In the days before the gods, before the history of the world was written, perhaps even before the Titans, there were the four elemental dragons. These four dragons represented the four primal elements and it is said by those few scholars that know of such things that they were the ones who created the world and that they birthed the Titans just as the Titans sired the gods.
The elemental dragons first came to me as a plot device while flipping through one of the Tome of Horrors sourcebooks. In my current campaign, the PCs are investigating an expedition from Dunhanae that has been looking for something in the Bronze Hills along the boundary of the Devil's March. I wasn't sure what they were looking for, but I knew it had to be something awesome. At first I thought that they would be searching for an artifact that had the potential to destroy the world. Then I started thinking about how dragons were often involved in creation and how it had been mentioned that nobody knew the origins of dragons and that they may have predated the Titans.
As mentioned, there are four elemental dragons. The air dragon Vorelthraethuril represents life and freedom. Edariejirusk is the earth dragon and represents stability and oppression. Vignarixenloerchix represents violence and destruction and is the elemental dragon of fire. Finally Opossternesjmajak is the water dragon and represents patients and growth. Although some dragons with the appropriate type claim kinship with the elemental dragons, others do not. For example, not all blue dragons claim to have been the children of Edariejirusk, although some do. Almost no gold dragons claim ties to Vignarixenlorchix, and silver and white dragons do not claim kinship with any of the elemental dragons.
So what does this mean for the Dunahnae expedition? Well quite simply, although they do not know it they are searching for for the resting place of the earth dragon. The four dragons have been in a state of torpor for more than 1000 years. In that time they have faded from memory to myth, from myth to legend, and from legend to forgotten fable. Nobody knows what will happen if they awake, because nobody except a few scholars like Yugman the sage even remember that they ever existed. However, as they have the power to create and to destroy worlds, at least collectively, waking one and swaying it to your side would certainly sway the balance of power.