The introduction and table of dragons are spoiler-free, detailing worldbuilding only. All other sections may contain spoilers up to and including episode 192.
The Meritocrats are a group of six ancient and powerful dragons who currently control and run human affairs. They are each differently coloured: black, gold, silver, copper, brass and bronze.The Meritocrats are somewhat secretive and rarely seen by the public. They use human and other sentient creatures as their agents out in the world. Oscar Wilde is one of these. The Meritocratic forces act as their police force, and they control the a naval force. The lands under Meritocratic control include the majority of the world: Europe; Africa; South, Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Asia; Australasia; South America (although their control is much looser here and may not be more than nominal); the Middle East and the Caucasus. The exceptions are: North America, Greenland, Svalbard, and Russia/ North Asia. It is unclear whether the Meritocrats have control over: Iceland, various small oceanic islands and archipelagos, northernmost Europe, and Antarctica.
|Apalala||Bronze||Female||Indonesia||Australasia||Transport and logistics|
|Apophis||Brass||Male||Cairo||Africa, South America and Eastern Europe||Agriculture and hospitality|
|Bolla Smok||Black (presumed)||Unknown||Prague||Eastern Europe and the Middle East||Magic|
|Naga||Copper||Male||India||Central Asia||Communication and administration|
|Quinglong||Silver||Female||China||East Asia||Entertainment and espionage|
It widely believed in Meritocratic lands that Ancient Rome (and specifically the Cult of Hades), at the height of its power, was dabbling in dark and evil magic, forcing the Meritocrats to step in and take a firm grasp of human development to prevent them from destroying themselves. In the Ancient Rome sidequest, it is revealed that the Meritocrats had been imprisoned below Rome and used as defensive weapons against invasion, controlled and guarded by the Cult of Jupiter. During a coup led by Rome's enemy Galba, they were intentionally released by an inexperienced footsoldier dressed in the the armour of the Cult of Mars following Galba's death (who, as a magic user, probably would have been able to control the dragons). The dragons, no longer controlled by either Rome or the impostors, rampaged through Rome, razing it to the ground and indiscriminately slaughtering men, women, and children. They also disrupted a ritual of some kind that was occurring at the centre of Rome as it fell, in which dark clouds swirled around Nero's palace and lightning formed a continuous vertical beam. It is unclear what the ritual's aim was, but collectively the dragons breathed fire at its source until it collapsed.
Influence on culture
Meritocratic lands retain much of their cultural and linguistic diversity as well as political devolution, but nearly 2000 years of expanding Meritocratic rule has led to globalisation and a tendency towards cultural and religious homogeneity. The Meritocrats have experimented with colonisation projects of non-Meritocratic lands, but a withdrawal of support led to the collapse of these settlements. They also have a strong role in where certain activities take place: Prague was designated by the Meritocrats as a place of arcane learning, and somewhere in Australia is a large prison. This had led to certain cultural nexuses.
The Meritocrats have a relationship of tolerance with global religions. Following the fall of Rome, the Meritocrats discouraged the use of the Roman names for the Roman pantheon (The Meritocrats blamed Roman dark magic for the plight of humanity before they 'stepped in'), instead encouraging the usage of the Greek names instead. The Cult of Pluto, blamed for the Roman dark magic, was disbanded; the Cult of Mars, however, was allowed to retain its Roman name. As meritocratic rule spread throughout and beyond the footprint of the original Roman Empire, so too did the influence of the Ancient Greek cults. The Meritocrats tolerate the cults, allowing them to practise in their lands, running healing temples and performing certain trade and military duties. The Meritocrats have, however, outlawed the use of magic to bring people back from the dead, as well as locking away several powerful magic items belonging to the cults, such as the Heart of Aphrodite and the Spear of Artemis. Although the cults' relationship with the Meritocrats is not exactly comfortable, it is not clear whether the spread of the Greek cults' influence throughout Meritocratic lands was specifically encouraged by the dragons as a form of deliberate religious homogenisation, or merely a side-effect of cultural mixing brought about by the Meritocrats' globalisation. Even in Meritocratic lands, other religious practices still survive: in Japan, for example, Shinto is still practised alongside veneration of the Greek pantheon.
The rule of the Meritocrats is not without its opposition. Founded in the decades after Rome's destruction, the organisation now known as the Harlequins has been working against the Meritocrats for around 1800 years in various ways. Notable Harlequins include: Sasha Racket, Feryn and Hirald Smith, faculty members of Prague University, and Amelia Earhart and her crew. More recently, a group known as the Cult of Hades has been working more directly against the dragons, first by funding various independent non-harlequin separatists (such as Nikola Tesla) in their attempts to plot against the dragons, infiltrating and undermining Meritocratic organisations, and working with underground crime networks and the evil otherworldly 'squizzards'.
Apophis and Guivres both destroy potential opposition elements (the Damascus warehouses and Eiffel's Folly respectively), but despite their efforts the Meritocratic organisation structure is infiltrated and compromised nonetheless. In episode 126, we learn that during the 18-month timeskip, the Meritocratic organisation largely falls in at least the areas affected by the 'blue veins' (Europe, Australasia, and parts of the Caucasus/ Middle east up to about India). The affected areas have become war zones, and Guivres is infected and part of the hivemind. The Meritocrats have disappeared and apparently have holed up somewhere for a 'convocation', leaving something of a power vacuum that the Harlequins have filled.
- From former website; has not yet been mentioned in the show.