Dragonborn Culture

The culture of the Queen's children has always been drastically shaped by the nearness of their goddess. The steady evolution and change experienced by other races was retarded by the stabilizing presence of their divinity, and while the Queen hardly spoke two sentences in a decade, the simple fact of her tangible presence influences the way that dragonborn live. Everything that a dragonborn dreams of attaining or fears to befall them exists within the scope of the Queen's permission.

Most dragonborn belong to extended families, with the eldest female serving as the head of the household. As many as four generations might live in one home within the Throne, with males moving in to join their mates after marriage. Dragonborn keep only one mate, and entanglements outside marriage are highly frowned-upon under most circumstances. Males found guilty of an affair can expect social ostracism and disgrace, though the female rarely suffers unless the affair is especially public. Unmarried dragonborn have more license, but even then, a male who pursues too many females can find it difficult to find a female willing to wed him. Marriage choices are freely made between individuals, albeit the head of the household can forbid "improper" weddings… by whatever standards she considers impropriety.

Dragonborn society is strongly matriarchal. While female dragonborn tend to be slightly smaller and physically less imposing than the males, the evident will of the Queen has left them rulers of the Throne since the days of the Five Daughters. Males are generally considered in need of superior female judgment and prudence, and are counted prone to recklessness and impiety. Most males are relegated to jobs that aren't considered all that requisite of superior intellects- farmers, craftsmen, and low-ranking warriors. Males are expected to defer to females in all matters, and it is unthinkable that a male should ever be put in authority over a female. Dragonborn society has been in a comfortable stasis for centuries, and has never been forced to truly mobilize all its resources the way that Xianese culture has. As such, the restricted, confined life of a dragonborn male would make a Kueh noblewoman seem recklessly liberated.

Within the Throne, the city operates much as any other town does. There are merchants, crafters, even beggars and thieves, though crime tends to be punished ruthlessly. The worst parts of the Throne would scarcely draw a moment's concern from a denizen of one of Xian's slums. The comparatively small size of the city helps in this, as there are no more than ten thousand dragonborn in the valley. The farms that surround the city provide food for the populace, and a few mines in the valley walls allow for metal goods to be made. Fuel is occasionally in short supply, but carefully-tended groves of trees allow for limited smelting along with heating the houses.

Equally important are the herbal gardens, and the extracts that allow female dragonborn to prevent conception. Breeding privileges are strictly controlled by the priestesses, numbers limited lest the valley's food supply be overstrained. The penalty for illicit reproduction is the death of the mother and the claiming of her child by the priestesses. Permission to bear children rarely comes more than two or three times for a particular mother unless all her offspring are males, and it is not unknown for criminals to suffer the loss of all future childbearing rights.

The priestesses are the unquestioned rulers of dragonborn society. Only the most intelligent and gifted are permitted to join their illustrious ranks, and their word is law within the valley. No more than a hundred priestesses are to be found in the city at any one time, with ninety under-priestesses serving nine high priestesses, all of whom answer to the Matriarch. The Matriarch speaks on behalf of the Queen, and her rule is unquestioned by the priestesses. In the handful of cases when an unsuitable Matriarch rose to rule, the Queen herself has given guidance to the faithful, and the false Matriarch cast down. Such an event has happened only three times since the founding of the Throne, and it is considered highly unwise to speak much of it.

Despite the stasis of dragonborn society, it has its own subtle fractures. Some among the males in particular have suffered a long restiveness under the rule of their females; they have endured it this long because of the obvious futility of questioning the will of the Queen, yet the Queen's evident silence of late and the sudden opening of the wider world beyond the valley have provoked more than a few to question the old verities of their servitude. Most males accept their place as divinely-ordained, but those who do not are very likely to leave the valley- or else agitate for change in more direct fashion.

There are also heretics and schismatics to be found, claiming their own strange interpretations of the Queen's will. The priestesses never tire of denouncing these innovations, yet they persist among the poor and scheming of the city. Some say that the Queen is a devil-tyrant bent on imprisoning them forever within the valley. Others say that the priestesses are false prophets who hide the true words of the Queen. Some even claim that there is no Queen at all and that the dragonborn race did not come from divine intervention. To discuss these things before a priestess is highly unwise.

With the ending of the wards and the sudden vulnerability of the valley, many of the most disaffected of the dragonborn have left the valley to seek their fortune in the world beyond. The wealth and abundance to be had entices them, and the freedom from strict social rules is intoxicating. Whether they will prove more a help than a harm to their people has yet to become clear.

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