Book II - Chapter 12

Chapter 12

 

Snake Report:

 

Here’s a question:

If you’re a group of well-armed, muscular, scary-looking humans, and you stumble upon a monster and an Elf, what would you do?

Ponder that.

I’m pondering.

None of the answers I’ve come up with sound like fun.

Not one.

Yeah, this isn't an ideal situation.

Seems like they’re looking for… I don’t know. Probably survivors, or whatever set the wagon on fire. Prowling about, torches in the air, shouting…

It’s not just a couple, either.

Turns out that rumbling sound was pretty much an entire caravan. Like some sort of medieval convoy of wagons. Each of those is pulled along by some boxy looking creatures.

Considering I can make them out from here: they’re huge.

Like if you took a horse and a water buffalo, and then you squished them together into one unfortunate body. Then, gave it an extra set of legs.

“Cursed blood.”

Imra isn’t loud, but she could be totally silent.

That’s the smart thing to be, in a situation like this.

Silent.

“Ssss.”

In snake language, that means: “Be quiet.”

“…Ssss?”

Also: “… What the heck does cursed-blood mean?”

“Humans.”

Oh.

I knew that Elves didn’t like people, but I guess they resort to name calling.

At least she’s listening to me, for the moment.

There are over a dozen of them, at best guess. All covered head to toe in wrapped, so it’s difficult to make out features. I can make out a few details.

Guess all that time slithering around in dark caves paid off.

Torchlights keep reflecting… sword hilts, I think. Couple have bows… those gotta be quivers or something on their backs.

Dangerous appearances.

The carts themselves, though, aren’t really that scary.

They’ve got this strange wood. Almost looks reminiscent of Papier-mâché, with a lot of rough, irregular patterns. An unpleasant but functional, sort of look. Not quite covered by tightly drawn coverings, straps of leather wrapped the occasional metal piece mounted to the under-belly of the boxy frame.

Functional, in a rigged-up way, nothing fancy.

Expensive cargo, maybe? Is this area really so dangerous? This seems like a huge escort for some beat up looking caravan.

“What is your command, Forest God?”

Uh, what? My command?

“Do we attack?”

What? Are you serious?

“While I still cling to my sanity, Great Forest God, by your order I will give my life to your service. I will kill as many as I can. Your enemies will know fear.”

Woah- woah! Stop, hold on a second.

Imra, chill out.

“Ah!”

She’s reaching for her head again.

“This voice! Even now, it tortures me! It tells me to stop!”

… that’s me.

“Great One… I fear I am not strong enough to resist.”

Imra. That’s me. I’m right here.

“It… taunts…”

Ug.

“Command me, Great One. I know you must mourn in silence, but please. Now is the time.”

Like talking to a wall.

She won’t listen.

She hears, but she doesn’t listen.

Ssss…

Here we are, at the crossroads.

Little bit earlier than I would have liked, but Imra is about five seconds away from sprinting towards the caravan.

I know she is, because I can hear her thinking it.

Visually… hear.

You know what? I’m not even going to try and explain- I just know that she’s crazy enough to actually go through with it, and the searchers from that damn caravan are getting closer.

And closer…

Yeah.

Not good.

If I know anything, it’s that humans are scary.

I don’t care how strong she is, there are over a dozen of them, and they’re clearly alert.

Meanwhile, Imra is unarmed and a few days into the process of becoming jerky. She’s going to end up full of arrows.

She’ll die.

“This voice, this voice…”

Imra, seriously: do not go.

“Why does it say this? Why…”

Again, she’s not listening.

In a few seconds, she’s going to run out there.

If she does, where does that leave me?

From a cold and rational standpoint, what the hell am I going to do?

Ignoring the guilt and damage to my already-in-question psych that’s going to follow watching my Elf buddy get turned into a pincushion. Am I really going to survive alone in the wasteland while missing a large portion of my magical firepower? If I find civilization, then what?

I can’t communicate.

I can “hiss.”

Not helpful.

No.

For both our sakes, clearly there is only one thing left for me to do.

It’s come to this.

So, I solemnly pray.

Tiny Snake God: when I said I was done tricking people into worshiping me, I meant it. I am nothing but your humble servant, not some deity to be pampered. I know this now: learned this lesson twice over.

I pray that your froggy chosen prophets continue to guide me, and forever lead me along the path I must slither.

In dire times like these though, a man- nay, a snake must take dire action. So, while I’m pretty sure I swore an oath never repeat this, I pray that you forgive me.

Yours truly… uh… all hail…

I’ll just get this over with.

Ahem.

“THE GREAT ONE HEARS YOUR WORDS, LOYAL SERVANT! NOW, HEED THESE, AND OBEY!”