The Dark Times Edit
The history of the Zealots began after the Dawn of Fire, a cataclysmic event in about 2000 BU which completely destroyed the southern territory of Westward in a wave of volcanic fire, terrible earthquakes, and flooding. In the ashes of the destruction, a cult of dragon worshipers believed that it had been a dragon living deep within The Dragon's Mouth whom had laid waste to the land destroyed the northern clan's adversaries. While they couldn't be further from the truth, this story coupled with the concept of "survival of the fittest" gave rise to a full religion later dubbed the Dragon Faith. In time, the cultists managed to convince the surviving people of Westward that the dragon of the mountain had given them a chance to survive because it saw the potential in their philosophies. Soon, the Dragon Faith had spread to all corners of Westward.
While the barbarian clans fought each other for dominance over the rugged lands, it was the Zealots of the faith who remained strong in their positions. Posing as simple clergymen and pious followers of the dragon, these powerful people had influences well beyond their normal stations and could extend their reach into major decisions that shaped all of Westward. No one knows who suggested the first meeting, but at around 1800 BU, just as Westward was beginning to see some unification, these powerful people met in secret. Together, they formed the mysterious Dragon Council, the pinnacle of Zealot power.
When Westward finally united under a single empire, it was the members of the Dragon Council who suggested the election of a Hysaph, or the strongest warrior, in order to mask their existence and manipulate, because they believed the strongest fighter would not necessarily be the smartest person. So, in 1784 BU, Hysaph Kal Grimson won the grand tournament hosted in the city of Zeal by being the last warrior standing in a free-for-all ring of fifty different fighters from different clans. Crowning Grimson was the head councilman, Arulo Silvermane, who also happened to be the Wyrm of the Dragon Faith, forever cementing the tradition of Wyrms crowning Hysaphs.
Little is known about the history between the 1700's BU and 1000's BU, outside of the dominate hold both the empire and the Dragon Council had on Westward. Because of the quiet nature of the Dragon Council, it was never publicly discovered that they were the ones really in charge. Furthermore, the influence of the Dragon Faith only grew in time with the Council silencing any opposition with assassins and their own power. It is said this time period is one of the darkest times in history, where superstition and misinformation spread rampantly around the commoners and the high ranking members were either working for the Council, on the Council, paid off, or assassinated. A few non-believers of the faith escaped to distant lands, some settling in ruins to the south or even reaching as far as Lockehart, but in the Westward the Zealots reigned supreme for generations. So long as they kept the lower class fearful and uncertain of the truth, they could rule indefinitely.
The Eastern Territories Edit
Over time, technology naturally improved, despite the Zealot's best efforts to stomp it out. The Zealots saw technology as a sign of weakness, considering the former residence of southern Westward, the Illumantes, basked their society in scientific advancement before meeting their end at the hands of the Dawn of Fire. However, even strict laws by the Zealots could not prevent the populace from scaling over the Westwall Mountains. Soon, these brave settlers began to establish their own colonies, which earned the attention of both the Zealots and the Dragon Council. Dubbing the new lands as the Eastern Territories, the Zealots immediately began placing taxes on these colonies once safe passages had been developed through the mountains. The Zealots saw the threat of these new forming nations, but were too slow to react.
In 786 BU, the two countries by the name of Avalot and the Reach engaged in open warfare separately against the tax collectors of the Westward empire. The Zealots then swiftly destroyed their armies, having easily five times a larger army as the both of them combined, and things went back to normal. But the message had been sent, the people of these new territories were unhappy with the Zealot's ruling. The Zealots then began to heavily exploit the defeated nations, and the nations never forgot.
With each incident between the eastern countries and the Zealots, the east would grow bolder. A few minor revolts happened over the centuries. In present-day Berma there were workers rioting when gold was discovered in 586 BU, which resulted in multiple executions. Three cities in Avalot (two) and the Pinelands (one) were destroyed in 456 BU, 309 BU, and 145 BU after visiting Zealots went missing. The last culling resulted in so many deaths that the Pinelands had to bury their dead through mass grave pyres.
Krohn the Dragonslayer Edit
Things didn't really start to get shaken up until 35 BU, when Avalot and the Reach decided to put aside their differences to attempt a true coup against the Zealots. Coincidentally, the year was also the birth of a young commoner in Providence by the name of Krohn, but both events escaped the notice of the Zealots. Years later, however, they did take notice to the dashing young warrior who continued to rise through the ranks of their armies. Krohn was both a very popular man with his soldiers and the commonfolk, whom he harbored great respect for. It wasn't until Krohn was invited to join the Zealots when he was a captain in 15 BU that the Dragon Council fully understood how much of a threat he was. Krohn spent his time earning many followers, building strong relations with people and setting his sights of the position of Hysaph.
In 10 BU, or the Year the Dragon Died, Krohn led a strong force of his followers into the southern wastelands towards the Dragon's Mouth volcano. Once at the mountain, after proving that there was no dragon living within it, he separated his loyal men from the Zealots by throwing anyone who said otherwise into the volcano itself when they refused to spread the word of the truth after the expedition. Krohn had become Krohn the Dragonslayer overnight and on his return to Zeal, challenged the current Hysaph, Jarel Highmountain, for right of command. Krohn was permitted to do this because of his status as a Zealot and it was keeping in traditions for the Hysaph rank. He easily defeated and killed Highmountain before the Dragon Council, namely the head at the time, Garr Whitemane, could intervene. By the laws of their land, Whitemane was forced to crown Krohn, something he bitterly regretted.
With his new power and the people on his side, Krohn set out to disprove the centuries old Dragon Faith by claiming to have ventured into the mountain and proving there was no beast to be found. This instantly divided the empire, with the Zealots on one side of the conflict with the loyalists, Krohn's loyal followers professing a time for change against them, and a rival for the position of Hysaph, Ygmore Beare, on another side. To make matters worse, the Eastern Territories had also begun to make their move for freedom.
Krohn's bid for control ultimately only succeeded in dividing the nation in what was known as the Great War or the War of Unity.
The Great War Edit
In the summer of 1 BU, the first blood was spilled when Krohn gathered many supporters of Whitemane and had them executed in public for treason. Whitemane and most of the Zealots took shelter in the Frozen Hook, embedding his small army in Sovereign in preparation for the winter while Beare and Krohn fought each other and the rising eastern army from their colonies. In the cold winter of 0 AU, Krohn fell in battle and Whitemane made a beeline for the capital of Zeal. Believing he had won the war, Whitemane confidently boasted his victory as the worst fight in the conflict, the Zealous Night occurred. Avalotian assassins invaded Zeal's keep on one cold winter night and murdered Whitemane and 15 Zealots before they and the rest of the Avalot army were driven from Westward. Beare quickly took command of the situation and took leadership within Zeal, claiming himself to be Hysaph and engaging the eastern forces along the walls of Berma for five years.
When Beare discovered that he could not successfully supplant the eastern rebellion in 5 AU, he cut his losses and turned to the remaining Zealots to maintain their war torn country after many crops, farms, and livelihoods had been trampled.
The Age of Confusion Edit
Thus began the Age of Confusion, a time for the Zealots to reconstruct themselves after the most brutal war the Westward had ever seen. Unfortunately,the remaining Zealots all disagreed with Beare's brutish style of leading and secretly worked with the Dragon Council to plot against him. It wasn't long before Beare faced a series of assassination attempts. The whole city of Zeal became a bloodbath as the Zealots battled for power with the few remaining Beare loyalists. Unfortunately for Beare, the Zealots simply outnumbered him and succeeded in killing him and all his followers. By this time, with all resources drained or drying out, the once united clans of the Westward empire began to feud again and the west dissolved into chaos. The Zealots continued to hold onto what few straws of power remained, with the Dragon Council secretly having a hand in all the clans. Religious dogma was stronger than ever, with the commoners having little else to turn to than blind faith. The clan's armies would constantly destroy all farmland and wipe out any hunt for food in massive droves, resulting many people starving to death.
The Age of Confusion didn't truly end for the Westwardens, now dubbed barbarians by their eastern cousins, as the clans continued their feuding with Zealots playing them against each other in trivial bids for power. For decades, clans would kill one another for control of the few cities from the time of their empire and claim the few remaining natural resources of Westward. By the early 170 AU's, The Zealots soon realized that this lifestyle could not last when famine became a real issue. The Dragon Council conspired with one another to convince the clans to put aside their differences for a time and pillage the Eastern Territories for supplies. This would become known as the First Barbarian Invasion.
In 176 AU, the clans united under a single banner and crossed into Berma for an invasion. The Zealot's attack had caught the budding nations to the eat by surprise and they were not fully repelled until 182 AU. But by then, the damage had been done and enough food and riches had been gathered to last the clans for years. Happily, the barbarians returned to Westward with great tales of their victory and conquest. The Zealots further fanned this celebration by spreading exaggerated honors to great warriors. The barbarians, being proud warrior takes to the dogma of the Dragon Faith, continued to speak of the glory in fighting against the east. And so, they would repeat these invasions again over the centuries:
- The Second Barbarian Invasion (237 AU)- The east was more prepared this time and the barbarians suffered heavy losses.
- The Third Barbarian Invasion (355 AU)- The longest invasion in history. Only ended when the Pale Reach and Avalot put aside their differences and became allies.
- The Fourth Barbarian Invasion (404 AU)- It took a very long time for the barbarians to regain their strength. They succeeded in pillaging almost all the gold in Berma.
- The Fifth Barbarian Invasion (430 AU)- A short invasion into Farqual. The Pale Reach did not assist in this war.
- The Sixth Barbarian Invasion (474 AU)- Avalot and the Pinelands barely defeat the barbarians. Anger over continued lack of Pale Reach help and Pale Reach rebels joining the barbarians.
- The Seventh Barbarian Invasion (587 AU)- A minor invasion, leaving Berma at a bad place economically.
- The Eighth Barbarian Invasion (623 AU)- A failed invasion where the barbarians couldn't even conquer Goldrok due to the new discovery of gunpowder.
- The Ninth Barbarian Invasion (658 AU)- Hysaph Jaric leads a successful command of the clans and nearly conquers Avo. Ends with his marriage to Mary the Mute.
With the Ninth Invasion, there would no longer be a need for constant pillaging of the east for Hysaph Jaric had secured peace between Westward and Avalot. The Zealots, however, saw this change in tradition as dangerous. With a new Hysaph and his mate, Jaric set to work on changing the hierarchy that had existed for centuries.
The Black Dog Revolution Edit
Naturally, the Zealots despised the new Hysaph and the Dragon Council set to work on ways to dethrone him from power and return things to "normal." At first, they attempted to send in assassins and hire outlaws to do theirdirty work but they all failed thanks to the offers of Arthur Mourne and his vow to Mary the Mute. When Mary died during childbirth in 665 AU, foul play was suspected but the Zealots had nothing to do with it though Arthur was sent to investigate. Many disloyal Zealots were killed during these investigations and Arthur succeeded in uncovering many plots against the Hysaph's family, whom he swore to protect.
These unspoken investigations finally ended in 670 AU when Westward had to focus on the building riots in Berma, their newly acquired territory. In what became known as the Black Dog Revolution, the Zealots mostly stood back as the Hysaph's army and Arthur put down the major revolutionaries in Berma, squashing the resistance before it could truly become a threat. This sparked a bitter resentment between Bermans and Westwardens, but it also brought with it a short window of peace between the Hysaph and Zealots in 672 AU.
Currently, the Zealots have continued their battle with the Hysaph in 678 AU, moving for more conservative methods of leadership. The most outspoken Zealot is a member of the Dragon Council, Theodoric Whitemane.
Zealot Attributes Edit
Zealots differ from the general populace because of their extreme devotion to the belief in dragons and upholding the tenants that the Dragon Faith requires them too. Because of this, they are generally high ranking members in Westward society, held in reverence by the commoners for their devotion and wisdom. In public, they dress in heavily hooded and cloaked robes giving them the appearance of a dragon. They also tend to hold those around them beneath their station with contempt when behind closed doors.
Zealot Ranks Edit
In order from most influential to least, the Zealots have their own structure of command which the lower members submit themselves to. These are also the ranks in the Church of the Dragon Faith:
- The Diacadent- The figurehead of the Dragon Faith. Makes most major decisions for the church.
- High Provident- The second highest rank. These figures are advisers for the Diacadent. There are only 6 at a time.
- Provident- Regional heads for various cities in Westward. There is only one per district.
- Biasop- Heads of the temples. There is only one per temple.
- Mer- Meaning "man." High ranking members of the temple who generally do readings.
- Frazmer- Meaning "lesser man." This is the most basic rank and the one members of Dragon Faith start at.
Known Zealots Edit
- Theodoric Whitemane- The Diacadent and head of the Dragon Council in 678 AU.