Collected Stories of Serpent Sewer
A collection of stories about the Serpent Sewer beneath Freeport. Allegory? Fantasy? Or truth? Who knows?
The three stories have intriguing titles. One hopes the stories are as compelling.
Fooling the Serpent
This is the story of the clever frog who fooled the Serpent God that lived in the deepest part of the Serpent Sewer.
Frog often boasted that he was the smartest creature in the Serpent Sewer. He visited the Serpent God and told him, "If you give me a single oat, I can turn it into an entire feast for you!" The Serpent God was very amused by Frog's boast and gave him the grain. Frog left the Serpent Sewer and found his way to Temple Street, where the ratonga knew of the Serpent God and were very superstitious. The Frog told their leader that the Serpent God had given him a blessed oat and demanded lodging for the night, which the ratongas gladly gave.
The ratonga gave a feast for the Frog and the blessed grain. In the middle of the night while the slept, the Frog crushed the oat and fed it to a chicken roosting near his bed. In the morning, he sprang up denouncing the ratonga for having stolen the blessed grain! Frightened, the ratonga gave the Frog the chicken and begged him not to tell the Serpent God about the grain. Frog agreed, and took the chicken to the next village where he requested shelter for himself and the sacred chicken of the Serpent God.
As before, the villagers prepared a feast for the frog and the sacred chicken and gave them shelter. In the middle of the night, Frog killed the chicken and spread its feathers all around the village. In the morning, he cried, "Someone from the village has slain the sacred chicken!" Frightened of the Serpent God, the villagers gave Frog a dozen sheep, which he took with him. As Frog herded the sheep down the road, he passed a man who stood victorious over the body of a viper. "I'll give you these sheep for the viper," said Frog, and so the trade was made.
At his next stop, Frog told the villagers not to wake the sleeping viper, as it was the son of the Serpent God and had had a busy day. In the morning, when the villagers came to wake them, Frog cried, "Someone has killed the Serpent God's son!" And the villagers were so frightened, they gave Frog all their winter stores of food. Frog had them carry all their food to the Serpent Sewer where he presented it to the Serpent God, showing how he had turned the single oat into an entire feast.
The Enchanted Serpent
This is the story of a clever serpent who met its doom at the hands of an even cleverer human.
A long time ago when the city of Freeport was new, there lived a beautiful young woman who had many suitors. After toying with this one and flirting with that one, she finally married the richest and most handsome of them. Not long after their marriage, though, he died. Although his widow mourned him, she was soon remarried to another rich and handsome man. He too died suddenly within a week.
The widow grieved for her second husband, too, but not very long later she married again. The pattern repeated itself time and again. The beautiful young woman always selected the richest and most handsome of her suitors to marry, but within a week of the wedding, her husbands were dead. All told, the beautiful widow had had six husbands within a year's time. She married for the seventh time.
Her seventh husband was not as rich as the previous six, nor as handsome, but he was extremely clever. He decided that there was some mystery surrounding the beautiful woman and was determined to discover the truth. He watched her closely, and one day followed her as she slipped into a passage leading to the Serpent Sewer. Intrigued, he followed her until she came to the deepest part of the tunnels where she paused and sung a beautiful song. The water churned and suddenly, a large serpent rose from the murky water.
As her husband watched, the woman raised her arms over her head and turned into a serpent herself, coiling around and around the other serpent. He realized that she was an enchanted serpent, intent upon luring the men of Freeport to a poisonous fate. Having studied at the Academy himself, he knew many spells and cast one upon the serpent and her lover, causing them to turn into a great stone pillar. So he alone of the serpent's seven husbands lived to tell the tale.
The Skin of the Serpent
This is the story of the serpent that was tricked out of its skin.
Once in the long-ago there lived a young scavenger who often hunted for other people's cast-offs in the sewers beneath the city. He would find bits of this and that, then put them together to create many interesting things. One day as he was hard at work in the Serpent Sewer, he became so engrossed in his work that his torch burnt itself out and he was plunged into darkness. While he considered his predicament, he heard a sweet voice singing, "Serpent I am, and always shall be -- my serpent skin, fall away from me!"
As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, the inventor noticed a lovely young woman daintily hanging up a large serpent's skin. She was incredibly beautiful. He tiptoed over, took the serpent skin from the wall and hid it in his pocket. When he greeted the young woman, she gasped, "A serpent I am, and always shall be -- my serpent skin, return to me!" But because the skin was in the man's pocket, it could not return to cover her. The woman realized she was somehow trapped. Still, the man seemed nice enough and she accepted his proposal of marriage.
The man and woman lived very comfortably above ground and eventually they had a son. As the son grew older, he realized his mother was under an enchantment and due to her interest in the Serpent Sewer, realized she was a serpent. But when he asked her about it, she said, "Of course not!" The son asked his father the next day, and his father said, "Yes, she certainly is. I keep her serpent skin in a drawer in our bedroom." When they returned home, he opened the draw and showed his son.
The next day, the son said to his mother, "I know you are a serpent! I have seen the skin!" And he took his mother to the room and opened the drawer. As soon as she saw the skin, the woman cried, "A serpent I am, and always shall be -- my serpent skin, return to me!" The skin flew from the drawer and enveloped the woman, who thanked her son before slithering away, never to be seen again.