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scaled court

The Serpent’s Song


As Vizier of Slithering Visions, I watch for omens and signs directly or indirectly associated with the Celestial Serpent. It is my duty and privilege to interpret the messages of our master for the Scaled Court—no matter how he deems to send them to us.

Within the depths of the Serpent's Nest, I encountered an amazing sight. The lamia sisters (at least, I assume the creatures are related) known as Aurieae, Laurieae, and Taurieae broke into religious song and have been singing almost non-stop since our arrival here. I have yet to interpret their distinctive language, but I am certain that the song praises and honors the Celestial Serpent.

Are they praying to the Serpent? Asking for something specific? Perhaps they are simply basking in the glory of the Serpent's presence in our world. Whatever the case, these lamias can use their song to call upon powers that can only be gifts from the Serpent. They can summon snakes to fight for them. They can call down lightning from the sky. And I've seen them turn the water around them into poison in order to defend their territory.

I need to continue to study these creatures to learn more about their connection to the Serpent.

—Balarius, Vizier of Slithering Visions                     

Dawn of the Exalted Viper


Regent Cassipia is no more! Now I am the Exalted Viper, elevated to the ranks of the Celestials and imbued with the power to change the world! Or, at least, I soon shall be.

Thanks to the secrets I have unveiled within these ancient Nedic ruins, I have replicated the process by which the Nedes were able to imbue mortal creatures with celestial energy. Using techniques perfected by the alchemists of the Scaled Court and the runescribers of the Iron Orcs that were tested upon the mantikoras and the trolls, I have developed the means to transform my mortal frame into a conduit for Aetherial power.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if not for the discovery—or re-discovery—of the primal element called red brittle by the locals and nirncrux by my alchemists. The crimson substance can be extremely dangerous in its natural state. But thanks to the refinement processes we were able to reproduce from the ancient texts, the stable version of the element provided the key to making the transformation possible.

Now we stand upon the shores of a new world. Once the process is complete and I emerge from the spawning pool as the Exalted Viper, I shall be an equal to the Celestial Serpent. I shall be like a god! But not a fickle or absent deity. Oh, no. The Exalted Viper shall be present and active, destroying the imperfections of the old world while creating a perfect new realm that I shall rule over.

And my love, the bright and innocent Little Leaf, shall be at my side. Perhaps I'll even elevate her. After I have secured my own place, of course.

Cassipia's Change of Heart

Little Leaf

By Little Leaf, Seneschal to the Regent of Serpentine Stratagems

Cassipia, she who wields the title of Regent of Serpentine Stratagems of the Scaled Court, sees twelve steps ahead at all times. She carries contingencies and alternate plans with her the way a warrior carries multiple weapons, ready to pull out the right tool for whatever situation presents itself. But her recent actions have left me confused. I don't know what to think! Maybe if I write down what I know, my path will become clearer to me.

While I am loathe to commit the entirety of Cassipia's actions to paper, as I don't want to inaccurately portray her complex thoughts, what I've seen and heard must be recorded. I don't want her enemies to twist the truth and paint her as some sort of Serpent-hating villain. The world needs to see Cassipia's brilliance for what it really is, as bright and piercing as a million stars, as opposed to the poor light in which she could possibly be bathed.

It was Cassipia who first noticed the connection between the primordial element our alchemists call nirncrux and the celestial energy of Aetherius. The idea to use the element to enhance the work of the Iron Orcs came to Cassipia almost immediately. And the stroke of genius to use it to create a new creature—that came to her in a moment of pure inspiration worthy of the Serpent himself.

But then, when she saw how her work was being used at the Serpent's behest, my friend and mistress became increasingly enraged. She loved the creation of the mantikora, for example, but she hated that it was being turned into nothing but an engine of destruction. She appreciated the skill the Iron Orcs demonstrated with their metallurgy and alchemy, but she detested that such wonderful gear was being wasted on common trolls and welwas.

Suffice it to say, Cassipia has turned against the Serpent, and I don't know how to reconcile that fact. She says she will lead the Scaled Court to a greatness the likes of which this world has never seen, but how can she accomplish this without the Serpent's blessing? I want to believe her, to trust in the woman I love and know. But can I also turn away from the Serpent's coiled embrace?

Cassipia is the Regent of Serpentine Stratagems, and I am barely worthy to stand in her undulating shadow. I know something of what she plans. How she hopes to use the stable nirncrux to elevate her power. But everything feels wrong now. And what she wants to do sounds so dangerous to me. I fear for her safety.

Oh, what should I do?

A Prayer to the Serpent


Celestial Serpent, hear my prayer!

Oh, Serpent, who descends from the sky, listen to my unworthy voice and raise me up.

Oh, Serpent, who sheds the Worldskin to return us to a simpler, better time, hear my humble words and make a place for me in your nest.

Oh, Serpent, who undulates with power and glory, accept my offering and grant me your venomous blessing.

Celestial Serpent, hear my prayer!                     

Life in the Scaled Court

Valinka Stoneheaver

A Report Prepared for the Star-Gazers

I finally got a chance to use one of the simple tricks my mentor—the famed explorer and adventurer, Narsis Dren—taught me. Turns out, if you dress in the same outfit as the people around you, keep your head low, and act like you belong, you can infiltrate even one of the most evil and dastardly cults currently operating in Craglorn. Even so, it wasn't easy. And I felt for sure that I was going to be revealed as a spy every moment I was there. But I snuck inside and emerged again to tell the tale. Barely! So, let me tell you about life in the Scaled Court—at least, life as I saw it for about four hours last Middas.

For the most part, life in the Scaled Court camp was much like what you'd expect in any gathering of rough-and-tumble fighters and mages. There was the usual good-natured banter among people who lived, worked, and fought side-by-side. There were a number of harsher words exchanged, too, showing that not everyone in the cult always gets along. But they had a singularity of purpose. The members of the Scaled Court that I interacted with were dedicated to their leaders, their god, and their cause. It was scary, how devoted to the Serpent these men and women seemed to be.

One young man, a former bandit from Rivenspire, was particularly enamored with the leaders of the Scaled Court. He seemed to be particularly intrigued by the highfalutin (in my opinion) and grandiose titles and affectations the leaders assigned to themselves. It starts at the very top, with the council of regents who apparently control the organization. I never got to meet any of the regents, but most were spoken of with admiration and awe. I believe that some of them hold positions in the hearts of the Scaled Court almost as revered as the Celestial Serpent himself.

There seemed to be some disagreement as to the wisdom of making the Iron Orc chieftain the Ophidian Exarch of Undulating Destruction. No one could fault that the addition of the Iron Orcs to the Scaled Court's ranks was an inspired idea, but instituting the brutish Braadoth into the highest echelons of the Serpent's forces in Upper Craglorn was not sitting well with everyone in camp. I gathered this opinion in fits and starts, by interpreting asides and whispers, and pressing the most upset members for whatever additional information they were willing to share. Even so, no one I met wanted to challenge the Ophidian Exarch or the other regents, so the Orc chieftain's promotion stands.

Other leadership positions in the Scaled Court include the Regent of Wriggling Nightmares (who seems to be involved in crafting monsters loyal to the Serpent), the Regent of Fanged Fury, the Vizier of Slithering Visions, and a woman named Cassipia, who they called the Regent of Serpentine Stratagems. An entirely different chain of command was in place in Lower Craglorn. I never encountered any of these pompously titled individuals. And that's probably a good thing, as I'm not sure my disguise would have fooled them.

I spent the rest of my time in the camp wandering around and listening to conversations, watching men and women perform the multitude of mundane tasks that fill the day at any military camp. (And make no mistake—the Scaled Court is as military an organization as any I've ever encountered!) I heard mention of some unidentified substance that seemed important to the Scaled Court, but I could never determine exactly what it was. Perhaps someone in the Star-Gazers has heard of it. They referred to it as "nirncrux dust." Whatever the substance is used for, the Scaled Court seems to consider it vital to their plans.

During my final hour in the camp, I began to get the distinct impression that I was being watched. Immediately alert, I scanned the area for any sign that I had been recognized as the outsider I was. However, no one was raising an alert. No one was rushing toward me. But the feeling persisted, and I decided I had overstayed my welcome. I started to disengage from the group and slowly make my way to the edgee of the camp when a band of Iron Orcs wandered in. If the sight of them made my blood run cold, my first view of the armored troll that accompanied them froze the blood in my veins.

The troll wore strange armor of Orcish design, run through with glyphs that made me want to look away (although maybe that was just the fear the creature inspired in me). I could have sworn it turned to study me, but then it was pulled along by its Orc masters and I had a clear path out of the camp. Before I reached the freedom I so desperately desired, however, I felt a hand gently grip my shoulder. I tensed, let out a few deep breaths to steady my nerves, and turned to face whoever had found me out.

I was looking at a young Wood Elf with piercing eyes. She smiled, not unkindly, and handed me a folded piece of paper. "You're nice," she said. Then she turned away, leaving me to depart without further incident. I must have walked for an hour or more before I finally slowed and rested my weary back against a large, cool boulder. I sank to the ground and unfolded the piece of paper . It contained five short words.

"Tell them what you saw."

I dropped the paper and ran, sure that the howling hordes of the Scaled Court were chasing on my heels. But I made it back to Belkarth without any problems and wrote this report while it was still fresh in my mind. So fresh, in fact, that I'll probably have nightmares.