Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Terrible Altar

As the 'Steel Wool Sheeps' fled from the scene of the Insect War, Ferdinando recounted his adventure in the cave of the spiders...

Flash Back: While still in a state of delirium down in the dark tunnels of the spider cave, Ferdinando had found that he'd wandered away somehow from Lady Isabella on a strange adventure of his own. It seemed like a dream. He thought he had found a secret passage, and entering into it he wandered down a long stone corridor, into a stone chamber lit by torches. In it he found an old alter covered with dust. The alter was a terrible site to see. Beneath the wings of some hellish predator of the sky were two human skulls, and their eyes were glowing with a dim red fire, and their mouths moved, and voices echoed from them throughout the chamber. They were saying things that Ferdinando could not comprehend, almost gibberish, yet somehow everything the two voices spoke seemed to be coming true, or came true once upon a time, or would come true some day. Yet he could not make out what the words were, but only heard scattering phrases, oddly disjointed, and jumbled, echoing against the stone walls, and losing themselves amid the webs and shadows of that terrible chamber. Next to the alter was a basin on a tripod. Looking inside he saw gold coins covered with dust, and a gemstone, and the skeleton of a man's hand. He thought better of taking any of the coins and wandered away.

The chamber was covered in spider webs which flickered in the torchlight, and made strange shapes in the shadows. Then from beneath a darker shadow where the webs where thick there crawled out a spider that was far too large. It seemed to fill the chamber with its hairy body, and black legs; it's eight black eyes looking remorselessly everywhere. Then all of the torches, there were six, flickered wildly and a shadow descended into the room. Through the ceiling had descended a great black shadow in the shape of a bird carrying a man in scarlet talons. It laid the man on the alter, and no sooner had it done so then it flew away into the black night. The man writhed on the alter in great pain. And then the spider came upon him, took him, and wrapped him in cords of silken web. Ferdinando hadn't seen the man's face very well, but he felt he recognized him from somewhere. Perhaps, he thought, it was that fellow who fell from the top of the tower recently and died. The one that Morgana had come to the tower with, whom Lady Isabella had pointed out to him the morning they had arrived there. Mr. Montague, wasn't it? He felt certain. It must have been him. Then the spider lifted the white mass of webs, still writhing, and carried it away into the tunnels and disappeared into the darkness.

Ferdinando awoke from his delirium with a sudden cry of fear, but he was still in the spider hole, sweating profusely, his forehead being dabbed with a white kerchief by Lady Isabella who looked down into his eyes with great compassion. She looked so beautiful, he thought, like a queen. But the vision of what became of Mr. Montague haunted him and he shuddered. His eyes darting all around in fear of the black spider, and the terrible bird.

"Don't worry Ferdinando," said Lady Isabella. "You were dreaming. But you're awake now, and I'm with you. I won't leave you, and we'll escape this hideous spider cavern together soon. You'll see." And so Ferdinando laid back down on Isabella's lap, and rested.

Previous Episode: The Insect War - Part 3
Next Episode: Homeward Bound - Part 1

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