The princes slithered into the throne cavern, capped heads held high, to survey what would soon belong to one or the other. Its walls were smooth earth, packed tightly and accented by pebble mosaics of their predecessors’ greatest successes. The throne itself was a stunningly intricate nest, woven from an assortment of twigs into a comfortable bowl, the back of which towered over even the mightiest of guests. There was only the one entrance and exit to the room, which provided security for the head of state while also serving as reminder that this room was absolute – all disputes ended where all authority began.
“It is a shame, brother, that you should have to journey all this way from your meditations just to see my coronation,” said the thickly muscled, ruddy-brown prince wearing a black hat and cape.
“So sure of yourself, Panther?” said his more sinuous, green counterpart. “I have not so far rescinded my claim to the office.”
“You cannot hope to best me in any of the contests that await us,” Panther laughed with an irritating titter. “It is widely spoken that you were adopted from a long line of lazy philosophers. There’s no bite to you.”
“Perhaps,” said his brother, who took his leave.
That night Panther awoke feeling uncomfortably hot and restricted. He groggily attempted to move, then realized something was immobilizing him. Though he was awakening and fading at the same time, Panther managed to spot the smiling face of his brother, who had wrapped himself around the larger prince to squeeze the breath and bones within him.
The green prince chuckled quietly, tightening his grip. “You should have known this would happen,” he whispered. “Yes, in the stretch of my ancestry, you will find few with fangs. But we’re hardly defenseless. We’re constrictors. You should have known just from my name. Say my name, Panther. Say it!”
The reddish prince was only turning redder, but he did manage to get out one word: “Grasp.”
“That’s right,” said Grasp, and he jerked his grip, making several cracking noises from within Panther which signaled it was all over. Silently Grasp slunk away from his brother and toward his destiny.