[NorthWorld] Thorgaut Kabbisson: Chapter 32 – Web!
Thorgaut stepped back to let the hatchlings come straight on through. Abyss Snarer backed up and started to turn, but by then they had already started crawling up her legs. She tried to shake them off and to run. Several small spiders began leaping over the heads of their siblings to get to her first. They grabbed on to keep her from getting away.
The hatchlings bowled her over and swarmed across her body. Thorgaut watched with satisfaction as the little spiders pulled her down. Justice served as the mean old spider deserved.
Several spiders grabbed each leg and helped pin it down. Others started weaving webs across her body to keep her down. A few of the spiders even attacked the exposed areas of her abdomen and neck. They tore into her with their fangs and injected their poison.
He watched as Abyss Snarer struggled under the growing number of baby spiders grabbing on to her. She was almost completely immobilized.
“Stop! Please,” she wailed. “What have I ever done to you spiders?”
Thorgaut laughed out loud. “You killed their mother and their sister,” he replied. “You don’t think they’re going to let you off that easy, do you?”
“I’m sorry,” Abyss Spider screamed. “Wait. I can explain. Stop.”
But the little hatchlings continued weaving her down into place with their webs. Svart looked on in shock at the terrifying scene. Thorgaut pulled him off to the side towards a rock. He didn’t say anything, but instinctively pushed the idea of sitting into the boy’s head.
Thorgaut caught himself with a chuckle. He kept forgetting that the boy wasn’t a mind reader and wouldn’t understand. He motioned to the rock with an outstretched hand.
“Have a seat,” he said. “No need to watch the spiders avenging their mother’s death.”
“It’s awful,” the boy said. “I know she was bad and probably deserves it for the things she did. But still, she was a spider trying to survive.”
“It’s the law of nature, boy,” Thorgaut replied. “The fittest will survive. And fortunately for us, we’re still a part of the surviving group. She would have killed us if the little ones hadn’t taken her down.
He left Svart sitting on the rock and walked back over to the cluster of spiders. They had surrounded Abyss Snarer. There were more spiders than he remembered. The eggs must still be hatching. He couldn’t even see the giant spider under the teaming mass of bodies crawling over her.
Several more little spiders came spewing out of the opening in the crevice. They scampered over to get their pound of flesh. Thorgaut got glimpses of her between their shifting bodies. He could see that they had covered her with their silvery silk threads. After they finished, the spiderlings jumped off one-by-one and started spreading out.
Eventually, there were only a few of the little spiders left. They tugged at the threads to make sure they were secure. Here and there, they would spin out another string or two just to tighten down a loose end.
The little spiders mostly ignored him. They were careful to step aside or move out of the way when he got to close though.
Thorgaut tapped into their collective mind to see what was going to happen next. They didn’t seem to be giving it much thought. They had each gone back to doing their own thing around the cave. Most were busy spinning webs in dark corners of the cave.
Every once in a while, one of the hatchlings would throw a bit of information into the pot. But that only happened when they got outside the current perimeter of the group.
Thorgaut wasn’t sure what to do now or who to approach. He walked back over to Svart and threw himself down.
“Well, I guess all’s well that ends well. Huh?” Thorgaut asked him with a grin.
The boy shrugged. After a bit, he spoke up. “What are they gonna do now?” he asked.
This time it was Thorgaut’s turn to shrug. “They seem to have gone about their regular life here. I guess we’ll have to move on and try to find our way out of her.”
“Why don’t you ask them?” Svart asked.
“They know their way around the caves yet,” he chuckled. “They’ve only scanned these two caves so far.”
Thorgaut could track a few spiders up in the cavern close to their mother. A few had spread out in the other direction but weren’t that far off. He got the impression that they would spend most of their lives here in this area.
One of the little hatchlings went by. Thorgaut probed out with a question.
“What happens to the big spider?” he asked.
“Food,” it fired back. Thorgaut got the mental image of the little spiderlings all having a feast later on.
“Do you know how to leave the cave?” he asked.
“Only the big spider does,” she answered.
He didn’t say anything else, and she scurried off before he could ask another question. Thorgaut didn’t feel like messing with Abyss Snarer. He could still sense a weak presence emanating out under the web. She must have sensed him probing and called out to him.
“Thorgaut,” she whined. “Help me, please. Let me go, and I’ll leave you alone. I’ll go back to my web. Or I’ll even leave this section of the cave for good and never come back. Please let me go.”
“How do we get out of the caves?” he asked.
“Let me go, and I’ll show you the way,” she offered.
“No way,” he said adamantly. “You would turn on us in a heartbeat.”
“I swear I won’t,” she replied.
Thorgaut probed around trying to sift through her memories for a view of the caves. He wasn’t able to pull them out though. She snickered.
“Sneaky, Thorgaut!” she said. “I closed the connection once I realized you were messing around in my head and playing mind tricks on me.”
He scowled and stood up.
“Where are you going?” Svart asked.
“Pay my final respects to Happy Feet,” he said. “Wanna come?”
Svart shook his head. “Nah, I’ll wait here. Don’t be long though. We need to get out of here soon. We can’t live off spider food.”
Thorgaut walked quickly up the tunnel till he came to the cavern where he had last seen Happy Feet. He found her broken body surrounded by green ooze between some rocks off to the side of the chamber. He knelt down beside her like he would for any of his comrades who had fallen in battle.
“Thank you for helping us, Happy Feet,” he whispered. “You saved our lives even though you didn’t know us and didn’t have any good reason to do so.”
He reached out to touch her. He was surprised at how soft she felt. He thought her exoskeleton would have been much harder and firmer. He felt a tremor run through her body and a flicker of a presence of consciousness.
“Happy Feet,” he probed excitedly. “Are you still alive?”
A few of her eyes blinked open as she tried to focus on his face.
“Thorgaut,” she whispered. “You’re still alive. Good. Where is Abyss Snarer?”
“It’s okay. Your children took him down very efficiently. They’re good little spiders like you.”
He gently pushed some images of Abyss Snarer’s current position into her mind. She smiled and coughed lightly. He pressed her thoughts into the mental network and alerted the cluster of her state. He could sense them coming in her direction.
“Good. That’s good, Thorgaut. Take two of my babies with you. Let them learn the ways of men. Teach them to survive among your kind. But you must return them to these caves when the wars begin. It’s important for the survival of my species and yours.”
“You come with me, Happy Feet,” he said. “Show me the way out, and I will take you to my kingdom.”
“I won’t make it,” she said. “My time has come to say goodbye. But I will show you the way out. Pay close attention.”
She pressed a massive ball of thoughts and memories into his mind and the collective consciousness of the spiders. It was more information than he could grasp at the moment. He pushed her knowledge to the side carefully for later unpacking and analysis.
“Go quickly,” she said. “Time is of the essence.”
The hatchlings came scampering in their direction. Thorgaut could hear the patter of hundreds of little spider feet echoing off the cave walls. He stood up and backed away to make room for them to gather around her.
“You will not be forgotten, Happy Feet,” he whispered. “I will make sure that your name lives on throughout history. I will tell every one of your brave and selfless sacrifices.”
She smiled softly as her children gathered around her and breathed her last. As she drifted off, Happy Feet pushed one final thought into his mind.
“After I die, take my fangs. Use them to defeat the King of Death when his armies sweep over NorthWorld.”
Happy Feet sluggishly pushed an image of her facing a fierce NightWalker in battle. In the struggle, she bit him and subdued the foul creature. That was the last thing he saw as her consciousness blipped out.
The hatchlings didn’t stick around long after that. Most scattered right away. A few stayed behind to wrap their mother in long, silky threads. After they finished, the rest continued scattering out until there were only two left.
“Let’s go,” they said. “Take mother’s fangs.”
“Huh? What?” Thorgaut asked.
He looked down where her face had been covered with webbing. The spiderlings had left the bottom part of her face uncovered. He reached down and pulled lightly at the area around her mouth. He could see her fangs curved back into their protective sheaths.
Thorgaut pulled them out carefully so he wouldn’t poke himself. The points and edges were remarkably sharp. The fangs were a shiny black color that looked like polished marble. They were exquisite. It took him a while to pry them loose with the help of the hatchlings.
When he finished, they walked back down to the other cavern where he had left Svart. He looked around for the boy who was nowhere in sight. He tapped into the spider network to see any of the little spiders could locate him.
The boy was gone. Something was wrong, but Thorgaut couldn’t place his finger on it. He continued scanning for Svart. Suddenly he realized what it was. Abyss Snarer was gone too. There was only a pile of empty webbing where they had left her.