World Building & Wonder- Umara’s Dragon Problem

Umara is the fantasy world created for the ‘Battle for Umara‘ novel series. It is an expansive world ruled by Gods, mythical creatures, and magic. Stuck in the middle are Mages, sworn to protect the Innocent and to uphold the Gods’ Will. By the time the novels take place Umara is on the brink of collapse. The ‘Worldbuilding and Wonder’ series showcases the who, what and where of Umara. This post dives into the conflicting image of dragons in the real world and in literature.

General

Umara has a long complicated history with dragons. In reality every region had their own unique dragon species, with a vibrant ecosystem of magical creatures. Pockets of the population even tamed them, using the species special abilities to assist their small villages. Attributes of the beasts (hide, claws, blood, and bones) were used to create weapons and potions. In return Tamers used their skills to train dragons to protect settlements or hunt over populated herds. Records of the time show a beneficial relationship that was nurtured by human and dragons alike.

But it got complicated when the Mage religion was firmly established. The first mention of dragons in Mage records is a parable called The Unicorn. The following is a retelling from the original Umarian text translated by a monk Grorfi Helovur. It stands as the fundamental belief in the Mage Order. Although secular scholars have attributed the parable to being the source of Mage hatred/fear towards the creatures. The tale established dragons as the antagonist to Zander, their chief god. And this framework, as they argue, is what lead to the over hunting and later extinction of the creatures.

The Unicorn Parable

In his Garden Zander kept all matter of beasts; from smallest mouse to the majestic lions. His prized creature of them all was the Unicorn. But not every creature saw the beauty in the Unicorn. The deer mocked her one horn, boasting how two was better than one. Others called her silvery mane ugly, her pale skin boring, all matter of insults forced her to solitude. She walked through the flowers, the winding rivers, and grassy plains from sunrise to sunset.

One night the starry sky erupted into fire. The cries from the other creatures fill the garden as a monstrous beast destroys the land. Scales as dark as coal, teeth sharper than the lions, all made up the Immoral Dragon. It was a sinful beast made of pride and jealousy from Zander’s destitute Brother. And that night his victims were Zander’s beloved animals. As the Garden burned he cornered the animals at the end of the churning river.

Even if they rejected her, she knew her Master loved them all. And he didn’t want them to get hurt. None of them could fight the evil beast. She charged towards Dragon. Using her single horn she aimed for the beast; piercing his armoured scales. He screamed, falling backwards into the river where the current washed him away.

All the creatures cheered and Zander created a flower briar for her beside the river where she spent many sunny days. The creatures danced and sang because they knew if Dragon ever returned, the Unicorn would protect them.

Lesson: Defend those who cannot defend themselves.

According to the tale from that moment on, dragons (and their descendants) were the one creature not permitted in Paradise. Unicorns since then became the emblem if the Mage Order, standing as the last defense between order and chaos; good and evil.

Secular scholar and dragon expert Francis Hamil notes that, “because if this prevailing myth dragons became evil monsters bent on destruction. When in fact most breeds prefer to keep to themselves or work alongside other creatures. Some breeds such as the Ebony Dragons have complex social hierarchy within their colonies where working together is beneficial to the entire group.”

Although it is difficult to pin point exactly when myth spilled over into reality, the results are clear. Dragons have almost vanished from the physical landscape while remaining demonized in literature and art. Artists and poets celebrate the defeat of dragons in Paradise; using it as propaganda about the glory of Mages and the power of the Gods. The scenes are painted in temples warning those not to cross the Gods or be destroyed by Their anointed saviors.

However, for those who knew dragons, worked along side them, their disappearance has been felt for generations. Livelihoods vanished, the vast wealth of weaponry and medicine advancements are obsolete. For some, they lost life long companions, all because of one religion’s view of a creature they didn’t understand.

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