It has been almost ten years since the events I am about to write, and yet I still remember them as though they occurred yesterday. I don’t know what prompts this sudden urge to document the past, perhaps it’s these strange dreams I’ve been having, kicking up the dust of my past. Perhaps it’s the muses deciding that it’s time I scratch this tale into parchment. Through out the entirety of my life I have served Dionysus as a devoured follower, traveling the lands spreading his Dionysian mysteries where ever I may go. And thought my journeys my faith in his teachings has never faltered, except for but once, ten years ago, in the city of Belstonec….. _________________________ It was ten years ago, I was a young satyr of 16, and the Fire of exploration raced through my veins. I had set out on my own two years prior to spread the epiphanies of Dionysus amongst the lands. I had just met up with a group of maenads during the night and together we went about embracing the rituals of Dionysus, drinking our fill of wine and debauchery. The dawn found me exhausted from the nights work and thus I laid against a cypress tree to rest. But when I awoke, the maenads were gone, replaced with three humans bound and gagged; the cypress tree replaced with the side of a large wagon, rolling along a dirt road; and the rays of the dawn replaced with the heat of noon. I was similarly tied and gagged, and found myself the prisoner to a band of strangely garbed soldiers. At the front of the cart we were on sat a man with narrow eyes, an olive complexion, and red robes. Draped around his neck was a most hideous viper, which he softly caressed as though it was a sensitive part of his own green flesh. This man spoke to the other guards in low hisses, for he was apparently their leader. The guards themselves never spoke to us, relegating to converse with themselves in that strange hissing language; but now and again I would see them glance our way with disdainful looks. So haughty was their gazes, so full of contempt, that I often thought they would trip upon the ground unseen to their raised eyes. They never did of course. Our gags were only removed so that we could the meager rations of stale bread and water, always under the watchful eye of that wicked serpent. For three days we traveled this way, on occasion the viper would raise its head and point in a direction, the leader would hiss out a command and three guards would depart in that direction, only to return within an hour a new prisoner in tow. Three more prisoners would be added to the wagon this way. Only one of the other prisoners thought to escape, he awaited until dark when the wagon stopped, then made a break for it. He only got a few steps off the wagon before the leaders serpent darted out like a bolt of scaled lightning. The first bite struck the would be escapees ankle, dropping him to the ground. The second found his stomach and the third his arm. He was convulsing now, the foul beast upon his chest biting at his body and faced, but the man couldn’t even scream. It bit him until the convulsing stopped, then slinked back to its master. The guards waited and watched the crumpled figure on the ground while the leader praised his pet in soft hisses like a huntsman praises a prized hound. I too watched the dying figure, and what I saw will be ingrained into my mind forever. Though the body could not move as the venom coursed through its veins, but the eyes rolled around darting from figure to figure, almost begging for help. Even as the body began to discolor and puff up from the toxin within the eyes didn’t stop. This would be my first experience with the cruelty of the yuan-ti, and I believed the apathetic states of the guards told me all I needed to know of their culture. I was wrong.