Motes in the Serpent's Eye
The Zorzi is a cult of assassins dedicated to killing the greatest of all prey—dragons. They are led by a half-orc female named Nebla Scourge.
For as long as lesser races have existed, they have looked with envy and fear upon dragons. These great beasts are terrifying beyond belief. Huge, ancient, and impossibly powerful, their very existence reminds other beings that they are but ants compared to them—or so say many dragons. This arrogance is only amplified in the Dragon Empire, for as its name makes plain, it is dragons that rule the galaxy. For the last 5,000 years, a succession of draconic emperors has held the reins of ultimate power and no one, not even the most influential member of another species, will ever achieve the same level of might, no matter how hard he may try. The ascension of Mezzenbone is thus not all that great a change from the past, however much his political opponents might protest. The fundamental fact remains: Only dragons and their progeny enjoy true status and power in the Dragon Empire.
Over the years, numerous insurrections and reform movements have arisen, each one dedicated to remaking the empire in its own image. Many have attempted to oust the dragons from their thrones but none has ever succeeded. There are many reasons for these failures, but one is the obvious fact that dragons are puissant creatures with few equals among mortal beings. To challenge a dragon is to court suicide. Consequently, most rebellions founder on their inability to bring down even a single dragon, let alone the entirety of the empire’s aristocracy. Lacking that ability, there is no hope for an end to the current system of governance.
Even so, there are those who seek to overcome this handicap. During the Bronze Age, an orc warlord named Ugrek arose and dared to challenge the Dragon Empire. Nicknamed Zorzi, an Orc word meaning “slayer,” Ugrek did what few beings had ever done—slay not one but several dragons in personal combat. Ugrek’s victory was short-lived, as imperial forces converged on his stronghold in the Outlands and killed him along with all of his followers. However, the example of Ugrek Zorzi was not forgotten. Over the centuries, numerous individuals have sought to reclaim the orc chieftain’s mantle. For a variety of reasons, the prospect of killing a dragon holds great appeal.
The most successful of these is the cult named after Ugrek, the Zorzi. The Zorzi arose late in the Copper Age among the orcs of the empire. Its earliest leaders had no political agenda of their own. Instead, they were simply interested in proving their combat skills by slaying dragons. Not surprisingly, very few achieved their goal. A few did, however, and they passed on their knowledge to others, who in turn passed it on to their students and followers. By the dawn of the Red Age, the Zorzi had amassed a respectable number of kills against dragons, usually minor lords of the Golden Kingdom, but sometimes lords of Asamet or independent dragons in the Outlands. These assassins were nothing if not ecumenical in their exploits.
Mezzenbone’s accession has brought the Zorzi out of the shadows for the first time in centuries. While still illegal, the murder of dragons is now politically acceptable within certain factions of both Asamet and Qesemet. In addition, groups like the Insurrection see the assassination of dragons as an excellent way to bring about political change. Consequently, the Zorzi have found themselves busier than ever, accepting contracts from multiple factions, sometimes even working for bitter enemies at the same time. Although the cult is composed mostly of orcs and half-orcs, it is open to anyone who possesses the skills and courage to take on its unique vocation.
Despite its newfound profile, the Zorzi remain strangely aloof from imperial politics. They appear not to have an agenda of their own. They accept work from anyone who can meet their high fees and don’t ask too many questions. Naturally, rumors have sprung up about their true intentions, the most common of which is that they serve evil outsiders seeking to throw the galaxy into chaos as a prelude to invasion. Others claim the cult serves the Adversary and its members are heralds of a universal war between good and evil. For their part, the Zorzi speak little of their true intentions, instead concentrating on what they do best—slaying dragons.