The scent of flowers wafted heavily through the air and the verdant green canopies of the trees filtered sunlight down to the plain stone bench in the clearing. Looking through the emerald undergrowth, a small gibbon darted over the heavily leaf-strewn logs and plants for the watching eyes of the man who was seated comfortably on the bench. Running his fingers over the stone, Thiri turned his gauze upwards to the golden sunlight that was quickly receding and with it the heavy scent of sabae that had been filling his head with thoughts of a woman's perfume.
The fading sunlight so early in the day could only mean one thing, however, and Thiri pushed himself off the bench to stand upright. He struck an imposing figure and was known by the village beneath his house as "the prince on the hill". Still young, he was yet unmarried though there were many mothers who had sought negotiations with him and his mother. They had all been disappointed so far, told that Thiri was not yet ready to marry, and that was the truth of the matter but it did not stop them from trying. He thought on this bitterly, their determination to paint him as more of a man than he was only served to bring him shame.
It was lucky timing that allowed Thiri to make it back to his home in time for the rains, which began to patter against the roof of the house almost the second that he had closed the door. Holding his head in his hands, he braced himself for the familiar pain so as to not make a sound. Within the eerily silent confines of the room, a transformation took place that he strove to hide from anyone in the village. Locking his jaw and inhaling deeply, Thiri watched as his legs began to fuse together beneath his robe. From the hips down, his lower body became a sleek single limb supporting him, the tail of a snake trailing off behind him. His great length as a snake was more impressive than his human height and covered in scales as green as the leafy foliage surrounding the house. His curse was again upon him.
From the next room, he heard the tinkling of a cup and not seconds later, an older woman with beautiful jet black hair pushed open the door. Her neat braid fell down her back and its streaks of silver were visible as they ran through the plait. She had a tray with cups of tea on it and her expression was sympathetic. It was all that Thiri could do to not throw the cups of tea across the room in frustration. Before he could speak, however, his mother spoke instead.
"We have a visiting representative from a revered temple. He needed a place to stay and I thought that perhaps he could help you, my child..." she frowned, knowing the helplessness her son felt as the rains came down. He did not feel fit to be a man when he could do nothing in the storms. He had seen many things in his young life, and was to the age where most young men married, but he refused to take a bride he could not protect from the rains.
"I don't wish to see him."