Wednesday, December 17, 2014

LONE PINE HILL


Lone Pine Hill is visible from several miles in each direction.  On the Eastern side of the Kos River Valley, it rises from the surrounding gently sloped valley-floor.  Atop the hillock is a pine, ancient and vast.  It crawls upward, gnarl upon gnarl, a dense titan bristling with dark needles, hundreds of feet high and host to a self-contained ecosystem.

The undisputed master of that ecosystem is the White Serpus of Lone Pine Hill.  Albino and blue-eyed, it spends its days nestled in and amongst the innumerable curving boughs of the Lone Pine, descending only to destroy and devour anything larger than a Murder-Crow that passes beneath its home.

Once, the Serpus was a beautiful young woman.  Her lover traveled far away to war and never returned.  She waited by the Lone Pine until finally her spirit, fetted with jealously at the thought of him finding another, transformed her into a Serpus.  Since then, she has waited in the timeless manner of the Serpus for her lover to return.  Unfortunately, the mind of the Serpus has largely taken control by now, causing her to coil and to choke, to strangle and to envenom and to feed, and to spend dreaming decades in reptilian stupor, dreaming of her lost love.

The Serpus will not attack a young male warrior who does not attack her first.  Instead, she will descend silently and stare with bright blue eyes directly into his face until he does something.  If he treats her with kindness, he may be able to keep her as a "pet".
The only way to transform the Serpus back into the woman she once was is to pronounce (truthfully) that you love her at the Island-Temple at Par-Kos.

Amidst the tangled roots of the Pine lie half-bured the detritus of the Serpus.  Most of it consists of crinkly shed skin and the occasional animal bone or Lowder husk, but wedged between two massive roots is the skeleton of a Far-Traveler from the late 19th Century.  His corpse bears a large silver belt buckle attached to a shred of leather belt, and an antique (but still functional) .50 caliber revolver containing 2 spent shells and 4 unspent shells (should be treated as a magic item - non-Earthlings probably will not immediately grasp how it functions.  Medium range, deals 2d6 damage) along with a Bowie knife (treat as non-magical Dagger +1).  He also wears a gold ring on one finger and a pair of steel spurs.  Other than that, only a few buttons remain.


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