The Rekhanci Kingdom is a territory in the southeastern most zone of the Southern Icefields. Ruled by the Imperator Aelius and the Imperatrix, Archmage Mira, the clan is made up of a proud group of dragons with a history of battle and magic. Although they've mostly given up that war-filled life, the remnants remain and sections of the clan still operate under old rules.
Fiercely loyal and well versed in meeting new faces, the dragons of Rekhanci are fond of visitors and new alliances and welcome dragons into their city with flair and warmth. It isn't uncommon to enter Rekhanci City with very little and to leave with a great deal more friends and gifts.
The Rekhanci Kingdom has a history of war, although not many know all of it. It began with the first frost of the Icefields, when the children of the Icewarden were first settling into the home their lord had chosen for them. It would not end until many ages later.
The clan had been born out of deceit, out of an act of betrayal that had been kept silent for generations. After two tribes had at last sworn to peace, one group slew the other in the dead of the night. They made off with the unhatched young and laid claim to the prime land the other tribe had lived on since the fighting began.
They remained themselves the Frozen-Sea Clan and boasted of their prowess in battle. The scrolls of history were rewritten to make them victors, not betrayers, so that their kin down the line would look back and believe they’d won the great war. So that they would not know the tricks they used to claim their land.
It could not remain secret forever, for in the Icefields, nothing truly stays dead.
Acres away from where the newly dubbed Frozen-Sea Clan made their home, a grove sprouted impossibly from the ice. The trees were half ice themselves, with trunks of everlasting frost and leaves of tinkling glass. This was to be the Witchwood, and it had been born from death.
When those who remembered the Frozen-Sea Clan’s dark origins were gone and the truth had been forgotten, when Imperator Aelius had finally settled into his role as leader, the Witchwood would at last awaken and begin to play its part. The clan was none the wiser, for they were in the flush of prosperity. Martial in nature, Aelius’ clan of dragons offered their aid to any willing to ally themselves with the clan. They fought wars and battles that were not their own, and they would return home with coin and trade goods for their labor.
It began with a few spirits, ghosts with eyes as black as Shade and with words of dark promise on their tongues. The things they uttered were too dreadful to believe, but why else would they come if not to speak the truth?
We have died for your glory, they would whisper, creeping through the night and chilling the sleeping dragons. You are not free from the mistakes of your past.
It was the noble Imperator who sought the truth out, him and his wife, the beloved Archmage Mira. Although all the dragons in the clan were being disturbed by these ghosts, the two leaders could not truly rest with the doubt that had been sewn into their minds.
When the truth was revealed, that their founders had slain an entire clan simply for land, Aelius and Mira struck them from their history. They abandoned the tunnels that had been their home for generations, and the Archmage cast many spells so that no longer would the dead’s sleep be disturbed.
Hardest of all, Aelius revealed the truth to their clanmates. Some stayed while others left, fearful of being haunted further and playing any role in such dark tidings.
With fewer numbers, Aelius and Mira rebuilt their clan in the full light of the sun. They were done with underground tunnels, with buried truths. They let their kingdom stretch out from the earth, to catch what light they could. In time, that light might reach their hearts.
Rise of the Kingdom
With no dark secrets holding them back, Aelius and Mira were able to focus on building a clan that was worthy of being proud of. It had started with a new home, but it continued with filling their numbers once more.
Although their clan had been known for their martial attitude in the past, it seemed ill-fitting to continue that path after knowing their origins had begun with such death. Many knights were retired to simpler jobs, while others simply remained as protectors of the clan, guardians for the inhabitants within.
The Imperator Aelius continued to work on outer-clan relations, building foundations with other clans and kingdoms to strengthen themselves. Archmage Mira, however, dedicated her resources inward, steadily growing the Frozen-Sea Clan into something noteworthy.
In this time, the clan saw many changes. The Archmage founded a group of powerful magi dedicated to many different classes of knowledge and magic, led in part by her prodigy Basswood. The Kazirin they were named, wielders of a specific type of magic that the Archmage had perfected that relied on ones lifeforce, their essence.
Aelius’ right hand, Rairye, became the head of the Blades, the reforged knights dedicated to protecting their territory. Rairye, as First Blade to the King, was the clan’s chief weapon against outside forces.
The last change was Rei, a guardian who dedicated their time to the Witchwood, which was closer now to the clan’s territory and still full of many secrets and the wanting dead. Rei led two groups of Keepers in their care of of that deadly grove. The first was the Court of the Glass Spire, a group of magi capable of stepping into the realm of mirrors that sat just within the trees of ice and glass. The second was the Court of Weeping Ice, a team dedicated to watching the physical land of the Witchwood, so that no rogue ghost could disturb the peace. There are many angry dead that wander beneath the icy boughs of the Wood, and not all were born from the clan’s own past.
In time, the two leaders of the clan would come to realize that they were no longer the small group of dragons of their past, but a full-fledged city of lives that coexisted. They would rename themselves the Rekhanci Kingdom, a name that would not forget the ice of their past while fully embracing the sunlight of their future.
The Keepers are a sect within the nation that were created just before Rekhanci declared itself a kingdom. With the threat of the Witchwood very much alive, a group was needed to staunch the flow of the dead filtering out of the dismal woods.
The team is headed by Rei, a guardian of bleak origins with the resolve to take care of the damned. They are all too familiar with what sort of wickedness the world can spawn, and they’ve trained their second-in-commands to be aware of the same. There is little room for weakness among the Keepers, for any mistake could leave to the deaths of innocents.
It is this reason that Rei chose her seconds very carefully. Audra and Icarus both understand the severity of their roles, performing up to par in a variety of ways. Audra is the Keeper of the Glass Spire and his duty is to guard the mirrored realm wherein all spirits lie. Him and his like take great care that no spirit slips through the ice into the physical world, for any spirit can cause great harm in the realm of the living. Icarus, the Keeper of Weeping Ice, stands watchful guard over the forest itself so that whatever unholy creature the forest spawns does not know life long. The Witchwood is fond of games and fonder still of keeping the Keepers on their toes.
In Rekhanci, magic is beloved even if one does not themselves have it. The dragons call it kazir, and they believe it to be a part of ones soul. Dragons who wield kazir are Kazirin, or magi. The Imperatrix of the kingdom, Mira, is also the clans chief Archmage and the most studied in kazir. Her second-in-command, High Kazirin Basswood, also holds exceptional power. Such magical gifts were not only bestowed upon them in birth, but also harnessed and tamed through years of dedicated practice.
It is important to note that not all dragons born with magic become Kazirin. The Kazirin are an elite group working specifically under the Rekhanci crown for the good of the kingdom. Any dragon with magic can become Kazirin, but not every dragon with magic is Kazirin.
The Blades are what remains of the martial dragons of old. Although no longer expressly trained for war, they instead are made into weapons for the Kingdom, elite guards and knights who defend Rekhanci to their utmost ability. They are led by First Blade to the King, Rairye, who earned his position through years of service and for exemplary loyalty to the Imperator, Aelius. Beyond that, he is a close and trusted friend of Rekhanci’s leaders and will likely continue to be for many years.
While the Kazirin deal with magic, the Blades typically rely exclusively on physical combat and prowess. It isn’t unheard of for a dragon with some magic to join, of course, but all Blades are trained with weaponry and physical assault above all else. If one wishes to include magic into their skillset, they must do so on their own.
The Blades are nestled within the keep, a building built of new stonework and old history. Here, they are trained and tested. Initiates run through a series of tests simply dubbed the Trials, where it is decided if their strengths truly lie with the Blades.
The Trials might span over the course of a few months, but they are simple in design. The first test, the Trial of Courtesy, is often mistaken as easy, but it is also the first to weed out the most initiates. This test will determine if one has the self-control and restraint to become a Blade, for they are an order with dignity. An ill-temper and poor behavior does not suit them.
The second test is the Trial of Honesty. A Blade must never lie and must never break a vow. This includes the vow made to the Blades, meaning a Blade cannot leave the order without first being properly dismissed.
The Trial of Valor makes up the third test. The kingdom has not seen true battle for some time, but the Blades are constantly prepared for it. They cannot risk having members who will not proudly face battle to the best of their ability.
The fourth test is the Trial of Honor, where dragons must show they will behave only in a morally sound way, acting with integrity, and showing mercy when it is rightly due. Blades do not inflict unjust suffering and frown at those who derive pleasure from it.
The last test is the Trial of Generosity and is not one that takes place in any set time. Instead, initiates must show they are giving throughout the span of their trials, for true Blades act generously even when no one is watching.
Crew of The Rising Silence
The Rising Silence sports a strange group of dragons lead under the wing of Captain Osoroshi, an eccentric and excitable skydancer with a chaotic love for the sea. First Mate Admiral is second-in-command and a great deal more serious than his wayward captain. He does his job and is well respected by the other dragons.
Then there is the Quartermaster Windfall, a protective skydancer with a smart head atop her shoulders. She’s an efficient dragon and an excellent listener, getting the job done fast the first time. Working in tangent with her is Pontius, a no-nonsense fae and meticulous manner of keeping the ship perfectly in line for sailing.
Then there’s the navigator Kaltrina and the helmsman Esen, two dragons kept in charge of making sure the ship goes in the right direction. With Kaltrina’s excellent navigational skills and Esen’s sharp eye, it’s an easy task.
The gunner’s Sable and Kamala are the offense of the crew, keeping the cannons polished to a shine. Their ruthlessness in battle is what earned them this spot, and they are fond of taking no prisoners. In a different vein, Asherah is a striker with a penchant for snares. She’s capable of trapping anything in her netting, although outside of battle that often means lunch.
The crew also employs two dragons who can fix anything: Osiris the surgeon, always ready to stitch up a bit of torn skin, and Llyr the carpenter, capable of patching up the ship from even the brink of death. Outside of battle, both offer services around the crew where they’re needed, although Llyr spends most of his time making sure absolutely nothing is wrong with The Rising Silence—likely why he gets along so well with Pontius.
Muir is the chef of the crew, a close friend of Asherah’s and convincing her to grab all sorts of fresh fish right out of the sea. He employs a little bit of magic into his work as well, making sure his food is always delicious to keep the crew happy.
The other crewmen make up the riggers, ropers, and other such dragons in charge of making the ship move. Kyanite, Aconite, Abyssal, and Barnabas all share the same love of the sea as their fellow crewmates and a strong loyalty to The Rising Silence. It’s no wonder they were hired aboard.
Every dragon is born with magic on a scale. Some dragons have a great deal of magic and others have very little or none at all. It isn't certain what decides this, and while most are fine simply not knowing, others theorize a few possibilities. The first is spiritual in origin, being that having magic reflects being favoured by the Eleven Deities. This sort of class segregation is in general frowned upon, and only a few zealots truly believe in it.
Other theories revolve around when and where a dragon is hatched, although this is frequently disproven or discredited. Saying a dragon receives more magic being born around ancient lairs, for example, cannot be true when plenty of dragons are born magicless in these territories.
Kazir or Essence
At the root of all magic is essence. In Rekhanci, this is renamed kazir. It is the heart and soul of all magic wielding dragons, a metaphorical second heart that beats alongside the first. A dragon capable of wielding a great amount of magic is simply more capable of harnessing their kazir and taming the chaos within. To some, it means a great deal of willpower and wisdom. To others, it is something one either knows or doesn't.
The beauty of kazir is that it is only limited by the user. One can use as much of the kazir as is available to them, but it's a hard wall at the other end. To attempt to work past it is to exhaust ones own soul and perish. On the other side of the spectrum, kazir requires a certain amount of creativity to wield. Someone incapable of imaging the impossible and without the will to try for that impossibility will never know the true lengths their magic can go.
Dragons are capable of shapeshifting into bipedal forms. The more magic one has, the smoother the transition. A dragon with a great deal of magic can hide their wings, horns, and skin markings if the so chose to. Likewise, a dragon without much magic at all might still find scales upon their limbs and tufts of fur when they shift. Others don't possess enough magic to change at all.
The Wood itself is said to be alive, and this is believed to be proven with how many Harvestman are spawned from the trees. The forest itself births them, the Keepers say. It seeds the trees until they are ripe with the spirits anger, and only then do they tear themselves from the earth to wreak havoc upon dragon kind.
The beasts themselves are instilled with a false life, however. They have no will of their own, no drive to exist beyond whatever dark order the Wood bids them. They are creatures of chaos, wishing to rip the world apart with their own sallow hands. Their wooden spindly arms are reaching and sharp, full of thorns and shredded bark.
They wield weapons made of bone stripped of flesh, with armour of thick padded moss. Just past the moss and bones, one can see and hear the heartbeat of some sinister origin, for surely it doesn’t come from the Harvestmen themselves.
Whispers are not alive, perhaps even less so than Harvestmen. They are fragments of life stripped bare of who they used to be, left only with the cold and the dark of their hearts as they haunt the Mirrored Realm. Left only with grief and rage, they make up the greatest stress of the Keepers time, for although they are weak alone, they seldom ever attack without another.
Their numbers are many, and their unceasing desire to see the living realm is fuel enough to have them plow against the Keepers like fodder. Where their souls go once they are vanquished is uncertain, as it is hard to imagine a further afterlife for the dead.
The Keepers try not to think about this, the knowledge that the Whispers were once dragons like them. They cannot be consumed with grief, lest they too become consumed by Whispers.
The Oak King
A legend only, the Oak King is said to wander through the Whisperwood. He steals away with hatchlings, singing them into his clutches like a siren at sea. The children that he steals pave the paths of the trees, dressed only in leaves and frost. In the day, all is safe, but at night the Oak King and his children come out to play. Many also believe that he is the king of all the terrors within the Wood, that the Harvestmen are merely what happens when the stolen children continue to grow.
The Keepers have never spoken of seeing such a king, nor of the bones of children in the night. They acknowledge the Harvestmen, so for some this is proof enough that the Oak King doesn't exist, but others doubt it. They believe that the Keepers are only protecting their fears.