The Coming Of The Serpent
by w. Q. Judge
(under pen name Bryan Kinnavan)
The white rays shed over all the Island when the Diamond on the mountain shot forth its last light continued shining until the malignant snake formed from the serpent's blood had fled all across the sea and reached the great Isle beyond. Then all became black as night to the people. Deprived of my body that lay cold and dead beside the altar, I could see the high priest bending over the corpse until the growing darkness filled him with alarm which changed to terror. As he rose from his bending attitude I heard a solemn voice that filled all the space around utter these words:
"The cycle is ended. Thou hast completed a part of thy work, leaving a little in the new malignant snake to be done. Thou must follow it to the other Islands until fate shall lead thee elsewhere. Fear not but proceed with a calm courage, for we are ever beside thee, the same in the dark as in the light."
A sudden faintness filled my ethereal body, shadowy forms flitted about me, and I knew I was flying eastward with the vast heaving sea below me. On and on I fled and soon perceived the smell of earth. Over the other Island to the west I was floating in an atmosphere loaded with heavy emanations. I lost consciousness — and then I was born in another land, in the Island to the East, and even as a child I knew that the serpent's blood had come before me, knew full well I should meet it some day. In time I entered in company with the Druids, and one of them told of the coming of the serpent.
My teacher and narrator was a tall old man, over a century in age. A long white beard fell over his breast. Large blue eyes that seemed alive with a light of their own showed his soul gazing at you, but they were strong and fearless in expression. They pierced your being, but carried calmness and hope with them. A calmness born from many lives of struggle and triumph, a hope arising from a vast and comprehensive view of the future; for he was a seer and knew the coming and going of the great tides of time. He said:
"Boy, your questions grow out of experience in the past. The serpent is in this land. Here we came long, long ago, after many centuries of watching, from the shore of the Island of the Diamond, while this land slowly rose up from the deep to touch the surface of the water and then emerge. For your own island is far older than this. We planted huge stones of magic potency in the slime as it came near the surface, and held them in place by the same power, hoping to prepare in advance for the Serpent which we knew was to come. But human hearts and wills alone can conquer: magic stones and amulets and charms subserve but a temporary end. Many centuries passed thus, and after the land had arisen, became clothed with vegetation and inhabited by people, we sorrowfully saw the emanations from colonists were thickening day by day.
"Across the sea the Diamond Mountain threw up over the horizon a faint and beautiful light by night, a bluish haze by day. Then one night as with my brothers I sat looking westward, the light on the sky blazed up with sudden force. We knew the hour had come. The darkness fell greater as that holy light faded away, and through the air a hissing sound came across the sea. It was the serpent's blood, one drop changed into a smaller snake that flew from the west. That was the day you violated rules, throttled the ancient serpent behind the altar, and lost your life at the hands of the high-priest of a false, a counterfeit religion.
"In vain our chants arose around the mighty stones that stood majestically in the plain. On and on, louder and louder, came that malignant hiss; down on the ground, even close to the stones of the Sun, fell the serpent and disappeared from our sight.
"Since then its baleful influence has been felt over all the land, and until thy coming we knew not when any deliverer should arise. In thee is locked up the power to destroy the last remnants of the power of the serpent's blood. Perhaps thy ancient friends will help, for although thou art younger here, yet thou art older than we all. Be wise and true. Forget no duty, omit no effort, and one day the last drop of that ephidian blood will be altered by thy power and art, will be transmuted into elixir."