Witching Hour

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Human Avoidance Day

After a night of lexical domination, with Ayn always behind ALWAYS... Samantha started to feel an iota- a microbial of sadness for the chocolate succubus –since she was always behind. No matter what she played, how she played it, how complex or simple a word she made –mostly simply- all simple... Bella or the witch would simply build off it, doubling- tripling, sometimes even quadrupling their own score. All thanks to her. Even when Samantha decided to simplify herself to a more... crude selection of words, she would find herself always able to build them on boosts that would crush Ayn’s spirit ever more.

By the last round, Samantha couldn’t really blame Ayn for flipping the board. She would have done the same, if, after a forty-loss streak, that, in the final game, when she was so close to winning, easily fifty points above everyone else... Bella swooped in and completely decimated, leaving not but scorched earth in her wake.

“You cannot be fucking serious!” She shrieked. “How was that even a fucking word?”

“Muzjiks? It’s very real-”

“Don’t you be lyin’! If I ain’t allowed to use ebonics, then you can’t use no dank-ass backwoods ghetto word like that- and what about that other combo beside it!”

“Hey, not my fault. You left it perfect for Anthropomorphization, as well.”

“Is that even a real fucking word? Sam?”

“Don’t look at me,” Samantha said, waving her arms before her, and wondered if she should leave them up. Just in case.

“You have a phone, don’t you? Look it the fuck up.”

“You have a tablet right beside you,” Bella said. “It and muzjik are very much real words –and allowed by professional Scrabble heads.”

“How the fuck is there a professional Scrabble league? No I know you be making shit up! That’s the dumbest fucking shit I ever heard.”

“Well, it’s real, and so are those words. The latter is the act of giving human qualities to something that otherwise doesn’t. It, also, is a very popular sexual fetish. Furries, Scalies... Cloppers.”

“The fuck is a Clopper? This is all too much; I’ll start with that last one-”

“Don’t!” Samantha shrieked, snatching that tablet out of Ayn’s hands faster than her own had a chance to. The metal screeched from the wall, cradling it, keeping the succubus safe, innocent, away from that which could scar her mind... even more. Samantha sighed, and the dragon huffed, settling by her leg as the wall eased the lap-sized computer top back into Ayn’s clutches. With the word and any affiliation to it filtered. Even safe search wouldn’t allow it to show. “Sorry. My... fiance was a huge... huge fan.”

“My condolences,” Bella said. “I may have enjoyed the show, for a time at least-”

“Wait. You were a pega-”

“Don’t. Finish it. It was... quirky. Cute. My sister loved it, so, whenever I was in the room, I was watching it with her.”

“Really? Scarlette was a fan, too. No, wait, you said she was a cousin- which is it!”

“Yes... It’s a long story, but driders tend to lay their nests in clutches together. At least, they did until my dear old dad had the smart idea of having a separate nest. From my understanding, mom was flabbergasted by it; ‘community is everything; survival of the fittest’. Even then, there were, like, nineteen others in that sack, and we fought tooth and claw while in it. Even Scarlette and I. Inevitably, though, we called it a truce and teamed up against the others. Ended up being our best idea. Us against the entire world...”

“I’m sorry... I’ll make sure to get her out-”

“I do have a sister, though. Born from another clutch. Wonder if she ever became a surgeon... What was her name again- ah! Briar.”

“Is her last name, also, Dahmer- or Borden- how do last names work in with driders? You know, all this time down here, you never told me anything about you or your family.”

“We choose our last names... Technically, we choose our first names, too, but it’s more a... residual memory. We simply... know our first name... As for sweet Briar? She was a Grimm fan, so of course she went full weeb and gave herself the last name of Rose.”

“Briar Rose? I don’t get it.”

“And you’re supposed to be our teacher,” Ayn grumbled, slinging her tablet across the bed. “‘Russian peasant’ is allowed but fucking han, bat, mah, rahd, and bling-bling don’t! Fucking racists pieces of sh-”

“Anyways,” Bella cut in. “Why bother explaining? There’s enough suspicion and malice with the fuckheads who run himan society; why bother teaching anything? If you wanted to know, I knew you’d ask sooner rather than later. Besides, she isn’t going by that last name, either.”

“Then what is she going by?”

“My- well, all three of our father’s last name: Cromwell.” She chuckled, running a hand through her hair. “How he survived as long as he did...”

“He’s dead?”

“When involved with driders, it’s an inevitability... He was around far longer than most, but then Scarlette and I, in our terrible twos... Scarlette accidentally stung him during one of her temper tantrums.” She sighed, shaking her head as she cleaned up the pieces of the Scrabble board, depositing them in a black, silk bag. “It was quick, at least. Baby driders can’t control their toxin level... Mother didn’t look for another guy after, though. Not until we were in the Academy... Can’t say I blame her.”

“Hey. Hello?” Ayn butted in, snapping her fingers at the drider cleaning up the wooden tiles. “I knew I lost because fuck you, but how many points was that worth?”

“More than you really want to know.”

“Oh, no. I really do. Because I’m going to kick your fat ass up and down this hall for as many points as that was above my score.”

Bella loomed over her... smirking. “5000. Plus. Combos do wonders... You really want to try?”

Ayn scoffed... and smacked the bag out of her hand. Wooden tiles scattered then clattered on the floor as she pulled the blanket free, climbing under and turning away.

“Fuck it. It’s late. Get the hell out.”

“Last I checked, this is Sam’s room. Not yours. On top of that, I have more claim. You know how many times we fucked in that bed? In that spot alone, where you are laying, I had made her squirt and gush enough for it to simply sit on top of the sheet and mattress. Standing fuck water.”

“Like it matters. The rooms are cleaned daily, the mattresses replaced, and the rooms given all new sheets, covers, towels, et cetera.”

Bella gave a throaty chuckle, caressing Samantha’s shoulder.

“Then how about we rekindle the flame for one night to christen this new bed?”

Ayn shot out of bed, scoffing, looking absolutely revolted.

“Nigga, you a straight up ratchet.”

“Is that word in the Scrabble dictionary?”

“Fuck off!”

“Besides, It’s Samantha’s room. She can fuck whomever she wants, at any time she wants it... and you have no say. In fact, why are you even here? From my understanding from Minos, you were off suicide watch a long time ago. Why aren’t you back in your room? Why do you stay here, all the time?” She tittered, nibbling her right pinky, and leaned towards Ayn, running her other hand down her friend. “Are you, maybe, trying to warm up to the idea of sleeping with another woman?”

“Just cuz you got a taste for the Y during your stay down here don’t mean I will suddenly be dining myself.”

“Now who said you were wanting to fuck her? I just said you were sleeping with her. A lot. Sleeping together and sharing a bed don’t necessarily mean you have to have sex, though what is it you do around here to warrant your keep? Hmm? I mean, if I had to choose between eating a little pussy and returning to that rusted hole in your wall, I would gladly shuck an oyster every so often.”

“Will you just fucking go already!”

“Oh, I get it I get it. You’ve got to pay your rent now. Ta!”

She giggled as she collected her board game and all of the pieces (again) and made for the door. Ayn was tense the entire time, her temple throbbing, glowering after the drider, languishing as Bella lavished in her anger. Her abdomen bobbed, as if she was skipping, dancing as she descended the stairs, and when the final thread broke from her abdomen outside the door Ayn pounced, slamming it shut. It bounced back from the force, slammed again, this time held until it was truly latched, then spun on Samantha.

“Don’t even be thinkin’ I’ll eat yo nasty gooch,” she shrieked. Indignant.

“Eh. No need to worry. I’m not interested.”

“And why is that! Am I not good enough for you? You’d rather eat some spider puss than some sister puss.”

“I’m... not going to deal with this.”

“And why is that? Oh, I see, nigga. You hate fellow niggas. You’d rather chow down on some frumpy white pansy pussy than some rich chocolate.” Ayn lifted her shirt, her jumbo jubilees bounding free. “You think you gonna find a white woman with tits as great as these.” She turned a little, smacking her rump. “Or an ass this tight and wide and fine?”

“I... I’m sorry, I must not have missed something. Are... are you saying you want to?”

“Fuck no!”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“My problem is that you don’t want it, and you want everybody!”

Samantha simply opened her mouth... but shut it again. She held up a finger, but lowered it soon after, shaking her head.

“I’m not dealing with this.”

With that she crawled into her bed, in her room, and closed her eyes, delving into her dreams as she was taken into her twilight. There was one more move she could have done in Scrabble, which now she wished she had done. Not only to win against Bella after trying such a power play, but also to rub it in Ayn’s face that there was one thing she could have done that wasn’t to complain. There was an even bigger word, though she doubted it was considered orthodox by the heads of Scrabble... She could see them, up on their thrones of dictionaries and translation bibles, with long, elegant, squared mustaches with numbers dangling from each, looking upon the three of them and getting all huffy.

“Most unorthodox,” they would say, again and again, rising with their huffings and grumblings. “The idea of anthropomorphification is most unorthodox!”

All the while their huffing became barkings, their hands, wringing, becoming like fins, slapping together as one balanced a ball, a boggle sphere, on its nose. Another honked a horn, showing the long stream of numbers that Bella actually scored, ending in a zero that drew her into its abyss. Down, down she sunk until there was but a dot of light above.

Shining on silvery web.

It bounced as she landed, but held, even more as she struggled. All around the sound of scuttling rose along with baby cries... She never thought about it before, but what did baby driders even look like? In fact, why did they lay in clutches when Bella offered to use her oviposter to make kids? Did they have multiple ways to procreate? Were they more akin to spiders or roaches with how hard they were to get rid of?

All of these questions she really didn’t want to know. She did not want to see what was scuttling and crying at once so she rose far earlier than she wanted. Last time I’ll eat white pizza, she thought... and chortled, leering down a the sleeping succubus. Yet you bitch about me going after whites; you hogged down three ‘whiteys’ on your own

But it was the next day. Which meant she could met with Peter. At last. Which turned out to be a nice little visit. There wasn’t much to discuss on the test, as expected, but that meant they had more than enough time to simply bullshit and play. Now that he was open, there was nothing that was going to stop him. He spoke... in great length... and only stopped to laugh or get a two-word response every so often from Samantha –and to ask what certain items did. She didn’t mind, though. She was... entranced, mystified by the new Peter, by this crass, cocky, foul-mouthed, snarky, yet optimistic, ambitious, wise man. She didn’t really want to interrupt him, didn’t want to stop his flow, feeling his need to simply vent, for someone to actually listen – damned be the consequences.

The time went so fast, the conversations a blur, but it was with such a heavy heart she needed to leave and go see Jack. Her chest ached more, watching his once gleeful, beaming face shatter and hide once more behind the sad smile he kept in place, lest his anger and sadness scared others away and compounded his misery. She simply wanted to hug him –platonically, of course, though she envied the woman that made him hers... Perhaps that was why she did it in the first place.

Jack was nowhere near as long as Peter nor Minos or even Monica, but he was the end of the long visits. Lisa and Norman were lost in the haze, the rush of time before the next test. Which happened to land during the week of another, most unfortunate event.

After what happened with the last test, Samantha really didn’t want to go see Monica. Not while her Aunt Flow was in for the week. Minos wasn’t going to be any better; they had two more dinner “dates” during the month, both of which ended in her needing to wash. It always amused her, though, that the room would be spotless the next time she visited, as if nothing had happened, even if none of the subsequent visits did more than wet the sheets, her tongue, and her chest. However, that didn’t stop him from tensing the time after the first, expecting her to torment him once more, but she would only do that for... special occasions. After all, she didn’t want to blow her load all at once, did she? He only had a taste of what she was going to do to him, and all before he ever penetrated.

Samantha bit her lip, trembling at the idea, as she waited for the students to stroll in. She wore a bright, red dress shirt, toned down by her black dress skirt and jacket. A ruby heart sparkled on the jacket, symbolizing what mattered most that month, shimmering in her eyes as she squirmed, hating- loathing what she needed to wear under her skirt, what had to be put on. But that didn’t stop her from fantasizing, from feeling the phantom member thrust into her, ravaging her insides, stretching them, finishing what Mahna only started. Her eyes slowly slid shut, hands running along her thighs, nibbling her lip more as she moaned softly, feeling it pulse, thighs aching with each slam and smack of the phantasmal orbs against, hips rocking to their soft, rising beat.

Minos thundered on her podium, making her squeak, grimacing at his big, stupid, goofy... handsome face.

“Now now. I haven’t passed yet,” he said, winking at her. “No reason to be day-dreaming about our night yet.”

“How did y-” She began, cutting herself off before she got in too over her head. This is what he does. She handed him his test, but he took his sweet... sweet time taking it, running both hands down her arm before caressing her fingers.

“My, my. These have been getting so soft lately. I wonder why!” He boomed, loud enough to echo down the hall behind.

She scoffed, and shoved the test in his hands, crossing her arms.

“Keep it up and there won’t be a reason to wonder.” She checked her cell, frowning at it. “Why is everybody running later than usual? I even woke Ayn up.”

“Who knows? Maybe you scared them off with all this logic.”

“Or, you know, Norman spilled the beans,” Ayn said as she entered with the others... carrying a cake. It was covered in thick, rainbow frosting, woven so intricately that it could have only been done by Monica. She was behind it, warming up and tuning her flute. Bella was the last to arrive, and waited by the door as the others surrounded Samantha, backed against the whiteboard with her podium as her only shield.

Ayn placed the cake on top, the writing on it a bit blurred as Samantha looked down on it.

“Wh... what’s all this f-” Samantha stuttered out, cut off as Ayn scoffed and nudged her shoulder.

“Shut it, mah nigga. We celebratin’.”

“Yeah... Sorry, Sam,” Norman said, laughing sheepishly. “I... sort of read your mind at the beginning of the week that your birthday and... well... Aunt Flow were happening on the same day as the test, so I thought I’d get everyone involved. Make it something to enjoy.”

Samantha... cupped her face, looking down at that cake as Norman pulled out two candles. One was shaped as a 2, the other a 9, placed on top. They didn’t seem to be made of wax but of metal, with a single, cotton wick sticking out the top of each. Norman rolled his wrist above their wicks, and two, tiny blue flames burst to life on them. Monica finally breathed life, true emotion, passion felt in that inhale then sent surging through her flute, and the others sang, reducing Samantha to a cringing, smiling, crying mess.

Minos nudged her, and winked as the song ended.

“Well? I know you have the ability to blow,” he said.

He had to ruin it... Samantha rolled her eyes, but did all the same. The blue flames went out with two, loud pops. The candles flashed, and folded into themselves, becoming blades. They sliced down into the cake on their own, making one large slice and eight small ones, before chopping into the plate, as well, each slice of the clay making it flash and form into a smaller dish. With one, last pop, the blades separated into nine tiny forks, clattering away through the room as the students took their test and as Samantha watched over them... for a time. She wanted to finish her cake, at least. And lavish in the good vibes. For once... She left the room soon after, ready to explore. With a fellow adventurer once more.

Her and Bella wasted no time making for Scarlette’s hall. The way was known, no confusion nor humors at play that day. The drider was absolutely silent, driven, taking it upon herself to open the door to the hall. She didn’t even wait for it to completely slide aside, squeezing through.

“Bella,” Samantha hissed after, but Bella was calling out for another name, rising, echoing as she sprinted down the hall.

Stopped.

There was an eerie calm. The hall seemed to hiss, before exploding with thunderous cracks. Samantha repeated herself, rushing after, and found the door to Scarlette’s room shut. Bella continued to slam against it, panting, whimpering as she clawed and scraped at the metal.

“Scarlette!” She shrieked, rising to a wail, a cry from a feral beast cornered. Her actions matched, becoming just as desperate, trying so hard to cling as Samantha tried to pull her away. “Let me go! Do something, dammit!”

“Think, Bella! Why is the door shut?” Samantha said. She gripped her tight, tighter than the floor underneath them, wrapping, ensnaring the drider’s legs. “You need to calm your tits. Do you hear me? You need to calm y-”

Something heavy thudded behind the door, rumbling from deep below. Bella gasped, silenced at last, and yielded to Samantha’s grasp. Samantha lead her to one of the rooms. She eased it shut, hissing so loud in its glide, clacking far in its closing, and the shield was just as loud as she slid it open. They watched through the shield, waiting, watching as Scarlette’s door opened.

Samantha held her breath, expecting, dreading Cain and Lilith... but it wasn’t. Instead, it was someone completely new –two, in fact. The first was a tall, fair-skinned fellow, with long, blond hair, tied back. Even in the dim light she could see it swish out and catch that light in its thick braids, ending with a heavy, chrome weight. His beard was trimmed, just running along his rugged chin with only the slightest hint of a mustache above his lips, locked into a scowl. He had a thick, iron eye patch over his right eye, its leather cord looping under his ear and around to the other side, locked there by two, heavy gemstones. The rest of him was, barely, covered in black fabric; though he appeared quite muscular, his shirt was padded out more than she expected.

He stepped out into the hall, allowing his partner through. He was just as burly, just as rugged, but had far less hair. On the top of his head, at least. It was trimmed down into a mohawk, a long, coiffed line of brown hair, while his beard was knotted twice, both two feet long, ending in two iron weights. There was a sword on his back, a most interesting item to see. Samantha didn’t know much about weapons, but wouldn’t most people carry it on their side? Yet he seemed to know and carry it with ease, ready to be pulled free by his left hand. His only hand, Samantha noticed as he took a step, showing that the right was capped with a silver plug.

“It doesn’t make sense,” The blond one said, his voice deep, with only a hint of a Scandinavian accent. “Why would all the vats suddenly fail?”

“I don’t know,” the other said, gruff yet... warmer than his companion’s. Almost... flamboyant. “Lilith usually maintains her sector, but as of late she’s been ignoring it. Dangerously so.”

“Maybe she shouldn’t be trying to handle it while also on her honeymoon.”

“You know how she is. Stubborn and proud to a T.”

“Still. I think we should bring it up to Adam. To lose four generations due to an oversight...”

“A lot of lives lost.”

“And potential revenue, as well.”

“Come on... show some respect for the dead.”

“I’m sorry, Tyr. I... I’m just... disappointed. I wish Lilith would simply give responsibility to another for now. Not permanently. Just until she and Johnny return.”

“Again, stubborn and proud.”

“Yup... I am really glad I’m not him. I would not want to be in his shoes.”

“Let’s be real: not even Johnny wanted to be in his shoes at the start.”

The two chuckled, the rest of their conversation lost as the door shut at the end of the hall. Samantha eased hers open, and saw that they left Scarlette’s opened. Her eight eyes shined from the plinth, gleaming more as Bella and her entered... but Samantha’s mind was elsewhere.

Who were those men? She thought, looking back over her shoulder at the door.

Bella shook Samantha’s shoulder. “Well? Pick her up!”

Samantha did, and even remembered to push wind through her without Bella shaking her again... yup... totally remembered.

“You guysss need to leave,” Scarlette said, snapping Samantha’s attention to the drider skull. Fully. What Samantha took for glee turned out to be worry; it was hard enough balancing the air for her normally. Now, in her frantic state, it was a wonder those five words escaped. The skull trembled in her hand, those eyes darting to the door. “Th... ey’l... ba...”

“Easy, Scar,” Bella said, smoothing out her... head. “We’re here to save you.”

“N... ay. Ba... ing... ened.”

“Scarlette. I need you to calm down,” Samantha said, though it would help if she adhered to her own advice, starting to shake.

“I... sss... You need t...ttttttt... leave... Sabotage.”

“Sabotage? What do you mean?”

“The m... vats. My vatssss. Something happened... Death Marshes. Tyr and Thor. Will k... kill you. Add you to the Archive... Pleassse... Ssss...sSam. Get Bella to sssafety. Now... Go! I’ll be fine... I will be fine.”

Samantha put her down and dragged Bella out of there. The drider hissed and cursed under her breath, leaving a trail of tears all the way back to the Halls. They picked their paths carefully, routing, rerouting and routing the reroute as they wound their way around the maze, in case the pair was anywhere still down there. Samantha hoped, prayed they had bee-lined upstairs. She pleaded with every deity that they hadn’t, somehow, been in another hall, one that she didn’t know about, tucked somewhere in the plethora of walls along the way back. Her heart froze a moment, both wondering if there were other halls... and if they had gone to her Hall. If they were waiting there for her.

but she did not let it stay. She needed to move, for Scarlette, for Bella. For herself, above all.

With one, final run, they cleared the last three halls and were back at the Halls, the door slamming shut behind them. Samantha leaned against it while Bella bowled onto and slid across the floor, flung as Samantha gripped at her own chest, trying desperately to still her heart. Bella’s legs flailed in the air, creaking like crazy, until one finally got turned, flopping her back over. She lunged at Samantha, her eyes bloodshot, carved into a horrid grimace.

“Why?” She shrieked, shoving Samantha, sobbing. “We had her. We could have saved her, there and then!”

“You heard her. She said to leave.”

“You shouldn’t have listened-”

“And you need to learn to.” She snapped, shoving Bella back. She lunged from the wall, metal whistling around her hands, wind whipping out, raising the dragon from her thumb as gusts whistled through the Hall. “We have to be clear-headed for this. When it comes to you and your cousin, you are as emotionally stable as a mouse in the middle of forty cats!” She groaned, and wiped her face, heaving a heavy sigh. “From now on, I’m going out on my own. No matter how much you beg. I could have gotten so much more information if you weren’t there. In fact, I feel even more left in the dark because I had to babysit you.”

“B... babys... fine. Fine, Sam. But know this: I am going to get revenge on Lilith for the Hell she put Scarlette through. One way or another... you just focus on saving her.”

“Plan to.”

With that, Bella scurried off to her room, leaving Samantha to gather the tests in the classroom and head to bed –which she caught Ayn masturbating again. To top off every headache for the day.

Happy freakin’ birthday.

You know we love you, Sam. I love you so much; you’ll be my ticket out of here. Soon.

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