|The Paper Dragon God|
Lore[edit | edit source]
The island of Kami no Shima, has always been the seat of power of the Island Empire. It was here that a simple fisherwoman, the first Empress Gili, mastered the magic that is practiced only in the Empire: Kotoba no chikara - the Power of the Word.
What we call the Island Empire today was once nothing but an archipelago filled with thousands of tiny, warring tribes. In Gili's village, they worshipped the sun, climbing a winding stone path every morning to greet the dawn and ask for protection as they fished their livelihood from the sea throughout the day. The villagers often left prayers and offerings, written on kelp paper and carefully folded into the shapes of the fish they wished to catch.
Gili wondered at the power of it. There was no denying that their village, with its humble goal of a bountiful catch each day, was thriving where other tribes had failed. Had their prayers really been answered? And if so, by what? Surely Hyperion, a being who valued hard work, had better things to do than to watch over a few fishers and provide for their whims.
Gili knew that there were ruins atop the island's mountain. So, resolving to investigate them, as the fishing fleet set out one day, she took her dory around the island and to the sheer cliff and the numerous grottos hidden there. The going was treacherous, choppy waves threatening to crash the boat against the rocks, but finally, Gili managed to bring the boat through a hole in the cliff wall to the hidden grotto within.
A single small tunnel snaked up and out of the grotto, set high into the wall above the high-tide mark. Carefully Gili climbed, her fingers and toes constantly slipping in the ocean slime that coated the grotto walls. When Gili finally made it to the tunnel she was forced to crawl on hands and knees before the tunnel mouth opened up onto the island's mountainside.
Gili stopped and surveyed the island and the waters around it. It was a beautiful day. The sun was gloriously bright, but even in its glare upon the water Gili could see the fishing fleet, spread in a wide crescent as they laid out their nets and set to the work of the day. Gili would have to hurry if she wanted to return with the fleet; from the looks of it several hours had passed as she climbed through the innards of the island.
The going was slow. The entire island was a grayish white rock that cracked and fractured in the rain and brine air. This left the cliffs and ridge lines jagged and shot through with cracks just waiting to give way as an unwary foot stomped down too hard, or a finger clutched too tightly. By the time the mountain peak was in sight, Gili knew she would never return to the village before the catch was brought in. She worried that they would think she was shirking her duties.
Eventually she found the remains of an old trail cut into the stone and the going got easier. Soon, she came to realize that each step was engraved with letters of her people's alphabet, but in combinations she had never seen before, forming words she did not know. She stopped to sound them out, hearing in them something dark and powerful. She did not know the meaning of these words, but she could hear power in them and with each word, it was as if something was unfolding in her mind. The language seemed a little more familiar with each syllable.
As she climbed the last step, the ruins became visible. There was little to see save a half buried stone dais. She frowned in disappointment. It seemed there would be little to learn here, after all. She kicked at the stone work in frustration, pushing aside some of the dirt to reveal part of a sort of letter carved into the edge of the dais.
As the sun began to sink into the sea she had finally exposed a portion of what lay below. The edge of the dais was covered in the letters of her people, but once again in words she did not know. She struggled to sound them out and instantly, they translated in her mind to a form of the language she could understand: Let the will within affect the world without.
Her mind filled with language, with a version of her language, but far, far older than she had ever imagined. Each letter was more than a sound, it connoted meaning and had a deep connection to physical world. The symbol for a fish was more than just its name, it was the very idea of a fish. To understand the language was to understand the thing and to understand the thing was to gain power over it. The village had no idea the magic it worked every day, but now Gili could see it clearly. It was neither Hyperion nor Astaroth that answered the prayers of the village. It was its own people. The ritual was not so much a prayer as it was a spell. She laughed as the truth of her own language unspooled in her mind. It was so simple, really. Almost absurd. After a moment she stood and began to walk down the path, assuming it would lead her back to the village.
She stopped to consider what she would tell the villagers, watching the boats pull into lagoon. So lost was she in the question that she almost didn't notice how strange it was for the boats to be out so late, but as the path found its way to the cliff-top where the villagers left their offerings every morning, it became clear that the boats in the lagoon were not the boats of the village.
This far from the village, there was little she could do. At least, not as Gili, the simple fisherwoman, but as she considered the offerings at her feet, she realized she was no longer that woman. She knew the truth now, the truth of what her people could accomplish. Her eyes alit on an offering folded into the form of an albatross, a fisher's symbol of luck. Beside it, the folded paper form of a deep fiend, no doubt someone asking for a large catch. Both would suit her purposes, now. She unfolded the albatross, quickly grabbing a rock from the ground and using it to scratch the charcoal symbols within. With the change of a few simple lines, she changed the meaning of the words and the paper began to rasp against itself as it refolded to become an albatross once more, and began to flap its wings!
Working quickly she unfolded the deep fiend as well and set to work. It was more work to find the right characters to represent both a dragon and the power of the titans, but when she was done, the paper begin to writhe in her hands. Not simply refolding itself into the form of a deep fiend, the paper grew and folded over and over until the form of wings could be seen. It took on a life of its own even before it was finished, hovering with rustling flaps of its paper wings. Gili's dragon was alive! She had little time to save the village, so Gili leapt atop the dragon, trusting the magic to keep her safe. She knew it was a hollow form, a literal paper dragon, but she knew as well that the form was not the source of its power.
Her will was her dragon's strength and she would not let that will falter. Not when her people were even now being threatened. Grimly, she motioned to the boats in the lagoon, now just beyond the surf, and the dragon turned with a flap of its paper wings, the spiral paper form tail trailing behind them like a ribbon as they dove towards the bandits.
"BEHOLD!" Gili cried, with all the rage and imperiousness she could muster, "RYUJIN! THE DRAGON GOD!"
She pushed at the paper dragon with her knee and it swooped down upon the bandits, roaring the whole way.
The bandits screamed in panic, just as Gili hoped, but they did not flee. Instead they meant to fight.
Gili felt real fear then. She didn't know if the magic was strong enough to protect her. She hoped to finish this quickly and turned the dragon to swoop again, this time unleashing the first magic, the albatross, as the paper dragon opened its mouth to roar.
A flock of paper birds burst from its mouth, one by one, each circling and swooping at the bandits. The edges of their wings and beaks were far shaper than any blade and they rent the bandits flesh, urging them to action. In their haste to escape, the bandits now left Gili and the dragon alone. Many of the boats returned to their ships, but one longboat, a proud bandit warrior at its bow, continued on toward her.
In one hand the warrior held a sword, wreathed in flame: Ulfberht, the Town Killer. Cold fear gripped her heart as he regarded her not with fear, but amusement. When he spoke, his voice was cold malice.
"I am the death of ten kingdoms, and you think to oppose me with paper? I don't know whether to be insulted or amused, foolish woman!"
He pointed the sword and a ball of fire streaked from its tip, heading for Gili with uncanny precision. Panicked, she called to the birds once more and the flocked around her and Ryujin, forming an impenetrable wall of paper, the Kami Soko. "You think you can simply burn a GOD? Who's the fool now, bandit?"
The ball of fire impacted against the wall of paper, burning it away, but Gili - and Ryujin - were safe!
The paper dragon then opened its maw once more and again Gili called forth the albatross. She had meant for the bandits to survive, to report that the island was protected, but she could see there would be no stopping this man.
When it was done, the bandits lay at the bottom of the bay, the cursed flame sword included. The warlord had faltered when she survived his initial assault. He had no way of knowing she lacked the power, or the paper, to protect herself like that again without preparation. His own fear at what he had seen had stayed his hand only long enough for Gili's birds to do the rest. The man died never knowing that victory was but a single fireball away.
Gili landed the dragon on the beach, before the villagers. They cheered her as a hero, but she feared they would brand her a witch when she revealed the truth. But the warlord was not the only one to misjudge what was seen. When she told them the story, they did not recoil from it, but instead they embraced it, rebuilding the temple at the mountaintop, but also never forgetting their morning ritual and the power it brought.
Tips[edit | edit source]
Paper is fragile stuff! - As a Ryujin rider, you are the classical "glass cannon." You can pack one hell of a punch, but you can't really take one of equal magnitude. Keep yourself safe and above all else, watch your health!
Paper isn't free - Those awesome origami birds hurt like hell, but they also hurt your mana pool. You can't spam them out like some Novastar or Tanglewing rookie and expect to live. The key to that is the cost of your Kami Soko, your paper armor. You will kill yourself if you spend beyond the cost of the armor you need to escape a melee.
Pair with a defensive weapon for longevity - Rising soul's ability to regenerate mana is a good choice for Ryujin since it means you use Kami Soko far more often, but consider also how something like Chillblade or Chronosphere might work together with the dragon's abilities to increase survivability.
Pair with offensive weapons for burst damage - Kami no Tori and Kami Soko are powerful abilities that make Ryujin a great sniper or second rank assault dragon, but to really graduate to assassin status, you will want to maximize the amount of burst damage Ryujin can do at once, so that you can stay at the edge of a fight and swoop in only for the kill.
Skins[edit | edit source]
Arcfury • Autodrake • Bilebite • Bladeforge • Blood Thief • Bogwraith • Briartove • Deepfiend • Direbone • Dragokin • Dreadnaught • Frostbane • Gemtalon • Goldenclaw • Gravelurker • Heartstone • Hellfire • Icemaul • Imperial • Lunaveil • Magmascale • Mistfallow • Netherdrake • Nightmare • Novastar • Noxwing • Quetzalcoatl • Rimrock • Ryujin • Seastark • Solreign • Spineback • Spinereaver • Stonepeak • Tanglewing • The dark One • Twinscale • Venomtail • Wardhammer • Wyrm-Mk1