living realm again, stronger and renewed from the trials of their past life.
- Once the netherworld was established, Ryujin took his place as the Spirit Lord and the overseer of all of Eternia's immortals. The first Dark Lord of Helheim was said to be an avatar of destruction that wanted nothing more than to slay the greatest dragon of all.
- Dragons are naturally revered and to be protected, and any human that brings harm upon one should be put to death. As a dwindling species compared to millennia past, prized for the potency of their magical scales and teeth, the primary mission of Fireblooded is to ensure the wellbeing of dragons and the rise of the drakanite race. They're symbols of the fiery spark that the world began with, embodying passion, heat, and timeless wisdom.
- Followers might seek to accrue wisdom by watching fire in a trance-like state, a form of meditation. Some even claim to see visions in the flame. Another practice in self-discipline is calmly walking across hot coals.
A behemoth and a son of Ryujin, said to be thousands of years old, the red dragon lives at the peak of Theria's mountains where the air is thin and the cold might freeze any ordinary human before they can reach his cavern. The dragon is true to his kind's nature, a hoarder of treasure with a great thirst for knowledge and objects of worth. Garljing expects tribute from Theria and he does not discriminate if the Warlords lack treasure; humans can also be offered up as a sacrifice, the fortunate of whom he transforms into drakanites, whereas the rest (almost all of them) are eaten by him and his children.
Garljing respects strength, tenancy, and ambition. He praises those who explore and expand their influence, especially if it involves pillaging. Very few have been known to leave his den alive, but those that do are considered exceptional and blessed by the Drakanites of Theria. After all, if the dragon did not kill them, it means that he spared them, and by extension they're worthy of Garljing's acknowledgement.
Every five years, the dragon permits a group of Therians to deliver his tribute. This tends to be coffers full of treasure, and depending on who's in charge at the time, the offer of human sacrifices. The sacrifices can range from captured enemies to willing servants wanting the opportunity to serve Garljing. (OOC Note: This can be hosted as an event by a DM, otherwise it occurs in the background). These offerings are typically left outside of his fortress.
Saga of Thorgil
The writings that detail the life of Thorgil are a particularly notable work and often used as reference by the Red Priests of Theria, as one of the few people who had firsthand experience with Garljing for longer than a brief interaction. The man lived his life as a warrior before eventually converting to the Fireblooded, even going as far to sear his eyes with flame, permanently blinding himself. He was one of the first servants of the great dragon, serving at his side for many years in the mountain fortress until he eventually returned.
The writings cover:
- Chapter 1: Life as A Warrior. As a young man, Thorgil gained fame by leading a company of adventurers into the shadow lands, a largely unexplored, jungle region that's plague-ridden from the events of the divine war. Treasures and strange beasts were encountered in his ten year long expedition, from giant ape-like creatures to swathes of sentient, moving trees. During his voyage back, many of his men had died from a disease that bubbled the skin away in a feverish outbreak. He continued as a warlord of modest station thereafter.
- Chapter 2: Tribute To Garljing. Thorgil's first encounter with the red dragon was described thusly: "At the edge of the cavern where no other man was permitted to enter, I was left alone to wander forward with the bones of past sacrifices at my feet. In the distance, I saw him; he was scaled in red shields, and looked like he had been carved from the mountain. His eyes were on me despite the distance and the darkness, and I felt him deciding whether or not I was tonight's meal or passing entertainment. Even against the beasts of the shadowlands, I never felt so small. In the presence of the divine, I was awed and afraid, still and tense." Without exchanging any words, the dragon exhaled a puff of smoke and turned, permitting Thorgil's presence in his cavern.
- Chapter 3: The First Week. Several days passed, and Thorgil dared not to speak to Garljing unless he was addressed first. The man instead hunted, offering a kill of wild elk to the dragon while maintaining a distance. Accepting the offering, the first vocal exchange of many began, where Garljing was using a leg bone as a tooth pick and simply asked for the human's name. Then, he was permitted to ask a single question: What is Good, and what is Evil? A bestial, hounding laughter resounded from the dragon, roaring in a brief but violent wind. "There is only Desire and Restraint," Garljing answered, "Selfishness...is seen as sin, but this is wrong. It is your kind's nature to want. The angels will tell you to be merciful, be good. Shackle and limit yourself, when a man is only as great as his ambition."
- Chapter 4: Tenants to Follow. While the ancient dragon disliked the use of pious labelling and the rules that many self-righteous claimed to follow, he did have his own preferences, as Thorgil learned in their exchanges. These were: 'Never outnumber a foe,' 'Do not shy from violence or exert cowardness,' and 'Discover a want that you would crush nations for'. Largely, dragons believe that the 'fire' that burns in a human's soul is brighter the greater the stakes, whether they're in the midst of a life or death battle where one mistake might send them to the afterlife, or on a great campaign of personal empowerment. These successes help to feed the flames that flicker beyond a man's eyes.
- Chapter 5 - 9: ??? (Space for future chapters to be written)
- Chapter 10: Flames of Rebirth. Wishing to conclude his service, Thorgil requested permission to return to Theria. Garljing rejected this, and told the man to pick up his axe and cleave his way out. The two fought, but naturally the human succumbed to the great dragon, and was left at his mercy. Thorgil entered the Therian pose of prayer; hands tightened into fists in front of the heart, legs crossed, and he was bathed in flame. Rather than melt flesh and bone, the flames of Garljing blessed Thorgil with the dragonic magic and he awoke anew, with slitted, green eyes that could see once more, and a stronger body. The man was said to proudly return to Theria on wings that carried him home.
Theria is ruled by a Council of Warlords. To become one, a magi must prove their loyalty and swear fealty to the City. Their influence varies depending on the men following them and their own power. At times there has been a lone Warlord that dominates. If a Warlord is also a Drakanite, they're referred to as a Dragonlord.
During Therian weddings, it's customary for the bride and groom to join hands and leap through a circle of fire. If they do so without the edges of their clothes being set alight and make a clean, sure exit out on the other side, it's a sign of good luck and prosperity ahead.
A common practice for parents raising a warrior is to send them out to live on their own for a year when they're still a child to toughen them up, often between the age of thirteen and fifteen, on their name day. During which time they're encouraged to steal and scrape by on their own, lacking the money and resources for food. If they last the entire year without returning home then they're considered an adult from that point on.