I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippy who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older....
‘The Great Serpent’ is another Chinese tale from between the 3rd and 6th centuries.
‘In Tienmen Principality there are lonely mountains and steep gorges, the gorges high above the plain. Men passing the foot of the mountain often leaped over the forest and disappeared, as if they were fairies with wings. After several such cases had happened in one year, this was called Fairies Valley. Many who wanted to become immortals or were simply curious went there and performed ablutions, hoping they might become fairies. Then they often disappeared.
Finally, one man, shrewder than the rest, suspected that some monster was behind this. Accordingly he went deep into the valley, taking a dog with him, and fastened himself to a boulder. When the dog flew off, the man went back and told hid fellow villagers. The gathered several dozen men with sticks to clear the weeds and cut trees until they reached the top of the mountain. There they saw in the distance a great serpent some hundreds of feet long and as high as a man, with ears like winnowing fans. They fell on it and shot it dead. The bones of the men this serpent had devoured were piled high on both sides of it. The serpent’s mouth was more than afoot across. It had sucked in all those who had disappeared. After this the district was free from trouble.
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