An Unwelcome Gues-sss-t

Now we must, of course, come back to Bren and the others. Of course, once they’d discovered this amazing new land, there was no way they could refuse an invitation to Jon’s house in this big city of his now, so they had all made their way towards Mount Olympus – upon which this city was situated. Jon had explained to them that the journey would take a day and a half, but all sense had left the rest of the party by this point and they wanted to explore. They had been travelling for hours with the sun beating down on them through the trees and still all they could see ahead of them was forest. It seemed as though they would be stuck in the forest forever.

            It was hard to tell the time in this strange place as the sunlight seemed neither to fade, nor to grow, but it would have been around half past three (in the morning) by now. As everyone had stayed up for what seemed like an era already, Jon suggested that they find somewhere to make camp.

            “I’ve seen no signs of any hotels since we left – well – actually we haven’t seen anywhere that we could stay at all since we left my house” protested Bren rather sceptically.

            “Don’t be silly. There are places to stay all over the forest” came the reply.

            Bren did have a point. B&Bs were likely to be scarce in this sort of wilderness, however this was no ordinary forest. As they walked on for a few more minutes they came to a humble lodging of two huts made mostly of bamboo and leaves.

            “These little cabins are everywhere in the forest. You just have to know where to find them” Jon was trying to conceal his smug smirk. “I stayed here on my way to your world. The people are nice. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if we stayed here for a little while.”

            They slept on hammocks in the sunlight. It was the most refreshing nap Bren had ever had. When they woke several hours later, the sun was still high in the sky, as strong as ever. It seemed the sun did not set in Elysium. As the couple who lived in the cabins made them breakfast – the tastiest scrambled eggs Bren had ever tasted along with onions, some wonderful herbs and juicy bacon, three meaty sausages each and some fantastically crispy fried bread, plus a wonderfully brewed up of tea – Bren used the opportunity to find out where they really were. He did not believe that they had travelled into another world. Although, he found that the couple answered exactly the same as Jon did.

            This annoyed Bren a little. How many more people are in on this? He thought. He didn’t let it spoil breakfast though. Breakfast really was delightful. They pressed on afterwards. Jon in front, leading them to Mount Olympus. They’d been walking for around eight and a half minutes when Jenna squealed and clutched Bren’s arm.

            “What’s wrong?” asked Bren (naturally).

            “I thought I saw something moving along the ground. It looks like it’s gone now.” She loosened her grip, but didn’t release his arm.

            From then on, every so often, one of them would notice something moving past them very quickly – so it was hard to see what it was. From what they could work out it was striped red and black, it was very small but quite long and it was very quick. They later realised that what they were seeing was a snake. It seemed to be following them at points, or darting ahead and then doubling back to pass them from the other direction. It seemed as if the snake wanted something.

            They came across the snake once again – and by this they had almost stopped noticing it – however this time something different happened. The snake stopped in front of them, rose so that half of its body was off the floor – it came up to the top of Jenna’s knee and the bottom of Bren’s – and started to speak.

            “Sssss-so very nice to have ss-some company on this-sss long journey. Tell me, what are your names-sss?”

            Jon was on his guard. “I am Jon, and these are my friends Bren, Jenna and Rebecca. Who are you?”

            “I am Sss-Serpent. I was-ss on my way to Olympus-sss. That is-ss where you are going isn’t it?”

            “We are.” Jon was still cagey – snakes were notoriously crooked sss-swindlers. They truly were deceitful creatures – “I can see that you are pretty quick. You would get there four or five times quicker if you went by yourself.”

            “Well,” Serpent began. Where his voice had been calm and soothing before – although equally terrifying – it was now full of solicitousness. It sought benevolence, rather than fear now. “I cannot make it on my own. Ss-snakes are not looked upon ss-so kindly in these parts-ss. I am daily treated with contempt and malevolence. Plea-ss-se let me come with you.”

            While Jon was still suspicious, the others felt sorry for the pitiful creature. Reluctantly they let him join them on their way towards Mount Olympus. For the remainder of the journey Serpent would dart ahead and then double back when the others had not caught up with him. He would chat to all Jon and Bren and the girls too. He seemed mostly pleasant, charming and fascinating, but every so often he showed a poisonous character. Although he was polite and charismatic, he often seemed disinterested in the children and self-seeking. Jon warned them not to get attached to him and not to listen to a word he says.

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