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The Snake Hunt

-Part Three-

By Shima

If Trebor had been the snake's goal, no elf could have saved him. The Cobra struck before arrows could be notched or spears aimed. However, it was the frightened Runner who lost its life in one fatal swoop of fangs.

Even before the death cry of the creature had faded, Shima was moving. ** Seelee, take out its left eye, now! ** Shima raced toward Trebor, who was slowly regaining his senses. ** The rest of you . . . you know what to do! **

**Consider it done. ** Seelee answered. The archer selected one of her blue feathered missiles. Paying no attention to the battle cries of the elves surrounding her, she focused on her goal. The first arrow flew straight until the snake suddenly twisted its head; the deadly shot missed by inches and bounced off the snake's iron-like scales.

"Puckernuts!" Seelee cried as she quickly notched another arrow. Standing up she slowly drew back the string on her bow until it was taunt.

** Concentrate, you can do this, Goodheart's daughter. **

Seelee nodded her head to Ame's silent encouragement and adjusting her bow slightly let the arrow go. She had no doubt about the missile's path and smiled when it struck true. The gigantic serpent let out an angry roar as its sight was taken from it. Seelee quickly dropped back to her knees and reached for her quiver.

"Good shot!" Brekke cried, as her own arrow bounced off the Cobra's scales.

"Yeah, now we have a furious and blind, giant Cobra," Seelee observed as her arrows joined the shower of barbed missiles.

Shima was getting a closer view of a Cobra's scales than she ever wanted to see again, except on Kumo's clothing. She could have touched the snake if she had the mind to. However, at this range if the snaked twitched, her and Trebor would be crushed under its coils.

** By the two moons! ** Shima cried as she grabbed Trebor's arm and harshly pulled him toward the group of archers. ** If we come out of this uninjured . . . remind me to injure you. What were you thinking? **

Trebor freed his arm from her grasp as they reached the group of hunters. "To tell you the truth, Shima," he replied, as he took the bow from across his back. "I wasn't thinking . . . I was doing . . "

"Not thinking, how come I'm not surprised."

Trebor flashed her one of his lopsided grins as he took his place beside Aglo. He began firing his arrows, one after the other. The first two struck the inside of the open mouth of the serpent. As the Cobra roared in anger, Trebor laughed silently. ** Chew on that for awhile. **

Shima shook her head, would that elf ever stop living for the moment. She doubted he ever took life serious . . . then again she did not know much about the archer, perhaps one day she would ask.

For now she looked over the scene that was unfolding around her. To her right were the tribe's archers firing arrows one after another. Their quivers would soon run out. Shima scowled when Brekke missed two shots in a row. ** Focus, Brekke, I've seen you pick off field mice with that bow of yours from a distance greater than this. **

Brekke winced at Shima's scolding. However, the tiger-striped elf was right. She was better than this. Still, she was an elf who never went looking for Sand Cobras. They were big, deadly, and their meat did not taste like dirt chicks . . . regardless of what the others thought.

Brekke's next arrow struck the Cobra's eye. The beast's sight might already be gone but it could still be hurt or killed by a lucky shot in the eye.

Shima knew that too. She also knew, by the size of the Cobra, a spear would be the only weapon long enough to enter the snake's eye and kill it. Tomar, Onsha's father, had been the last elf to possess such skill needed to do that with a spear.

**If she goes underground, there will be no telling where she'll surface.**

** She won't ** Halban answered. ** I can see eggs inside her coils. She wouldn't abandon her young. **

Shima still held a spear in her hand; it would be useless to throw it at that moment. She watched as Halban's group quickly used up the few spears they had. This was not going well, but to retreat was not an option.

** Cyraff, get ready, I think we're out of choices. Jasha, that snake has a lot of dirt in her belly, can you do anything with that? **

** I'll try . . . I've never did anything like that before. ** Jasha answered as he appeared at her side.

** Just don't get too close. **

** Isbeth, no! ** Moon Singer cried.

Shima quickly searched the desert and found the young elf racing toward the snake. ** I'm out of spears, I can get a couple that missed. ** The kitling answered.

** Isbeth, forget it, ** Shima commanded. ** Spears are not working, her armor scales are too thick. **

Isbeth quickly turned to retreat. Shima diverted her attention away from the youngster and back toward the Cobra. The serpent raised its hood and made ready to strike. "But what could it be striking at," Shima thought to herself. "It can't see . . . unless . . . it still can . . ."

Shima again found herself racing toward the snake and toward the only elf within striking distance. "Run, Isbeth, run like your feet are on fire!" Shima shouted as the snake struck. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. Shima saw the fangs of the snake as they descended toward Isbeth. Taking no time to aim Shima released the spear she still held. Its pointed tipped buried itself in the Cobra's right eye.

The giant serpent roared in pain as it pulled its head out of harm's way. As it drew up its head, the front fangs caught Isbeth in the back. The small elf was thrown to the ground.

"High Ones . . . no!" Shima reached the child's side. The shirt Isbeth wore had a long tear in it and the huntress could see blood. She pulled up the shirt and to her relief the cut had barely broken the skin.

"Am I still alive?" Isbeth asked softly.

"You'll live," Shima replied. "It was the front fangs that got you, the poison rest in the back fangs." She helped Isbeth to her feet.

** Shima, watch out! **

Shima shoved Isbeth away hard, she only hoped she had thrown the young girl far enough. There was only one reason for Valash to shout like that. Looking up she saw the darkness of death as the Cobra's mouth descended.

She had a moment to send the love she felt to all of those she cared for.

"Mommy . . ."

Jardan looked over at Akan. The small child had been playing with his sister a moment ago. Now the curly head toddler was facing toward the closed entrance of the Holt.

"Mommy . . ." the child whispered again.

In the town of Ishmar, Kumo too felt something but then it was blocked by his mother's shield. ** Mother, what is it . . . what happened? ** He demanded.

Ame did not answer her son as she watched the fangs of the cobra drop down around her daughter.

Final Chapter of The Snake Hunt