Tuesday, January 9, 2018

the Cult of the White Dragon

"... Two or three years ago it was just another snake cult ..."
(a black lotus peddler telling of the cult of Set to Conan and Subotai, in Conan (1982))

Two or three years ago, the Cult of the White Dragon was just another dragon cult trying to worm its way into the territory of Calpurnia, one of the great trade cities in the middle stretch of the King's Highway. Dragon cults are always popular with Chaotics--the Cult of the Black Dragon, the Cult of the Gold Dragon, the Fighting Society of the Red Dragon, the Followers of the River Dragon, the Storm Dragon, etc. etc. Sure, the Giants are the sons of Chaos, ever warring against the Gods of Law in the great battles of heaven--but Dragons are Chaos. Tiamat whose womb is the salt-sea, Echidna the mother of monsters, Nidhogg gnawing at the world's roots ...

And what vision better sums up the glories of Chaos than the Dragon, vast and beautiful and invincible, coiled around a gleaming hoard that could ransom kingdoms?

Anyway, these Cultists of the White Dragon sought to take advantage of the rising of Chaos in the world--as the Elves put out their strength from the Dwimmerholt, as the Giants come down from the mountains to the north, and as the Dread Wolves of Drand are heard to howl again, so too, men have turned to the promises of Dragons and Dragon-Gods that to serve them is the means to wealth and power. With whispers of power, they gathered a Cult-following from among the disaffected and the adventurous in Calpurnia, and established a secret strong place in the woods to the north wherein to worship, and from whence they began a campaign of brigandage and raiding.

Because of their brazenness, the Cult was easily discovered in their secret place by scouts sent out by the city, and then Calpurnia's senate hired and outfitted a force of mercenary fighting-men who were thence dispatched to root out and destroy the Cult. The mercenaries routed the Cult in battle and claimed much treasure that had been taken through brigandage as their right of plunder (much to the merchant princes' displeasure), but the Cult of the White Dragon was largely thought to have been destroyed by this action, and much energy was then wasted on lawsuits between merchants, senators, and fighting-men all clamoring for their proper shares.

Some time passed; banditry continued along the northern roads, sometimes perpetrated by human brigands, sometimes by orc warbands; and then about a year and a half ago, a band of adventurers ventured into the Old Forest Keep northeast of Calpurnia and returned much the richer, claiming to have found a new White Dragon Cult, but to have wiped it out. This rumor was quickly quashed, however, as the band's continued expeditions into the Keep continued to run into groups of fighting-men and priests wearing conspicuous white armbands or intricate insignia of a white worm ... all the while, banditry has continued to increase along the northern road until it is impossible for trade to continue by independent wagoner, except at great risk--all trade along the King's Highway north is now conducted in large caravans guarded by veritable armies of guards--and still, many merchants come away ruined, their fortunes looted by brigands!

And so it seems, the Cult continues to grow in secret, in the dark places under the earth.


As to the god of the White Dragon Cult, they worship Leukeragz-Who-Sleeps, the White Worm, the World Serpent, less a literal dragon in the world than a literary dragon, or a mythical one (or mytho-typical). This worm is said to slumber in the roots of the world, or perhaps along the floor of world-circling Ocean, and that his waking will be death--the Gods will be overthrown, and the Giants, and all Creation itself; but in his own death, slain in the struggle against the Gods, Leukeragz's flesh will split and corrupt and a new world will spring from its corruption.

These stories are well enough known through lays, poetry, and folklore that non-initiates recognize Leukeragz as the White Dragon worshiped by the Cult, but as to the meanings of the lore or the deeper mysteries of the cult (why would a cultist worship a dragon whose waking will destroy the world??)--one must be initiated into said mysteries to understand!

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