The Spider Lord
The chalice Jonathon held was filled with the finest white wine available, an irregularity considering his birth and station in life, but it had taken
little effort and the liquid had been well liberated, indeed! With a smirk on his face he held the chalice gently, lightly swishing the liquid
‘round and ‘round before taking the first delightful sip. Savouring the fruity flavours, he peered over the chalice’s edge and quietly stared at
those who had seated themselves with him.
He did not know who these people were and remained uncertain as to why they were there, he had simply lit this fire and was preparing to settle down
for the night when they had approached uninvited; their company was undesired.
Lightly he thumbed the stem of the chalice, his glinting eyes inspecting those who surrounded his fire, a mischief manifesting within as his agile
mind determined what was to be. He smiled warmly and greeted the people while his hand continued to swish his wine around; a woman, a man, and a young
boy. Perhaps they wanted him to believe that they were family? Appearances could be deceiving, he knew that better than most.
Pleasantries were exchanged and his smile remained warm as he gestured toward the nearby lake, a waterfall gently cascading down the rocks. “There
is a specific reason I made camp here this night, good fellows…” His glinting eyes reflecting the flames of the fire. “Pray tell, have you heard
the story of… Azothinne?”
The young boy instantly spoke, delight apparent across his brow, his eyes sparkling and his voice conveying childish tones of excitement. “Oh yes,
mister! They say he was a giant spider lord! Huge and scary! A trio of witches brought him down… but… they were never heard from again…”
Jonathon grinned at the young boy, a vague 'knowing' quickly coming to mind, and instantly he ignored the two adults who sat by the lad’s side.
“Yes, young man. But… there is more to the tale, if you wish to hear it.”
The boy’s eyes shone bright with his excitement. “Oh yes! Please mister!”
Draining the last of the wine from his chalice, he carefully placed it by his feet and leant his elbow upon his knee, a warmth flowing through his
veins as the wine’s essence began its work, his mischief transforming into faint malevolence as he prepared to tell his tale. These people, sitting
uninvited by his fire, it was apparent that they had no idea… none!
He looked into the woman’s eyes, and then the man’s, and finally he settled his gaze on the young boy once more. “It was by this very lake, many
years ago… you see, behind yonder waterfall there lies an intricate network of caves; ‘twas here that Azothinne had made his lair. Indeed, he was
giant… the stories that speak of the spider lord make him out to be ten feet in height! Though I know otherwise.” He sent the boy a wink, rubbing
his chin thoughtfully between a thumb and finger.
“The spider lord was three times the size of a man, approaching nineteen feet! Venom dripped from his fangs! His many eyes could hypnotise you, he
could force you to do his bidding, or simply, he could lull you into the endless sleep where he would feast upon you for weeks! Slowly draining your
life’s blood as you lay there helpless.”
A morbid cheer began to surface within Jonathon as he watched the young boy’s eyes grow wider and wider with every word that he spoke, the lad
seemed completely entranced by the tale he was spinning. But alas, it was no mere tale… every word that he was speaking was true. And they would
see… oh yes, they would see…
The boy spoke to him, a breathlessness evident. “Mister… how do you know?”
He ignored the boy’s question. These people… they need not know such things. The fact that he had been born to one of the witches who had slain
the creature had nothing to do with this story. Jonathon shook his head, his eyes darkening as he gazed at the boy. “This lord of the spiders,
Azothinne, unbeknownst to many, also had hundreds of children. Perhaps thousands! I believe that one of Azothinne’s children has grown into a new
spider lord, and is residing about this area as we speak.”
Words rose from the woman who had sat there silently until this moment, her sweet voice positively furious. “How dare you!? You sit here,
frightening this child with such blatant falsities. The spider lord has lain dead for hundreds of years! His clutch no more!”
Jonathon smiled a smile most mocking as his glinting eyes focussed on the angry woman. Swiftly he raised his arms into the air and the fire’s flames
whooshed taller, the blaze glowing yellower than before, a thunderous boom echoing about them as the flames rose ever higher. The woman shrank back
from him and silently buried her face into the man’s shoulder, the man not seeming to notice, he simply sat there mesmerised and stared into the
flames, the boy’s eyes round with wonderment as he breathed. “Woah, mister! Can you do that again?”
Chuckling softly, Jonathon shook his head. “I could, but I will not. Now. I was speaking of Azothinne’s children…” the light of the flames
brightened his face considerably, and he knew that his malevolent smile was clear as day, though he also knew that it did not matter. The time… it
had come… evident by the stillness in which the man sat.
He climbed to his feet and clapped his hands sharply three times. The flames of the fire disappeared and all was silent but for the trickles from the
nearby waterfall. He closed his eyes and counted to ten, clapping his hands once more as he reached the double digit number. The campfire whooshed
back to life! The man and woman lay upon the ground, their eyes staring sightlessly… they would speak no words again. Only he and the boy remained,
the boy’s eyes glistening ruby red as they stared at Jonathon.
Jonathon smiled knowingly and performed a small bow. “I greet you, child of Azothinne. I do not wish your death, I came here to find you, perchance
to have you travel by my side."
The boy's ruby coloured eyes gazed thoughtfully up at Jonathon for several minutes before he lightly nodded his head, his eyes slowly returning to a
more human colour, shining brightly as they reflected the fire. "You do not fear me?"
With a shake of his head, Jonathon sat by his campfire once more, casually refilling his chalice with his purloined wine. "Not at all, dear child, not
at all." And gestured for the spider child to be seated again. He had plans for this offspring of Azothinne... oh, yes.
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