Tales of Skyrrst – Silken Strings
It was a beautiful
day in Skyrrst. The sun shone high over the Windy Plains, the birds sang their
songs in the Silver Forest and even the wind blew nice and slow.
In short, it was the perfect weather for traveling.
Jack was standing at the edge of Woodchop Camp, a tiny settlement between the Windy Plains and the Silver Forest.
'Finally I can get out of here.' he thought with a smile.
He had arrived at Woodchop Camp two months ago, hoping to be able to stay for a few days and earn some coin before moving on again.
However, during his visit, he had caught a nasty case of Drowsy Flu, a sickness that drained its victims of all energy and robbed them of their will to live.
Any victim of Drowsy Flu was unable to move at all and forced to remain lying in bed all day and night long.
The victims were unable to do any more than that, not even turn around in bed. They were be totally dependent on their comrades to feed them and helping in case nature called.
But that wasn't the worst thing about it. No, the worst thing was that the victims’ minds were completely awake. The sickness only attacked the physical body and left the mind in peace.
It is a cruel fate, being locked up in one’s own body like that and only the most strong-willed were able to survive it without lasting damage.
Most people to survive the initial sickness however, would commit suicide only days or weeks after they were able to move freely again.
In Jack's case he had been fortunate to catch the flu while being in Woodchop Camp.
The locals were well known throughout the realm to be very friendly and kind to strangers.
They took care of Jack while he was disabled and tried everything to keep him busy so his mind wouldn't be troubled by doubts and fears.
Eventually the flu passed and due to the care of the villagers, Jack hadn’t succumbed to depression.
'Still, I wouldn't mind to get going now.' he thought.
As much as he enjoyed the liveliness at Woodchop Camp, as much did he want to get back onto the road and away from the memories of the past months.
Today a caravan would leave Woodchop Camp, heading west through the Silver Forest and towards the capital.
A rich Lady from a southern province was traveling to the capital for private matters.
Jack had been hoping that she'd pay him for accompanying her with his music and his hopes had been fulfilled.
Not only he'd get free travel and food, but also quite a large bag of coins for his service.
It took a while for all people and equipment to gather, but shortly after noon they finally got going.
Jack was sitting in the back of the last wagon, softly playing on his violin.
He adored his instrument. He loved its sound, the feeling of the bow gliding over the strings, just everything about it.
Sadly not all people shared his passion.
"Hey brat!" One of the mercenaries accompanying them called during a short break at a small stream.
"Stop that noise or I'll make a nice little fire with that thing. People are trying to work here."
Grumbling, Jack put his violin away. He loved to play, especially after those weeks of sickness, but he knew that it wasn't worth the fight.
After a few minutes the caravan was back on track again, slowly searching its way through the woods.
The following days were extremely repetitive.
In the morning people would get up, have a short breakfast and then get onto track again.
Whenever Jack tried to play on his instrument, one of the mercenaries, mostly their leader Brutus, would tell him to 'shut the fuck up'.
Whenever he tried to get to the Lady, her personal guards sent him away and Jack started to wonder whether he was wanted here at all.
After seven days of traveling, shortly before they reached their campsite, they came.
Bandits swarmed from the woods and surrounded the caravan.
At first Jack was scared but soon he realized that the mercenaries and her Lady’s guards still outnumbered them.
Then the leader of the bandits stepped forward, greeted by a similar movement of Brutus.
For a few seconds they stood chest to chest, staring into each other’s eyes.
Then Brutus slapped the leader of the bandits on his shoulder.
“I knew I could count on you little brother!”
Jack and her Lady’s personal guards watched horrified, as the mercenaries turned around and raised their weapons against their former comrades.
Brutus casually walked closer to her Lady’s wagon.
“Well, well. It seems you are outnumbered. Personally I don’t like bloodshed, so I’ll give you this opportunity to surrender. Drop your weapons and no harm will come to you.”
“We will never surrender to foul scorn like you!” one of the guards shouted, his call answered by a roar of agreement from his fellows.
Brutus shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
Then he drew his blade in one lightning fast action and slashed it across the throat of the closest guard.
His cry of pain was answered by war-cries from both sides and soon the clashing of blades sounded through the air.
Always the realist, Jack soon realized that there was no way the guards would win this.
They were outnumbered at least four to one and were losing ground quickly.
Soon the last one of them hit the ground with a soft thud and the clash of metal faded.
“Search the wagons. Get everything worth something out here!” Brutus called.
Then he turned around…
…and headed straight for Jack’s hiding place.
“Get out of there brat!” he called as he came closer.
Jack grabbed his violin and wanted to run, but with one big jump Brutus cut him off.
“Oh no, you’ll stay here!”
Fearfully Jack retreated backwards, only to feel the wooden wall of the wagon in his back a second later.
Brutus grinned devilishly.
“I’ve been waiting for this all the time.”
With one swift movement he smashed his fist into Jack’s body.
“You’ve been hacking on my nerves with that thing of yours.” He said, while Jack doubled over in pain.
Brutus grabbed the violin case.
“Oh, I don’t think you’ll need this anymore.”
He opened the lock with one blow of his fist and took out the instrument.
Jack watched horrified as his precious violin was snapped in halves.
It hurt ten times more than the blow Brutus had delivered him.
“Hey, get up!” Brutus shouted and kicked Jack in his chest. “I’m not done with you just now!”
He grabbed Jack’s shirt and raised him into the air. Then he smashed his fist into Jack’s nose.
Immediately blood flooded out of it and Jack’s vision began to blur.
Brutus drew back his arm and smashed Jack’s face a second time, then he threw him to the ground.
“Don’t black out, brat!” he started laughing manically. “We’re done when I say that we are done.”
He raised his foot and crushed Jack’s leg.
A wordless cry of pain echoed through the woods.
Just before he could raise his leg again, one of the bandits interrupted him.
With an angry snarl Brutus snapped around. “What? Can’t you see that I’m busy?”
“I… I know, b-brother. I-it’s just… the men are getting restless. Its H-Hallows eve a-after all…”
“Hrmph. Stupid superstition.” Brutus grumbled. “But I guess you are right.”
He kicked the remains of the violin into Jack’s face and walked away.
“Is her highness ready?” he called mockingly.
Then he jumped onto the first wagon and slapped the hose’s butt. “Get going lazy piece of shit.”
A few minutes later quietness fell over the battleground.
Only interrupted by the soft cries of pain and loss…
Hours later, after darkness had fallen over the landscape, a lone figure twitched on the forest ground.
With a groan Jack pushed himself up, only to cry out in pain and slump back again.
Gritting his teeth, he pulled himself forward.
Bit by bit, he crawled closer until he reached his violin case.
After putting the few remains of his instrument inside, he closed it and strapped the case to his back.
He slumped to the ground, unable to do anything more.
Then he heard it: A faint tune, so soft and light that it seemed to wash the pain out of his body.
With an immense effort, he started to pull himself forward once more.
He needed to know where the tune came from. He just had to!
It took ages to get of the battleground.
Jack’s right leg was completely smashed and unusable and the rest of his body felt so sore, he wanted to die.
Nevertheless he kept going.
Like light attracts flies, the soft tune attracted Jack.
He dragged himself over roots and tree trunks, over boulders and holes, he even crossed a small, but freezing cold stream.
He knew that he wouldn’t survive the night.
He had lost too much blood, not only from the wounds Brutus had inflicted on him, but also from countless cuts and bruises he had ramped up by dragging himself through the forest.
His whole body had gone numb after he crossed the stream.
He couldn’t even feel the pain anymore.
All he wanted was to reach the source of the tune.
Nothing else mattered.
After what seemed like an eternity of dragging himself through thorny bushes and undergrowth, Jack, or rather what was left of him, reached a small clearing.
It was surrounded by thorny scrubs, which left a deep impression on his skin.
Not that he cared about that.
After pushing his way through the web-covered rose-scrubs, he stopped and watched, awe-struck of the small gathering in front of him.
A ghostly woman was sitting in the middle of the clearing.
In her hands she held the most beautiful violin Jack had ever seen. With soft movements, she was playing a heavenly tune that reached deep into Jack’s soul.
That alone would have been enough to astonish the young musician.
However, what really amazed him was the audience that had gathered around the woman.
Forest spiders of any size and color were spread all over the clearing.
The smallest being about the size of a small rabbit, while the biggest was larger than a fully grown battle horse.
They lay at her feet, sat in brushes or trees and one of them had even settled down on her head.
All of them were waiting peacefully, listening to the tune the woman played.
As if in trance, Jack stared ahead. A few seconds later he continued to claw himself forward, completely oblivious to the fact that any spider on the clearing would be able to kill him.
After all, he would be dead soon anyway.
Surprisingly not a single spider attacked him. They all seemed to be in some kind of trance.
Not even when Jack crawled under one of the bigger spiders it reacted.
Eventually, after a few more painful minutes, he reached the center of the clearing.
He raised his head to look at the ghostly woman, who seemed to be completely caught up in her music.
Suddenly she stopped playing and looked down.
A mild look of surprise slipped on her face, soon replaced by one of deep concern.
She floated down from the boulder she had been sitting on and crouched low to face Jack.
Ghostly whispers escaped her throat, but Jack didn’t understand anything.
In fact, he was barely able to see anything at all.
When his vision went black for a few seconds, he felt himself being lifted up the ground and when he could see again, he found himself leaning against the boulder, amidst a group of red roses.
The woman was crouching in front of him, her arms held out in front of her, as if she was offering him something.
It took Jack a few seconds to realize that she offered him her instrument.
Tears were building up in his eyes as he took it.
“T-Thank… y-you…” he croaked out.
She flashed him a warm smile, before pulling back.
As soon as she let go of the instrument, she started to glow.
Very slowly, but still noticeable, parts of her body began to disintegrate.
Jack watched confused, sad and slightly scared as she completely vanished into thin air.
Only a whisper remained, which, after a few seconds, faded as well.
Jack continued to stare at the spot she had been standing on for a long time.
Only when he felt a sting in his neck, he looked away…
…only to find a small spider sitting on his shoulder, with its fangs sunk into his flesh.
“H-hey little o-one…” Jack said weakly. “P-please don’t d-do that…”
Guiltily the spider pulled its fangs out again.
“That’s… b-better…” Jack whispered.
Then he focused his attention on the instrument in his arms.
With barely enough energy left to stay awake, he rested the violin on his shoulder and carefully slid the bow over its strings.
The soft sounds of the violin instantly cleared his mind and seemed to renew his strength.
A smile on his face, he delved into the realm of music, playing all his fears and pain away.
He played and played and played, venturing deeper and deeper into his music, not noticing how his body started to change.
It started with his smashed leg.
With soft cracks, the fractured bones pulled themselves together again. And after a few seconds his flesh grew back over the wound. Another second later nothing remained of the wound. Only his skin was of a slightly lighter color than before.
While Jack didn’t notice any of the changes, the little spider on his shoulder did.
Especially when Jack’s hair started to grow longer and longer. It knew that if he noticed the changes, he would stop playing and the transition would never be completed.
Quickly it crawled on top of his head and started to weave its webs around his growing hair, fastening strands of it to nearby branches.
After completing this task, it returned to its position on Jack’s shoulder and started to gnaw at his clothes.
He wouldn’t need them anyway.
Jack finished his first tune and effortlessly glided into the next one.
Instantly his body began to reshape itself.
First his whole frame shrunk a bit, especially at his shoulders. Next his waist carved inward, while his hips and butt expanded simultaneously, giving him an hourglass figure every guy would drool over.
A burst of energy erupted from the violin and traveled up his arms and into his chest.
There it settled down and initiated the expansion of his chest into two moderately sized breasts.
The little spider had finished destroying Jack’s clothes, which now lay at his feet.
Jack had risen up from the ground, oblivious to the fact that his leg was completely functional again.
With incredible speed the little spider began wrapping layer after layer of silt around Jack, which soon turned black by the violin’s magic.
Only a small portion at the back was left free.
Jack finished his tune with one penetrating note, which caused his manhood to slip away.
At first she wondered why she was standing and not lying on the ground. When she looked down wonder turned into pure shock and awe at her new body.
It took several seconds for her to take everything in, though she couldn’t grasp it completely.
Something soft brushed against her face: The little spider was looking expectantly at her.
She smiled ad glanced around over the clearing.
Every single spider looked at her in awe and love.
In that moment she realized something: These weren’t just forest spiders, creatures that shied from the daylight and terrors of many nightmares.
No, these were her children. She was their guardian, entrusted to protect them by an ancient being.
Still smiling Jack, or rather Joslyn picked up her violin once more and started to play again.