The Institute was an organization that focused on the passing of knowledge. They were a group of historians, biologists, alchemists, and those that chose the furthering of knowledge above all else. The Institute was also a place where knowledge could be gained. Lectures were given to newly enrolled students and visitors on a daily basis. These lessons ranged from the basics of alchemy to the history of the past thousand years to lessons on different beasts, their characteristics and their known weaknesses.
Because the Institute was always seeking knowledge, they aligned themselves with the Adventurer's Guilds that were spread across the continent. It was a mutual relationship as they would issue quests for the adventurers to explore a certain set of ruins and collect samples for them.
The professors at the Institute would give out lessons for a small fee. The topics of the lessons were dependent on the professors choice as it was their knowledge or research results that they were sharing. A list of available topics would be posted each week. Students and visitors alike would crowd these lists daily and plan ahead to attend the lectures that interested them.
The professors who profited from these lessons would use the money to make new discoveries or to pay adventurers to explore ruins or kill beasts for them. And so, towns where the Institute had built buildings in had always benefited from the continual cash flow.
It was stormy day. Many students and visitors dashed into the halls of the Institute in hopes of escaping the rain. However, this was a bad idea. The institute didn't condole the act of loitering in the halls, especially the halls outside of lecture halls. A hall monitor who had monitored the situation soon summoned an air orb and used it to talk to the masses.
As she spoke, the wind from the orb carried her voice throughout the hallways and ushered everyone to quiet down.
"Go outside or pay for a lecture. You have ten minutes to decide or your body will be marked by our defense system. For every five minutes you spend in the halls thereafter, you'll get an additional mark. Remember that at three marks you will be thrown out of the Institute and would be barred from entering for a month."
Hearing this, those that were new to the Institute either sprinted back outside or towards the central signpost were all the lectures for the day were posted. Excitedly they searched for a lecture of interest or settle for a cheap lecture to wait for the storm to pass in.
In a large lecture hall nearby, a crafty old professor knew of the storm beforehand. He also knew that it was the best time to make money to fund his research. His research focused on the races and their different traits. On that day, he chose a simple topic: Dragons and prepared for his lecture as soon as he heard the storm had begun.
Within his lecture hall he, he wrote down "The dragon race, what are they?" in the center of his chalkboard and "Prof. S." in the corner of it using a piece of chalk.
As he wrote, he heard students and new visitors slowly scramble into the lecture hall. 'Haha, I knew making my lecture the most cheapest price would attract these newcomers!' He slowly rubbed his feathers in excitement as he turned around to see that almost half his hall had been filled.
"Welcome all! The lecture will start in a few minutes, please quiet down and take a seat anywhere you like." he said.
Slowly more and more students and people of different races funneled into the lecture hall and it filled up completely. Seeing this, Professor S. snapped his feathers behind his back. The hall monitor outside his door who was collecting the lecture fees turned and signaled towards him.
Smiling at the figure that the hall monitor had gestured, he snapped his feathers once more. The hall monitor nodded in response and slowly closed the door to the lecture hall. His job of collecting fees was done. Now went to deposit the money into the central safe under Prof. S.'s name.
Within the lecture hall, the students were getting giddy while they waited for the lecture to start. In some of their minds, this lecture was going to be boring. They couldn't be more wrong.
Prof. S. was actually famous for his manipulation of the wind and light elements. He had found a way to use the air to bend light in such of way that he could create illusions. Although they were see through, it was vivid and very similar to the real thing. He used these illusions to supplement his lectures so essentially, his lecture was show with illusions. The experience was much better than other lectures where only the professor talked.
Prof S. waved as the students who knew him began to hush those around them. Slowly the lecture hall became quiet as the students began to calm down. During this time, Prof. S. summoned three bright orbs of light and two orbs of the wind element. With his excellent control of them, he created the first illusion.
It was a member of the dragon race. She had a body with a similar shape to a humans, but she differed from a human as large patches of her skin were covered by a layer of scales and she had a tail that stuck out behind her.
Those new to Prof. S.'s lectures soon began to shout in excitement as this was the first time they had seen such an illusion before their eyes. The students that had attended the lecture before though were used to the illusions. They instead turned about and hushed the crowd around them.
After the room returned to being quiet once more, Professor S. began to speak.
"This lecture is about the dragon race. Please if you have any questions, raise your hands I'll get to it when I can."
Seeing some nods from his audience, he started his lecture.
"Dragons had always been one of the most powerful humanoid races."
"What do I mean by humanoid? Broadly, humanoids are races are those that walk on two feet and have one head. And that's it."
From the audience a hand shot straight up.
Prof. S. pointed straight at the member of the audience with his wingtip.
"What about those with many feet that stand upright?"
"They cannot be considered to be humanoid."
"Any more questions?" He paused and saw another hand. "Yes?"
"What about a human that was born defected and has two heads?"
Smiling at the person's stupidity the Prof. S. answered: "Than that would be a human my friend."
"Their race is special in the world as it is the only surviving race that's completely female. Not only that, the dragons are also known for their strength, their ability to use magic, and their resistances to many elements and thus resistance to magic."
"So does anyone know why their affinity and magical prowess is so strong?"
Prof. S. paused and gave the group some time to think until one of them raised their hand.
"Their scales?" one of his students answered.
"Yes! That is correct!" Prof. S. exclaimed as the illusion shifted and replace with that of a large green scale.
"Their scales aren't just for looks. No... They provide excellent protection against the elements especially those that they have an affinity for. Due to their scales, they would usually be blessed with a strong connection with their element or set of elements which allows them to use magic of a strength stronger than normal people of the other races."
"Anyone know how their affinities can be judged at birth?"
Waiting again, Prof. S. paused his lecture. "Yes, you in the back."
"Does it have something due to the color of the scales?"
"Yes, that's correct. The coloration of their scales reflect their elemental affinities. For example those that had green colored scales like this one... would be aligned to the wind element, red would be fire, white would be light, and the list goes on... not only can their elemental affinities be determined, based on the shape of their scales, their natures themselves can as well."
Professor S. paused to dip his proboscis into a mug that was placed on top of his desk and continued. The illusion now changed and shifted between three dragons. Each dragon had different colored scales, scale patterns, and area of coverage.
"The scales are also important to judge how powerful a dragon is. Each dragon is born with different levels of scale thickness and coverage of scales on their bodies. Those with thicker scales and more scale coverage are generally considered stronger than those with less."
"You could say amount of scales correlates with power. But this isn't decided straight at birth. As they grow older, the coverage of scales may change in area and shape. And surprisingly these scales become uniquely patterned which makes each member of the dragon easily recognizable from each other."
Now the image shifted back to a dragon, but this was one of a baby dragon. The dragon baby looked like a human one except it had patches of small scales covering its body and it had a thick tail that extended from its behind and whipped about.
The professor continued.
"A dragon's physical strength is almost unrivaled. The moment they are born, it isn't uncommon for an infant to lift items that weighed hundreds of pounds. Just imagine that, a tiny babe can life a hug boulder! I bet most of you in the room can't do that. And that baby's strength would only increase as she grows older until she finally reaches maturity."
"Although having such strength could be considered a blessing, it is often a curse for many parents."
"Can anyone guess why?" The prof. asked.
He waited a moment for an answer, but no one did.
"It is because most infants can't control their strength would often destroy anything they touched. Even hugging an infant is a game of life and death! You try hugging a baby girl that has enough strength to lift boulders! Don't tell me that you'll survive her death grip if she hung on too tightly."
Coughing, the Prof. S. continued.
"Members of the dragon race is blessed by both the elements at birth and by strength. But that in itself brings up an important question. Why hasn't the Dragon Sovereignty taken over the entire continent, the isles and the entire world?"
The illusion changed from that of a baby dragon to an ancient map of the continent. Shifting from his spot, Prof. S. sat down at his desk. "I'll give you all, my friends, some time to think about that." Taking a small break, he took a dead rat-like creature the size of a football from his drawer and gulped it down in one bite.
After a few minutes, he got up once more. "Anyone have an answer?.... What no one?"
Looking a little disappointed, Professor S. continued.
"The answer is simple: money, time, and gender."
"It is a hard task to raise a dragon from birth to maturity. A large volume of food must be available for each of the dragon race to grow up and mature to adulthood and to survive thereafter. Typically they will need nearly twenty times the amount of food in comparison to the fertile human race."
"Food was a huge problem for the dragon race."
"In the past, a dragon dying of hunger was common. Eating each other or cannibalization was a common practice in dragon society. At that time, all dragons needed to hunt in order to provide food for themselves and their families. Often, they would need a large amount of money to buy food as they would not be able to hunt enough and thus a large amount of money was required. In the final case where they ran out of food and couldn't hunt enough, cannibalization was the answer."
"You may have heard that dragons are considered greedy creatures who loved to horde treasure. But the reality is that they held money in such high regard was because they needed it all to survive and to feed their a family."
"All that was in the past. Now, under the Dragon Matriarch, having a child is strictly controlled. With addition to that, they have adopted an approach of gathering food and resources. This will be the topic of another lecture, so please come back for that one next week."
"Apart from money, time is also a barrier to why the dragon race hasn't been as successful as they could be with their many racial traits. The second reason is that it takes members of the dragon race hundreds of years to mature into adults. Yes, hundreds."
"Let's compare them to our benchmarks: the humans, shall we?"
"Surprisingly a dragon's infancy is quite similar to humans. If you didn't already know, the size of a dragon's body and even the shape is the same as female human's body. It's fascinating how this is so. Did something happen in the past that allowed dragons to evolve from humans? Or were humans evolved versions of dragons? The topic is very interesting indeed..."
"But back to the topic at hand."
"The infancy of a dragon mirrors that of humans. They would grow in height and size quite quickly until they reached the age of 14. At this point, their growth diverges. Why and how? Well its because their rate of growth would slow down drastically and this is also the reason why dragons had lifespans that can last thousands of years."
"Instead of years, they would use dragon years to count their age. Each dragon year would be equivalent to a hundred human years. So dragons that finally reached their maturity at an age of 20 they would be 614 years old as fourteen plus six times one hundred is 614."
"So how does this effect their ability to take over the continent? Wouldn't a longer lifespan be good?"
"The problem lies in the dragon race's ability to increase their population. The dragons can only mate once per dragon year or once every 100 years and it'll take 614 years for their daughters to mature."
"In comparison to humans who could reproduce every year after they turn 18 and have upwards of 8 children per family. In the 614 years that it takes for a new generation of dragons to mature, it is possible that there would be 32 generations of humans that had already lived and had children in that time!"
"Imagine one of those dragons dying during their adolescence! Imagine the amount of wasted resources! Losing even one member would be devastating, where as a human dying would not."
"And once again, the amount of resources can also be a barrier as most members of the dragon race can't afford to raise more than one child at one time. Since it takes 614 years or 6.14 dragon years for a child to reach maturity, an average dragon can at most have 4 children by the time she reached the age of 50 where she would become infertile."
"The final reason why their population growth is stunted is also because their entire race consists of females. Lucky for all you young males in the room right now, the ladies of the dragon race can mate with any other race. But because of this, they are also cursed in a way. Why?"
"The females who would try to stay true to one partner would usually outlive them due to their long lifespan and as a result, they would only have one child."
"A strong, long-living, faithful wife. Sounds nice right?"
"But don't get too excited. Dragons are only interested in the strong. Their society itself runs on strength as those that are the strongest among them may compete with the dragon matriarch for the thrown and higher position in the matriarchy."
"So before you males get ahead of yourselves, make sure you are strong enough first or you'll end up dead. Ha ha ha..."
"And so because of these reasons, the dragons remain in a position of strength because of their race, but they are limited in population and thus can't spread their power or control over the entire continent... If they do try, it'll be hard to recover their losses if their power is spread too thin and dragons die in the process."
"And that concludes my lecture." Prof. S. said as the illusions that were project disappeared.
Just as timely, the storm outside had stopped. Slowly students began to file out of the lecture hall taking their newfound knowledge with them. Some stayed around to ask Prof. S. questions and express their excitement for his next lecture.
'Good, I hooked in more students to fund my research!' Prof. S. thought as he contently answered his students' questions and thought about the next lecture he was going to give out the following week.
Had to reupload to fix my auxilliary chapter mistake ):
Arc 2 starts in the next chapter.
See you all there.
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