Cult of the Dracolitch
The Cult of the Dracolitch is a mystery religion and form of Dragon Worship, in particular the veneration of a number of ancient dracolitches: necromantic dragons who had become litches. It is thus strongly tied for formal traditions of necromancy, and most adherents are themselves necromancers.
The earliest records of the cult come from the Golden Age of Necromancy, by which time it was well-established. While Green Temple ideology was common at this time, the Grey Temple had not yet declared itself, and so Necromancy was home to many schools of thought.
Defining the existence of the Dracolitches is difficult. Most necromantic theology, especially later theology, holds that all sacred myths should be treated as truth, regardless of origin and in defiance of historical fact. This practice was especially common in Green Temple ideology, of which far more records survived into the modern era.
Mentions of the Dracolitches in primary sources from the First Chaotic Period are few, but they were always refer to them as real beings. Anecdotal evidence suggests the cults were uncommon, but widespread. Records from the Dynastic Period are more frequent, but provide no information. The only surviving documentation confirms the existence of the cult, but provide no details.
The first documented evidence of the cult comes from the Layloma Empire. In the mountains above modern-day Senega, a group of necromancers had built a series of temples. While outwardly an ordinary Grey Temple, they were secret adherents of the cult. For years, they had been kidnapping people from the surrounding regions and sacrificing them to the dracolitches. This finally came to the attention of the imperial legions in A.Y. 1107. Initially the matter was given over to law enforcement, but as the cultists proved to be better armed, organized, and more numerous than anyone predicted, the army, and eventually the Slayer Dragons were called in. Astrid Strador slew the arch-litch herself, and the matter was thought resolved.
70 years later, the cult reappeared in the Lake Bara on the Agras Plain. Initially, they were thought to be a humble farming collective that happened to contain some necromancers and their acolytes. The remote community had sprung up recently and had not been given much mind, until social services visited the region to ensure the children were properly educated and fed, and found the cult was deliberately breeding children to be raised and sacrificed to the dracolitches. Several idols of the dracolitch were found to have come from the temples in Layloma, thus linking the cults. Exactly how these cultists had escaped was not known, but it is believed they were dispatched before the initial discovery of their ancestors. Some 113 children had been killed on their eleventh birthdays over the 74-year lifetime of the collective.
Cults continued to surface throughout the first and second ages. Some were benign groups that practiced rituals and worshiped the dracolitches, while others were more sinister, backed by or involving necromancers. Animal and human sacrifices were common, usually of cultists, but kidnap victims were also known. Though religious freedom was officially enforced by the Alliance, local ordinance would ban the cult whenever it was discovered, whether of the benign variety or not.
By the Second Age, different cultic groups could be divided into two distinct categories. The first were so-called "benign" mystery religions that had no real connection to necromancy or the dracolitches, and were little different from any such religions. Such cults had charismatic leaders who claimed to reveal hidden secrets to their followers, usually for a modest fee; and while true believers could be found, the cults were largely based on scams. The second, must more sinister category, involved either necromancers or acolytes, and carried out actual ritual magic: usually animal and often human sacrifices. With each passing generation, the sacrifices grew more and more violent and depraved. More importantly, these cults were always associated with the Grey Temple.
When the Necromanic Wars began, the cult of the dracolitch was outlawed across the known worlds. While certainly many mysteries of the benign variety continued their worship in secret, the more faithful and active members joined in the war. In the purges that followed, the cult was thought to be eliminated. Even the benign groups were mostly put to an end.
With the Imprisonment of the Necromancers, the cult was thought to be completely lost. Those few ethnic necromancers who survived the war were all interned in Arindell, and most of their writings destroyed. In the wholesale iconoclasm that followed, a great deal of necromanic lore was lost; some for millennia, much permenantly.
Age of the Dragon
When the remaining Necromancers were released at the start of the Age of the Dragon, it was found that both the Grey Temple and the cult of the dracolitches had survived in deep secrecy. Before any large-scale action could be taken, the Seventh Age ended and the Long Night began.
During the Long Night, worship of the dracolitches resumed, with necromantic cults continuing their human sacrifices. These were more methodical than those of the early Third Age, but no less numerous. The Society of Assassins, in particular, had long been known to harbor adherents, and during the Long Night became quite powerful.
In the early part of the Age of the New Day, the Society was routed, and most of the cults rooted out and put to the question. The massive shift in dragon culture had brought back more traditional forms of dragon worship on a very large scale, and cult of the dracolitch activity became few and far between.
In the Djr Archipelago, a cult of the dracolitch has been present since the days of The Dragonlands. And though uncovered and quelled every few generations, it was able to exist in very deep secrecy all throughout the Alliance era, the Long Night, and into the New Day. This cult was quite different from the others, and had its own customs. Since dragon worship had always been the norm there, the local cult most often carried out its acts by perverting or inverting the rituals. Their most infamous ritual was an effort to reverse the 'virgin sacrifice'. In the mainstream ritual, a young woman would be publicly offered (usually willingly) as a concubine to the dragon king. Most often, the display was carried out using an existing concubine, and even the woman's initial status was not a concern. The cultists, in turn, would take a woman by force, coerce her into carrying out lewd acts first with as many individuals outside the cult as possible, then with every member within the cult, then offer her to the dracolitch. If the women had become with child through this ritual, the child would be kept, and later sacrificed by the cult.