The Valley of a Thousand Snakes is a strange place, filled with rich people, a grand palace and the Akash brotherhood. (Akash means alechemy, for all you brahams out there.)
Then there’s Seld, the outsider (braham) trying to prove his worth crafting explosives and potions. Too bad the only thing he’s really good at is extracting poison.
Still, it might come in handy when he’s rolling around in bed with the prince, who’s slated to get married in four weeks…
“Well, well. If it isn’t the acolyte who can’t make things go boom!” A familiar voice laughed as he approached the top of the valley. “Here to steal my man, are you?”
Seld gasped for air, too tired to be insulted. “As you’re the first thing he sees every morning, I don’t think I’ll have to. At this point, he’ll pretty much come willing-“
Seld stopped dead in his tracks.
“What?” Sephala placed her hands on her hips.
“I’m still in the valley, aren’t I?”
She squinted and tilted her head. “For about fifty or so meters, yes.”
“Perfect!” Seld dropped down on one knee and grabbed a glass jar from his belt. The jar had a thick hide instead of a lid, and gave away a strong thrum as Seld tapped it. He reached behind some rocks next to the path and found a branch.
“This again? I thought you only needed one hundred or so?”
“Fifty, actually. This is more of a side project.” He placed his tongue on his upper lip in concentration, leaning into the shrub on the other side of the path.
Suddenly, a loud hiss came at him, followed by a lunging snake. The Tirmas Cobra, one of the deadliest snakes in the world. A picture of Iben flashed before Seld’s eyes as he fell back, closing his eyes, covering his face. He didn’t know why. The poison would kill him either way, it would just be more agonizing if he was bitten in the arm.
He felt nothing.
As he opened his eyes again, he could see the snake scurrying down the road, slithering from side to side in the sand. Seld didn’t waste a second, bolting after it, pressing the branch down on its neck.
“For heaven’s sake, Seld! You’re going to get yourself killed!”
Seld grinned as he forced the snake’s head down on the skin covering the jar. A thick, honey-like essence pouring into the jar in big, thick globs. He placed the jar back in his belt and grabbed a pinch of orange powder from a bag, he licked his finger and painted a thick, orange stripe on the cobra’s head. “I count nine hundred and ninety-five!” He exclaimed as the snake vanished into the brush.
“It’s called The Valley of a Thousand Snakes, right? I have to see whether it’s true or not!”
“My point stands.”
“I didn’t argue!”