Only then, as she looked upon them, did she realize they were not men dressed as snakes, but snakes disguised as men. "So it is come to this," she cried, and threw herself upon Xu's fangs. But her body had become a poison, and so even did the snake die upon it, without time for a bite. Fear drove the others to run, back to Master Drosse and the gifts he had promised. But no more were the woods lit at night.
As Xu perished, he whispered in her ear the last of the lines. She smiled, then, as they were too good to be true--and she smiled later, as she scribbled them upon her page, whispering to a drifting spirit not far, "I love you still...and I, not you, am lord of this moss and all the rot that we cover."
~Terese Cue, 2011.