The Reign of Serpents

Shortly after the rise of Khonsuria and across the Surya Sea, another creature came into its own. On Zimala, the Island of Obsidian, the totemic nagas had united their tribes and established their own budding empire. Though the dragon empire that preceded them had been unrivaled in its power, the nagas held conviction that they had been created first, that the limbless serpentine form was one of perfection. The god Madrah, they knew, had been charged to oversee the lands of the west, and though the nagas themselves varied in their chosen virtues, all paid homage to him and the spirits he engendered.

With the help of lizardfolk, marsh-dwelling neighbors north of Zimala whom the nagas had coerced into alliance, the nagas began to expand their lands. As their empire grew, the god Madrah took an empress to be his consort and from her egg was hatched a female they named Cynhuara. When the empress died suspiciously, he took a consort of common blood and she hatched a male they named Axaluatl. Immortal nagas of great power, the two half-siblings were revered by their kind as gods, and in their name stately temples were raised even before their coming of age.

Eldest of the two, Cynhuara was given the Zimalan Empire to rule as her own. However, she eschewed the role of Empress, instead establishing the Naga Council. Populated with all species of nagas, it was predominantly comprised of wise and benevolent teotl-nagas (guardian nagas). Axaluatl became an emissary for the Council who traveled abroad and explored beyond the empire’s borders. Incredulous that his half-sister would relinquish the power of regency, he plotted in secret to become Emperor. Axaluatl’s conspiracies included a number of tlanti-nagas (dark nagas) of sinister power.

The Naga Council was given the task of overseeing all aspects of the Zimalan Empire with a view toward its eternal preservation and the needs of its subjects. Cynhuara herself sat at the Council’s head, and together they led the Empire into a peaceful coexistence with many races for long years. Within Zimala and some of the lands north of the Island, the nagas were dominant, and those who challenged them were struck down with fang and spell. Within naga society, the tlanti-nagas served as explorers and military leaders along with the ehecatl-nagas (spirit nagas). The mali-nagas (earth nagas) and atl-nagas (water nagas), by far the most numerous, served as warriors on land and sea whenever force was required.

Under the teotls’ guidance—and against Axaluatl’s—the humans of neighboring lands were taken into Zimalan protection. Existing formerly in a loose society of feuding tribes, the humans were inlaid into naga society like an intricate mosaic and were taught minor magics and the arts of medicine and industry. As with nobles of modern Áereth, nagas and their human retainers would often form strong bonds of friendship. As apprentices and servants, the humans helped the nagas build their glorious cities and raise pyramids and temples in devotion to Madrah and his divine offspring, Cynhuara and Axaluatl.