The Summer Heroes
The Dragon Watch
History and Discussion
The Dragon Watch is one of the oldest functioning organizations in the world. The founding of the Dragon Watch has no clear date, as no extant records survive that give an account of the event. The Watch is thought to pre-date even the earliest records in Hassuna and Darrova, and so it is believed that the group has been in existence for over 3500 years.
The name “Dragon Watch” belies the organization’s earliest purpose: namely, keeping watching for dragons and combating them when they arrived. There is little dispute that this was the Dragon Watch’s primary function, but the last dragons were driven out of eastern Orem by around -2100 BR. Although dragons remained (and, indeed, remain) in the Aria Kara’Vesh Mountains in western Orem, the Watch’s home in Darrova meant that it soon became more-or-less obsolete.
As the years passed, people increasingly began to question the existence of the Dragon Watch entirely, and the Da’Vorn slowly began to draw back its funding and support. The ongoing threat of dragons returning diminished over time, and their specter slowly faded from peoples’ minds. By about -1800 BR, the Watch lost all its official support from the Da’Vorn and went into steep decline. Bereft of their purpose, a handful of members left for Hassuna, where they joined the Hassunai military and offered their services to combat the dragons that still inhabited the western mountains. Others faded away from the organization; surviving membership rolls show precipitous drop-offs around that time, but the destination of everyone is not recorded.
By around -1700 BR, the Dragon Watch had dwindled to a fraction of its former numbers, with its influence and prestige shrunk alongside. In -1692 BR, the Half-Elven swordmaster Seneki took over leadership of the organization and set out to restore its previous stature. Seneki acknowledged the impracticality of an order devoted to combating dragons in a region where they were extinct and instead set about re-focusing the Watch on a dedication to combat and martial prowess and leadership of similar.
The Dragon Watch was always well-known for the martial skills of its members— since, after all, fighting dragons was certainly no easy feat— but under Seneki the organization’s reputation for producing members with exceptional skill in combat was tremendously increased. Seneki attempted to maintain the Watch’s focus on the defense of Darrova and its surrounding environs, but the Da’Vorn was initially skeptical of the need for the organization’s services. Faced with the realities of needing to find patrons to sustain the Watch, the legendary polearm-master Skit-Skit the Half-Orc suggested that members of the Watch leverage their considerable skills in combat to find individual employ with other governments.
Seneki was deeply opposed to this idea and consistently maintained the need for Watchers to dedicate themselves to the defense of Darrova and its people. The organization split in -1671 BR, with a minority of members choosing to support Seneki and a majority supporting Skit-Skit. Over time, Skit-Skit’s idea proved at least moderately successful, and the Dragon Watch’s members began acquiring a reputation as reliable soldiers, guards, and other military types. Seneki continued to meet with the Da’Vorn, but continued to meet with failure.
Eventually, faced with the practical reality of dissolution or reunion, Seneki’s faction of the Dragon Watch re-merged with Skit-Skit’s, with Seneki assuming a nominal leadership role while the Half-Orc remained de facto in charge. Both strains of “vision” for the organization had a tremendous influence on the Watch’s future: Over time, the reputation of the Watchers as highly-skilled and highly-trained combatants increased alongside their increasing ability to secure high-level employ with religious organizations, merchant houses, noble dynasties, and other governments across Orem.
Later, as the Sorian Empire’s influence spread eastward across the continent, the Dragon Watch found that the opportunities open to them were concomitantly diminishing. Sorian distrust of a Darrovan-based martial organization was high, and the Empire’s overt racism did nothing to help the Watch’s reputation, since many of its members were non-human. The Watch again went into decline, and Darrova’s capitulation to the Empire, followed later by the annexation of the Penwith Islands, saw a steep downturn in the number of members of the Watch that occupied various positions around Orem.
The Watch continued on and, though its numbers dropped off over time, it maintained its high standards to prevent a backsliding of its reputation, hoping for a time when they would gain wider acceptance in the Empire. The Reformation of the Empire undertaken by Krastus the Reformer in the 7th century BR overthrew Sorian racist policies, but Imperial resistance to the idea of allowing third-party organizations into the administration of territories or militaries remained.
The Empire’s decline, civil war, and implosion in the 9th century BR were accompanied by resurgence in the Dragon Watch’s numbers, as governments scrambled for competent soldiers and leaders. By the time of the Year of Conflagration in 837 BR, the Watch was well-positioned to take advantage of the situation and insert itself around Orem. Under the leadership of Maeron, who had led the organization since 799 BR, the Watch’s members again proliferated across eastern Orem and the Penwith Islands, once again occupying prestigious and high-level positions in institutions like the city guards, militaries, and merchant houses of Brightwater, Ystria, Darrova, Saltstone, and elsewhere.
Since then, the Dragon Watch has continued on: It maintains a reputation disproportionate to its size— as the Watch usually numbers only in the hundreds- but its good name and the solid martial skills and abilities of its members continue to ensure a place for them in society. The primary exceptions to this, of course, are the Sorian Empire and the realm of the Elves, Hassuna. The Watch has yet to gain much traction in the Empire; although the overt racism of the Empire is a thing of the past, its history of professional bureaucracy and noble-led military has meant that there has never been a real demand for the Watch’s services. Hassuna, on the other hand, still labors under the racism of the Elves, who view other races with a kind of mild condescension. As such, the Watch’s services are, again, not in high demand.
Some scholars have speculated that the Watch actually originated in Hassuna (not least since dragon activity has, historically, always been heaviest near the Alia Kara’Vesh Mountains), though this speculation is based on extremely fragmentary documentary evidence and what their critics believe to be extremely tenuous linguistic links. There is no record of what became of the Watchers who left Darrova for Hassuna to defend against the dragons there, though the widespread destruction visited upon Hassuna by the Wars of Blood and Fire means that drawing conclusions from this lack of records would be ill-advised.