Most citizens of the kingdoms know of dragons as fairy stories used to frighten children into behaving. Everyone knows, of course, that the Empress was a dragon of terrible power and intelligence, and most people know that there are other dragons in the world, too. These other dragons are known to be little more than animals; capable of cunning surely, but not any more intelligent than a wolf. This, however, is a myth constructed by the Empress to evince her own unique superiority. The truth is a little more complicated, and known to very few.
About a century into her rule, Athrintalec was attacked by Scarwing, a vicious red dragon, hoping to seize her throne for himself. She was almost killed, and the assault provoked in her a growing paranoia. She ordered her generals to begin hunting down true dragons and their kin, fearing their long lives, their strength, and their cunning. For a time these hunts were successful, and before long only the strongest and smartest of Athrintalec’s rivals remained; as more hunts went missing the Empress realized she needed another tactic.
Using her growing magical strength, Athrintalec developed a powerful artifact -the Mindsplinter. This insidious device spread a powerful miasma across the Empire, attacking the minds of other dragons and their kin. The weakest were driven insane, and even the mightiest were reduced to a base animal intelligence and short lifespan. Housed in the citadel of Wyrmsreach and connected to the Empress’ growing magical reservoir, the Mindsplinter continued to function until her destruction by the Red Blades, limiting the capabilities of new hatchlings and preventing a draconic threat to her power.
The Mindsplinter’s Legacy
Although it has only been silent for 75 years, the artifact left a lasting impression on the kingdoms. Kobolds are extinct in the kingdoms, as they shared too much draconic heritage to resist the effects. Dragon-kin, such as wyverns, drakes, and dragon turtles survived, but are extremely rare and little more than animals. True dragons were never completely eliminated, merely rendered into simple (albeit powerful) beasts; the generation hatched after the Empire’s fall is unaffected, and the remaining dragons are beginning to develop their true potential for cunning and magic.