...Continuation...

Tangled Webs
By: DOlarnick


"Now, tell me, Egeria, what brings you here so late in the day?" said Vespoisona.

"This creature," she said, gesturing towards a black-widow spider which she held in her hand, "has brought you a present, my Queen, a cut-and faceted gemstone --"

"A gemstone!" exclaimed Vespoisona, in a bemused tone, "What need have I of another gemstone?  Look around you, I already have a fortune in gold, diamonds and gems."

"This one sings a song of promises to be kept," Egeria paused, enjoying her moment of surprise, "Of a scribe and a Queen."

She pried the gemstone away from the tightly clenched legs of a black-widow spider that reeled about in an intoxicated state from the musical sound that had flowed from within the crystal.

Egeria held the gleaming crystal up to the light, letting it fall from her delicate hand, and watched as it suspended itself in the air.  The gemstone began to spin slowly, change its shape and color, as psychic tones began to form within their minds.

"Odan!" shrieked Vespoisona, poison beginning to drip from her fangs, her hand involuntarily stroking the side of her rising breasts; she felt a warm flush fill her lower body. "No, it cannot be.  Perhaps he has tricked another human into a transfer of his essence, but it cannot be Odan himself, in the flesh.  Never!  I do not believe it!" she murmured aloud.

"I have listened to its song, my Queen.  It claims its message is that of Odan the Scribe.  It speaks of a promise...of a time long, long ago...and speaks of the long-lost Broach of the Web Walkers and its whereabouts."

Vespoisona, her fury rising, grabbed for one of the bundles of silk that lined her web.  They contained living warriors.  She had encased them within silken cocoons for breeding and consumption.

The captured warrior felt himself being lifted up and moaned aloud.  He feared his fate.  Had he been selected to be the Queen's next lover?  Fate smiled down upon the captured warrior decided to be benevolent and grant him a quicker, kinder death.

Vespoisona lifted the warrior high above her head, battering him onto her chamber's floor.  Then swinging the dying man around by his feet, she let him fly from her grasp to crash into the walls of her web room.  Her first blow broke his neck but he did not die! The silken cocoon held his head tightly in place as his prayers for death filled the web-room with his sounds of pain.

The second blow came swiftly and with equal fury.  As the warrior's life began to escape his battered body, she picked him up again, flung his still conscious form across her web-room and bashed his head into a web-lined wall.  The silken cocoon that encased the dead warrior turned scarlet red.  Vespoisona ran across the room, grabbing him by his legs, and continued smashing his lifeless form, breaking the mirrors and fragile glass goblets that surrounded her bedroom.

She breathed heavily from her exertions, which aroused her to a deeper fury; her feminine form now coated with a shiny silken perspiration that radiated from her skin.  She disposed of two more of the quivering bundles of silk before her fury abated.

Egeria stepped back, holding her breath, fearing her mother's wrath. She had not expected so violent an outburst from the mere mention of the scribe's name.

Perhaps now is the time, she thought, while mother is exhausted and weakened...perhaps now was the time to strike.

"Ah, I feel better now, my beautiful emissary.  What do I care for the telling of a legend -- the myth of a man long since dead?  Go ahead, let the crystal spin its tale; let it tell of the other place where my great-great grandmother lived and loved," said Vespoisona.

"As did mine," whispered Egeria, under her breath, as she anticipated a glimpse of the ancient past, of another world that no longer existed.

"Here it is," muttered Vespoisona, "we shall prove it to be a fake." Vespoisona reached into the nucleus of the mother web extracted a gold jewel encased box.  Opening it, she withdrew the mate of the gemstone that still twirled above Egeria's head.

Vespoisona tossed the matching crystal across the room.  She watched in astonished disbelief as it suspended itself into the air, gyrated, twisted and turned.  "Could it truly be a message from Odan...alive...in the vessel of his own flesh."

The gemstone streaked across the main web-room and joined with the other crystal.  They encircled each other.  Rays of energy escaped from within them and bathed the web-room with a slivery luminescence. Then the gemstones coupled and formed as one.

The spinning crystal began to sing its song to Vespoisona and Egeria. The web-room filled with clouds of energy as it sung of a time long ago when a scribe named Odan lived and loved; when tangled webs wove themselves into a never ending story of love honor and betrayal.

{The crystal sang its song of a time long since past:}

Egeria the Emissary and virgin princess of Vespoisona, Queen of the Web Walkers...her image emerged from the rays of the spinning crystal, as the past merged with the present:

Muffled cries of fear could be heard coming from cocoons of silk that bounded behind Egeria.  "Hush now. No one can hear you." She cooed. Her soothing, silken voice drove silent terror into the minds of the captives who lay encased within her trailing and tethered silken cocoons.

"Egeria, my precious.  Welcome home.  Our web is warmed by your presence," said Vespoisona, "What insights do you bring me from the land of the one-shaped beings and those delicious humans?

"I bring you wonderful gifts, my Queen: Twin male creatures from each of the races, humans, dwarves and elves.  They are quite unusual and a cache of gold, diamonds and gems."

"How did you come by these wonderful baubles?"  Did you break any of their laws?  You know how angry they get when we break their laws," Vespoisona stretched her arms over her head, fluffing her black hair, letting it tumble down her sleek, hard and slender body.

"A scribe told me I could call them the 'spoils of war,' as I was on the side of good -- or so that is what the scribe explained."

"I see.  How easily did you manage to move among the warring factors?"

"Quite easily.  I must report that Shadow was there, alone.  Your sister, Whisper, did not accompany him. He introduced me to Karl Strange, grandmother's slayer --"

"Strange was there? For what reason?"

"A game of cards. Phantom Realm Tarot."

"Who else? Come now -- Where is the Broach of the Web-Walkers," demanded Vespoisona in mid-sentence, suddenly aware the fabulous broach was not being worn by Egeria.

"Why the scribe has it, of course," said Egeria, a slight tremble taking over her body as she saw the anger rising in her mother.

"I do not understand." Vespoisona said, poison began to appear from her fangs.  "The broach is the symbol of our being, of our lands, of our right to --"

"I too do not comprehend what happened.  I followed the path that fate placed before me. I met Strange -- it is quite odd that a human was able to defeat and murder grandmother, really, don't you think she could have squashed him?  Oh, well, I showed him the black crystal shard of fate, then placed it and the broach into the Cup of Chance, I bet with the scribe.  He had an aura about him --"

"You bet our symbol with a scribe?  Not Odan the Scribe?"

"The very same.  He told me it was a symbolic game.  I did not understand, but felt compelled to carry out the dictates you placed upon me."

"What dictates?"

"You ordered me to go to the Plateau of the Dragons, to represent our race; to discover what was taking place there.  I did as you instructed."

"Did I tell you to gamble the symbol of our family, The Broach of the Web-Women?"

"It represented our interest in the game.  The crystal shard, you handed it to me.  I did as you told me.  It was you, yourself, that went into the deep chambers of our web and brought forth the broach, our symbolic treasure.  Don't you remember?"

"No!"

"Yes.  Why else would I be in possession of it?  Vespoisona -- mother, please do not change. I did as you told me to do."

Vespoisona had changed into her natural form, poisonous dull yellow fluid dripped from her fangs.  Egeria knew that the next few moments would determine whether she lived or died.

"Mother, don't you remember.  Why would you give me the Broach?  Why would you send me to The Plateau?  Surely, you had hidden reasons.  I told Odan he would be responsible, personally responsible to you."

Vespoisona resumed her womanlike shape, beckoning her adviser to continue.

"Perhaps it was the shard."

"I assume Odan won," Vespoisona sighed with deep resignation at her only living daughter's faultless logic and maturing and filling body.

"Of course.  You should have seen the aura surrounding him.  It was wonderful.  A truly unique experience," Egeria intoned.

"If he won, why don't you have our symbol with you?"

"He told me, the game was not truly over -- yet."

"I trust you understand that you are responsible for its return."

"Yes, my Queen."

"He is a rather delicious man, Odan, is he not, Egeria?"

"I barely noticed."

"Really? You surprise me child.  I first saw him in the moonlight, one starless night -- a pack of hyrillas had surrounded him.  They had killed the rest of his group -- simply overwhelmed them -- but somehow he had survived.  There he stood Odan the Scribe, and that ferocious howling beast of his, The Bijou.  I was shocked to see him in the conflict.  Scribes are not supposed to be warriors who engage in battle, you know.  Nevertheless, there he was in the midst of the battle.  I remember his long black hair flowing behind his rather handsome face, his muscular yet lithe body; that Angelwood staff he carries, raised high above his head; the blade of the Naginata, honed and sharpened to a razor's edge, flashing in the moonlight. What a superb figure he made as he twirled the staff above his head.  You could hear its fearsome slashing sound as it filled the valley with its song of death." She sighed with passion and continued on, watching the reaction of her daughter as she conveyed her account of her first meeting with Odan.  "Killing and slashing at the night stalkers with deadly precision.  He made a princely figure in his black scribal garments.  A marvelous male vision."  Vespoisona breasts heaved upward with deep and passionate inhalation as she paused.  "What an evening of ecstasy coupled with a spectacular bloodthirsty night that was. I remember how his body glistened, later, in the moonlight with his exertions.  He will be a wonderful breeder, as he was a lover.  Don't you think so, my precious virginal child?" Vespoisona looked deeply into Egeria's eyes and an act punishable by instant death.

"I would not know anything about breeding...yet, my Queen," sighed Egeria. Her eyes lowered to the ground, a red flush covered her face.

"He is all that, Egeria, and more.  Trust me.  No human ever walked the web with greater agility.  However, you shall learn of him and his skills, I promise you that.  But for now, I would be interested in hearing his explanation of why he has not returned my broach to me to me.  Find him."

"Yes, of course.  Shall I have these bundles brought to your breeding chamber?"

"Yes, I am truly delighted that you remembered."

"And these gems?"

"Add them to my personal treasure-trove."

The crystal spinning singing crystal, slowed, remaining motionless in the air.  The lights emitting from the suspended gemstone continued to convey its message of light, from a long, dead and forgotten world.

"We will honor our debts," commanded Vespoisona in a hushed whisper. You will swallow the gemstone, digest it, and allow its essence and hardness to saturate your silken threads.  Make the scribe his clothes.

Egeria reached up towards the suspended gemstone, held it in her hand, threw back her head...tears rolled from her eyes.  The crystal sang its final stanza from within her body:  "And he shall be bestowed with enhanced garments woven from a virgin princess!"

Egeria felt herself swoon.  Black crystalline silken fibers began to emanate from her body.  The image of the man, of Odan the Scribe, impassioned her mind and guided her silken flow.  She moaned lightly and then filled the web-room with her sounds of passion as Vespoisona's handmaidens withdrew the silken garments from Egeria's body; pants, shirt, slash, cape, facial mask, all flowed forth from her body as one silken garment that would fit the image of the man that made love to her mind.

Her moans filed the inner depths of the web-walker's catacombs; they echoed throughout the underground cavern.  Vespoisona streaked down to the center of the massive mother web gathered her daughter in her arms, holding her around, as if she were a fragile child to be protected, or perhaps as a prospective lover.

Vespoisona whispered softly into the ears of her swooning daughter, sighing softly she told her child of the love the three of them would share...once Odan would walk the Webs...and of the progeny they would produce; the royal families of web-walkers to rule the Phantom Realm -- if Odan still retained the broach and the plan he had conceived so many eons ago...but first the gemstone in which to free the spider women from their breeding encumbrances imposed upon them by sorcery.