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The Tribe On The Coast

*Note: This is the hypothetical first part of a fantasy novel that I wrote for a contest. Hope you enjoy!

There weren’t always dragons in the Valley. In fact, there was not a lot of anything in the region where the scaly creatures now reside. The Valley is located in a desert on the western coast known as the Balito Sands. Like most deserts, it only contains a small amount of life and is a wasteland mostly covered in fine white grit. There is a small number of plants with thick fleshy leaves and plush stems for holding on to what little water & moisture they can in this dry, heated environment. The dominant plant here is the Barba root plants which have wet, sticky vines that slightly poke out of the sand slightly. When a small creature like a desert rat or lizard or insect gets stuck to the vine, they get trapped by the Barba and slowly starve to death. Once the prey ceases to be part of the living, the vine curls up closer to the plant’s stem and releases a digestive enzyme in order to better consume the remains of the animal. Since the desert is close to the shore, several kinds of seabird occasionally come in-land to feed on the creatures native to the desert. They swoop down, attack whatever tiny beings too unfortunate to escape their maws, and fly back to their perches near the sea. The Barba and the birds used to be the dominant apex predators of the Balito. They were also probably some of the worst things you would have to worry about in the desert other than the lack of water and strong winds throwing sand in your face. Other than that, roaming the deserts would be somewhat safe and a pretty decent space for merchants and travelers to pass through to get to a new location. That was until THEY brought the beasts into the valley…

The valley contains a small oasis with a decent amount of water from a large aquifer, several caves leading to underground rivers, and lush vegetation including edible cacti. All of these things would be great for a settlement, but no one lived there because it was pretty far away from any trade routes or civilizations of interest. Only people who wished to be mostly isolated from the outside world would want to set up camp in this remote location, so who would be crazy or standoffish enough to try & make such a place their home? Why, those insane individuals we have decided to name the Rikito of course!

The Rikito are one of those peoples that we know plenty about, yet know very little about at the same time. We don’t know exactly where they came from, but what we do know is that sometime within the past eight generations, a group of people came from across the ocean with the help of flying beasts no one from our region had ever seen before. These flying behemoth ‘dragons’ were something most had never encountered. They were fierce creatures who only the Rikito knew how to effectively train and bend to their whim. When these strange peoples came to our shores, they set up shop in the caverns of The Valley and let their dragons soar above the desert sands.

The Rikito are a very fierce and distant people with a very odd culture for a people that decided to set up shop in the middle of a desert. While the majority of people travel across the deserts with robes or some form of clothing that could cover the body to protect it from the blowing sands, most of the Rikito move around in the nude with nothing on their person other than some bits of red, yellow, and white body paint splattered on different parts of their bod. While most of the cultures around these parts are dominated by men or strive for some kind of equality of the sexes, the Rikito are a society where the women are in charge while the men remain much more subservient. The women seem to be the dominant dragon riders and, by extension, the main heads of their respective households.

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