The Ascensores Empire (Ah-chen-SORE-ays) is an empire located in northeastern Eidyn, situated in and around the Sky Pass region. It is notable for being one of the first culturally Dragonman-dominated nations in millennia and for being home to both Dragonmen and Dragons, whereas in most other parts of the world, the two races are separated by mutual prejudice and hatred.
Ascensores was founded a mere 50 years ago by Pater Noster, a messianic Dragonman, and his dragon mount x, who established many of the nation's laws and helped to codify it's culture and traditions based on existing Dragonman cultural traits and Pater Noster's own teachings and philosophies. It was designed as a home nation for the traditionally scattered Dragonmen and as a place where Dragons and Dragonmen could live in peace, as per Pater Noster's beliefs.
The vast majority of Ascensoreans are Dragonmen and Dragons, and many of it's citizens exist in "mountbound pairs", a bonding between a Dragon and a Dragonman based in Mountain Dragonman traditions relating to drakes. As such, Dragon and Dragonman culture has influenced the region heavily, to the point where most non-draconic races inhabiting the region practice Dragonman traditions.
Ascensorean culture is unusual for several reasons, most notably that it incorporates elements from many pre-existing Dragonman cultures and much of it was designed by an individual, namely Pater Noster with influence from his followers and his mount. When founding Ascensores, Pater Noster borrowed elements from a variety of Dragonman cultures and reshaped them to fit his vision, so as not to alienate his subjects while still enacting social change. In order to protect these cultural elements, he incorporated concepts such as covenants into Ascensorean law and tried to ensure his design met with approval from existing Dragonman cultural and religious authorities.
The Ascensorean peoples pride themselves on possessing a rich culture centered around cooperation and individualism, namely achieving goals both in a team or unit and as an individual. It also stresses balance, though not in the same way as Xengese culture. Rather, it stresses balance between bravery and reason, chaos and order. As a result, Ascensoreans express their culture with an odd symmetry, using bold expressions with subtle patterns. Many of these ideals find their roots among the "Mountain Dragonmen".
A concept taken from the idea of binding oaths common to many Dragonman cultures, covenants are the most powerful and binding of agreements in Ascensores. Covenants usually take the form of promises or agreements, but they have a binding power to them which forces the individual bound by the covenant to fulfill their word. Many covenants exist, for something as trivial as paying back a loan to something as profound as marriage or binding. Covenants are made with a ritual exchange, but the nature of this ritual varies depending on the nature of the covenant. A covenant of debt, for example, is a simple verbal and basic somatic exchange. A covenant of matrimony, howwever, is more complex, requiring a third party priest and more elaborate ceremony.
Covenant of BindingEdit
One of the most important covenants in Ascensorean culture is the covenant of binding. This ritual, like many other components of Ascensorean culture, derives from rites in pre-existing Dragonman cultures. The Mountain Dragonmen placed great importance on bonds between Dragonmen and their drake mounts, seeing the bond between mount and rider as sacred and unshakeable. When Pater Noster came to the Dragonmen to found Ascensores, many of them refused to have relations with Dragons, so he reminded them of their bonds with drakes and decided to bound himself to a dragon in the same ritual. His most followers, in turn, bonded themselves with dragons, and soon, the covenant of binding became one of the most important ties between Dragonmen and dragons in the Empire.
When an Ascensore dragonman turns three and is no longer considered an infant, they are taken to an assembly of dragons who have also recently entered childhood and blindfolded, then taken to a table, where each dragon has left a scale. There, they must choose a scale, and the Ascensoreans believe that the dragon they choose is fated to be their mountbound partner. The two are considered to be siblings, bound by ties of brotherhood or sisterhood, and the dragon comes to live with the Dragonman's family, or in rare cases, vice versa. When the two have come of age, they are to perform the covenant of binding to officiate the pairing. To do so, they must make a pilgrimage to the nearest of the seven High Shrines, located in the Dragontooth Mountains. Once they arrive, they must be blessed by the head priest of the shrine. Then, they are to finalize the covenant with a sacred exchange of names, where each takes on a the other's name to add as a suffix to their own, therefore completing the covenant and binding the two together permanently.
Desideriums, or 'desires', are covenants which act as challenges to a duel between two mountbound pairs or individuals. They were established by Pater Noster to prevent infighting among the Dragonmen while still allowing breaches of honour to be avenged. An individual or mountound pair has the right to issue a desiderium when their personal honor is in question, such as if they are accused of theft or adultery, but there is either insufficient evidence to take the matter to court or the crime is not serious enough to warrant a court case.
Whoever issues the desiderium has the right to determine where the fight will take place while the challenged has the right to determine how many rounds the desiderium is fought. A legal or religious official must be present to referee the fight, since 'desideriums ad mortem', or 'desires for death', are strictly outlawed, and killing an enemy during a duel, whether by intention or accident, is considered to be an act of murder.
In cases involving serious crimes like murder or betraying a mount or rider, the case goes to a court of law, where the matter is debated by attorneys at law and witnesses as overseen by a court judge. Should the honour of the defendant or complainant come into question, a judge has the right to determine innocence or guilt by allowing a desiderium to take place .
Ascensore architecture is characterized by its elegent nature; Ascensore cities are typically built into the mountainside, that or constructed almost entirely out of marble. Most major cities have buildings trimmed and lined with an electrum-like material, giving its cities a brilliant gleam in the dusk and dawn hours. In addition, most buildings are built with simple geometry, with more complex shapes and designs being implemented into more important buildings. A small house is likely to be a simple rectangle, a noble's manner will likely see octagonal design, and the Apex Eyre, the home of the Apex Lords, sees many different shapes and geometric formations implemented into its design.
Ascensore naming conventions are somewhat irregular. Both species place the clan name, the name shared by their bloodkin, in the front; Then comes their indivdual name. The sound and format of these names depends on the cultural region of the empire they hail from, though most tend to be vowel-heavy.