Basilisk!

“Basilisk!” The village lookout shouted. “Archers to the walls! Everyone else inside! Lock your doors and don’t look out your windows until the all clear is given!”

The crossbowmen rapidly mounted the wooden palisade that had been hastily erected in the weeks since the beast was seen. It was always a very dangerous thing defending against a basilisk. You couldn’t go out and hunt it because it was simply too dangerous. The most that could be expected was to bunker down until it departed, and possibly scare it off with arrow fire, but only if it tried to attack.

The dozen of the king’s personal monster hunter squad put their backs to the sharp wooden tops of the palisade, and faced inward. The one who had drawn the short straw that morning would take a half second glance over the well every fifteen seconds to verify the large snake’s location. At this distance of almost fifty meters the odds were okay that it wouldn’t look at you, but you didn’t want to look any longer than was absolutely necessary to direct volley fire.

“Blindfolds on!” The unlucky spotter ordered. The other eleven men complied and the spotter took his first peek. The man to his left clutched his crossbow tightly. He knew if the spotter suddenly went limp and fell off it was his turn next.

“Thirty meters, 11:00, fire!” The spotter ordered. Eleven bolts were loosed at the approaching beast. They didn’t have to be precise. You didn’t really try to kill a basilisk, just scare it off. The bolts only had to be close enough to let the monstrosity know you meant business.

“Twenty meters, 10:00, fire!” The spotter called again, and again, eleven bolts flew towards the snake.

“Ten meters, 9:30, fire!” The spotter called, silently crossing his fingers. This volley had to do it. There wouldn’t be time to prepare another. He didn’t need to look for a fourth time, the thing would be close enough to hear if they did not succeed in scaring it off with the last round.

All twelve men held their breath, waiting to hear the tell tale hiss of scales on grass, praying that they had sent the creature slithering off to whatever den it had come from. They were not so lucky.

As the men were placing bolts in their weapons they felt a bump in the palisade. The thing was not only coming, it was climbing. They could feel the weight of it shoving against the palisade as it slithered to the top.

To a man, they all froze, bolts not quite ready to defend themselves. The spotter shut his eyes. Maybe it would just take one of them. Maybe it would go into the village and leave them alone. It was not brave, but it was all they could think to keep from fleeing the spot.

Then, the pressure stopped. The sense of movement came to a halt right next to the spotter’s head. He could feel the change in air pressure and temperature from the thing breathing next to his face. It was too late now, the most he could hope for was that it would be quick.

Quick, yes, that was it, just open the eyes and make it quick. The spotter looked right at the head of the beast, and saw that it wasn’t even looking in his direction. It was staring at an old chicken on the wall of the palisade.

The spotter was astounded that the chicken was looking directly into the eyes of the basilisk, and was not affected in the slightest. The hen hopped over to the head of the basilisk which was peaking over the wall and affectionately rubbed its head against the basilisk, and patted the body of it with its wing.

The giant beast quivered slightly, and the spotter heard the beast do the most imaginable thing possible. It purred. Like a kitten. Like a household kitten.

The spotter realized he should probably close his eyes lest the thing glance his way, but he couldn’t help it. A giant lethal snake, was acting like a kitten being petted by a favorite owner, and that owner was a chicken.

With a flip of its wings the chicken hopped onto the large head of the snake, and the thing pulled itself back over the wall, and lowered itself to the earth. It then promptly slithered off into the woods with the chicken on its head.

Only after it had passed beyond the spotter’s line of sight did he realize. Of course, basilisks are born from chicken eggs that were hatched under toads. The poor thing just wanted to see its mother.

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