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Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next instalment of this wonderful story by Draxenath. It is entitled “Interview with the Dragon Goddess”.
Background music by Smartsound
Part 7: The Quarrelling Cities
– What would the next largest settlement be?
– This is not exactly one settlement, but eight cities, which is said belonged to a single kingdom. They are collectively called The Quarrelling Cities. The population of each individual city is quite uniform in racial distribution. There is a city mostly inhabited by humans, another by giants, another by ungulans, there is another by felids, one more by canids, another by insect-men, another by reptilians, another by avians… they are not very far from one another, and roughly in the center of that territory is a ruined castle, where it is said a king used to rule them all.
I noticed she had gone absentminded. After a couple minutes, she asked me to continue. – Each city is very different from the others, with different social organization and activities. They form a sort of synergy with each other, as each city produces something the others need.
The goddess nodded. – Humans produce technology, giants are miners and blacksmiths, insect men and ungulans are agricultural, canids and felids are hunters, avians are carpenters and hunters, reptilians are metallurgists and glassworkers. Or has anything changed?
– It has not changed at all. As for this ancient king, the lore and legends are different in each city. In fact, those differing legends are what have kept them from reunifying and have contributed to the ongoing quarrels. The legends of King Centurion. The humans claim he was human, the avians claim he was an avian, the giants claim he was a giant, the canids claim he was a canid, and so on. Each legend tells of how King Centurion liberated their people from human oppression. As for the human version, it tells of how he united them all under the same banner.
By then, I noticed the goddess’ wrinkled brow. – I would like to hear the legends. – she said. My excitement could not be greater at that time. – Do you know the real story? My understanding is it happened over a thousand years ago. I can tell you the legends, then I would be happy to hear the real story. – Draxenath nodded, remaining silent. I proceeded to relate the legends to her.
– There is a sort of basis all these legends have in common. They start in the same way: From far away came a warrior, his strength worth that of a hundred. Centurion was his name. His sword was broad like a giant meat cleaver, its hilt adorned by two intertwined dragons, its aura strengthened the worthy and weakened the unworthy. Its weight was so great no one else could wield it. He rode a dragon, as a horse had no strength to carry both him and the sword. – As I said this, I couldn’t help but look at Draxenath’s sword… it matched the description. She was nodding as I described it.
I decided not to ask anything and continued. – I will start with the Giants’ version. One day, a human woman with bright crimson hair purchased a considerable amount of giant slaves. She claimed to be a princess from far away lands and wanted the slaves for a very important task which required a lot of strength. Little did the slaves know that she was the wife of a giant warrior unlike any known even until today. This warrior had fair skin and golden hair, fierce eyes, a prominent nose, and was very tall, even for a giant, and his strength had no equal, he was called Centurion The Courageous. – Draxenath had a very unusual smile. Was she entertained? It seemed like something else. Nostalgia maybe? I was not able to tell for sure. Maybe it was a fun fact for her that she matches that general description as well.
– He trained the slaves in wrestling, teaching them how to use their size and power more effectively. Soon, they were ready for the main task he had for them. “Today, you are going to earn not only your freedom but that of our kin as well. We know how to use our strength and size, the humans’ tools and machines will not stop us, we will use them against them to leverage our natural advantage.”
– The army marched on to the human settlements, one after the next, using the same tactics: Centurion would demand the government submit to him and his new laws which granted the giants freedom and equality. The settlements that did not submit were crushed by his strength. Vampires fell under his sword, and humans were overpowered by his raw strength. Even the Avatars of Amaxis would fall, withering and rotting as he cleaved through them with his powerful blade, The Exalted Cleaver, a sword created to punish the evil gods. – Draxenath nodded repeatedly as I was going through this part.
– A nation was formed, and Centurion was crowned as its king. As he amassed power and territory, his army grew and new knights were appointed. He made the mistake of appointing a human named Malchen as his Champion Knight. Sir Malchen was cunning, like the worst of the human filth. He envied Centurion’s riches, and even his wife, so he betrayed him. He seduced Centurion’s wife, and when their affair was discovered, they escaped, leaving King Centurion heartbroken. He lost his will to fight, and The Exalted Cleaver lost its edge. He lost his appetite and quickly withered and died. This story teaches us that humans are treacherous cowards and not to be trusted. – She didn’t nod as in the previous part. I noticed constant eye rolling and sighing.
– I will tell the Avian version of the legend now. Long ago, the majority of the Avians had been enslaved by humans. They would use nets, cages, shackles, ropes and other tools to keep them from flying too far away. They were used as trophies, pets, to keep the humans warm with their feathers, and also as slave labor in high places. This changed when a human woman with bright red hair purchased a large number of avian slaves to build a castle on a high cliff. Once at the cliff, the slaves met their new owner, a powerful avian of bright golden plumage, powerful talons and eyes so sharp that could see farther than anyone else. His wings were so strong and his body so resilient he could fly a hundred times as high as any other avian. His name was Centurion The Benevolent. – Draxenath was giving me that same strange smile, it kept puzzling me. Again the general description matched with her.
– They built the castle, and at the same time, Centurion trained them in aerial combat and armed them with the now well known avian bolt slingers, created through human technology, with the avian anatomy in mind. The day the castle was finished, he summoned the avians for the main task he had for them. “We were created to be free. I dream of the day all avians will soar through the skies in complete freedom. I dream of one day in this world that is now filled with humans treating everyone else as inferior and as objects of their property, one day when our children will be able to join hands with human children and be seen by them as their equal. We will see the hills and mountains from above, rough places and crooked paths will be no obstacle to us. And the glory of our Goddess, the Champion of Freedom, shall be revealed. This will be the day when all our children will be able to sing with new meaning ‘My home, beautiful land of liberty, of thee I sing. The land where my parents fought, where my parents died, to let freedom ring on every corner’. Let’s fight to free our kin!” – I noticed Draxenath enjoyed the speech, she was smiling and let out a couple tears while I recited it.
– The war tactics described were basically the same as in the giant version, demand them to submit or be conquered, but instead of raw strength, it speaks of his graceful flight and sharpshooting skills. The mention of the Exalted Cleaver stays mostly the same. – Draxenath nodded. – The appointment of the human knight Sir Malchen and how he runs away with Centurion’s wife stay the same as well. – She remained silent, rolling her eyes once more.
– For the reptilian version, it starts with the woman with red bright hair taking over a metallurgic company by force. This is one of the few legends that speak of her in a little more detail. Bright red hair, a fiery temper, and draconic eyes. To make the long story short, she had them work on metal alloys to craft weapons for the army of her husband, a reptilian warrior with golden scales, called Centurion the Polite. He taught them how to fight with a variety of weapons, same war tactics, speaks of his battle prowess with many kinds of weapons. The Exalted Cleaver part is the same. – Draxenath gave her usual nod. – The story of Sir Malchen is mostly unchanged, with the difference that he escapes alone and Centurion’s wife commits suicide, the rest remains the same. – For this part, she raised a brow but said nothing.
– The Ungulan version says the woman of bright red hair purchased a very large plantation where the ungulan slaves worked, while an ungulan warrior with golden fur and horns forming a crown, called Centurion The Sincere, trained them in combat with their horns, hooves, as well as lances, spears, and axes. Same war tactics, mentions his charges were unstoppable, the rest is the same. – Again, she had that smile I can’t figure out, and this version features another resemblance to her, the golden color and the horns forming a crown. – The rest of the legend is the same as the giant version. – She rolled her eyes once more.
– The Felid version tells of felid slave purchases by that same woman, describes Centurion The Honorable as a felid warrior with golden fur, powerful claws, and fierce eyes. He trained them in stealth and combat with their claws and bite. The part about the war tactics mentions his fast reflexes and powerful claws. – Again I’d love to figure out the meaning of her smile. More resemblance to her. – The part about Sir Malchen says he escaped alone, Centurion’s wife committed suicide to atone for her infidelity, and Sir Malchen was hunted down and eaten. The rest of the legend is unchanged. – She raised a brow the same way as she did at the end of the reptilian version.
– The Canid version is very similar to the Felid version. Centurion The Loyal is described as a canid with golden fur, eyes full of wisdom, and a maw full of sharp teeth. They recognize him as a very cunning warrior and a great leader, with a great sense of teamwork and pack tactics. – Draxenath was nodding again, with her usual smile. – The rest of the story is the same as the Felid version.- Draxenath remained expressionless this time.
– The Insect-Men version is quite different from the others. It speaks of an Insect-Woman queen named Centuria The Righteous, and the woman with red hair from the other versions is her adopted sister. This version mentions a retainer of draconic descent as well, whom Centuria lovingly called “Little Devil”. This version says one day she commanded all Insect-Men to rebel and follow her to fight for their freedom. It mentions she commanded a force consisting of warriors from all other races, and the strongest were appointed as knights.
– All these knights loved Queen Centuria and would give their life for her. Centuria’s stepsister was in love with a warrior named Malchen, and she convinced him to help them with their fight. Malchen advanced in the ranks and was finally appointed as Champion Knight, and this upset all other knights. To make matters worse, he was in love with Centuria, and she corresponded his love.
– A betrayal was in the works. With the help of the other knights, Centuria’s stepsister kidnapped Malchen, hoping to seduce him and earn his heart. The knights told Centuria the two had an affair and escaped together. Centuria went after them and finally confronted her stepsister. Centuria was murdered by her in cold blood while the knights were watching. They were unprepared for that and could do nothing to save her. Overwhelmed by shame, most of the knights built her a tomb, and then committed suicide during the funeral. Nothing is known of the stepsister’s whereabouts, as for Sir Malchen, he traveled far away, taking Centuria’s most precious legacy with him: her only son. – During all the narration, Draxenath remained silent and inexpressive.
– The Human version doesn’t have much to tell, speaks of a human warrior called Centurion The Strong, his vision of a single nation where everyone would be free, a place where everyone’s dreams could be achieved. The place where everyone would want to live no matter their race, and how it would work. At the end of the legend, Centurion is murdered by all his knights, as every one of them envied him and wanted to be king. – Draxenath remained just as silent as in the previous version.
She looked very tired, as if her depression had returned, heavier than ever. – King Centurion… is a made up character. They are ashamed of the truth. There was a leader they loved, one who gave everything for them, and when that leader decided to pursue a little of personal happiness, the selfish interest of others led to the leader’s death and the kingdom’s downfall. Now they go on, denying what really happened, attributing this leader’s deeds to a fictional king who died of a broken heart… save for two versions that speak of murder… – Her voice broke during the last words and she began weeping in silence.
I tried to put everything together, and that is when I came to the realization… the central character from all these versions of the legend bears a strong resemblance to Draxenath, and even the Exalted Cleaver looks like the Godslaying Sword. I went back to my notes from the interview to confirm this quote: “I sent our firstborn to liberate the slaves while I worked on doing the same for the other Gods. Many of the mortals were freed and formed a nation of their own, with my child as ruler. But then, there was a betrayal. What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under your knives, mortal. Who will wipe this blood off all of you?”. That smile from before, it was a mother’s pride! I was certain of it!
I could not help but ask. – The person these legends talk about… was that your son? – Draxenath shook her head. – I wish any of my sons had been as great. Unfortunately not… let’s change the subject, please. – I nodded, but that last answer she gave me was not quite convincing.
Echoes From the Caverns