Mighty Midas was the name of the large, golden lion who prowled the savannah and inspired awe and wonder in all who saw him. There was not a creature alive who did not know of him, or his fantastic feats. He was a legend amongst all the other animals, renowned for his strength and courage. There was a reason he was called "Mighty" after all.
"Mighty Midas! Mighty Midas! Mighty Midas!" the creatures all cheered as he drew near, paws so large that they shook the ground with every step he took. He swung his enormous head back and forth and flashed them all a dazzling and toothy grin. As he shook his large golden mane, it caught in the sunlight and seemed to shine like a thousand flames. This sent the crowd swooning and roaring. He wasn't just the strongest or bravest of all the animals in the savannah, he was also by far the most handsome, and his mane was the most attractive feature of all. Legend even said that his mane was solid gold, made up of finely spun threads from only the purest of ores.
"Our king! Our hero!" they all cheered, and Mighty Midas was more than happy to accept the praise.
There was only one creature in attendance that day who refused to hoot, or holler, or otherwise get carried away in the wild and raucous celebration of everyone's favorite lion. This was Samael, a snake. He watched Midas pass on by with a tired sigh. While he could not deny that the lion was handsome and beautiful beyond all other creatures, he knew that Midas' heart was as cold and hard as the metal for which his mane so highly resembled. That was not to say Midas was evil, or cruel. On the contrary, he had genuinely done wonderful deeds for the savannah. His name and praise were both well-earned. But underneath all of his goodness, there was still the heart of a liar and a coward pounding within his mighty chest. In truth, Midas only did these kind, heroic deeds because he was just seeking attention. He wanted the fame and praise that came with doing good, but he wasn't really doing it out of the goodness of his heart.
Sam, meanwhile, was just the opposite. He performed many acts of kindness throughout his life and never expected or asked for anything in return. He was humble and down to Earth (literally and metaphorically). While Midas would show off and dazzle the crowd, Sam would do what had to be done. He would do good for no other reason than wanting to be kind. He didn't even mind if his deeds were overlooked, ignored or uncredited. It was somewhat disheartening to think about all of his good deeds that went unnoticed and unappreciated, but he understood why. He was a snake, after all, and snakes weren't very desirable creatures. So he wasn't surprised that while Midas' good deeds were showered with praise, his were forgotten or dismissed. It was sad, but that was the life of a snake for you: constant misjudgment.
But then there finally came a day when Midas' coldness caught up to him. A band of human hunters reached his savannah and all the animals were quick to look to him for protection and advice.
"Save us, Midas! Do something!" they begged, but even Midas feared the humans and their weaponry.
"I think it would be safest to wait things out," he tried to say with confidence. "It we act too soon, we may be defeated. I need more time to plan!" and the other animals believed him. Or at least, most of them did. But Sam saw right through him. He knew the cowardly lion had no plan. He knew Midas was terrified of the humans and would never even approach one, let alone fight it. Maybe Midas could dupe the crowds and convince them he could save them all, but Sam knew the truth.
"You'd better think of something fast, Midassssss," Sam hissed as the lion not-so-subtly fled to his private den.
In the end, though, Midas failed to come up with a plan. Instead, he made something up and sent all the animals scattered in different directions. While they entered these supposed battle formations, Midas himself took the opportunity to sneak away unnoticed. Or at least, he thought he was unnoticed. But Sam watched him flee the area, seeking a newer and safer place to hide until the humans left.
"Coward!" the snake whispered to himself as he watched "Mighty" Midas go thundering away, tail shaking between his hindlegs. The other animals were left to wait for a signal that would never come.
Without a proper battle strategy, the humans were able to snag quite a few catches and even those whom they did not manage to kill and take away with them were left wounded and afraid. And Midas was still nowhere to be found.
"Where is he? Why did the signal for battle never arrive?" the surviving animals whimpered. Sam only shook his head sympathetically before slithering out to talk to them. He did not go to tell them about Midas' deceit and cowardice, though. Instead, he only went to help the survivors recover from their wounds. As a snake, Sam was an expert in all sorts of poisons and venoms and even his own could be used as something of a painkiller, so long as it was used in very small, precise, careful doses.
"Allow me to help," he told a zebra, who had been shot by a human gun. The zebra was still alive, but the wound looked painful.
"Are you sure?" the zebra looked scared of allowing a snake near her wounds, but when Sam gave her a calming look, she yielded. It unsettled her to think about Sam's hypnotic eyes, but she still allowed him to work over her leg, adding a tiny bit of venom, among other things, to the wound.
In a matter of minutes, then, the pain had dulled into a strange buzzing sensation, but at least it no longer hurt. The zebra thanked Sam tentatively, but he brushed it off with an amicable hiss.
"I'm always happy to help," he said before slithering off to the next needy animal. Then along he went until every animal had been treated. Once his work was done, then, Sam slithered on home, only a few of the animal still thinking about him. The rest had already forgotten, returning to their daily routines now that the danger was past. Besides, in their heads, they had a much bigger thing to worry about than showing a mere snake the gratitude that he was owed. They needed to figure out what happened to Midas!
It was when they started fretting about the sake of their handsome, heroic champion that Sam finally slithered home, laughing to himself at the animals' foolishness. He had a feeling that it would be quite a while before Midas found the courage to come home again. Unless he had a good cover story, he'd be forced to out himself as a coward who fled from real battles rather than trying to face them head-on. Sam doubted Midas had the bravery, integrity or honesty to tell such a truth. Instead, the snake was willing to bet the lion would try to wait things out before returning, so that he might keep his mighty title. The thought alone made the snake roll his eyes, but because this sort of thing really didn't bother him, he found no difficulty in trying to get to sleep that night. It was no skin off his body.
In the end, Sam turned out wrong. Midas never returned home at all. When he had fled, he had fled so far and fast that he eventually lost his way and it took him so long to even get on the right path to go home that he finally died before he could get there. Halfway home, the lion finally collapsed from exhaustion with no one to help him back up. It was a slow, painful and humiliating death for a pathetic and deceitful creature. Midas' mane lost its golden shine and after his life had finally extinguished, all that remained was a pale golden body lying frozen in the sun.
AN: Just a snake vs lion thing. And in true Aesop fashion, it ends with a death, LOL.