Since you’ll be hearing a lot about it, and you already know how it came about, here’s the history of Balphrahn by way of a snippet.
Settle, children, and listen to the story of your past. In the beginning, our world was barren and lifeless. Cruthadair, Mother Creator, cast her eye about the stars. She saw our world and formed it into a life-giving planet, filled with food and comfort and love. In those days, everyone used magic to perform simple chores and healing.
For generations, people lived in peace. The first ones taught their children about Cruthadair’s love. Each generation talked less about Cruthadair and more about her children: Brigid, goddess of hearth and home; Macha, her bloodthirsty sister, who eats the flesh of her slain enemies and dominates her lovers through cunning and guile; and their brother, Laoch, god of warriors, heros and champions.
After a time, one man became envious of his neighbor. He took what he coveted by force, and his neighbor gathered others and went to take it back. No one knows anymore what the object was, or why it was so dear that it was worth the blood spilled. One killing sparked another until all of Balphrahn was at war.
The dragons observed all of this, and when it appeared mankind would exterminate itself, they intervened, some on one side and some on the other as they saw fit. More blood was spilled and thousands died in dragon fire.
Eventually, one side overpowered the other. Who can say if it was the right side or the wrong side? The strongest of the dragon riders was chosen to sit on the throne and rule over all of Balphrahn. King Fergus ruled wisely. At first. As time passed, his power overcame him and he cast his eye on his fellow dragon riders. He decreed that, as king, it was his right to have concubines and chose the female dragon riders as his own.
Some of the women went to him willingly, smitten with his countenance and charm. Others went willingly because of his power and the knowledge that if they caught his child, they could mother the next monarch.
One did not go willingly. Ailin protested, saying she was in love with another and wished to stay faithful to him. King Fergus ignored her pleas and had her brought forcibly to his chamber, where he overpowered her and took her by force.
When it was done, he laughed at Ailin’s tears and dismissed her. Instead of leaving, she stood next to his bed and cursed him and all his male descendants through the power of her magic and rage, and in the name of Macha, with a dread of dragons and cowardice. As Macha moved to grant her wish, Laoch intervened, offended at the curse on one of his own. He was able to keep the cowardice from future generations, but not the dread of dragons. In retribution, he took magic from the women. A great cry went up in all of Balphrahn and Brigid took pity, blessing women with her healing touch.
King Fergus rose, terrified, from his bed and ran from the castle. His dragon, seeing the cowardice upon him, repudiated him, burning the curse away with dragon fire.
When she realized what she’d done, Ailin fled to the woods, too ashamed to face her lover and friends. When they found her, she was great with child and insensible with grief and shame. She was soon delivered of a daughter, whom she named Bron. The day Bron was weaned, Ailin killed herself.
It is because of the Curse of Ailin that, to this day, only women ride the dragons, and men are mages.