Web of Flies
December 14, 2015
The forest dryad, Dylla’s, spell dropped them a dozen yards outside of the parameter of his makeshift camp. As soon as his head stopped spinning, he realized something was wrong. It didn’t help matters that Stalker and Shadowknife both appeared to be still poisoned and remained unconscious. But he barely noticed their state as his eyes took in the horror that stretched before him.
Grey wispy vines clung to every branch and tree. From the trees they passed over his camp and attached themselves to the cliff face. It appeared to be a mix between a spider web and a giant cocoon and it radiated dark malign energy like spilled oil tanker.
“I’m starting to really hate it here.”
“Do not blame my forest, human. This evil arrived with your group.”
At her mention of the others, he attempted to scan the clinging mass for his allies, but found the grey filaments obscured his vision and limited it to only a few yards. “I see no sign of my friends.”
“If your mate has perished, would you then consider bonding with me?”
Jack eyed her while shaking his head. “Why does it seem like I’ve had to count you as my only ally lately?”
She folded her arms, which dislodged a few leaves covering her upper body. “I obviously appear to be doing better than everyone else you know.”
“I’ll give you that,” he conceded under his breath. While he spoke his eyes never left the tangles ropes of grey, but he could spy no sign of either friend or foe within its depths.
Looking back at her, he said, “I’m not sure I feel comfortable leaving two unconscious people out where without a guard. We haven’t been having much luck these days.”
“So you want to head in there alone?”
“Why you want to go in instead?” He asked while he readied his oversized battle axe.
“Oh no, I think not. Perhaps we should just burn it so it does not contaminate my forest.”
“My friends could still be inside there, so no.”
She threw out a hip. “Well how long should I give you before I burn the thing and then see if one of these men is friendlier than you?”
“I thought you didn’t like darksiders.”
She gazed at her nails for a moment. “You may force me to be less picky. Now off with you. We Dryads tend to get bored and flitter away or have you not heard.”
Jack grabbed up a long staff and bound twigs and leaves to one end by using some rope he had in his pack. “Yep, nothing’s more boring than a life or death struggle against an unknown evil with your friend’s lives on the line.”
* * *
Eight minutes later found Jack entering into the horrid web alone. As he suspected, the ropy vines cling to all they touched. He was forced to light his torch and slowly burn through the web to proceed. Dylla’s plan to burn it out would be no easy one, for the misty strands resisted burning and only the persistent application of the torch allowed him to continue.
He made it to where the fire pit had once burned. Its heat may have kept the central area cleaner of the web for it opened up and he made it to the rind of stone unimpeded. The pit itself had been filled with a huge amount of webbing. He figured something wanted that fire dead.
He scanned the foul cocoon in every direction and thought he might have spied two dark shapes standing out against the grey.
He made it a few yards towards them and then was forced to slow down and burn his way in their direction. He fought for each foot as the minutes dragged. Who knew how long Dylla could be trusted? Would she try to burn him out or just wander off?
He focused on the task before him. He had moved within ten feet of the clinging forms before he saw there were suspended bodies. One appeared to be Huth, while the other, while obviously female, still had her face covered too much for him to make out which of the women it might be.
He cursed every wasted second as he fought through the webs toward them. Before he reached the pair he saw they had been paralyzed. “Damn it, why is everyone in my party either dead or poisoned.”
Then a shape appeared. It moved through the web as easily as if the strands were just wisps of fog. Staring red eyes regarded Jack over a blank flaccid expression. It was Vel-Linna, but in body only. Hundreds of small coin sized insects scurried over her small form. Her body had become bloated with them and where her stomach once was had been replaced by a red stained bundle of webbing. Fouler that that were the little chittering things that traveled in and out of the sides of her skull.
Vel-Linna was dead, but somehow the freakish little creatures kept her animate. Jack took a step back and that is when the body opened its mouth to scream, but instead of a cry dozens of black multi-legged insects poured forward and sped his way.
To be continued next Monday