|Image of Slavic god Perun fighting snake-god, Veles. Courtexy Dan Nye, UMichUkrainian blog.|
This is from Part 1: Initiation Rites (also available as a stand-alone novella from Amazon and Smashwords), where the hero, Javor, is pursuing his parents' murderer, guided by a mysterious stranger from Constantinople named Photius.
Photius’ head seemed to move. It got longer, higher, and something black rose over the top. No—some animal, a huge snake was rising from behind the rock. In an instant, it towered over Photius. Covered in gleaming black scales, it curved its hideous neck downward again in a fluid motion, opening its maw wider, wider, so wide that Javor thought he would lose his mind. Slime dripped off its lips and teeth like daggers grew outward from the jaw.Sound faded and time slowed for Javor. Photius looked up, eyes widening in horror. The snake, or whatever it was, lowered its head as if to swallow the old man whole. Javor’s body seemed to know what to do without his mind telling it. He realized that his father’s small hatchet was in his hand and that he was raising it over his head. He took two long, fast steps and sprang upward, swinging his arm down as he rose over Photius. The axe came down hard onto the snake’s skull, and he could feel its blade digging into flesh and bone. There was a horrible wrench at his shoulder, and he let go of the handle, and then his feet were on the ground again. He bumped into Photius, sending the old man sprawling.
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