The Three Kings
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Once upon a time, long ago, a person reached the age of thirteen. Ne were not like the others, though, and ne had never been like the others since ne was born. Enraged by nir calm acceptance of nir oddities, the other humans tore nem apart and threw nir corpse into a great hole in the earth. Although ne had been ripped to pieces, ne did not die. Wracked with pain and doomed to suffer for the rest of eternity, ne climbed down through the earth until ne reached the Underworld.

The Kings of the Underworld were three serpents. The Old Serpent was wise, but rotting from the inside out. His realm was the realm of those who had died from illness or age. The Bisected Serpent was strong, but had been split in two by the jealous goddess of the rivers. His realm was the realm of those who had died violently by the hands of others. The Flattened Serpent was cunning, but had been crushed by one of the goddesses of the ocean for stealing her jewels. He took the rest of the dead, who had nowhere to go.

No one could exist in the Underworld without their permission, and the only ones permitted to enter the Underworld were the dead. However, the person who had been torn apart was still alive. Hoping that the Kings would kill nem for nir transgression, ne approached the first of the Three Kings.

The shredded one approached the Bisected Serpent first, as ne had been torn apart by nir fellow humans. "My pain is too much to bear! Surely I must die!"

Nir intestines tangled up in nir feet, and the pain silenced nem. Ne knelt, trying to shove nir guts back into nir body, and offered nir heart to the Bisected Serpent. The Bisected Serpent rose, and considered nir heart, his own guts tangling around him.

"You are strange, for both human and snake," The Bisected Serpent answered, "But you have persisted. I will not have your heart."

The Bisected Serpent used his intestines to sew up nir belly, and ne knew nir own endurance. "You may die today, or tomorrow, or even a year from now, but do not count your days meekly. Drag them from life's grasp and devour the odds against you, and you shall live."

The shredded one approached the Flattened Serpent next, as ne had nowhere to go in the realm of the living. "The expectations of life are too much to bear! Surely I must die!"

The blood bubbling out of nir throat smothered her words, and silenced nem. Ne knelt, trying to wipe away the blood, and offered nir heart to the Flattened Serpent. The Flattened Serpent rose, and considered nir heart, blood and viscera trickling from the places where they had burst out.

"You are strange, for both human and snake," The Flattened Serpent answered, "But you have cunning. I will not have your heart."

The Flattened Serpent used his spine to sew up nir torn-out throat, and ne knew nir own strength. "Stare life in the eye and make yourself as big as you can, and it will fear you. You may be badly injured, but you shall live.

The shredded one approached the Old Serpent last, knowing that ne did not belong to his realm. "Everyone's hatred is too much to bear! Surely I must die!"

Nir lungs impaled themselves against nir ribs, and silenced nem. Ne knelt, desperately pushing them back into nir chest, and offered nir heart to the Old Serpent. The Old Serpent rose and considered nir heart, his eyes milky and his breath a miasma of rot.

"You are strange, for both human and snake," The Old Serpent answered, "But you have mercy. I will not have your heart."

The Old Serpent used his sinew to stitch up nir chest, and ne knew nir own value. "Do no harm to those who would not harm you, but do not suffer those who would. Your bite is death, and you shall live."

The human left the Underworld, and climbed back up to the world of the living. Ne did not seek out the town of nir childhood, nor did ne seek out those who had shredded nem. Instead, ne went into the forest and disappeared forever.

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