|The Dragon Cults are back, and they are in full force! With Maelforge and Laethys on the rise, Telara is yet again subjugated by the political whims of the Six Dragons.
But what are the Dragon Cults and who are the Six Dragons, really? In this week's Lore Spotlight, we delve into RIFT's lore to find the answers!
Masters of the Planes
From the beginning of our journey through Telara, the world has been sundered at its seams by the planes. Whether by rift or by invasion, each faction of the Blood Storm has chosen themselves a plane to use as their tool of mayhem and destruction.
The Endless Court
Led by Alsbeth the Discordant and beholden to the Dragon Lord Regulos, the Endless Court began as a conspiracy between two powerful figures during the time of the Blood Storm: the dark mage Alekor Devishnille and the warlord Mahr Rilthain. They say Mahr sacrificed his own children to prove his loyalty to Regulos and sever his attachment to life. Meanwhile, Alekor slaughtered whole villages to gather the components for his cruel rituals. These two were the first to wear the black robes of Regulos, rallying others to work toward Telaras end, and their traditions were passed down through the generations. Even after the Destroyer was banished, his followers never ceased to haunt Telara.
Everywhere the Endless go, corruption spreads, and the Endless go everywhere. Hungry for sourcestone, their rotting hordes have taken over Deepstrike Mine. Meanwhile in Scarlet Gorge, their cultists murder the innocent to serve as an undead workforce. Hungry for power, they are using Caer Mathos—heart of the noble Mathosian Empire—as the center of their ritual to call Regulos back to Telara. Hungry for control, they have turned once-glorious Port Scion into a hive of corpses, ready to spill out and cover Telara. Hungry, hungry, never satisfied, the Endless Court seeks to be like their dragon, a great glutton that devours the world.
Behind every one of their sins is Alsbeth the Discordant, greatest servant of the Destroyer since King Aedraxis fell. If she is not stopped, she may even find a way to return Aedraxis to his disloyal kingdom. For what power has Regulos if not unlimited access to the wicked dead?
There has always been a cult of Greenscale, though it was not always called House Aelfwar. Once, the name Aelfwar stood for the eternal devotion and untarnished honor of the High Elven royal house. But when Shyla Starhearth led the Elven people to fight in the Mathosian Civil War, Prince Hylas of Aelfwar stayed behind with his court, refusing to meddle in the affairs of men.
Shyla died in Mathosia and returned as an Ascended to find House Aelfwar… changed. Their devotion to the wild had grown fanatical, making enemies of the Mathosians and Dwarves. That the Ascended were blessed by Tavril meant nothing to the Aelfwar, whose new god represented Life at its fiercest and most uncompromising—Greenscale.
Today, House Aelfwar is an army of heretical thugs and seditionists who hate civilization where once they loved nature. They embrace unbridled strength and savagery, and with every move they work to spread the primeval forest and free their overlord.
Shyla will never understand how Hylas could betray the High Elves. She more than anyone knew his heart, and the Hylas she knew would never have thought to serve Greenscale. And she is right. Hylas never did think it. The Fae Lord Twyl planted the idea in his head, whispering to the brave prince as he rode alone through the wood.
In time, Hylas became Twyls protegé, mastering Life magic and following the commandments of Greenscale. In the deadly and charismatic prince, Twyl saw a perfect pawn. In the capricious Twyl, Hylas saw an unworthy leader. He played to the Faeries arrogance, and quickly rose above Twyl in Greenscales eye with superior aggression and cunning. Now, no one much remembers what the cult of Greenscale was called before. House Aelfwar has swallowed it whole, the strong devouring the weak, as is proper.
Hylas is indeed a more capable leader than Twyl, and at his command, House Aelfwar has spread out of Silverwood like the roots of a crooked tree. They unleash forest trolls and savage raptors upon helpless villagers. They drive the wilderness before them like a ravenous tide. Prince Hylas will see Greenscale set loose, and will hunt with his true Elves like the horned kings of old.
When the Blood Storm arrived on Telara, and Akylioss spawn hauled themselves up from the seas, those mortals who were not dragged under the waves ran for their lives. Only one young scholar would not flee, for under the hideous gibbering and piteous screams she heard someone singing a song of infinite knowing.
Stealing a boat, she rowed far out to sea, where miles-long monsters churned the waters with their writhing. She tied a rock to her legs and dove overboard. The weight dragged her into the crushing deeps, closer and closer to the song. In agony she shut her eyes, and when they opened again she looked upon the singer. Akylios gave her but a portion of the dread secrets he kept, and under their weight her mind snapped, her face was worn smooth, and her name vanished from memory.
She became the first leader of the Abyssal. Like her, some inquisitive souls refuse to control their thirst for knowledge, seeking answers to questions best left unasked. Others simply seek arcane power, even if they must drag it from the darkness. Only when they face Akylios himself do they learn that such knowledge and power drove him beyond madness eons ago, and he is only too happy to lead them in the same direction.
All the Dragon Cults are horrific, but the Abyssal are the most… disturbing. Quests for gold, destruction, or even power over the dead make sense in a villainous sort of way, but the students of Akylios defy reason. They chuckle quietly outside your window at night, moving into the shadows when you come to look. They paint hideous symbols in blood upon the walls of locked rooms, or upon the faces of sleeping children.
The Abyssal are not tightly organized like the Endless Court or Golden Maw, but operate in independent cells. Individual Tidelords remain in contact, concentrating cult efforts to free Akylios and share his senseless gifts with the world. Cliques and factions rise and fall within the cult, feuding rarely. When conflict does arrive, it overturns the entire structure of the cult. Such upheavals are carefully planned by the Tidelords, for tumult pleases the lunatic dragon.
The Storm Legion
Not much is yet known of the Storm Legion. Led by the Dragon Lord Crucia, who remains locked in the depths of Iron Pine Peak and imprisoned by Phyonnius and Ekkehard after her terrible war against the High Elves, Crucia commands the plane of Air and subjugates all who are too weak too weak to resist.
The Storm Legion left their stronghold to seek the Charmer's Coil designed to bind planar creatures into servitude. Following in the footsteps of their master, the Storm Legion set out to Charmer's Chaldera to seek the powerful mind-altering device - with brainwashed minions of Crucia in-tow.
The Golden Maw
Golden Maw: A mouth agape, with a bottomless gullet, starving even as it overflows with treasure. If another cult is as aptly named, do not say so around Laethyss slaves, who are as envious as they are greedy, and they are greedy beyond all reason.
These are the corrupters and embezzlers, merchants who buy magistrates and magistrates happily bought. The Golden Maw holds its decadent rites in the halls of power and the parlors of the fabulously wealthy, and in the afterglow of gross indulgence they plot to seize more wealth and power.
The Golden Maw can be found wherever there is want, as filth can be found wherever there is plague. They wrest wealth from the workers, food from the farmers, toys from the fingers of children. And they always want more.
The Golden Maw is a rigidly structured cabal. Acolytes bow to (and covet) the superior assets and influence of their leaders, a pyramid of lickspittles and lordlings topped by golden Laethys. They will free the Earth Dragon to flaunt her plenty over the wanting world, and hoard her discarded morsels.
Always remember that the Golden Maw gapes for every excess. The glutton, the pervert, the narcissist is welcome. Each believes Laethys loves the cultist who eats and is never sated, or wants her perfection and is never indulged… yet in all the planes there is but one being Laethys loves at all.
A living fire spreads across Telara, screaming, slaying, setting the world ablaze. Cannibalistic centaurs gallop in herds. Goblins and kobolds lay low village and walled city. Driving the hordes before them come devils and the merciless Dragonians. They never stop to conquer, or even pillage, but burn everyone and everything to ashes and charge on like wildfire across a dry plain.
These are the Wanton, the Cult of Fire. Unlike other Dragon Cults, they have no legendary founder. They keep no records. Permanence angers the Flame Sire, so they worship through conflagration and chaos, fires searing away at the traces of time.
The rampage never stops long enough to allow for scheming or strategy, so there is no grand hierarchy among the Wanton, only individual war-bands that vary in size from ominous to endless. They follow the boom-doom-boom of battle drums. They burn and kill.
The Wanton are the easiest Dragon Cult to understand. They want to burn you and everything you love to ash. Not because its an insult to nature, but because they relish the sight, smell, and taste of flame. They wont stop to take your valuables, pillage your mind, or rule your lands. They wont raise you as a slave—but if you rise on your own like the Ascended, theyll gleefully slaughter you again.
Wanton war-bands will fight anyone except one another, for they are united by love for their dire god. He shows his affection by roasting them in droves and letting them rebuild stronger and stronger. The Wanton seek his volcanic prison far out at sea, beyond the mile-high waves that churn in the wake of the rifts.
Coming up next week
Stay tuned for next week's lore spotlight, as we continue our focus on the Blood Storm, the politics of the Dragon Cults, and how their interactions affect your everyday gameplay in Telara!