Snakes and Pills

087 - line bleed

The sound of her fist knocking on the door vibrated slowly through the passageway that had brought her here. The door itself felt slightly damp, made of sturdy wood that could have been as old as time itself. She gave the door three steady knocks, and then simply waited.

A less patient person may have been tempted to knock again, but she knew that there would be no point in that. Either someone would open the door, or they would not. Surely the knock had been heard. All she had now was time.

A minute or more had passed by, she was not sure exactly. It was enough time where she thought that indeed she may have failed, and had already considered turning around and heading back. But, that was the crux of the issue to her. There was no alternative way forward. Her path ended, quite literally, at this door. There was no other route that would allow her to go around. She either progressed here, or she turned around and went back the same way she came, never to achieve her goal.

So she waited, and eventually, she heard locks on the other side of the door being undone. Like the door itself, the locks sounded thick and heavy, iron against iron. Then, the door slid back gently, just a crack at first but eventually it fully revealed a man in a monk's tunic.

He was old, there was no doubt about it, but his face did not look entirely weathered. His skin had not grown fat with age, nor was it too loose-fitting. She thought this gave him a somewhat stern look, although she did not feel that he would actually be stern. Still, she tried to remain on her guard.

When the monk spoke, his words were surprisingly soft and mild, although perfectly clear and audible. "Who might you be?" he enquired. "And what service might I be to you?"

She spoke clearly and confidently in return, with no feigning. "My name is Catherine, and I have been sent by my village to find a cure to the Curse of Hyporax." As she said those last three words, the monk's face grew visibly afflicted, as if he felt saddened that she even knew such words existed. "My travels have been great and long, and I have been led to believe that ultimately a monk by the name of Dejoram could help me. I have heard that a monk by this name lives here, and I hope that you can help me in my quest."

He nodded, and after thinking over her words, spoke. "Yes, my child, I am the Dejoram that you have heard of." Catherine grew excited at the news, even though she tried to always maintain her serious, strong demeanor, it was impossible for a person her age to constantly keep her emotions in check. Dejoram's emotions, though, remained rather sullen.

"And I do know of the Curse of Hyporax that you speak of. But, I must say, I am not sure if I can lead you to a cure."

Catherine's excitement faded. "What do you mean? Surely you can, I have heard from multiple sources that you are the one with the cure."

The monk just shook his head slowly. "To be honest, I am greatly saddened and surprised to hear that the curse is causing suffering once again. The only 'cure' I knew of was a way to seal the curse, and it is apparent now that the seal is no longer working. Either someone has broken the seal, or it was simply not effective enough."

She could not believe the words she heard. For so long, Dejoram had been the answer to all in her mind. Now, when reality differed, it was a tough pill to swallow. "Please, Dejoram, you have to try. Please. You're the only hope we have."


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