Worldbuilding: Reapers, Part 1

Apex

Or, as the common folk call them, dragons. The original namesake of what’s nowadays simple referred to as Reapers and oftentimes whispered of as Guardians, though no one knows any more what they are meant to be guardians of. 

Apex is a name they’ve earned from how all other Reapers— gentle tillers to any of the rowdy Devils —submit to them. Well, almost all of them. Old tales whisper about the Grim, a type of Reaper that came and went during the Glitch, who don’t answer to anyone. Not even an Apex.

Status and Religion

Dragons are, generally, revered. For one, they are the ones who come collect the dead (man or Reaper alike) and carry them to walk the Trails forevermore — or cast those unworthy onto Hell. What constitutes unworthy is up to debate.

But they don’t only take. They also bring Reapers down, plucking them from the Trails or from Hell (if they’re Devils – seeing a pattern yet?). 

Hard to not revere something that crosses the threshold between life and death with nothing but a few wingbeats. 

Myths 

Lady Death’s Servants

When Elaya courted Lady Death, her gift to her were stars she’d plucked from the skies. Not just any stars. She’d blessed them with life, and after a short while, the stars hatched the first flock of dragons, made to serve Lady Death forevermore. 

End-Enders

Others say that dragons were the creatures that slept at Elaya’s feet as she wove life from her dress and have since then watched over all she’s touched. And when the Rain of Fire comes, man will be judged by how they’ve treated them. Treat them wrongly and they’ll leave mankind to burn. Treat them right, and they’ll whisk everyone away in time. I’m currently taking suggestions on what the religion that spawned from this belief is called 😀

Appearance

Dragons also stand out from other Reapers by not one being quite like the other. The exception being Einlings, who are even more aggressively unique, but more on those another time. Dragons vary in sizes, some just about the height of a draft horse, while others stand as tall as a two story building. 

Their skin colours range from pale grey to blood red and the wildest of pink. And their feathers can come in any colour imaginable. Sometimes all at once, because if you’re a dragon you don’t need to choose. 

Where some have horns, others don’t. Those that do may have no more than a few blunt knobs on their skulls — or sport long, intricately twisted antlers. It can go either way or anywhere between.

But there are a few things all of them have in common: Sharp teeth and sharp claws. 

Personality / Aggression 

There aren’t a lot of people out there crazy enough to seek out a dragon to pick a fight with it, or to stand in its way with harmful intent. Unless they’re waiting to die. 

Because dragons are ferocious when challenged. Territorial. And they hold a grudge. While dragon hunting is outright banned by the Ward, there are hunters who make it their life’s goal to take one down, whether its for glory alone or some promise of unimaginable wealth. Wealth that they won’t ever be able to spend, as even if they succeed in killing one, their fates are sealed. There isn’t a corner on the map they can hide in where another dragon won’t find them and pay them back in turn. 

And after that they are left to rot where they died, as the only bodies dragons won’t carry to the skies are those of the people who’ve wronged them. 

Ferocious or not though, dragons are also cited to be fair. Depending on who you ask, many will tell you that a dragon knows right from wrong. That they’re merciful. That they’ll go out of their way to answer a call for help from a child in danger and that they’ve traded old lives for youth during a Reaping. 

Symbolizm 

Dragons and marks inspired by them often represent strength and honour. Although for the most part? They are heralds of death and judgement, servants to Lady Death. 

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