Dragons are a mysterious and powerful species, possessed of many extraordinary powers. There appears to be at least two species of dragons, as we have evidence of the most powerful of the kind being referred to as ‘great’ dragons. Though it is unknown if they exist in all realms or what commonalities species, or individuals, may share, the Gold and Red Dragons, Orin and Caro, had great power, including the ability to open portals, breathe fire and seemed functionally immortal. The seal of the Elder Gods themselves, used as the sigil of the Mortal Kombat tournament, is itself a dragon, and dragons appear in the mythology and lore of many races throughout the realms.
The most impactful ‘dragon’ in the history of the realms was no myth, however. He was the legendary Onaga, the Dragon King of Outworld who ruled long after the creation of the realms (though many thousands of years before our current time). It is unknown if Onaga himself was truly a dragon or if that was merely an honorific given to him in consideration of his power: certainly, he seems to have possessed a great affinity for the creatures in either case.
Throughout its history, Outworld had been a land of disparate kingdoms and rulers, the vast majority of which are now lost to the mists of time. Five whose names remain to us are King Kang, King Tsung, Princess Adrina, Queen Eliza and Queen Rihiana, but aside from their joint construction of the now lost city of Sin Kiang, little is known of them. It is known, however, that they were among the many rulers who themselves reigned as vassals of the Dragon King, doing him homage and fealty as their overlord.
A great warrior, leader and sorcerer, it was Onaga who first united the disparate peoples of Outworld under one rulership, though he did not expand his rule outside of Outworld. It is said that, in addition to his own great power, Onaga’s heart itself was magical in nature, allowing him to resurrect the dead. Thus, his army could not be vanquished, as their King would simply resurrect them once they died, meaning their onslaught was relentless. Onaga would also use his sorcery to resurrect those slain in opposition to him as further recruits to his army, their souls eternally trapped inside their own body as they marched and fought and died and were resurrected over and over again, but not as revenants: as truly living beings bound to the will of the Dragon King. Onaga also used his black magic to enchant the weapons and armour his soldiers fought with, making them even more indefatigable.
But Onaga was not sated with his rulership over Outworld, for even dragons may die. Legends tell us that Onaga sought to obtain a living ‘great dragon’ as drinking the living blood of such a creature was said to grant the immortality of the dragon. This quest failed, however, as none could be found.
Nevertheless, Onaga did obtain a dragon egg, reputed to be the last in all the realms and instructed his order of priests to watch over it in a shrine deep in a volcano in the Sarna Desert of Outworld. When it hatched, Onaga would consume its blood to gain immortality. In the alternative, Onaga could utilize his sorcery to transfer his essence into the dormant dragon when the time came.
Onaga’s closest counsellor during his reign was the Protector of Outworld (and possible God of War) Shao Kahn. While Shao Kahn began by viewing Onaga as a partner in ensuring the safety of Outworld in accordance with his role as the Protector God, he soon grew envious of Onaga’s power and the worship accorded to him and desired direct overlordship of Outworld himself. But Shao Kahn, although mighty, was not yet the conqueror of worlds he would become and even a God feared to face Onaga in combat. Thus, he arranged for the Dragon King to be fatally poisoned.
A prophecy was soon uttered, however. This prophecy foretold that the Dragon King would one day return and lead his army across the entirety of the realms, conquering all existence and becoming a God himself. Onaga’s soldiers had developed a ferocious loyalty to their king, who had led them to incomparable glory and victories, as well as saving them from death. Upon hearing of this prophecy, they took the body of their fallen King deep into the wastes of Outworld, into a huge temple they had constructed to serve as his mausoleum. There, they entombed the body of their Master and, to await his return, committed mass ritual suicide. There they would lie for millennia, resting with their King, awaiting his return and turning the temple into a tomb. The tomb was soon lost, however, the prophecy reduced to hushed whispers and the Dragon King to myths and legend.
Onaga was not truly dead, however, as he had succeeded in transferring some vestige of the essence into the dormant dragon before his death. There, Onaga would cling to life for millennia, lacking the power to return to life on his own but eagerly awaiting any opportunity to do so.
Believing his rival dead, Shao Kahn assumed the throne of Outworld. It is said he renounced his godhood and immortality to do so, thus driving his interest in black magic and sorcery, particularly the consumption of souls, which now forms the source of his eternal life as well as his vast power. Nevertheless, legends say that upon his accession Shao Kahn could not hold the various nations of Outworld immediately under his sway as Onaga had and was forced to spend millennia consolidating his power and growing his strength, reconquering the disparate nations of Outworld by force. Fearing his wrath, many submitted to his power or fled: legends tell us that the founders of Sin Kiang fled to Earthrealm and founded a city they called Sinkiang in homage to their lost Outworld kingdom.
Eventually, Shao Kahn succeeded in re-conquering all of Outworld, giving truth to his claim to be the Emperor of Outworld. He then immediately launched his inter-realm wars, beginning to merge innumerable smaller realms with Outworld and absorbing vast quantities of souls with his dark magic, further enhancing his dread power.
Full credit for this amazing piece to Esau Murga!
While Shao Kahn began his conquest of the realms, all in pursuit of his goal of ruling over all existence, the Edenian prophetess Delia, wife of the Protector God of Edenia, Lord Argus, received a chilling vision. She predicted that one day in the distant future, the warriors throughout the realms would grow too numerous and too powerful, their combat too frequent and the rites of Mortal Kombat too commonplace. This would fray the fabric of reality and bring about the end of the realms. The final battle between these overmighty warriors would be fought, she foretold, in a large crater in the Edenian desert.
Both Argus and Delia were agreed that this must be prevented but disagreed as to how this might best be achieved. Argus argued that, when the time came, the danger should be ameliorated by killing the warriors, whereas Delia argued that the more merciful option of simply stripping them of their powers was sufficient. They could not come to accord and decided on a wager of sorts.
Delia, using her sorcery and pyromancy, created the fire elemental Blaze, whose role it would be to wander and monitor the realms. They then bewitched their sons, Taven and Daegon, sending them into a sleep that could last for eternity and placed them in cavernous mountains in Earthrealm, guarded by the Golden Dragon Orin and the Red Dragon Caro respectively. When the time came, Blaze would signal the Dragons to awaken their charges and send them on a quest that would end when one brother defeated Blaze in Mortal Kombat. It was not intended for Taven and Daegon to combat one another: the intent was simply a race to arm themselves and defeat Blaze.
Delia and Argus each crafted a set of armour and a longsword, which would have differing effects. Each would direct the power of Blaze like a prism, with Delia’s stripping the warriors of their powers, rendering them mortal but powerless. Argus’, on the other hand, would strip the warriors of their very lives. The fate of the participants of the Battle of Armageddon would depend on which set of armour the victorious brother was wearing when he defeated Blaze. Neither brother would know which set of armour was which.
The armour was placed in a temple dedicated to Argus deep in the jungles of Earthrealm, while the swords were placed in a temple dedicated to Delia in the polar colds of Earthrealm. Should Blaze triumph over the brothers, however, Armageddon would not be stopped. Should another warrior defeat Blaze, the power would be theirs.
Whichever brother triumphed would win the right of taking Argus’ place as Protector of Edenia and gain the immense power of a God. It was this part of the prophecy, that the warrior who triumphed over Blaze would gain the power of a God, which would draw the warriors to the same location so they could be either rendered powerless or slain.
At some stage soon after the telling of the Prophecy, however, Blaze was trapped and enslaved by the still loyal priests of Onaga to guard the last dragon egg for eternity, diverting him from his true purpose for millennia. The story of Armageddon soon passed into legend, even forming an important part of most Earthrealm eschatology.
Next week, our story moves to Earthrealm for the first time as Shinnok and Raiden battle for the first, but not the last, time!
The History of Mortal Kombat, Chapter 2: Kings and Emperors, Gods and Prophecies