Vol. VII

    “Gather around, children, grandma would like to tell you a tale…Now then, do you know the great magician Emmret? Yes, that one. He was a great man, who traveled the land healing and curing people of their sickness. He could mend bones, and rid children of the pox at a mere touch. He counseled kings, studied magic tomes and eventually, journeyed to a faraway land, under no one’s rule.”

    “Listen well children…Emmret was not always so great in power. Before he became Emmret the Great, he lived a poor and humble life. He lost his wife and children to plague. After this, he became a holy man who devoted his life to the gods. They say after a hundred year and on the verge of death, Emmret was blessed. When he died, he rose again, ten times stronger and with the power to command wind and fire. All these powers and more were his because he remained loyal to the gods.”

    “Do you know what he did when he left to lands unknown? He began to help the people there, tribal folk who embraced his kindness. He taught them how to build better homes, how to hunt more efficiently, and other things. They witnessed his great powers and soon, Emmret renounced his priesthood and was made king. He was formidable and no other could challenge him and take his crown. The people began to build temples in his name and erect great statues. Emmret was proud. He called himself a god-king and used his magic to dissuade any foreign invaders. He could call plagues of locust, hail fire and cause drought.”

    “He took care of his people and they loved him for it. However, one day, a woman appeared at his palace seeking shelter. She called for him, saying she knew who was plotting to kill him and that she would be killed for her treason if he didn’t help her. Emmret saw the woman and instantly fell in love. She was beautiful, with skin like bronze and dark hair. He allowed her inside and asked her to stay at the palace, forgetting all about his enemies. She and Emmret soon became married. It was a joyous occasion. Finally Emmret asked her on their wedding day.

    ‘My dear, who is it that plans to have me killed? Who is it that drove you here to my lands?’ he said.

    ‘Later tonight, I will give you a gift, my dear. It is then that I will tell you who hates you so,’ she replied. Emmret agreed and they celebrated their wedding with the whole town. Later that night, they went to the bedroom to exchange their own gifts. Emmret gave his wife a necklace made of gold and rubies.”

    “‘What gift do you have for me?’ he asked. His wife brought forth a clay jar.

    ‘It is inside,’ she said. Emmret thought she looked absolutely beautiful and almost could not wait to consummate their love. The woman gave him a smile and told him she wanted him to see his wedding gift first.

    Emmret was still a great magician, but his love for his wife was his greatest weakness. He knelt and opened the clay jar. Do you know what was inside? Yes, out sprang a cobra, as quick as the wind. It bit Emmret once and for all his power, the only one he could not cure was himself. His wife watched him writhe in agony. She kept her word though, and told him who wanted to harm him and his rule.

    ‘It was I,’ she said.

    “To this day, it is said that the woman wasn’t human at all. They found Emmret as he took his last breath and when asked, he said she had eyes like blood, sharp nails and teeth, and wore the shadows like a second skin. When they asked him where she escaped to, he said she ran away in the form of a snake. After this, he died and his kingdom fell into ruin.”

    “That’s right, the woman was a demon. A cunning one who likes to trick humans. They called her Besunda, the mistress of illusion. No, they never found her. But, this is why you should be wary of who you befriend, children. And remember, if you see a black snake, cut off its head.”

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