The Snake-Dragon of the Aegiads
By Jason C.
It was January in Samos. The clouds came up across the bay—they massed blackly and then tore up the sky, climbing vertically. The rains had persisted for six days, gusting along the ramparts with relentless ferocity and flooding the small village. Heavy rainfall was not totally uncommon here but this particular storm was a different beast entirely: the sea port was sinking into the ocean, the bare masts of abandoned vessels stuck up like tooth-picks, houses and buildings were destroyed with the muddy waters rising up to waist level. Authorities had implemented an evacuation plan by organizing the villagers to travel high up into the Ampelos Mountains to seek refuge but others were stubbornly reluctant to abandon their homes and crops. However, many simply refused to leave based on the ancient myths surrounding those mountains: it was said to be cursed and those brave enough to venture into its midst were never seen again.
Father Jerome stood outside of his dilapidated monastery staring intensely down the ridge at the procession of people making their ascent up the rocky cliffs. Handfuls of rain poured down on him; he was drenched to the bone but remained completely indifferent to the cold winds and smothering dampness. He grizzled face had the look of contempt and indignation. Night was quickly approaching and he knew that the villagers would have to stop and make camp very soon. After what seemed like hours, he was surrounded by pitch darkness but could still see the dim flickering of torch lights moving here and there like fireflies. He thought: This is impossible—they should have perished by now, yet, seem determined and keep moving at a steadfast pace towards the summit. But that would mean…
He turned hastily around and ran back inside his small manse built of crumbling laterite brick. The tin-thatched roof prevented most of the rain from leaking through but in spots that needed repairs, he meticulously set up large clay pots to catch the dripping water. The interior smelt like rotting leaves and was rather barren: a small bed in the corner, kitchen area, writing desk, stone hearth, dusty bookcase. He took of his soaking robes and swiftly moved towards the hearth to poke at the embers to get the fire going. He then perused his bookcase until he found the heavy tomb he was looking for: Δυστυχώς αυτό είναι αργά. He then took out a large silver pendant from around his neck that was shaped like a snake-dragon, held it firmly and began to recite an incoherent incantation from the book. A cloud of grey smoke began to swirl violently around him and suddenly a small devilish fury with golden wings appeared through the thick vaporous clouds. His pupils were fully dilated and rolling back into his skull as he spoke to the creature: “The Oath-breaker approaches Limia. The river Lethe is no longer safe. Warn the goddess immediately."