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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 5: Draconia
– What are the largest settlements? Start with the largest of all and tell me of its most remarkable features.
– Draconia is a metropolis with beautiful buildings made of stone and concrete. Its streets are paved and very busy. Underneath the city is a maze-like system of tunnels and galleries called The Undercity, mostly inhabited by vampires.
– Vampires? – she lifted an eyebrow and grinned as if entertained by the thought. – I think it’s safe to assume all of them are servants of Amaxis. How active are they? Do they feed constantly?
– Yes, they are. There is a Blood Tax that must be paid, as mandated by Amaxis. The rich usually pay it with blood from their slaves, while the poor pay with their own. Vampires have the right to take blood by force from those evading the tax. Also, Amaxis keeps a number of Blood Concubines in the castle, and whenever one of them can’t be used to pay the Blood Tax anymore, he chooses a new one from the population.
– Are vampires in a position of authority?
– Yes, they were chosen by Amaxis to become vampires and appointed to uphold the law and punish lawbreakers. They watch us even during the day, sometimes you can see them on the street wearing garbs that protect them from the sun.
– What happened to The House of Athaldar? Ever heard of it? Are there any survivors?
– You mean the legendary clan of vampire slayers? They are not a subject of conversation at all these days, they fell about eight centuries ago. It’s said their blood runs through the veins of most of the human population of Draconia. Their skin is unnaturally fair and I heard they are remarkably tough.
She looked upset. – Now that The House of Athaldar no longer rules Draconia, who does? Is there a Vampire King appointed by Amaxis?
– Draconia is ruled by Amaxis himself. However, he is absent very often as he constantly travels to the other cities he rules. In his absence, the High Priest has the authority to rule.
She nodded. – Let’s talk about their prosperity. Is agriculture doing well?
– Yes, Draconia has a wide variety of crops, making it self sufficient in cereal, vegetable, fruit, and spice. Especially prominent in producing wheat, citrus, grape, grenade, tomato, onion, potato, chili, and garlic. Wine brewing has prospered because of their great production of grape.
Draxenath got up on her feet and walked to the carcass of the cow I had brought as an offering to her, picking it up from the rear legs. – I assume Draconia abandoned hunting of free wild animals and grows enslaved cattle born in captivity now, as it is customary of Amaxis’ people.– With her claws, she cut the cow’s underside and proceeded to gut and skin it.
– Yes, they grow a variety of cattle now. Also, there are other animals, like cats, dogs, and birds of prey, used to protect the houses and control the population of other animals that bring filth and disease, like rodents, pigeons, roaches, and flies.
– I remember that! Many of the proud races of canines, once fierce and self-sufficient, have become lazy after their “domestication”, happily wagging their tails and eating the leftovers of their easily accepted masters. Hopefully, the wolves and werewolves remain free. On the other hand, cats and birds of prey still have some of their pride and freedom left, seeing humans as convenient servants.
The cow was completely gutted and skinned, now roasting on a spit she pulled out of a magical bag. – What about the other highly intelligent races? Which of them live in Draconia and what do they do?
– Giants and minotaurs conform the main workforce for jobs requiring strength and endurance, from mining, to metalworking, to agriculture. There is also a considerable amount of centaur workers serving as transport and delivery services.
– What about science and technology? Have they tamed electricity and magnetism?
– There are considerable advances in that. Draconia has a network of electrical lines providing power for illumination of the streets at night. There are generators producing electricity through special mechanisms and steam engines. Other applications of electricity are being researched, like weaponry and electricity enhanced tools.
– Are firearms still in production? Have they found a way to prevent gunpowder and flint from getting wet already? Have they fully replaced other kinds of weapons?
– New firearms use metal cartridges that encase the gunpowder and ignition mechanism to prevent them from getting wet, making them much more reliable. Firearms now have means to hold more than one cartridge and fire them in sequence. But even with the advances in firearms, the use of daggers, swords, spears, bows, crossbows and other kinds of weapons is still in use, as a firearms user may run out of cartridges.
– What about art and music? Have there been any advances and innovation on them?
– I have seen musical instruments enhanced through electricity and magnetism, like guitars, fiddles, and keyboards. Some of them produce sound entirely through manipulation of electricity and magnetism. There are devices called phonographs, capable of recording sound, and replaying it.
Part 6: Flameside
– What would the next settlement be in terms of size?
– Flameside is a metropolis very proud of its warrior ways and traditions. It’s built around a dormant volcano and has several hot springs. There used to be dragons inhabiting the volcano, but there are no signs of them anymore. All that is left is a legend of a Dragon Prince sleeping inside of it, but none has seen him, it may be just a myth. – I noticed a hint of interest on her face at the mention of this. – The lizardmen who used to worship the dragons have been enslaved and relocated into the city. Besides humans and lizardmen, there are giants, minotaurs and centaurs, same as in Draconia.
– No word on where the dragons and avians went?
– No, but the lizardmen say they will come back when the Dragon Prince awakens. I have the hunch that you are familiar with that legend, could you please shed some light about it? How much truth is there in it?
– The Dragon Prince… his name was Pram of Draconia, son of Athaldar. He founded Flameside and ruled over the dragons, lizardmen, avians, giants, and even humans and other races who lived within its territory. A formidable warrior… one day he was mortally wounded, he shut himself in his chambers inside the volcano to recover… I guess he never came out… – She remained absentminded for several minutes.
I was surprised at hearing that. The two biggest settlements were originally founded by the legendary vampire hunters and opponents to Amaxis. – So, it’s truth! There is a prince within the volcano! What would make the lizardmen think he is still alive and coming back in the future?
– Everyone needs to believe in something to keep their hope, I guess! So, what are their main activities? You mentioned warrior ways and traditions, so I’d assume their forges and sulfur mines have remained busy as they did a thousand years ago.
– Yes, they have! Flameside is the main producer of the sulfur used for gunpowder, and their metallurgic industry is the most advanced in all the world. If there is something the lizardmen have done better than humans is working with gunpowder and metal. Most firearm innovations were made possible through close collaboration between Flameside and Draconia.
– And in agriculture, they were great producers of coffee, tea, plum, cherry and variety of cereals. Has it changed?
– It has not changed. Their coffee and tea are exported to other regions. As for cattle, before you ask, it is essentially the same as Draconia. I’d dare to say a sort of standard for cattle is followed among settlements ruled by Amaxis.
– I assume there are vampires with the same authority and duties as in Draconia. Or is something different there?
– In addition to performing the same duties as in Draconia, they lead the forces that keep the werecat and werewolf invasions at bay. These nomadic tribes sometimes raid the city at night. They have found ways to elude the city defenses, kill guards and steal armament and food. They are very well organized, and small enough in numbers to cover their own tracks and escape.
– They used to be great hunters, and were welcome for trade within Flameside when its government was not oppressive like the one currently in turn. Frequently, they would drop a large boar or deer at the doorsteps of my shrine, it’s in their nature to offer a large kill to their loved ones and deities. – A warm smile adorned her face for a moment, it had no small amount of nostalgia.
– Werewolves and werecats visiting Flameside peacefully and trading with its population? Times sure have changed!
– Indeed, Flameside’s social structure and composition of the population has changed considerably, but its main activities have remained the same. I’d like to hear about the next settlement.
Echoes From the Caverns