The Sons of the Serpent Organization in TAHARJIN'S FLAME | World Anvil
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The Sons of the Serpent

  The Sons of the Serpent worship the divine figure of Thaoori (Will), overseer of Sekh Anoob. Thaoori is said to work closely with his followers to secretly usurp power wherever it is found. For this reason, the Sons are the most ancient and efficiently run Following on Gnosit. They have a direct link to a powerful figure who aids their treacheries and manipulations, shares information and magical lore, and uses his influence to extend their cause. There are “rules” of engagement between the Sons and similar magical groups in other territories, and Will is careful not to break them, but his ploys certainly creep uneasily up against a boundary.   Outside of the esoteric dimensions of their beliefs, the Sons serve as the effective shield against The Hex, and strive in all things to contain its dark magic to the Autumn Yield. They have operated in secret for centuries combating their evil and containing their spread northwards, although are very much a peripheral Tradition, with no declared affiliation with The Council of Landezon.   Members of the Serpent still hold - as their mythic founder, Solemthidin, did - that they work ultimately in the interests of peace, and indeed, that they are essential to it; for without them, Sekh Anoob would surely fall to immorality, sloth, and greed and of course, to the influences of dark magic. Public perception of the Sons varies. They have doubtlessly done great things for Sekh Anoob and its people, serving as its protectors both in times of open war and against more hidden foes; they have acted as benefactors of the economy, and secured glory along with more tangible benefits through their endless campaigns, but at the same time remain a brutal and deceptive lot, intensely secretive, and unswerving in their devotion to the figure of Will, who is more like a deity than any other Aspect dares to be. If Will ordered his follower to kill his own mother, it would come to pass. There is much in this to fear. To be sure, as regards the Serpent, fear may be the better part of wisdom.  
by Midjourney
Above: Typical example of the Sons' armor, made of desert reptilian creatures.
  Admittance to the Sons is based on three things: That one is male, that one has an identified talent for magic (even if it is not enabled), and that one hail from a bloodline traceable to the Onshakr Circle, a collective of seven mages and the first to operate in Sekh Anoob. Social standing is additionally preferred as it helps the Initiate to navigate the world and facilitates the making of power plays, but provided the above criteria are met, even destitute applicants may be accepted.   The Sons of the Serpent are highly hierarchical. At the top of the pyramid stands the Hierophant, to whom is given the honour of communing directly with Will. The Serpent does not simply chatter inside the Hierophant's head at random, but relays instructions within a strictly ritual context, at prescribed days and times. The difference between the mind of an Aspect and that of a mortal is vast, and the Hierophant must possess formidable discipline to process the experience of being let in on Will's thoughts. First-time Hierophants are often unprepared for the full power of it. Making sense of a communion can be challenging, and Hierophants often mull over the meaning of their sessions before passing commands down the line. Will does not seek to confuse, however, and grants His closest servants a clear view of his ultimate intention. (The details of how to fulfill it, however, are often subject to question.) The Hierophant dwells in the Temple of Sadak, just north of the desert town of Nurayah. It is a structure of modest size considering its importance, but is designed with the finest materials and with an ornate interior.   Based on Will's guidance, the Hierophant commands four subordinates, The Pillars (North, South, East, West). Each Pillar is responsible for the large swathe of territory within Sekh Anoob corresponding to his assigned direction. Interestingly, Pillars are solitary figures and do not maintain a retinue or supporting troops. Self-sufficiency is regarded as a symbol of their strength. There are 4 key towers where each dwell: Khaj in the North (from which the wizard Khajuro's name is derived), Hekoon in the South, Shekabal in the East, and Famak in the West. Pillars oversee Palisades, of which there are a variable number, typically between 6 and 10 in a cardinal territory. As their name suggests, the Palisades act as shields against the enemies of Will. Each is effectively a warlord, with their own fortress (Qufa) and a well-stocked garrison. Palisades entrust their commands to a small set of generals, called Scimitars. Each Palisade has a compliment of no more than 8 Scimitars, who in turn lead Daggers, operatives that have some form of martial training but may also serve as spies. Many within this hierarchy have magical training, and the most powerful positions are strictly held by those who do.   The rung below Dagger is that of Initiate. Anyone wishing to join the Sons must fulfill its initial requirements and seek out the Qufa run by a local Palisade. The Seven trials (one for each Onshakr Circle member) for those wishing to enter are indeed severe, ranging from physical to mental hardships. These are:   1) Qathuf – Trial of Alms. All personal money and belongings are sacrificed to the Sons.
2) Gename – Trial of Hunger. One must go without food for 7 days, drink for 3.
3) Al-Alqitha – Trial of Heat. On the last day of Gename, one proceeds into the desert for one week. One must meditate in the sun for hours each day.
4) Ferrakwi – Trial of the Fire in the Blood. One proceeds to a sacred cave in the north (Ferrak) to meditate. One receives a small elixir which ignites the blood of all those with magical potential, stirring visions and causing physical pain. Those without magic in the blood find out the hard way (death).
5) Shi'qung – Trial of War. One returns and is shaved, prepared for ritual combat, and must face another Initiate until first blood is drawn. This may take time to schedule if there are no Initiates also awaiting the trial. Killing one's opponent is disallowed.
6) Banaa – Trial of Resolve. The weaker opponent must be killed in cold blood with a ceremonial dagger.
7) Birathawii – Trial of Rebirth, the erasing of identity. The Serpent brand is received.
  After the trials are concluded and one is taken on into the ranks of the Serpent, one begins to learn Shadweh – a sort of cant used by its members consisting of special words, gestures, and signs.   It is ideal, but not required, that upon joining one sacrifice all ties to family, as carrying out orders of the Most High is more difficult with the additional burden of these social bonds. One ascends the ranks, plainly enough, by demonstrating one's value and loyalty, although the true cost of it may vary from one member to another.   The Sons of the Serpent hold it to be an unquestionable truth that Sekh Anoob is the birthplace of magic, although outside their order, the rumours are debated widely. Certainly there is no conclusive proof of it. Many have met a bad end arguing with a Son over this seeming point of pedantry, but for the initiated, the matter is truly one of religious fervour. Shrines associated with important members and events of the Onshakr Circle are scattered about the province and beyond, and safeguarded by the Sons. While some are of historical significance only, others contain wellsprings of magic. Regardless of whether they indeed predate similar artifacts found around the world, they are certainly very old, and very powerful. The Sons claim that the founder of all magic is Will himself, and that He gifted the Circle with knowledge of the arcane that they might claim sovereignty of the Blazing Land – a feat which as the tales tell was accomplished easily.   As for governing the land day-to-day, the job certainly has its benefits, but the Sons tend to perceive official administrative positions as tedious, as they do not permit the flexibility needed to execute Will's instructions. Nevertheless, the Sons are deeply interwoven into the political fabric of Sekh Anoob. Under the first province's two major Dynasties (Shaknur, out of the capital Enk'Ishr; Khufanet, out of Tpoth), the Sons were not hindered by temporal rulers, who tended to strike symbiotic relationships with the Sons. To formalize this arrangement, each ruler appointed an advising Court Wizard from the ranks of the Serpent. The belief system of the current Nazhbehtaq Dynasty, by contrast, is generally intolerant to magic, a fact which has caused some friction between the Royal Family and the Servants of Will. The Nazhbehtaqs have resisted taking open action against the Sons thus far, out of respect for their longstanding presence in the province or perhaps, fear of retribution, but their compromises have limits. Some feel it is a matter of time before uncomfortable tensions erupt into outright civil war. The only true demand the Royals made upon assuming control of Sekh Anoob was that the position of Court Wizard be filled by a non-Wizard (to be a descendent of a previous Court Wizard with actual powers). This unprecedented act provoked angry discussion on both sides. The agreement continues to infuriate many. The Nazhbehtaqs are currently also embroiled in a set of intrigues aimed at installing Thaqqar Brin, a longstanding Son sympathetic to Royal interests, as Pillar of the South, where lies the holy city of Sahhad.   The Sons maintain several interests outside the province in missions, termed Gambits. The object of a Gambit is usually to secure information or objects of importance, doubly so where magic is implicated. Basically anything that stands to add heft to the Sons is sought and claimed. Missions are often dangerous and tend to be undertaken by Daggers seeking to prove themselves. Scimitars might venture forth on expeditions of special importance once in a blue moon to ensure their success. The specifics of any Gambit are revealed only to the Initiated and guarded zealously. Locals partners know only what they need to know in order to guarantee useful cooperation. Gambits occur in every province in Gnosit, and a handful beyond. A central prize luring the Serpent these days is Ald Cyngric, for the untold secrets haunting its wilds.   NOTABLE FIGURES
  Present-day Hierophant: Ja'dir (Jackaldune)
  List of present-day Pillars:
  At Khaj, North: Q'anawis Moon
Hekoon, South: Yemek Thawdir
Shekabal, East: Nakris of Sukdah
Famak, West: Vahavrit

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