Casket of Shadows

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The First Challenge

A movement to my left suddenly caught my attention. The landscape was shimmering, a portal was being created, or a tear in time and space. At the same time, I saw the reason for the earth-shaking, for coming into my reality was the hairy forelegs of the biggest, monster-sized arachnid I had ever seen, even in my wildest nightmares. Every time the foot came down the ground shook. Bang…Bang and as it came more fully into view so the expanse and height of the creature became apparent. Then the sound of it licking its mandibular and squeaking filled the air, I placed my hands over my ears for a second while I tried to mentally lower the intensity. Now the forelegs started to sense the air. I was so small in comparison in this form that I would have been like an ant. If I physically moved my doing so would be detected so I looked for space to carefully translocate to. Favorite would be the valley; I could see way out there and I would be far away. but then I would probably have to face it again so I might as well get to higher ground and see what I was actually being faced with. I had learned that nothing ever happens during these challenges by accident. There are no coincidences in life.

The escarpment that had been to my back when I arrived was the highest zone that I could physically see, yet even this looked as if it was only at eye level with the creature. It would have to do, I concentrated and translocated.

Strangely when I came back into a physicality, I no longer heard the screeching and clicking from the gigantic spider, now I heard a voice in my heart-mind, a strong voice, and yet it was not hostile.

“Who is it that enters my space without permission? Who has taken to awakening me yet has not the respect to come forward?”

I now was aware that it had not yet noticed me, and being behind the zone covered by the feeling forelegs I thought myself into a slightly taller avatar, not that it would make any difference against this creature if I needed to fight, but it made me feel a little better about myself.

Before I thought or connected to this creature, I looked around rapidly to ensure I knew the lay of the land in case I needed to translocate rapidly. I took a deep breath and connected.

“I am here. As to who I am, I go by many names and was not aware of your being in this space. I have been sent here by the keepers of the Obsidian Circle to undergo challenges, to prove my worthiness to enter their circle. With this in mind, I presume you must be the first of these?”

For a few heartbeats I sensed confusion in the silence, then there was a not to gentle attempt to enter my heart-mind to find out who and what I was. I blocked it, just as strongly. This was followed by laughter that shook my body from the inside out. A very high vibrational frequency of energy.

“Then you are the one I have been sent to collect. I was expecting something a lot larger, my, it would appear a flea would have been able to greet you.”

Now I realized that I was being watched by several of the eight massive eyes on the spiders’ head. I could see myself within each of them. I had not been aware that I had my full shield up and my short sword in my hand.

I was confused for a second.

“You mean you are not the challenge I have to overcome?”

Laughter flowed again.

“No. It would not be a contest now, would it? Maybe someone more your own size is awaiting you, for now, I wish to offer you my back to ride upon so I may deliver you where you are to go. I fear if I allowed you to walk you would stick to my foot and be unable to be revived.” Again laughter.

I still felt cautious and I walked forwards. The space between the black silken back and the edge of the escarpment was a gaping space about one hundred feet wide, this left space for the tree trunk thickness of the immense legs which, covered in large thorn-like hair would be an easy way to navigate the space, or I could simply translocate. For some reason, this option did not designate as being correct. Why was I feeling all was not as it seemed? I knew from experience to follow my instincts.

Suddenly I felt the tension in the air. It was coming from the form in front of me, from what was meant to be my transport to the first challenge. Now all my instincts kicked in. All the training that I had done back on Arionel and in Dragondom, with Master Weng Choo and even knowledge accumulated so far from the mission to Zor. I reached for my spell pouch and extracted a small amount of elven power, then blew it over the form before me. Before it had even covered the space, I had raised the personal shield and as I had done when first I arrived, I had created a full three-sixty shielding so basically, I was within a ball. For some reason, I had instinctively re-enforced it with a mirror effect thus allowing me to witness what was truly before me while my exact presents would be shielded from it, whatever it really was.

Now the full horrific reality started to be uncovered before my very eyes. By Zorgon. If I had translocated, I would have been finished. Instead of a soft furry gloss on the back of the gigantic arachnid, I now could see what was truly there. I would have landed in a nest of slithering snakes which in fact covered the whole of the creatures back. They were a part of the whole, like medusa hair. Heads were raised and fangs bared. Some were ejecting flows of venom in my direction and I was glad to have my shield between me and the caustic liquid that reached in part to where I was. Reacting with the rock where it landed and creating bubbling pools with foul-smelling gas emitting from the chemical reaction caused.

Now the screeching started again, this time in anger. Pure hostility.

The creature was rearing, the thundering of the first massive foreleg hammered down on the surface where I was. Everything shook and my shield bubble bounced. The pad on the foot slide open as it hit and two jet-black hooked claws chiseled into the surface of the ground to aid draw it up, the giant was trying to attack and I would soon no longer have the higher ground; I would be no more than an ant alongside a mountain. A deadly mountain. I drew my main sword from its place between my shoulder blades. I had no intention of just standing here and being vaporized. I had to act, and act fast.

I lowered my shield and re-fashioned it to act as a full body warrior shield to protect me from the venom and yet allow me to use my sword and other survival weapons I could conjure up. I was ready.

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