At the height of the Dynastic Period, the Dragonlands covered nearly a quarter of the Greater Continent. Although quite literally in the Marcons' backyard, the interior of the lands enjoyed great peace and prosperity.
The Dragonlands were massive, but sparsely populated, and chiefly by dragons. Nine flights, specifically, and as many as twenty-seven human city-states.
Geographically, the area was mostly rolling hills, wide valleys, and aspiring mountain peaks. Not the match for the High Mountains, but grand. Its position on the disk gave the region a mild climate and a very long growing period, further augmented by the use of dragon magics. This allowed for an enormous surplus of food.
Each city-state had a population of around one million, with another two or three times that living in smaller towns and villages. The dragon flights were considered very large by dragon-standards, typically reaching one to two thousand at their zenith (A typical "large" dragonflight is only around five hundred).
The city-states were served by an intricate network of roads and canals that allowed for very fast travel and easy movement of goods. While trade was common, the bulk of food was actually controlled by the dragons, who ensured a proper distribution. Thus if a crop failed on one side of the empire, food could be brought from nearly anywhere and prevent a local famine.
The Dragonlands were so productive that a single acre of land could feed ten people, at a common Dragonland diet. The humans ate a great deal of meat, and had access to a wide array of spices and seasonings. Most survivng accounts of life in the Dragonlands speak at length of the "great plenty" and the fabulous feasts the dragons celebrated. While details on the exact average diet are scarce, it is estimated that the cropland was at least twenty times more productive than modern dirt-farming techniques developed by the Foundation over a millennium later.
Dragonland humans had effectively no lower-class. While poverty may have existed, it is clear there was enough food to keep anyone from starving. The dragons also kept their humans busy with constant building projects and mining efforts, so work was just as plentiful. The dragons of the region also felt strongly that "no one should ever be allowed to starve amidst such plenty", so it was likely even those unable to work would be provided for.
The Dragonlands were controlled by the dragons, and the humans effectively kept as slaves. They were not dragon-worshipers like the earlier Aramayan civilization, and most of their servitude to dragon-masters was used to improve their own life-quality. The dragons ensured their human populations never went hungry, and helped them in defense of the region.
The human slaves served two primary functions: mining gold, and defending the region. The dragons maintained a massive standing army of over three million, with another six in reserve. The city-states were usually built on or near gold mines. The rest of the human population worked to support itself and to feed their dragon masters. The upper-class of human society consisted of human leaders and mages. Each city-state was centered upon a Mage Tower, and towers were built all along the borders and at strategic points throughout the land.
At any given time, at least thirty "Dragon Kings" (not to be confused with King Dragons) held title, or roughly three to each flight. These kings were responsible for the day-to-day rule of the empire. Each city-state also hosted a single ruling family of dragons, who held the title of Duke. This is an approximate translation, as the same title was used whether the dominant dragon was male or female.
For much of the reign of the empire, absolute power belonged to Lelerough, Destroyer of Worlds.
Day-to-day living in the Dragonlands was considered very pleasant. If the historical accounts are to be believed, the human slaves enjoyed a much higher standard of living than most free people anywhere else. The humans had a very bountiful and wide variety of food available such that "no one ever went hungry, or should have". Lelerough declared one day in every seven a "rest day";–– which, coupled with many holidays and feasts, led to the average slave working only about 200 days of the year. A typical work day was only eight hours long, usually broken up by lengthy rest periods (it takes a long time to eat a very good meal). The slaves were allowed many artistic and leisure distractions.
Though some historians argue that they were not slaves at all, the historical record is very clear. Still, it is generally felt that the human population was mostly happy with the arrangement. They were kept active, but not too active; very well fed; and provided entertainment. There was some room for self-determination, and even the soldiers lived a very pleasant and safe life. It is estimated that during the entire 414-year-long war with the Marcon Alliance, only 10,000 human soldiers were lost in battle. Beside them, another thousand dragons were killed, so the humans were never fighting alone.
The dragons lived quite decadently. Without the need to hunt for food, they often traveled among humans, and enjoyed the pleasures their human slaves could provide. Dragons commissioned artwork, literature, and plays, as well as a rich culinary world that only further enriched the humans' lives. In general, life was good for everyone in the Dragonlands, until being a "slave" was not even considered bad. The ultimate punishment in the Dragonlands was "freedom", or banishment from the region. There is no strong evidence that the humans were forced to stay; anyone who wished could "seek freedom" outside the Dragonlands.
For the humans, their day-to-day lives were impacted very little by their slavery. While an individual may not easily choose a profession, and many humans were sent to work in gold mines or on building projects, the work was by no means horrible. Short work schedules, ample rest periods, "unnecessary" amounts of food, and reasonable quotas with rewards for exceeding expectations were the norm. Humans who did particularly well at their assignments could expect to be rewarded. Those that did poorly were more often encouraged than punished.
On the whole, the humans' enslavement meant working together with the dragons to improve everyone's lives. It just improved the dragons' lives a lot more.
Every young, able-bodied individual served in the military. Some recieved advanced training while others were held in reserve. The standing army numbered three million, and included both soldiers and mages. Those that showed affinity for magic were given as much training as possible, to serve as battleing sorcerers or in mage towers. The Dragonlands used its mage towers defensively, and did not allow the humans to cast spells that might endanger them (Tower Magic at the time was very dangerous, and usually several steps at the bottom were killed by each powerful spell). The dragons also frequently stepped into the towers themselves to aid in casting.
In the entire history of the Dragonlands, only about ten thousand soldiers died directly of combat. Many died in accidents, of illnesses, and from other factors (in a three-million-strong army, you're going to have at least one soldier pecked to death by canaries over the course of four hundred years, and an embarrassing number of auto-erotic asphyxiations...). Casualty rates were much higher, in the realm of fifty to seventy thousand; but thanks to the wide-spread use of magic, healers were always close at hand. Keep in mind the average human slave served only four to eight years in the millitary, and that's seventy thousand combat injuries over the course of four hundred years.
Everyone, down to the most common soldiers, were armed with powerful magical weapons and armor. This was the main advantage over the Marcons, whose slave privates were often armed with little more than sticks and rocks, or metal-tipped spears (if they were lucky). The Dragonlanders, meanwhile, had full armor and every manner of weapon, conjured for them by Lelerough herself, to a quality not possible with human hands.
The best soldiers became known as the Dragonforged, as they wore full plate. Even a lowly footsoldier had enchanted chainmail and a weapon that could cut through anything. Soldiers wore anti-magic pendants to protect them from Marconian magic, and wielded powerful weapons. Battling sorcerers were to be feared; but even a common soldier could carry out devastating magical attacks through Modicant Weapons.
Exactly when the humans of the Dragonlands became bound to their masters is unclear, but there is evidence of human/dragon cohabitation in the area as far back as the Intermediate Period. The Dragonlands became Dragonlands when Lelerough came to power in B.G.A. 1315.
At the time, many of the city-states were still independent, and either held a tenuous peace with the dragons through a system of tributes, or were at war with them. Lelerough conquered all the city-states, some by direct conflict and others by simple intimidation. She then established the outer borders of her new empire, and sent an envoy to the Marcon Alliance explaining which lands she had claimed for herself and that she would take no more while no attempt was made to take them from her. This "envoy" was sent in the form of a massive fireball wrapped in a cloak of lightning, which leveled a Marconian city and left only its Mage Tower as witness. Out of the ashes, a vision of Lelerough appeared to explain what had just happened.
The Marcons, of course, immediately launched an army to conquer the Dragonlands. What followed was the Battle of Namastis Field, wherein the million-strong Marcon Force encountered approximately forty-five thousand humans backed by another thousand dragons. Although outnumbered twenty-to-one, the defenders routed the Marcons, and slaughtered them in defeat. Fewer than ten thousand Marcon soldiers reported back. The Second Battle of Nasastis Field went even worse, with only thirteen hundred Marcons surviving, of two and a half million. This was still considered the more successful of the two battles, as the Marcons killed "a total of eleven low-ranking soldiers and one dragon, maybe". This would remain the most successful battle for 414 years.
Lelerough split her focus between strengthening her empire's defenses and building up her infrastructure in the interior. Her subjects (human and dragon) combined dragon magic with human agriculture, to produce a surplus of food known as "The Great Plenty". Within the space of a single generation, poverty and starvation were completely eliminated, and the empire united under Lelerough's banner.
For four hundred and fourteen years, Lelerough led her people and the Dragonlands enjoyed great prosperity. Although they were slaves, the humans of the Dragonlands held a great reverence for her, and some may have even worshipped her. Lelerough did not approve of such things, however, and while she allowed her subjects to practice any religion they chose freely, she would not allow them to bow to her.
Ultimately, this religious freedom led to the destruction of the Dragonlands. In around 905 B.G.A., lone Marconians snuck through the border defenses disguised as refugees, carrying many copies of the Bravkar, the central book of the Marconian Religion. Acting as missionaries, these Marcons began spreading Marconian teachings and beliefs. Preying on insecurities and what little dissent they could find against the dragons, the missionaries won converts, and attacked the empire from within.
In B.G.A. 901, with the infrastructure in shambles and the army in disarray, the Dragonlands broke apart in civil war. At this point, the Marcons unleashed twenty thousand fallen or enslaved dragons, which attacked the nine flights of the Dragonlands. Expecting to only match them dragon-for-dragon, the Marconian army instead outnumbered the local dragons nearly two-to-one, as only around half of the Dragonland dragons were able warriors. With a civil war on the ground and the most massive dragon battle ever taking place in the air, the Dragonlands were destroyed.
Lelerough was furious. The curb-stomping that followed left her named "Lelerough: Destroyer of Worlds" and set the stage for the eventual defeat of the Marcon Alliance, six hundred years later, by the Gudersnipe Foundation.
Following the destruction of the Dragonlands, the Marcon Alliance did not occupy the area. Any survivors were enslaved (really enslaved this time) and carried off into the Empire. The cities were thoroughly sacked and the gold looted from the dragon eeries. A few human and dragon survivors fled to islands off the coast, and continued the general culture and customs of the Dragonlanders. The surviving dragons formed a new flight called the Phoenix Tavern Flight and are mostly centered upon the Djr Archipelago.
For over two thousand years, the region of the Dragonlands remained uninhabited. A few centuries after Lelerough's funeral, it was re-inhabited by dragons who eventually formed nine distinct flights, named for the original flights destroyed by the Marcons.
The dragon resettlement was unsuccessful, however, with the flights lasting barely a century. In addition to enslaving the people, the Marcons had salted the earth, and even dragon magic could not make it bloom again. The various flights reestablished themselves on islands surrounding The Dragon Sea and on mountain ranges bordering the dragonlands, while the interior was left to molder.
For the entire rest of the Alliance, the region remained an empty wasteland. The dragons were notoriously tight-lipped about the reasoning, and humans came to believe it was an homage to Lelerough.