The People of the Dragon

Far to the west lies Léhes Lizb, the Mountain of Flesh. It is a dragon; perhaps he is sleeping, perhaps he is dead. For fear of waking him, we dare not speak his name.

Long ago, a hero went to the mountain and returned with a burden: a bundle of dragonmeat. He cooked it over a fire of hazel and blackwand, and served it to his people. As they carved the meat, there was a wonder, for the patterns of fat and sinew wrote the secrets of immortality therein. This is the power of the dragon: they endure. They cannot be killed by injury. They do not die of old age. Their flesh does not rot. Cut from their veins, their blood does not cool; it remains hot and golden.

Dining on the dragon changed the hero's people. They stopped aging. They stopped dying.

They began to go mad.

The eldest of the people of the dragon retreated from the world; being turned into unchanging immortals shocked them, not at all pleasantly. They took poison to fall into endless slumber, or closed the gates of their silver towers, never to be reopened; one famously tanned his flesh into leather and alloyed his bones with steel to make a quiver of spears for his heirs. His blood still flows in the fountains of his rooftop garden.

The second generation were no longer human. Their eyes were silver and violet and blue, like flowers or coins; their voices like battle drums. They became warlords, each the equal of the others, and all were thus forgotten.

The People of the Phoenix

Every phoenix is different.

A Shchang, passing through our city in pursuit of a stolen horse, once told me that the king of Kúddhim keeps a flagon of phoenix's blood, a shining alloy of honey and fire, hidden in his treasure vault. Whenever someone of the royal line dies, his heir takes the throne. Then, the late king's heart is washed with the immortal blood and planted in the royal tomb. In nine nights, a copper raven claws its way from the earth, who speaks with the king's voice and knows his dead mind. Thus they have preserved their wisdom unbroken since the dawn of the world, so they say.

The Zuqùndhoth pass down a tale of the Blue Bird of the East, who leads ships away from deadly reefs. It exacts a harsh price; the captain of every such ship becomes day-blind, only able to see when the face of the sun is hidden.

There is a legend among the Marunddhaùn of another Shchang hero, Chvie-Jen Four Winds Sing, who was first famed for her mad thirst for godblood. When she came upon white Krii, the night phoenix, she was enlightened, and became a great force of mercy; now the place where the slaying took place is covered by trailing golden jasmine, and white birds-of-paradise make their nests there; they can be found nowhere else.


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