The Snake and the Mirror



What precisely happened in the cave at the far northern corner of the world, where the witches were caught in the trap of the trickster god, is not to be said to be true. It should never be mistaken with things that really happened. It was a story.

A story is a story; let it come, let it go.

Anansi had been in many difficult positions before, but this was a tricky spot, even for him. He was trapped in a cold dark cave in the far north at the hands of Trickster God. This was not the first time he had been caught in a trap, and he had escaped from all of them because Anansi is as clever as he is quick. But still, the cold bars of the cage the Trickster God had caught him in could not be broken. Anansi could feel the magic in the bars, and no weapon was so sharp to cut them, nor any weight great enough to crush them.

Anansi was not alone with the Trickster God, of course. The Witch Women were there as well. They were powerless in their cages as he was, for Trickster God had made shackles that bound their spellwork and their hands. They cried out to him for assistance, for they could not best Trickster God without him.

“We did what now?” Ceridwen’s voice was deadpan.

“I do not recall any crying,” Said Huldra, equally perturbed.

It was so! I heard their crying with my own ears.

Anansi needed to escape the bars, but Trickster God was wily. He was no farmer or animal to be fooled by Anansi’s normal games, or so he had been led to believe. He could sense an odd fire in Trickster God. The northern witch had called him malicious and intelligent, with many plans that often got the better of him. But Anansi knew all the spirits and their stories, and he knew Trickster God was not acting like himself.

“It’s Ragnarok,” Huldra said leaning against the bars of her cage. “As it approaches Loki’s character begins to shift. Gone the prankster and the trickster, all that remains of him is a cruel giant who will sail the ship Naglfar to drown the world in death.”

That is what the witch said, and it is what Anansi knew to be true, for Anansi knew all stories ever told.

If Trickster God had lost his Trickster-ness, then he was just God, and Anansi had fooled God many times before. Anansi was proud, but Anansi was still in a cage.

“Trickster God!” Anansi called out, but Trickster God was busy building his massive boat, and could not hear them over the blows of his hammer.


“No,” Huldra said. “Absolutely not.”

“Well…if it helps,” Ceridwen looked at Huldra. “I mean what else are we doing?”

Huldra groaned, rolling her eyes in a final spiteful gesture before relenting.

Both witches put their hands over their mouths and shouted “Trickster God!”


Trickster God finally heard the calling and stomped down from his ship in rage. He banged his hammer loudly on the bars of their cages.


Trickster God demanded to know why they were making such a noise, and Anansi stepped up, chastising him for his poor workmanship.

“Look at these bars,” Anansi said. “They are too far apart. I could easily slip through.”

Anansi stuck his leg out of the cage between the bars, for Anansi’s spider legs were long and thin. But his hands were still bound, and while bound he could not escape.

Trickster God cursed for he hated being mocked. He swore to the sky and then used his own strange magic to make the cage smaller. Now the cage was sized for a child. Satisfied that his work had succeeded, Trickster God returned to his ship and his hammering.

The cage was smaller now, but Anansi still had a plan, once more he needed to catch Trickster God’s attention.

“Trickster God!” Aanasi called, but his voice was small and could not be heard over the storm and sea.


“Oh, please not again,” Huldra groaned.

“Let’s get it over with,” Ceridwen said, lifting her hands to her mouth.

“Trickster God!!”


Once more Trickster God stormed down from his boat to confront the noisy witches, and Anansi caught his eye once more. Again he insulted Trickster God’s craftsmanship, for Anansi could still push his leg out through the bars, though his hands were still bound.

“Look here,” Anansi said. “I could still easily slip away for my cage is too large.”

Trickster God cursed and spat once more ad made Anansi’s cage smaller, now it was sized for a baby. Satisfied, Trickster God once more went back to work on his ship.

Anansi had almost succeeded, he simply needed to catch Trickster God’s attention one more time.


Huldra and Ceridwen took deep breaths.



Trickster God stormed down from his boat, furious for the constant interruptions, his head burning like a bonfire and his eyes wild with rage. He was ready to cast all of their cages into the sea for their constant interruptions, and he would have drowned the Witches then and there were it not for Anansi’s interruption.

“Trickster God,” Anansi said. “My cage is still too large, I can slip my leg right through these bars. But I am afraid you can make this cage no smaller, for my shackles will not fit.

Trickster God scowled, he wished to punish Anansi’s mockery but he could indeed make the cage no smaller than it was while Anansi’s hands were bound. So Trickster God removed Anansi’s shackles, and then shrank his cage once more. Now it was a cage sized for a fly.

Satisfied that none could escape a cage sized for a fly, Trickster God returned to his boat, stuffing wax in his ears to ensure the witch women would disturb him no more.

Anansi was trapped now in a far tinier cage, but he was happy.


“Why are you so happy?” Ceridwen asked, annoyed as she looked down at the miniscule cage.

“I imagine it’s…” Huldra froze as her eyes widened before a smile split across her face. “Clever Anansi, very clever.”

“What’s so clever?” Ceridwen asked, irritated as she looked between them.


What is a cage sized for a fly?


“A spider’s web,” Huldra grinned.


Anansi unraveled his cage as easily as Trickster God had made it, for none can spin a finer web than Anansi and now his hands were unbound. With ease, then he unlocked the cages of the witch women and the three of them escaped into the stormy night, leaving Trickster God none the wiser, building his boat with wax in his ears.


This is the story, whether it is true or not. If it was good or if it was bad, take some of it elsewhere, and then bring more back…


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The Cities Eternal©2017, Evan Murdoch, Ben Sousa

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