serpentis donum
By: Johnny Francis Wolf

serpentis donum


'Twas a simple burg..

archetype of castle tall, minarets and dungeons coned, crenelations deftly spaced on turrets ably mason laid. A village fixed about its feet with blushing, quiet, modest folks as sheepish sheep didst stretch out fields away from hamlet's humble 'bode.

But 'neath the snow, the manor built felt more akin an alcazar, the villa of a fortress hale, a Winter's haven, heaven's worth.

Nearer Christmas… nobler still.


Delah couldn't hardly deem, there on table — all her mark.

"Pfennigs too few and schillings too none. How will I manage a gift for my love? What will I say when he talons the bow? Singes the paper with fever and flame? Only to find the paltriest boon.."

'Tween tears and laughter live but our lives, and Delah was well-nigh the first.

Recently wed, these serpents of youth, Delah and Jhim (like chattel they ruled, their Kingdom and loam) lived in a lair inglorious, meek.. away from the castle where governed all week. Jhim was a dragon whose salary slight was recently thinned.. lessened in silver, lightened in gold, this cave was the most could afford, I've been told.

Livelihood lean for all at that time, from servant to knight.. dragon to sprite…


Rising from her crying rock, looking out the archway brow, Delah pondered prospects slim. Her love for Jhim, so starkly stout, a dragon Queen who held her King too high for only gift but small.

"O Jhim, I cannot give you what an overlord as you deserves.."

She thought of his tail, so regal, proud — as dare say even ALL THE NEWTS around the world would view it grande.

How he swept it up in claws and rolled it round his rotund tum and angled it, whilst facing north, with longest tusk, one ivory spade at end of tail.. it standing tall and telling time. A sun and shadow wyvern watch.

And how, too humbly, wound in pelt.. leather tanned too shredded, old, deserving something shiny, bold.. worthy chain and mail of gold, wreathing tail and swathing spine, protecting it from snow and cold.

As she passed the shining wall, a piece of cave that always wept with water dripping, ever glossed, she looked upon her mane too long (for dragon locks can grow at length).

Undid the hair about her face, allowing it to fall — as dare say even ALL THE HYDRA round the world would blench.

How lovely, framed her snout and scales, could almost serve a comely coat.

A thought.


Folded tresses up once more, braided, pinned, and held in place.

Peered at self for moment staring, fore enwrapped in weary cape, clad in bleary, woolen gloves, grabbed her dreary, tatted bag.. and dabbed her teary eyes.


"Mademoiselle Lézarde Hair. We cleave it. You leave it."

Unsurely sure, as firm as jam, Delah squeezed into said shoppe (as doors and dragons seldom fit) her breath alit in smokey doubt. Facing ma'am — who more like snake than nom de lieu implied — removed the clasps and ribboned tufts and let her fringe hang by her side.

"I'd like to sell my ruff and quill, my filaments of whiskered frill. What, mayhap, my chances be, the price of waves you giveth me?"

"20 pence and turn around, someone fetch my dragon shears."


Light as air for less of hair, Delah flew from store and street and darted round the Kingdom wide.. pillaged, plundered, prowling shoppes, leaving ashes in her wake. Seeking armor, coat of mail, chain, and ring to flatter tail.. befitting Jhim for keeping time, to honor dial, sheathe his hind, hold his ivory spade in kind.

Found the one, was not too precious, not so rare, but classic, clean, and sparkled spartan, yet evoked a stately bearing — royal, strong, and kingly sure — faint and finespun, subtle — pure.

Pleased with her purchase, few schillings still left, leaving the shoppe, too thrilled with her buy, charred but the hat on her peddler's head, left her still breathing and (mostly) not dead.

Searing whilst soaring as singing aloud, she snatched up some lambs from pasture unplowed.


Again, in the lair, gazing at view of what was bereft, the wall that doth shine showed little hair left. Effecting a mousse from mud and some moss, she sculpted few ringlets to lessen her loss.

And sighed at the boy who seemed scowl back.


Cider was mulled with rum she had saved, the lambs, all de-fleeced, roving naked the cave. Fire was lit and Delah afraid, "I pray that dear Jhim won't think me less fair. I hope that my King likes a Queen, minus hair."

When late he arrived from castle and chores, wasted and wan and worn from his berth — with hardly the robe to shield him from cold nor regal enough for his rank.

As through the front cove and into the cave, Jhim lost of his footing, if stopped on a stave.

And where, on his face, a most singular mien.

"But Jhim, please don't glare. Your nostrils don't flare.. no kindling our lair.. my lacking hair. Will lengthen, I swear!"

And jolted from dream, pondering that which was patently clear, scanning the cave, still musing all queer.

"It's gone," he managed.

"Yes, I am shorn, as short as these sheep. But dear what a gifting, a present for you! I couldn't afford the King something new. I wouldn't buy much with my pfennigs too few — I'll roast up the mutton, prepare us a stew?"

All in a stir, whirling in shock, Delah proceeded to round up the flock.


Jhim then awoke from a stillness like sleep and went to his wife, encircled her scales with his talons and tailings and webbings and wings.

(To give them their time, some privacy heed, let's turn our attention to lambs looking on. Their eyes now quite glossy with what they beheld, or maybe was mention of stew.)

"I care not your tresses or tangles or thatch, I love me my Queen whether balding or patch.. it's only my gift, the reason my daze… oh, open it quick…."

Her nostrils ablaze.

Ribbons and paper now torched on the floor, Delah but screamed and howled and more.

An elegant set of combings and brush, of shellings and gems and edged all in lush, too perfect a hue for tresses now lost..

The very same set she ogled through pane — the window of shoppe that had stolen her mane — holding them close, her heart felt it plain.

"Will grow, again," in whist of flush, through oozy eyes.. her quiet hush.


"But now I give thee gift of yours!"

Reeling about and turning back round, opening claws, it tumbled to ground. Lovelier now, reflecting her glow, the metal and links seemed brighter than snow.

"Will frame your spade, as tail tells time, with proper mail and chain, divine. No more leather frayed and grim. Show me how it looks, dear Jhim!"

Sat on a rock, unfurling his tail, revealing the space no longer with spade. As if were a joke on two of them, played — his smile was broad, if slightly delayed.

"I sold of my ivory for combs to be paid."


Maybe the Magi, Kings on their own,
could hearken these dragons, munificence shown.

Humble the serpents bequeathing their heart,
gifting now raised to almost an art.

Wise men enlightened so many years past,
but foolish these two, are wisest at last.



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