Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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The snake is coiled around the world. It has its tail hooked in its mouth — well, more than that. It has its tail hooked all the way through it, tail to head and to tail again.

It breathes and its breath catches on that hook; expands and pulls; scrapes and lathes the tailtip through brain, lungs, heart, stomach, and tailtip again. It inhales and its brain is drawn to where its tail has been; its lungs fill with the food that had been in its stomach and its stomach fills with air. It exhales and it is restored.

The snake had folded itself into being. It had crafted itself from the sea and from the snake-wroth that was the dream of it, but it had folded itself into being poorly — somewhere along the path of its assembly, it had gotten itself twisted, it had gone all Möbius and Ouroboros. You could even say, I think, if you were being cruel, that it was bad at origami

But then again, you try folding a world-circling snake out of random things you find drifting in the sea, when all you have to use as manipulator appendages are the innards of the snake itself, and see if you can do any better than that.

And even then —

It wasn’t its fault. Not really. It was Hans’. He’d caught it forming; he’d helped to twist it. He’d led it down a bad-origami garden path. It was like a garden path that leads to Hell, only, it was folded paper.

He was the kind of guy who did things like that to giant paper snakes.

It hurt. It hurt quite a lot, to be the giant paper snake. It hurt worse than to be the nithrid, when Hans had lined the cage of her bones with knives. It hurt worse than the wolf is hurt, cut fourteen hundred years by a svart-elf cord.

Even if the three wolves were still one creature in some sense —

Even if you could lump Skoll’s fiery death and Fenris’ suppurating, bone-deep cord wounds onto the same scale, add them together —

It still wouldn’t compare to the suffering of the snake.

That’s why it had come to Cheryl, when she was young. She was a girl. She was quite good at origami. I mean, really good. For a human.

So it had begged her.

Help me die.



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