The Swallow and the Snake - A Seahaven Fable
Throughout the many symbols and banners of Seahaven, one stands out as unique. It is not the Wave Wangler or the Sassy Seagull, two banners of rival fisherman guilds. And it is not the Slippery Seahorse, the mascot of the local sail hockey team. Its fierce mascot is a purple seahorse using its curled tail as a hockey stick.
No none of these is as widely known as the Snake and the Swallow. Queen Kai of the recent age and all her royal predecessors have worn this emblem. It serves as a reminder of their responsibility to the people of Seahaven, to uphold right and punish wrong.
This is the legend of the Snake and the Swallow.
A young swallow mother flew throughout the Kingdom of Seahaven in search of a home. First, she went to the seaside docks, but they smelled too fishy. Next, she went to the sprawling canals. They smelled much better. But the boisterous schoolchildren made too much noise for her to get any sleep. She also looked at the nearby islands. Again she turned away. The sea’s merfolk have never been friendly towards “sky dwellers” like her. Even then, they barely tolerated the land-folk with their weird legs growing where flippers ought to be.
Finally, the young mother found the perfect home. The Seahaven Courts were quiet and actually smelt quite pleasant. Even better, the peaceful space guarded its residents against the violence of the outside world.
So she chose a location on the white cliff face of the central amphitheater. Gathering twigs from the ancient olive tree in the Court’s center, she built her nest. And there nestled between the Court’s waterfalls, she laid her first patch of eggs. Her seven chicks hatched there in peace.
But that peace would not last.
One day, when she went in search of food, a stranger came to her home. A gruesome snake had come from the inter-kingdom wilds. It slithered up the Court walls and ate every one of the swallow’s seven baby chicks.
As the last chick was being devoured, their mother returned. The poor mother swallow was helpless. The snake was too large and his scaly skin too strong for her to do anything. All she could do was weep while the snake slithered away with his bloated belly.
Later that day, the Seahaven Queen came to the court to oversee a disagreement. The heartbroken swallow chirped out about the injustice committed by the snake. But the Queen and her audience ignored the bird's pleas. Again the next day, she cried out. No one heard the poor little bird. But she would not give up.
Finally, on the third day, the little bird flew down past the olive tree onto the Queen’s pedestal. Mustering the loudest chirp possible, the Queen looked down upon her. “My persistent friend, your cries have been heard. How have you been wronged?”
The swallow in tears shared how her chicks had been eaten in a place supposed to be free of violence. Hearing this sad story, the Queen demanded that the snake be found and brought before her.
After some time the Court Guard found the snake and dragged it before the court. The snake was still bloated from his gluttonous feast. And a guard also lay seven feathers before the Queen, which he had found with the snake. The snake saved them as cruel trophies from his feast.
Hearing the swallow’s story and the evidence before her, she spoke. “Oh wicked serpent, you have broken the laws of our land. No violence is permitted in this place. Not even nature’s way of a predator eating its prey is allowed. For your wrong, you and your descendants are hereby banished from this land. For seven generations your children may not enter this land. Seven lifetimes, one for every young chick that you gluttonously devoured.”
With a motion of the Queen’s hand, the Court Guard drug the snake out of the Court and cast it out of the kingdom.
The Queen then turned to the swallow. “My small friend, you have been greatly wronged. And while the wrongdoer has been punished, I have still failed you. You should have been safe in this house of justice. But I allowed violence to enter your home. In hopes of making things right, you and your descendants will be our honored guests forever. And the Court Guard shall be the guardians and caretakers of your young.” The Queen reached up to the ancient olive tree and plucked a branch from its bow. “Please receive this olive branch as a symbol of my promise to you and your family.”
Looking to the court observers, “Right and wrong shall be upheld in this land. It shall be upheld for all. Big or small, young or old, Queen or swallow.”
No one knows whether the story of the Snake and Swallow is real or legend. To this day, the Court Guard wear the Snake and the Swallow emblem, and hundreds of swallow families call the Court’s white stone walls their home. And for as long as any Seahavener can remember, no snake has been ever seen in the land.
But some believe and fear that the seven lifetimes of the snake are coming to a close. And many fear that a great force of injustice will soon return to the land.
Either way, when a Seahavener sees the Snake and Swallow symbol, they remember the story. They remember the unjust will someday meet their undoing. They will devour themselves in their greed, having brought judgment upon themselves. And the innocent will be preserved and upheld, even the smallest of birds.