Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chirak: The Serpent Caldera

Southern Mercurios: The Serpent Caldera


Sulfur Lake
   This miles-wide and long lake is at the heart of the great caldera that marks the centerpoint of the Southern Kasarak Mountains. The lake water is often tainted by sulfurous emissions releasing from volcanic vents below, and little lives in the lake beyond some hardy fish and algae.

Lizard Man Territory
The lizard men of Serpent Caldera are a hearty group of expatriates who disagreed with the Hashykarystyr militarization of recent decades, and so broke off and migrated south to remain apart from it. Their dedication to the Ancentral Cult of Hossor, a prophet of great legend among the Hshykarystyr is what they are dedicated to. The Chieftain of the tribes is Shakat Haldaran, a fair but sometimes cruel leader who strives for neutrality with the neighbors in the region. They are only at odds with the orcs of Gozad and the kobold tribes, while staying neutral with the humans of Serimore. They avoid the soldiers of Fort Axeron, who are dedicated to enslaving them as curiosities for the arena, and they also avoid the territory of Sen’Samir whee the Kulaidoriin elves despise lizard folk of all types.

Kobold Territory
The kobolds inhabit numerous caves formed from lava tubes, creating long, winding hives. They are mostly nestled along the entrance to the caldera, a lengthy rise down which the Great River emerges from. The kobolds were until recently led by the winged urd named Mang Drog who was murdered, and the shaman Vosokos has taken over temporarily. They live a life of banditry and theft and are a plague on all other denizens in the region.

This is the southern Hsahykarystyr fortress led by general Kavoriss, a female lizard woman of great repute in the region. Goval was originally founded to defend against Kasark incursions a century ago when the barbarians, like men everywhere, reacted violently to the manifestation of a lizard man kingdom in their midst. Goval is one of the Basilisk Towers, and on its highest tower is mounted one of the dreaded Reflecting Mirrors, powered by the ancient basilisk eyes that the Hashykarystyr have used to enforce their borders against Kasark and Mercurious. No one knows what dire magics they used to create these artifacts.

The town of Serimore has been here for two centuries and its hunters have learned to live with the basilisks, hunting them carefully and avoiding their petrifying gaze. Natives have, in fact, displayed a curious resistance to the basilisk gaze (gaining advantage) though none know why. In time, the town grew to 400 strong; there are another 300 or so who live in remote outlying communities in the area. There is also a small local dwarven population and the mayor of the town is a dwarf named Vax Durggen. The story is that the local dwarves came from Syrgia long ago to prospect for mithril in the mountains, but never succeeded and eventually settled down to stay.

The town was thrown into chaos one year ago when the Cult of the Night Serpent arrived, led by the medusa Goz  Semilta, who turned several threatening townsfolk to stone before they left her and the cult alone. In the last year the cult has grown hundreds strong and built an impressive earthen pyramid entrance to the eastern mountain cave once known as the breeding cave of the basilisks and now dubbed the Temple of the Night Serpent.

Temple of the Night Serpent
Once this was a cave where the basilisks descended every year to breed, lay eggs and let their next generation hatch and grow, usually with a matriarch basilisk overlooking the younglings. Now it is the entrance to an impressive temple to the Night Serpent of the new cult which claims to be pureblood descended serpent men of old, led by a high priestess medusa. The interior of this complex will detailed more later, but the exterior includes a shantytown of crude huts and tents which holds the ever growing population of pilgrims who believe they have the blood of the serpent god within them.

The Old Road
This ancient road winds its way through the eastern Kasarak Mountains, and remains in surprisingly good shape considering no one seems to maintain it. Passage on this road can take one all the way to the mountain city of Arus, and from there the Old Road skirts close to Castle Dorn before exiting in the southern merge of the Dryssyrian and Kasark ranges along the river that leads to Knovyskus. The Kasark barbarians use it as a principle “safe route” through the mountains.

The town of Olegast was a thriving lake town before the first settlers ever came to Serimore. It was a major city in the days of the Pellucid Empire, but was sieged and destroyed by the Kasdalani forces four centuries ago. Olegast bounced back but never recovered as a city, remaining a smaller township for nearly a century and a half before it was destroyed by unknown forces. Decades later the first settlers at Serimore found only ruins and undead in Olegast, and decided the ground was cursed, so they settled northward. No one has ever discovered who or what sealed the town’s final fate.

The Tainted Lands
Some of the freshest lava flows can be found here, laid down only a century and a half back when Mount Uridon erupted to the west and great burning flows of lava covered the land and filled out the deep valleys. Stories say that there was an elven city here once, but that it is now completely submerged beneath the lava flows. Stories suggest that you can run into elven ghosts in the Tainted Lands. The name comes from the observation that nothing grows in the area anymore.

The citadel of Sen’Samir was founded long ago, and it’s architecture is clearly elven. It is one of the reasons people suggest the Tainted Lands may have once held an elven city before the lava covered it all up. The citadel is dangerously close to the twin volcanic mountains of Uridon and Seridon, named after the two Elohim brothers and warrior-templars of Akquinarios that fell to the earth during the Final War twenty six hundred years ago.

Sen’Samir was unoccupied for centuries, but about eighty years ago a tribe of Kulaidoriin ascetics and spiritualists settled in the area, gradually purging the tower of old denizens and traps and converting it to a new home for their order. Ever since the dark elves of the south have called the citadel their home, and other Kulaidoriin have since joined them, creating a rather impressive town. The waters of Lake Perast along which the citadel resides are surpisingly pure despite being nestled against the southern slopes of Mt. Seridon. The elves seem to think they are a protecting force; the mystical beliefs of the local cult are that the purity of their belief insures the volcanoes will not erupt.

The cult at Sen’Samir seems to be a form of ancentral worship on the surface, but it’s actually a bit more complex. The leader of the cult, the Kulaidor woman named Saatha Verunis, had a profound experience once when she discovered her ability to commune with the dead. She developed a fascination for ghosts and their lore, and learned that through ghosts one could learn of avenues to the afterworld that would allow guided elven spirits to at last seek true peace. The cult believes that it is doing a great service to their kind by seeking out elven spirits to aid them in finding a place of rest in the afterlife. The unnaturally regular encounters with elven ghosts in the region suggests that are at least partially on to something…

Saggaros’ Crown
The great wall known as Saggaros’s Crown is a stretch of mountains to the southwest noted for an impressive drop from their height, as the mountains look like a great tidal wave with several crown-like points jutting at the top. Scaling the great cliffs of this mountain is near impossible, but at the base of the mountain are several caves which open up into a vast series of cavern complexes.

The caverns of Saggaros’s Crown are dominated by the Orcs of Gaar, a tribe led by the warlord Magnathor and his queen Aitsu. There are two main orcish complexes/cities, one at Gozad where the warlord rules, and the other at Valdur where his main forces build relentlessly, engaging in regular raids against Kasarak tribelands and Kasdalani territory to the south.

The wall gets its name from the Demon King Saggaros, said to have been the Lord of Xylom, also the one who slew the Elohim warrior twins Uridon and Seridon. The orcs nominally pay homage to him, but what little worship they actually engage in is reserved for Shaligon.

The Secret Hut of Paask Venar
Paask Venar is a stout agent of the Durnitari gnomes of the growing Empire of Epinfael, which now encompasses territory from Balenorn, Knoviskus and Selgarde. The gnomes of Epinfael are on the move, and they are driven by the magnetic personality of their leader, the once famous swashbuckler and privateer now turned king Seramis Den’dator. Paask venar is a distant cousin of the king and part of the First Recon Advanced Corps of Engineers (FRACE) which has been methodically scouting out enemy territory and stealing valuable magic. Paask Venar stumbled across the machinations of the cult of the Night Serpent and realized that they had found a powerful artifact, the Orb of Serpent Kind, an relic of the old war. He’s recruited the trolls used as guards and seeks a way of stealing it…most recently the plan being to do so after the coronation of a new high priest, in the dawn hours when the cult is drunk and unconscious following a celebratory orgy. He’s gotten the trolls to secure the ingredients to six potions of petrification resistance (granting advantage on such saves for 24 hours). He will, if met, pass himself off as a dedicated supporter of King Dukas in Mercurious.

Despite some suspicions that the Night Serpent Cult is a product of the Kasdalani, that’s actually all the work of Paask Venar, who is diligently trying to sew the seeds of dissention among the two nations, so that if Mercurios and Kasdalan go to war, they will be sufficiently weakened that Epinfael will be able to take full advantage of both lands.

Fort Axeron
Axeron was founded a century ago as a northern outpost for the protection of caravans of Kasdalani origin, but in fact it is much more obviously a listening post for possible danger from Mercurios, and likely could serve as a staging ground for war should the two nations ever come to blows again. It is currently being run by Commander Partanos and the sorceress Sera Takhanis, both of whom have been taking a keen interest in what is going on to the north.

The soldiers of Axeron are known for their love of combat sport, and two arenas provide daily entertainment. A beastmaster named Haggaran Daile came to serve the fort a decade ago, and brought with him the skill necessary to tame manticores. He has since aided the fortress in finding the local Kasarak breed of manticores and aided in turning the beasts into useful war machines as well as arena sport.

Shae is the closest full Kasarak community in the region. Chieftain Sondor Magharas dwells here, as does his daughter Brigihita, the once great warrior who served with Mardieur Mardieux during his travels through the mountains a decade ago. Brigihita has since settled and founded a family but can still fight with the best of them, as can her husband Varagos.

The tribe considers itself responsible for what goes on in the tumultuous caldera, and as such keep a vigilant watch on Fort Axeron and Serimore. The cult has concerned them greatly, but also done nothing against the tribe, even going so far as to offer medicinal made by the pilgrims in exchange for skins and food harvested by the tribe. At one point the yuan-ti pureblood named Proxis Sarne offered to divine if any of the tribesmen were of “true bloodlines” but the chieftain put his foot down to such nonsense an drove them off.

Current Plot Notes:

Patron: Lord Athun, cousin to Seneschal Mortan, needs potions made from basilisk parts to cure his brother-in-law Antonares, who during the wedding in Niudan of Athun and his new wife Serena was turned to stone by Goz Semilta. Not known why she broke in to the wedding, or what she was after.

Goz Semilta was actually getting revenge on Antonares, because he was the one who found the secret of the ancient Mythric City in the depths of the mountain and uncovered the Orb of Serpent Kind. She knew he was going to betray her and struck before he could take his information to a greater and more lucrative source.

Goz Semilta, gorgon of the Night Serpent and dedicate to Dendar. She feels she has been ordained with the divine purpose of restoring the lost power of the Yuan-Ti, an ancient race that was a great threat in the old era of the Mythrics.

Proxis Sarne – the yuan-ti abomination which has allied himself with Semilta and seeks to restore his people. He believes that the heart of the old Yuan-Ti empire of Khos ran from the Kasaraks all the way into Nubirion, and it was destroyed three thousand years ago in a war with the Mythric Empire.

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