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Shifting Seasons 2018 Writing Contest: Seeing the Serpent

Seeing the Serpent
By: IkeWolfe

The cart clattered as the pair of timber wolves dragged it down the road to the festival square. A hoard of gray rocks bounced around behind them, staring around silently at the scenery.

"Urf. Hey Ike, how many rocks did you have back in storage?" one of them asked. His armor added an irregular clanking to the steady rhythm of the rocks and the clinking of steel swords.

His companion panted, clearly out of breath from the heavy weight of their cargo. "Um, I dunno, Ken. A hundred or two?" His ears folded back at his friend's deadpan look, and he smiled sheepishly. "...okay, probably three hundred. At least."

Ken groaned. "Why do you even have so many? Have they been multiplying in there all these months?"

"No, I just kept them around just in case. And look, now we have a good home for them."

Ken grunted in response. As they drew closer to the square, the path widened, and a cacophony of sounds could be heard. They were greeted by a sea of fur and scales and feather, all surrounding a massive pink serpent in the center that towered over the buildings. There were animals of all kinds chirping, squawking, and barking.

Above it all, packs of cloud animals swam through the air. A stormy cloud otter playfully nipped at Ike's ears, causing him to jump as a brief jolt of electricity shot through him. It churred and swam away before the wolf could properly react.

The two canines slowly pushed their way through the crowd, carefully stepping around a rabbit prostrate on the ground and offering a clowder of flittens while praying fervently. Someone shouted with delight and waved a precious midnight magic necklace in the air and was quickly swarmed by people cheering congratulations and some grumbling about favoritism.

They eventually made their way to the front and gazed up at the distant face of the great serpent. It lowered its head down to their level and stared at them with its cool blue eyes. Ike shuffled nervously and struggled to push the cart closer to the serpent's snout. It leaned closer and sniffed at the mass of rocks and swords sitting within. It gingerly grasped the cart in its jaws and lifted it out of sight.

Ike stood there holding his breath in anticipation. The serpent shook its head vigorously and blew a giant breath of air at the wolves. Several feathers gracefully danced down through the air and settled around them. Nearby clouds coalesced into familiar animal forms and blinked in amazement at their sudden new life. A few pawed over to the wolves, somehow recognizing them as their newest owners.

Ike squealed in delight and pulled a rainbow cloud bear into a tight hug. It nuzzled him back, and the rainbow surrounding it expanded to wrap the wolf in its embrace. A small smile crossed Ken's muzzle. He chuckled lightly as bright orange cloud otter bumped his nose in wide-eyed curiosity. "Okay, I'll admit it. I guess keeping all those pet rocks around was good for something."