We have passed out of the realms of men, beyond the watchful aura of city and civilization, into the wild that breathes to its own rhythms, beating the night-songs out of the brightest hour of day. This is the land ruled in the name of the Tiger by all that has slipped into the hidden spaces beneath his feet.
The daylight is not dappled with shadow. Tenebrous intentions have conquered the sun.
From the green dark she arises, out of the morning steam, only to scald us with a stare that glimmers unkindly. Half woman, all serpent, this is the dawn of her hundredth year, and her arising is the arising of ancient magics that move only in this arena.
The music is silence; the jungle; the pressure of heat and dampness curling against our ears. The drumbeats are her stomping feet as they divide from serpentine coils, still evoking the same writhing comparison.
One by one, the leaves move, the forest floor disturbed by the motions of, not one, but many serpents, their slithering in time with the dance of the woman who has shed her skin. Golden-eyed, her stare too glittering, her skin brown as the dry leaves beneath her shining feet but smooth as summer, she moves away from us. Among them. One of them, as her dancing fades into the distance.
We retreat from the eyes that turn to us as she passes, away from the tongues that taste our air and the widening hoods of her cobra companions.
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