The holidays loom large! I hope you all have your Dragon Kings Trees up (begging the question, how does one decorate a Dragon Kings Tree?).
Work progresses on the project. The World Book chapters are being gathered, tweaked, and edited as we speak (special thanks to Steven Schend, whose editorial talents are really bringing the manuscript together). Take a look at some of the draft segments below from the Bestiary and Races and Realms chapters.
Artists are plugging away, too, creating monsters and characters. All of the Dragon Kings-level pledgers are working with me on their character image ideas and I’m sharing those with the artists. Also, I’m working with all the Loremaster-level pledgers to get their written contributions into the World Book, as well. I’m excited about all their imaginative concepts, and they will all make Dragon Kings an even more compelling setting!
We put guitar and drum tracks to the Among the Peaceful/The Dragon Kings tracks earlier this week (we filmed some of this studio work and will make that video available soon), while Mike Stone is finishing his guitar and vocal tracks for Time to Die and Fly By the Night Sky. We’re pushing hard to get all the tracks together for some special music industry promotion beginning in early February.
That’s it for now. New art and music clips to share soon!
From the Bestiary chapter …
Khitus’s smaller, swifter personal mount of choice carried its peoples out of the southern plains and across the face of the world. Swafa have ancient origins, bred specifically for riding from wild ostrich-like savannah lizards, but that breeding is, at best, only half complete; swafa retain much of their wild savagery.
They are quick on their hind feet, racing along on long, bounding strides that eat up the desert, where their broad, padded toes gain perfect traction. They are less effective on pavement, stone, or packed surfaces, where their speed suffers unless they are shoed; blacksmiths must protect themselves with heavy gloves and masks and then still drug the beasts just to have a fighting chance to accomplish their ends. Left to their own devices, swafa chirp when they run, a high-pitched throaty whistle timed to their strides that helps them identify each other in the wild; most riders split their tongues with razor sharp blades to silence them permanently.
Swafa are not particularly fearsome beasts. They can defend themselves with their fore claws, to an extent, and can bite to ward off attackers. They never engage their hind legs or tails in combat, relying instinctively on their speed for defense and escape. When startled, they spit foam and saliva in a drowning spray that can blind or otherwise deter an enemy to further facilitate escape.
A swafa’s back narrows from the hips through the shoulders, and is not exactly ideal for mounting a saddle. The boney ridge of its spine offers no comfortable position; bareback swafa riding is nearly impossible. A proper swafa saddle must be drilled into the hips and spine and attached with bolts and thick leather straps. The process requires the animal be drugged to unconsciousness, and some never survive the process. The saddle, or at least its mounting pieces, becomes permanently affixed to the beast. A new saddle can be swapped out for repair or improvement, as necessary.
Swafa naturally flock to one another. In the wilderness, their swift-moving flocks must be tracked and culled to capture wild ones for domestication (though many swafa are bred and raised domestically, as well, though these must be ‘broken’ and trained in the same manner as one captured out on the dunes). Even when being ridden, the swafa’s flocking instinct kicks in, and savvy riders know how to take best advantage of it. Swafa cavalry ride more closely packed, as a result, than any other mounted troops on Khitus; that tight formation makes them the heaviest, densest cavalry on the battlefield.
Swafa also roost. Once they have established a home base and properly marked it with their spit and feces, they return to it again and again for rest and perceived protection. Provided the animal is not completely lost after a long journey, it will eventually make its way back to its roost, even it that takes several days or weeks. They have the reputation of being a safe resource, since they are seldome permanently lost. Swafa are carnivores and will eat each other, favoring the old and the wounded, an instinct that can disrupt an ongoing battle. A rider must exert his mastery over his mount when it naturally lunges for the fresh meat of a wounded comrade.
From the Races and Realms chapter:
Ormas is a city on the brink of revolution. A decadent human culture has pushed its people far too much and now amongst murder, violence, robbery, vice and all manner of excess the city struggles like a drowning man in quicksand. Ormas is a grand example of humankind’s in-humanity to itself and shows why a people should never let a marauder become a leader with promises of change. Khanik Thyn offered people a small glimmer of hope that things might change in the city, a city built on the back of suffering and with the blood of thousands of innocent slaves. One ruled by a fair but greedy ruler, Khanik whipped the people up into a storm of hatred that raged through the brown stone streets, consuming several city wards and killing nearly a thousand people in one bloody rampage-fuelled night. Promising (with several of his co-conspirators) a new era for the people of Ormas, the brutal warlord clove the head from his closest ally and imprisoned the others as traitors to his new rule. He placed himself in the seat of power and rules with an iron fist, closed so tightly that the people are pushed near to their breaking point. Whatever catalyst sets them off, it will come at great cost to Khanik and his followers as the people of Ormas have endured his spiteful reign for years as he turned the city into a haven for marauders. The Black Cloaks are Khanik’s secret police and they are attempting to curb the activities of a mysterious rebel group in the city, known as the Spear of Freedom. It’s said that the leader of the Spear is a woman who lost her husband to Khanik’s betrayal and now she does everything in her power to make his tenure as their ruler a miserable one. Her hand is open to brave warriors who might assist her cause.