The Dragon Empress, the pinnacle of power and an enigma in the Sea of Stars

1 February, 2022

EmeraldsIf there can be said to be a nexus of power in the Sea of Stars, it would be the Empress, while she was not the largest, oldest or strongest of the dragons, she was one of the most thoughtful.  Further, she proved to be the one who could inspire and unify the dragons into a single terrifying purpose.  Partly, she did this through the promotion of the philosophy of Dominae, a philosophy that flattered the sensibilities of the dragons, and partly by being charming and convincing.  (It has been argued that the Empress is the most charismatic of the dragons, at least to other dragons, but it is hard for non-dragons to know.)  Once the gods were torn down, she and her Seven Stars seized the majority of divine weapons and artifacts, and the Empress used them to make herself the most powerful among the dragons through that theft of divine power.

The Empress’ ability to steal the majority of divine power through the gathering of artifacts and weapons was unexpected by her peers, several of whom had plotted to slay her and take control of the world in the aftermath of the Godsfall.  She had prepared for that threat, not only with a divine arsenal to back her but by the fact that her agents controlled the Sun.  If the Sun were to die, the Sea of Stars would be plunged into eternal night and cold.  However, even that did not stop at least two dragons from attempting to kill her in the decade following, both perished and their skulls decorate the Imperial Courts of Law.

To at least channel such aggression, the Empress had a challenge circle constructed in the capital, where anyone could challenge her to one on one combat and she would respond within the week.  After realizing that some were using it as an extremely flashy way to commit suicide, she added a new rule, she would have the right to have every blood and legal relative of the challenger hunted down and killed if they lost.  This has only been invoked once and, since then, no one has chosen (or been allowed by their families) to use it to commit suicide.  Indeed, most of the combats were so one-sided, that there has not been a challenge in the last three hundred years.

Now, with all of that power, the Empress immediately began a policy of conquest . . .  No, she did not, as she already technically conquered everything and simply handed out lands to the dragons who joined her in throwing down the Gods.  Since then the Empress devoted herself to refining the, limited, Imperial bureaucracy, collecting art and generally making the Imperial state as efficient as possible from her home in the Capitol.  She is rarely seen, keeping to whatever task is working on, as she has functionally unlimited funds for anything she may wish to build, buy or patronize.  While the direct Imperial lands are but a small part of the Sea of Stars, well less than one part in fifty is a direct Imperial demesne and many of those are places of natural beauty or historical interest, however, all of the other draconic lords must pay one-tenth part of any taxes they collect to the Empire which still makes the Empress very wealthy indeed.  (Among the most feared of the Empress’ servants are her corps of Auditors who make sure that no one is denying the Empress her share of taxes collected.)

What does the Empress want now?  That is a question that many would like the answer to.  She very rarely intervenes in the affairs of others, preferring to let the other dragons sort things out among themselves.  It is only when things threaten to disrupt the fabric of the Empire, based on some metric and measurement that only she knows, does she or the Imperial forces or both take action and such action is sudden and violent.  When the Empress acts, it is always decisively, seeking to end whatever problem in one precise stroke, she does not believe in half measures.

Many would think that it is fortunate that most people are far below the notice of the Empress.  It seems that as long as she receives her share of taxes and people do not act to destabilize the Empire, the Empress is happy to stand back and watch, letting people do what they want.  She does not ever seem that concerned that there are people plotting against her, she has been heard to say “I will start to worry when they have spent half as long planning to overthrow me as I did to overthrow the gods.”  (It is believed and the Empress has implied in other statements that she spent at least half a millennia strategizing how to defeat the gods.)

The Empress just does not have the same concerns as other beings, rich beyond dreams of avarice she can indulge any desire she wishes but she mostly collects art which is available for public viewing and books.  And if people wish to plot to bring her low, she welcomes the challenge.

The Empress is distant and mysterious by choice, distance gives perspective, and mystery makes it harder for enemies to know how to act against her.

Note: My first contribution for this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, which has the theme of Dragons, hope you can join in.

Image Pendant with crown design at top, square emeralds set in gold openwork, with large emerald drop, Spain, about 1680-1700 from the Victoria and Albert Museum and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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