You sneak, eavesdropping on your friends like that. You stand behind a tree, hidden in the dark evening, and listen to Baloo and Bagheera talk about . . . you! Well, eavesdropping doesn’t seem so bad since your friends are talking about you behind your back. Of course it’s about sending you to that human village again. Bagheera doesn’t think you can look out for yourself in the jungle. Baloo has more confidence in you, but when Bagheera mentions that tiger—well, Baloo is shaken.
You know you could make it on your own, though. If only there were some way to convince them.
You jump as something soft and cool wraps around your chest and under your arms. You hang in the air—some sort of vine is lifting you into a dark tree. No, it’s much thicker than a vine. You look down—if you fell from this height you could get hurt. You’re stuck going up.
The long scaly appendage pulls you into the leaves and to a thick branch above. You jump at the sight in the dusk of—another human! Except—it’s not? From her long hair and smiling face to her raised shoulders and midsection she looks human, although her eyes are strange, as if gems. Past her waist, however, is decidedly not human, a thick winding tail like that of a snake’s. You try to follow it along the branch and around the tree but it’s too long, though it matches the tail end now around you.
Then the name hits you. “A lamia!” you say.
The lamia cups her chin in a hand and smiles—a laughing smile, or a hungry smile? “That’s right. I guess you’ve heard of lamias.”
You have, indeed. You’ve heard many times that lamias are dangerous. They’re sneaky and conniving, would want to get at you and take you for one reason or another—don’t trust them, don’t look at them, just get away. You glower and grab the lamia’s tail to pull yourself off her.
The lamia laughs and moves closer along the branch, a hand stretched out to you. A fragrance hangs about her as if she had flowers in her hair.
“I’m sorry if I startled you. I couldn’t help but overhear your friends arguing down there–”
You elbow the lamia away as you hop onto the branch. “Don’t even try it.”
The lamia frowns as her eyes widen. She stammers a moment then looks away with a smile. “Try what?”
You roll your eyes. “Whatever you’re trying to do; I’m sure it’s something.” You walk down the branch to reach a lower one. “I know better than to trust a lamia.” You can at least look out for yourself that far.
The lamia relaxes but hurries after you, her tail slithering from the tree to raise her up. She quickly says, “But I know of a way you can prove to your friends that you can look out for yourself.”
You stop, and she smiles. Might she be telling the truth? How could she help you prove that you can make it in the jungle? You wonder if it’s worth the risk—if there even is a risk. Which way will you go?
-10a Turn back to the lamia and ask what she had in mind.
-10b Continue leaving the lamia. (unfinished)