Lancers and Dragoons
196 B.T. -- 111 B.T.
The birth of dragoons lies with the country of Riva and begins with its lancers. Today, a large portion of central Rivan land has been deforested and often flattened, made suitable for farming, but while Riva was still Doman territory the land was dense forest and home to a number of unfriendly beasts. Settlers who found themselves in a pinch would use whatever weapon they had handy for defense--such as pitchforks and staves, or specially fashioned items from spare lumber or fallen tree limbs.
As the settlers grew better accustomed to surviving in the land, the lance became a favored weapon, and general skill in using lance-type weapons increased as a necessity. As Riva grew quietly discontent with southern rule, training became even more enthusiastic. With a military force to support their request, Riva's independence was won from Doma quite bloodlessly.
History clearly shows the prominence lancers took in early Rivan culture. Immediately after the country's founding, the main military force continued to consist primarily of lancers, only later to be supplemented by other types of fighters and mages. Training in lancing became increasingly more advanced, until such time that lancers were highly trained individuals that much of the nation idolized and revered.
As Riva developed and their military had the luxury of designing fancier gear, the armor of lancers grew more elaborate. The armors created on the hush, prior to independence, were made to imitate some of the more ferocious of the local beasts. The idea had been--besides to have armor--to show distinctly Rivan origins and to intimidate.
The armor had a redesign some time after the country settled into peace. There were many debates as to what the armor should look like--if the creature motif should be kept or not, and if so, what creature it should be. In the end, it was decided that any smith who wanted to submit a design could do so and the best would be chosen. Practicality would be considered first, the representation of 'distinctly Rivan' second, and how it looked third.
The winning design, as it turned out, would be a set of armor heavily inspired by dragons. The armor won for three primary reasons;  the dragons of Riva were among the few creatures native to the land not hostile to the newcomers,  dragons are known in legend for strength and wisdom, and  the armor, simply, looked good. The helmet was most dragon-like, resembling the corresponding creature's head; the rest was, for the most part, simply well-designed armor. Decorating the armor at each elbow are ornate but small decorations resembling fins, something which also appears on the boots.
It was this design which attacted the goddess of dragons, Ryuugami, to the Rivan lancers. Ryuugami, understandably, likes dragons, and was eager to learn more about these people who chose to model their armor after them. The goddess educated the Rivan humans about the reclusive dragons of the homeland and--ever eager to share her interests with others--began to introduce them to each other.
After finding out that, no, they really didn't want to be dragons, Ryuugami offered to the lancers a more palatable deal: if they would like, she could lend knowledge, powers, blessings and good health to faithful lancers. In return, said lancers would worship her and--naturally--help defend and aid the dragonkind of the area.
Only a few lancers agreed at first. When Ryuugami turned out to really be a goddess and actually keep her end of the deal, more signed up. Over the course of roughly three generations--while lancers still remained--the Rivan military's lancers had completely been replaced by dragoons: the word which had developed to distinguish between lancers who had and had not agreed to Ryuugami's deal.
A dragon knight is one of a pair where there is a mount--usually a dragon or griffon--and a rider--usually a human or dwarf, sometimes an elf. Dragon knights are similar to dragoons in that they often worship Ryuugami, and some dragoons of early Riva were also dragon knights.
Dragon knights have their beginning in 433 EP when fighting broke out between humans and dwarves in what is now northern Riva. Each group worked with small factions of dragons and griffons in an attempt to gain the upper hand over their opponent, but in the end, the only thing achieved was a stalemate. Both sides conceded with shame.
The griffons and dragons, however, did not simply leave. Having made lasting bonds with their riders and comrades, they stayed and helped each side rebuild. Here, at the border of Solasia and Riva, the dragon knights have their origin. The phenomenon took off most fantastically with the mixed citizenry of Solasia.
Dragon knights from this time and throughout the history of Solasia worshipped Ryuugami, as well as some human and dwarven deities. The title grew to have distinct connotations of responsibility, and dragon knights as a whole came to develop honor codes and duties--popularly, it was felt that a dragon knight was to work to maintain the peace of his homeland. Today's dragon knights, of whom there are many less than before, vary in religious observances and feelings of obligations.
661 EP - c. 1300 EP
In 661 EP, Ryuugami left Gaera with the intent to visit and learn from the dragon deities of other realms. With the understanding that her followers would need her power in her absence, and could not call upon powers outside of Gaera, she created a large power well and set it inside her home on the deitic plane for safe-keeping. There, whenever a follower called upon her, they would have an answer--a slightly automatic answer, but it would work.
Of course, there are only so many ways for a goddess to create so much power at once, and really, Ryuugami didn't have that within her means. She did, however, have her body, a gift from her mother Ishtar. By destroying her body, she created enough power to nearly fill her home. After making some cursory checks to make sure that her followers' prayers were still answered correctly without her direct intervention, Ryuugami left Gaera.
In the 700s, a large group of dragons in Argovia called upon Ryuugami's power in an attempt to redirect the flow of magma feeding Mount Chóle. The spell failed, nonetheless draining a phenomenal amount of the power Ryuugami had left behind while also taking a piece of her home and merging it with the physical plane. Here, the power began to slowly leak over into the Colenan portallands.
By the late 900s, the waning power of Ryuugami could be felt by all her followers, and it had been an undeniable fact that the goddess had not appeared personally to anyone in centuries.
In various lands, dragoons debated whether or not their promise to Ryuugami still held if she were not keeping up her side. In Baron, the consensus came to a "yes," and remained so even when the last bit of energy ran dry.
In Riva, meanwhile, the answer was a "no." Public opinion was quickly swayed by power-minded and charismatic individuals such as Sandy Milar, who discovered that better sources of power were to be had than Ryuugami in the death of her followers. It is from the work of Sandy Milar and his co-conspirator, Hall Jacobs, that we have the first Ishtarian texts edited to justify human supremacy.
In the 1000s, dragon-hunting in Riva was becoming enough of a problem to worry the populace of northern neighbor, Solasia; however, it wasn't until the practice of the Bloody Brood and razing that the Solasian government roused to act. By this time, the Rivan dragoons were of a greater force and the Solasian Dragon Knights had no option but to die or disperse.
Ryuugami returned to Gaera in the early 1300s to find her dragons and world in disarray. The loss of Solasia and the betrayal of the Rivan dragoons hurt her deeply, and for a handful of years she stayed in her home plane, recovering. When she reemerged, she set to work in eastern Igala.
No longer having one of her own, Ryuugami has to possess a physical body in order to do work on the physical plane. Originally, she possessed Dia Rai, until her Mother, Ishtar, found out and made sure she understood that the possessed has to be willing.
The first 5 or so years of Ryuugami's work consisted of talking to Solasians and telling them she was really, really sorry--would they forgive her? She answered questions and offered blessings. Understandably, this didn't work so well, and was quite awkward for Ryuugami. Nonetheless, every other week she appears in Solasia to do this.
It wasn't until the later 1310s that Ryuugami even noticed the country of Colena, and the fact it had appropriated part of her home. She now visits this country once a month, which is a happier chore. She also does her best to visit Baron and Gunnir once a month each.
Since Ryuugami's return to Gaera in the early 1300s, good health and magical talent amongst Ryuugami-worshiping dragoons has begun to slowly increase. Occassionally, a dragoon may find him- or herself unexpectedly visited by the goddess for a chat, offer of race change or paladinship, or just for the goddess to say "Thanks!"
Twice a month Ryuugami visits the country of Solasia, to answer questions, apologize, ask forgiveness, and offer blessings. She really doesn't like to do this but never fails to do so. On the first Istarus of the month she appears at Rai Icham and on the third she appears at Yutopia.
Once a month unfailingly, Ryuugami visits the midlands of Colena. She does this on the first Ashurarus of the month. She also does her best to visit Baron once a month on the fourth Numius. Once every month or so, on the second Falisus, she tries to visit Gunnir. In these places she does much the same as she does in Solasia, though there is a great deal less uncomfortable questioning and more blessings.
Ryuugami is finding it difficult to work in Riva, given her followers' reasonable reluctance for entering the nation and her own inability to move alone. She is currently looking into a way to address this.
Trained largely in the ancient settlement of Cain Citadel, the dragoons of Baron make up a good portion of the country's soldiers. In spite of Ryuugami's apparent and mysterious departure from Gaera in 661 EP, the Baronian dragoons have stayed true to the promise they made to the dragon goddess, even when their powers waned in the 1000s. Baronian dragoons maintain a respect for dragonkind and many worship Ryuugami as the founder of their order; occasionally the more devout actually make pilgrimages to the Temple of Ryuugami, in the Shuman Mountain range west of Riva.
Gunnir Academy is not just a school, but an autonomous settlement in its own right, and as such, it keeps itself defended. Besides being conveniently full of spellcasters, Gunnir is also home to something on the order of 200 dragoons. These dragoons are holy knights devoted to Ryuugami, many of whom come from Baron in search of an easy life. For the most part, they get what they desire, as a dragoon's primary function in Gunnir when not engaged in warfare is simply to act as a peacekeeping and lookout force.
- 196 BT: lancers
- 111 BT: Ryuugami-worshipping dragoons
- 1000 EP: conversion from Ryuugami-worshipping dragoons to "Ishtarian" dragoons
- 1070 EP: conversion complete
Previously a fragmented bunch, there are mutterings that the Rivan dragoons are becoming a more unified force. This is no good news for their southern neighbor Doma, a nation very diverse in race, for the Rivan dragoons have been a racist organization over the last 300 years. Rivan dragoons claim to serve the creator goddess and goddess of healing, Ishtar, and use a recent "translation" of the Ishtarian texts which can be traced back to Sandy Milar and Hall Jacobs in the 1000s.
Rivan dragoons often learn their skills from family, though both guild- and gang-like setups also exist. Redwyn's government considers the dragoons as little more than brigands, as well as a threat to peaceful intra- and international relations. Indeed, in the past, many dragoon factions have enjoyed raiding border towns--Rivan and Doman alike--to collect "taxes."
There are two groups in Solasia.
There are, of course, Dragon Knights. During the prime of Solasia the Dragon Knights were a very honorable and honored group and quite symbolic of the country's values. It is unsurprising to see the group beginning to reestablish itself as the Solasian Knights.
Meanwhile the new Solasian Knights are a growing faction of griffon and dragons who hope to destroy the Rivan dragoons and reclaim their original borders. Led by Tessei Iikaraki, son of a once powerful griffon family, the new Solasian Knights intend to use the same bloodthirsty tactics as the dragoons. Iikaraki hopes that the communicative lack between the griffons, dragons, and humans will prevent the Rivans from knowing of their doom until too late.