Believed to be the most deadly snake in the world, the Asphinx is not really a snake at all, but a creature from the age of Faerie. It has the body and outward appearance of an asp, but it is more closely related to its cousins, the Sphinxes. Like the asp, it hides, tightly coiled, in small hidden spaces until disturbed, and then is uses its considerable speed to strike at its victim and bury its fangs within the victim's flesh. Like the Sphinx, its weapon is its ability to turn its victims to stone.
...the Asphinx can strike only once-the release of venom turns both the snake and its victim to stone. For the snake, the transformation is instantaneous; for the victim, it is a slow and painful process that can take anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending upon the strength of the victim. The horror is compounded by the fact that the Ashpinx fuses its body to both the victim and its resting place at the moment of transformation, effectively trapping the victim in place while the poison works. The victim suffers fever and chills, nausea, and extreme pain while watching his or her body slowly change to stone. Mercifully, the victim usually lapses into unconsciousness and then dies long before the entire body transforms.
The poison cannot be countered by most known forms of medicine or magic. Amputation of the affected limb may slow the process and allow the victim to gain freedom, but it will not stop the process. The poison infiltrates the entire body on contact.
Unlike mortal snakes, the Asphinx does not require food or water, and it is content to remain within the area it is set to guard until something disturbs it and triggers its deadly attack.
from The World of Shannara by Terry Brooks
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