Myths speak of the birth of the dragonborn, though they differ in the telling. Tales, awe-inspiring and terrifying, tell of the rise and fall of dragonborn empires, the greatest among them lost to a war that is still remembered. And modern dragonborn live according to their heritage, more than one aiming to carve an eternal story into the world’s chronicles. Several legends say that Io, the greatest dragon god, shaped the dragonborn as servants to dragons at the same time he created the first dragons. Elemental essence and astral spirit went into the making, as with all worldly creatures, but like their greater kin, dragonborn were given a balance favoring the elemental.
Other tales claim that Io died in the clashes between the gods and the primordials. The draconic gods Tiamat and Bahamut emerged from the halves of Io’s sundered corpse. Dragonborn sprang, ready to serve dragons, from Io’s spilled blood. Timing of dragonborn genesis aside, Tiamat and Bahamut were instantly at odds. As soon as the war against the primordials ended in the gods’ favor, these siblings began a struggle for dominance over dragonkind that has lasted into the present age. Many dragons and dragonborn took sides. Some turned to Tiamat’s ways, others to Bahamut’s, but a plurality walked a path between the two extremes. Dragonborn families formed clans, extended groups unified by geographic proximity and similar temperaments. A large number of clans dedicated themselves to serving dragons. Many of these dragons belonged to bloodlines on one side or the other of the war between Bahamut and Tiamat. Others were autonomous wyrms who guided and nurtured their dragonborn followers. And still other dragonborn families, sometimes after the loss of a dragon patron, formed clan ties independent of dragons. These unified clans had military discipline in common, which was a trait needed in ongoing war or for mere defense in the elder world. From within this clan structure, the dragonborn and their dragon lords formed centralized, cooperative states. They developed codified laws, as well as civic and religious institutions. War and diplomacy further unified realms. Dragonborn nations waxed and waned. All along, the conflict between the dragon gods did the same. Historians, dragonborn and otherwise, differ on the subject of the outcome of the draconic conflict. A few claim that Bahamut’s forces won in that early age. More say that moderate dragonborn came to the fore, forcing divine agendas into a secondary position related to worldly matters. The likeliest scenario is that the unaligned among the dragonborn showed a preference for heroic and kindly values, as common folk often do. This esteem placed Bahamut’s followers in an advantageous position, allowing them to persevere over their adversaries. At the same time, the needs of mortal creatures took precedence over the machinations of immortals. Regardless of the truth of the matter, after numerous dragonborn kingdoms had passed into forgotten history, a unified array of dragonborn city-states formed the storied empire of Arkhosia. Dragon nobles integrated under a dragon emperor, mythically dubbed the Golden One. A dragonborn bureaucracy supported the nobles, protected by a military headed at first by the general Surina Moonscale. The Golden One and mighty Moonscale held Bahamut in highest regard among the gods, and this faith helped establish central principles for the empire. Imperial priests also held strongly to the tenets of Erathis, Ioun, and Kord. The empire expanded its territory with a goal of bringing civilization, knowledge, and safety to untamed places and ignorant peoples. It gained land as much through word, trade, and decency as it did through battle. Within mere centuries, Arkhosia ruled large portions of the known realms. Arkhosia seemed to be an unstoppable taming force that would eventually span the world, bringing progress and a measure of uprightness with it. Even Tiamat’s worship was outlawed and forced into secrecy. But evil other than Tiamat’s had risen to power in lands distant from Arkhosia’s central regions. Eventually, the expanding borders of the fiendish kingdom of Bael Turath, ruled by tieflings and devils, collided with those of Arkhosia. Ideology, culture, and ambition smashed together as well. No common ground could be found between the two empires. For one to succeed, the other had to fall. War was inescapable. It came swiftly and brutally, and it spanned hundreds of years. Both sides suffered internal strife, mirroring the surface conflict. Tiamat’s cult wormed away inside Arkhosia, weakening it. The desire of common folk to be free of infernal shackles poisoned Bael Turath’s well of power. Bane’s cult worked both sides, stoking the war hotter, while extremists loyal to Melora aimed to bring both empires down. Bitterness strengthened the utter incompatibility of ethos between the two nations.