Cunning and obsessed with wealth, the elder dragon Ambylen became determined to defeat even death. She attacked libraries and mage colleges in pursuit of necromancy. From her captured tomes Ambylen learnt how to syphon the souls of powerful mortals to replenish her own life force. The foundation spell called for her own soul to be kept separate for her body. A party of heroes interrupted as she was finalising the ritual. They killed her body and shattered the soul vial causing both blood and spirit to be spattered across her vast horde.
Thinking the task complete, the heroes took as much of the hoard as they could carry and left Ambylen’s remains to rot in her mountain hold. Over the next decade the heroes all died unpleasant deaths and their remaining portions of the horde stolen. The thefts and assaults extended to anyone who came into possession of a piece of Ambylen’s hoard. One small town’s economy collapsed to barter when its people became too afraid of other’s money to trade with it.
The Hoard Atop the Mountain
Centuries later, bards tell stories of the remaining of the hoard left high atop Skytop mountain. Scholars laugh at the belief the treasure is cursed, saying that the old legend is a metaphor for the perils of greed, not some warning of impossible magics. This is exactly as Ambylen wants it, so that her secret is kept safe. The chaos of her death led to her spirit becoming bound to the hoard. With time she learnt to control and animate it. It was she who killed off the heroes and merchants so that she could reclaim the pieces of her they possessed. With her physical form now of pure treasure, her very being is now tied to her wealth.
Seeking to grow stronger still, she has set a trap for the wealthy and the greedy. Paid merchants now offer expensive maps to wealthy heroes that show the way to Ambylen’s hold on Skytop mountain. They tell tales of a weak drake that now guards the hoard. A week long climb from Dusthorn sees them challenged only by kobolds and a snow spirit with a penchant for avalanches. When the adventurers reach the hold they find no drake, only the treasure. When their greed overrides their caution, Ambylen forms the hoard into her body. The shifting and malleable gold make her nearly immune to all forms of attack and the fight ends quickly. The adventurers corpses are fed to the kobolds and their gold is enchanted to become another part of Ambylen.
Dusthorn’s Great Bank
Eventually, the sale of the maps brought Ambylen more treasure than carried by the pathetic adventurers they entrapped. Once word became to get out that no-one was returning from Skytop, Ambylen decided to find a more lucrative venture. The final band of heroes did actually find a weak drake guarding the hoard. When they got back to Dusthorn with their loaded wagons they were conveniently met by a banker new to the town. Looking for starting funds to found a new bank, he happily offered the heroes excellent terms to look after and even grow their wealth. Thus was founded the Ambylen Bank, named after the legendary dragon that first gathered the hoard.
Dusthorn is now a mighty city, one the most powerful trading centres on the western continent. In this age of sail, steam and science the mighty complex of the Ambylen Bank sits at its heart. With its wealth and generosity, it has financed and funded all manner of businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors. Its shared ownership of patents alone brings in small fortunes from nearly every corner of the known world. Concerned investors asking about the safety of their deposits are told that the maze like structure deters most thieves and the vaults themselves are guarded by the strongest magic the bank can afford.
This is, of course, Ambylen herself. She was once concerned that she might spread her spirit too thin if her hoard got too large. When she discovered that she actually became more powerful the more treasure she enchanted, her laugh caused a minor earthquake. Any thieves that make into the vaults find themselves under attack from all directions as Ambylen can now form several independent bodies.
Ambylen International Finance Ltd
Deep deep below the central tower of AIF lies the bullion hoard that backs its global investments. Some staff comment that it’s odd that a company would keep such a supply of solid gold and precious gems in the era of electronic commerce. They point to the huge server rooms that surround the central vault by way of example. They’re told that the chief executive is old fashioned and likes the physical security. Given that the chief executive is a brain housed inside a beautiful golden cybernetic body, further questions are left unasked.
Ambylen has not been idle whilst residing with her hoard. She has learnt even greater control, to the point where she can command the finest gears and wires, provided they are made of gold. The cybernetic body of the chief executive allows her to at last directly influence and command her servants. This has freed her from needing accomplices who know her secret to act as her proxy. Now she even attends conferences and political functions, all with the aim of increasing her wealth. Her current pet project is to find a way to enchant the electronic money ‘stored’ in the servers around her bullion. In this age of cybernetics, no-one pays attention to the old ways of magic, so she no longer has to be careful about hiding her magics.
Image Credit – Dragon Landing by Elvin – CC-BY-NC-2.0