No, the Dragon as it was, is not at all like the Dragon Lords of nowadays *coughs and mumbles ‘bless their names’* It is more powerful, more grand, more majestic and more…. Hmm… No records still exist that tell of its appearance. It is only known that each of its Nine Off-springs has taken at least one defining physical trait from the Dragon. I will get to the Nine Off-spring in a minute. Now where was I? Ah yes, Lord of all Waters and the lifeforms inhabiting within it was, the domain granted to it by the Creators, just as the Sky is granted to the Phoenix and the Land to the Chi Ling.
~ Master Mage Zhang educating his apprentice on the Dragon
It is not clear what was the exact circumstance leading up to it but it came to be that all of the First passed on from this world. In particular, the Dragon and the Phoenix were believed to have died, with their essences forever shattered and scattered around the realm that we mortals now call home.
The essence of the Dragon was said to have shattered into 9 pieces exactly. There is much debate about whether these pieces actively seek out compatible life forms to bond to or whether they are swallowed by creatures on a coincidental basis. Nevertheless, the end result is that nine “off-springs” of the Dragon have come into existence.
The Nine Off-Springs
The Nine Off-Springs, as they have become known as, are massive creatures, looming over the tallest of mountains then. The Nine each have its own territories and usually roam within it. However, periodically, fights erupt between them. It was conjectured that if any of the Nine devoured one of their siblings, it would become stronger from absorbing more of the essence of the Dragon.
Below is a brief description of what is known about each of the Nine:
*Au Chao- Ancestor of the Dragon Lords, Au Chao has the head of a camel, horns of a deer, eyes of a rabbit, a long serpentine body covered with scales of a carp and four claws ending in five toes. It also sports a beard on its face and a pearl under its chin, which contains the essence of its power. It has the ability to fly despite having no wings. The Dragon Lords inherited almost all of the outlooks from Au Chao except that only a select few (always the most powerful among them) have five toes on their claws, the remaining only have four toes on each claw. (Refer to the following link for a typical depiction of what Au Chao and the Dragon Lords would look like: http://library.thinkquest.org/07aug/00193/introduction.html). The wisest and most powerful of the Nine, Au Chao is believed to be the only one that was alive and had remained visible in the mortal realm after the Great Flood.Also referred to as the First Dragon Lord by the populace, Au Chao had taken over the responsibility of overseeing rainfall from the Dragon.
*Au was adopted as the surname of all Dragon Lords, Chao is the Shou term for “tide”
Wen Bao- In appearance, Wen Bao is a scaled tiger with sharp protrusions running along the middle of its back, a jagged tail like the teeth of a saw and is supported on three legs instead of four. In particular, it has only one leg at the back that is situated in the middle of its torso. It was believed that a fight between it and Nuan Luo had resulted in both their deaths and that their spines became the tallest mountain range that exists today.
Nuan Luo- A brown bear with a pig’s snout and two long tusks protruding out of its mouth, it is believed to have perished together with Wen Bao.
Qu Chi- A water serpent covered with fish scales who has a mermaid’s tail, it is believed to have been slew by Fu Xi for causing the Great Flood together with Xie Tse.
Xie Tse- An eel-like creature with a long pointed horn curving downwards that sticks out of her forehead and two pairs of strong claws that allow Xie Tse to live on land as well. However, Xie Tse prefers a watery habitat. Being the fickle one, she migrates around water bodies and thus periodic fights erupt between her and Qu Chi who has made a permanent home at the Yellow River. After the Great Flood caused by a particularly severe conflict between the two, Fu Xi slew Qu Chi and severely wounded Xie Tse. It was said the blood of Xie Tse had sapped into a tributary off the Yellow River and the waters there have ever after taken on a tint resembling red corals. Some said that Xie Tse had departed from the mortal realm. Others said that during the fight, Xie Tse had saved herself by sinking deep within its watery abode and has never dared to make an appearance to mortals again.
Tsang Yu- A creature with a rabbit’s upper body that ends with trim and muscular horse legs and with ears that is membranous rather than being of flesh. It was believed that Tsang Yu, Zhi Pao, Su Mang and Qiu Kang had each gone to stake out different realms for themselves after the death of Wen Bao and Nuan Luo to prevent mutual destructions between the Nine. There are, however, rumors of a portal left open between the mortal realm and wherever the cunning Tsang Yu now resides in.
Zhi Pao- Zhi Pao has the head of the Platpus (the mammal with a duck's bill) that is connected seamlessly with a goat's body and ends with a long, serpentine tail. It is believed to be now inhabiting another realm.
Su Mang- An ape-like creature with a rooster tail and claws, Su Mang also sports a mane of sharp quills (much like a porcupine) down the back of its head. Despite its formidable look, it was the most timid of the Nine and was the first to flee to another realm upon the death of its two siblings. Likening someone to Su Mang has become a common taunt/goad among the populace, particularly when the target is of strong physical build.
Qiu Kang- It has the head of pangolin (aka anteater) but sporting whiskers and an upright body supported on a pair of crane’s legs. Qiu Kang was never seen again after the death of Wen Bao and Nuan Luo.
Additional Ideas (1)
This is another creative adaptation piece with original inspiration in Chinese folklore. In particular, there was a phrase in an ancient text that translates to “The Dragon gave birth to nine off-springs, each of them being different” that is the basis of this particular sub. Note, however, that unlike this particular sub, the Dragon in this ancient phrase was just referring to the particular Dragon that it was talking about which is just a common Chinese dragon rather than this ancient creature whose appearance is unknown as I’ve made the Dragon into. A common Chinese dragon’s outllook is basically my description of Au Chao in the main sub. To be honest, I didn’t dig up the actual references on these Nine Off-springs as detailed in Chinese folklore until after I finished my own set of Nine. Nevertheless, I thought providing the set of Nine detailed in actual Chinese folklore would be a nice complement to the version I’ve made up specifically for the Dragon Empire setting.
There are actually three different version of the Nine Off-springs according to different texts, both in terms of what the Nine actually are and their birth orderings:
Qiu Niu- Depicted as a typical Chinse dragon, Qiu Niu is said to have a passion for music and its head often serves as ornamentation for the tops of musical instruments
Ya Zi- Depitced as a creature with the head of a wolf and a dragon’s body, its preference for killing makes it a common decorative component on sword-grips. Its name also appears in a Chinese idiom/proverb (the special four-charcter phrases in Chinese) describing vengeful personalities.
Chao Feng- Chao Feng itself is considered an incarnation of birds and takes the image of a phoenix. It is said to like precipices and therefore figurines of Chao Feng are placed on the four corners of roofs. However, these figurines are normally of a four-legged beast form.
Pu Lao- Another with the look of a typical Chinese dragon. Reputedly, it likes to cry. It is represented on the tops of bells, serving as handles
Suan Ni- A lion-like creature that likes to sit down. Figurines of it are commonly found upon the bases of Buddhist idols under the Buddhas’ feet.
Bi Xi/Ba Xia- Bi Xi is a creature similar in form to a Trionychidae (a form of soft-shelled turtle which can be found in Asian diet, viewed as a delicacy and prized for the its supposedly health strengthening effects) which is said to be fond of literature. It is put on the sides of grave monuments. Alternativley, Ba Xia is a big tortoise that likes to carry objects. Figurines of Ba Xia are commonly the support structures for grave monuments.
Bi’an- A tiger-like creature which likes litigation. Figurines of it are placed over prison gates to keep guard.
Fu Xi (pronounced with inflections)- Unclear of its entire outlook but it is certain that it has the serpentine body typical of a Chinese dragon. Fu Xi looks anything of an artistic nature and is depicted as spiraling in a vertical sense at the top of stone monuments
Chi Wen- It has the head of a dragon but has the body of a fish. It likes swallowing and is place on both ends of the ridgepoles of roofs to swallow all evil influences.
Except for different birth orderings and the 5th, 6th and 9th Off-springs being entirely different creatures, version B is really quite similar to version A.
Bi Xi (as above)
Chi Wen (as above)
Pu Lao (as above)
Bi’an (as above)
Tao Tie- A horned, clawed beast with a tail roughly corresponding to the relevant body part of a cow, tiger and goat. Its face decorate a wide range of tools and storage devices made from an alloy of bronze, tin and lead whose name translates to Indigo Bronze. It is associated with gluttony and greed. In modern terms, part of its name is used in a term that refers to food connoiseirs.
Ba Xia (pronounced with different inflections than the Ba Xia in version A)- With a typical Chinese dragon’s apperance, Ba Xia is said to like water and his image is sculpted into the foundation pillar for bridges.
Ya Zi (as above)
Suan Ni (as above)
Jiao Tu- A conch or clam, which does not like to be disturbed. It decorates door knobs or the doorstep (in ancient times, door knobs have a flat surface which is in the shape of Jiao Tu’s face that is attached to a ring of metal which is used to knock)
*Each of the Off-springs in this set have two charcter names in Chinese as well (they are all called xxx Dragon if I translate them across but I can’t since some characters are basically meaningless by itself) but I can’t find their pronounications and I surely am not even going to attempt to make them up myself since my Mandarin just isn’t good enough and also 3 of the characters I can’t even pronounce in my mother tongue of Cantonese.
The dragon with horns on its head (the leader while the rest are in no particular order)
The dragon with scales on its body
The dragon with wings
The dragon without horns
The dragon who cannot fly
The dragon who likes water
The dragon who likes fire (whose name translates to Fire Dragon)
The dragon who likes to call/shout/emit sounds
The dragon who likes to fight
there are also several Chinese links that I used but since I would take a punt
that at least 90% of the Strolenati can’t read Chinese, no point for me to put
up the actual links. Anyway, I think I’ve made it clear enough that this entire
scroll is research-based/the actual version of the myth