The Ashwind Continent, including the Blackflame Empire, has been ruled by various factions across history. This page summarizes the history of the various factions, up through current times. It includes the ancient extinct black dragons, the Dread War, the decimated Blackflame Clan, the upstart Gold Dragons, the valiant Akura Clan, and the current Blackflame Empire governance under the responsible Naru Clan.
Fan-made, unofficial map of the current Ashwind continent, created by Winter-Steel, posted on Reddit.
Ancient Black Dragons
The Blackflame Empire was founded by dragons. . . This is the original ancient Blackflame Empire.
Up to about 600 years ago, and long before that, much of the Ashwind Continent was ruled by Sacred Beasts —- a clan of black dragons on the Path of Black Flame. They controlled a vast territory. That was the original Blackflame Empire. Gold dragons were as nothing compared to the mighty blacks on their dreadful Path of pure destruction. Their Path of Black Flame was created by black dragons for black dragons, and utilized the aspects of fire and destruction. It is one of the most destructive and aggressive paths ever seen on Cradle.
"The black dragons were the kings of this continent. In their day, their power dwarfed the Akura family. The gold dragons were just a servant family beneath them, scraping and clawing for every scrap.” (Ghostwater, chapter 8)
The Dread War ended the black dragons. The mighty black dragons died because they dug too deeply into the Labyrinth, retrieving artifacts like The Archstone, leaving the ancient gates wide open for too long. They didn’t realize that Dreadgods were attracted to the aura inside the ancient structure. The beasts woke and destroyed the entire territory. The first to arrive was Wandering Titan, but when he came under attack, he woke his brothers to join him. It was no contest. When the Dread War was over, the dragons were dead and the continent utterly ravaged. Only two Monarchs on Cradle survived, of twelve. Today, the bones of the blacks lie in Serpent’s Grave. (See books 3 and 4, Blackflame and Skysworn)
“You should understand that the dragons left the doors open for years as they explored the labyrinth, making war on one another and settling petty grudges with their new weaponry. They didn't realize that something in that place drew the Dreadgods like wolves to fresh meat. . . Most of this continent was reduced to a blasted wasteland, from which it has not entirely recovered even to this day. Billions of people and sacred beasts died, and the former Blackflame Empire was nothing more than a Remnant haunt for generations.” (Skysworn chapter 7)
Imperial Blackflame Family
Blackflame Empire ii , smaller
After the black dragons died, and generations after the ravaged continent began to slowly rejuvenate, a clan of humans rose to power. As the author says, "A clan of humans stumbled upon a method of harnessing the dragons' power. They abandoned their old Path, instead choosing to develop the same sacred arts used by the dragons. The Blackflame Empire shrunk in size, the humans lacking the ability to control quite as much territory as the dragons could, though it was still home to over a billion people." (Will Wight, blog)
This upstart clan cultivated the forgotten Path of Black Flame, the signature path of the extinct black dragons. Changing their name to the Blackflame Family, this clan ruled without mercy, ruthlessly, by overwhelming force, for almost 500 years. However, unlike their predecessor the black dragons, they could only handle a smaller portion of the Ashwind Continent. They still called it the Blackflame Empire. Their capital city was Serpent’s Grave, where they also conducted Path training and trials. (Blackflame, book 3)
The Blackflame Family were powerful and merciless.
’The Blackflame family held their empire by virtue of unstoppable force. Before facing a single Blackflame sacred artist, an entire sect would surrender. All across the Empire’s lands, rebel strongholds and rival Schools were burned in dark fire. None stood against the Blackflames because none dared; to be suspected of insurrection was to be destroyed.” (Blackflame, chapter 3)
Slowly, the Blackflame Family went mad from their own madra, which was meant for dragons.
The Path of Black Flame was stolen from ancient dragons. It is the art of pure destruction. But mortal humans are not suited for the power of dragons. Slowly, the Blackflame family declined, their minds and bodies eroded by the destructive power of their sacred arts. (Blackflame, ch 1)
The dragon’s Path they all cultivated was not meant for human bodies, and over time their own Black Flame madra led them into madness, suicidal depression, reckless rage, and death. This took a long time.
Rise of Gold Dragons
Meanwhile, as the royal Blackflame family slowly went mad, the gold dragons rose to power under Seshethkunaaz, a monarch who follows the Path of the Wasteland. Sesh leads the Gold Dragon Faction with his herald, Xorrus. He believes that survival of the fittest should be the world's only law. Even though he admires humans, he despises their arbitrary laws against killing the weak. Currently, he controls a big chunk of the Ashwind Continent — the Eastern section. His main enemies are House Akura and the ancient The Beast King. The Beast King controls buffer zone territory, keeping gold dragons out of the Wasteland on the edge of the Gold Dragon realm, and thus out of the small slice of territory that presently constitutes the current Blackflame Empire.
Rise of Akura Monarchy
For some time the gold dragons, under the banner of Monarch Seshethkunaaz, continued to expand. Eventually, maybe simultaneously, about four hundred years ago, House Akura rose to rival the golds, led by young Akura Malice, whose family was killed by a rival soon after her birth. She’s a fierce warrior. The Akura family fights for human safety and justice, especially her son Akura Fury and his daughter Akura Charity. Humans and gold dragons still make war today. Sesh wants the entire Ashwind continent, but Akura Malice has the western half — the largest portion. (Wintersteel ch 26 report)
Rise of House Naru
Meanwhile the Imperial House of Blackflame finally fell, after years of slow decline. After five hundred years of hard, horrifying rule, their reign ended. "Slowly, the family declined, until even those who lived in the heart of the empire thought of them more as symbols and legends than actual individuals." (Will Wight, blog of dubious intent)
Fifty years ago, their traditional and generational servant line, the Naru clan, quietly and competently filled the leadership vacuum.
Blackflame Empire iii, smaller yet
Traditionally servants to the royal Blackflames, the Naru Clan slowly took over the running of the Empire, gradually winning the people’s trust with their emerald wings and fair dealings — and no sign of the dreaded black flames. Fifty years ago, the Naru clan matriarch quietly took the reins completely. By then, the empire had shrunk significantly, as the maddened Blackflame family had lost large chunks of territory.
Thus the current Blackflame Empire was born only recently. It is currently run by Emperor Naru Huan. His mother, the dowager empress, is retired in seclusion. His uncle, Naru Gwei, runs the imperial Skysworn (Organization). The new imperial capital is in Blackflame City. It’s difficult to advance in this area, because vital aura is weak here, perhaps because it is the ground zero location of the Dread War, so long ago.
There are other political factions on Ashwind Continent. These listed below are all vassals of Akura Malice. Little is known about them or their history, but doubtless these areas felt the impact of the Dread War.
- Sky's Edge -- Directly west of Sacred Valley. Wintersteel mining community. On the shores of the ocean. Cold mountainous climate.
- The Wasteland -- Buffer zone between the dragon realm of Seshethkunaaz and the smaller, weaker Blackflame Empire. Home to numerous Sacred Beasts, and several Heralds, including The Beast King, and temporary home to Ziel
- Seishen Kingdom -- just south of the Blackflame Empire. Led by King Dakota.
- Frozen Blade School -- Master is the Sage of the Frozen Blade , aka Winter Sage, Min Shuei. She was engaged to the Sage of the Endless Sword. Min Shuei and Akura Charity trained Yerin Arelius here, preparing her for the final rounds of the Uncrowned King Tournament
- Rising Earth Sect / school. Destroyed by dragons in book 7, Uncrowned.
There are only a very few sacred artists alive today who still practice the ancient Path of Black Flame. One is an ancient magestic turtle, an evolutionary descendant of black dragons, Orthos. Another is young Wei Shi Lindon-Arelius.
Ekeri stopped herself when she realized she was growling….There was virtually no chance that a black dragon-spawn or the human borrowing his draconic power could evade her, especially in this area full of water aura. Their madra would stand out like a bonfire in the snow. (Ghostwater, ch 7)
At the Uncrowned King Tournament, Lindon met a descendant of the imperial Blackflame family, but young Naian Blackflame was already mad from his madra.
Naian Blackflame, Gold Prisoner:
In the ravaged twenty-five-year-old Blackflame, Lindon saw Orthos.
Between what Orthos had been before meeting Little Blue and what
he had become after Ghostwater, there was a world of difference.
Orthos had gotten his life back. Maybe Naian Blackflame could too.
(Uncrowned, book 7, ch 15)
When they made him compete at the Uncrowned Tournament, Lindon and Little Blue took a big risk and cleaned out his madra channels. Naian then reciprocated, showed mercy to Akura Mercy. Sadly, soon afterwards he met his death at the hands of the gold dragon Sopharanatoth.
- See also Naian Blackflame