The Queen’s Web
Exhausted, Flynn remained laying on the dusty path in a dazed shock. With no idea how much time had passed, he eventually saw his father sprinting down the trail towards him. Not expecting to see his son, Brady stopped short.
“Flynn!” running over, he hugged his son tight.
Still in shock, Flynn wasn’t able to bring words to his mouth.
“Are you alright son?”
Flynn stared blankly into the blanket of webbing surrounding them.
“Flynn?” Brady said full of concern.
He finally managed to mumble in total disbelief, “I killed it Dad.”
Not understanding the mumbles, Brady asked, “You did what?”
“I killed the Webling.” Flynn said more clearly.
Brady let you a loud laugh of relief. He wasn’t sure if it was too soon to attempt a joke, but he asked it anyways, “Did this one tickle your ear too?”
Flynn let out an exhausted chuckle remembering the squashed spider that started it all. Colour had finally returned to Flynn’s face and his eyes had lost their dead stare. He quietly put the orb that used to be a Webling’s eye inside a pocket of his cloak and patted it for assurance.
Brady saw that his son was going to be alright, but still needed some time. So he gathered up the hem of his cloak and took a seat in the middle of the dusty path right next to Flynn. Brady wrapped his powerful arm around Flynn’s shoulders and they sat in comforting silence. After all, there wasn’t much that needed to be said now that he knew his son was safe and sound.
Staring into the webbed bushes gave them a chance to catch their breath and digest the events that just occurred. Their bodies and minds were shaken, so they needed this time of rest.
Eventually Brady broke the silence, “So, when we tell your Mother this story, could we leave out the part where you were INSIDE the Webling?” Flynn burst into a fit of laughter.
Relieved to see his son brighten up, Brady continued, “You know, we don’t want to worry her too much.”
Flynn knew this was his Dad’s way of saying that he didn’t want to get in trouble for putting their only son in serious danger. He also knew better than to tell his Mom the whole story, cause he would never be allowed to go Outside EVER again. So they both decided that this one little detail of their adventure would remain just between father and son.
Standing up, Brady offered to carry Flynn’s satchel. Still sore and battle-weary, Flynn appreciated not having to carry his pack. Brady slung the pack which held the precious Relic across his broad shoulder, then led the way along the dirt path towards Tarantu’s Hovel. The webbing became thicker and thicker as they travelled deeper into the Spider Queen’s territory. Everything was now draped in heavy, white blankets of spiderwebs.
Flynn brushed his hand through the web-covered bushes just off the path; feeling the silky strands rip away and trail behind his hand in the dry breeze. Little spiders crawled up and down his arms, but he didn’t mind them now. After being trapped in the belly of a Webling, these tiny spiders weren’t so bad at all.
A thought came into Flynn’s head as they were walking the dusty path,
“I was just thinking…” Flynn paused, trying to think of how to say it.
“What were you thinking?” Brady led him.
“It looks kinda small.”
“The Hovel.” Flynn clarified, “I mean, her Hovel looks quite small for a Queen.”
“She was only the Spider Queen by name son. Enchantresses like to give themselves grand titles.” Brady explained, “Tarantu was no different than the rest. She wanted to be a Queen, so she called herself a Queen.”
“Witches are funny.”
“Flynn!” Brady scolded, looking disappointed.
“Sorry dad. Enchantresses are funny.”
“Why do you continue to use that vulgar word son?”
“Dunno dad.” Flynn said, ashamed.
“Alright.” Flynn never understood why his parents were so adamant about referring to Witches as ‘Enchantresses’. They treated the term ‘Witch’ as a bad word. But that’s how Flynn saw Enchantresses, they were always Witches to him. All of the books that he read, agreed that Witches were terrible creatures that deserved to be called a vulgar name. But he did not argue this, instead he kicked up a cloud of dust and kept on walking.
They continued along the pathway in silence until the web coverage became so thick that Brady had to take out his broad machete once again after the battle.
“Careful now son, take a step back.” Flynn jumped back to keep clear as his father swept the blade through the air. As soon as the blade slashed through the webbing, countless spiders jumped into action quickly patching up the torn curtains behind the travellers.
Not wanting to be separated by the quick repairing blanket of webs, Flynn decided to face the danger of the swinging machete. He remained two steps behind his father, ducking and dodging the sharp blade swinging from Brady’s hand. All the while spiders diligently sealed up the path behind them.
Eventually, the webbing became so dense that Brady’s machete became stuck in the thick wall of web. He pulled the wedged blade out and swung again, striking with a dull thud. Again and again he hacked at the webbed wall until he cracked through. Using his shoulder, Brady barged through the wall and into an open clearing surrounding the Enchantress’ Hovel.
Flynn stepped through the opening to see that his father had just hacked through a thick ring of webbing that surrounded the Hovel. The clearing itself was totally open and free of loose spiderwebs. The webbing here, was arranged in intricate designs that were wondrous to look upon. The artistry of the Hovel itself was even more impressive.
From far away, the Hovel appeared to be draped in a carpet of loose webbing, but up close it was apparent that the Hovel was itself weaved entirely of tight-knit spiderwebs. The immaculate webbed construction was adorned with beautiful patterns and swirls woven into the tapestry of the walls. Flynn’s earlier disappointment in the state of the Hovel was replaced with awe now that he saw the craftsmanship of the Tarantu’s Hovel up close.
“Come on son. Let’s do this.” Brady called out.
Faint wisps of fog covered the ground, swirling around their feet as Brady led the way to the entrance. It wasn’t until his father stepped forward that Flynn took notice of a low buzzing sound that had been going on ever since they entered the clearing.
He stopped short, “What’s that sound Dad?”
Brady turned, “What sound?” Then it dawned on him, “Oh yeah, I forgot! We’ve entered the Inner Circle.”
Flynn stared at his father in utter confusion.
Brady swung the pack off his shoulder and held it out to show his son. Flynn saw a dull glow emitting from the vibrating satchel and remembered what it held inside.
“Exactly! Tarantu’s Web.” His father clarified, opening the flap wide. He dug his hand inside the pack and pulled out a shimmering net of interwoven silver threads. Flynn stared at the vibrating net in his father’s weathered hands.
“But why’s it buzzing so much?”
“That’s how Relics recharge.” Brady explained, “It takes a lot of energy to recharge and that Power doesn’t come quietly.” Flynn nodded in understanding as Brady continued, “And this stone here is the source of it all.”
Flynn concentrated on the stone embedded in the centre of the net. It burned bright while the thin silver netting hummed with Power. The glowing stone reminded him of the eye of the Weblings, only a bit brighter. Lost in thought, Flynn patted the orb deep in his cloak pocket as he studied the Relic expectantly. Watching it buzz and glow, Flynn’s excitement rose thinking about the dormant Powers the Relic possessed.
“This is only the beginning of the recharge.” Brady explained, snapping Flynn out of his thoughts “It’s going to get much more intense as we approach the alter inside.”
Brady slung the long, silvery net over his shoulder casually as it slowly recharged with Power. Flynn was very excited by the Enchantment they were about to unleash, whereas his father carried on like a glowing net brimming full of Power was the most normal thing in the world.
Flynn watched his father stroll up to the entrance through the swirling fog. He was a bit hesitant of entering an Enchantress’ Hovel for the first time.
“Come on son.” Brady urged. He turned to see Flynn’s apprehension, “It’s alright Flynn. She’s long gone by now.” He encouraged, “And there shouldn’t be anymore Weblings around. Even if there are, we can handle them; right? I mean now you’re the legendary Eye-Ripping-Webling-Slayer.” Flynn laughed with a renewed sense of confidence and followed his father up to the entrance of the Hovel.
The buzzing of the Relic steadily increased with each step towards the threshold. Up close the walls of the Hovel were alive with spiders scurrying through the webwork pattern adding new styles to their work of art.
Brady stepped up to the doorway first, with a moment of hesitation. Flynn noticed what made his father pause – there was no door. Instead, there was a curtain of webbing sealing up the entrance where the door would have been. Countless spiders were diligently stitching it up, adding designs to the ‘door’.
Brady inspected the solid webbing, tracing his hands along the lining of where the door frame would be. He considered it for a moment. With no doorknob to turn, he swiftly punched his arm through the webbing. Grabbing an armful of silky strands, he swept them aside like a curtain. Fresh puffs of hazy fog poured out of the torn opening, revealing a dark foyer.
“Well, that was a bit too easy.” Brady thought out loud.
“Isn’t it supposed to be easy Dad?” hoped Flynn.
“Oh yeah. It’s going to be very smooth.” Brady tried to sound convincing, “I’ve got the Eye-Ripper by my side. What could go wrong?” Brady gave Flynn a heavy pat of reassurance on the shoulder.
Flynn didn’t want to think about what could possibly go wrong. He had no chance to think anyways cause his father crossed the threshold quickly and motioned for Flynn to join him. Shaking off his fears, he stepped into the darkened interior behind his father while spiders of all sizes immediately began stitching up a freshly woven door behind them.