Worldbuilding

On our Discord server, we hold periodic Worldbuilding Writing Prompt contests where we challenge our members to answer a writing prompt about the fictional settings that they've created. These contests are meant

to promote creativity and improve writing skills in an area that is often discussed on the server (fictional worlds). The prompt winners get a feature on this page as well as a unique role on the Discord.

June 2021 

Prompt: What do the people in your setting value most in a leader? (e.g. strength, empathy, intelligence, stoicism, etc.) How are those values applied in different contexts? (e.g. business, military, politics, family, etc.) Elaborate and give context.

 

Winner: Supe
Setting: Akiteiwa
Answer:

The Akitei founding myth tells the tale of Kiryu, a trickster god who was turned into a snake and cast from the heavens atop the great World Tree for his transgressions. The snake god, disgruntled at his place in the world and how he was treated, then used every strength available to him to climb back up to his rightful place. He killed, he stole, he lied, he gained allies with promises both real and false. He was driven by strong emotions; a desire for vengeance and to prove himself as more than a worthless god of tricks. It was with these emotions he fell in love with a human girl who he promised to carry back to the top and make his wife. She brought out the best in him and kept him on his path. 

Near the top of the tree was a crop of magical fruit, guarded by a magical branch which would snap and fall should anyone unworthy attempt to steal the fruit. Knowing this, Kiryu’s fiance decided to sacrifice herself, throwing both the angry snake god and herself from the tree so that her love could grab and eat the fruit. 

Distraught, Kiryu swallowed the fruit whole, not wishing this sacrifice to be worthless. Upon consuming the fruit, Kiryu transformed into a giant dragon, a snake no longer. With his newfound power of flight, he rushed as fast as he could after his falling love. This however was to no avail as she had already fallen to her death. Enraged, the dragon soared up into the palace of the heavens, slaying the palace guards and confronting the king of the gods, who he held responsible for his misfortune. However, the king simply laughed at Kiryu and congratulated him on making it back to the top of the tree. The King offered Kiryu a single wish, including a restoration to his divinity and his place among the heavens. Though instead of taking his place, Kiryu simply wished that they return his love to life so that they may be together again. The King acquiesced to Kiryu’s request but remarked that he had forsaken his place among the gods for a human woman and that his place remained at the bottom of the tree from whence he came. 

Kiryu would return to the bottom of the tree where he would find his love where she had fallen, now standing. They embraced each other and professed their love once more. 

The two would become the first Emperor and Empress of Akiteiwa, their descendants ruling the Akitei people to this day. Following them were their allies that they had made along the way, who would become the nobility of Akiteiwa, from which many families still claim descent within the country.

It’s within this founding tale of the people and the country that many of the ideas about leaders and rulership are derived. Now obviously modern historical evidence has obviously disproved the idea that Akiteiwa is really thousands of years old and that this tale is little more than a literary fabrication, but its importance can be found in religious literature dated to the 5th century which has proven to be the basis of a lot of religious and philosophical thought on the nature of the rulership and leaders, lasting into the modern era and even to this day. 

Akitei political and cultural thought has two reasonably distinct archetypes for what a leader is, both of which are generally derived from the Tale of Kiryu: The Snake and the Dragon, both generally typified by Kiryu at different stages in his life. 

The Snake is a young leader of ambition and passion. He is personified by Kiryu during his climb up the World Tree. He is passionate and bold, and he seeks to gain whatever advantage he can through whatever means he can to achieve his end. The Snake is a lover and a warrior, someone who fights to improve himself and those who support him. They are charismatic and inspiring, people will follow a bold enough and passionate enough snake through anything simply because they exude such an aura that anything is possible. 

Within Akitei society the Snake is often personified by the old nobility, NCOs and professional athletes. Particularly ambitious politicians or businessmen are often referred to as Snakes or have their behaviour described as snake-like. The Snake archetype is also a very popular character in media and literature, often owing to their underdog nature.

By contrast the Dragon is an older leader of power and stability. Having spent their time gaining power and position, they are now burdened with massive responsibility. The Dragon is typified by the latter part of Kiryu’s life as Emperor, vested with the responsibility to lead and rule over the Akitei people. While the Snake is a leader of youthful tempestuousness, the Dragon is a wisened and stoic leader, weighed down by his sacrifices and forced to contemplate on the consequences of his actions. Dragons are creatures of virtue and patience, they delegate responsibility and rule through the power of law and respect, not their own strength. Societally most Dragons tend to be elder politicians, military officers, business CEOs, Teachers and the Emperor himself. Within literature, they are often considered foils to the Snake or vice versa, with the conflict between stability and change being central to many Akitei tales.