Fire, Venom & Bone Saga: Chapter 2

The spider lowered itself on a strand of silk, stopping inches from the nose of the Captain of the Guard. At the sight of it, he shrieked and turned to run, but one foot caught on the other causing him to fall forward onto the street in a cloud of dust.

The guard scrambled to his feet, drew his sword and squared himself to the dangling intruder. After a few deep breaths, he laughed nervously and glanced around to see if anyone had witnessed his embarrassing ordeal. Embarrassing or not, this was the most exciting event to occur in weeks at his post.

He looked at his sword, then at the spider, then back to his sword again. He grinned and threw the weapon to the ground. “Challenge accepted. But we’re going to settle this in a more,” he bent down and pulled a knife from his boot, “personal manner.”

He approached the spider, extended his forearm and allowed the creature to land on his plate vambrace. “I’ve got a surprise for you, my little friend,” he said as he plunged the tip of the knife into the bug’s abdomen with a crunch. He held his quarry out in front of him and watched as the creature’s legs ceased wiggling.

“You should have chosen your battles more carefully, beast.” With his revenge exacted, he flicked its lifeless body onto the ground and crushed it under his foot.

“Nasty little bugger.” He bent down to place the knife back into his boot, and a second spider landed on the ground to his right. Then a third to his left. Then he felt something land in his hair. Then on the back of his neck.

“What the-,” he looked up at the archway above him as hundreds of spiders descended upon him like a thick, black blanket of furry legs and glistening mandibles.

He screamed and thrashed as they poured in between the joints in his armor and began to bite him. They crawled into his nose. Into his ears. Into his mouth. They burrowed under his eyelids and disappeared behind his eyes. Blood trickled down his cheeks.

He slapped at this face, then fumbled with his armor as he tried to remove it, but instead he threw himself to the ground and began to roll. His thrashing slowed, then stopped completely as the poison worked its way into his system.

With the guard dispatched, the army of spiders retreated from the corpse, formed up and skittered in unison under the iron gate. They continued up the stairs and underneath the front door of Archbishop Tenuit’s house. After entering the home, they took a right and followed the long hallway to the room where the Archbishop was sleeping, and filed under the door.

They assembled at the foot of the sleeping man’s bed and began to pile atop one another. They grew straight up into the air in two columns which first took the shape of human feet and legs, then a torso was constructed upon it. As more spiders flowed into the base of the squirming figure, more filed into position towards the top. Arms grew from its sides, then a head from the top of it. Two red eyes formed, which peered down at the sleeping man.

Starting from the feet and working towards the head, the writhing mass began to solidify into the black boots, leather leggings, tunic and cloaked figure of Master Assassin Plymouth Castleton. Once fully materialized, he stretched his neck to the left, then to the right and grimaced as his bones popped and cracked.

He pulled a knife from his belt as he moved towards the bed. Standing over the sleeping Archbishop, he held the blade firmly in the fist of one hand and pulled it through his grasp with the other. Black blood ran out of his palm and fell to the floor where it burst into tiny spiders which skittered to his foot and melted back to his form. He flexed his hand as the wound healed.

Placing one hand over Archbishop’s mouth, he dragged the bloody blade down the old man’s forearm just lightly enough to break the skin and mix his own blood with his victim’s.

The old man attempted to bolt up and scream, but the assassin leaned on him, holding him firmly in place.

The intruder smiled and whispered into the old man’s ear, “Good evening, Archbishop.” He pulled back and locked eyes with the man. He could feel the Archbishop’s body tremble beneath him. “Do you know who I am?”

The old man nodded.

“Then you know there is a rather nasty poison in that wound on your arm?”

The old man’s eyes darted to the cut on his arm, then back to the assassin. He nodded again.

“I’m going to remove my hand from your mouth, and we’re going to have ourselves a nice little chat.” He pulled his hand away and wiped it on his leg. “You can attempt to scream, but I’ve taken great care to ensure there is nobody within range to hear it.”

The Archbishop looked out through the window towards the guard house.

“Oh, no. I’m sorry,” he shook his head in mock grief, “he should have chosen his battles more, how did he put it? Ah yes, Carefully.”

The old man closed his eyes and began pray.

The assassin laughed. “Is your God with you, Priest?” He allowed his body to alternate between his flesh and blood form and the writhing mass of spiders. “Mine is with me.”

The old man ignored him and continued to pray. The assassin grabbed him by the hair, yanked him out of the bed and shoved him into a kneeling position beside it. “There is a holy war going on,” he whispered into his ear, “and in case you weren’t aware,” he yanked the old man’s head back by his hair, “your side isn’t winning.”

He threw the old man face down on the bed. “Pray old man. Pray to your God to save you.” The intruder slammed his knife into the bed, inches away from the Archbishop’s face.

“Pray to your God to save your friends. Your family. Your cohorts.” He crossed his arms and tapped his foot. “Go on, I’ll wait.”

The old man’s eyes remained closed as he spoke, “He will turn his back on you, Demon. Can you find your way without him?”

The assassin watched as dark lines began to spread from the cut on the man’s forearm to his shoulder.

“Oh, I’d worry a lot less about my circumstances and a lot more about yours,” the assassin said.

He watched the dark lines march up old man’s arms. They disappeared under his night shirt and reappeared as they continued up his neck.

“It looks like you might need to pray harder or louder, Priest. Or maybe even faster? I trust you’ll make the right decision, but I’m starting to doubt that help is coming.”

The dark lines beneath his skin began to bulge and twist as they moved through his scalp. A spider crawled out of his ear and left a trail of blood behind it as it skittered into the praying man’s mouth.

The priest spit it out and prayed louder. Faster. Harder. His volume increased from a whisper to a yell. From a yell to a scream. The lines on his arms, neck and face throbbed and bulged.

The old man’s eyes snapped open. He turned his gaze to the assassin. “He will forsake you. I have seen it-” And that’s when the lines popped. Black blood, bulbous white eggs and green ichor exploded all over the white sheets, and the Archbishop fell forward onto the bed.

Spiders poured out from the open wounds. From out of his nose, mouth, eyes, and ears. They poured out from the legs of his robe. They scrambled away from the corpse, formed up on the floor around the assassin, and then congealed into him.

Master Assassin Plymouth Castleton pulled a piece of parchment from his tunic, and held it out in front of him. “Three down, twelve to go.”

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