The Dragon is Naelere, a very old female bronze, who has lived in Parsantium for the last 700 years under various guises and acts as the city’s unocial protector.
“Do come in and have a browse, dear. I’ve just put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea. Would you care for one?”
Behind the counter of her shop in the Mercantile Quarter, at a fashionable restaurant, in her VIP box at the Hippodrome in the Imperial Quarter, or in the boat town of Flotsam, depending on her disguise (see Secret Knowledge below).
The Dragon is little more than a legendary figure to most Parsantines: a mysterious guardian who has appeared a handful of times in the city’s past to defend Parsantium. Some, however, believe that the Dragon still dwells in the city, quietly watching over its citizens and protecting them from harm.
Since the Dragon can polymorph herself into any humanoid form, Naelere has adopted a number of secret identities, allowing her to keep tabs on what is going on in all parts of Parsantium. Thus disguised, the Dragon seeks to influence the course of events by making those in power aware of sinister plots against the city, and nudging adventuring bands in the right direction to frustrate the schemes of criminal gangs and evil cults. See Secret Knowledge for her current guises.
ADVENTURERS & THE ICON
Adventurers who serve the Dragon usually do so unwittingly, at least at first. Naelere might sell them a bargain-priced treasure map in her shop, which just happens to lead to the lair of a cruel necromancer deep in the Hidden Quarter. Or she might tell them a story of wriggling sacks being unloaded from a ship at the Old Docks in the dead of night, thereby directing them to the headquarters of a slaver gang. After a while, some adventurers might realize they are being manipulated, prompting Naelere to come clean about her motives, although she will only reveal her true nature to her most trusted agents.
CHAMPIONS & FOLLOWERS
As described above, the Dragon prefers to use adventuring bands to do her bidding. Both the infamous Juma Gang and the flamboyantly named Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags have acted on her behalf, without knowing her true identity.
The Dragon meets regularly with the Basileus in one of her human guises to keep him informed about goings-on among the higher echelons of Parsantine society, including the plots of the noble families and of ambitious politicians within the city’s labyrinthine bureaucracy. She also meets from time to time with the Grand Master of the Blue Lotus to discuss magical threats to Parsantium; Tapasranjan is one of the few individuals who knows Naelere’s true nature.
The Dragon opposes the Boss of All Bosses, sending adventurers to disrupt gang activity in the Old Quarter whenever she can. She keeps a close watch on the Witch of Flotsam and is constantly on the lookout for agents of the Rajah. Because of her regular meetings with the Basileus, rumours have started that one of her personas is the ruler’s mistress, earning her the undying enmity of the Despoina, Thecia, who is actively plotting to get rid of her rival.
Naelere made her lair in a sea cave on the coast to the south of Parsantium for the first century of her life. Driven out of her home by an aggressive, venerable dragon turtle, she moved north to the city, using her innate ability to change shape to live undetected among Parsantium’s human inhabitants as a merchant sailor, travelling up and down the coast on trading expeditions. On one of these trips, she slipped quietly off her ship, transformed into her true shape and flew to her old sea cave home. This time, she got the better of the dragon turtle, slaying him in a terrible battle, and recovering both her own treasure hoard and her enemy’s.
Having had her revenge, Naelere decided from this point on she would use her strength and power to protect the people of the city from its enemies. She began using different identities to gather information about what was going on in the city and intervening subtly to ensure that good prevailed. Very rarely, she took a more direct approach and assumed her natural form: as the Dragon, she helped defend the city (unsuccessfully) against Kalgroth Ironheart, and returned to the skies when Corandias the Stubborn’s Great Crusade attacked the city. For the last hundred years, though, she has not appeared publicly in her draconic form.
THE TRUE DANGER
Everything will be all right as long as the rakshasa agents of the Rajah do not discover one or more of the Dragon’s secret identities.
Naelere hides in plain sight in Parsantium by adopting three principal secret identities:
– Irene, the sweet, friendly old lady who runs the Curio Cabinet, a shop in Tinker’s Alley in the Mercantile Quarter.
– Lady Viviana Megaris, the fashionable and seemingly air-headed young socialite who sponsors a gladiator stable at the Hippodrome and holds clandestine rendezvous with the Basileus.
– Jarwyn, an elderly male dwarf carpenter with a fine pirate accent, who lives on a houseboat in the boat-town of Flotsam.
Art by Joe Shawcross