Curse of the Chelicerae

(This is a continuation of Eris' Handmaiden.)

She'd learned the value of standing still, patiently waiting in the presence of the woman. Pinches from bony fingers, chilled breaths of fetid air that sent shivers of ice up her spine, and the feel of the place where she was kept caged all worked to keep any thoughts of misbehavior in check. The feel... cold dirt, cold bars to the cage, chill damp air... Sinaedh was convinced she was kept in a crypt, and though she was free of the strange thoughts that had plagued her, the feel of living in this lifeless place ate at her soul, numbing her into hopelessness. She knew this, and was resigned to it, and even welcomed it as counterpoint to the rending pain that had separated the insanity from her.

A nudge, and she obediently held her hands up. Manacles were clicked into place on her wrists, then the chain attached to them given a sharp tug. Sinaedh walked forward, bare feet feeling carefully over the floor. The sound of soft shoes on the creaking boards of the stair warned her to step up and not bark her shins like she had the first few times she'd been taken up from the crypt. She followed the woman she'd begun to think of as a witch, feeling as quickly as she could for each riser, hands held up to balance her steps. She knew the witch was slight but strong, and would drag her mercilessly up the splintered wood if she didn't keep up.

Once they reached the ground floor, she looked around her, hoping once again to pierce the blackness she'd lived in for the past week. In the blindness, she'd learned to rely on other senses, so she knew that today was different from the other days the witch had brought her upstairs to question her about religion and war in broken English. This time, they weren't alone.

Hushed and muffled voices closer to the floor than the witch's told her that her short captors or some like them had returned. One of them stepped forward, and there was a new tug on the shackles. "We gets her to da arachites."

A whispered voice that Sinaedh recognized as the witch's sounded at her ear. "Learn now the price of your misplaced beliefs."

Another tug and Sinaedh was led out of the house, into the sunlight. Comfort of a sort flooded through her as the warmth soaked into her skin. The salty scent of ocean air was a welcome change from the cloying decay of the crypt. She could hear voices in the distance and the clatter of village life, vaguely reassuring, even though she was still a blind captive. Another tug on the bindings and she was led to a stable. While she waited for the kobolds to bargain for horse passage, she revelled in the strong scent of life from the animals there. Sinaedh blinked in surprise, looking down blindly as small fingers took one of her hands. A soft packet was pressed into her grip. "Dat fur de spiders," a child-like voice whispered. "Dey keeps way frum yus."

She nodded, tongue touching her lips. "Thank you," she whispered, even though she'd no clue what the packet was, nor what the kobold spoke of. Still, the offer had seemed friendly, and certainly no greater harm could come to her by accepting it. She felt rather than heard the young kobold move away as a horse was brought near. Once again she was lifted to the back of the animal. She felt another kobold climb up behind her, then strong arms circled her, taking the reins.

The blind ride north relaxed her even further. Gone was the dank crypt. The sun flashed over her face, alternating with cooler shade. Trees softly scented the air. The horses hooves pounded on soil and clattered over rock. Sinaedh lost track of time as they rode. She enjoyed instead the feel of the wind in her face and the relative freedom of the ride. When the sounds of the road changed, the dirt beneath the horses' hooves softer with sand and the scent of the ocean once again mingling with pines, a hint of fear gripped her heart. Where were they taking her now?

The horses drew to a halt and strong calloused hands lifted her down. She stood looking blindly into the waning warmth of the sun as the kobold slipped down from the horse near her, then gripped her arm firmly.

This is the continuation of the story of Sinaedh's travails in Midgard. By this time, unfortunately, the player of Kadatha had stopped frequenting the VN boards, and as far as I know was no longer playing. So the story was pushed on by myself alone, aided and abetted by those of the Company of the Black Rose, to whom I am indebted as they put up with the storyteller in me.