[NorthWorld] Thorgaut Kabbisson: Chapter 32 – Spiderlings!
Thorgaut realized what it was that he had been sensing down here all this time. That familiar feeling in his probes were other mind-reading spiders like Happy Feet. But why would Happy Feet leave her eggs down here with other spiders who would eat them? That didn’t make any sense.
Had they entered the wrong entrance? It wasn’t likely since there weren’t even any other openings for them to choose.
His curiosity piqued, Thorgaut continued walking forward down the cave. Svart grabbed his arm and pulled him back. But he was no match for Thorgaut who shook him off. The fearless Viking kept pushing on deeper into the tunnel.
Thorgaut probed ahead with his mind, pushing gently against their presence. He realized why he hadn’t recognized the spiders even though the feeling was familiar. There were so many spiders in the group that he had trouble distinguishing them individually.
He felt like every single spider was pushing thoughts out at him the same time. He had to push back to keep them from overpowering his mind. He didn’t know who these spiders were or what they wanted. So he pushed out thoughts of Happy Feet and himself walking together through the cave. Hopefully, they would recognize him as a friend when they saw him.
He came around a bend in the tunnel and saw them. He paused for a second and held his breath. There were dozens of little spiders that looked like Happy Feet. Well, little compared to Happy Feet that is because they were still pretty big. Compared to the spiders he had grown up with, these were giants. Each one was about the size of a small puppy.
They all paused and turned to face him as soon as he came into the chamber. The pressure on his mind increased immensely as they all tried to communicate with him. The pain in his head started up again. It wasn’t anything like the pain he felt under Abyss Snarer, but it still hurt.
He pulled back around the bend and out of sight seeking relief. He closed his eyes and put his hands to his head. He kept pushing out against their thoughts.
“What is it?” Svart asked. “Are you okay?”
Thorgaut nodded and looked up. “Yeah,” he replied. “These little guys are intense.”
He peeked back around the corner of the cave and saw that they were pushing in together towards him.
“Get back,” he ordered them. They all scamped back and ran towards the rear part of the cave. Thorgaut realized it was a dead end. The tunnel stopped here, so they would eventually have to head back out the way they had come. Hopefully, Abyss Snarer would be gone by then.
He focused on the little spiders and tried to count them. It was a little more manageable now that they were all together. He still had trouble keeping track of them though as they crawled around and circled each other. He counted about fifty of them before losing track of which ones he had already counted and which ones he hadn’t. It also looked like two-thirds of the eggs hadn’t even hatched yet.
“Oh, boy,” he muttered out loud.
Thorgaut probed out towards the little spiders with his mind, and they pressed back. He tried to feel them out individually to pick out where one ended and another started. It took him a minute or so until he was able to pick out and identify the most energetic little thinkers of the bunch.
He pushed images of Happy Feet at them and noticed how pleased it made them.
“Mommy?” one of them probed back.
“Yes,” Thorgaut affirmed.
A twitter of excitement rushed through the little pack. The small hatchlings started tapping their two front feet in excitement as Happy Feet had earlier. Thorgaut chuckled at their enthusiasm and looked at Svart. The boy had no clue about what was going on. He stared back at Thorgaut with a blank look on his face.
Thorgaut tried to explain that he was showing them their mother. But he soon realized that Svart didn’t understand what he was doing. So, he gave up trying to explain and turned his attention back to the little spiders.
“Are you mommy?” one of the spiders fired out at him.
Most of the pack came rushing over in his direction and surrounded him before he could even answer. They started tapping on his feet and legs. Thorgaut realized that they were feeling him and trying to figure out who he was. It seemed like most of the cluster of spiders were connected mentally. They all seemed to think together.
The few minds he picked up earlier seemed to be the firstborn batch of spiders. The rest of the little critters passively flowed along mentally with the group thoughts. These appeared to be the most recent to hatch. Thorgaut figured hey would develop their own thinking as they grew up and headed off on their own.
“No,” Thorgaut said and pushed back a strong mental image of Happy Feet at them once again.
“Who are you?” they asked.
“I am Thorgaut. That is Svart. We are friends. Your mother told us to come here to check on you.”
“Where is mommy?” they pushed back insistently.
Thorgaut didn’t know how to answer that. He honestly didn’t know what had happened to her, and he didn’t want to scare them. Something must have happened. If Happy Feet had beaten Abyss Snarer, she would have made it down her by now.
He decided against trying to explain everything that was going on. Besides, he didn’t know how much they would understand anyway. How much could newly-hatched, baby spiders comprehend about the life and death struggle that they had been born into and was taking place around them?
“Is mommy dead?” one of them asked.
The question caught Thorgaut by surprise. These little boogers were sharp. He realized they were probably playing off his mind. They were naturally translating words they pulled out of his head as Happy Feet had done. But still, it was pretty impressive coming from critters that were only a few hours old at most.
“Enemy,” Thorgaut said as he pushed a menacing image of Abyss Snarer at their thoughts. The entire little pack of spiders took a step back and hissed in anger and fear. Svart didn’t know what was going on and jumped back. He lost his footing and tripped over on the floor on the other side of Thorgaut.
The entire pack of little spiders broke into fits of giggles and peals of laughter. Thorgaut chuckled along with them. He laughed more at their musical, little laughs than at Svart tripping. He reached down and helped Svart stand back up. Svart accepted his offer and brushed himself off sheepishly.
“What’s so funny,” he demanded.
“I don’t suppose spiders trip much. You wouldn’t either if you had eight legs.” Thorgaut replied.
Svart didn’t say anything to that. He stomped his feet angrily and slapped his thighs for good measure.
“Find mommy,” the little spiders pushed back at Thorgaut. They scattered the thought among themselves. They started scampering out and around Thorgaut and Svart. Some heading up the walls and across the roof.
“Wait,” Thorgaut yelled out mentally. “What about the others that haven’t hatched yet?”
“They’ll follow us,” they replied. “We’ll show the other spiders the way.”