The Serpent Coils was an altered representation of a fragmented genetic memory.
We discovered a missive detailing an agreement of co-operation between the Spartans and Persians in Makedonia. The Persian agents have captured someone important and are using them to ambush another traveler.
We have chosen to track the ambushers and relieve Makedonia of their depredations.
These agents are well armed and well-trained. We will have to be careful, but with luck we should be able to catch them unawares.
The mercenaries met on the road outside the military camp they had just raided.
- Mercenary 2: Be alert we should be getting close.
- Mercenary 1: They do not know we're coming. If we flank them through the woods we might be able to thin out their numbers.
- Mercenary 3: A good plan. Knives it is, then.
The mercenaries headed toward the forest but were stopped by a Spartan phalangite, a Persian Immortal, and a mysterious individual wearing a prósōpon mask who blocked the road. Approaching the party, the mercenaries were flanked by a Spartan peltast. The masked figure stepped forward and addressed the lead mercenary.
- Order Cultist: Haha! You thought to catch us unawares? You have meddled with us one too many times, misthios.
- Mercenary 1: What? How did you know we were coming?
- Order Cultist: We have had eyes on you ever since your little encounter on the road. You killed an Immortal. Such impudence will not be tolerated. Take them. And when it is over, bring me their heads.
The cultist turned and left. The phalangite and Immortal engaged the mercenaries in combat but were fatally wounded. The mercenaries turned to the peltast when an elderly hooded man suddenly assassinated him.
- Darius: You fight the Order of the Ancients?
- Mercenary 1: Who? These lunatics have a name? Who are you?
- Darius: They call themselves the Order of the Ancients. A cult obsessed with controlling the future.
- Mercenary 1: They kept asking us about "the Tainted One." Is that you?
- Darius: Hmm. No.
- Mercenary 1: Who is it?
- Darius: There are more cultists in these woods. I must return to my camp to check on my son. You should not stay here.
- Mercenary 1: Very well.
Darius ran into the woods. The mercenaries continued on the road through the woods, evading or eliminating any Spartans they encountered until they emerged on a clifftop on the other side of the forest. Descending into the clearing below, they saw Darius kneeling as he inspected the ground before him.
- Darius: Dammit! These tracks lead to my camp! Natakas, my son...
Darius ran in the direction of his camp.
- Mercenary 1: Hey! Old man! Slow down!
The mercenaries pursued Darius.
Although intent on saving Darius, the mercenaries walked into the ambush set for him, forcing the Persian to rescue them. Informing the mercenaries of the true nature of their assailants and warning them to stay away, Darius fled into the forest, only to be followed by his would-be saviors. The mercenaries emerged from the woods in time to see Darius rush off, having seen tracks leading to his camp, and so continued their pursuit.