Clark Gillian

The Devious Dragon and the Fall of the Emperor


Chapter 15.
The Cat Plague.

Back in the City of Stars, the serpent slithered triumphantly into the Imperial Palace throne room. Cheers erupted from the councilors – three rounds for successfully driving the Princess and the Fool from the Fairy Paradise. Their jubilation doubled as the serpent recounted his cunning deception.

Suddenly, the chamber doors burst open, revealing the panicked city guard. He barely had time to gasp before the serpent darted for cover, slithering into his golden cup beside the sorceress's shard mirror.

The councilors, initially outraged by the interruption, gradually succumbed to morbid curiosity. With the guard already there, they might as well hear him out.

"Cats!" the guard stammered, breathless and sweating. "Thousands of them! They're overrunning the city! Everywhere you look, they're there – hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands!"

"Everywhere?" a councilor echoed, incredulous.

"Every street, every rooftop – they're inescapable, sir!" The guard's voice trembled. "People are too afraid to leave their homes!"

With a dismissing wave, the councilors ushered the guard out. Their gazes then shifted to the serpent, now coiled comfortably in his cup.

"Don't expect us to clean up your mess this time!" hissed one councilor, his voice laced with venom.

"Solve it! Now!" another barked, desperation creeping into his tone.

As the council scrambled out of the room, tears of frustration welling in their eyes, the sorceress addressed her serpentine companion.

"My love," she purred, a hint of amusement in her voice, "it seems your little excursion has brought unexpected consequences."

"It seems so."

"Yet your endeavor has been exquisite!" the sorceress purred, her emerald eyes gleaming with delight. "To banish the Princess from the Fairy Paradise – you've surpassed even my expectations! Though small you may be," she added, a wink hinting at his potential, "your power is undeniable."

The serpent basked in her praise, relishing the validation. Yet, once alone, the sorceress's true motive surfaced.

"My dearest serpent," she began, her voice dripping with honeyed sweetness, "I have a plea close to my heart, a yearning that consumes me. Please, I implore you, help me reclaim my body! This shard of a mirror is no longer enough. I long to experience life anew, to truly feel the world around me."

The serpent slithered around the shard, its forked tongue flicking thoughtfully. "It is a desire I share, sorceress," he hissed, his words laced with hidden meaning. "But only on one condition..."

"Anything, anything for you, my precious serpent!" she enthused, oblivious to the glint of malice in his eyes.

"Sweet serpent?" he echoed, his voice suddenly cold and venomous. "Do you truly know who I am?"

A flicker of unease crossed the sorceress's face. "You are a serpent who speaks, endowed with magic beyond comprehension," she stammered, unsure where his anger stemmed from.

"Naive child," the serpent boomed, his voice heavy with ancient power. "It was I who first bombarded the human realm with an obsession for knowledge, the fruit that blinded them to the life force pulsing within them all. They devoured information, mistaking it for wisdom, while their true connection to the world withered and died.

The weight of his revelation struck the sorceress dumb. "I..." she faltered, the truth dawning on her with chilling clarity.

"What use is knowledge without understanding, my queen?" he rasped, his voice now laden with a sinister amusement. "Perhaps you can answer that for me..."

"I don't know. What is the use?" 

The air crackled with the serpent's booming laughter, fangs glinting like malevolent stars in the dim light. The sorceress, trapped within her mirrored prison, watched in horrified fascination as his form swelled, filling the shard with his serpentine immensity.

"The 'use'?" he roared, his voice dripping with amusement and malice. "The 'use' is the whole point!"

His laughter subsided into a chilling chuckle. "Why, 'Use' has now become the human world's driving force, and they took it willingly. Delightful, isn't it?"

The sorceress trembled, a cold dread creeping through her ethereal form. "My lord," she stammered, "you are brilliant."

"And isn't that why you crave a body once more?" he hissed, his voice sharp and predatory. "To indulge it, to grant itsevery desire! Am I not generous? The most benevolent being they could ever hope to encounter? After all, giving people what they want, regardless of consequence, is the ultimate act of generosity... or so I find it amusing to think."

A shiver wracked the sorceress's spirit. This was not the charming serpent she had initially encountered. This was something far older, far more sinister.

"To truly know if something is good for you," the serpent continued, his voice dropping to a sibilant whisper, "requires... realization." He chuckled again, a sound like dry leaves rustling in the wind.

The sorceress forced a laugh, but it died in her throat. The truth was chillingly clear: the serpent thrived on humanity's ignorance, their insatiable hunger for knowledge without understanding.

Hesitantly, she whispered, "But my prince, why would you prefer them to have knowledge instead of understanding?"

The serpent coiled back in his golden cup, laughter still echoing in his throat. He emerged, head hanging low, and sighed dramatically.

The serpent's laughter echoed in the chamber, his words hanging heavy in the air. "The wise," he hissed, "only complicate matters. They question, hesitate following orders... makes them harder to control." He chuckled again, a chilling sound that sent shivers down the sorceress's spine.

Suddenly, the councilors re-entered, their faces etched with anxiety. They stammered their solution to the feline infestation, but the serpent cut them short.

"Spare me the details," he commanded, his voice dripping with disdain. "Simply... resolve it."

His gaze flickered to the windowsill, where a ginger cat sauntered nonchalantly. "And ensure the palace remains cat-free! Double the dog patrol, day and night!"

With hurried nods, the councilors scurried out once more.

"Pesky creatures," the serpent muttered, turning to the sorceress. "Wouldn't it be delightful if humans abandoned their feline companions altogether?"

He watched with amusement as a servant poured him a goblet of crimson wine. He sank into the liquid, his serpentine form swirling ominously within.

"Indeed," the sorceress murmured, her voice laced with caution.

"And soon, you won't just imagine it," the serpent continued, his tone turning predatory. "But for now, you remain confined to the mirror world. Master the art of traversing your reflections, and I shall grant you the body you desire."

A genuine smile, devoid of deceit, bloomed on the sorceress's face. "Any mirror, my lord, and I'll be there," she vowed, her voice trembling.