T W E N T Y - N I N E
*Warning: Those suffering from Arachnophobia, I suggest skipping this chapter or waiting for a recap in the next chapter.
As soon as I opened my eyes, I knew that something was wrong.
I knew something was wrong not only because I was trapped in this weird silky material, but also because I was suspended at least Eighty feet in the air.
Eighty. Freaking. Feet.
I squeaked when I realize that if I fell, or if this weird rope snapped, I would end up dying as a pancake.
Just a flat, brown, wolfie pancake.
‘Nope, not going to happen,’ I chanted to myself, ‘If I’m going to go, I’m going out in style’
I tried to break my arms free, at least, but everything I did only seemed to make harder for me to breath.
I must be more injured than I originally thought because my healing abilities would have finished healing me by now, especially since I blacked out for a couple of hours.
Something crawling up the column of my throat distracted me from my train of thought.
I nearly blacked out again when that something, which was a big ass tarantula, crawled onto the side of my face and then towards the top of my head.
“Oh good,” A smoky voice said from the shadows in front of me “You’re awake.”
I looked up sharply and found a...large web?
Suddenly, everything became clear.
Oh. My. Good.
This material I’m trapped in isn’t rope.
It’s a spider web.
I looked down at my bound body again and saw hundreds of spiders, all different shapes and species, skittered around my body, no doubt reinforcing the webbed material.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about them” the same smoky voice said “They’re just helping their mommy out with her pest problem.”
“What am I doing here?” I said, glad that my voice didn’t wobble like I knew it would.
You see, you’d think that a big bad Wolf like myself would be immune to smaller creatures like insects or Arachnids but ever since I was a little girl, when my brother’s pet tarantula attacked me after I barely petted him, I’ve hated the little suckers.
Absolutely loathed them.
Something peeked out of the shadow where the voice came from and when I saw it, this time, I swear I died.
A giant spider came out of the shadows, its body the size of a horse and its dead soulless eyes staring at me like it was a second away from devouring me whole.Which, now that I think about it, it probably was.
The big ass spider leaned forward, it’s face close to mine, and all the little spiders on my body started wiggling around like crazy.
This time, I couldn’t hold in my terrified squeak.
The Spider started laughing, further increasing my anxiety.
“Where are my manners?” the spider shifted on the web suddenly, the momentum jumbling me around from side-to-side “I didn’t introduce myself yet.”
“It’s okay” I rushed out “I think this has all been one big misunderstanding. If you just let me go, I promise to be out of your...uh...web?”
Before I could finish explaining how this was one big misunderstanding, the spider started morphing into something else.
Something more hideous.
Something that I would probably have nightmares about for the rest of my life.
The spider morphed into a woman/spider hybrid creature, in which the top half of her torso maintained mostly human attributes while the bottom half of her body was purely spider.
The creature’s head was oddly shaped, with a receding hairline and thin patches of hair sprouting out of it’s head. It had eight eyes, which were all scattered disproportionately on its face, and two large fangs that were protruding from the lower jaw. Two of it’s hands were normal looking, like mine, but the rest were spider legs.
The creature smile and its fangs glistened in the moonlight.
“My is Arachne” she said, her voice cracking “Daughter of Idmon.”
“I’m...” I swallowed thickly, squashing down my urge to throw up “Serenity, Daughter of Kaden and Sky Matthews.”
“Hmmm...” Arachne came closer, invading my personal space and touching my hair “Very pretty...”
“Oh no” I started to ramble “I’m the ugliest girl in my town. I also have the ugliest name too. Do you see how ugly I am? How messed up my skin is? And don’t even get me started on these split ends and crispy hair. I’m a hot mess.”
She suddenly yanked my head back and pulled on my hair so hard, I swear she ripped out a few strands along with half my scalp.
I bit back my cry and blinked rapidly, fighting like hell to not let my tears fall.
“Stop these silly ramblings! Now where is it!” She hissed at me, her human nails raking down my face “Where is the key?!”
I glared at her “What key?”
Her grip tightened on my face to the point that I flinched “Do not play with dumb me girl!”
“What.Fucking.Key” I spat back at her, holding eye contact.
“The key to the Opening” she released me and crawled back up her web, crossing her arms “She said you would have it.”
She ignored my question and then looked at something behind me “It must be on him. Bring him to me. I don’t care if he’s dead or alive. Just bring him.”
My heart raced at the mention of him.
There’s only one him that I knew she was talking about and I knew that if I didn’t find a way to escape quickly, we would both be up a creak without a paddle.
Arachne ignored me for a few seconds and I thought it was the best chance to find out more about this stupid key anyways.
“Why do you want this key anyways?” I played along “I thought only a few people knew about it?”
“You know more than you’re letting on” She sneered at me, peering closer to my face “Perhaps I should have questioned you further.”
“Why do you want this key?” I repeated my question.
“I would be a fool to waste this opportunity” She snorted, sounding so human like in the moment “And I am no fool.”
“But you were once” I noted, cringing when all her eyes narrowed at mine “I mean, you had to have been to be turned into...that.”
“Careful girl” She warned me “One little word from me and my babies will be eating your pretty face for dinner. They’re particularly... famished... after being denied food for weeks.”
“At least tell me why you need this key” I gulped “Because, in all honesty, we both know you’ll make do on your threat the moment you get the information you want. At least tell me one last story before I die.”
She gave me a wicked smile “At least you have a brain in that pretty skull of yours.”
“Yeah, well” I sighed “Might as well use it one last time.”
She gave me a slow nod “This key is the answer to all my problems.”
“You were right in your initial assessment of me” She nodded again “I was a fool once.”
“A very long time ago.” She said softly.
She gave me a bitter smile.
“I was tricked” she spat out “All because I spoke the truth about what the Gods were.”
“Yes,” She spat “The truth about their dirty ways.”
“I was a Shepard’s daughter that had a unique infinity for weaving tapestries.” She began “It was a talent I inherited from my grandmother at a very young age. She was the best weaver in our village and since my family owned our own sheep farm, and we were able to spin our own thread, my grandmother and I were constantly experimenting with new techniques.”
She plucked a rather large spider from its web and nuzzled it affectionately against her cheek.
“One day when I was working on a particularly challenging tapestry after my grandmother had past, an old woman came up to my weaving station and shamed me for my depiction of the Gods.”
She let out a weird snort sound and I cringed a little when spiders came out of her thinning hair to comfort her.
“My depiction, my greatest work so far, was being ridiculed by a tasteless old hag” She spat “Except, she wasn’t an old hag at all.”
“When I refuses to denounce my work in front of the whole market, the old hag turn into Athena.” she ground what was left of her teeth “When I refused to praise her beloved Zeus, Athena challenged me to a weaving competition.”
Arachne smile and for once since our whole encounter, I could actually see the remnant of the woman she once was.
“I, of course, beat her but being the prideful coward she was, Athena couldn’t accept defeat.” she frowned “So, when I was asleep at my home, Athena snuck into my room and slit my throat, dipping a piece of thread from my tapestry in my blood to turn me into a spider permanently.”
“But wasn’t having such a astounding talent considered to be blessed by the Gods?”
She climbed down the tree branch so fast, I felt dizzy.
“My talent did not come from the Gods” She yanked my hair back, shrieking in my face “My talent came from hard work and dedication! If anything, my Yiayia blessed me with the talent! Not some stupid Gods who only cared about themselves!”
“We both know that’s not true Arachne!” A shout sounded from below.
Arachne was so surprised that she whipped her head down painstakingly fast.
“Son of Hades” She sneered “What a pleasant surprise.”
Zephyr, whose whole body was dripping in some type of blue goo, grinned at Arachne.
“Surprised to see me alive or surprised to find your little pet missing?”
“What did you do to my Charlotte?!” Arachne roared.
Zephyr’s grinned widened “Let’s just say...Charlotte won’t be joining us anything soon.”
With a ear piercing shriek, Arachne commanded her spiders to descend upon Zephyr.
While he was busy fighting off the tiny little demon creatures, Arachne sped towards me and pulled my head to the side.
“Looks like dinnertime came earlier than expected” her mouth opened wide and I squeaked when I saw her millions of sharp and pointy teeth.
“Zephyr!” I yelled, totally panicking when I felt her breath on my neck “A LITTLE HELP HERE!”
A fire blast flew past my face and hit Arachne in the back of the head.
She made a unhuman sound before releasing my and jumping towards another tree.
“Just give me the key!” She dodge fire blast after fire blast by jumping from different webs “And I’ll leave you alone!”
“She’s lying!” I yelled, trying to figure out a way to get out of this stupid web.
I yelped when I felt something touch me and then breathed out a sigh of relief when I saw that it was one of Zephyr’s magic branches trying to loosen me from my constraints.
“It’s no use!” I yelled “It’s like my body was dipped in super glue!”
I grunted when something yanked me from behind.
“This is your last chance!” Arachne snarled “Give me the key or watch your little girlfriend sink to the bottom of the Styx!”
“What key are you talking about?” Zephyr roared.
“DON’T PLAY DUMB WITH ME SON OF HADES!” She screamed, her eyes moving wildly back and forth between us “GIVE ME THE KEY NOW!”
When Arachne met silence from Zephyr, she whirled around.
Unfortunately for her, the minute she turned, Zephyr plunged a Obsidian corkscrew looking sword with intricate details into her chest.
Arachne’s eyes, all eight of them, widened in both surprise, hated, and a little bit of resignation.
She fell back onto one of the larger webs and I watch in horror as millions of little spiders crawled up to her and started covering her large body.
“I was the first” she said, coughing up the same blue blood that covered Zephyr’s body “But I will not be the last. There are those, much more dangerous than I, who are looking for the key and will stop at nothing until they get their hands on it.”
“What key?” Zephyr asked, making sure that I was safely out of harms way, before returning his attention to the Spider Queen.
Her eyes slid to mine “A key to our redemption.”
With those final words, she succumbed to death.
The spiders, who I thought were protecting their mother when they covered her body, did something that made me retch in my mouth.
“Are they...” I nearly puked “Eating her?”
Zephyr nodded “Whenever Athena curses someone, she curses them for life and death. They can never die and enjoy their Elysium. Instead, they’re forced to roam the afterlife living out their curse.”
“So they’re immortal?”
Zephyr shook his head “With this type of transformation curse, the subjects are only allowed a certain amount of time on whatever plane they’re on before they automatically die. My guess is that Arachne knew that she was dying and wanted to find this ‘key’ she was talking about before she had to die again. She didn’t want to have to go through the pain of being eaten alive again.”
“That’s so sad” I said.
Zephyr agreed “Athena’s favorite past time is watching her cursed humans die over and over again.”
“So Arachne was right when she said the Gods only cared about themselves?”
Zephyr sighed “Yes, she was.”
“And there was no other way to save her?” I nodded towards the sword “Except by plunging that thing into her heart?”
He raised an eyebrow “You do realize that she kidnapped you and had plans to eat you for dinner?”
I scowled “I still have a heart.”
“Yeah Well, thank god I plunged this thing into her” he showed me the sword “Or else you might not have your heart right now.”
I cracked a smile “You’re so stupid”
He winked at me “But you love it.”
I nodded toward my web covered body “You think you can use that thing to cut me out of this?”
“Sure, but we have to hurry. Shadow’s getting anxious.”
I gave him a confused look “What does Shadow have to do with this?”
Suddenly, Shadow’s head peaked out of the swords handle.
My eyes widened “HOLY SHIT!”
He winked “A gentleman doesn’t reveal his secrets.”
“That whole thing is Shadow?” I said excitedly “Can I do that?”
“No” Zephyr said and I deflated “I’m sorry. It’s just something I learned when I was messing around with my powers one day.”
“How does it work?”
“How about I tell you more once we get you down from here?”
I smiled sheepishly at him “Good idea.”
I was about to say something more when I felt a searing pain in my thigh.
When I looked down, I saw one of Arachne’s huge fangs sticking out.
My eyes snapped to her dead corpse and I was horrified when I saw her skeleton’s arm raised in a throwing position.
“Uh...Zep...” My vision turned hazy and I swore that everything was shifting colors.
The last thing that I saw was Zephyr dive for me while I fell backwards from the 100 foot tree.