THE PSYRPENT LIZARDS
Psyrpents are a lizard race, mainly living in the northwestern parts of Sarvonia. They are said to stem from a wizard's experiment, in which they were created as servants to the mage, who are themselves capable of casting magic. From a prototype, called the Protosyrpent, the Psyrpent race has developed in the course of time with three different breeds who form a society of their own.
Picture description: An Eye scribe dutifully recording the events of the day. Image drawn by Bard Judith.
Appearance. Each of the three breeds of Psyrpent has its own special appearance, but all of them share a few characteristics. All of them have diamond-shaped scales that cover their entire bodies, telepathy, one-inch retractable claws, and the heads of snakes. Also, each Psyrpent possesses an approx. one and a half ped tail with three spikes adorning the ends. Colouration and height vary among the three sects. The Psyrpents are divided among their three sects via worship of the three Earth gods, of whom Churas taught them.
The Claws of Queprur
...stand a good 2 2/3 peds tall on average, have black scales with occasional specklings of white, and are generally the hottest-tempered sect. They emphasize three words: "Might Is Right." The Claws believe that strength aided by psychics is the ultimate power, and also believe that they are stronger as one, so they are relatively kinder to their own members than to the other sects. Their psychic skills include such abilities as lower-powered telepathy, causing fear, inducing illusory pain, and in very rare cases, annihilation of minds.
The Eyes of Arvins
...are the most diminutive of the Psyrpents. At two peds, those with stunted tails can sometimes pass for humans. They are using their heavily refined illusory skills for cover, along with wearing voluminous robes with hoods. The Eyes have green scales with blue stripes, and are the most enlightened of the Triumvirate that forms their culture. They emphasize knowledge as power. Power that should not be relinquished. As a result, these guys are also the most dog-eat-dog kind of the Psyrpents.
The Hands of Urtengor
...are the artisans, the merchants, and the workers of the Psyrpents. Their scales are red with mottled grey, and their psychic skills are limited to two that they have brought (appropriately) to almost an art: Their telepathy is strong enough so that they are capable of contacting any of their sect for miles around, and they alone of the Psyrpents have telekinesis, used in forging, harvesting, and other similar actions. The Hands regard these as gifts from the Protosyrpent, and believe that these skills will be taken from them should they use them for anything besides art or defense. The Hands will mentally commune with their masters to learn things, so inter-person disputes are fairly rare.
Origin. The Psyrpent race was created by a wizard of the
Earth element with the intention of realizing powerful
and magical servants. Having a peculiar dislike of weak and not
very sentient imps,
Churas (for that was his name) infused some illusory power into a common
mountain snake which he dubbed the Protosyrpent. This creature was bred by
Churas to gradually increase its intelligence, strength, and magical powers.
Over time, this resulted in three seperate breeds of half-reptile, half-man
that eventually overthrew their creator and have to be
accounted to the sentient beings of Caelereth,
who have reached the status of a race by now.
Society and Culture. The Psyrpents are socially and politically divided into four guilds per caste, along with the unique Broodmother caste to be elaborated on later.
The Hands have the following four guilds, focused towards creation and materials gathering.
Hands of the Forge
The Hands of the Forge work in the volcanic chambers within the mountains to create weapons, tools, and whatever is needed. Subguilds include those that work with rock or precious metals.
Hands of the Coin
Smaller than the other Hand guilds, these Hands hold up the trade systems of the Psyrpents and keep the economy running.
Hands of the Crystal
The mage guild of the Hands, also known as the "Gemshapers", practices a very enhanced form of telekinesis which it uses to change the matrices of a crystal to the point where it can channel magical energies exceedingly well. As a result, Psyrpent crystals are in high demand from the magical community, which is willing to ignore their race in exchange for their valued supplies. It is rumor (probably false) that a good 75 percent of the magical amplifiers in Caelereth are of Psyrpent make.
Hands of the Spade
Lowest of the Hand guilds, these Psyrpents mine raw materials from tunnels at the edges of the Psyrpent domain. Some can be found as servants, and in the case of battle are used as cannon fodder.
The Eye guilds are focused on information gathering and subtlety. They quietly run the machinations behind most of the Psyrpent guilds (and, according to rumor, a good deal more). The long-term results of the Eyes' plans is known only to the Eye guildmasters, causing even their Triumvirate representative to not know everything about their shadowy plans. As was said earlier, these guys are possibly the slimiest of the Psyrpents.
Eyes of Afar
This, the largest of the Eye guilds, monitors and influences actions to serve the Psyrpent cause. In event of war, these "soften up" the area for the Claws to enter, burn, pillage, loot... While the Claws rampage, the Eyes take hostages and valueable objects. These guys aren't trusted too much by anyone.
Eyes of Defense
This fairly small guild's motto is "Better Heard Than Seen", and they treat it as holy writ. When seen, they are covered in heavy robes and large cloaks. These keep a close watch on the towns near the Psyrpent enclaves and mountains.
Eyes of Home
One-half of the Psyrpent police force, these detect and put down potential rebellions using powerful mental alteration.
Eyes of the Syrpent
The mage guild of the Eyes, these Eyes research new enchantments and watch the magical community. They commission a large amount of the Gemshapers' crystals, mostly for the purposes of clairvoyance and telepathic enhancements.
The Claws posess an ability that is possibly the best-kept secret ever. Every Claw, no matter what guild, posesses this skill and is cursed never to reveal it or allow another to discover it. The ability is the so-called "Blood Trance", which brings the Psyrpent for an exceedingly short time awe-inspiring telepathic skills. The only downside is that the friend-foe recognition line blurs without the other being in the Blood Trance as well. As a result, the Claws fill the more military niches in Psyrpent society, where they have an excuse to enter this highly exhilarating state
The warrior guild in times of need. When there is no need for them, they patrol the environs of the Psyrpent realm and generally make a nuisance of their hot-headed little selves.
Sometimes the Eyes of Home require some physical assistance. The Homeclaws provide a last-ditch defense force as well, and take their tasks very seriously.
The mage guild of the Claws, these also act as clerics of both the Protosyrpent and the Goddess Queprur, providing such services as healing (a request for Queprur to loosen her hold on a valiant warrior) prophecies, and other such things.
The elite of the other three guilds (with the exception of a few of the best, who serve as the Guildmasters) are the only that enter this guild, which occupies the top level of both Claw society and the top level of their own mountain. Their titles include High Commanders, Defensive Coordinators, and the Syrpent's Chosen. The Guildmaster of this Guild has a very good chance of becoming the Claw Triumvirate representative.
The Broodmothers form their own guild, the
only one to span all three castes. The Broodmothers will chose some of the
better males whose bloodlines they feel should be perpetuated and
mate with them. Any male, however, who is fortunate enough to catch a
Broodmother at the right time will have his genes added to the pool as a
randomizer. After this is done, in about five months (the result of the cross
of comparatively rapid snake birth and comparatively slow
human birth) the Broodmother will lay up to ten eggs, which she will teach
until adulthood (Age 10, for about the same reasons seen above) and then send
them off towards their new home in their guild. The
Broodmothers collectiveley form the Broodmother Circle.
Finally those Psyrpents have to be mentioned who are born without psychic gifts, the so-called Tsorakan. They are exiled as soon as their lack of mental power is discovered. These exiles have found their way south in Sarvonia, and serve as exceedingly good mercenaries due to the fact that even stripped of armor and weapons they can fight extremely well. An exceedingly minor number have settled on Denilou, and have become Brown Druids, shapers of the earth.
Location. The Psyrpents mostly live in four of the Celeste Mountains of Northern Sarvonia, called Tsor-Kseairan (Mountain-Home), Tsor-Klasants (Mountain-Claw), Tsor-Magair (Mountain-Eye), and Tsor-Gashan (Mountain-Hand). They also have extensive tunnels beneath the mountains, reaching up to ten miles away from the mountains. However, some of the Psyrpents actually do live abroad, in around 500-person enclaves, or Kshah-Kseairan, away-homes. Only three of these have been known to exceed that size. These are:
This enclave keeps an eye on human affairs in Nyermersys, and is located somewhere in the Dragon's Maw range. This also harasses the Nyermersysians occasionally, and may be the source of the "Psyrpents are dragons" minions rumor. The Gemshapers release those few of their wares that find their way to the magical community at large here.
As a sign of acceptance to their dwarven allies, the Psyrpents have taken the dwarven name for this enclave on Denilou, roughly translated as "Meeting City", though they have to resort to telepathy to do so as the name is incredibly hard to say in Syrpentine. This enclave is linked, via one of the Gemshapers' more interesting tricks, directly to Kseairan by use of a pair of amethyst gates. It is from here the dwarven-psyrpent trade system is managed.
Known only by its dwarven name, commonly nicknamed the "Lost Enclave". This enclave is formed entirely of exiled Psyrpents, whom the dwarves occasionally will transport here. Located somewhere near Tyr Thromgolin, though exactly where remains a secret.
Family, Society and Culture. There is very little difference
between the Psyrpent sexes, with the only real way for an outsider to tell
being that females are generally taller and thinner than the males. Females are
also more psychically apt, in general, but they lack some patience and control.
Those females who show exceptional control are those who are chosen to be
Government. The Psyrpent government has three tiers.
The lowest teir is the Guild Council, formed of the Guildmasters of each guild, which decides inter-guild disputes and can advise the Broodmother Council on their preferred course of action.
The Broodmother Council decides most relatively small affairs, such as minor skirmishes, allocation of forces, mining quotas... The Broodmother Council also votes for the new Triumvirate representatives during the Ascension, once every 30 years. In the Ascension, the Broodmothers vote to decide which Guildmaster or Guildmaster's apprentice should become the new Triumvirate representative.
The Triumvirate decides all major matters, and only a unanimous vote from the Broodmother Council can overturn one of their descisions, and even then only at a 2-to-1 descision. The Triumvirate are respectively the Onyx Claw, the Ruby Hand, and the Emerald Eye, and are the only ones who can declare a full assault against anything.
As was said before, the average Psyrpent is hatched as part of a Brood
of about 10 others, and will be educated by their Broodmother until age 10, at
which point they are sent off into their guild. The Psyrpents gain strength and
wisdom at a steady pace after their first ten years (in which they practically
explode) up until about age 100, at which point they begin losing control of
their psychic powers and their strength begins to be sapped. At 120 years a
Psyrpent will die a natural death, but suicides at about 110 are natural.
You'll notice that the mind itself is not affected, only psychic powers.
Imagine having great powers, and then having them slowly leached away from you,
but having them leave behind the memories.
Psyrpent funeral rites vary among the sects. The Hands will return their honored dead to the rivers of lava they worked with, the Eyes will lay them to rest in sarcophagi, but will (supposedly) draw out their powers and wisdom with special eye-shaped gems to be used by future generations, and the Claws will send their dead to Queprur via burnt offering.
Diet. Oddly enough, the Psypents are omnivores, though they prefer meat. To this end, they have bred Tsor-Shota, or as the humans call them, Giant Mountain Lizards, for day-to-day food. Some may consider this cannibalism, but think for a second. Humans eat other mammals, Psyrpents by the same token can stand to eat other reptiles. They do consider beef and pork as delicacies, to be taken if there is any chance to take them. They do enjoy proper use of spices, and appreciate those that can do great things with them. One or two times when the Eyes raided a village, the purpose was pigs, cattle, and the local connesuir. (Comment from the editor: Not that they didn't terrorize the hell out of the guy, but it wasn't a pointless attack. For more information, consult "How To Cook For Forty Lizards: The Tale of Gror Spicesage". The story's quite good, and the recipes are even better.)
Clothing. Psyrpents do not believe clothing should be anything more than functional. As a result, most will wear simple utilitarian brown tunics. However, for formal occasions, Psyrpents will wear the shed skins of an elder. As for battle-wear, the Eyes put on illusion-causing cloaks, the Hands - well, they don't help out -, and the Claws will rush into battle in the full blood trance, screaming war cries, and wearing Queprur-blessed black and silver armor.
Relations to other races. Psyrpents have very different relations to other races. Following is a short overview:
Psyrpents and Elves
To the elves they are the Psyrpents are the Dél'mód'raház, or "Magical Earth Snakes." The elves view them as being just lower than the dwarves on their scale of approval, and refuse to have any contact with the "Serpentine Abominations". The Psyrpents on the other hand think of the elves as being a rather lousy excuse for a race, and have altered their myths accordingly. In their mythology, a band of treacherous elven mages with whom Churas had dealings attack the Castle of Churas, and Churas is almost entirely killed. Then he finally summons the Protosyrpent to aid him, and he destroys each and every one in several nasty ways. The Psyrpent word for elven is synonymous with the terms treacherous, birdlike, and pitiful.
Psyrpents and Dwarves
In Thergerim Psyrpents are called the "TolRotrumGrum", or "Under-Mountain Tooth". The dwarves in general think of the Teeth of the Mountain as a potential friend, as both races worship Urtengor. They have a fair-sized trade relationship with the Psyrpents, and have vowed to give each other military aid should there be trouble. Whether this agreement would be held to is a matter of doubt, but it aids trade and creation, so it remains. The trade system's backbone constists of Psyrpent spirits (enhanced to provide a random mental jolt, quite... stimulating) for dwarven coal, much prized by the Hands for higher-level forging. Though volcanic gases are used most of the time, and are viewed as the mountain expressing its pleasure or displeasure with a work, coal is good for equal, level flame. As the Psyrpents have a fairly constant contact with the dwarves, they have formed no real inclusion of them into their myths. In the Psyrpent tounge, dwarven is synonymous with small, strong, and trustworthy.
Psyrpents and Humans
To the humans the Psyrpents are the Great Lizards, creatures of myth and fable. Sometimes, they are shown as the minions of dragons (completely false), sometimes as disgusting abomonations formed by Etherus and Queprur (hard to prove or disprove, probably false) and sometimes as sneaking information gatherers who seek to bring about the downfall of human society. The last is probably a greatly exaggarated tale of the fall of a small human outpost near Churas' castle. The Psyrpents consider humans as sneaky, anarchistic, and frenzied, with their desire to improve pervading everything they do. The word human-like in Syrpentine is synonymous with frenzied and impatient.
Information provided by Xarl