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After being separated from the rest of Sosaria by the death of Mondain, the Lands of Danger and Despair were left in a chaotic state. Shamino's kingdom fell with its liege gone, and the King of the White Dragon went mad and killed most of his people. Goblins spread through the lands destroying what was left. But the Great Earth Serpent approached the human survivors of the isle to teach them the philosophy of Balance. The Great Earth Serepent somehow contacted a human who would become the first Great Hierophant. This man visited Sunrise Isle, and on the top of the mountain on the isle, the Great Earth Serpent explained the Way of Balance.
This first Great Hierophant explained the Ophidian Virtues of Balance, Order and Chaos to the rest of the people, who decided to follow their path. They called themselves "Ophidians" after the great Serpents. The whole society of the Ophidians was created after this, with the Great Hierophant being the central figure of their civilization. In that time the huge underground cities of Spinebreaker, Skullcrusher and Furnace were erected.
The population on Serpent Isle grew. The citizens helped each other and relied on each other. There was no crime and people were holding to their traditions. Parents taught their children about the Virtues of Order and Chaos. These traditions were passed on from generation to generation. While achieving Balance was the goal of the system, the followers of Balance were a small minority. The sharp divide in the Ophidian society caused by the system of polar opposites between Order and Chaos created a fragile society, susceptible to problems if the Balance was lost.
Years later, when Exodus attacked Sosaria, he abducted the Great Earth Serpent from the Void. The Great Hierophant of Balance was weakened, as was the Balance between Order and Chaos. Many people started to believe that their side (either Order or Chaos) was superior to the other.
These differences finally exploded when the Great Hierophant of Balance was murdered. Both sides blamed each other, and Order forces massacred the inhabitants of Skullcrusher. In the following War of Imbalance, all followers of Chaos and Balance were killed and the followers of Order had to leave the devastated lands by the Wall of Lights, looking for another world to live in. This was the end of this civilization, and of this belief system in Serpent Isle.
Even though they are gone, the ruins and writings of the Ophidians can be found strewn all over the Serpent Isle.
The Ophidians created their whole culture based on the Principles of Balance. Their society was divided in the forces of Order, forces of Chaos, and the followers of Balance. Each group was directed by a Hierophant: the Order Hierophant, the Chaos Hierophant, and the Great Hierophant, respectively. The forces of Order lived mainly in the city of Spinebreaker, and the forces of Chaos in the city of Skullcrusher.
They also built several Shrines, each dedicated to one of the Forces or Principles. There were nine of these:
- Three Grand Shrines, one for each Principle (Shrine of Balance, Shrine of Order, Shrine of Chaos).
- The Order Temples, one for each Order Force (Temple of Ethicality, Temple of Discipline, Temple of Logic).
- The Chaos Temples, one for each Chaos Force (Temple of Tolerance, Temple of Enthusiasm, Temple of Emotion).
Each of the Hierophants was the leader of their corresponding shrine. Each of the temples had a sub-leader, or "Master" of that Force.
During ceremonies, the Great Hierophant was assisted by the Order Hierophant and the Chaos Hierophant. Rich jewelry and shining armour were worn at that time. The Great Hierophant was the only one who could open the Wall of Lights, which is an entrance into the Ethereal Void. The Great Hierophant entered the Void to speak with the Serpents.
- In Ultima Underworld II, the Avatar recovers the Blackrock Serpent of Order from a goblin, who says that he got it from a man from Pagan. While this may imply that followers of Order ended up in the world of Pagan after leaving the Serpent Isle, there isn't any sign or mention of them in Ultima VIII.