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Nine Powers Stories

Lamia

Dragons like to claim villages and towns as part of their territory. During Arlinac Town's first years Lord Zathan and Captain Goodspar waited for a dragon to arrive and claim the town. Surely a town so near Igneous Halls would seem imporant to dragons!

Lord Zathan hoped the dragon would be fought on land where he and his warriors could fight it. Captain Goodspar hoped the dragon would be a sea monster, so he and his fleet could fight it. Neither wanted to kill the dragon, but showing it who is boss would prevent it from making demands on the town.

The town so near Igneous Halls was imporant to dragons. Twenty dragons arrived and started fighting over who would claim the town. Buildings and crops were threatened by belches fire, frost, and lightning. The dragons fought while airborne but would sometimes fling each other to the ground.

Lord Zathan prayed, "Maw Lute, please save this town! Your dragons will not enjoy claiming it if they ruin it!" Maw Lute's replied with a voice in his head, saying that she would not interfere as her monsters tried to collect things.

Lord Zathan prayed, "Achiever, please empower me to save this town!" Achiever replied with a voice in his head, explaining that he does not empower heroes that way, but if someone did manage to defeat the dragons then Achiever would ensure their name was never forgotten.

Lord Zathan prayed, "Yarnspinner, please save this town!" Yarnspinner replied just by giving Lord Zathan certainty that whatever happened it was turning into an remarkable story.

Lord Zathan prayed, "Little Humble, please save this town!" Little Humble appeared beside him, and gave him a friendly wink and smirk.

"Hey, you dopey dragons!" she called out. The twenty dragons all stopped fighting and listened. Little Humble continued, "Don't you realize that any dragon whose territory is so close to Igneous Halls will be unacceptably strong? Maw Lute shares some of her lair's treasure with visitors. A dragon who controls this town could force people here to bring him more loot day after day, becoming the strongest dragon ever imagined! All the other dragons in the world would team up to keep this from happening. None of you can win this fight, because none of you can hold onto the prize."

The dragons looked confused. Not all of them owned enough books to understand. One replied, "But we must try. This town must fit somewhere. A dragon must claim it."

Little Humble rolled her eyes and sighed. "Give me a moment," she said. She looked deep in thought, or perhaps looking for something, as her face squished up and her weight shifted back and forth. Then she said "Aha!" and a strange woman with long hair and duck feet appeared next to her.

"This is Lamia," said Little Humble. "She is nice now, but if you do not follow her rules she will turn monstrous and eat kids."

"That's a bugaboo," said the dragon.

"Yes," agreed Little Humble. "But if I do this..." and she did something odd, "now she also counts as a dragon. Not that she is a dragon. But if someone was to magically detect dragons it would see her, and if a weapon stunned dragons it would stun her. Let this island be her territory. She will not get too strong for being near Maw Lute."

The dragons there who did not own enough books did not understand, and did not like a not-dragon that was a dragon. But the bigger and smarter dragons forced them to agree to Little Humble's plan.

Lamia just sat at river bank and brushed her long hair.

After the twenty dragons left, Lord Zathan thanked Little Humble for saving the town. "How can I think you? And what do I do with this bugaboo?" he asked.

"You thank me by giving me some of this town's land: space inside the wall for people who want to enjoy the smell of the bread they take from the oven without worrying about how much the loaf will sell for, and who enjoy the feeling of clay on their hands without worrying about how which pottery styles are currently fashionable."

Lord Zathan bowed in agreement. Little Humble continued, "You start by calling her Lamia. Since only nobles own land here, she is the noble that owns the land you just gave me. If people bring her food she might give them advice. Right now her only rule is 'keep your promises' and when any adult who lives on my share of this town's land breaks that rule she will punish them. Her legs will become a long snake's body and tail. Her eyes will become swirling pits of blackness. Her teeth will become fangs. And she will eat them or one of their children. The people who live on my share of this town's land can give her more rules to enforce, but I advise against it."

Lord Zathan was not pleased to have a monster like that as the town's third noble. But he did not argue.

Lamia continues to sit at the river bank in the earthly district, brushing her hair, sometimes singing. People with food do come to her for advice. Every five years this advice includes her preferences for the new town council. Meanwhile, the earthly district elects an Elder to manage the district's small amount of taxes and services. And all the earthly district is very careful to only make promises when absolutely necessary, and to move elsewhere if they must break a promise.

Over the years Lamia has only become monstrous a few times. She certainly cannot be hurt in that serpentine form. Perhaps she could be harmed while a calm and beautiful woman, sitting and brushing her hair. But then what? Would dragons return? Would a new bugaboo arrive?