His body visibly shook as the guards suddenly kicked the back of his legs and forced him to his knees, his face smashing against the hard dirt of the ground. He shook his head rabidly, eyes flashing with anger, but his strength was no match against them. What remained of his shirt, hanging in a pathetic shred off his body, was fiercely ripped away from him. And there, exposed in all its glory, was the mesmerizing tattoo of a serpent on his back.
A gasp rippled over the clearing. The guards stood, astounded, and immediately released their hold on him. Only the old man was still.
He did not have to look at his back to know. That the tattoo of the serpent was shimmering and radiating in a myriad of colours. That the head of the serpent seemed to lift itself from within the small of his back, ready to attack anyone who came to harm him. That its long, sleek body, tattooed intricately and painstakingly in aquamarine, sea-green and vivacious indigo, would uncoil itself from its rested state and drape over his brown-skinned body. Becoming one with the man who owned it.
That the Serpent would protect him.