You shake the colors out of your head. That lamia did something to mess with your mind, and now she’s threatening Bagheera with the same. You climb out of her coils and ponder how to help him. She’s distracted right now, but those coils are thick and strong—as soon as she notices you’re up she could grab you. You need to get rid of her before she does.
You look at her coils. They are thick—and big—and heavy. All those coils falling at once would be a big weight. You could yank her right out of the tree if you shove them off the branch. That’s part of the problem—they’re so heavy you can hardly push them. You manage to get leverage under them with your legs, and with a great heave topple them off the branch.
At that moment the lamia seems to be threatening Bagheera. “You have just sealed your doom.”
With a yelp she zips away from him towards the tree trunk. She nabs the first branch she passes, but the falling weight yanks her grip away and she slides and spins and whirls around the tree. She scrabbles for another grip but finally falls and collapses in a heap of her tail on the jungle floor. She looked so ridiculous falling you laugh.
When you call Bagheera to tell him you knocked the lamia out of the tree, you realize he’s still under her sway. You shake and smack him to wake him up, which he does with confused mutterings. On the jungle floor the lamia slithers away, looking up at the branch.
“Just you wait,” she yells, glaring up at you. “You’ll come back to my coils soon enough.” She stumbles forward. The end of her tail got stuck in a knot behind some bamboo.
You grin with a laughing gaze. “You’re going to have to work out the knots in your tail first.”
“I’ll work them out on you,” she mutters. She pulls on her tail until it snaps free, sending her tumbling and rolling away into some foliage.
“Hah!” you say. “She wasn’t really so much to deal with.”
“Oh, really?” You look at Bagheera, who has a downcast smile as he glares at you. You get the feeling he’s about to go off on a lecture. “Even though you almost fell prey to her charms? So you really think you can look out for yourself, do you? You want to stay in the jungle, do you?”
You glare back and affirm your desire to remain in the jungle. Bagheera shakes his head and grumbles. He still doesn’t believe you could make it despite clearly just saving him from that lamia. He just tells you to go to sleep.
You plop back against the tree and turn away. You’re still going to bed angry, and you’ll probably wake up in the morning angry.
In the morning . . .
A vague memory gives you the desire to not be there in the morning. A desire to run off, leave Bagheera behind? He’ll do everything he can to get you out of the jungle. What if you could stay with someone who would keep you in the jungle?
Should you have been so rash as to push away that lamia?
These are dangerous thoughts, but it just might be that lamia is your only way of staying in the jungle. If you snuck away and went after her, could you still find her? Or is this all a bad idea, some remnants of her euphoric spell drawing you to her?
-34a No! Don’t go after her. Stay in the tree. It’s too dangerous—that’s no way to look out for yourself. (unfinished)
-34b Yes! Go after her. Leave Bagheera. She can help you stay in the jungle. You don’t know, maybe she really had good intentions. (unfinished)