6. The Snake’s Nest
Laughter echoed for a while in the Lotus Pavilion.
In the afternoon, the concubines of the former king gathered for tea, and today the atmosphere was particularly cheerful.
The topic of the day was ‘the Princess’s consort.’
“We are truly looking forward to who will become Princess’s consort.”
“He must be a man who has no shortcomings for our Princess.”
“Yes, any man cannot become the consort.”
The concubines adored Princess Cheong-Ah more than anyone else.
To these concubines, Princess Cheong-Ah was no different from a daughter.
The usual palace intrigues and rivalry among concubines were absent here.
Princess Cheong-Ah was the only descendant of the royal family, and the throne of Salogukguk was still vacant.
There was no consort chosen yet.
Contrary to expectations, Princess Cheong-Ah had not chosen General Jang as her consort.
“The consort will be personally selected by me.”
Princess Cheong-Ah overturned everyone’s expectations and issued the selection decree.
The decree allowed any man within the country to become the consort, provided they met certain criteria. Princess Cheong-Ah would observe and decide among those who participated.
However, a year had passed since the decree, and no man had captured the Princess’s attention yet.
The throne might be empty, but there was no problem in governing the country. Even though the princess did not become queen, as the only royal family member, she managed the court, and with General Jang’s support, the court remained peaceful.
Among the courtiers, there were whispers that even if the princess didn’t choose a consort, she could still become queen. It was unconventional, but there was no reason the princess couldn’t become queen.
If the selection process became uncertain, perhaps the princess could ascend to the throne as queen without choosing a consort.
“Even if you don’t become queen, how can our lovely Princess live alone for the rest of her life?”
“That’s right. If you’re taking a consort, it wouldn’t be bad to have several.”
“Yes, Your Majesty had so many consorts; having multiple consorts wouldn’t be a problem for Princess.”
“Then, will you enjoy a different consort every night?”
“Oh my, how envious. We are widowed, after all.”
Amidst the laughter of the concubines, Cheong-Ah remained silent, smiling.
In the past year, Cheong-Ah’s beauty had matured. She had become dazzlingly beautiful, exuding a charming allure that was more enchanting than ever.
Even though the courtiers were seasoned individuals, passing by Cheong-Ah caused them to feel a sudden warmth.
Rumors had already spread that no man could properly control their lower garments in front of Cheong-Ah.
Cheong-Ah emitted a captivating aura that attracted men, yet she seemed oblivious to any man’s presence. Despite turning twenty, she showed no interest in any man.
Because of this, many men, including General Jang, were experiencing the pain of unrequited love.
“Even if you don’t become queen, our beautiful Princess, how can you live alone for your whole life?”
“That’s right. If it pleases Your Majesty, having multiple consorts wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
“Yes, Your Majesty had so many consorts; having multiple consorts wouldn’t be a problem for Princess.”
“If the time comes, let it be so.”
Cheong-Ah smiled brightly as she sipped her tea.
“By the way, Princess, does the snake still only follow you?”
The conversation of the concubines shifted to the snake that Cheong-Ah raised.
Everyone in the palace knew that Cheong-Ah was raising a snake. However, since the snake only followed Cheong-Ah, no one could see or touch it.
There were rumors that the snake had captivated Cheong-Ah, explaining why she showed no interest in men. However, most considered it baseless gossip.
“How come the snake follows only you?”
“Perhaps it’s a mystical creature.”
“Yes, if a snake lives long enough, it becomes an immortal being.”
“Come to think of it, I heard a story from the former king about a captive snake.”
Suk-hye brought up the topic.
“A captive snake?”
“Yes, when the former king was intoxicated, he mentioned it once. There’s actually a prison in the underground of the palace, and the king had confined a snake there.”
“Why would the king confine a snake?”
“He said that if the snake were released, the country would perish.”
“Oh my, if the snake is released, the country will perish. How could a snake make a country perish?”
The concubines couldn’t hide their laughter.
Hearing their laughter, Cheong-Ah remained silent as if she knew nothing.
* * *
“Ha-ah! Ah! Ahhh!”
Sensual moans echoed from the draped bed.
The one moaning was Cheong-Ah.
As night fell, everyone withdrew from Cheong-Ah’s chambers because she commanded it. Hence, no one could hear the moans that echoed from her chambers every night.
“Now, suck it.”
When the man’s lips separated from her intimate part, Cheong-Ah lowered her body to his lower half.
The man’s arousal had swollen, the tip bloated and glistening.
Cheong-Ah opened her mouth wide, taking in the swollen glans.
Swallowing the man’s arousal wasn’t usually a challenging task, but this was no ordinary arousal.
The tip scratched against the roof of her mouth, and the glans pierced her throat.
Holding the remaining part of the arousal that she hadn’t consumed properly with both hands, Cheong-Ah moved her cheeks bulgingly, sucking it into her mouth.
While sucking the man’s arousal, Cheong-Ah shook her hips continuously.
The man’s tail moved vigorously between her spread buttocks.
The snake’s tail was in the widely stretched back entrance, and the man’s arousal was embedded in the bright red intimate part.
Cheong-Ah continued sucking, taking both the man’s arousal and the snake’s tail from front to back.
The man’s name is ‘Eun.’
It took a year for Cheong-Ah to finally learn this man’s name.
However, she has never called him by that name.
There is no occasion to call his name.
This man, during the day, takes on the appearance of a snake, and when night falls, he transforms into a half-human, half-snake, seeking pleasure.
Cheong-Ah’s nights are lewd and passionate like this.
Now, no human man captures Cheong-Ah’s attention.
Who could provide such satisfaction?
Inside her womb, the man’s offspring has been conceived, but it takes a hundred years for the birth to occur.
Therefore, Cheong-Ah cannot feel the presence of the life inside her yet.
She believes the man when he says so.
Something hot poured into Cheong-Ah’s mouth.
The man ejaculated heavily inside her mouth.
Swallowing the mouthful, Cheong-Ah lifted her head.
Her face was pale.
An anticipating gaze filled her eyes.
“Why is he so beautiful like this?”
With a satisfied expression, the man started sucking her lips.
Clinging to the man’s lips, Cheong-Ah raised her hips.
Unbeknownst to her, the snake’s tail entwined around her waist as she spread her knees and mounted the man.
The tail that had slipped out from her backside wrapped around her waist, while the man’s fluids moved alternately through the spread thighs.
When the man released his lips, Cheong-Ah twisted her body backward, gasping for breath.
The full, swaying breasts, swollen with arousal, had already been swallowed by the man’s mouth.
Up and down, shaking, Cheong-Ah moaned in ecstasy.
Due to the intense pleasure, fluids from her body kept flowing out, but without concern, Cheong-Ah leaned on the snake’s tail, suckling on her breasts.
“Now, what shall we do?”
The man, who had let go of her nipple, whispered affectionately.
“A-Anything you want…”
Cheong-Ah was fine with whatever the man wanted to do.
This man knows how to excite her.
He knows better than anyone how to reach a climax.
“Shall we do it like this?”
In an instant, the man transformed into a snake, coiling around Cheong-Ah’s body and soaring into the air.
Cheong-Ah knew that this man, in the form of a snake, could pass through walls.
Why the man who knew how to pass through walls had been imprisoned in that cell for so long was a mystery to her.
Holding onto the snake tightly out of fear that she might fall, Cheong-Ah was aware that the man, as a snake, could pass through the wall.
She didn’t know why the snake had been trapped in that cell for so long.
Together with the snake, Cheong-Ah flew into the sky in an instant, terrified of falling and tightly embracing the snake.
“Why? Are you scared?”
It’s a lie.
But it’s also true.
It’s scary yet not frightening.
Being up high naturally makes it frightening, but Cheong-Ah is not scared because she knows the snake won’t let her fall.
“Can you see your kingdom?”
Cheong-Ah looked down at the palace and the streets of the capital spread out below her.
In the dark sky, the palace only shimmered with lights.
“I asked for you to destroy your kingdom.”
“I will destroy your kingdom.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“The time will be decided by me, but if you want to decide the time, tell me.”
In fact, Cheong-Ah has no attachment to this kingdom.
Her heart had already left this kingdom on the day when King Bu died and the snake was released.
The kingdom is not that important.
Although it is said that this kingdom, guarded by the snake for hundreds of years, is the nation that has been preserved, Cheong-Ah doesn’t value it that much.
Rather, the snake is more precious.
If she has to confine the snake again for the sake of the kingdom, it is better to abandon the kingdom.
Cheong-Ah’s legs spread apart.
Her arms, legs, and waist were already entwined by the snake.
Looking down at the dark abyss, Cheong-Ah gasped for breath as her limbs were spread wide.
The snake wrapped around her pushed three objects into the open hole at once.
Her opening stretched to its limits as two fluids and a tail pushed in simultaneously.
But Cheong-Ah’s intimate area accommodated it well.
Now she knows that her body is no longer human.
Her body has changed too much to be called a human body.
Cheong-Ah’s wounds healed quickly, and above all, her menstrual cycle stopped, and her hair and nails no longer grew.
As if time had stopped or was flowing slower, Cheong-Ah’s growth had halted.
No one noticed, but Cheong-Ah knew.
Now she was no longer a person.
Yet not a snake either, but she was no longer human.
So, the time to leave is approaching.
Cheong-Ah’s lower abdomen bulged.
In the chaos inside her belly, the intertwining fluids brought pleasure, and her body, carried away by the sensation, released fluids of pleasure.
Among those who couldn’t sleep and were out this night, there might be someone unknowingly experiencing a strange rain.
Cheong-Ah’s lower belly twitched.
In the mixture of tangled fluids, her body, caught in the waves of pleasure, poured out ejaculate.
Maybe someone out there, under the same sky, is getting soaked in strange rain.
Cheong-Ah, entwined with the snake, caressed the body with her hands and buried her face in the smooth scales.
Thus, in the night sky, the entangled bodies of the black snake and the white Cheong-Ah writhed together.
* * *
At the sound of being called, the snake opened its eyes. It had been holding Cheong-Ah in its human form, but now it woke up, lifting its body.
Snakes don’t sleep. Since birth, for thousands of years, it has never closed its eyes to sleep.
The calling voice came from outside.
Leaving Cheong-Ah, who was deeply asleep, the man went outside.
Two people dressed in white were standing outside, bowing respectfully.
“What’s going on?”
The man arrogantly eyed them.
“Eun-gong, it’s time to come back now.”
“Now that my business in the human world is done, I won’t return.”
“Who says my business is done?”
“But Eun-gong, now that the iron bars that confined you have disappeared…”
“I am still imprisoned.”
There was no hesitation in the man’s response.
“Because I am still imprisoned, I cannot return.”
“But Eun-gong, what is keeping you imprisoned? Although we can’t see it with our eyes.”
“What will you do even if you see it? I am unable to return because I am still imprisoned.”
“When will you return then?”
“How would I know that? How can I predict when I will be released from this imprisonment?”
“We just long for your return and wait for it, Eun-gong.”
“I never told you to wait.”
“But we have no choice but to wait.”
“Do as you please.”
The man sighed, rolling his eyes.
“Just go back.”
“If you call me, I will come immediately.”
As the two men politely bowed and disappeared suddenly, the man, about to return inside, looked up at the sky.
The night sky had an unusually bright moon.
“When the time comes, I will go back, but I won’t be alone when I leave.”
The man mumbled while looking at the moon.
Suddenly, in response to his words, the moon started shining with a strange light.
The man who had entered the chamber lay down beside the sleeping Cheong-Ah. Her hair was in disarray, marked with red traces all over the white garment—a result of being entwined with the snake.
“So beautiful,” the man murmured contentedly, caressing Cheong-Ah’s shoulder. “This small one is so charming; even if bitten, there’s no venom.”
The man recalled the first time Cheong-Ah had spoken to him. He remembered the astonishment when the fearless child threw snacks at him.
He remembered the child who fearlessly came down to the prison and raised a lamp, although he hadn’t seen her since. Still, he eagerly awaited the moment when their paths would cross again, capturing the lingering scent of the drop she left behind.
“Help me, and I’ll give you my daughter as your wife.”
Long ago, Cheong-Ah’s ancestor had promised him that. In truth, he had little interest in the daughter, finding amusement in human activities. Transforming into a snake allowed him to observe how humans would treat him in that form. Most humans feared and distanced themselves from the snake-like him, but Cheong-Ah’s ancestor was different.
He wanted to use him. That desire piqued his curiosity.
However, the man betrayed him, breaking the promise. Not only did he breach the agreement, but he also stole his strength. Seizing the opportunity while he was asleep, the man cut open his abdomen, extracted the female essence, ground it into powder, and swallowed it. How could a human handle the female essence?
For that act, the man paid a heavy price. Humans blamed him for difficulties in childbirth and the lack of descendants. The essence, mixed with his blood, imprisoned within the fence of bars, disappeared. He patiently waited for it to return.
He knew that the humans, driven by greed, would not be able to resist calling him back. However, when the one who came for him was not a greedy human but a small child—devoid of greed, he was surprised.
The child, filled with despair, came to ask him to ruin the country. He believed that humans, imprisoned by greed, would eventually call him back.
Yet, what he didn’t anticipate was that it would be the descendant who came to ruin the country.
Although curses that weren’t curses were thrown at him a long time ago, he didn’t know that a descendant would come asking him to destroy the country. The promise was not kept.
Just like the ancestor didn’t keep the promise, he didn’t need to keep the promise either. However, he wanted to grant her wish.
Although the ancestor didn’t keep the promise, he wished to keep it, not just return her daughter but also offer much more.
For a thousand years, he waited patiently, but when he was found, it wasn’t by a greedy human but a desperate child. The promise meant nothing anymore.
The scent emanating from her body pleased him, the fearful pupils, and her audacity to use him. More than anything, he liked the child who gave him snacks.
And most of all, when he was freed, he suddenly felt the impulse of mating. A grown virgin.
And after being trapped for so long, suppressing his normal mating instincts, he finally mated. The intercourse happened, and while he wasn’t sure about the human’s gender, as a dragon, he only mated with one female throughout his lifetime.
“I wonder what expression she’d make when she realizes she can never leave.”
The man smirked mockingly. He had initially appeared in the form of a snake to test the humans, but this man was originally a dragon.
He was known as Eun-gong.
Despite everyone’s objections, he descended to the human realm, claiming that he wanted to see how humans lived, ultimately getting tied to this land of humans. Originally a white dragon, he was called Eun-gong because his scales were silver.
Even when he transformed into a snake with black scales, his hair, eyebrows, eyes, and scales were all made of silver.
He was also called Eun-gong because a silver powder, like snow, scattered whenever he floated in the sky.
However, for now, he had no intention of revealing his true form to Cheong-Ah. Cheong-Ah loved even his snake form enough. It was rare for a woman to love a snake.
But this lovely human woman loved even his snake form. If she loved a snake, she would love a dragon.
“So, I should keep you for a long time.”
The man kissed Cheong-Ah on her forehead.
Cheong-Ah, who had been tossing in her sleep, opened her eyes slightly, smiled when she met the man’s gaze, and then buried herself in his arms.
‘Shall I ruin the country?’
The man provocatively asked, and Cheong-Ah closed her eyes, nodded, and said softly, ‘Ruining it… or going on an excursion…’
Of course, it wasn’t happening yet, but he knew that day would come soon. The day when Cheong-Ah and he would leave the palace together.
The palace, where he had been trapped for seven hundred years, could no longer confine him. However, he had found a new nest.
Cheong-Ah was his nest.
It could be called a snake’s nest or a dragon’s nest.
It was a nest and, at the same time, a new prison.
Perhaps it was a more robust and unbreakable prison than one with bars.
Most importantly, he loved this prison.
Above all else.
* * *
Three years later, Saloguk Kingdom collapsed. Cheong-Ah, the last Empress of Saloguk, marked the end of the royal family by not marrying and not producing an heir. As the fate of Saloguk came to an end, a great fire broke out in the palace on a stormy day.
The fire engulfed the entire palace, and after it was extinguished, no one saw Cheong-Ah again. The once majestic palace turned into ashes, and the princess disappeared into the flames. Afterward, General Jang Wi, who served her, became the new king and established a new dynasty. The country was named Sinseo Kingdom.
Despite the close to seven centuries of Saloguk Kingdom coming to an end, and the emergence of a new nation, nothing had changed. The trapped snake was released, the country collapsed, yet no one knew about it. People simply considered it as the fate of Saloguk Kingdom reaching its end.
No one knew the truth—neither the story of the snake nor the tale of the princess who loved the snake, or the truth about the snake that led to the downfall of the country.
“The weather is so nice,” Cheong-Ah said with a content smile, riding on the man’s back. The man wore a hat, and Cheong-Ah had a bundle on her back. To an observer, they looked like a couple on a long journey.
In reality, they were already a married couple. Having intercourse every night certainly qualified them as such.
“Is your leg still hurting?” the man asked.
“Yes, it hurts too much to walk,” Cheong-Ah complained, riding on the man’s back.
“Should I leave you behind?”
“Then I’ll find another man,” she teased.
“You naughty thing.”
Both of them knew that talking about finding another man or leaving was just a jest.
“At the crossroads, which way should we go?” the man asked while standing at the fork in the road.
“To the north,” Cheong-Ah pointed to the left.
“Alright, let’s go that way.”
“But I have something I’m curious about.”
“What are you curious about?”
“Are you really a snake?”
At that question, the man just laughed. “Why are you laughing?”
“If you ask a snake if it’s really a snake, what answer do you expect?”
“That’s why… it doesn’t seem like a snake.”
“If not a snake, what does it seem like?”
“Um… a water snake?”
“Enough. Let’s stop.”
“A water snake?”
“It is a water snake.”
“I said it’s not.”
“Denying it only makes it more convincing that it’s a water snake.”
Cheong-Ah laughed heartily, riding on the man’s back. Even though the country had collapsed, it didn’t matter. As long as the man was there, and she was there, every place they stepped became their own small kingdom. She was the queen, and he was her snake. That was all that mattered.
“Do you ever think of it as a dragon?” she asked.
“It’s just a water snake.”
“Okay. A water snake.”
“See? It’s a water snake. A millennium-old water snake.”
“If I’m going to be a wife, I wanted to be a dragon’s wife.”
Hearing Cheong-Ah’s grumbling, the man shifted his foot.
Continuing straight to the north would lead them to the sea. The scent of the sea was already in the air. For the man, it had been almost seven centuries since he last saw the sea.
And at the end of that sea was his territory. If they reached there, perhaps his feelings might change, and he could bring Cheong-Ah to that territory.
He would prove himself.
Prove that he was not a water snake but a dragon.
He had to prove it, one way or another.