Nagas, either called the Dragon-kin or the Snake people, are reptilian humanoids living in a mystical and military feudal culture on the island kingdom of Hashima in the world of Ashan. They worship the Dragon-Goddess of Water, Shalassa.
The Nagas' history is mostly unknown to the rest of the world, but what is known is that the Nagas have been led by the Eternal Empress since the beginning of the Lotus Empire. Despite their mysterious nature and isolation, they have made relations to the other nations of Ashan and made settlements on the surface world, even some Human tribes have pledged loyalty to the Eternal Empress and adopted the Naga's culture as their own.
What else is known about the Nagas' history is that several Naga kingdoms were founded, such as Shanriya in the glaciers of the Dragons’ Causeway and Sayama in the Sahaar Desert. These smaller Naga kingdoms are supposed to be vassals of the Lotus Empire, but time and distance made them grow independent, eventually attracting the ire of their immortal ruler.
The Second Eclipse Edit
Early in the fifth century, the Crimson Wizards of the Seven Cities created a hybrid beast-men between man and shark, a breed which the wizards hoped would make unsurpassed naval troops. The members of the Wizard Council were not convinced and decided to trade the military use of the Sharkmen for a political one: they offered the creatures as a gift to the Naga lords. The Naga welcomed the Sharkmen as equals rather than slaves, and offered them honorable positions as guards of their underwater palaces. In return, the Shark guards follow their new masters with unyielding pride and loyalty.
During the Second Eclipse, the Naga came to aid Irina Griffin in her escape and later vendetta against Gerhart of Wolf, becoming a Daimyo to the Eternal Empress after defeating Daimyo Hiroshi. Ironically, Irina aided Gerhart against the Demons but later defeated Gerhart and took his place, becoming the leader of the Wolf Duchy. Years later, Irina gave birth to her child and then returned to the Lotus Empire as the Daimyo of Hashima for the rest of her days.
Betrayal and Civil War Edit
Early in the seventh century, the Eternal Empress intended to reconquer Shanriya, who had become too free-spirited for her tastes. To support her war effort, she sent her best generals across Ashan to gather powerful relics, this was known as the "Crusade of the Autumn Wind". One of the Empress’ most trusted advisers, Daimyo Oshiro, got his hands on a Tear of Asha whose power was at a magnitude never seen before. Rather than bringing it back to his mistress, Oshiro decided to harness its power for himself, turning his armies against the Eternal Empress. It is said Oshiro came as close as the gates of Nariya, the Nagas’ underwater capital city, but his rebellion was eventually crushed when the Empress herself came to the battlefield and demonstrated how powerful she truly was.
Oshiro managed to escape the Empress by making a deal with a kingmaker spirit, a Kirin. He offered his life to the sacred creature, asking it to get his people to safety in exchange. The Kirin accepted, touched by Oshiro’s noble and selfless sacrifice. Thanks to the Kirin’s powers, Oshiro’s people escaped the Empress’ wrath – although they were condemned to a miserable life where the Tear had been found, in the subterranean lakes and rivers hidden underneath the Vantyr mountains. But Oshiro had fooled the Kirin: instead of giving his life as promised, he used the magic of the Tear of Asha to shield himself from the creature, driving it to rage and madness. Since then, Daimyo Oshiro became known as Oshiro the Accursed.
Rise of The Medusae Edit
For years, Oshiro managed to hide from the Eternal Empress and shield himself and his people from the madden Kirin but as the days went by, the Naga's grew more miserable and began lose hope for their future. However, Tuidhana's people, the Dark Elves, encountered Oshiro and his renegade Nagas in their quest for the very same Tear of Asha, for the purpose of transporting the Invisible Library from Sheogh to their underground caverns to center their new civilization. Commander Yrris and the ruling Clan Lord Raelag led the Elves to victory against Oshiro, even killing the enraged Kirin and finally gaining the Tear. The surviving Nagas were then forced to recognize the Dark Elf Clan Lords as their new masters. Their priestesses received Malassa's gift, and in accepting the mark of Darkness they also rejected the ways of Shalassa in favor or her destructive aspect, the goddess of the dark depths, the Wrecker. These Naga priestesses became what their people call Medusae, practitioners of not only Water Magic but Dark Magic.
Oshiro’s rebellion had put an end to the Eternal Empress’ plans to bring Shanriya back into the fold, and the Ice Nagas had used the time to fortify themselves, even making strong alliances with the Free City of Stormcliff and the Dwarves of Ostgerd. After the losses suffered against Oshiro, any new attempt to wage war against Shanriya would be foolish. While she had technically been victorious against Oshiro, the Eternal Empress’ perfect rule was now stained, and her ability to lead was being questioned. In the following decades, the Lotus Empire slowly descended into disunion. More and more Daimyo's were becoming insolent, even rebellious, and the Eternal Empress had to begin a great campaign to prove herself worthy of Shalassa’s favor. This has proven her greatest challenge yet, one she hasn’t yet overcome.
For now, the Lotus Empire has remained isolated until the disunion ends or if the Eternal Empress actually becomes dethroned and someone takes her place as the highest master of the Nagas.
Society, Religion and Culture Edit
The Nagas live under a military feudal structured government called the Lotus Empire, which contains vast underwater realms as well as islands, like the island of Hashima. The supreme ruler of Hashima and all Nagas is the Eternal Empress. Several Daimyos serve under her as lords, advisers and generals.
They are equally at home on land and in the sea, though they move faster in the water. Viewing their time upon Ashan as fleeting and illusory, they strive for perfection in their behavior and skills. The ideals of purity, simplicity, and harmony are reflected in their magic, their warfare, and their life philosophy.
The Naga nation is based on a master-apprentice relationship. All Nagas swear allegiance and promise obedience to their chosen master. Duty and loyalty are expected. The basic goal of a Naga is to achieve self-perfection; they hope to live lives of purity and simplicity, believing that those who do so are reborn as the spirits of the ocean who aid Shalassa in her works. Death is not to be feared, but to be accepted without worry; the hope is that the Naga has raised itself to a level of spiritual perfection such that it will be welcomed by Shalassa.
Perfection is pursued through rigorous physical training and weapons practice, prayer and meditation, and by withstanding great rigors and hardships. The body and mind are soft tissue to be hardened in the crucible of exercise and prayer. When a Naga feels that he or she has surpassed their master, they must defeat him or her in a formal duel. If successful, they become a master themselves, or they seeks further training from a superior master. These duels are not necessarily fought with weapons or even violent; they could be contests of poetry, ritual meditation, or even cooking.
The highest master in Naga society is the Eternal Empress, who is considered as the living incarnation of Shalassa. Some historians have suggested the Eternal Empress is merely a persona adopted by a succession of rulers – men and women alike – as they must shed their old identity and become the embodiment of perfection once they ascend to the highest position of the Naga society. Of course, that theory has never been proven, and no Naga would ever confirm it. The Eternal Empress is both the military and spiritual head of Naga society. She has led the Nagas since times older than History, and she has never ever been defeated in a duel. The Naga culture being what it is, however, that has never prevented ambitious Naga lords to try.
Many times during its history, the Lotus Empire has known terrible civil wars instigated by one of the Daimyos willing to overthrow the Empress and take her place. Because war among the Nagas obey many rules and victory cannot be less than perfect, Nagas never involve outsiders in their conflicts. They usually cut their political relationships with the other nations, and retreat to their dominions of the Jade Ocean until one of the contestants emerges victorious. Naga traders, explorers, and seekers of truth will still be met outside the borders of the Lotus Empire, but merchants should not expect to make any deal involving the Naga nation as a whole.
Civil wars in the Lotus Empire are usually followed by a period of expansion and interactions with the rest of the world, as if to make up for the times of isolation. These periods are known as Diasporas, and are usually times of evolution, progress and change within Naga society. For instance, the great weapon smith Hagane Goro studied the art of forging Starsilver among the Elves of Irollan during the first great Diaspora. But Diasporas are also times of conquest and military aggressiveness.
The Nagas respect those who adhere to their code and show worship to Shalassa, treating them as fellow citizens of the Lotus Empire, such as the human tribes who have allied and pledged loyalty to the Empress, some becoming Daimyo's. They also treat the Sharkmen as equals instead of slaves, like the wizards originally treated them.
Coral Priestesses serve as healers and diplomats within Naga society. They come from the Coral Nagas, the smallest of the three Naga species who dwell in the lagoons and on the shores of the Jade Sea islands. Spring spirits are often summoned by the Naga priesthood to participate in one of their rites of cleansing, they also guard Naga warriors on the field of battle by melding with these allies and providing them with spiritual and magical protection.
The fabled Kirin have a unique place among the Naga, as they are powerful Water Spirits linked to the celestial waters in all their aspects (rain, hail, clouds, fog, mist…), the Kirin is known in the Naga culture as the bringer of wisdom and chooser of lords. It is said that a warlord who brings a Kirin to battle is blessed by Shalassa and the whole army benefits from the spirit's heavenly aura. However, it is also said that one who rides the Kirin may travel faster than the wind, but at the cost of their own life. Those who sacrificed themselves to the Kirin are remembered with honor but it is considered pure treachery to fool a Kirin, as doing so drives them to madness.
The Naga's warfare is all about control and an iron arm, believing you should strike where your enemy is the strongest, fearing no challenge for there is no honorable fight you cannot win and no honorable death Shalassa might blame you for. Once your enemy’s blade is broken, all you’ll need is a mercy strike to end the quarrel. The Nagas seek control to ensure the enemy cannot reach one’s most vital assets or at least not too early. An iron arm to ensure that, where contact will take place, the Nagas will be the strongest.
As amphibians, the Nagas are most at ease fighting on wet or watery ground; their natural forms are so well adapted to this that any enemy is at a great disadvantage. They will always try to bring the fight on this kind of terrain. As they are largely indifferent to death, believing that they will be reborn to serve Shalassa in a higher form, the Nagas seldom feel the need to run from battle or save themselves. As a result, it is more likely that a Naga army will be decimated than it would surrender. This fearless character, tempered by wisdom and an implacable serenity, is a potent weapon. In times of trouble, there will always be a champion to move calmly towards the enemy and draw any danger to himself, giving his or her companions time to prepare themselves and gain tactical advantage. In one-on-one combat, Nagas trust their iron will, their martial perfection and their magic to bolster and protect their champions, and make the difference versus any adversary.
Nagas are masters of the “quiet” magic sphere of Water, that renders the body and the mind as malleable as a liquid. They place much store in wisdom and in study. For this reason, their magic tends to work overtime and build gradually to a smashing crescendo. Attack spells may echo the effects of tidal waves or hurricanes; blessings permit the troops to attack in unstoppable waves; curses leave the enemy slowed and off balanced.
Since the Nagas tend to be isolated from the surface world and as they are an underwater civilization, their relationships with the other nations of Ashan are at a minimum at best.
The Lotus Empire, however, maintains friendly trade relations with the Free Cities, the Seven Cities (later the Silver Cities), the Dwarves of Grimheim, the Elves of Irollan and the Holy Empire in most cases.
The one nation they probably have a hostile relation too are the Dark Elves of Ygg-Chall. The Dark Elves conquered those that followed Oshiro and forced them to accept the Clan Lords as their new leaders. This lead to the corruption of the coral priestesses into the Medusae. In turn, they have have abandoned Shalassa in favor of Malassa.
Heroes V plansEdit
The Nagas were, at one stage, planned to appear in the Academy, but were replaced by Rakshasas when it was decided to develop them as a focal race. Concept art for their prospective town, the Sanctuary, exists, and several unused models were left over in the data files, but they are not present in the game itself. They are also portrayed in concept art appearing in Heroes of Might and Magic Kingdoms. They appear as a playable race in Might and Magic: Heroes VI.