What Would My Dragons Be? Bushido!

When I started writing my Ring-Witches of Nesht series, I had certain things in mind I didn’t want to veer from. Dragons can be so many different things, so I made a list: I won’t make my dragons no-frills. Mine won’t be archetypal or mundane. The Dragons of Nesht will be such unique and enthralling beings that once Ring-Witches Mayra and Wolfe meet them, they’ll risk their lives to rescue them and renounce everything to live with them!

Gaulte, the Prime Dragon, oversees a clan of proud, fiercely intelligent dragons. They care deeply about one another, adore their spouses (yes, dragons are married, in a manner of speaking), shake their heads over the modern generation of little dragons, and hope they won’t become as rigid and stuffy as their Elders. The simplest change was that they don’t breathe fire. They usually speak to each other without words (speaking with the mouth is to entertain the children) and respect the mental privacy of one another. The clans living together in the aerie are related among themselves (siblings, in-laws, cousins) and raise their families there. There are kids—babies to teen dragons running around acting like kids. Of course, there are mom and dad dragons and a fussy grandmother who’s the matriarch with a strange and complicated past. And a grumpy weird uncle who wears a shawl and manages the library. There’s also an extraordinary dragon named Tamsin, who’s Gaulte’s youngest child, and she plays an incredibly special part in the story.

As I built Nesht’s world and its dragons, I realized that so many massive, growly beings living in such close quarters needed something in their lives to help them stay on an even keel. A religion, as it were. I’d already created the Great White Dragon, Tamsine, as the spiritual overseer of all dragons. But what else? What would Her guidance consist of?

I lived in Japan for several years and had a compelling interest in bushido, the samurai code of Japan. It still fascinates me. It, I decided, would be the code of the dragons. I visited Wikipedia and rediscovered the words of Nitobe Inazō.

The Eight Great Virtues

As envisioned by Nitobe Inazō, told to Tamsine, the Great White Dragon, and captured for all Dragons by Her

Righteousness. Dragons are born warsome. Therefore, all must be moral and right in their transactions with all other Dragons. You are responsible for justice, though you may expect it from others. The beliefs of all Dragons must be considered regarding honesty, justice, and integrity and once you have decided, you must commit to your decision.

Courage. Hiding like a nestling that refuses to leave his aerie is not living at all. A true Dragon must have great courage. Life itself is a risk, but if a Dragon does not fully live that life, he is denying the Great White Dragon and his ancestors. Courage is walking forward, seeing all around you, making wise decisions, and standing before those weaker than you with understanding.

Benevolence and Compassion. Dragons are born strong and fearsome. They are much more than other beings. They are born with powerful bodies and Souls that they must use for good. Dragons help other Dragons whenever and wherever they can. Dragons help weaker beings worthy of being saved.

Respect. A Dragon must never lose sight of what they are. They have no reason to be harsh or unkind to others, for they do not need to prove their strength. Dragons are respected for their strength but earn true respect in how they interact with other living creatures. The more difficult the situation a Dragon finds themselves in, the more strength they must display.

Integrity. A Dragon’s word is worth more than any jewel ever found. Each word is a promise, and nothing can stop a Dragon from completing what they say they will do. Speaking and doing becomes one for a Dragon.

Honor. Dragons do not allow others to judge them, yet they must follow that which judges their honor and character–the Soul gifted them by the Grat White Dragon. The decisions they make and how these decisions are carried out reflect the Dragon’s inner honor. A Dragon knows their Soul will see all and judge their worthiness.

Duty and Loyalty. Dragons are responsible for everything that they have done and everything that they have said, and the consequences that follow. They are immensely loyal to everyone in their care and to those, they remain fiercely true.

Self-Control. Dragons must reflect each day upon their power– the fangs in their mouths, the talons upon their feet, the muscles in their bodies, all ruled by the intelligence in their brains, not the emotions in their hearts. To lose control of one’s self is the greatest shame a Dragon can know, for that which you rend when that is control is gone, cannot be replaced… Or brought back to life.

—To understand other versions of this Code, especially as the humans came to know it, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushido

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