ASHEN KNIGHTS (That Ancient Serpent, p. 3)

ASHEN KNIGHTS (That Ancient Serpent, p. 3)

ASHEN KNIGHTS (That Ancient Serpent, p. 3)

Notes on ancient Samnis and its remains

When the daughters of Erredulon emerged from the great rift onto the frozen steppe of Samnis, they lit fires against the cold and despaired. But the ash giant Sōga, she-of-eighty-hands, spoke to them: Sisters, my flame is nearly spent; let my journey to meet the dawn be my final gift. And, lo, she planted her ashen body into the winter soil, springing forth in great bounty.

Centuries later, the gladiators of Samnis shed blood and burned corpses in the colosseums as tribute to Sōga, joining the fruit of their bodies with the soil to ensure the harvest. The wealthier houses converted old, crumbling arenas into walled gardens, knowing that the noble dead dwelt among the rows.

Though Samnis is now the Iron Bourse (Dark Heart, p. 20), some of the old ways remain. Illegal back-alley fights are ringed by circles drawn in blood and ash on the paving stones. The women of the merchant houses—the great-granddaughters of gladiators—are buried under agricultural fields in distant planes.

Heritage Moves: sow ash to bring bounty, consecrate a ritual combat, speak with the ghosts among the rows.

Patrons & Targets: merchant, guild, criminal.

3 thoughts on “ASHEN KNIGHTS (That Ancient Serpent, p. 3)”

  1. THE BETRAYAL OF EVRALI (That Ancient Serpent, p. 4)

    Purported Samnesian origin of the plague

    The gorgon Evrali was First Gladiator of House Aeri and a junior priestess in the cult of Sōga Undying, which honored the ash giantess by foreswearing uncooked meat, sexual relations with men, and involuntary bloodshed. Petrification and hypoxia were her trademarks, and all of Samnis loved her, except for one noble whose advances she spurned.

    While Evrali was traveling on house business, the jealous princeling assembled all the gladiators who had been Evrali’s lovers, both past and present, and had them fight to the death, leaving only Euthrea, the eldest among them. The pain that awaited Evrali’s return was unbearable, but still she would not break her oath against shedding the blood of others, and petrification would be far too kind.

    After burying the ashes of her loves, she invoked not only Sōga but her ancestor Medusa, the first gorgon to die. My mortal form will water the earth, she said, yet not pegasus will spring forth, but a raptor proud, carrying it its veins a poison harsh as this betrayal suffered, a pox upon the perfidious children of men. Having spoken this curse, she gestured to Euthrea, who beheaded her. And then the screaming began.

  2. CHURCH OF THE FONT (That Ancient Serpent, p.5)

    A local healing cult grown large

    During the last outbreak of plague, several centuries back, the infected and their loved ones flocked to healing cults and spirit doctors, desperate for a cure. Many turned them away or brutally enforced the quarantine, but not the young upstart gathering known as the Church of the Font of Hippocrene.

    Every evil has its antithesis, argued the Church, and the opposite of the draconic plague was pegasus, born of a gorgon but a source of purity rather than corruption. One flash of the hoof of pegasus created the Hippocrene, a spring of sacred water that washes away all sickness. And this font could be summoned forth again in times of trial; in fact, it was already flowing within the Church’s inner sanctum, and all were welcome to bathe and drink.

    In modern times, the Church of the Font has grown to be a major player in the religious landscape of Dis and the adjacent planes. Its decentralized leadership means temples are subject to the virtues and vices of local laity, many of whom sell their healing services.

    Heritage Moves: call forth the waters, lay on hands.

    Patrons/Targets: temple, cult, pilgrim.

  3. SERPENT’S CHILDREN (That Ancient Serpent, p.6)

    Lineages of plague survivors

    Many species and bloodlines have at least a partial immunity to the draconic plague (see p. XX), sparing some of the infected from a painful transformation into flesh-rending scavengers. However, those who withstand the plague’s more infamous effects are still marked forever, as are their descendants.

    Members of dragontouched lineages are known to manifest one or more traits of the infected (see p. XY) as heritage moves, even though the disease itself is thankfully not passed between generations, at least not in its most potent form. The social status of the dragontouched varies between planes and parishes. They are always feared by association and often use this to their advantage in the urban underworld.

    Many dragontouched families are connected with Church of the Font, which they credit—accurately or not—with preventing the full transformation of their ancestors. Others are active in the blood cults.

    Heritage Moves: 1 or 2 of the moves associated with the infected (see p. XY), never 3 or more.

    Patrons/Targets: criminal, freebooter, temple, cult.

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