The Book of Destruction
Yuan-Ti Halfblood Favored Soul
One may wonder how a halfblood yuan-ti became a favored soul of Pergamontis, the aspect of life. Vir-Jil’s early life was normal by yuan-ti standards. He was placed with other eggs in the nest protected by broodguards, once-human monstrosities whose transformation into scaled ones had been unsuccessful. After hatching, he and his nestmates were taught their race’s history- the lore of the endowment of their physical gifts, stories of ancient prosperity, the defeat of their deity and subsequent decline from power. Most importantly though, was their role in the rebirth of their god of destruction, Ahz-Radamant.
Raised communally, Vir-Jil and others his age spent much time studying and being taught how to master their race’s abilities. Most yuan-ti interactions were coldly formal, and relations were based on purpose- to accomplish a goal for both parties. Vir-Jil longed for deeper bonds, ones that grew from genuine connection and mutual understanding. He silently kept that desire to himself, knowing it had no place in society. Yuan-ti rarely formed lasting relationships to each other- their devotion was dedicated to the resurrection of their fallen god.
After basic training, the young yuan-ti were divided by their sect. Purebloods were taught the arts of manipulation, infiltration, and reconnaissance, while abominations studied temple rituals and military strategies. Vir-Jil and the other halfbloods trained in physical combat and military tactics. Once their specialized training was complete, they began their duties as adults- the most sacred of which was participating in the worship of Ahz-Radamant.
Vir-Jil was secretly grateful to have his first assignments be guard duty. Watching the perimeters of the city was peaceful, and he enjoyed the solitude. It also brought relief from conversation- although always polite, it somehow seemed insidious and he was careful to guard his true nature. Eventually though, it was Vir-Jil’s turn to partake in his first ceremony. The rituals were something he had always dreaded attending. The fervor of the normally reserved yuan-ti unnerved him, and their blood-lust for the slaughter sickened him nearly as much as the terror of the victims chilled him to the bone. As the day of the ceremony grew nearer, Vir-Jil became increasingly agitated. He knew he could not go against the tradition- his defiance would be heresy and he too would be killed for Ahz-Radamant.
Finally the day came, and Vir-Jil entered the cell of the victim he was to lead to the sacrificial alter. The captive was a small lizardfolk child whose father had led an ambush against yuan-ti scouts weeks earlier. The child wept and desperately pleaded, begging Vir-Jil to be kept as a slave instead of sacrificed. He fell to the ground, threw his arms around Vir-Jil’s coils, and swore to work hard and be obedient. Feeling hopeless and grief-stricken, Vir-Jil led the child to the slaughter while worshippers zealously chanted. The yuan-ti believed that the more absolute the destruction, the more power it granted their god, and so the child’s body was ripped apart into small pieces until what was left was little more than pulp.
Vir-Jil retired to his assigned sleeping quarters early that night and found himself alone. In that rare occasion of privacy, he suddenly wept bitterly, cursing himself for his weakness, for his failure to have done anything to stop the abominable act. The amount of emotion exhausted him, and he soon fell asleep. That night, he dreamt of himself as he should have been- leading troops through the jungle, raiding villages, slaying all who did not bow to yuan-ti. He dreamt himself unfeeling, ruthless, lusting for bloodshed. He awoke in a cold sweat, overwhelmed by the realization that he could not do what he was expected to. He eventually would be found out and given to Ahz-Radamant.
An intense pain abruptly shot through his skull. He clenched his hands over his eyes as a blinding light still managed to pierce through them and his body burned with agonizing heat. Visions of a titanic battle, a fallen deity, and a lake he had never seen before flooded his mind, and a name he had read long ago struggled to surface- Pergamontis. He had read of her in his early studies of the pantheon; her dedication to protecting life was greater than that of following Zetil’s design of balance. Because of her disobedience, Pergamontis was stripped of much of her power. She continued her creation and protection of life until being slain with many of her creations by the Ur Priests. The aftermath of the battle was cloaked in mystery. As her followers were still granted abilities, it was known the priests had failed to take her power. However, the fallen goddess ceased to be reborn, and so legend held that her body remained somewhere, hidden away, awaiting resurrection by her followers.
Vir-Jil’s anguish dissipated as quickly as it had arrived. He nervously glanced around the dark room and saw the other yuan-ti were all soundly sleeping. As Vir-Jil struggled to understand what had just happened to him, a warm, comforting feeling enveloped him. Although he fought to stay awake to think, Vir-Jil soon drifted into a peaceful slumber.
When he awoke the next morning, Vir-Jil was struck by an uncanny new sensation; he felt restorative energies coursing through his veins. Last night’s event suddenly made sense- Pergamontis had chosen him. He had never before admitted to himself that he wanted to protect life instead of destroying it, but he no longer could deny that desire. Somehow the fallen goddess knew his wish and granted him the powers to pursue it. He could not let this sacred gift go to waste- he would go forth into the world to preserve life and protect others in an effort to honor her.
As Vir-Jil stepped outside the barracks, he was taken aback by the tangibility of the evil that permeated the city. A wave of fear swept over him; if he could feel that evil, might a passing cleric feel the touch of Pergamontis on him? Vir-Jil quickly made his way to receive his next assignment. It was believed that Ahz-Radamant smiled on his children after their first participation in sacrifice, and so it had become custom for halfbloods to utilize his destructive favor by going out into the jungle to find and kill anyone encroaching on yuan-ti territory. After receiving that task, Vir-Jil hastily picked up his assigned gear and started to depart. He stopped briefly to view the city one last time, knowing he would never be able to return. A yuan-ti who deserted their own and Ahz-Radamant paid with their life if ever captured. Vir-Jil looked at his home- although so familiar, it had always remained somehow alien. He wondered how many, if any, other yuan-ti felt as he did. His heart ached as he turned from the only place he had ever known and headed northward into the jungle.
When Vir-Jil failed to return several days later, his absence was reported to Shar-Tess, an elder abomination cleric. Unbeknownst to most of the city’s inhabitants, one of his duties was to look into the occasional disappearance of yuan-ti. A scrying spell revealed Vir-Jil’s desertion, thus Shar-Tess fetched a new scroll and began to write. He made several notes before storing it away with numerous others.
Vir-Jil made his way to the Necrosian Province. As a territory of Farris, he would be safe there; because of Zetil’s influence, the empire did not discriminate against ‘strange’ races as other countries did. In exchange for enlisting in the army of Farris, Vir-Jil was granted citizenship. He aided in the defense of Haven and neighboring areas before requesting to be transferred. His proximity to his native home concerned him- the further away he could get from it, the safer he thought he would be. His request approved, Vir-Jil continued his travels and missions northward. After his final assignment, he made his way to the grand city of Farris. He spent the next two years researching the city’s massive libraries for a way to find and resurrect Pergamontis. Vir-Jil began to grow restless. Despite all of his searching, he had found little on how to ressurect or even find her. Lake Pergamontis in the Armontis Province was supposedly where she had fallen, but many had searched for her there and no clues revealing her location had been found. Still, Vir-Jil had little else to go on, so he started planning his travel there.
However, in the nights preceding his departure, Vir-Jil began having nightmares of Llilian the Redeemer and his growing army. Vir-Jil took the dreams as instructions from Pergamontis to go forth and fight her betrayer. He decided to postpone his travel to the lake and instead set off towards Fort Crimson. There he rejoined the army and successfully fought to keep Llilian’s forces from overtaking the fort. During those months, Vir-Jil became acquainted with the odd Head Wizard of the fort, Renaldo Lasteroff. Vir-Jil was used to people being suspicious of him because of his race, but he began to wonder why the somewhat reclusive wizard seemed to find occasion to converse with him. Vir-Jil casually inquired about the wizard, but while his fellow soldiers and superiors had little to say about ‘crazy Renaldo’, they were quick to brag that they were the ones who trained his daughter, Ligeia.
Ligeia Lasteroff was popular around Fort Crimson and considered a local hero. Half-giants spoke fondly of her- the young ones looked forward to her visits as she always found time to play with them, while some of the adults eagerly awaited the day she founded the city she often spoke of. Vir-Jil learned that it was Ligeia who had spared the life of Lenny, a simple ogre who lived at the fort and spent his time hauling lumber and mashing potatoes for the cooks. While Vir-Jil heard much of her bravery and kindness, there were some stories he found particularly curious. Soldiers she had served with spoke of how she would turn into a small serpent to advance upon captors of the half-giants. Often the area would turn black and she would slink through the darkness, picking off slavers one by one. Others spoke of her extreme persuasiveness- how, with few words, she could turn her enemies against themselves or send them fleeing in terror. One of Vir-Jil’s superior officers admitted he was at one time quite smitten with her. She had an unusual beauty to her and strange orange eyes. Once he had escorted her to the infirmary after a hard battle, and was surprised to see that, under her tattered shirt, her back was completely covered with light green scales.
Several days later, Renaldo summoned Vir-Jil to his tower and, after some idle conversation, inquired as to why Vir-Jil was interested in Ligeia. Vir-Jil responded that he was more curious about Renaldo, and asked a carefully worded question- “What manner of man are you, to take such an interest in a yuan-ti?” Vir-Jil watched a hint of color drain from Renaldo’s face before clarifying the question, asking why Renaldo seemed interested in him. Renaldo’s color returned as he smiled, and Vir-Jil then knew for certain what Ligeia was. Renaldo explained that he had merely been curious, and had since become convinced that Vir-Jil was credible as well as quite clever. Renaldo told him of Ligeia and her “merry band of misfits”- a lizardfolk barbarian, a teifling follower of Bourn, a half-dragon knave, and a delinquent elven wizard. Looking at the holy symbol of Pergamontis around Vir-Jil’s neck, Renaldo asked how he intended to find her if he remained stationed in one location. No, to find Pergamontis would require great travel. Perhaps, Renaldo suggested, Vir-Jil should join Ligeia and her party. After all, they travelled extensively and could certainly use another capable member. Besides, Renaldo added with a wink, he was certain Vir-Jil and Ligeia would find that they had a great deal in common.
Shortly after, the sieges of Llilian’s army slowed and Vir-Jil set out to find Ligeia and her companions.