Free Short Story!
A holy King reigns over a dying valley. He claims to speak for the goddess herself, and in her name, a witch is to be sacrificed.
This was written in fulfillment of a prompt about women with power.
Warnings: Sexual Assault, Implied Pedophilia
© Sam Clover 2019-2021
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced or modified in any form without the sole, explicit permission of the author, and credit properly given. This story was originally published in 2019 on the free fiction archive ‘Archive of our Own’ under Sam Clover’s pseudonym ‘PlagueClover’.
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Kiss of the Snake
It did not happen overnight. The great sin was decades in the making, from the moment a young warrior first placed the sacred crown of thorns atop his head.
He claimed to commune with the goddess of snakes. He claimed to control her, and for awhile the lands flourished and the people thrived. They worshipped him as if he were the living embodiment of Serpentina herself. They gifted him their children as wives. They gifted him snakes and reptiles and he took these with love to his bed.
Then, on one fateful new moon, Corine was born. She was born into turbulent seas, and following her birth, the land dried up. Their crops wilted to dust and the summer rains never again saw fit to bring a drop or relief.
As she grew, the people grew sick. A plague ravaged the dying land, and in answer, their belief in their holy king only strengthened. Corine’s blight of an existence confirmed to them that Serpentina ordained this idol King herself.
They fought that evil the only way they knew how: by praying at the king’s feet and showering him with sacrificial offerings. They gave him everything: their children, their wives, the food off their plates, and still they starved and grew sick.
Until Corine found a child. A creature of skin and bones, dying in its own filth. She brought it home. She gave it clean water to drink and a warm bed to die in, but die it did not. It lived.
Fear does funny things. And the people, they were terrified.
That was why they came for her. She knew they would. She saw it, a vision in the crashing waves that sprayed her hut atop the treacherous rocks.
Three men crashed through her door.
“Witch!” They shouted at her as they pounced.
They bound her wrists with thorned vines. The very same that made up the King’s crown. The same he used to bind his wives for their first time in his bed. It was a sacred thing, though she suspected she was not to be married this night. They meant it as a last rite.
She grunted through the pain but did not struggle as they whisked her off into the night. They dragged her through the dead fields, through the village, and into the sprawling palace of wood and stone where the king awaited.
He certainly was majestic. Corine could understand why the people found it so easy to take in his lies. He stood tall and wiry, even as his hair had grown white and time carved lines in his face, it did not seem to weigh him down as it did most.
He stood on the altar, his shoulders draped with fox hides, a snake wound round one arm and the rest of his body bare.
“There she is,” the king murmured as he pressed his lips slowly along the snake’s body. “The witch that poisons our lands and taints our children with her black magic.”
“I can also speak with animals,” Corine said. “The snake you violate has some words for you.”
The king sneered and one of his goons backhanded her across the face. She grunted at the sharp sting. Blood flooded her mouth and she spat it out before she bothered to look at the king again.
“Still you insult Serpentina.” The king let out an incredulous laugh. “I might have shown you mercy, witch, had you shown humility. Lay her down. It is time.”
Corine let the brutes drag her to the altar. They roughly forced her down on her belly with her bound wrists resting painfully against her back. The stone of the altar was cold and uncomfortable against her bare chest, but then the king stepped over her. He straddled her backside, putting all his weight down on her and making it hurt so much worse.
“Sweet Serpentina,” the king murmured to the snake. Corine could feel his erection twitch against her bare skin as he began to rock up and down.
The brutes knelt around them and began to chant.
The smooth, cool body of the snake slithered across her back, up her shoulders. Its tongue flickered at her ear.
The king rocked against her harder and harder as the chanting grew in pitch. His lust swelled as he brandished the ceremonial serpent blade. “I brought you this wretched thing that flaunts her dissent. Let her soul turn to ash! Let her flesh sate your righteous hunger!”
“Serpentina!” The brutes screamed at the ceiling. “Serpentina!”
In answer, a darkness began to seep through the cracks in the walls. Even as the king continued to dance against her and his henchmen continued to scream the great goddess’s name, the darkness spread.
Did they not see it? Were they so blinded by their delusions? Corine watched as fear trembled through her shoulders. The growing darkness snuffed out the candlelight one-by-one. It crept across the floor to lick at her feet and spread up the brute’s knees.
The first one to notice jerked to his feet with a startled scream. He stumbled backwards — right into the darkness — and it swallowed him whole.
The others stopped chanting. The King stumbled to his feet as the other henchmen jumped onto the altar with them. Now the darkness surrounded them. Where the first henchman disappeared, the shadows swirled into the form of a woman, flesh black as obsidian and reptilian eyes bright as liquid gold.
The two living henchmen looked to the king with fear and heavy expectation. His eyes darted back and forth, flashing between terror, doubt, and hope. He took a shaky step over Corine, towards the visage. “Serpentina… My love…”
“Why,” Serpentina hissed, “does my daughter bleed?”
Confusion clouded the King’s eyes. “What…? We have many daughters, my love.”
Serpentina sneered. She took a step forward. In a low, dry voice so powerful, Corine could feel it in her bones, the goddess asked, “Who are you?”
Silence fell over the palace. The faces of the brutes paled as realization sunk in. They dropped to their knees, begging forgiveness, but the King… The king’s brows furrowed. His eyes hardened and he balled his hands into fists.
“This is not Serpentina,” he growled with indignance deepening his voice. “This is a trick. This is the witch trying to turn you against me! Are you so easily fooled?!”
Corine grunted with frustration. She yanked an arm free. Pain shot through her wrists and hands as the thorns gouged a dozen deep cuts through her skin. She grabbed the ceremonial knife, leapt to her feet, and stabbed it into the King’s belly.
He stiffened. His eyes fell to her hand, and as he watched in shock, she slashed the knife up as far as she could get it. As his flesh split slowly open and his innards spilled to the altar, the darkness began to recede. A smile blinked across Serpentina’s face, and then she was gone.
The king fell to his knees, shaky and pale as he desperately tried to gather up his unspooled intestines. The darkness cleared and where the first henchmen fell, there was only bones.
Corine plucked the crown of thorns from the King’s head. She tossed it into the mess of his guts and stomped it in as he wailed in pain. “You made him,” She growled at the henchmen. “All that this liar King took from you, and you allowed it.”
“Please,” one of the henchmen begged. “We thought… We did not know.”
“Get up,” she barked. They obeyed. “Return the children to their families and release the animals.”
As the henchmen hurried off and swept the doorway curtain aside, they froze. Corine cringed. What in blazes was happening now? She wandered over to join them and found the scorched world outside grey.
A beautiful grey they had not seen in so long.
It began to rain.
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Sam Clover is a published author of M/M speculative fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.