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Daughter of the Night   By: (1907-1975)

Daughter of the Night by Richard S. Shaver

First Page:

DAUGHTER OF THE NIGHT

By RICHARD S. SHAVER

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Amazing Stories December 1948. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: The evil magic of the Goddess Diana turned men to stone. Would the power of the strange Eos be strong enough to turn them back to living men?]

[Illustration: Like a flash of light the gleaming sword swept down]

Like a flash of light the gleaming sword swept down. A fraction of a second later a portion of it no longer gleamed: it was crimson! And Queen Dionaea's head bounced down the stairway into her garden of live oaks. A few seconds of thought remained to it before it would be very dead; but her thought was confused by shock her eyes rolled uncontrollably while she tried to remember some cantrap or rune from her long association with the Goddess Diana. Desperately she tried to recite the proper abracadabra to stay the swift death that was sweeping through her mind; but it is hard for a head to chant a charm with no body to draw a breath....

Druga, his job of execution finished, sheathed his bloody sword and turning, stalked away. Thus it was that he did not see the amazing thing that happened in the gloom of the ancient live oaks....

Baena was a serpent, a huge river of strength up to his giant head, and he lived among the mighty branches of the oaks. Being a serpent, Baena was far from equal to a human being in his brainpower, but even his dim perception told him that harm had come to his one and only benefactress and that meant harm to him, too, for Queen Dionaea had always cared for the needs of his stomach. Through her he ate and lived. Without her, he would die. And so, he glided rapidly down from the trunk of his favorite tree and emerged into the paths of the garden just as Dionaea's bleeding head rolled out from the base of the steps.

Baena coiled his length protectingly about Dionaea. For an instant he was at a loss, noting her horribly desperate attempts to speak without breath, her mouth opening and closing and her tongue licking snake like in and out.

Baena realized after a moment that there was no hope for the Queen to go on living. A head must have a body.

Glancing about, Baena saw nothing but the numerous coils of his own body , and after an instant's hesitation, he took his tail in his mouth up to the tenth joint and bit it off! Shrinking along all his length with the terrible necessity that faced him, Baena quickly slapped the bloody stump of his tail fast to the bleeding neck of Dionaea and said one of the few magic spells he could remember....

Turning his body slowly until his severed nerves told his spine that the connections were as accurate as could be expected, Baena waited while the spell slowly took effect. He lay there all night, waiting for his own life's blood to reanimate the mind of Dionaea.

As Dionaea came back to her senses, Baena began to experience the strange phenomena of wanting to go two ways at once, and as the phenomena became more and more troublesome, he decided that he had better have an understanding with Dionaea once and for all. But what poor male ever won an argument with a woman?

Thus it was that Baena resigned himself to a life of traveling backward, and that was that.

As a snake, he wished only to eat and bask in his favorite tree, but as Dionaea, he wanted only one thing and that with all the fervor of hate a sorceress is capable of a fitting revenge on the man who had visited her execution upon her!

Day and night Dionaea plotted, and in her mind a fitting revenge grew it would include the lovely Feronia, Druga's beloved.... Carefully she prepared the incantation.

It is here that my story really begins. What has happened, and how it happened is of little consequence to what is to come except perhaps to introduce you to the characters... Continue reading book >>




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