Jacques, the young comte de la Arbois, nearly fell off his horse, both steed and rider trembling from exhaustion, into the arms of the innkeeper of the small village of Saint-Avold, a hard half-day's ride west of Metz.
'A fresh horse,' Jacques muttered feverishly through swollen lips.
'We have such a horse for you,' the innkeeper exclaimed. 'But you are in no condition to ride on, young sir. Come out of this rain and at least get some hot soup into you before you proceed. Where are you headed?'
'Koblenz. Must reach Koblenz. Family there.' the young man answered, although he barely was able to get the words out.
A chill went down the innkeeper's spine. From the quality of the horse and of the young man's dress as well, the innkeeper had immediately formed a suspicion. But knowing the destination was Koblenz in the nearby region of the Germans, where many of the French aristocracy had retreated to escape an appointment with Madame Guillotine, his worse fears were realized. Madame didn't discriminate between the royals and those who aided them in these days of turmoil and revolution. But the man was so young and handsome, and the innkeeper had no intention of being the first in many generations of his family in Saint-Avold to deny a roof and a bit of food to a weary traveler.
'Here's a fresh horse now, sir. But do come inside first for a rest and some food. You look completely worn out.'
'The road,' the young man asked with a whisper. 'Which road to Koblenz?'
'That one over there, young sir. But you don't want that one. Trier is closer and you'll find supporters there as well as Koblenz. And there's the high forest of Hunsruck in the Saarland between you and Koblenz. You don't want to go through there.'
The young man stumbled toward the fresh horse.
'High forest? Saarland?' he was muttering as he wearily raised his hand to the saddle of the skittish, but stolid Camargue he had just purchased. Not as well bred as his own, which he was giving over to the innkeeper and which had carried him up the west bank of the Moselle barely ahead of his pursuers, but nonetheless a better steed than the innkeeper was likely to provide those who followed.
'The Schlange is reported to be about in that forest, sir. You don't want to encounter the Schlange.'
The young count was about to ask for clarification, but just then both he and the innkeeper heard the hoof beats of several horses on the cobblestones at the edge of the village.
'Henri,' Jacques cried out in a weak wail. 'Why must you pursue me to the ends of the earth?' he whispered in a husky voice toward the darkness. The world that was France was being turned on its head.
The innkeeper quickly helped to swing Jacques into the saddle of the Camargue and gave it a slap on the rump as he turned and ran for the inn, wanting to be innocently inside again before the nobleman's pursuers appeared. He didn't even look to see the youth dash off down the road to Koblenz.
Hours later a weary Camargue slowed its pace as it moved ever deeper into the high forest of the Saarland. The young count was slung low on the horse's back, his fever fighting his hunger for prominence of pain, but both being eclipsed by his weariness. He was aware that the horse was slowing down, but at least he was out of France now and his pursuers, his own serfs who had faithfully served his family for generations and who now had lost their senses, would have stopped at the border. He had cut his exit almost entirely too short, and he could almost feel the breeze of the falling guillotine blade he had barely escaped. His family had left weeks ago, but he had stayed to gather and hide as much of the chateau's valuables as he could in safekeeping in anticipation of a quick end of this revolutionary nonsense that surely couldn't last for more than another couple of weeks before the guillotine was satiated and his people realized the horror of mistake they were making. And Henri. Even Henri had lost his mind to this antiaristocracy fervor.
The rain had stopped, but the night was dark and heavy mist swirled up from the puddles in the narrow dirt road that slithered between the close-knit trees of the Hunsruck.
Jacques couldn't keep his eyes open, and he was slowly losing his grip on the horse. The clop clopping of the bone-tired steed echoed off the tree trunks and droned in Jacques's head. Eventually, he just slipped off the horse onto the soft moss at the verge of the road and his horse kept on moving into the center of the forest.
Untold hours later Jacques barely heard the churning wheels of the black carriage that materialized out of the forest and stopped beside him, but he was aware of the sound of a command in an authoritative, rich voice and of the dark-clad liverymen who came down from the driver's seat and gently lifted him up and placed him inside the carriage.
When the carriage was once more under way, the voice he had heard again emanated from the darkness of the bench on the other side of the carriage, and Jacques heard the rustling of a silky material. A hand, the arm covered in shiny black, emerged from the darkness. In the hand was a flagon.
'Here, son, drink this. It will sooth you. You look totally spent and in deep fever.' The voice was melodious and had a sing song quality to it.
Jacques took the flagon and drank greedily. It was some sort of rich red wine. Delicious to the taste. He couldn't get enough of it.
'And bread. Eat a bit of bread.' Once more the hand had appeared from the darkness, offering him a fine, thinly crusted roll that would not have been out of place at the banquet table at Jacques's chateau.
Jacque took the bread and tried to eat it slowly, in keeping with his noble training, but he was famished and it was delicious and he was quickly devouring it like a feral cat.
He would have thought that the bread and wine would give him strength, but they made him even more confused and weary than he had been before, and he found himself drifting off. But he didn't really feel like he was sleeping. It was more like he was numb. No, not numb, because his senses were heightened. But he felt he had little control over his arms and his legs.
The sound of rustling of material boomed through his brain, a heightened sound where it should be muted. And he felt the evening breeze caress his body, his naked body. But that wasn't the only feeling. The palms and fingers of hands were also caressing his body. Dry, yet strong and sensuous hands moving across his skin, searching out and exploring every crevice and crease and curve of his body. He luxuriated in the touch. His mind was transported back to his furtive meetings and couplings with the chateau's huntsman, Henri, in the hayloft of the estate. And his senses were overtaken with the feeling of the sucking and nipping sensation at his nipples, just as Henri did in the heat of passion. The suckling at his breast turned to a salty taste in his mouth. Lips on his, a foreign tongue pushing his lips apart and exploring the inside of his mouth. The flicking of the tip of a tongue against his inner cheeks.
And the sense of smell heightened as well. The musky smell of desire. The smell of Henri, straight from honest, hard work in the forest. The exhilarating smell of tracking and bringing down a stag to be delivered to the young count with pride. And to be rewarded by Jacques by being led into privacy and having the young nobleman open his legs to his serf. The smell of rut, of straightforward, honest sex. The tang of the sweat of Henri's arm pits, of the first drops of dew on his mushroom cap as Jacques opened his lips to Henri's fine, strong cock. The zesty aroma of Henri's pubes as Jacques's lips reached the root of his manhood. The smell of excitement on Henri's breath as he entered Jacques's ass with his cock and the nobleman's mouth with his tongue.
The overreaching sound of rustling material changed to moaning. The moaning became louder in Jacques's ears. He recognized that sound, the timbre of the moaning. It was his own. The same moaning he made when Henri entered him and caressed his passage walls with his throbbing member.
By habit Jacques reached out, felt a strong, heavily muscled belly, just like Henri's, and moved his hand across the navel and down. Henri liked for Jacques to take the measure of him and to run his finger around his tool's glans, to guide his cock in and then wrap fingers around its base as it dug into Jacques's passage.
Jacques was confused as he reached for Henri's piece, because he encountered only smooth skin where Henri was heavily thatched. But he was so thoroughly confused by the drugged wine and bread that it did not register that this wasn't Henri.
Jacques began to take the measure of his lover's cock, but this only added to his confusion. He kept moving his hand down the marble-hard shaft, but he couldn't reach the glans. The shock of this filled him with adrenalin, and for a brief moment the haze of the drugs and weariness were pushed aside. He sat straight up from where he had been draped on what was now a bench pulled lengthwise around in the center of the carriage and saw, for the first time, who or what had been making love to him.
It was both a monster and a man that materialized out of the darkness of the carriage. He had a magnificent man's physique of god-like proportions but in dim light that shone into the moving carriage, his skin had a green, scaly tinge to it. He had a face that was flat and handsome and ugly all at the same time nostrils but practically no nose. And as he reared back from the unexpected, if temporary rousing of his prey, his almost-lipless mouth opened and a red, forked tongue darted out.
Jacques shrank back in horror, a horror that was only increased as his eyes descended down the creature's undulating, heavily muscled torso to what he had between his legs. He had an appendage where a cock would be, but it descended to the floor of the carriage, and Jacques could not see where it stopped.
With a fear-boosted burst of adrenalin, Jacques lunged for the carriage door. He had it open and was poised to jump into what was still a dense and close wall of trees when he felt something like an extraordinarily thick rope wind its way around his chest from below his armpits and pull him back into the carriage.
He looked down as he was being drawn back and he saw, in the moonlight, that the monster's centered appendage, now wrapped around him in a strong grip, did, indeed, end. It unmistakably was a cock, as it ended in a bulbous mushroom cap, not unlike Henri's proud member. But from the piss slit of this mushroom cap flicked a red forked tongue.
Jacques tried to scream as he was drawn back into the carriage by this monstrously long penis wrapped around his chest, but no sound came out.
The monster-man was lying on his back on the bench as Jacques was drawn in and stretched out on top of him. The creature was murmuring to Jacques in that mesmerizing sing song voice now. It wrapped one strong arm around Jacques's back and took possession of Jacques's cock with its other hand and stroked him there.
The creature flicked Jacque's cheeks and the hollow of his neck with his forked tongue as the adrenalin flowed out of Jacques and the drugs, his weariness, and the creature's murmurings slowly lulled him into a state of surrender.
It was almost with a sense of detachment now that Jacques traced the journey of the head of the creature's cock down the small of his back, that flicking red nether tongue tickling supersensitive skin as it descended. The creature's mouth was on Jacques's, his tongue flicking around on Jacques's inner cheeks when the head of the cock reached and slithered into his channel.
Jacques moaned and groaned as the cock-hose snaked up into him, the forked tongue flicking against his ass passage walls as it invaded and unreeled inside him. The realization of what was happening to him was horrible, but the pleasure of this intense fuck flowed over Jacques and obliterated anything else. He forgot he was weary and was being taken by such an alien being. All of his senses went to the slithering cock snaking up into him farther than Henri had ever reached.
The creature released his arm around Jacques, although the base section of the appendage was still wrapped around Jacques's chest and was contracting and expanding in a way that made Jacques pant in rhythm with the creature, becoming one with the monster. Jacques raised himself up and arched his back and cried out in delight as the head of the monster cock snaked farther into his intestines.
The creature placed a palm of his hand in the center of Jacques's sternum and gently pushed the young nobleman's torso back, so that Jacques was arched back toward the bouncing floor of the carriage, his hair barely touching the floor boards. And then the creature raised up and lowered his mouth onto Jacques's engorged cock and flicked his forked tongue around on the glans. The tongue found Jacques's piss slit and entered him there, flicking in and out, fucking Jacques's cock slit in rhythm with the fucking of his ass canal.
Jacques lost consciousness as he ejaculated into the creature's throat, and the creature, in turn, spit its venom of its cock-hose deep at the center of the young count.
When Jacques awoke he was laying on a clean bed in a small bed chamber. Sunlight was streaming through the window, and two anxious, solid-looking middle-aged men were staring down into his face, their eyes full of concern.
'Ach, Gute, he awakes,' said one to the other.
'Sir, can you hear me? Does anything hurt?' the other said directly to Jacques.
'Where am I?' Jacques asked weakly.
'You are in Netunkirche, in the Saarland, at the edge of the Hunsruck forest,' one of the men answered in German. And then when he saw that Jacques was struggling with the language, he repeated this in broken French.
'Villagers found you at the edge of the forest, on the road from France,' the other said in better French. 'A riderless horse had come into the village and we sent men out and you were found.'
'How long? Who? Where?' Jacques said as he unsuccessfully tried to move to a sitting position. He felt sore everywhere, even internally all the way up to his stomach.
'Nein, nicht. No, don't try to sit up, young man. You've been in a high fever for three days. We weren't sure what had happened to you.'
'Ich glaube yetz es wurde eine Schlange,' one said to the other with a determined, almost truculent tone.
'What? What did he say?' Jacques said to the other man, now suddenly more aware and pulling at his sleeve. 'What did he say about a Schlange? Back in the French village the innkeeper had warned me about the forest, using that same word.'
'Schlange,' the second man repeated. 'Snake. My friend here has been contending that you must have been bitten by a snake. There are many big and nasty snakes there in the Hunsruck forest. I think it was just a high fever and delirium myself. He and I have been arguing this point ever since you were brought here.'
Jacques wearily fell back onto the bed, more confused now than ever, although he knew that he neither would ever speak of this nor ever again ride through the Hunsruck forest.