Jungle Game Trail
Antarctica, 2,000 B.C.
The four of them had set out, spears and shields in hand. Dinontu looked at Cratnik and signaled total silence. The other two, Trinop and Dishna, nodded, and picked up the trail of the creature's green blood not far from where Kel Moka told them, from what Kontu said. They all curiously touched the blood, expressions of awe and amazement written across their faces. What kind of force would it take to have taken down a god, of all beings? In all the stories that the hunting/scouting party had heard as small infants, the gods had always conquered over the Serpent and won, and that that was the way of things destined to be: There was a sacrifice, the Gods would come, and the Serpent would die. Until the Serpent rose again some hundred years later, the village and its people were safe for another few generations. Now it was time to fight again. The hunters had never experienced such a prophesied event before of course, and it would be a story to be passed down to their grandkids and great-grandkids. Yes, these were sacred and very ominous times indeed.
The party followed the trail and by mid-day found the cave that which Kontu said the Serpent was in. Darkness stabbed out at them, as if trying to take them from the daylight and forever bound them into the cave opening. Dinontu was hesitant; fear gripped his insides in an embrace such that he had never known as a hunter. He saw it in the other three's eyes, too.
Upon observance of the opening of the cave, they saw what appeared to be three bodies. The darkness had not fully enveloped them; the sun shone fiercely on the corpses, making the smell of decay and rot rise to their nostrils. Trinop and the others had never smelled such death in their lives. Dinontu wagered that the bodies had been here for a day or two. Maybe more. They looked at the three prone forms, and realized that the one to the right was a monkey, its chest burst outward in an ugly fashion that the hunting party had never seen before. Thinking about the force it would have taken to burst a being’s chest from the inside out, they stepped back and retched. It was a sight that none of them wanted to behold in their minds ever again. The other two bodies were of large prey, but the corpses were too badly mangled and torn apart to decide what they were. The evidence was the same, however: a hole burst through the chest, parts of the rib cage exposed in an outward fashion and almost bleached white from the hot, harsh now mid-day sun.
"Let's move in," replied Dishna, and stepped lightly over the corpses of the fallen animals.
They headed into darkness, and took out torches that they had brought along with them. Each one was lit carefully using pieces of flint taken from a carry-on around their waist. They proceeded slowly, taking in all the surroundings of what was now obviously the Serpent's lair. Even though it was plenty warm now that it was mid-day, Trinop found himself chattering fiercely. It was not cold that had set him off; it was fear. The lair was rank with death and fear.
"Quiet," whispered Dinontu. "The Serpent can smell your fear. He will find you because you show your fear, Trinop. Try not to show your fear."
"I can't help it," the smaller one remarked. "I've never came across the Serpent before."
All four of them had never came across the Serpent before in their lives, and now here was the chance to prove to the gods their prowess and cunning. But they had fear instilled in them, and fear was what they did not need right now.
The walls of the lair was encased in some kind of resin, as well as the designing of what appeared to be large ribs along the walls. As far as the torches would allow them to see down the tunnel, the walls were covered in sticky, wet resin.
"What is this?" said Dishna, touching the stuff.
"Don't touch it!" cried Cratnik, seizing his fellow hunter's arm back. "The Serpent will possess you if you try to touch it, and then he will have you all to himself! Don't let him take you. You will be his prisoner forever in this place. Have you not paid attention to the stories as a little child?"
Dishna nodded; he did remember the stories; he was just so enwrapped in the Serpent's deadly creativeness that he had completely forgotten all about them, and the warnings that the tales had at the end. As if testament to what the stories and Cratnik's warning held, Dinontu pointed up to a certain area of rock where the torches gleamed. Up on the wall, incased in the creature's hideous cocooning method, was yet another spider monkey, its chest ruptured just like the bodies outside the lair. It had been dead for some time, that much was for certain, but the smell of death was rank from it. A dark puddle of blood was splashed on the floor of the cave; the monkey's entrails hung out in a gross fashion, and its mouth was open all the way in a silent scream. This was proof that the Serpent was true evil.
They looked to one another.
“Should we head back to the village and report our findings to Kel Moka?” Dishna asked.
Cratnik was about to reply when suddenly they heard the scream or an angered hiss from down the tunnel. It was the Serpent; it had to be. There was nothing else in here with them at the moment. The torches were pointed away from the dead monkey and down the tunnel, where it made a turn around the bend. Then there was an entirely different alien scream, one that was higher in pitch, and echoed of a challenge. The gods. No, two of the gods, as a second scream almost overlapped the first.
The four of them ran down the tunnel and past the bend, and came to a scene of carnage. It was so awe-striking that the other three behind Dishna ran into one another, realizing that the leader had already stopped.
Two of the gods were battling the Serpent—no, Serpents. There were many of the vile creatures all around in the one room, and the gods were fighting each one… by hand.
And above it all, towering over the fight, was the biggest, blackest Serpent that any of them had ever seen before. Never had the warriors seen drawings depicting of this being, and they were horrified at this new turn of events. Its head was bigger than the ones fighting the gods; its teeth gleamed clear white, and below its abdomen from its rear extended a large sac, reaching all the way across to the other side of the cavern. The four of them watched as something was deposited out of the tube, slime stretching away with it. It looked like an egg. Upon a second look, there were many eggs all lain out, evenly spread on the floor. It quickly dawned on them that this must be the Serpent Mother. The scouting party watched, thunderstruck, as another fleshy ovoid was deposited onto the hard, resin-crusted floor. Now, finally, it was clear where the Serpent originated and was birthed from every time the gods came.
The Serpent Mother turned her massive head and hissed at her new arrivals.
Meanwhile, the gods were fighting for their lives, that much was clear. Any one of the Serpents that was killed would only be replaced by others. The gods used crude methods to dispatch their enemies; they had powerful weapons of some kind that the four hunters had never seen before. The gods had raw power at their fingertips, and the hunting party was again thunderstruck at the speed and agility of their prophets. There were screams of pain and anger, and as the on-lookers watched they saw one of the gods take the set of twin blades on its wrist and cut deeply into the head of one of the creatures. It screamed in pain and fell, the back of its banana-shaped head gone, tossed away onto the ground, while another Serpent took its brother's place. But the gods would not give up fighting.
The spears the hunting/scouting party held in their hands suddenly seem-ed useless, like wet leaves would to a pond, with the Serpents’ blood able to eat the weapons without remorse and make them like so much weak blades of grass. Everywhere they looked they saw the blood pooling and seeping into the ground, little holes pitted in the material that the creatures had spread everywhere. There was not just a single Serpent now; Dishna had a feeling that there never was any one.
The stories that they had been told had been wrong.
They were all wrong, for the Serpent had grown into many.