Most Agapeans know to avoid the sea beside the outpost because of the serpent who lurks there. Many tales about this serpent have been spread far and wide, with some talk of the creature being a hydra — a water monster with many heads which grows two each time one is cut off.
Yet I think I know the truth of that which swims in the crystal clear waters.
Many times I have used the water to escape from a Hunter, and most of the time — I swim from shore to shore quickly, before the serpent has time to reach me. But one day, I had paused in the water to look back at the shore, wondering if the Hunter had followed me. I can’t describe the terror I felt as I realized a serpentine body was twining around me, the coils drawing tighter and tighter until I was helplessly trapped.
I was dragged down, further and further, until my lungs burned. I felt sure I would die when, suddenly, I could breath once more! The creature had taken me to some cave that, though underwater, was not filled with water. I breathed easily, as though I was back on land. I marveled at this as slimy coils loosened about me, and I stood free.
I looked up at the reptilian face and shrunk back at the sight of needle sharp teeth in a powerful maw. The scales of the beast glittered in the pale light of the cave, and I heard his voice.
“I am the youngessst ssson of Echidna, the Mother of all Monssstersss, and of Heraclesss,” he hissed at me. “I wisssh you to tell my ssstory.” He seemed to smile down at me, though that too was a feared sight as I better saw the multiple rows of teeth, as well as the rotting corpse of a fish who was impaled on one such tooth.
His head lowered until I was staring into yellow-brown eyes, the pupil a mere slit. I stood, memorized by his gaze, as his voice washed over me.
“I wasss onccce the King of SSScythiansss… a nomadic equestrian tribe which wandered from the Carpathian Mountainsss of Europe all the way to Mongolia. I wasss King, and much loved, until my brothersss conssspired againssst me.”
I couldn’t seem to move, or even blink, as the serpent stared at me. I shivered in the chill of the underwater cave, and he continued to hiss his story.
“My brothersss were jealousss of me, and ssso they made a deal with the Graeae, the grey women of witchcraft. I do not know what the witchesss were promisssed, but they turned me into this… horrid beassst that isss ssso feared.”
He went on “At firssst, I dessspaired of thisss watery prissson and tried to kill myssself. Then Possseidon came to me and sssaid he would return me to my human ssself if I ssserved him here for a hundred yearsss. Then, I ssshall wreck my vengeanccce upon my brothersss and the Graeae. Sssspread the word, Agapean Ssscribe. Let them know… I am coming for them!”
The lingering ssss’s rolled over me, and I suddenly sat up in the weeds along the shore. I could clearly recall the feel of slimy coils around me and the dank smell of the cave underwater, but I wondered… was that naught but a dream?
Regardless… I hurried to the King’s Court to sit at my desk and write out the story that had been relayed to me, just in case. Multiple scrolls containing this tale have been entrusted to ships’ captain and sent out into the world. My duty has been done.