Long before the rise of primates and humankind spreading across the world, the Earth had different masters. Reptilian, callous, haughty, stoic, intellectual, and yet decadent, the serpentfolk harnessed strange sciences to build and rebuild their civilization time after time. Despite all their grand achievements and resistance, time, entropy, and wars with others took their toll numerous times. Yet, while their civilizations collapsed the serpentfolk survived hiding in the cracks of the world, only to re-emerge later and start anew. Only a few dozens of serpentpeople remain alive and active in the modern world, but their immense longevity, allowing them to see millennia pass, and their strange metabolism that allows them to slumber for tens of thousands of years allows that handful to carry significant splinters of the ancient lore and science inconceivable to humans. More serpentfolk might be slumbering in hidden vaults across the world, waiting for their siblings to be awakened and introduced to the modern world... Or the new world ruled by the serpentpeople.
The first of the great serpentfolk cultures of the past was valusian supercivilization, a series of related civilizations lasting for a few million years in the Tertiary. Valusian serpentfolk were masters of conjunctions and waged war against multiple competing species dwelling in the oceans and the mountains of the younger Earth. The next major culture was the lemurian one, when serpentfolk and a few other prehuman civilizations engaged in lifeshaping experimentation that involved early primates. The details are vague and hint that the manipulation might had been a series of genetic proxy wars in a prolonged cold war between the involved peoples. The final serpentfolk civilization of note was hyperborean one, hidden among the glaciers of the Pleistocene, when the dwindling serpentfolk population controlled a number of now extinct hominid species with mesmerism as their beasts of burden and food source.
Now, the remaining handful of serpentfolk hide themselves from humans in the isolated valleys and underground caverns, or in the plain sight, disguised as humans, plotting and experimenting... The serpentfolk of shadow throne nest want to rule the humankind as power behind the throne and using the resources of primate civilization for the benefit of their rightful masters. The glorious throne nest wants to build a new serpentfolk civilization on the ruins of humans' one—plotting the downfall of humanity through any means possible. The empty throne nest intends to use the humanity to gather means that will allow serpentfolk to move elsewhere where they will be able to build their new, fourth dynasty, far away from humans, either hidden in the deepest reaches of the Earth or on another planet. Beyond the three major nests there are lesser philosophies as well: the nihilistic shattered throne that claims the serpentfolk are doomed to slow extinction and the heirs of the throne, desiring to leave the Earth to humans... Together with teachings to make their civilization greater than any one ever build by the serpentfolk.
Individual serpentperson has numerous advantages over human. Its longevity is tied to superior physical and mental resilience, resistance to biological and chemical pathogens, ability to heal most wounds, regrow lost limbs, minimize needed sustenance, and enter a death-like slumber that can last thousands of years. Their fangs can inject venom, rather weak on its own, but easily enhanced with a conscious effort of a serpentperson. In addition to their physical superiority over primates, the serpentfolk enjoy numerous mental advantages. They are on average smarter and quicker, have sharper perception, and much better ability to focus, lacking the many distractions of psychologically inferior humans. Their senses include ability to see heat and sense vibration, deteriorated comparing to actual snakes, though. They have a special organ that allows them to analyze biochemical composition of whatever they can taste, together with their venom glands a key tools of their lifeshaping science.
If the natural abilities of the serpentfolk are amazing, their mastery of esoteric sciences is nothing less than miraculous. They divide their secrets into three branches of mesmerism, lifeshaping, and conjunctions, manipulating the minds, the bodies, and the cosmic energy of vril for their own purposes.
Mesmerism is their ability to inspire certain basic emotions in lesser creatures, primarily humans, but also other mammals and birds. Any serpentperson can induce anxiety, apathy, fascination, or sense of submission in nearby humans, with more skilled mesmerists being able to inspire those instincts in large groups, make them long lasting, more refined (the emotion can be focused on a single source, making the victim anxious or apathetic about single thing for example), and true masters can sway whole crowds can imprint the mesmeric inspiration within an object or a place, affecting those who enter into contact with it.
Lifeshaping allows serpentfolk to manipulate living creatures via a number of methods. They can analyze biochemical composition with taste and synthesize biochemical compounds in their venom glands—though they are not above augmenting either talent with actual tools. They can also perform surgeries easily, dampening pain with a form of mesmerism and sanitizing the wound with their venom. All those skills are used for breeding living creatures with desired traits, starting with simple algae or bacteria, going through invertebrates, fungi, and plants, and reaching vertebrates for the masters of that art.
Final, the most potent but also the most time-consuming, is the science of conjunctions used to alter biosphere, weather, geology, space/time continuum, or the flow of vril itself. Appearing to be more of an occult practice to modern eyes, it is the art of aligning the cosmic energies through the placement of focusing sigils, seemingly pointless constructions, sometimes going as far as requiring intensive earthworks as a part of the project. Once the conjunctions are properly set up, they allow for grandiose effects given the right scale and time—setting up right focal elements all over the world could change the climate or even, with the right position of other planets, shift the orbit of the Moon... Which serpentfolk might have already done in the past.
Despite their capabilities, the serpentfolk are no longer the masters of the world, though. They were in the past but even they lost to the climate changes, internal strife, wars with other long forgotten inhuman civilizations, and decadence. The serpentfolk longevity and ability to slumber through ages also makes them vulnerable to lethargy, a state of languor easily reached by overindulging in food, but also triggered by wounds or long periods of intense activity. When the lethargy kicks in, the serpentperson finds oneself sleepy and lacking energy and initiative to start new activities, being barely capable of maintaining existing tasks. When the lethargy deepens the serpentfolk finds it hard to take any actions other than protecting itself and preparing for safe slumber.
While living among humans, the serpentfolk have a number of ways to pass undetected. The least reliable method uses mesmerism to avert human attention—anxiety or apathy strong enough can make mundane humans ignore a inconspicuous and careful serpentperson. This is a dangerous method, though, as it can only sway a rather small number of weak willed humans at once, and has no power over recording devices common in modern times. The most common way of disguising as human requires a serpentperson to breed a special batch of algae grown on human blood. It can be then used to form a kind of mesmerism-sensitive coating which will mimic external human appearance. The most advanced and time consuming technique allows a serpentperson to make a sort of grisly suit out of skin and pieces of musculature of an actual human, treated with various synthesized enzymes. This method allows serpentperson to pretend to be a particular individual, often using mesmerism to mislead people familiar with the original individual.
A serpentperson wishing to travel unnoticed across the world might follow the ancient network of hidden caves and passages spreading in a complex network through the world, build and shaped with potent conjunctions twisting time and space allowing to travel on feet across the world in days, as long as one knows how to navigate the ancient mazes of twisted paths.