Pushing through the thick layer of tree’s Peregrine decided he was rather enjoying himself, for after all its not everyday a snake understands someone and leads you into a wood. He remembered to keep a close eye on Katrina who was wincing from the branches that were scratching and snagging her arms and clothes.
“You know” she said “I usually don’t mind snakes, but I think this one is being a little rude expecting us to follow it”
“I don’t know, I mean it’s clearly friendly, and it’s not like we we’re planning on doing anything this adventurous today” replied Peregrine. Katrina cried out as a large branch ran across her cheek.
As the children ran through the undergrowth, twigs snapping and leaves left flying in their wake, Dante could not help but notice that the trees where arched over to form a dense canopy above them. He then realised that they where not just hunched over in the traditional way that trees arch when they are old or have been buffeted by heavy winds, the trees where visibly arching to and fro so as to cover the children so they where not visible to anything that was above the tree line. “How are they doing that if there is no wind” Dante mused to himself “Its as if they where alive”
“They are alive!” shouted Peregrine so that he could be heard from several feet and trees behind Dante.
“Well yes, im aware of that. But I meant in the sentient sense like humans and animals are!”
Katrina was thoroughly unimpressed by the way that as the trees couldn’t help hitting her as they edged toward or shrunk away.
Ignatius, who was already far in the lead of the other children, was debating with himself (unsure whether he was just thinking or muttering out loud) as to whether he should tell his friends about the fact the snake could talk.
On the one hand he should explain that the animal could converse in English, and explain why it was leading them wherever it was, once it had finally stopped that is.
Though on the other hand his friends would undoubtedly not believe him, and would say he was crazy. Also the snake has approached him and spoke to him without even considering the others. Dante was generally the sibling who got all the attention, Ignatius was simply seen and not heard, though he could hardly be called seen as many people just seemed to look straight through or completely ignore his presence. So he came to the decision to not explain what he had discovered and allow his friends to find it out on there own. After all, he decided, he deserved to be paid attention once in his life, even if the attention was being given to him by a reptile.
“I hope this trek doesn’t continue much longer, I’ll be reduced to ribbons if we continue at this rate!” groaned Katrina’s voice which seemed far away and almost a whisper.
“Well we’ve come this far it would be pointless to turn back now” said Dante from a few metres ahead of her. “It seems as though the trees are thinning”
“About time too!” Katrina sighed impatiently.
By the time the other children had caught up to him Ignatius was already standing in the clearing, gazing in awe of a large tree coloured a dark mahogany. In the upper branches the snake was curled, again staring at the children in catlike curiosity.
The four children stared up at the reptile for several long minutes, waiting for it to do something. It just lay on the branch and stared.
“Um. Well excuse me but…isn’t there a reason you brought the four of us here, to this rather lovely…tree?” asked Dante, clearly unable to think of something that didn’t sound mad to be asking of a snake.
The snake remained motionless for what seemed like an age. At last the creature uncoiled itself and lowered several folds of its cylindrical body. Upon the emerald scales the children noticed scarlet lettering running the length of its body.
EAT, was marked upon the snake. Katrina shook her head in disbelief “But that’s just…mad”
“Of course” laughed Peregrine “but there it is”
“Mother did once tell us to believe twelve impossible things before breakfast” Ignatius said dreamily.
“But its already past breakfast” Dante said smugly. His brother stopped staring up at the snake’s message and turned on his brother.
“It’s just an expression!” he snapped “I would also much prefer it if, for once, you would refrain from being so condescending when I speak” returning his gaze back to the snake in the tree Ignatius asked. “Eat what exactly?”
The snake (quite impossibly) rolled its eyes, and lifted its head to look up at the golden apples upon the tree. I’m sure they weren’t there before, Ignatius thought to himself. As the snake stared at four apples, in turn they fell from the tree to land at the feet of each child.
Ignatius Peregrine and Katrina quickly scooped up the gleaming golden fruit. Dante however was more cautious.
“I’m not entirely sure we should be eating that, after all they did fall from a strange tree, in an unknown part of the woods, from (he looked up at the snake), apologies of course, an utterly bonkers snake.” The snake merely looked at Dante in the most ‘I do understand, and note your suspicion, but it is perfectly unnecessary’ sort of demeanour that could pass on the face of a snake.
“Come along Dante, at least attempt to live a little” giggled Katrina.
“Precisely, what is existence without a few unnecessary risks?” said Peregrine.
“Hear hear!” cheered Ignatius, sinking his teeth into an apple. His eyes widened in shock as he pulled his head away from the fruit.
“I told you!” Dante shouted, Katrina and Peregrine were rooted to the floor in shock.
Dark brown sludge poured from within the apple.
A stunned silence.
“It’s CHOCOLATE!” he cried, grinning. He held the apple up so his companions could see. Each was astonished and confused beyond belief, but grinned along with their friend and began devouring their golden gifts.
The snake remained still for a long time after this, the children continued to stare up at the reptile. It did nothing.
“Well, um, excuse me” said Katrina impishly “but, not to sound ungrateful, is that all you brought us here for?” the serpent gazed down at her then pointed its emerald scaled head left through a break in the trees the children had not previously noticed.
“Just to be absolutely sure, what do you mean?” Dante asked, trying to sound as though he didn’t think talking to a snake with the word EAT on its scales was utterly ludicrous. The snake glared at him then thrust its head downwards in turn indicating each of the companions, then sharply jabbing its head once again towards the path through the trees to the left.
Ignatius, feeling utterly indignant at having been told what to do, especially by a reptile, stood up straight and snapped.
“What pray tell me, if we refuse? What if we decide to return the way in which we arrived?” the snake glared in frustration at the boy, and then lifted its head skywards. Nothing happened, at first. Suddenly the children where bombarded by the remaining apples on the wondrous tree, showering them with liquid chocolate and strawberry moose.
The friends shrieked and bellowed as they were attacked, they darted away with their hands shielding their heads. Though not turning left as the snake had indicated but running right, further into the wild unknown.