Deep within the womb of Mother Earth, miles beneath her skin, Aido-Hwedo curled up under the caldera of a dormant volcano. The warmth of the bubbling magma surrounding her was soothing and lulled her into a deep sleep. It would keep her warm even as her body went into stasis. This hibernation served to slow the development of the dragonets so that they would not tear her apart as they grew too rapidly. However, she had no knowledge of this, her body and her magic protected her instinctively.
Within her, the relatively small serpents, each the size of a full-grown crocodile, swam and vied for dominance. They intertwined with one another in constant contest. The strongest of them got the largest share of their mother’s magic sustenance. They would fight to the death to continue doing so.
Well aware of their mother and her plight, en gestate, they only cared about their escape. Many years had passed, some in somnolent dormancy, since their self-awareness and they grew bitter over their prolonged fetal incarceration.
During this time, Aido-Hwedo’s consciousness slipped the bounds of her physical being on occasion, and wandered the world as a dream. There she glimpsed futures that might be, traced their delineations back to choices that had been made by she, her offspring, and their father. She siphoned off the cosmic energies of the various gods and humans in whose subconscious she traveled.
She shivered in awe at the profound nature of the changes humankind would have in all of the god’s domains, and at their implications. She began to question her future in such a world, the future of her dragonets.
She had not known to feed before her long sleep, to store energy from the sun in her scales. When she woke many years later, she was near mad with hunger despite the nurturing of the earth. She felt the need to expel the constipated mass pressing inside of her as if it was about to burst through her sides.
She dragged her lethargic body slowly to the mouth of the cave, knowing there was no way she could fly, but wishing it. She needed water, food, and mostly to get this squirming, scratching entangled ball out of her.
Reaching the precipice, she threw herself down the side of the mountain. Her body so massive that it carved a defile in the mountain’s slope as her scales dug up rock and dirt like shovels.
At the tributary below, she drank it dry, and still her thirst was not slaked. Nevertheless, the considerable amount of water did have the unfortunate effect of placing more pressure on her insides. This inadvertently caused the little ones to increase their petition for release. They insisted on the matter, and she was in full agreement when finally, her body surrendered to the overwhelming urge.
Only, she did not know what to do and began to panic as incredible pain hit her. She could feel the talons tearing at her as her babies clawed at her opening for freedom. Writhing around each other and jockeying for position to be the first out, they warred in earnest, uncaring of the distress it caused their mother.
As the pain peaked, thought occurred to her that she might die of it. Suddenly, she felt a compulsive self-defensive urge to eat them, just squeeze them out and eat them before they devoured her. She undulated away from the river at the base of the mountains, slithering towards the forest as fast as she could go, hunting.
When she reached the forest’s edge, she remembered Komba’s banishment of her from his realm. She turned from that lush garden, teeming with prey. Furious, she roared so loudly the forest trees bent back and the distant mountains shook.
The volcano she had slept beneath, as dormant as she had been, erupted spewing dark ash miles above and around. The smell of sulfur made her nauseous and Aido-Hwedo gagged as her empty stomach heaved. A shower of black basalt rocks and shards of obsidian glass pelted her doing no damage but adding to her overall discomfort.
Squeezing her eyes shut, contorting every muscle in her gargantuan body, the serpents spilled forth in an aqueous gush.
They were beautiful to behold, and she cried in joyous wonder gazing at the many little ones, two sets of every color of the rainbow, the colors that adorned her body. Though small compared to her, they were larger than any animal she had ever seen on Pangea. In her fourteen children, she saw her reflection and loved them in an instant. In the next, she saw their father, Mokele-Membe, and hated them with a fierce bitterness that shocked her.
She watched as the voracious bastards shredded the birth sack with teeth and claws like needles, and then fought over the scraps devouring them in seconds. Then the greedy little shits slithered away from her without so much as a backwards glance. They headed to the forest and she waited for Komba to destroy them, but nothing happened.
M. Zane McClellan
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