Humans were so foolish. They fumbled around in the forest, making so much noise that only the most unobservant of animals fell prey to their weapons. But not all humans were clueless. He could give up enough pride to acknowledge that.
Those who had lived at the base of the mountain knew not to hunt there. They knew to fear the creatures that ruled it and left the plentiful game to the horned serpents.
In return, he and his ilk left the village alone. Let them revere his children as gods, rightfully so, and only ate those who dared entrench in their wilds. But every so often, when the lands at the base of the mountain were having lean years, the humans would brave the mountains. Other years, new humans would encroach upon his territory. Dressed in strange skins and carrying sticks that left the taste of fire in the air.
As dangerous as those humans seemed to be with those sticks, they were much easier to hunt. They ignored the stories of the giant horned snakes who ruled the mountain. They brushed it off as nothing more than tales used to scare the offspring and dared to hunt the prey that was left to the snakes.
That was their folly.
Arrogance made them more foolish than normal. He and his children were not even attempting to hide. They lounged in the trees, tongues flicking as the humans passed beneath. Curiosity kept them from striking, leaving the kills to him. These humans looked different, left different scents in the wind, but still gave off that unmistakable air of human.
He laid in wait, shifting his great body into a better position to watch them. He had his own ledge where the sun could beat down on his spotted back. This left him open but he did not fear for he had no predators that preyed upon him.
Unlike the village of people at the base of the mountain, these humans did not see him. They did not realize the danger that they were in. In their obliviousness, they climbed to his ledge. It was flat and higher up, giving them a good vantage point. An intelligent decision for most hunters.
But they had made their own deaths quicker.
A quick strike sent one of the humans over the edge of his ledge. The other two were trapped within his grasp. His jaw extended as he worked them down his throat. Their noises of terror reminded him of the rats that struggled in the maw of his lesser cousins. He had no need to inject the humans with his venom; all of their thrashing had done that for him. Their legs scraped against his fangs and their movements were slowing.
Soon, they’d be still and he’d get to enjoy a warm meal in peace.
Below his ledge, he could make out the sound of his children going in for their own meal. There was not enough to go around to all of them but it would ensure the strongest survive. Horned serpents such as they did not tolerate weakness in each other any more than they tolerated humans in their home.
Maybe one day they’d stop tolerating the human village at the base of their mountain. There were plenty of humans there to feed his children. And they tasted better.
Note: I know Horned Serpents are generally water reptiles but I thought they’d spend time on the land and in trees in order to hunt when fish wasn’t enough.
Guys, Native American creatures aren’t easy either. Again, if someone reading this knows more about the mythology behind any of these creatures–please do let me know! I enjoy learning about the different cultures just as much as i enjoy writing.
Next Creature: Thunderbird