[NorthWorld] Thorgaut Kabbisson: Chapter 28 – Happy Feet!
Thorgaut peered into the darkness of the cave around him, but they couldn’t see who was speaking. He saw the walls on both sides and the cave stretching back into the distance behind them. But there was no one nearby.
“That’s creepy,” Savart said pressing close to Thorgaut for protection. “I must be hearing things.”
“I heard it too,” Thorgaut said.
They turned back in the direction they had been going, but there was nothing there either. Thorgaut did a complete 360-degree turn looking carefully in all directions. But he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
“Guess there must be talking rocks around here,” Thorgaut declared loudly.
There was a soft giggle. There it was again. The same voice Thorgaut had heard earlier. The echo bouncing around off the cave walls made it difficult to pinpoint its exact location.
“Where are you? Who are you?” Thorgaut demanded. “Show yourself.”
“I’m right here, silly,” she said.
Something soft and warm brushed against the back of his neck. Thorgaut leaped forward and spun around. Still, there was nothing there.
“What is it?” Svart asked.
“Something touched me,” he shouted angrily. He moved forward waving his arms around wildly. “They must be invisible. Be careful.”
Svart crouched down to make himself smaller. He started waving his arms around as well to feel for anything around them.
The giggling turned into laughter. A hilarious, uncontrolled belly laugh of someone having a jolly, good time at Thorgaut and Svart’s expense. Thorgaut stopped waving his arms around and stood still.
“This isn’t funny,” Thorgaut spat out. “C’mon, Svart. Let’s get out of here.”
He started walking again with Svart following close behind.
“No, please wait.” the voice spoke up again. “I’m sorry. I don’t get many visitors around here. I don’t know how to behave myself appropriately sometimes.”
Thorgaut and Svart stopped and turned back around.
“Look up,” she said. “I’m right above you.”
Thorgaut looked up towards the roof of the cave. It took him a few seconds to spot her because the gray coloring blended right into the cave roof. The first thing he noticed was her eyes. Several, large beady unblinking black orbs staring straight down at him. From there he was able to make out its outline.
He and Svart both saw it at the same time. Thorgaut leaped backward and scrambled away from it. Svart attempted to jump too but lost his footing. He slipped and fell to the ground.
“Relax, boys.” she sighed. “I’m not going to harm you.”
“You’re a spider!” Thorgaut yelled.
“Duh, smartypants,” she replied. “You act as if you’ve never seen a spider before.”
“Not three feet long,” he retorted.
“You have a point there,” she sighed. “Most spiders don’t grow as big as me. And those that do go outside of these caves are usually killed by your kind before they grow to half my size.”
“Most don’t talk either,” Thorgaut said.
She jumped down in front of them and shrugged. “What can I say? I guess I’m special like that.”
Thorgaut scowled at her and shifted his position defensively to get a better look. She had a small head with two large eyes in the front. Several smaller eyes circled them across the sides and top of her head.
She noticed Thorgaut checking her out, so she turned a little for him to get a better look. First to one side and then the other. She had a long oval shaped body with dark brown stripes that circled her abdomen. Four of her long, slim legs pointed forward, and the other two aimed back.
Thorgaut shied away from them as she moved around. She pulled her legs in to keep them close to her body in a non-threatening manner. But he still didn’t get too close to her. She could snap out at a moment’s notice.
“Who are you exactly,” he asked. “And what do you want with us?”
She giggled again for a second and then caught herself. “I’m sorry. Couldn’t help it. I wasn’t going to bother you. I was going to let you go on by, but I felt sorry for the boy after all he’s suffered. I didn’t want the Snarer of the Abyss to get a hold of him.”
“What are you talking about? How do you know what Svart has been through.” Thorgaut demanded.
“Oh, boy!” she replied. “I guess this is gonna be a long conversation.”
She paused to look at Thorgaut and Svart. Each stood on opposite sides of her.
“We’re waiting,” Svart said.
“To make a long story short my name is Draunrysn, but you can call me Happy Feet. That’s what it would mean roughly translated into your language.”
“Roughly translated,” Thorgaut exclaimed. “Where did you learn to speak our language?”
“Human languages are easy. I simply pull the words out of your mind.”
“What? Like you can read our minds?” Thorgaut asked flabbergasted.
“Something like that,” she replied. “Yes, I guess you would call it that. I filter through your thoughts, Thorgaut Kabbisson who is looking for his way home.”
“That’s not very polite,” he complained. “It’s an invasion of my property and illegal in most places.”
“I can’t help it,” she sighed. “It comes naturally to me, and you could stop me if you knew how. It would take some training to build up your mental defenses. I have come across those of your kind who know how to protect their minds.”
Thorgaut didn’t know what to say. He started to stammer something out, but in the end looked at Svart. The boy shrugged as if to say he had never heard of cave-dwelling, mind-reading spiders either.
“In my defense,” the spider continued, “I’m nor prying deep into your memories. I’m only reading your surface thoughts.”
“Thank you,” Thorgaut finally said. It felt like a silly thing to say, but it was all he could think of at the moment.
“Oh, don’t mention it, darling,” she replied. “Well, I must be getting back to my web and check on my eggs. I left them unattended to follow you down here and see where you were going. You can never be too careful around here. Anyway”
“Wait, please.” Thorgaut pleaded. “How can we get out of these tunnels? And what was that about the Abyss Monster?”
“Oh, right! Don’t continue down this tunnel. It doesn’t lead anywhere. There is a deep abyss at the end of it covered with a web. You won’t see it until you fall through because it looks like the cave floor.”
“The Abyss Snarer is a spider, like you?” Svart asked.
“Why yes child,” she replied “And you’ll make a nice snack for her. Unlike me, she’s not known for taking pity on her prey. Pay attention.”
Thorgaut felt a light pressure across the top of his head. He received a brief mental image of a spider almost as large Happy Feet. It was a lighter brown then her, and its stripes ran straight down its sides rather than around its abdomen.
“That’s the Abyss Snarer. You don’t want to bump into her down here. If you see her, run as fast as you can. She has a nasty disposition, and even I do my best to avoid her.
“Papa never talked about spiders living down here,” Svart interjected.
“Most of my kind, the Eshebrot as we call ourselves, live deeper down. It’s warmer, and allows us to avoid contact with those of you who live above.”
“So, why do you live here?” Svart asked.
“I had a little spat with my husband’s family after I killed him. So, I moved off a ways to avoid them. Plus there are a lot more rats and bats up this way. And it’s been a long time since the trolls have stopped coming through here. So, I made myself cozy here. No place like home. Right, boys?”
Happy Feet seemed like she was going to keep on rambling on, so Thorgaut interrupted her. “I don’t mean to be rude and cut the conversation short, but how do we get out her exactly.”
She paused for a moment and then said with one of her usual giggles, “Which way would you like to go exactly?”
“I thought you could read minds,” Thorgaut said. “Don’t you know where we want to go?”
“I told you that I was respecting your privacy by not digging into your mind. Besides, you don’t seem to know where you want to go exactly. You seem to be a little lost.”
Thorgaut laughed. “That’s the understatement of the year. I’ve been lost for several days.”
He felt the same warm pressure on the top of his head as she probed his thoughts.
“I don’t know how to get you back to the house of that woman in the woods,” she said. “It seems to be the place you most want to go right now.”
“Halldora’s house,” he nodded.
“There is a magical warding spell that is cloaking the house to keep anyone from finding it. I sense that there are caverns that come out near that area. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which ones without more information about the location.”
“It’s okay,” Thorgaut replied. “Can you help me get back to my friends by that bend in the river.”
“Of course,” she replied. “I’ll even take you there myself. First, I need to go back and check in on my babies though. Come along and follow me.”
Thorgaut and Svart followed Happy Feet back up the tunnel the way they had come. They started walking when a voice hissed out from the darkness behind them.
“Stealing food that’s headed to my trap, are we Draunrysn. You could at least share. There’s enough for each of us. You can even keep the bigger one for yourself and your babies. The little one there is plenty big for me.