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Spider Queen; General Short Story
Topic Started: Mon Oct 9, 2017 5:28 pm (194 Views)
Javin
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Long and perilous had his journey been. So far north was he that even barbarians rarely approached this place. The valley was more a crevice than anything, albeit a broad one; thousands of feet deep, with sheer walls of solid ice many feet thick and frozen overhangs impossible to cling to, the crevice was considered the northernmost point of the world by some. It was extremely difficult to get to and very well-hidden, and the caves and tunnels set into the sides of the mountains here were said to contain only death - and “worse”. The air itself constantly expanded the ice here, which never melted, and even the snow was as solid as the rock to which it stubbornly held on.

Javin’s flesh was covered in frost. He had to scrape it off rather than simply brushing it off, yet more would form within minutes. He didn’t notice the cold, and he barely noticed the ice, but it was there nevertheless. Nothing could survive in this place. It lent the idea that this place was a gateway into the Abyss itself credence. Javin could go further, of course, for he was already dead to begin with. But something told him that his journey was nearing its end. He had been hungry for some time now, his blood supply having long ago emptied. The last time he had feasted was upon a group of wandering barbarians, and that had been nearly a fortnight ago. He was starting to grow desperate at last…he could not maintain his existence for much longer - not without aid.

Yet it was here that he must come. He knew that inherently, though he could not explain it. It was dark here all the time, as the sun did not reach this place, for which Javin was thankful. He greatly preferred the darkness. He had not been born in it or molded by it, but he had come to adopt it as his home. He leapt through that darkness now, crashing through a wall of thick ice to land rather awkwardly inside the cave beyond it. He rose slowly, shaking and scraping off the frost and the ice that now covered him once more. Turning back toward the darkness of the cave, he heard the ice wall behind him begin its slow repair as whatever moisture was left in the air was sucked into it. It wouldn’t be long - perhaps twenty minutes at most - before it was as though Javin had never burst through it at all.

Slowly, Javin walked the length of the cave until he reached a series of massive holes in the back wall. What to do now? He stopped and listened, searching, waiting for some clue to present itself. He had come all this way, and for what? Some holes in the back of a cave? He began to feel anger burning inside him, coupled with his dietary desperation, and hopelessness began to settle in as well. He was reminded of his crime; it seemed so distant now, and yet still so real to him. He had been a good man once…in a manner of speaking. What was he now? A monster? A freak? A blood-sucking parasite?

Perhaps he was merely a lost soul wandering through eternity…

…or perhaps he did not have a soul at all.

He thought he heard something. He didn’t know what it was, but it had come from the hole - he thought - in the uppermost left corner of his vision. He hesitated. Had he really heard something, or was it merely the last wish of a dying creature? Either way, he took it as a sign, for what other sign did he have? He had none. And so he moved toward it, climbing steadily until he reached the hole; peering inside it, the darkness became so complete that even he could not see through it. He rose into it. There was no turning back now. He could only move forward, and so he did. For what seemed like hours, he crawled and scurried through the long tunnel. It was as straight as could be, which was odd but not of concern to Javin at the moment. He was forced to stop when he came suddenly to an overhang. It looked down over another bottomless ravine, this one with a ceiling just as topless. There was nowhere to go but across, and so he leapt to a narrow ledge across the broad chasm.

He began his steady climb at once. The rough rock wall was frozen and slippery, but there were enough places to put his hands and feet that his strength was able to keep him climbing. That strength was beginning to fail him at last, however. He knew that the end would come soon enough. Perhaps it was his hunger rendering him paranoid, but the further up the sheer wall he climbed, the stronger the feeling came that he was being watched. When he paused briefly, he found himself staring into a crack just large enough for him to crawl into. He did so, but he could only move forward or backward upon his belly now; his chin rose barely a half-inch above the ground, and his head scraped the ceiling more often than not. How long he dragged himself forward, he did not know.

What he came to at last was a hole in the rock, one big enough to fit a large tent. He slipped down into the bowl-shaped bottom at last, resting. He was going to die. He knew that now. He had chosen this path for reasons unknown to him, yet he had kept to it as penance. And now, his comeuppance was at hand. He would finally be punished with death for his crime. He would…wait…no, that couldn’t be right. He couldn’t possibly smell…

…blood. It was fresh and warm. He could smell it clearly. Was his hunger finally transforming his growing paranoia into an olfactory hallucination? There was something nearby, stuck fast to the stone by what looked like ice…but it wasn’t ordinary ice. He moved slowly, painfully now, to rise and approach it. The thing was…a body…it was completely immobile, yet its neck was clearly exposed. Was this a sign? Was it a gift from some merciful deity? He did not care. He took it. He gorged himself on the blood of the surprisingly still-living victim. How was this person still alive? His answer came only after he had fed. He no longer felt so…empty. But his strength had not fully returned, and it would only fail yet again as time went by. But as he followed the line of a sticky substance dripping from above, he found a tiny hole in which several broken bottles lay. The steam was barely rising from them, yet they were clearly warm, and there was more there. He pulled one of the bottles down and uncorked it…blood as well, though there was a tinge of magic about it. Now that he looked closer at the man, he realized something: his hair, hard to see beneath the “ice” was bright-orange. There were other signs as well…

This man had been a fire genasi in life.

He drank the blood in the tiny bottles quickly. They did little to satiate him. But he could stand again, exhausted but at least able to move without pain. Then the feeling of being watched returned, this time stronger than before. He turned and looked about. Searching the small cave, he found a narrow vertical crack he could slip through. He did so, and he slid sideways for many minutes before finally opening into a much larger cave. Looking above him, he could not see the ceiling, but there was a large hole that must have led into the cave from which he’d just come - probably the ceiling. He hadn’t noticed it then, but he realized that must have been due to his hunger. Another body was wrapped up here as well, and he could see the tattoo upon the shoulder of this one clearly. He was a member of one of the barbarian tribes a few dozen miles south of the valley through which he’d entered this cave system. They were violent, uncivilized, and they would eat anything from this plane of existence - including people. They were the definition of “savage”. He thus felt no remorse as he drained his second victim…and his third…and his fourth…all men, all wrapped up in what he now began to realize was some kind of ice-wrought webbing, and all from the same evil tribe.

He had his strength back. Four ice-webbed corpses still holding fresh blood had restored him, and he felt whole once again. He scraped the ice off of his exposed flesh once more and took a much better look around - only to star straight into the many eyes of a spider the size and colour of which he had never seen. Now that he had been restored, he could see perfectly in the darkness once more. The pale blue fur of this creature’s massive body would have stood out like a sore thumb were it not for the rock and ice that surrounded it. It was easily the size of several elephants, yet it was clearly a spider - eight legs, two-piece body, many eyes, sharp claws, and pincers…

When it clacked its pincers together, staring at him from just twenty feet away, Javin surprisingly felt no fear. Though perhaps it was not so surprising, considering his fascination with spiders; what was surprising, however, was that he could understand this creature. It wasn’t precisely speech. It was as though he was able to translate it in his mind, somehow knowing what its clacking meant without having encountered it before.

<You are not a spider,> the giant arachnid said to him.

Perceptive one, came Javin’s thought, though he said nothing aloud.

<I am.>

Javin stared at the creature unblinking.

You know my mind, then?

<I do.>

How?

<I know many things. It was I who led you here.>


Javin considered that. He wondered how. The spider before him answered him inside his mind.

<My children are many. Billions, you would say. Our ways are subtle but lethal. When we choose for something to happen, it happens. I have existed for longer than any of your mortal, two-legged and four-legged races have. My children have cousins, and those cousins have children of their own, and their children have descendants, and those descendants have eyes and clackers everywhere. You came because you heard my call, even if you did not know that you heard my call.>

So it seemed that Javin had been chosen. But why?

<Rare is the gift of speech among your kind. Our kind are always ignored, unheard, murdered en masse…the black-skinned elves respect us…but you are no black-skinned elf. You are no spider. Yet you are one of us…no. Not yet. But soon. Soon, you will be.>

How?


Though it had no lips, Javin got the distinct impression that the spider before him was smiling.

<You will see,> it told him. <You will know me soon. I am your queen now. Achrya will teach you. Achrya’s children will show you.>

After a few moments’ consideration, Javin nodded. It was time to begin.
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