A scream of terror echoed through the wind. An eerie shrieking howl of horror and pain. And then there was the pounding of the drums. Playing in a
hypnotic cadence that grew ever louder as the chanting grew in ferocity, yet faint.
The sound grew nearer. By what light remained of the full moon, partially covered by ominous clouds spilling across the sky, my eyes spied an
outcropping of boulders. The ground was covered by snow, partly melted by the sun and refrozen by the cold grasp of night. It crunched beneath my feet
as I walked in the direction of the noise.
A gush of cold wind hit my bare back chafing my neck sending shivers up my spine. The wind broke against something. I heard it fall. I tried to see
what it was in the darkness of the night. Out of the corner of my eye I perceived a skull and bones. The skull lay on the ground almost at my feet,
knocked over by the wind. It began to roll unnaturally into the darkness revealing the entrance to a hidden cave.
Stepping in I listened to the sounds of the chants and the drums, and the horror stricken cries. I felt something brush against my toes. I jumped back
startled. It was pitch black.
And then lightning fell from the sky. For an instant the cave was illuminated. At my feet I glimpsed two-foot long hairy spiders, three of them. And
the skull laying silently in the middle of the room with a wicked smile.
Withdrawing from the spiders I turned to leave but the entrance was gone. There was only cold stone where moments before there was an entrance. I
turned as I felt the long legs of one of the spiders begin to crawl on my foot.
I kicked and grunted and ran to where I remember the skull lay, I picked it up. And turned back to face the spiders. But they were quicker than me and
all three were now on me. I felt the jab of a stinger in my leg and shouted in pain. I flung the skull at it with all the force I could.
There was a splat as it hit the spider knocking it to the ground. I smashed it several times beneath my foot. I grabbed for another one that was now
on my chest. Not knowing what else to do, I bit into its abdomen spilling its innards. It let out a cry as I threw it across the cave. It splattered
against a wall.
The third spider crawled away. I heard it scurry into the darkness. I stepped in the direction of the noise that captured my attention. I had to swipe
away thick spider webs that almost captured me in their embrace. There was a thump beneath my feet. A hollow sound of wood. A trap door? I got onto my
knees and felt with my hands for anything. It was a door I was sure. But how to open it?
I felt around but there was nothing. I got to my feet and pondered what to do. I walked a little forward and ran into the cave wall. I reached out to
lean against it. As I did my hand pressed against a hidden lever and the wooden door opened. The light from torches beneath gushed in bathing the room
in a small orange glow.
The sound of the ritual egged me on. I lowered myself on the ladder propped up against the wall to the hidden entrance-way. My feet touched ground. It
was warm down here. The walls were covered in macabre symbols of death and chaos. Torches lit the way down the passage.
Then, there it was. Aracnacob. The spider goddess of death and chaos. I grabbed for one of the torches on the wall and approached the grotesque
painting. If this was the temple of the spider goddess I wanted nothing to do with it. I flinched in horror. The cries increased and the chanting and
the drums stopped. I was too enthralled by the mystery to turn back. Where would I turn back to?
Stupidly I fumbled forth. As I rounded a corner a person dressed in black robes with the insignia of the spider goddess on his back appeared. I crept
without sound upon the cultist. Before he knew I was on him reached a hand around suffocating the sound from his mouth. He struggled helplessly as I
knocked him on the head with my torch.
The cultist fell unconscious to the ground. I removed his robe. I realized the cultist was not a he, and she was completely naked beneath the robes. I
mumbled an apology to her and donned the robe. Its fit was tight and a little short. Covering my head with the hood I bowed it low, folded my arms,
and walked forward.
As my feet lead me further along a grotesque scene unfolded before me. I was at the top of a staircase of stone that lead down about thirty feet. All
lit by torches on the side walls. At the base twenty cultists stood in a semicircle around an altar. Upon the altar lay a naked woman bloodied and
bruised. In front of the altar stood a priestess with a jeweled dagger in her hand. She was staring vacantly upon the face of the spider-goddess as a
chant slipped from her lips in an otherworldly language, and a sinister voice.
Behind the priestess stood a giant idol of Aracnacob, the spider priestess, in all her gory evil. So lifelike it looked as if her eight eyes were
piercing into my very soul. The walls on all sides were adorned with bones and skulls of hundreds of sacrificed dead victims.
The chanting ended. The jeweled dagger in the priestess' hand began to glow an eerie green. With wicked intent she lowered it into the heart of the
A cry came from my throat as I held a hand forward as if to prevent the murder. But I was helpless to stop the butchery.
But my presence was not unnoticed. The priestess looked up with glowing red eyes and stared at me. “Intruder,” she said pointing. And the rest of
the cultists turned in consternation to view the intruder.
Stepping backwards I tripped over my own feet. From out of side chambers came forth two armored men with short swords drawn.
“Kill him!” the priestess shouted and laughed as the cultists began to chant again. I got back to my feet just in time to dodge the strike of one
of the blades.
I screamed in rage. As the sword blew past I raised my arm and lowered my elbow on his back with all my force. I heard it crack beneath power of my
blow. He fell lifeless to the ground.
Snatching the sword from the ground I turned to face the other guard. He fainted this way and that. Striking at me again and again. I parried the
blows with ease and returned one. He blocked it but its strength knocked him back. Before he could regain his balance I gutted him and he fell
lifeless to the ground.
My gaze turned to the evil priestess of Aracnacob as I spit at the ground. “You murderer!” I shouted and as I did so she replied with an evil
cackling laugh. The bones that decorated the walls started to drop and gather, forming skeletons. The cultists stepped to the side. The priestess
pointed toward me with her unnatural dagger and screamed: “Kill the intruder to mother Aracnacob’s temple!”
The skeletons began to climb the steps after me. I thought of retreating. But where? The entrance to the evil temple was no longer there. I pulled the
hood off my head and grabbed the other short sword. Duel wielding them I approached the unnatural skeletons that obeyed the commands of the Aracnacob
I kicked the first to reach me. Its bones shattered and fell to the ground. I swung at another and its bones fell to pieces at my feet. One of the
skeletons clawed at me and ripped a gash in my face. Another clawed at my arms scratching them. I retreated a step and swung at both with one swift
smooth slice through the air. Their bones crumbled.
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As one fell another would replace it. If that wasn’t enough, the broken bones that shattered into pieces began to put themselves together again.
After what seemed an eternity of fighting I stepped back to gather my breath and strength. Sweat poured from my brows into my eyes. I wiped it away
Removing the vile robes I knew what I had to do. I ran forward screaming and with all my might threw one of the short swords. It flung forward turning
over and over in the air with a speed that surprised her. I saw the surprise and horror in her eyes as the blade sunk deep into the spider
priestess’ neck. Her mouth was open in horror as blood started to drop from it. Her body fell lifeless to the ground.
The skeletons fell all at once. The cultists watching the fight began to make a commotion. Some turned and opened another hidden passageway fleeing
through it. Others faced me.
With hatred on my mind for such filth I approached down the stone steps. With vengeance on my mind I took the life out of every one of the cultists
that tried to fight me.
I was not a man of many words, or perhaps even an intelligent man. But I was a man of the sword. I was a man forged in the heat of battle. I was a
warrior and knew how to fight.
I reached the bottom stair. Death lay all around me. Blood drenched my aching body. I looked at the dead priestess, took the dagger from her lifeless
hand and glanced at the looming statue of Aracnacob. “Mancath’s curse on this place!” I yelled and threw the dagger with all my might. It
penetrated the spider-goddess’s third eye. It began to bleed. And the place began to quake.
The altar with the lifeless victim on it split in two. The statue of Aracnacob began to crumble. I fled into the chamber the other cultists had left
in. Everything behind me began to crumble.
I ran until I could feel the jarring cold night air sting my face. I stumbled out of Aracnacob’s lair and peered heavenward to a cloudless sky. The
moon once again lit the way beneath my feet.
I fell exhausted at the foot of a leafless tree. Spent and tired from the night’s events I closed my eyes and drifted into sleep's
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