"Have you seen young master Meakea's wife?"
"Yeah, I heard he just fished her right out of the forest.Can you imagine that?!"
"Beautiful she might be, but that girl is an orphan who literally came out of nowhere."
Whispers continued across Mayor An's household, despite the sudden presence of a middle age woman wearing a brown kben and white shirt, intricately embroidered with tiny flower designs at the chest. Her face, once calm and beautiful, immediately morphed into a deep ugly scowl upon hearing the chatter among her female servants.
"You have nothing else to do besides blabbering your big mouth off about other people's business?" the woman snapped.
The young servants immediately looked up with guilty faces and immediately scurried off in different directions. The woman, Mistress Phea, regarded her personal servant with annoyance.
"I don't know what Meakea is thinking, getting the girl into this household," she complained, sitting down on the nearest chair, "Even the mayor can't seem to take his eyes off her. She's nothing but dirty blood and poison."
"A low life like her shouldn't even dare to look up at young master in the first place," the servant on the left added.
"Yeah. A tiny rabbit wishing for the moon," scoffed the second.
Mistress Phea shot a glare at her right servant to shut up. She had enough of talking about her mysterious but beautiful daughter in law. Her chest boiled with jealousy every single time she saw Mealea, and her brain wished every single night for the girl to disappear right off the face of the Earth. She huffed and stared off into the distance, silently cursing her daughter in law; using names she had never even used with her own dogs.
Meanwhile, down the hall, several rooms from where Mistress Phea was in, Mealea stood in front of her open door and quietly looked left and right. Seeing that no one was around, she gently closed the door and walked towards her bed. The bed appeared messy on her side, but her husband’s side was left untouched. Meakea hadn’t been home for several weeks now, which was a great inconvenience for her because the servants and her mother in law tend to be nicer around her when Meakea and Mayor An was around.
However, it did add some benefits to her for it happened that Mealea has reached the time when she had to shed her skin. Her powers were quite low at this time and they would only spike up after she finished shedding. Carefully, she undressed herself and sat in meditation style on her bed, her eyes closed in deep concentration as she called her snake soul to take form over her human body. She was so deeply focused on completing her snake form that she didn’t hear the door opened and footsteps coming into the room. It was the crashing of a pot and immediate splashing of water that woke her up. But it was too late.
Her handmaid was staring at her, open mouthed. The young girl’s hands were shaking uncontrollably, and before Mealea could stop her, a scream erupted from the girl’s mouth.
"AHHHHHHH! Help!There's a snake! Help!" Someone cried, startling Mistress Phea out of her jealous reverie.
"It seems to come out of Lady Mealea's room," one her servants exclaimed.
Hearing this, Mistress Phea smiled at the image of Mealea being bitten by a poisonous snake. She got up and slowly walked out of the room and onto the hallway leading to Mealea's room, her feet making tiny no sounds against the wooden floor. Screams became louder and more people began to gather around the entrance of the room, making Mistress Phea wondered with excitement if her daughter in law had already died.
"Make way," she snapped, but none of the people there heard her. Their face were pale and their eyes were transfixed on what was inside the room. Mistress Phea pushed the crowd away and made her way into the room.
The sight of what was inside nearly made her heart stopped beating, and she swayed sideways. Both of her servants caught her, stifling their screams.
"M-M-MONSTER!!!!" Mistress Phea screeched, pointing at Mealea, who was lying on her wooden bed, pale as paper. She was trying to cover her naked self, what was left of her human naked self to be accurate for from her waist down was in fact the body of a snake, twisting among her silk blankets and running down over the floor.
"Mother," she cried.
"I'm not your mother!" Mistress Phea cried, backing away nervously, "Someone! Capture that monster! Tie it up! Find the mayor! Where's Meakea?!"
"Mayor An and Meakea are out of the village," someone replied.
"Well, what are you waiting for?! Tie that thing up and get it into a cage before it kills anyone!" Mistress Phea ordered to a group of men standing at the door way. The men looked at each other fearfully, but they didn't dare argue against the Mistress. Their families owed a lot of debts to the Mayor and disobeying orders would only bring more obstacles to their wives and children. With trembling hands and knives drawn, the group advanced with a thick rope.
Mealea could only wept as she looked onto the gathering crowd staring at her with fear and hatred. They had caught her at her most vulnerable moment. She was in the process of shedding her skin, so her powers hadn't returned, and she couldn't run away.
"Mother," she wept, "Please spare me. I haven't done any harm to anyone for the past few months I had been here."
Mistress Phea scowled. "You have no idea the damage you had caused just by your mere presence. Now imagine the rumors that will circulate the village when people find out my only son married a snake demon!"
"Hurry up and tie her!" Mistress Phea ordered, "Can't you see she's weak? She could barely raise her voice!"
The men immediately grabbed Mealea and tightened the rope across her naked body, winding around the rest of her snake form until Mealea felt like she would suffocate in a matter of moments. Humility and fear rose up inside her, but she couldn't speak up. She didn't have enough breath to do so.
"Tie her to the stake and make sure no one sees her. Tonight, we'll burn her before Meakea and my husband comes home," Mistress Phea commanded in a gleeful tone.
Meakea dragged his father across the forest floor, but his injured side slowed him down more than ever. The negotiation with the neighboring village had ended quite badly, with the mayor declaring to cut all ties with his father as well as the entire village. On top of that they had to face a group of burglars who had no mercy whatsoever and still stabbed Mayor An in the chest after taking all of their possessions. Meakea had put up a fight with them with his bodyguards, but the fight was five men versus fifteen. All their guards had died and Meakea was left with a bad wound on the side of his stomach. Now, it seemed like his father would also leave him as well, since the old man was breathing less frequently and bleeding more than ever.
“Meakea,” his father rasped, and Meakea stopped in his tracks, “I can’t go on. Leave me.”
“Of course not,” he snapped, “I’ll rather die with you than live without you.”
“We’re nearly home, father,” Meakea replied, “You’ll get proper treatment soon. I’ll make sure of it.”
“Meakea, I won’t make it,” Mayor protested, “I don’t deserve you sympathy after everything I had done.”
Meakea stopped again and looked down at his father. “What have you done?”
“Put me down,” the old man whispered. Despite his urge to take his father back home safely, Meakea did lay his father against a tree. Meakea knew by just a glance that there was no chance his father would live, and the longest time he would have was about five minutes. A single tear rolled down his cheeks as he let the realization sank in, but his father gently reached over and brushed the tear aside.
“I have a confession,” Mayor An whispered, “ I always thought of myself as a good father because of the young man I had brought up. You never failed me, Meakea. So despite my desires and my corrupted mindset over women, I never looked down on myself and thought I was the perfect model for my strong, brave son had no one to look up to except me as he grew up. However, the day you brought Mealea over to the house…”
Mayor An coughed and whipped his mouth using the back of his hand. Blood tralied down his lips and seeped over the fingers he used to cover his mouth.
“Enough talk,” Meakea said, trying to pull his father up, “We must hurry home.”
Mayor An raised his bloody hand for his son to stop and continued, “That day was the day I realized I failed as a father. Mealea was so beautiful, and my desires couldn’t be tamed by the fact she was my daughter in law.” He raised his eyes up to Meakea’s horrified ones, “I forced myself on her. I’m sorry.”
Meakea shook his head and got up. He stumbled backward and gave out a strangled sob. “You’re lying,” he protested, shaking his head, “You would never do that!”
“But I did,” his father protested, coughing up more blood, “I blackmailed her into doing it.”
“I promised to tell the entire family or everyone else that she was a snake,” Mayor An managed out before he coughed up his last breath and his eyes rolled backwards into eternal darkness.
Meakea dropped onto his knees and scrambled to his dead father. He tried shaking the old man awake eventhough he knew it wasn’t worth it. “Father!” he screamed and howled over his own tears, “Wake up! Why would you do that?! Don’t you even love me?! Don’t you ever see me as a son?! I hate you! I hate you, I hate you…”
Meakea’s sobbed died down, but the pain in his heart only increased. He looked up at his dead father one last time before getting up and heaved the body over his shoulders. His sobs still rang across the forest as he ran towards what he hoped was the road to his village.
She felt it eating its way up her tail and continuing up her entire body. However, she refused to scream. Her hatred now expanded to the point that she was sure her soul would become a powerful vengeful ghost, and that thrilled her to no end. Heat encompassed her skin, biting its way into her flesh and burning it away in a slow, agonizing manner. Her eyes were blinded by smoke, but her powerful sense of smell told her Mistress Phea and the rest of the household were standing in front of the blaze, Mistress Phea with a smirk on her face and the rest of the servants with horror and guilt in their eyes. Those guilt were meaningless however, for she knew she was burnt to the point she could only survived a few minutes longer.
"Meakea, I'm sorry," she whispered, as a single tear rolled down her red cheeks and dried up under the heat of the fire. The memory of her husband brought up guilt inside her chest. There were so many things she hadn't had the chance to tell him, so many mistakes. Now she didn't even have a chance to explain herself, much less see him one last time.
"Rest in peace," Mistress Phea announced, "and don't you dare hold any longings over my son and this family for it will only make us see your ugly face and evil aura in our next lives."
Mealea bit her lips. The flames rose riser, climbing up her breasts, but still she couldn't feel any pain. A demon had gone through more than being burnt at the stake, but no demons had ever faced the same humility and betrayal Mealea was facing right now. She shouldn't be in this alone. It wasn't fair.
Mealea gathered all the poison she had in her body and called out to her dwindling power. Yes, her spirits could haunt them, but there was no way she could let them go that easily. With her last breath she uttered,
"You people think you're so awesome and pure, but you aren't. Every single one of you standing here are all polluted with jealousy, especially you Mistress Phea. Perhaps it might further satisfy you vengeful heart to hear that I slept with your husband."
Hearing this, Mistress Phea gasped and nearly fell over until her maids immediately caught her and held her upright.
"But you're messing with the wrong person and now you get to know how terrible the consequence will be. Those men who tied me up and placed the fire under my feet, may your family die under the same fate as mine, your bloodline lost forever. May the servants who spoke ill of me be treated lower than the lowest and their fate be spit upon every single time they step out of their household and may any female child born under Mayor An's bloodline receives the worst torture life could give them and die the MOST TERRIBLE DEATH LIFE CAN EVER GIVE!"
Her last words died away along with the body of the snake demon. Everything was quiet and even the fire had strangely died down even though there were words left to be burnt. It was as if the snake demon had decided to end the process faster and allowed the fire to last only just to consume her frame.
The crowd stood motionless, staring at the ashes of a woman once beautiful and magical. Her words lingered around them like a sword ready to be plunged into its victim's chest. None of them, especially Mistress Phea knew what to say until a cry rose out among the trees and they all turned to see Meakea holding his father's body in his arms and howling in pain as his eyes took over the ashes of his wife. Mistress Phea was the first one to glimpse the movement of her son's hand, but she still wasn't fast enough to stop him as he pulled his hunting knife out of his waistband and slit his own throat.