I will be getting back to the political discussion, but it occured to me that to actually explain Sikreth, let alone Toledero, or even the imperial government of Letasacia, having some minor basis in where everything living there comes from might be, y'know, vaguely useful. Plus, backstory on vampires.
This is not a nice story. Anarchy usually isn't.
So, we return to the nature gods--Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and their mother, Spirit-the-Moon. Now, these children worked together with far more ease than the Great Four, but still, their natures opposed each other as much as complimented each other, and after the creation of human, they were more of a mind to go their separate ways, rule their separate domains, and put off any more grand ensemble creations indefinitely. So each child went to Spirit and asked to be given a set of followers, not of all five elements like man and animal and earth, but of themselves and of Spirit and no other.
Spirit herself already had a group of souls with no bodies that she'd birthed before the creation of man; these were the Spirit elementals. She agreed to help each of her children, and as they brought her air, and fire, and earth, and water, she breathed life into each one, thereby creating elementals of each. Immortal as the substances of which they were made, without the internal conflict to ravage them like humans (built in by Time, who is as much father to the nature gods as Chance is, as Destiny is their mother). Thus were the elementals made.
But the nature gods continued to bicker and argue, and sick of their fighting, Spirit left them for the sky, where she hung as the Moon. And when they came to her for more followers, for the elementals, with no living flesh, could not by themselves reproduce, she denied them.
Soon Air had the idea that, though her elementals could not themselves have children, when paired with humans, they might--and those children would be more air and spirit than any other thing, and could be hers. So she set some of her male elementals to the world, to find human women and get them with child. From there came the harpies, who were not so bitter in those days; but that is a story for another time.
Fire saw this, and excited by the new idea, sent one of his own elementals to bear children--but he sent a fire-woman, in fear that the birth might kill a human woman. She bore two children, twin girls, Aessa and Anyiamar. Unlike the harpies, which were half human, but took half the form of a creature-of-air, Aessa and Anyiamar were born appearing fully human, to Fire's distress; but soon it became clear that they had not inherited their mother's form, for their mother had no form. Instead, they took her ability to flicker from shape to shape as easily as a breath. And so Fire was content.
Water and Earth, too, bred elementals with humans. Water made naga, sea-serpents with the heads and torsos of humans, who did not give birth at all but instead laid eggs like snakes. Earth created centaurs, with the powerful and sturdy bodies of a horse. And for a time, all was content.
The Great Gods saw these followers of their children, though, and were jealous. They each eyed themselves a different group--Chance the harpies, for air has ever been full of new ideas; Time the naga, for the slow, patient wearing-away of water; Destiny the centaurs, for their constancy and their strength. It was Anarchy, however, who succeeded so well.
There were in those days shadow-spirits of destruction, as much as of creation. Misshapen things, mismade by the nature gods, spared from death to be claimed by Time and Anarchy, some capricious, quick and unforseeable, some implacable. No sooner had Anarchy seen the fire-children and coveted them than one such, Kannak, had turned towards them in her name; and when he spotted Anyiamar, he coveted her himself. She frolicked in the form of a bright-winged bird, a running cat, but she was most beautiful as a human girl, with long red hair and warm skin.
It was not so very hard for Kannak to lure her away from her father the blacksmith, her mother the fire elemental, and her twin sister. She was curious and bold, and he had the trick of illusion, and many others besides. To capture her was more difficult, for the forces of chaos are not usually great planners, but Kannak was harsh and powerful to defend against. He came upon Anyiamar as she was lost in the woods, far from her home, and attacked her with fist and fire until she was weak. Then he bound her in silver chains studded with sea-gems, hand and foot, and carried her deep into his cavernous labyrinth.
Anyiamar struggled, but the water-spells on her bindings held her fast, and kept her from changing. Kannak raped her brutally, six times, claiming her as his wife while she wept and bled upon the cold stone.
She gave birth first to a son, with hair red as hers, and almost loved him. When she raised him to her breast to suck, he bit her with teeth as sharp as his father's, like knives or razors. She named him 'Fire-that-bites-like-a-fang', and refused to look at him.
Her second child was a daughter, with eyes as blue as the sea. She, too refused her mother's milk in favor of trying to nurse on her blood. Anyiamar named her 'Ocean-of-blood', and thus Kannak's servants took her, too, away.
She gave birth to another son, who she named 'Earth-which-crushes-and-shatters', and two daughters, 'Wind-that-whispers-of-death', and 'Moon-that-conceals-in-shadows'.
Perhaps you have heard this story before, of the beautiful young maiden taken from her family by the cold king-under-earth. Or perhaps you have heard of the mother who bore her husband six children, and how one by one, he took the first five from her into the darkness.
Perhaps then it will not surprise you to learn that before Anyiamar birthed her last son, her heartsick mother found her, and demanded her return. Her fury was great and scorching, as she grabbed the girl, already pregnant with her sixth and final child, and drew her finally home.
After so long under the earth, the bright sun scorched and hurt Anyiamar's eyes. The dark which had been so confining now seemed cool and welcoming, and she found herself every day wincing from the morning and waiting for the night to come. When her final child was born, Anyiamar named him 'Wrath-of-the-night', and for the first time did not put him from her, but instead kept him close. She fed him on her blood and raised him herself, and she plotted.
Not long after the sixth child had grown, Kannak came to the gate of Anyiamar's mother's house, where she had been living all this time. He was flanked by five youths, tall and pale-skinned, with fire in their eyes and fangs like tigers behind their blood-red lips, their first five children now grown. In the name of their consummated marriage, violent travesty though it might have been, he demanded her return.
Anyiamar's mother tried to send him off with power and fire, but Anyiamar stepped forward, Wrath-of-night behind her, and took Kannak's hand in hers. Her smile was flat and dangerous, and hid her own teeth well. She promised her mother her return, and left.
That night in Kannak's cavernous kingdom, Wrath-of-night did as his mother had instructed him to do, and killed his father with the swift thrust of a glass-and-silver blade. He turned to his older siblings, and said to them:
"I am the strongest among us, for I have done by myself in one night what in all your lives the five of you could or would not. If you want to challenge me, you may try. If you are so desperate to follow someone, though, that you think to avenge him, then instead, follow me." And so he made himself their leader, and took them out into the world they had never seen.
Anyiamar herself, with the death of Kannak, became queen of the dark and the night, and remains so to this day.
Her mother, once again bereft, could not bring herself to think of harm to her daughter, and Kannak himself was already dead. She had no such love for Anyiamar and Kannak's children, however, and as the sun rose the next morning, she called upon her god of fire, and mightily cursed the six of them: that they should never bear children, and that their very blood should be poison to those who touched it. Anyiamar herself countered her mother's spell, which she could not break, by giving her loved and loathed children the whole bitey-reproducey thing, not to mention the thrissa-venom interestingness. But that, my children, is OCD that Ami can explain herself.
Meanwhile, the other elementals and the gods themselvs had seen what Anyiamar's children were capable of if their destructive capacity was enhanced, and they got all sorts of nervous over Aessa. So instead of waiting for her to start popping out crazy fire-children, they married her right off to a naga, in hopes that the water and the fire would cancel each other out. Given that the naga only lay eggs, she ended up living in snakey, salamander-y form for the marriage to work. It was not the most fun she'd ever had in her life, no.
But from Aessa's clutch of eggs hatched a brood of children that were something like salamanders and something like humans. They could not take any shape, like their mother, but they could become fully snakelike or fully human, and anything in between. They also had some fairly self-destructive psychological issues, given that they were half fire and half water, which do not get along too well. Still, there were hopes of being able to salvage the line, and the gods all knew nobody was ever letting Fire try this experiment again, so for stability, Aessa's brood was married off to...we'll say 'earth elementals' and not 'centaurs', 'kay? Yeah. Let's go with that.
This got the next generation of little lizards legs, and a fairly impressive size while in lizardy-form, though they were still normalesque while humans. Also, made them somewhat prone to torpor and lethargy and stubbornness. At which point the gods figured, what the hell, let's go for the hat trick and breed them with air, too. They picked up wings, and their personalities more or less evened out. Although given that they got their four-elemental aspects from breeding instead of having it created into them in the first place (and don't even try to figure out the fraction aspect here, seriously), they do still tend to bicker a lot.
So, yeah, there we are with the dragons. About as elementally balanced as humans, although with a little more innate control over said elements. Extremely family-oriented, possibly eusocial depending on how much fun/how weird and distracting I think that would be, prone to a whole lot of arguing. Cousins to vampires.
Oh, and emperors of Letasacia. Which would be why a Hawkfire never married into the royal line, by the way, and something of a source for all sorts of internal political conflict, given that the whole 'all men are created equal' idea is a little bit harder to push past 'divine right of birth' when your rulers are born a different species.
Vampires, BTW, have pretty much hit all of the dimensions by now. Nightwrath is and has always been the ruling line, although Shadowmoon's a sneaky sort of contender. Vampires in general know some, though not all, of the backstory of the founding--they certainly know about the six siblings, and that a whole bunch of their nifty powers are the result of a curse and a counterspell, or at least a pair of spells of unspecified nature.
They're about half human and a third 'innate destructive urge', just by the nature of handwavey magical inheritence biology. To be more precise, no, vampires are not by nature evil. They are by nature on a dietary restriction to blood. Plus, their brains are literally wired towards schadenfreude, enjoyment in ruining things, and endorphin rushes that come from other people hurting or getting broken in some way. Which is not to say that they can't have moral codes and even be decent people, etc. etc. It's just, they have immortal life, a whole lot of powers, the more violent ones tend to survive longer and blood more offspring, and from the very beginning of their culture and society there was a pretty strong thread of 'Angry here, and trained to kill without mercy.' By the time Nightwrath was born, Anyiamar had more or less given up on the whole soft-and-fuzzy compassion thing, and it wasn't like his grandmother ever liked or trusted him enough to give him hugs and cuddles, even if a fire elemental were the type. There's a long thread of sociopathology going along there. Turning decent human beings into killing machines is sort of a cultural pasttime. It's another version of 'breaking things'.
How this applies to Ami is...well, interesting. But that's what the story is for. She's a Nightwrath, at any rate, and Cevras fucking Damonking (no, not a single person says his name without the 'fucking'. It's just sort of become a thing) who blooded her is extremely close down the line of inheritence to Nightwrath proper. Seeing her run into Letasacian-range vampires? Is gonna be fun.
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