My Right Hand
Samantha followed Brandon and Luke outside the treehouse where the young boy stood at the ledge. She glanced at the trees above them as Luke took a step up onto the railing. He then extended his hands and closed his eyes, balancing perfectly on the thin wooden beam. The princess raised an eyebrow, watching Luke just stand there.
“Is he just going to stand there all day?” Samantha folded her arms. “Nothing’s happening.”
Brandon shrugged. “To be honest, I never did understand what he did every time he just stood there. He just magically comes up with an answer –”
“—There’s a cavern down below us.” Luke said. He then turned around and jumped off the rail to face them. “It’s the last time the trees have seen that large spider humanoid bring Bea.”
Samantha shuddered. “Spiders…”
“You’ll be fine, Sam.”
“How can you not be afraid of them!? They’re staring you down with their beady eyes and their hairy legs! And let’s not forget the venom that’s oozing out of their fangs! Did I forget to mention their beady – ”
“—Yes we heard you the first time,” Brandon waved his hand dismissively. “Just stomp on them when you see one or smack or something.”
Samantha whimpered fearfully as the two boys retreated back into the inn. She shuddered. Spiders have always been her worst fear. She remembered the first time she came across one. The spider was as big as her face and it sat right on top of her breasts staring at her with its big black beady eyes. She was a child back then, a good eight years old. It kept crawling towards her until she got a good look at its fangs and screamed loud enough for the whole Sofiene to hear. It was back then that her brothers were willing to save her. They had a newspaper in hand and began smacking the spider.
Those words haunted her. Back then, her brothers were a sweet loveable bunch. They would play pranks on her true but their favourite past time was pranking their nanny. When they all found out that their nanny had been trying on their clothes, the three of them put their plans to action. They filled her dress with dust mites and fleas before spraying some steak sauce on it. When their parents found out, they were yelled at but also congratulated for kicking the nanny out.
“They were so kind back then,” Samantha murmured.
“So was the rest of the world.”
She snapped her head up when she saw Brandon leaning against the rails. “Brandon!”
“Just waiting for Luke,” Brandon said. “He needs a few ingredients to prep up before he goes out there.”
Samantha nodded. “I see.”
The two of them remained silent as they looked over the sunset horizon past the trees. The princess glanced at Brandon whose lavender eyes seemed to glow with the sunbeams gently hitting them. She could see a more soulful look as he exhaled sharply. Samantha shook her head. She still couldn’t believe that someone as young as Brandon could be a pirate captain.
“How old are you exactly?” Samantha asked. “You barely look any older than me.”
“Twenty-three.” Brandon simply said.
“You’re a pirate captain at 23!?”
“It wasn’t that easy to climb up the ladder, lass.”
“But, your crew – didn’t you have people older than you?”
Brandon shrugged. “Some yes, some no. Some were even younger than Luke.”
Samantha raised an eyebrow. “How young is young?”
“Last I checked, I had an eight year old stowing away on my ship,” Brandon chuckled.
“Yeah, the kid wanted to earn a living so I told him to join me and we’d get some money to feed his siblings. I couldn’t let the kid do the dangerous stuff but he had his uses.”
Samantha shook her head. “The way you talk about him was as if he was expendable.”
Brandon shook his head. “The kid wasn’t expendable. He was one of Luke’s friends. I didn’t like the kid the first time though. The little punk thought he could run the ship.”
“And how’d you handle that?”
“It wasn’t me who did. It was Luke.”
“Luke? And how did he do that?”
“Trial by combat.”
Samantha’s eyes widened. “What!?”
“Yeah, got a couple of axes and began swinging at it each other until one yielded.” Brandon shrugged nonchalantly. He chuckled. “Luke won the match, clearly.”
Samantha still gawked at him; how could someone like him advocate trial by combat in children!?
Brandon snickered with a sarcastic roll of his eyes. “I’m kidding. I’m not an idiot. What kind of idiot would let children swing axes? Heck, they may as well chop off their own foot.”
Samantha exhaled sharply and frowned, muttering. “And here I thought you were serious.”
The pirate captain shook his head with a smirk. “Well, that means I’ve gotten better at lying then. I used to be shitty at lying that even Luke was able to tell that I wasn’t telling the truth.”
“Well, Luke certainly isn’t stupid.”
“Yeap, the kid isn’t stupid alright. I don’t regret bringing the little beansprout to Libraria a couple of years back.”
Samantha gasped. Libraria was the empire of knowledge! The whole city was loaded with books. Every house was told to donate at least one book as a form of taxes. If they couldn’t pay with books, they could pay with money to help maintain the conditions of the tomes. She was beside herself with giddy. She had wanted to go there and even begged Beatriz to bring her there to which the lady-in-waiting hissed at her, saying “I-hate-reading”. She had only seen Libraria through the books in Sofiene’s and Xychosia’s library. Shelves as tall as Xychosia’s Igna Cathedral with books of every spell and everything she wanted to learn about. But there was one rumour she wanted to confirm.
“I have a question though,” Samantha said.
“Hm?” Brandon raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“Is it true that there is a spirit that guards the Royal Library?”
“Well, if you call an oversized owl named Wijsheid en Kennis then, yeah. The library has a guardian.”
“Was it really big?”
“Pretty much ten times my size.”
Samantha gawked. “And you snuck past it?”
“Nope. That owl spirit’s willing to negotiate. It was so giddy upon seeing Luke that he let the little beansprout have the whole library under the condition he got to interview Luke before he left.”
Samantha stared in amazement. “Wow!” She then shook her head. “You and Luke have such a wonderful relationship.”
“I mean, you really taught him everything. You watch over him and you knew exactly how to take care of him when he was badly injured.”
Brandon chuckled and shrugged with a nostalgic smile. “What can I say? He was there for me when shit went real and vice-versa.”
Samantha nodded. Talking about Luke made her wonder about Beatriz. All the time she was young, Beatriz had been commanded to follow her everywhere including the bathroom. The lady-in-waiting had always attended to her every need although some of it did have some grumbling involved. A sigh escaped her lips. What had she done for Beatriz other than cause her trouble? As far as she knew, Beatriz was always by her side.
The princess then glanced at her pendant. The owl seemed to stare back at her with the crystal in its claws glowing softly. She remembered the time that Beatriz had found it for her in the attic. They had ventured there to find something new to do only for the lady-in-waiting to find a pendant that was meant for the crown princess. Samantha then frowned, why did her parents never give it to her? It puzzled her. She was the crown princess of Sofiene. Yet it was Beatriz who had to be the one to give it to her.
“I wonder,” Samantha frowned. She then shook her head when she heard footsteps behind her. “Luke?”
Luke showed up with his drawstring bag slung onto his shoulder and nodded. “Ready.”
Brandon nodded. “Alright, do your thing.”
Luke nodded and closed his eyes. “I’ll do my best.”
Arkamedon strolled through the village. People smiled and waved at him. He acknowledged them with a nod. How long had it been? He had been the village chieftain for the longest time. Arkamedon chuckled as one of the children ran past him, using their spider-like abilities. The Arachnos chieftain watched them change into their spider humanoid forms as they leapt from tree to tree.
“Chieftain Arkamedon! Good evening!” One of the villagers hollered.
Arkamedon nodded with a smile. “Good evening to you too!”
Another one asked. “Fine night we’re having, aren’t we?”
“Definitely. It’s a perfectly quiet night.”
“Good thing Sandor’s no longer causing any trouble.”
“Indeed. But I haven’t seen him around. Have you?”
“No but good riddance. We don’t need his anti-human views here.”
“Yes,” Arkamedon feigned a smile. “Yes, we don’t.”
And neither do we need your stupid human-loving views either, was what Arkamedon wanted to say. But he simply smiled and brushed it off. After all, Sandor had been causing a bit of a ruckus lately. He had terrified their poor guests. He scoffed. When did he care about humans? He shook his head and continued on walking. He cast his eyes towards the trees and the people of the tribe that lived under his leadership. He sighed and glanced at the houses as their candles were snuffed out one by one.
Soon, all of this will be yours.
Arkamedon chuckled when he remembered the Lady’s words to him. It was already his. As long as he had the Lady Of Arachnos by his side, there was no stopping him. Her power was potent as it came from even the ancient beings of the ones before them. He remembered what he saw in the cavern when he first found her. She was a beautiful creature. Hidden in the darkness and shunned for her form, the Lady of Arachnos revealed herself to be exactly like him. He remembered her soft red hair that dropped past her luscious curves attached to that slender arachnid body. Her amber eyes twinkled with passion and mischief.
“Such a beauty,” Arkamedon sighed. He then revealed a necklace in his hand. “Oh how this would bring out her eyes!”
He then made his way towards the stairs that led down from the village entrance. He made his way down into the caverns with the necklace in hand. As soon as he entered the cavern, his spider form revealed itself. He never did like walking on two legs. He felt that something was missing whenever he did.
As he walked through the caverns, he heard a loud groan from the side. He snorted in amusement. It’s probably Sandor, he chuckled. The spell had worked out a whole lot better than he expected. He had half-expected Sandor to be a flop of a minion. But it had worked way better and beyond expectations. Soon, he came across the hunchback as it carried pulsing bulbs on his back.
“Move aside, cretin. I wish to speak with the lady.” He coldly ordered.
The hunchback groaned. “Lady Ariadne wishes not to be disturbed.”
“I am her adviser.”
“And I am her guard. I will keep all who intend to disturb her out.”
Arkamedon’s eyes flashed. “You will not keep me, peasant. The lady will destroy you for your impudence!”
“If she so wishes then, so be it. This wretched form needs rest.”
“You dare throw away the gift that the Lady has provided you?!”
“A life not examined is a life not worth living. I have done nothing but serve with an empty soul.”
“The Lady has provided us with all we needed,” Arkamedon haughtily scoffed. He narrowed his yes and spat. “We still remain this form because of her sister!”
“She has been nothing but kind to us.”
“Her kindness and soft-heartedness will get us killed.”
“So will your lust for power.
“You know nothing, hunchback!” Arkamedon roared. “Move aside!”
Suddenly, a silky voice echoed in the cavern walls. “What is going on?”
Arkamedon’s heart sang upon hearing her voice. “Milady,” he bowed and knelt before the cavern entrance. “I must speak with you.”
“And as do I. Please, come in.”
Arkamedon stared at the hunchback smugly as the servant begrudgingly stepped aside. He strode in with a stony and triumphant gaze as he made his way into the cavern. His chuckles echoed through the cavern as he walked through the stone bridgeway, not even bothering to stare at the abyss below. In front of him was a stone cathedral with the windows shattered out. His footsteps echoed through the darkness when he finally entered the cathedral to see his beloved lady standing and watching a shimmering cocoon.
“Milady?” Arkamedon asked.
She turned around with a slow smile. “Ah, Arkamedon. Please, come in.”
Arkamedon slowly walked up towards her and hung his head. “Milady, forgive me. We captured the wrong girl. It was supposed to be the other one…”
“Oh no worries. In fact, this girl will most likely have better results than the other,” his lady smiled. She pointed to the cocoon. “After all, her power is just as vast.”
Arkamedon, confused, raised an eyebrow. “Whatever do you mean, milady?”
“Do you not remember the one who cursed us to look like these dreadful creatures?”
“I do, milady. But I do not understand about the person. What do you mean?”
The Lady of Arachnos chuckled and gestured him to look closer. “See for yourself.”
Arkamedon, bewildered, strode forward to take a closer look at the cocoon. Much to his surprise, there was the girl that Sandor kidnapped. Unconscious and completely naked, the dark blonde girl dangled with tentacles wrapped around her arms and legs. Some sort of tube pressed against her mouth as he saw that the tube was connected to some sort of glowing mass above them.
“This!” Arkamedon gasped.
Ariadne chuckled and nodded. “Yes, you see – I found this mass of energy lurking beneath the city of our once glorious city. It was the same power the Witch of Azaleth once used.”
He nodded. “And the girl?”
“The girl much to my surprise was brimming with the exact energy that was running through the veins of my mother. She’d be a wonderful addition to our group. Look at her,” she chuckled and pointed at Beatriz slightly writhing and twitching inside the cocoon. “I believe the transformation is already taking place.”
Arkamedon nodded before looking up at the glowing sac above them. It pulsed with a dark neon green light that lit up the dimmed caverns as he saw the tubes and arteries attaching to the cocoons. He stared in amazement at the sac. It was the same power that the great Witch of Azaleth once used. He had never seen the extent of its power but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to as well.
“The Witch of Azaleth – the queen? She used this?”
“Yes. She used this power to prevent those filthy humans from taking the city. And it was good that she did, for it was better than being a sex slave to those disgusting men from the empires.”
Arkamedon nodded. “Well yes, the lady is beautiful.”
“You flatter me with your words, Arkamedon. Your loyalty to me is truly,” she paused for a moment before turning to him with a sly smile. “Inspiring.”
Arkamedon bowed. “Thank you, milady.”
“And with that, I shall reward you.”
“You are my paramour, are you not?”
Arkamedon gasped as all the blood began to rush through his body. Ariadne brushed off the cloak that had been draped on her shoulders to reveal her voluptuous body. His eyes widened as she slowly made her way to him. He gasped as her hand began to stroke his lower arachnoid abdomen as he felt his blood rushing with fire burning inside him. He gazed into her golden eyes before she forced her lips onto his before proceeding to stoke that fire.
Samantha swallowed hard when she finally saw the cavern. “I’m guessing this is the place.”
After they descended down the stairs, they stumbled across a cavern that was behind the ridiculously large trees. She could see why it was hard to find. It had been covered by falling leaves and branches and the smell was enough to drive anyone away. She snorted at the putrid smell, shaking her head.
“How… How old is this place?” Samantha shook her head. “It looks completely abandoned!”
Brandon nodded and held up the dead leaves and branches that had once blocked the passageway. “Judging from the way it was concealed, it looks like someone doesn’t want us to see something.”
Luke stepped forward and stretched out his hand only for a dark pulse burn his hand. “Ow!”
“Luke, are you okay?” Samantha asked. She gasped when she saw his skin hissing with a scorch mark. “Ouch.”
The dryad nodded. “It’s enchanted. I can’t go in as long as that thing is up. Someone knows we’re here.”
Brandon turned to Samantha. “Can you try breaking the enchantment?”
Samantha nodded slowly, staring at the imaginary barrier before them. She took a look at the difference on the ground. The grass that was once luscious and green clearly turned brown and dry at some area a bit too quickly. She glanced at the cavern, hoping to find some ancient carvings that could help break the spell. She frowned. The spell left no traces which meant it was originating from another source. A sigh escaped her lips as she shook her head. Although she did learn some magic, dark magic was one of the few topics that all her teachers refused to teach her.
“Bea would have done a better job but I think I can.” Samantha nodded slowly. “It’s going to take me awhile though.”
“Is it that hard?”
“Well, I never did learn dark magic. And dark magic always had some consequences from what I know.”
“Have you ever tried using dark magic?”
“No and I don’t want to start.”
Luke sighed and began looking around. “There’s gotta be a way around it. You guys try going in.”
Brandon raised an eyebrow. “And you?”
“I’ll wait out here. I’m gonna be useless in there.”
“What are you talking about? Can’t you talk to stones?”
Luke shook his head. “I talk to plants better than the rocks beneath my feet. Besides, the dark energy will mess up my hearing and the fact that I won’t have any plants to help me down below makes me more powerless.”
“You have mushrooms and maybe a bit of moss.”
“Oh what? I’m just gonna pitch that at the monster and make it high?”
“I was thinking you could possibly eat it and grow bigger.”
Luke sighed and shook his head with a roll of his eyes. “And where did you pull that out from? Your butt?”
“I was hoping you’d say brain fart but yeah.” Brandon chuckled. He then turned to Samantha. “Looks like it’s you and me, lass.”
Samantha shivered and shook her head vehemently. “I’m not going in there!”
“For Deus’ sake, quit being such a chicken. I’ll be walking with you.”
“There are spiders! SPIDERS DOWN THERE!”
“Sam, they’re probably more spooked of you than you are of them!”
“Not true! Haven’t you seen their venomous fangs oozing with liquid poison!? Did you see their beady eyes – ”
Luke rolled his eyes and muttered. “—Here we go.”
“Yes! I know what a spider looks like!” Brandon snapped despite shuddering at the word ooze. He shook his head at the princess. “Right now, your friend is in danger and you’re gonna let her die because you’re too damn chicken to face an insect –”
“—Spiders are not insects,” Luke corrected. “They are arachnids.”
Brandon exhaled sharply.”Whatever!” He snapped and glared at Samantha. “So, are you gonna let Bea die just because you’re too damn chicken to face whatever Luke said it was or are you gonna go in and help her out?!”
Samantha swallowed nervously and looked at the cavern. She then looked up to see Brandon’s glaring lavender eyes. A large lump formed in her throat as her body shivered and trembled at the thought. It wasn’t the dark cavern that scared her. It was the thought of having spiders crawl all over her body with their eight legs brushing every single hair on her skin. A chill ran up her spine as she shuddered. She hated spiders and never wanted to be near one!
But Brandon was right. She couldn’t leave Beatriz in there. She remembered what he told her about him being Luke’s companion. Beatriz and Luke were one and the same despite their different personalities. Even if they were different, they were in the same position. Luke was Brandon’s right hand and Beatriz was hers. She clenched her fist tightly and held the owl pendant that hung from her neck, feeling a warm pulse bloom in her hand. A sigh escaped her lips as she nodded. There was no time to waste! Bea was down there and she wasn’t just doing to stand there and let them do all the work!
“Alright, let’s go.”