Champions of Tymeria
The Cult of the Midnight Serpent
The Cult of the Midnight Serpent are followers of the god Zehir.
Zehir’s loyalty to the gods during the Dawn War was always in question, and many of his fellow deities suspect that he betrayed Io because he coveted that god’s draconic creations. That was not Zehir’s only act of deicide—his blood was used to slay his own daughter, the goddess of redemption, Nusemnee. Zehir forbids his followers from worshiping other gods, and those who are caught doing.
The Third Coil
To be a part of the Third Coil, a creature must have devoted both body and soul to Zehir. Members of the Third Coil view themselves as the dark god’s chosen, and they regard those who lack reptilian features as being inherently inferior. The members
of this elite group include yuan-ti, dark nagas, medusas, wereserpents, and corrupted humans known as snaketongue cultists.
Members of the Third Coil follow Zehir without question. Their main goal is to feed him a steady diet of souls, since they believe that when the dark god
gains the strength needed to defeat his enemies, he will devour the sun and wrap his coils around the mortal world, covering all in eternal darkness. His creations will then rise up and rule in his name.
The cultists of the Third Coil monitor and control the activities of Zehir’s lesser cults, recruiting exceptional candidates into their ranks. The yuan-ti and naga leaders of the Third Coil are born into its hierarchy. These creatures reign supreme over the Third
Coil cultists that are tainted by their human lineage, many of which have ascended through the ranks of the Second Coil.
Recruits to the Third Coil must endure vile rituals and imbibe copious amounts of poison. Those who survive the ordeal acquire minor reptilian features such as patches of scales, slitted eyes, or a forked tongue, as well as enhanced skills, poisonous attacks, and magical powers.
On rare occasions, a powerful individual from outside the cult might be kidnapped and forcibly transformed into a snaketongue cultist. When this process is complete, the broken victim has no choice but to accept his or her fate.
Most of Zehir’s professed worshipers are part of the Second Coil. They typically organize themselves into secretive cults composed of fewer than a dozen members. Larger
cults center on assassins’ guilds based in metropolitan areas, and they covertly attempt to seize power under the direction of the Third Coil.
Second Coil cultists are not especially devout, tending instead to be violent sociopaths attracted to Zehir’s faith for the thrill they receive from violence and murder. The
Midnight Serpent does not care about the sincerity of his faithful as long as they continue to sacrifice victims to him.
The leaders of the Second Coil cults are true worshipers of Zehir, hoping to shed their mortal forms and join the Third Coil by feeding souls to their dark god. Devout mortal acolytes believe that this transformation is essential to surviving the coming apocalypse that Zehir will instigate. These cult leaders are almost uniformly psychopathic, delighting in murder for its own sake.
The members of a specific cult rarely murder more than one or two people between
monthly services, and when they do so, they try not to draw attention to themselves. Zehir’s cultists use slow-acting poisons or suffocation as their preferred weapons, or they attempt to make a murder look like an accident or a natural death. People often mistake a cult’s depredations for random street crime, banditry, or monster attacks.
It is not easy to join a cult of Zehir, and a prospective member must have murdered at least one innocent person. If the murderer readily embraced Zehir during the act, a cult leader guided by a dream will extend an invitation to the individual on one
condition: He or she must kill again in the name of Zehir before the next new moon, knowing that doing so condemns the victim’s soul to the Midnight Serpent.