It was painful and unpleasant; there was no end of it in sight. Though, like any other large task, there was only one thing to be done.
A huge and ruinous serpent lay slain before them.
All things the touched by the living form of the serpent rotted, withered, and fell to nothing. It brought famine and blight wheresoever it slithered. Kings were unmade by it. Civilizations sloughed away into empty ruins and wandering mobs in its wake.
Long ago, the serpent had swallowed the First King’s Ransom. Legend told this unimaginable treasure was the only thing immune to the serpents entropic ravages. Legend also claimed it was about a thousand pounds of solid gold and sparkling jewels.
They had killed the beast, and it was not easy. It had cost them both limbs and lives. The foul thing towered above them and stretched on for what seemed like miles, stinking in the noonday sun.
No, it had not been easy to kill a creature that rotted flesh and rusted steel by the slightest touch. Only four of them survived – and they now had only seven arms and six hands between them.
Wrecked and rotted siege equipment, broken weapon hafts, and piles of putrid flesh moldered across the blighted countryside. A great strip of rancid flesh detached from a timber-thick rib to crash wetly to the ground. It seemed in death, the great snake’s power turned against its own flesh.
Armon grimaced loudly.
“Might as well get on with it,” he muttered through a blood crusted beard. Uneasily he thrust a small pickaxe into the air with his left hand. “Let’s get on with it! The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can drink the memory to pieces!”
Like any other large, complex, or onerous task, they searched out the gold one step at a time. They dealt with the issue before them and moved forward to suffer the next. They managed it: one disgusting, vomit-laden step at a time.