Curse of the Chelicerae

Page 3

She woke gasping, flailing in the darkness.

The nightmares had gone, or so she thought. No longer did a small blue form reach through the mists to grip her heart in painfully strong fingers. No longer did she see repeated visions of her husband dying. She did dream, from time to time, but more often than not the dreams were formless, a web of fear and hope mixed, visions of running through a fog toward a shining light. But this... no, this had been different. A new nightmare.

She gulped in the cool dry air, trying to stop the sobbing that had begun without warning. The scent of this place was a taste on her tongue... alien, deadly and poisoned. But it was the only air she had, her breath of life. Slowly her heart slowed, and her trembling muscles relaxed. Looking blindly from right to left, she listened for sounds of alarm. There were none. Only the soft chittering and clicking that was always present echoed through the cave. With a sigh, Sinaedh relaxed against the rock wall.

"Du sick?" a soft voice whispered from nearby.

"No," she said as softly. "No. I was just... dreaming."

"Draumr." Sinaedh could almost hear the small being nod. Her companion nearly since her arrival, he was of the same race as those who had captured her. He told her once that they had made a bargain with those who ruled the deep caverns they both toiled in, freeing some of his people in trade for her. She expected anger from the small being, for he had been overlooked in the release, but instead she found friendship. In gratitude, she'd shared the packet of dried herbs that had been given to her before she was sent. He knew of the plants, and explained they could be used to keep the worst of the spider-beings' anger at bay.

"Me dreams too, sometimes. Ob friends an me fambly." The kobold sighed wistfully. "I gets tu see dem someday, I hopes."

She nodded mutely, a lump in her throat. The thought that she would never see her family and friends again was constant for her, an icy fingered fear that gripped her heart. Misty visions of the faces of her mother and father, Sanders, Randon, Christiana, Rhyllan, Zamora and many others of the Company flitted through her thoughts, lightening the darkness somewhat with their presence, but deepening it when she could not conjure their visages. A small hand patted her leg. "We both sees dem, someday."

Sinaedh nodded again, lifting a hand to wipe away the tears that had crept into her eyes again. "Shh," the kobold whispered. "De rachite come." He huddled closer to her.

She could hear the strange uneven tread of the overseer as it approached. Unconsciously, she lifted a hand to her shoulder, where the wound inflicted on her when she first arrived throbbed in time with the arachite's steps. Poison still flowed in her veins, that poison injected by the bite of one of these creatures. Somehow it lingered even though she had not been bitten again, working to control her as it controlled the slaves that toiled with her.

The steps slowed, then stopped nearby. She knew there was no use in pretending to be asleep, that would simply bring punishment. "Kkkkome," the overseer rasped. "Worrrrk. Now."