No, the Dragon as it was, is not at all like the Dragon Lords of nowadays *coughs and mumbles Â‘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.
This quest is Unique Lifeforms, jadies and lentilmen. I'm sure somewhere, in some world, you've got a creature that is the only one of it's kind. It's freak convention time! You'll get ten extra shiny XP for submitting, plus a shot at the coveted Strolen Medal of Honor.
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
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.
A tiger-like creature which likes litigation. Figurines of it are placed over
prison gates to keep guard.
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.
Xi (as above)
Chi Wen (as above)
Pu Lao (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.
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.
Zi (as above)
Ni (as above)
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.
dragon with horns on its head (the leader while the rest are in no particular
dragon with scales on its body
dragon with wings
dragon without horns
dragon who cannot fly
dragon who likes water
dragon who likes fire (whose name translates to Fire Dragon)
dragon who likes to call/shout/emit sounds
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
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? Responses (20)
Update: Will post another sub on the First and their descendants (which will describe Fu Xi) soon. Basically, the First refers to the creatures that are believed to be the first creations by a Pantheon of Gods in this particular setting.
The scroll on the actual Nine Off-Springs as detailed in Chinese text/folklore is forthcoming (in the middle of compiling info now) but I'm releasing it now because this sub is ready to be voted on. The scroll itself shouldn't form part of the graded content- I'm expecting to be assessed on the creativity of my ideas and the quality of my write-up and other aspects that the readers view important, not the quality of my research skills!
I always enjoy seeing a fresh twist on an unfamiliar myth.
I think something is missing, the mighty Fu Xi that punished two of the nine for causing a flood is not described. Maybe it/he/she is not one of them at all?
Yes, Fu Xi is not one of the Nine and will be featured in forthcoming subs on the Dragon Empire. I clarified this now in the 1st comment.
There are a lot of names, but not a whole lot of information about them. Think I'll revisit this later.
the Dragon and the Phoenix were said to have been died
Zhi Pao- Zhi Pao has the head of the Platpus
Thanks for the typo alert. This is meant to be a background myth for my setting (i.e. what the populace at the Dragon Empire believe abt the Dragon and its Nine Off-springs). As such, some of the Nine have longer sections b/c they stick to the minds of the populace more, some are only 2 lines of text cos the populace have nearly forgot abt them if not for the records of the Nine that can still be found in text.
What I wouldn't give for some artwork depicting these creatures! The names are a little confusing, but not horrible. It might help us to distinguish between them if you provided the literal English translations for each name (at least, that's how my brain works). Another possibility for expansion would be to give each of the Nine a special area of domain or responsibility -- something that we can use to further solidify their place in the world. Right now, they just sort of 'exist', without doing or affecting much of anything.
A fair enough comment though I meant this to be a background myth so they are not supposed to be affecting anything in my setting (or not much anyway in the current way things stand in my mind. A lot of this setting is still in the nebulous but things will be revealed in their own times). I was actually about to edit this piece today by adding in an Author Note declaring abt this being bg material.
On the English translation of their names, the names of the Nine in the real version are mostly words that are no longer in popular use anymore- the characters that form their names really means nothing outside their names. A lot of times, ancient Chinese names don't have much meaning in modern terms. Also, truth be told, my native tongue is Cantonese, not Mandarin, I just made up the names by sound (I'm pretty sure there's a corresponding character to what I typed up but I need to track down quite a few of them). So unfortunately, it's not really feasible for me to do. But I appreciate the comment and the suggestion on how to expand this.
Oh sure, I didn't mean to give them visible responsibilities -- just domains or areas of interest that they were known for. Like the pantheons in a lot of D&D-esque source books. Do people pray to these things? Are they featured in any stories? Just like Coyote is the patron god of mischief in many Native American religions, and Thor represented a warrior's strength, I see these creatures coming to represent ideas and concepts.
I see, in the real version, the Nine each has characteristics they were known for and they appear in different ornamentation in ancient China in correspondence with these characteristics. In my own version, I haven't gotten so far with them on this particular area. People in general don't pray to the Nine though they have reverence for the Dragon Lords (I slipped that in at the start but not sure whether ppl noticed), which are the descendants of Au Chao and maybe Xie Tse for those who believed she's still around. I do, however, see a few of the Nine being featured in stories but not all.
Update: Clarified author intention on this piece.
I like the feel of this piece - the sparse descriptions in places give a springboard for other developments.
With these myths as a basis, you can use them in lots of places - place names, nick-names, insults, weapons, etc.
I like it!
Anything with a Chinese folklore vibe *and* bizarre, mismatched animal hybrids, I'm going to like! I wish there was more.
If you want more of these exact same mixtures, then you need to summon the other Moon (Mystic Moon) for me. I have 2 collab subs with him planned (for his Pocket Realms setting mashed up with Scras' Kaiju Challenge-turned-Quest and this 'Dragon + 9 'off-springs' idea seed I had then) but then first I disappeared and now he's disappeared.
Also, I'm not totally done with this sub yet cos I still need to update the scroll on the actual 9 in Chinese folklore. I got my sources already but would u believe it there are 3 different versions of them (all right, 2 are quite similar but still)!
Actually, I just realised that the companion sub to this that will be upcoming, the First and its Descendants, will be the same exact mixture, although this time I'm doing any mixing of animal parts by myself. The appearance of the First are as detailed in Chinese folklore. Anyway, stay tuned!
Update: Added a few more details inspired by Dossta and Val's comments. Finished scroll on the real Nine Off-springs from ancient text and folklore.
Update: Quick formatting fix by compulsive editor of own work
Votes are a little low on this IMNSHO.. I am a sucked for fresh takes on familiar tropes.
sure a lot of the nine could use fleshing out. But the bare bones of this are pretty darn good. 4/5
Thanks for the 4, Aramax. Personally, I would be happy with a 3.5 for such background material. And I do owe any expansion (the longer entries among the Nine except for Au Chao) mainly to Dossta and Val's comments as I've already said.