As a boy, Sanasar was raised to honor the ancient mysteries of his people. He was also raised with the bitterness of centuries of conflict and oppression. His family had been forced to flee from their ancient lands in Van a hundred years before. As he grew up, he realized that he and his family were visited by several Shahapset that only they could see. They honored and revered the Shvod of their house, who appeared as a scintillating green serpent in the spring. And the protector of their farm, a grizzled old Shvaz that appeared as a scorpion in the Fall. On his 13th birthday, the Shvod and Shvaz both appeared to Sanasar, an unprecedented meeting. They seemed intent, even menacing. Sanasar was scared, and then they both struck. The Serpent bit him and the Scorpion stung him. He fell into a coma and experienced his first vision.
He saw his destiny dominated by the two spirits. First though, he must follow the scorpion, to the west. On the slopes of mount Ararat he would find his first master. His spirit left his body, which remained in a coma and was placed in a hospital, and journeyed to the prison of a powerful being, Mher the Younger. A being of such power, who could not yet roam the Earth freely, but who amused himself by training some few in the mysteries of the arcane. Sanasar learned the names and places of power through out the world. He learned to commune with spirits and cast spells, mix potions and summon visions. For ten years his spirit dwelt there till he had a vision of his brother clad in green and bowing to a monstrous snake. On that day, Mher dismissed his student saying that it was now time to follow the way of the serpent.
His spirit rejoined his body and he escaped from the hospital, he was weak but he had the knowledge to create a potion that would rejuvenate him. Using his powers, he made his way south, all the way into Africa where he sensed he would find his brother. There he made contact with him through dreams and discovered that he had left the Armenian army to join a new order, one that would eventually bring all people under one banner, the banner of VIPER. This contact however, also attracted the attention of the Grand Masters of the Serpent Mages. When they confronted him, Sanasar presented himself as Skorpios, and expressed his desire to join them. The Grand Masters accepted him and at the first monthly sacrifices to Nama, Skorpios experienced another vision. He saw his people and nation restored to their ancestral glory at the hands of the Great Nama and Viper.
The Life of a Serpent Mage
While VIPER does not overtly discourage mystics joining their ranks, they also do not actively seek them out. The inner circle of Serpent Mages consists of 21 individuals that have a very specific focus. There are 3 Grand Masters, each of whom have two Masters under their command who in turn each have 2 apprentices, typically one acolyte and one novice. There are a handful of other mystics employed by VIPER who are hopefuls, awaiting their chance to join the inner circle. Encountering a Serpent Mage in the field is rare. While the three Grand Masters are technically equals, the most senior of them, Francois Mercy, is the de facto leader. The primary endeavor of the Grand Masters is to search for signs and portents of people or events that threaten VIPER in the mystic world. Specifically, keeping an eye on DEMON. They spend most of their time at the central scrying pool at the Temple of Nama in Africa. The Masters and their apprentices are the tools of the Grand Masters, being sent into the field when and where needed.
Skorpios began as a novice but almost immediately became and acolyte. After only 5 years he was acknowledged as a master, after having 'engineered' a vacancy. Then he was introduced to a new experience, teaching others, but he only taught them the 'standard' Serpent Mage mysteries and kept the rest of his knowledge to himself.
Recently, the Grand Masters divined that the Serpent Lantern, which had been lost decades before, was now retrievable through their magics. The summoning required the combined power of the entire inner circle. During the ritual, Skorpios experienced a powerful vision. A vision of the world in turmoil and a green serpent, long and sleek approached and encircled the world, quelling it. The Serpent sat contentedly but began to grow, it's body thickened but did not loosen it's grip on the world so that the serpent began to crush it. The surface began to crack and fracture, turmoil again erupted, worse than before. The world seemed doomed to crumble under the weight of the ever growing snake but then an iron fist smote the head of the snake causing it to uncoil slightly. The fist struck again, the serpent turned to strike but the iron fist ignored the bites. Finally, the great hand grabbed the serpent and choked the life out of it, the Earth was saved. Skorpios was not the only mystic to experience a vision then, but he was the only one that seemed to have a negative experience. The others had all experienced visions of triumph for VIPER.
Shortly after the Serpent Lantern had been retrieved, the increased activity at their base had attracted the attention of UNTIL who then sanctioned intrusions by 'super heroes'. One assault was by someone clad in armor that shrugged off some of their most potent magics. Skorpios himself fought this person and was defeated. He wondered if this was the iron fist that was destined to bring down VIPER. But he sensed the intense fear of the man inside the armor, and though he penetrated deeply into their sanctum, he was ultimately fooled with a series of illusions. More visions came to Skorpios. This time when the iron fist fought the snake, the first bite seemed to have an effect. A bright glow emanated from that spot, slowly engulfing the hand and causing it to explode, taking the Earth and the snake with it. The visions progressed, causing Skorpios ever greater anxiety and trepidation. Now he could see what seemed to be a figure in the light, the source of the explosion. It was a man. Skorpios determined to go on a vision quest, to settle once and for all what this meant.
He returned to his homeland of Armenia and on the slopes of Mount Ararat, used a potion containing both snake and scorpion venom to induce the visions. In this way the vision was much more lucid and clear but also changed again. This time, the fat serpent was struck by the iron fist, but then the snake began to dodge and weave, avoiding the blows. It began to return to it's sleek shape and eased it's grip on the world which remained quiescent. The vision then divided, now there were two Earths one with the sleek snake avoiding the iron fist, and the other, was the old vision of the fist defeating the snake. He also now saw that each Earth was being held in a great hand. Those hands belonged to a great gleaming white man-shaped figure with a snake's head. Skorpios now realized that it was great Nama himself that was sending the visions. Visions that seemed to say that if VIPER were left unopposed, it would eventually collapse under it's on weight and take humanity with it. He was left with a choice, oppose VIPER fully, bringing about it's defeat, or oppose it just enough to keep it lean and hungry. And in-between the two, central to the whole scenario, was the exploding man. Skorpios accepted the vision, realizing that he had to leave VIPER and join this man, while saving him and the Earth in the process.
Skorpios abandoned VIPER and using his powers of divination, learned who this man was and what needed to be done. He learned he was almost too late already. The man was about to embark on the path that led to destruction. Skorpios sent his own visions to the man to delay him long enough for him to arrive. The visions worked, and Skorpios was able to convince the man to accept his help in achieving his true potential. The man, who now called himself the Director, was a staunch adversary of VIPER but he also had a vision of world peace, through order and discipline. Skorpios was perplexed why great Nama would want him to join a group so dedicated to VIPER's destruction, but he believed above all, that he must follow the visions.
|Skorpios believes his visions are from Nama, but is that the truth?. (Spoiler)|
Millenia ago, in the wilds of Britain, there lived a small lost colony of Elder Worm, inhabiting deep caverns in the north of England. Their numbers were few but over time, even their infrequent forays to the surface were eventually noticed. The local tribes began to plot the demise of these demons and made incursions into the caverns to find them. The Elder Worm here did not have the ability to transform humans into Worm but did have other magics they could use. They took a specimen of legless lizard, called a slow worm, and experimented on it with both technology and magic. It grew and became fearsome and was set to guard the cave entrances against the invaders. As it fed on the bodies of those it killed, the magics used to create it also helped it consume some part of it's victims' souls. Eventually it ceased to be an animal. It became crafty and malicious, now leaving the tunnels to hunt prey and make it's self stronger. It had grown far beyond what any mortal could combat, so the chieftains made a bargain with a great Red Dragon from the south, to fight the white worm in return for virgin sacrifices at each solstice. The two monsters did battle and the white worm was defeated but the magics of the Elder Worm had worked a miracle in the worm so that each time it died, it was reborn again, stronger and more fearsome than before. The chieftains declared the bargain unfulfilled as long as the worm was alive so the Red Dragon was forced to do battle each year with the alien worm. Finally the Red Dragon, Kalgikovor, called on the aid of the mighty serpent Nama it had met years before. He asked that Nama transform the white worm into something he could easily defeat, but Nama was feeling capricious that day and transformed both of them into pigs, which the king then caught and imprisoned in a cavern in Wales. There they returned to their true forms and resumed their yearly conflict, though Kalgikovor continued to win, the margin narrowed every year.
Eventually the legend of their imprisonment faded and in time, a new lord attempted to build a castle directly over the cavern in which the two beasts fought. The battle made the ground unstable and no tower would stay up. This continued for many weeks until the king was advised to seek the help of a boy not conceived by a mortal man. He sent his soldiers out across the land to find such a lad. The boy they found was called Myrddin Emrys, whom some call Merlin. Following the advice of his councilors, the king was planning to sacrifice the boy in order to appease the supernatural powers that prevented him from building a fortress here. The boy however was not Merlin, it was Nama in disguise. He informed the king about the Red Dragon and White Worm battling under the ground and offered to free one of them to stop the unrest. The King chose to set the Red Dragon free, deeming it at least able to be bargained with. The White Worm was cognizant enough to know what was going on, and to realize who it's tormentor really was. Left trapped in the caverns, the White Worm languished and vowed vengeance. As time wore on the White Worm would occasionally moan pitifully, disquieting those that dwelt above it. Finally, the site was abandoned after an attempt to dig a well pierced the cave holding the worm, and making it's protestations even more audible and disquieting. The legends of the White Worm spread, some of the more unhinged tribesmen sought out the well and began to worship the White Worm beneath the ground whom they named Dyonin. Some few of them were genuine mystics and sacrificed themselves to their god. In this way Dyonin began to learn power for itself. It began to directly influence those that came to serve it, each sacrifice making it stronger and smarter. It's hatred for Nama never diminished, though it had not only come to accept it's imprisonment, it felt comfortable there, having grown so large now that nothing short of serious excavation could ever free it. It also knew that Nama's power still dwarfed it's own, it would need to bide it's time.
Centuries passed, the cult of Dyonin had grown until Christianity had taken a firm hold over England and all of the pagan religions were forced to disband or hide themselves. Dyonin's increase in power slowed as the sacrifices became few and far between, so it slumbered, sometimes for years at a time. Centuries passed, Dyonin became aware of the world at large and watched it, and studied it. It witnessed the destruction of it's former masters, the Elder Worm, far to the north at the hands of men. It also began to feel the power of Nama reach out into the world. Dyonin's own cult had shrunk to a single family tradition that no longer gave it enough to increase it's power, only to keep it alive. Dyonin realized it would never attain the power necessary to oppose Nama directly, but it might influence people and events to hinder him. It's mystic senses had grown acute and far reaching, it sensed the powers invoked in Nama's name across the world. It watched the serpent mages and hid from their questing eyes. It found doubt in one, and fed that doubt. It began to push, a little here a little there till finally, while all other serpent mages were distracted, it made contact with it's cats paw, sending a powerful vision to bring about VIPER's destruction. Eventually it dared even to appear before the serpent mage who took him to be Nama himself, as was intended. Dyonin's glee was boundless as the serpent mage abandoned VIPER and joined it's enemies, while still believing he served Nama faithfully. Dyonin would have his revenge.
Skorpios abandoned not only VIPER in general, but also the two apprentices under his tutelage who felt his betrayal very keenly. Both were women, his acolyte was called Vena, and his novice was called Astraea. Vena felt very close to Skorpios, perhaps more so in her mind than in Skorpios's. When it became apparent that not only had he abandoned his post, but had gone so far as to join a known enemy, the circle of Serpent Mages expelled both of his apprentices, not believing that they knew nothing of his plans, and were not actually helping him. Vena felt doubly betrayed by this as she was fiercely loyal to VIPER. She declared that she would hunt Skorpios down and bring his body before the circle to show them her true place was amongst them.
'Powers and Equipment
Skorpios was already an accomplished sorcerer when he chose to join VIPER. While he did participate in the monthly blood rituals with the other serpent mages, he did not depend on it for his power. He is adept at all of the typical serpent mage spells such as summoning and communing with serpents, taking on serpent form, and the venomous touch. He is also adept at scrying and potion making, especially using various toxins in creative and not necessarily lethal ways. He was also a master of the venom strike, projecting bolts of noxious energy that not only poisoned living targets, but could also melt inanimate objects, sometimes at great distances. Also, to the consternation of his VIPER overlords, Skorpios revered and emulated the scorpion. Using it's venom for even more efficacious effects. Skorpios uses mystic disciplines to read minds and communicate telepathically with those that are attuned to it, up to and including, mesmerization of a single subject. He can levitate/fly at moderate speeds. He can also use astral projection to observe other places and planes for limited periods of time.
Before he left VIPER, he commandeered an experimental suit designed to make mages more durable in battle while at the same time, not hindering their spell casting, even enhancing it. It is moderately bullet proof and has an eldritch power source suitable for augmenting spells.