The Arcanas of Coriolis (or the History of the Great Dragon Cult)
This amber cube was created in Jen-Laï in 2533. In 2597, it was restored during the academic summit in Pyr.
To know the true history of the Great Dragon Cult, we have to trace back in time to the year of Jena 2435, when, under the reign of Abylus the Learned, the Empire authorized a mining expedition to go to the plains of Coriolis in order to carry out excavations in mysterious ruins.
The excavations lasted for more than two Atysian cycles, during which the miners' families lived to the rhythm of the news that reached them through the caravan linking the town of Coriolis to that of Fyre. The hope of these families was shattered when the news of the Great Fire reached them. The town of Coriolis as well as the site of the excavations were ashes, leaving no doubt as to the fate of the mining expedition.
The story of the fallen miners then took on a sacred quality. Their families formed the basis of a secret cult practiced in Fyre: the Great Dragon Cult. Thus, over several generations, the followers of this cult kept holding assemblies and revering Fyrak, the Great Dragon, without the rest of the Empire considering it otherwise than as a duty of remembrance. However, the way the Fyros looked at this sect was due to be altered by the darkest event in the the History of Atys...
As the kitins swept over the Bark, sowing death in their wake, the leading members of the Great Dragon Cult saw in them the appalling materialization of the Great Dragon and knew that he was sending them his offspring. It is assumed that they were all decimated as they prayed to Fyrak to spare his followers.
The Great Swarming could have signed the end of the Great Dragon Cult, but that was not the case.
- One day, Liriope was helping her mother to get meat, to dry on the roof. All of a sudden they heard a strange buzz, soon followed by panic in the streets of Fyre. At that moment, Liriope was unaware that her whole life was about to change... Only one season had passed since then, but there was nothing left of her innocence as a child. Unbearable images now haunted her nights. What would they all have become without the help of the members of that obscure organization, the Karavan, which had allowed a handful of them to escape genocide? And yet, more than ever, the Karavan were the object of suspicion because many of them had perished during the Grand Essaim. Thus those who proclaimed themselves divine emissaries were as mortal as any other homin! Even in those dark hours, when each was crying over their loved ones, Liriope could feel that this fact was delighting the Fyros survivors, who were opposed to the Karavan by an ancestral rivalry.
What can we say about these years of Jena spent under the Bark, in precariousness and sick with fear? Exhausting years when hominity only found its salvation in an unfailing hope in better morrows. Never as much as during the Exodus, faith did unify homins... Liriope would not forget those nights of insomnia when she was observing the Zoraï survivors, those masked beings, proceeding with strange ceremonies. On those nights, she too was praying for the horrors she had witnessed to never happen again : "May the Great Incendiary spare us!"
As the everlasting blaze of Cerakos' Pyre raised in the desert of the New Lands, the haunting melodies of the fyrakists rose again under the canopy. From the unspeakable horrors witnessed by the Fyros survivors, a feeling had been born the other peoples could not yet understand. The fyrakists were convinced that they had witnessed the fulfillment of some profane prophecies anticipated by the martyrs of the mining expedition in plains of Coriolis.
The state of grace of the fyrakist community ended when Regent Leanon died. Two years after taking office, the young sharükos, Dexton, granted protection to his friend, Mabreka Cheng-Ho, who had been banned from Zoraï lands by the Great Sage Fung-Tun. The sharükos was moved by the Kamism of Revelations professed by the disciple of Hoi-Cho, who, during his exile, converted a large number of patriots to this new branch of kamism. The fyrakists took a very dim view of this mass conversion to Ma-Duk and resorted to violence in an attempt to maintain their position among the patriots. The sharükos, fearing an outbreak of violence, then decided to banish the fyrakists from the desert. Upon his order, a caravan of exiles was escorted by the Imperial Guard to the Zoraï border.
Once in the Witherings, the fyrakists had no choice but to seek asylum from the Theocracy. After conferring, the Council of the Sages answered favourably their request and settled the refugees in Jen-Lai. Several cycles passed, during which the Fyros community became part of the masked people. When a fire devastated the jungle, fyrakists were the first to point out the traders of the Empire crossing the country. Viewing it as a sign of the Great Dragon's judgment, they took up arms to defend Zoraï frontiers against the Empire. The imperial troops repeatedly tried to break through the Zoraï defences with no success. Until the day when the sharükos in person came to the borders, escorting his friend Mabreka Cheng-Ho. All the Zoraï soldiers lowered their weapons in front of the disciple of Hoi-Cho. All except the fyrakists, who still held fierce hatred against him and had to be subdued.
- Liriope was racing through the jungle. She had entrust her shop to her daughter, to get to the Temple City of Jen-Laï quickly. The news spread like wildfire in Zora's districts: the young Mabreka Cheng-Ho was returning home and a peace treaty was about to be made with the Empire. "Fyrak Almighty!" swore the old Fyros, while redoubling her efforts. As she reached the gates of the Temple City, where the Fyrakists had made their home, a guard asked her: "Liriope Miko, what’s happened to you? Isn't today market day?" Catching her breath, the Fyros panted: "Mabreka Cheng-Ho has been spotted on the border! He is acclaimed by the people who see him as their new guide." The guard stared penetratingly at her and turned on his heels. No sooner had his figure disappeared than a young mask came out from behind a grove. Liriope was startled: "Nuo Tun, did you hear it all?" Nuo Tun looked gravely at the Fyros: "It's a good thing. Father's state of health keeps him away from his responsibilities. I imagine his abdication will only be a formality. However..." Nuo Tun laid a hand on the older one’s shoulder. "However, I have a favour to ask of you."
Liriope held her breath as she entered the floating buildings of the Me-Smer Order.
Recognizing a familiar face, she met a fyrakist who was crossing the hall. This one, respectful of her old age, gave her his arm and accompanied her to the archive room. As they went through the various amber cubes lockers, a rumour came from the hallway. The news of the arrival of Mabreka Cheng-Ho had reached the Order. The fyrakist went out to see what was going on, leaving the elderly Fyros unattended. Following scrupulously the indications of Nuo Tun, Liriope grabbed the most precious cubes and stepped out unnoticed. Already, soldiers of the Guild of Cho were taking over the city, arresting members of the Order.
Nuo Tun was waiting for Liriope at the gates of the city. He smiles imperceptibly as she approaches. "I knew I could trust you," he said in laconic fashion. The impassive mask of the young homin bowed as a sign of respect.
Once again in disgrace, the fyrakists experienced their first internal dissents. The moderate fyrakists, having become integrated, sometimes even to the point of becoming low-level civil servants, recognized the legitimacy of Mabreka-Cho and refused to follow the most fanatical fyrakists who left the Theocracy to sink into the Prime Roots. In these depths, the exiles discovered a Fyros city called Leron where they led a clandestine life for several years. The mystery remains about what caused the downfall of Leron but it is whispered that the Great Dragon Cult would have played a leading role.
- The more they progressed under the Bark, the more the presence of the Incendiary was felt. The Karavan had long since forbidden homins to go down into the Prime Roots for fear they would draw the Dragon out of its secular sleeping. Yet Fyros had always braved this prohibition in their quest for the Dragon. Aetis was now guiding his family through increasingly obscure landscapes towards the city, which, according to his prediction, would offer them the fresh start they were longing for. It was in these depths, as close as possible to the Incendiary, that the Cult would be born again, he was convinced. By the end of a long journey, Leron finally appeared before their eyes and the gaunt features of Aetis were suddenly illuminated. His gaze met the eyes of his companions and he exclaimed "Let's greet the Dragon". A whole new life opened up to them…
At the instigation of Aetis Mekops, the Leron's fyrakist branch turned its back on the teachings of the Zoraï people to embrace an unholy destiny. They called themselves the Initiates of the Great Dragon Cult, worshipping only the Great Incendiary and going as far as sacrifice of innocent homins to hasten the advent of Fyrak. The madness that seized Aetis Mekops and other Great Dragon Cult Initiates remained unexplained, but it led them to commit many atrocities.
- The purifying fire of the Great Incendiary had done his relentless work of destruction and, among the ruins of Leron, Aetis was brandishing the Book of the Dragon, symbol of the rebirth of his Cult. Galvanized by Aetis' message, the followers around him were, from now on, ready to see his ignoble designs through to the end. It was no longer time to step back. The future of the Cult was sealed. Leaving behind the ashes of their former shelter, the fanatics set out to reach their next stop. Jen-Laï would the first to pay its blood toll…
- Liriope's daughter was holding herself on the doorstep beside her husband, tenderly watching their sleeping son. Turning to her mother, she smiled at her. "Take good care of him!" She had never been separated from her son before, and she was choking up as her husband was already dragging her to the exit. Liriope was proud of her daughter and son-in-law. The armour of the Dynastic Guard befitted them wonderfully. They would come back victorious from their campaign at the Knot of Dementia, she was convinced. She briefly waved at them as they headed towards the stables, and then prepared to go to bed. Lying on her bed, the dean couldn't sleep. Suddenly, the old homine shuddered. Her instinct was alerting her of a foreign presence in the apartment. As she painfully sat straight, she saw a shadow leaning over her desk. When she acknowledged the intruder, Liriope could not suppress a surprised exclamation but the shadow swooped on her at once, fast as lightning. The dean then had the dreadful impression that one was entering her mind and she lost consciousness. When she emerged from her sleep, Liriope rushed to the door of the apartment to call for help. On the threshold, her feet bumped into a child's body. The dean's mouth deformed in a scream. When Jen-Lai's initiates rushed, they found her wandering in the first glimpses of the dawn, carrying the atrociously mutilated child's body at arm's length. The child's skull had been shaved and a terrible dragon has been drawn there with his blood. The attempts to remove the dead child from his grandmother's arms was unsuccessful. Liriope had just sunk into dementia.
When I came to offer my condolences to the dean, I found her prostrate, entrenched in her inner world. Drowning in my grief, I sat beside her, hoping to thus pass my support onto her. My brother and sister-in-law were to fight the kitins at this time, totally ignorant of the tragedy that had befallen their home. Remembering the words of my master, the Curator Nuo Tun, I got up and walked towards the desk of Liriope where I cautiously opened the chest of wisdom. My master's fears were confirmed: the chest was absolutely empty. What a desecration! Only an homin familiar with our traditions could have stolen the precious documents and drawn this unholy seal on my nephew's skull. Would he then be one of us? After a last look to the elder, I left the apartment to join the building of the Archives of Jen-Laï where Nuo Tun was waiting for me. He put one hand on my shoulder silently. The Curator of Jen-Laï asked me to listen to what he had to tell me up until the end without interrupting him. Of course I granted the request of my master, but I cannot describe how difficult it was to not tell all the horror that filled me as the reasons for the tragedy affecting my family appeared to me. By Jena and Her guards the Kamis! How could such impieties be perpetrated? The true face of the Plague appeared to me then. The counterpart of all creation that creeps into every seed of life and consumes it. Would Goo's emanations be nothing but the expression of the Great Destroyer?
Fyrak reserves for us all a part of his purifying fire. When his judgment falls upon us, we must accept it because Jena's magnificent creation could not exist without a natural counterpart. I had never seen such despair on my brother's face before… Facing their son's fresh tomb, he supported his wife's collapsed body. How could they ever accept what Fyrak was imposing on them?
Two seasons elapsed before Liriope joined her grandson as closely as possible to the Kamis. The dean had gradually faded away as if her seed of life had renounced light. A dire intuition had insidiously taken hold of our small community and, as if to confirm our fears, we soon were hearing reports of a series of suspicious missings on each continent. Homins of various genders and origins seemed to have been kidnapped. We had reason to believe that some of them would endure the same fate as my nephew did. Somewhere on the Bark, one century after the Great Fire, half a century after the Great Swarming, dangerous fanatics were attempting once again to unleash the judgment of Fyrak upon hominity.
The first sign of his judgment fell upon Pyr in the shape of an invasion of kitins. Soon the wrath of Fyrak would rise under the canopy. Fortunately the nations organized themselves and the Dragon Cult was dismantled in time. But I remain convinced that a threat still looms around us, lurking in the shadow of the Goo's emanations of the Witherings…
Extract from an amber cube entitled "History of the Great Dragon Cult",
created by Jezeba Dumuzi, 2533.