Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: The Snake and the Ghost

  1. #1
    Heroic Warrior
    Join Date
    Jun 2017

    The Snake and the Ghost

    You may know some of my other work.

    I'm not listing it all here, but there is an extensive list in this thread:

    This, here, however, is simply a story. English isn't my first language, so the wording might be somewhat awkward here and there. If you find some stupid mistakes, feel free to tell me.

    The Snake and the Ghost

    The circle was drawn. The candles were lit. The runes were written.
    King Hssss hesitated to speak the words.
    Was this really necessary?
    Since he had joined forces with the other rulers of Eternia to defend the planet from the Evil Horde, things had not been bad. He had a kingdom again. A small one, but still. He had peace. The other rulers didn't suddenly like him, but they respected him as an ally and a member of the Council of Eternia. Did he really need more than that?
    Yes. Yes, there was one more thing that he needed: The Reptons. They were Snake Men, after all. They were his people. They should have been part of his kingdom.
    It wasn't that Hssss didn't like Pythos. He was pretty much indifferent towards that guy. It was simply wrong that there were Snake Men who didn't follow Serpos, didn't follow the Unnamed One.
    Didn't follow him.
    So it had to be done. Hssss spoke the words.
    The floor inside the circle started to waver like hot air and the ghost rose from the floor. A skeleton, human, probably male (it should be male, if it was the right one). Most of it covered in a substance that was at the same time pitch black and completely transparent. A crack in the skull. A purple cloak that looked way to mundane for a ghost. And, in the bony hands, a big, yellowish-green scythe. Not a harvest scythe. A war scythe, more similar to a poleaxe.
    “Karak Nul?”, Hssss asked.
    “I used to be called that”, the ghost's hollow voice answered. “And you are King Hiss.”
    Even in death, those mammals mispronounced his name.
    “So what do I call you, if you are not Karak Nul anymore?”
    “You can call me Scare Glow. What do you want from me?”
    “Is it true that you owned the Black Crystal of Power?”
    “The one from the Cosmic Egg?”
    “Yes. I stole it from a temple ruin myself.”
    “Where is it?”
    “I could tell you, but that wouldn't help you much. The place is treacherous and hard to describe.”
    “I expected something like that.”
    Hssss pulled out a big pebble that had the same signs drawn on it as the floor. He spoke some more magic words.
    “You can leave the circle now, but you will notice that you can't leave my eyesight. Nor can you touch me.”
    “Yes, I know how those bindings work. I expect you want me to show you the way to the crystal?”
    “Let's go.”

    The vehicle they used was unknown to Scare Glow. Hiss had called it a Land Shark and indeed it had a shark-like front.
    To his surprise, he had not been summoned to Snake Mountain but to a random cave in the Dunes of Doom. Obviously, Hiss didn't want anyone else to know what he was doing.
    Was it even really Hiss? Probably. Scare Glow knew that Hiss was back and this Snake Man was wearing the red cape and, more important, the King's Staff. He also looked similar to the statues Scare Glow had seen.
    Legends said that Hiss was a master of disguise, that he could easily pass as human if he wanted.
    But they also said that he had actually six heads, so Scare Glow had his doubts about their accuracy.
    But yes, that had to be Hiss. Who would have dared to impersonate him as long as the real one was around? Also, the way he fought with the controls, this Snake Man was clearly at least a century behind the rest of Eternia.
    “Is that the right one?”, Hiss asked, stopping at the entrance of a small canyon.
    “Yes. That's the one.”

    The door was barely visible in the shadowy wall of the canyon.
    “So what is this?”, asked Hssss.
    “It used to be my secret hideout. Here, I hid from my enemies and stored everything I couldn't sell right away.”
    “Why couldn't you sell the Black Crystal?”
    “Oh, of course there were sorcerers interested in it. Just none whom I trusted enough. I had, after all, no idea what the crystal could do.”
    That was understandable. Hssss himself had only learned about it recently, thanks to a time-traveler from a better age, Zilora of the Snake Clan. She had told the Reptons things that they hadn't know about their goddess yet. And there were at least a few Reptons willing to share information with their rightful king.
    “Can you just go through the door and open it from the inside?”
    “Normally, yes. It is just an ordinary door, not ghost-proof or anything. But since you cannot see through stone, the binding won't allow it.”
    “So how do you open it?”
    “With my key, obviously. I don't have the original one with me, but this one has opened every lock for me so far.”
    Scare Glow pulled out a metal key and searched for the keyhole. He found it soon.
    There were some mechanical noises, then a piece of the wall swung away to the inside.

    “Two steps in front of you is a tripwire. I recommend avoiding it”, Scare Glow warned Hiss.
    It would have been so easy. The cave was full of traps – most of them still functional even after two hundred years. But the binding forced Scare Glow to protect his summoner.
    It wasn't the first time, he was summoned. The last time, though, it had been different. Not only had Subternius allowed him to move freely, but the wizard Zem had freed him to turn against his master. He could have taken Tundaria for himself if not for Kol Darr and his friends.
    This time, there was no such chance. Hiss only wanted the crystal – whatever he planned to do with it – so they probably wouldn't meet anyone who could free him.
    How could Hiss even know that he had the crystal? No, that was a dumb question. He had only told one person. Khira. Who was a Repton and member of the Sisterhood of Serpentia, so the connection to Hiss was obvious. Karak Nul had clearly not thought with his brain when he had told her …
    “Can you glow brighter?”, Hiss asked. “I can barely see where I'm going.”
    “I could, but then you would experience fear like you have never felt before and completely freeze.”
    “How did you do it when you were alive?”
    “I brought a torch.”
    Probably embarrassed that he hadn't thought of that, Hiss went silent. Good.
    “No we have to walk down some stairs. Stay to the left, there is an abyss to the right.”
    Hiss followed Scare Glow down, silently.
    “What is this scythe?”, the king of the Snake Men asked after a while. “You brought it from the Spirit Realm, but it seems solid.”
    And of course, Scare Glow had to answer.
    “It is solid. It cut through the veil between worlds and fell into the Spirit Realm when I died. I don't know where it is originally from, but I call it the Scythe of Doom.”
    “If it can cut rifts between worlds, why didn't you escape the Spirit Realm with it?”
    “Because it didn't work. Don't ask me why, I have no idea how it does what it does. I only know that it cuts through anything.”
    “Yes. Flesh, bone, metal, stone, ghosts. The only thing it didn't cut was the Sword of the Ancients. That's how I died.”
    “Where did you get it?”
    “Castle Grayskull.”
    The footsteps behind Scare Glow's back stopped.
    “You are lying”, Hiss accused.
    “I can't lie to you.”
    “How did you do that? How did you get into Castle Grayskull?”
    “That was easy, actually. Someone showed me a side entrance and I had this key, so I just went in.”
    “And all you got from it is this scythe?”
    “That and the sword of He-Ro, but I gave that to Count Marzo.”
    “You worked for Marzo.”
    “Among others. I was a mercenary. You knew him?”
    “Know. He is still around. Tried to take over Eternia with his Council of Evil but failed. Now he works for me.”
    That was interesting. Of course it could easily be a different Count Marzo, a great-great-grandson or something like that, but still. A Marzo who had openly betrayed his kingdom, completely failed and was now forced to work for a reptile was … funny.
    “Can I ask you something?”, Scare Glow asked.
    “Why not.”
    “Do you actually eat people?”
    The idea of Marzo getting eaten was even funnier.
    “Rarely. Mostly for intimidation. Let's get going.”
    They moved on. Scare Glow wondered if he should ask what Hiss wanted with the Black Crystal of Power. But he didn't want to sound too interested. He knew that it was connected to the Snake Goddess – the Snake Clan had put it in her temple, after all. But he had no idea what it could do.
    Maybe it was a good thing that he had told Khira. After all, what would he do with it otherwise? Just let it collect dust in a dark cave? This way, he would at least get to see it in action. And maybe have an opportunity to use it himself.
    He wondered if Khira was still alive. But no. Normal Reptons didn't grow that old and she hadn't been a sorceress or anything like that. Not that he wanted to meet her again after last time …
    The stairs ended. Scare Glow didn't tell Hiss, so the king stumbled a bit. He had to protect him from harm, but he could have a little fun.
    Last edited by Capeträger; October 22, 2019 at 05:54pm. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    Heroic Warrior
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Hssss stumbled when the stairs ended without warning. He decided to ignore it.
    While he couldn't see much in the ghost's eerie green light, he knew that he was getting closer to his goal.
    “Trapdoor in front of you, stick close to the wall.”
    This cave had nearly as many traps as Castle Grayskull. And they were probably more deadly.
    “Have you ever been inside Castle Grayskull?”
    Did the ghost just read his thoughts? No, that couldn't be. He was protected against that kind of magic. Scare Glow probably just had the same associations as Hssss himself.
    “Ever? Lots of times.”
    In fact, he had lived there for a time when he had posed as his own ambassador and spied on D'Vann Grayskull. But that was not a story to tell around.
    “I mean, recently. After it had been abandoned.”
    The ghost didn't need to know that Hssss had needed Skeletor the first and the Council of Evil the second time.
    “Really? I made it barely out again the first time.”
    “Whereas I managed to kill a Sorceress.”
    Ha. Now the dead human was impressed.
    “But you didn't gain the Power of Grayskull.”
    But not impressed enough.
    “What do I need that for? I have the power of Serpos!”
    “That's something I always wondered … is Snake Mountain really Serpos?”
    “The fortress that looks like a giant snake is actually a giant snake?”
    “A giant snake god.”
    “Some god that gets turned to stone by a bunch of wizards.”
    “I can order you to stay inside a wall for the next hundred years when this is over.”
    “No, no, I believe you. A powerful god. Just … momentarily inconvenienced.”
    Hssss hissed. This wasn't even a mammal problem, more a problem of the later generations. Back in what was now called Preternia, nobody had had a problem to understand that Serpos could be a stone fortress and a powerful deity that you prayed to at the same time. The people of today just didn't understand divinity anymore.
    “And the stories that he is your father …”
    “They are true.”
    “This mountain sized snake is … how did he …”
    “He is a god. He just did it. You don't need to explain it.”
    “There are texts that refer to Serpos as 'she'.”
    “Serpos has a female aspect, yes. But mainly, he is male.”
    “But how –“
    That was when Hssss lost it.

    Scare Glow had fun. On the one hand, he was actually interested in Snake Men lore. He always had been. History had been one of his fields of expertise and a lucrative one. Which meant, he had found and robbed a few important tombs.
    On the other hand, it was just fun making his summoner angry. And potentially useful. Anger led to mistakes and mistakes led to free ghosts.
    The situation became less fun when Hiss suddenly ripped open.
    He had always believed that to be a legend. He had assumed that Hiss was just another Snake Man. But what he saw now was either a great feat of tranformation magic, or …
    three snakelike bodies broke free from the skin. Followed by three smaller ones. Another, even smaller one, wrapped itself around one of the bigger ones. And Hiss' head was still there, sitting on the biggest Snake body in the middle.
    Eight. Not six. Eight heads.
    “I am Hssss! King of the Snake Men, High Priest of the Unnamed One, rightful ruler of Eternia and Son of Serpos! And you will not question me or my god!”
    Scare Glow wasn't really afraid. He wasn't able to feel fear anymore. But he was taken by surprise and so failed to react when two of the snakes darted towards him and bit through his arms.
    The Scythe of Doom fell to the floor with a “clank” when the bitten-off forearms just vanished.
    “So you understand?”, Hiss asked.
    “I understand.”, Scare Glow answered.
    It took him a few tries to re-materialize his arms. Hiss' magic was strong.
    Finally, he had at least his left hand back and could pick up the scythe. The right was still somewhat nebulous.
    “Where now?”, Hiss demanded to know.
    “This tunnel”, Scare Glow answered and pointed at an opening in the wall.

    Hssss felt … ambiguous. Putting that human in his place had been a relief but it had also cost him his Snake Man skin. It would grow back, sure, but since he had no costume with him to replace it, he would have to make the rest of the way in this form. With no hands and to many sights to stay calm. This was a form for battle, not for exploring a cave.
    “What is this even?”, he asked. “You didn't built all those tunnels and stairs yourself, did you?”
    “Only a little”, Scare Glow answered. “Most of it was done when I found it. I guess someone lived here. A human tribe or Belots. Maybe Caligars. However, they are gone. And they were pretty primitive anyway. All the clever mechanics are mine.”
    The tunnel opened into a bigger cave. It had a flat floor and some furniture. A small stream crossed it and daylight came through a shaft in the ceiling.
    “My living area”, Scare Glow explained. “Back when I was, you know, living. It has air, water, light … and after two hundred years, the leftover food doesn't even smell anymore. I guess. Ghosts don't have a sense of smell.”
    Snake Men had a great sense of smell and there was indeed nothing. Wherever that leftover food had been was probably just earth now.
    “I am not here to see your living conditions. I want the crystal.”
    “Yes, yes. Treasure chamber. Right over here.”

    Scare Glow had gotten used to Hiss' weird look by now. So he was indeed a demigod. So what? Scare Glow was a ghost.
    He entered the treasure chamber and was immediately flooded with memories.
    The completed key of Moraturia was lying in a corner. It was useless because it already fulfilled its purpose, but collectors would have paid a fortune for it anyway. There was the Amulet of Crystallization – a powerful weapon in the hand of a wizard, so he wouldn't tell Hiss about it. And there, on the desk, a fragment of the Dark Star. Scare Glow had no idea what you could do with it, but he was sure that it was useful.
    “And where in this heap of junk is the Black Crystal of Power?”
    Of course, not everything in here was a priceless artifact. There were also coins, jewelry, weapons, tools and books lying around in no particular order.
    “We will have to search a bit.”

    Searching through that chaos was especially unpleasant when he had to take everything in his mouth, Hssss decided. Hands would have been great now.
    “That's just like sharing Snake Mountain with Skeletor and his idiot warriors. They left a mess everywhere, too.”
    “I heard of Skeletor”, Scare Glow said, pulling his head out of a pile of cheap bracelets and rings. “Why didn't you just throw him out?”
    “He was useful. Not trustworthy, but useful.”
    “But you did get rid of him eventually?”
    “Not quite. He just vanished. Together with that blasted He-Man. And I hope I will never see either of them again.”
    Well, they would have been useful against the Evil Horde later on. But Hssss wouldn't admit that to some thief who couldn't even keep order in his own treasury.
    “For hating us so much, you work with humans a lot.”
    “I don't hate humans. In fact, there are some that I like. They are the ones who hate me, because they can't except the natural order.”
    “What natural order?”
    “Snake Men can do anything that humans can. But we also live longer, have thicker skin, are more attuned to magic, have a better sense of sight and smell …”
    “But worse hearing.”
    “Hearing is overrated. Do you think we want to hear that noise you call music? Anyway, we have natural weapons. Fangs, venom. But most important, we keep improving ourselves. Humans build weapons and vehicles but we create better soldiers. And not just to die on the battlefield. They share their gifts with everyone, from the noble Houses to the lowest of the Clans. And look at me. I am the Son of Serpos, the Demigod King, the Snake Demon. Anyone who doesn't accept my superiority is just dumb.”
    “So you like humans as long as they know their place, yes?”
    “Exactly. Just take the Snake Clan. We brought them steel. We let hem live in a city. And how did they thank us? By worshiping the Green Goddess! The former leader of our enemies!”
    “Wait, the Green Goddess is real?”
    “A real witch, yes. Leader of the so-called Wizards of Good. We could have killed them for their treason. The Snake Clan, I mean. But we didn't. We just drove them out of their city. But were they grateful? No, they joined forces with D'Vann! The one who killed my nephew!”
    Hssss accidentally swallowed a dagger. Luckily it was in its hilt.
    This form really wasn't for discussing politics. Wait, why was he discussing anything with his servant anyway?
    He probably just missed discussing. Back in Preternia, there had been the Council of Houses. The highest ranking nobles of the Snake Men, governing the kingdom in his name. With them, he had loved to discuss. They had even changed his opinion sometimes. Now, all he had was bunch of soldiers, a priest and some criminals. And the one with the most leadership qualities, General Rattlor, was in Eternos as ambassador.
    “I've got it!”
    All sixteen eyes looked toward Scare Glow. In the newly reformed right hand, he held a single, pitch black, crystal.
    Hssss snatched it with one of his mouths. And he felt it. There was magic in this crystal, divine magic, writhing and slithering inside as if it was alive.
    “I can't call her here”, he said. “Do you have a clean room?”

    “Her”, he had sad. Who was “her”?
    The question was easy to answer. Hiss could only mean the Snake Goddess. After all, the crystal was from her temple. Found in the Cosmic Egg that had fallen from the sky. Collected by the Snake Clan. And, during their nomadic time, stored in a secret temple that the Snake Men were not allowed to know.
    The Reptons worshiped the Snake Goddess. Mostly the neutral version who, according to legend, had led the to the cave where they had build Jatoria. Some, however, like Khira and her sisters, worshiped her more aggressive aspect, Serpentia. And of course there was Nagrana, the Snake Goddess of Healing worshiped in Kundall. Which version, if any, would appear here?
    Scare Glow had no idea what this small chamber had been used for by the cave's original inhabitants and he didn't care. Neither did Hiss. He just drew some circles on the floor and lit a fire in the middle.
    Than he through the crystal into the flames.
    Nothing happened.
    “Are you sure this is right?”, Scare Glow asked.
    “Of course I am sure.”
    Last edited by Capeträger; October 22, 2019 at 05:55pm.

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Of course Hssss wasn't sure. The Snake Clan had never used the crystal. Their ritual could be dictated by the Snake Goddess. Or pure guesswork. His informants didn't know.
    With a loud bang, the crystal cracked in the flames. Green smoke poured out.
    It was right.

    Scare Glow had seen materializations from smoke before. This, however, did not look like a demon appearing. And the torso that was forming was not that of a ghost. Quite the opposite. This creature was glowing with life, more than any creature he had seen, including Hiss in his monstrous form.
    The torso grew arms and a head. It grew breasts – covered by a metal bra, for some reason. The neck was surrounded by a metal ring that was adorned with a forward-facing cobra had that looked somewhat familiar. The face that formed looked human but instead of hair, a mass of snakes grew out of the head. Finally, the skin solidified. Black eyes, red lips, green scales everywhere else.
    The lower part of the body, however, remained as smoke.
    The Snake Goddess looked at the two men standing before her.
    “So I am summoned by the king of Snake Mountain and the new wielder of the Scythe of Horokoth. Fine. What do you want?”

    She looked just as he remembered her. He had seen her only once, in a vision, but her words had guided him since. Because of her symbol, he had taken the Staff of Ka. Because of her promise, he had teamed up with Skeletor and Marzo to conquer Grayskull. He had killed the Sorceress and defended Eternia against the Evil Horde to see her prophecy fulfilled.
    “I am asking you for guidance. The Snake Men are divided and weak. I have to reunite us to bring us to our former glory. Make us the rulers of Eternia again!”
    “You have to? You can try. I have no advice for you other than that: Do not use your gods.”
    Hssss looked at her, slightly confused.
    “I don not intend to use you. I am asking for your guidance.”
    “You used Serpos, your father, as a weapon to conquer Preternia. You had the Medaillon of Serpos made to assume direct control of him. And now you want me to appear to the Repton's to convince them to join you, don't you?”
    She knew. Of course she knew.
    “I promise you that I won't try something like that again. Just tell me what to do and I will follow your every word.”
    “I know a bit of the future. Not all. Far from all. But I have seen some things. And I can promise you that the Snake Men will be reunited.”
    Yes! He had known it!
    “The time of the Snake Men will come. They will once again be the powerful people they used to be. They will live in peace and prosperity.”
    That was it. Those were the words, that was the moment. That was what Hssss had seen in a vision in Central Tower so many centuries ago. This cave at this day.
    And then the Snake Goddess said something he didn't hear back then:
    “But not under your rule.”
    Had he worn one of his human disguises, Hssss would have blinked in confusion.
    “But … I am the king of the Snake Men.”
    “You are the king of a small army that was trapped in the Timeless Dimension for centuries. You are the king of single mountain fortress and the barren land around it. You are a thief who looks down on other thieves and still needs their help to accomplish anything.”
    All Hssss could do was stare.
    “You may be the Son of Serpos and even the High Priest of the Unnamed One, but you are not the rightful ruler of Eternia. You are not even the king of the Snake Men. And you never will be.”
    “But … who?”
    “I don't know. But maybe, you are lucky. If you have a few children before your inevitable demise, it might at least be someone from your family.”

    Scare Glow was just as surprised as Hiss. So, that was actually the Snake Goddess. They had managed to summon a goddess. Into his cave. But what surprised him more was how much she despised Hiss. Every story he knew told how she liked the Snake Men. How her son Ka had saved Serpos. How she herself had led the remaining Snake Men to safety so they would become the Reptons. He would have never thought that that this didn't extend to their king.
    Stunned as he was, Scare Glow didn't react in time, when one of Hiss' heads darted towards him again. Jaws closed around the handle of the Scythe of Doom – or Scythe of Horokoth as the Snake Goddess had called it – and ripped it out of Scare Glows hands.
    The ghost looked at Hiss who swung the scythe, than at the Snake Goddess who looked just as surprised as Hiss had before.
    And then her head fell off. Followed by the torso dropping to the ground.
    Scare Glow could see her life seep out and dissipate.
    He heard a familiar “clank” as Hiss dropped the scythe.
    “Did I … is she actually …”, he stammered.
    “It looks like it. There is a legend that says that Shokoti killed Nordor with a weapon borrowed from Horokoth. If that is this scythe than … it can indeed kill gods.”
    “But that … what … Nobody can know about this!”
    Hiss picked up the scythe again.
    “Can it kill ghosts?”
    “It might be able to cut my form to pieces, but I can make a new one. It might even rip up my soul, but it would put itself back together. Also …”
    Scare Glow snapped his fingers. The scythe freed itself from Hiss' mouths and levitated into the ghost's hands.
    “When it dragged my soul to the spirit world, the scythe became part of my ghost form. I don't think it will harm me.”
    “I'm putting a permanent geas on you. You will not be able to speak about the events of this day. Ever.”
    “Fine with me.”
    Hiss spoke magic words again. Scare Glow didn't feel different.
    “Try saying what happened today. Anything that happened today.”
    “Well, you …”
    He couldn't finish the sentence.
    “Good, it works.”
    Hiss took the pebble with the runes on it and threw it into the fire.
    “And now: Ghost be gone!”

    Hssss felt a bit better as he saw Scare Glow vanish back into the Spirit Realm.
    The green smoke was also gone, but the body was still lying on the floor. What happened to the corpses of deities? Did they rot, like mortals? Lie around forever? Or vanish sooner or later?
    And did it matter? Nobody would come here.
    Now, what would he do? The Snake Goddess had said his demise was inevitable. But she hadn't actually seen that in his future, had she? She had only seen that he wouldn't rule when the Snake Men and Reptons were reunited.
    He wouldn't die. Ever. He regenerated. He had been decapitated and unlike her, he had recovered.
    Still. It wouldn't be bad to have children. He had liked having his nephew Vypor around. But there where no females of rank or power left …
    But of course he had the means to turn humans into Snake Men and he knew at least two powerful human sorceresses …
    Hssss turned around and suddenly realized that he now had to find out of the dark cave full of traps on his own.

    Scare Glow sat in his castle. He hadn't built it, he had just found it floating around in the Spirit Realm. Through a window, he saw some rocks floating nearby and a giant owl turn into a sea lily. The usual stuff.
    Time was strange here. Had he just returned from Eternia? Or was he already back a few days? Weeks? Months? He never knew.
    A shadow behind his back demanded his attention. As it turned out, it was actually a kind of floating black whirlpool. It sucked in air, but as a ghost, Scare Glow wasn't affected by that.
    But maybe he wanted to be. It was a way out. Maybe some form of summoning, maybe just a gateway without conditions.
    Scare Glow floated close to it and looked.
    It was a tunnel, long and twisting, but sometimes he could see the other end. There was … a skull. A somewhat yellowish skull with red lights glowing in the eye sockets and … a blue hood?
    That was interesting enough. Scare Glow dashed into the whirlpool.

    The End
    Last edited by Capeträger; October 22, 2019 at 05:56pm.

  4. #4
    Heroic Warrior smaug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    An amazingly well written story..! I was totally immersed from the very first sentence..!
    I LOVE this..!
    Leech sucks..!

  5. #5
    Heroic Warrior motogp_fanatic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Can't stop when i started reading it. Nice work.

    Sent from my vivo 1718 using Tapatalk
    By the power of Grayskull!!!!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts