Boy and a Snake – Prologue

Boy and a Snake - Prologue

Emily Xiao, Editor

On the satellite Io of Jupiter, there lived a society of people. This immediately contradicts all your current knowledge of the universe, as you might be saying to yourself, “no, no, there cannot be aliens in our solar system! The scientists would have found them already, and, besides, Io isn’t a particularly friendly place either!” You wouldn’t be wrong; Earth scientists are talented and would stop at nothing to find life on other planets. However, nobody has been to Io, and because of that, these people have remained undiscovered.

These people had two tribes on their measly little rock: Water faction and Fire faction. These may seem like stupid, dumb, idiotic names to you and me, but consider: perhaps the name “United States of America” would seem as unintelligent to them? For all their names would represent something: Water faction was ruled over by a water-producing dragon, the main source of the precious liquid, Fire faction was ruled over by a fire-maned lion, the main source of heat on that rock. Two important elements of life, like that, contained in only two beings. Imagine not worshiping them, or naming your plot of land after them?

Today, a child turned on his television. It was dark outside, and he decided he wanted to watch the news. His mother’s in the house while his father hunts for food outside. Yoma (the child’s name) curls up on the couch, prepared for a relaxing evening. However, it is for naught! The two faction leaders, the Water dragon and the Fire lion, are currently at a standoff. The two tribes never quite got along, and it seems that with the Water faction’s breakthrough invention of a rocket, the tensions are rising. 

The T.V. reporter succinctly sums up the situation, “It seems that Ignicus has become enraged at Aquaenus for developing a ‘rocket’ – it has responded by claiming an untouched piece of land.” Yoma stares at the telly with widened eyes that glisten with shock. His mother idly walks by, asking about the news he had just seen.

“Mum, th… the Ignicus didn’t like how Water Faction has a… uh, rocket,” Yoma despondently recited. “So now it’s searching for all the land things that people haven’t lived on for a while.” His mother pursed her lips and frowned.

“Yoma, it is best we stay out of this. Whenever the Fire Lion and the Water Dragon disagree on something, it is bound to end horribly,” she stated, as it was a historical truth: never have conflicts between Factions ended well. Yoma determinedly nodded, he wanted the little dispute to finish quickly.

As days went by, the situation grew worse and worse. One day, while Yoma was reading his father’s books for study, his mother turned on the television and gasped. He quickly rushed into the living room to see what the problem was, getting a fright for himself. “Mum, what’s happened? Why’s a whole city gone?” Alas, his mother was too shocked to respond. When she had finally gathered herself, the news she delivered was desperately grim. “Son, one of the inner Water Faction cities has fallen to fiery oil fires and explosions. Only Ignicus could have done this, to keep Aquaenus busy while it searches for other cities to wreak havoc on,” she spoke.

And, for all anyone could see, it was working. 

Although, thankfully, over the course of the next few days, their home in the mountainside was still largely untouched by the warfare. Yoma was infinitely grateful for that.

Unfortunately, his father didn’t share the same sentiment. He was looking for places to move to, further out of the war’s reach, or to somehow get his hands on a rocket, where they could travel to a safer place far away. His mother thought the same, and immediately began searching for old contacts who could help her get her hands on one. They knew that they had no chance against the ancient dragon and lion.

When the fighting became worse, Yoma began frequenting the outside world. He relished the gentle winds, greenery, and the luscious forests around his home. For he could not bear listening to the monotone reporters in the television droning on and on about the lives taken, death toll, and rampage of the powerful Fire Lion and Water Dragon that rampaged throughout Io.

In the forest, Yoma felt at peace (not “at home”, home was where he learned the most about the demolition of various towns and cities). The small critters warmed up to him, and although he had no gifts to give, they followed him. One creature that he found to be a particularly kindred spirit was a purple-hued snake, that he bestowed the name Hyacin. For all that she slithered and Yoma walked, Hyacin was remarkably empathetic to him. Perhaps it was the slender and intricate violet patterns on her skin (Yoma was partial to the color purple, it was all that he wore), or the way she presented herself (rather orderly for a snake), but Yoma found himself bringing Hyacin to whatever interesting place he could find. Once, he brought her to a majestic waterfall that sprayed them both with gentle droplets. And Hyacin, she brought Yoma small offerings of rabbit and whatever she could get her jaws on.

While his parents were preoccupied with avoiding the large-scale conflict, Yoma spent more time in the wilderness. He always brought along a brown backpack that held food and water (for both Hyacin and himself). It became routine; everyday, at the crack of dawn, Yoma would bring books and his backpack into the edge of the forest, where Hyacin would meet him. The language barrier was of no threat, they would both communicate soundlessly. The two would adventure until dusk, where they parted ways.

It was a monotonous routine, whose normalcy Yoma loved. A constant in his life, one unchanging. Until one day, the order finally broke.