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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Forked Tongues

Martin Coleford-Johns is fascinated by dinosaurs. His father worked hard uncovering fossilized skeletons of the giant creatures and passed the bug on to Martin. It was only natural that he should attend Oxford and study the science of palaeontology. Now, at the age of 42, Martin Coleford-Johns is the acknowledged leader of the field.

Tall and good looking, many women have fallen for this aristocratic figure. However, Martin has but one passion - dinosaurs. He is distant and uninterested in anything except his favourite subject. When anyone mentions anything to do with the prehistoric world he suddenly becomes lively and alert, almost undergoing a complete personality change.

However, this reclusive man does not like to publicise his work. He lives in the family house set back in extensive gardens behind high brick walls. His two servants, a butler and a maid, aid him. Currently he has only one heir, Justin Coleford-Johns. The boy is at boarding school, his mother having died in childbirth.

Coleford-Johns rarely appears in public, preferring to work either in the field or in the extensive laboratories constructed on his grounds. When he does appear (evening engagements only) he is always impeccably dressed.

Visitors to the house are unwelcome. If the visitors cannot express an interest in either the extensive reptile collection or the study of fossils then they will be shown the door. Otherwise Coleford-Johns will talk animatedly to his fellow devotees on the subject until he grows tired of them.

The Coleford-Johns family has for years been a sanctuary for the Serpent People. With the aid of Consume Likeness the Serpent People have taken the place of Martin, the butler and the maid. There are other Serpent People hidden about the house.

The only human member of the family is Justin, and he is kept away from the house as much as possible. Once he has bred and has at least one heir, the Serpent People will kill and replace him as well.

The house is filled with reptiles and dinosaur books. The shelves are lined with anything even vaguely connected to the subject. There are fossils and bones and several scale models of dinosaurs. There are also several Serpent People tomes, but they are well hidden. Lighting in the house is always soft to avoid casting betraying shadows. The Serpent People never go out in bright sunlight and have most of their needs delivered direct from Harrods.

Coleford-Johns has a purpose other than the study of fossils. He is engaged in a programme to return the People as rightful masters of the Earth. In rooms concealed below the house he has several clutches of Serpent People eggs, just waiting to hatch.

His fossil hunting expeditions across the globe conceal a more sinister purpose. Chipping at rock in distant countries is a good cover for his true goal - finding the lost temples of the Serpent People.

The Serpent People were a violent, possessive race and fought many battles with other aliens that wanted Earth for their own. However, their enemies were cunning and powerful and, at the end of the Permain Era, they began the preparations which would preserve their ancient race until such time as they could reclaim the world for their own.

Their preparations consisted of a series of temples scattered across the globe in isolated locations. In each, a number of the Serpent People were placed in a state of deep hibernation, along with much of their (now lost) technology and sorcery. Eventually, when the wars were over they would awaken to reclaim the Earth.

However, something went wrong and the temples' inhabitants never woke. As the Earth grew older its crust moved and shifted, crushing many temples. Others were lost as the land dropped and the sea rushed in, or were found by other races and destroyed. Now, 230 million years after their construction, there are only a few of the temples left. Martin Coleford-Johns wants to find them.


1 Justin Coleford-Johns is troubled by nightmares about reptiles. In them he dreams of giant walking snakes which talk in strange hissing voices. Sometimes, in the really bad nightmares his father turns into one of these creatures. Periodically he runs away from the boarding school, but is always found and sent back.

2 Carelessly, slip Martin Coleford-Johns is photographed in broad sunlight while working on a large fossil in Utah, America. The photographer is a journalist reporting on the expedition and does not notice the strange, inhuman shadow. However, while Martin is still in the USA, the photograph is printed in one of the London papers. The paper has the print in its files, the shadow is much clearer on that.

3 Should reports pointing to a new Serpent People colony reach his ears, Martin will begin to investigate. Stories of dinosaurs, giant reptiles, and samples of shedded skin will stir his interest.

If the Investigators are involved he may try to infiltrate the group by casting Consume Likeness. Coleford-Johns may decide to use one of his different forms to avoid attracting attention to his sanctuary.

© Steve Hatherley

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