Rise of the Ryukishi
The Ryukishi, the omnipresent children of the night, haunt our fiction, inspire children to study Gramarye, and protect us from the dangers lurking in the shadows. From the Usu-ur of ancient Sumer, the Dracans of Rome, the Quetzalcoatl and Cihuacoatl of the Aztec, the Lung Xia of China, or the Ryukishi of Japan, they remind us of the best and worst of our nature. In resent years, these Dragon Knights captured our imagination and our hearts with reports of their heroics and the gifts they brought from the Old Ones.
The Face of the Ryukishi
The Ryukishi made strides in Extra-Media, mainstreaming increasingly sympathetic portrayals of their mythic alter-ego, the Vampire. Some would say they have been too successful. The success of Dusk Series on the Extra-charts is seen by some as a set back, or a PR movement gone too far. Notable Ryukishi, Cedric Kamp called the series, “Blood drinking Care Bears trapped in a sexless nightmare.”
That said, the PR push still reaps benefits across Vinland. Children of Gramarye from 12 to 28 identify so strongly with Ryukishi Culture, some members of Parliament have expressed concern.
Jeffrey Chadwick (MP Avalon 6th): “We need to remind citizens that we live in a democracy, and while the actions of the Gentry may be entertaining, but they should not be allowed to set policy. The Gentry are exerting too much political influence.”
Chadwick has thrice proposed legislation to label books, music, movies, and other programs that foster a Pro-gentry attitude, as well as laws to prevent education about or recruitment to the Gentry. He has even gone so far as to suggest the children of Ryukishi, the so called Erythrai to be excluded from positions in media and education. None of his bills have become law.
The old guard like Chadwick may have cause for alarm. The Ryukishi and their children now run many of the prominent media companies, and the Old Ones themselves have come out of their former isolation.
Is Blood the New Magic?
Thebes glitters under starlight on a brisk winter night. A group of twenty-somethings are out on the town. Serpentine’s sign shimmers above the door. A golden celestial dragon spirals around against an azure sky. Well crafted, the sign, invisible to untouched eyes, rumbles with such power the hairs on your arm stand in awe of it.
Within, a packed crowd mingle under the faux-starlight. Ryukishi inspired drinks float from the bar: Vampire Kisses, Bloody Brits, Bloody Caesars, Bloody Suns, Dragon’s Bloods, and Dragon’s Breaths. Black clothes the patrons. Some even wear white make up to resemble their idols.
The music broods in the room: echoing guitar, danceable beats, dark lyrics. The floor undulates with dancers, fog, and occasional splashes of fire from the popular Fire Breath Charm.
Song fades, and the volume of The Serpentine with it. When the room is so quiet you can hear the patrons breathing. A bass swells out of no where. Flames engulf the wall as the drums and guitar blare. The fire shrinks to two small wings, revealing the band. They wrap around an unseen form. Izzi Smallrow’s sinfully rich voice intone the first lines of A Chained Thirst’s runaway hit, “The Pearl.” The audience erupts.
Izzi Smallrow, Ryukishi to Isabella Strom, burst onto the scene less than a year ago. A beautiful young man who loves to play with his own androgyny is a new breed of Dragon Knight.
“I chose him for my collection,” Isabella told us, “I heard his band playing in Los Angeles, and I thought his talents were wasted on the common audiences he played for. I offered him a name and a pearl so his music would live on forever. He was a very good investment.”
A Chained Thirst was the first band signed to Isabella’s Dark Lady Records. Izzi’s stage show is reminiscent of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust if he played with Christian Death rather than the Spiders from Mars.
Since the Ryukishi Cultural Renaissance started, sales of Firebreath Charms, Wing Charms, and Pale makeup have skyrocketed. Many of the Dark Gentry, have opened to the public for the first time supporting Uncanny and Mundane designers, artists, authors, filmmakers, and musicians.
Most troubling to cultural conservatives is the rise in students seeking to learn the Uraeus Arts believing they can become Ryukishi without the offer of a pearl. The arts of Uraeus are old disciplines of Gramarye demanding daily exercises, regular rituals, and proper initiation. Watchers have arrested numerous scammers who claimed to be Uraeus Masters.
Uraeus is the art of channeling the magical energy within the body to attain more enlightened states and increased power. According to legend, the most famous being the stories of Lamia, Hesperia and Ceto, these disciplines transformed their most devoted adherents into the first dragons.
Whether this is true or not, the arts lost favor with the advent of Heka, Ceremonial Magic, hermeticism, sympathetic magic, and contagious magic. The practicality and ease of these arts quickly replaced the older arts, but now with Ryukishi and Erythrai schools teaching Uraeus again, the ancient art is staging a major comeback.
The Serpent’s Way
The uncanny nations have not been rocked with controversy like this since talentless extranean Aleister Crowley glommed onto the few secrets he was able to steal from us.
Practically, the rise in the Arts of Uraeus and the popularity of Ryukishi culture amount to a power grab for the Gentry who have demanded that Draconic Lords and Ladies be seated in the House of Lords. Ryukishi and Erythrai have always been included in the census, and are allowed to run for parliament.
Jeffrey Chadwick, who leads the opposition to seating the Gentry in the House of Lords said, “Allowing them voting rights would constitute unprecedented control over Vinland. The Gramarye Lords and Ladies may hold hereditary titles, but their seats are allocated by district. If three Lords live in the same district, only one obtains voting rights in parliament. The Dark Gentry are asking that special seats be added just for them. It is unfair and unconstitutional.”
Isabella Strom responded, “We live here too. We are asking for the right to represent all of the preternatural beings who live in Vinland, who are subject it its laws, and yet have no voice, no vote. How fair is that?”
The fate of the Dark Gentry’s bid to join the House of Lords remains in doubt, but their influence and popularity with the public is not. Dragon is the new chic, and for now at least, blood is the new magic.
Rise of the Ryukishi is the first short story I wrote in the Dragons of Night setting. Written on February 20, 2010, as a faux magazine article, the story was intended to define the setting.
The faux cover image for the magazine was created using Andrew Kuznetsov, The Vampire, under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.