Chapter 14: The Spider King
For several heartbeats Shailaja and Vasanta simply stared at the apparition before them and then Shailaja spoke. And you I suppose are this Spider King. Forgive me if I do not bow before you.
She still held her swords at the ready waiting for the continuation of the attack she knew must come. Beside her Vasanta spat contemptuously toward the bizarre creature. Come no closer or you will taste my steel.
To the surprise of both women their obviously defiant attitude did not provoke a response from the man who faced them. Instead he smiled, revealing teeth that had been filed to sharp points. I was right to call off my minions. You will make worthy consorts once you are properly disciplined.
Disciplined? Shailaja asked. What gives you the right to discipline us? While she spoke she gauged her chances of reaching the fantastic figure before he could escape.
The right as king of the underworld, the man answered sweeping his arm in a wide arc to indicate the entire cavern. I am Chivas, the Spider King, and I rule here. Any who dare trespass become my property.
I belong to no one, Shailaja answered. And any who seek to take me will find death.
The chain you wear would seem to make your words a lie, Chivas replied. Now I am your master and you will obey me. Lay down your arms.
I will die first, Vasanta growled. I have had enough of men who seek to enslave me.
You may well die, Chivas laughed, but not before I have had use of you.
Take us if you dare, Shailaja added. We have already shown that we are more than a match for your spider army. And even if we do lose, our cold corpses will be of little use to you except as spider food.
You are a grim pair, Chivas replied. But the first attack was but to test your worthiness. Spiders have more weapons than just their fangs and claws, as you are about to learn. He stepped back and once again the spider horde surged forward, but this time they did not seek to sink their fangs into the flesh of the two warriors. Instead loops of what looked like thick strands of string emerged from the spiders abdomens.
Shailaja knew at once what it was. Spider silk, she cried. Dont let it touch you.
However that was easier said than done. The tendrils of spiderweb were aimed directly at them and the only way they could avoid them was by knocking them down with their swords. They immediately discovered that was not a very good idea.
Shailaja shook her twins blades as several of the gossamer threads entangled her swords. The spider silk was even stickier than she had imagined; nothing she could do could shake it loose. Dozens of spiders seized hold of the silk and began to pull her toward them. With a curse she tossed her swords away and pulled two knives out of her boots.
For Vasanta it was even worse. One of the spiders strands had caught not just the blade of her sword, but also wrapped itself about her right wrist. As the spiders pulled they dragged her toward them, sword and all. She screamed in anger and not just a little fear, although she would have been the last to admit such an emotion. Waiting for her was the spider horde, their fangs clicking in anticipation.
With a shout Shailaja was beside her. She slashed with one of her knives and somehow the blade cut through the strand of web holding Vasantas wrist without becoming entangled. But even as Vasanta was freed, more strands of spider silk arched toward them. It was impossible to avoid them all, especially as several settled on the chain that still connected them to one another. Tangled in the webs the two struggling women were pulled forward while the spiders swarmed toward them.
Shailaja kicked out, striking one spider that got too close with her boot. Its bulbous body crunched under her heel, oozing purplish blood. One of her knives found another and she hurled its twitching body across the cavern.
Vasanta had similar success, smashing several spiders and slashing at several more. Like Shailaja she had drawn her knives and used them with admirable skill. But there were too many spiders for the frantic efforts of the two warriors to hold them off for very long. Spider strands looped toward them, entangling their weapons and limbs and even catching in their hair.
Dragged down by sheer weight of numbers Shailaja and Vasanta fought in frenzied desperation as their arms and legs were held. And then a huge spider leaped on top of Shailaja, pinning her to the floor of the cave. It loomed over her, its forelegs on her shoulders and its dripping jaws just inches from her face. Shailaja waited for the bite that would take her life.
No, Malasha, cried the Spider King. He pushed himself between the spider and Shailaja. She only needs a little bite.
Shailaja saw with horror that he was holding one of the living spiders that decorated his body. He lifted it toward her neck. Just a little bite, he repeated, and then you will sleep.
Shailaja felt a sharp touch on her neck and then a rush of numbness that spread throughout her body. She tried to move, but her limbs would not obey her. Staring straight ahead she looked up into Chelass smiling face. Relax now, he said. Let the poison do its work.
Shailaja had little choice but to obey. All feeling left her body and although she could still hear and see she could not even twitch her little finger. She lay on the floor of the cave while Chelas and his minions went about preparing her.
The first order of business was the removal of the sticky webs that had entangled her limbs. The spiders dealt with it by secreting a clear fluid from their jaws that dissolved the web wherever it touched. The next order was the removal of her clothing and ornamentation.
Chelas dealt with this aspect of her preparation commenting upon the perfection of her body as he did so. Exquisite, he murmured. I have never beheld such beauty. You have breasts to rival the perfection of mountain peaks and nipples like tiny perfect temples. Your sweet furrow begs to be ploughed and will be a worthy receptacle of my seed.
Shailaja could feel every touch of the Spider Kings fingers as he undressed her and touched her in the most intimate of places, but she could not move so much as a muscle. Her body was completely paralysed, even her breathing reduced to the slightest of movements. It was almost like one of those waking dreams that sometimes possessed her, both terrifying and unreal at the same time.
When he was finished, Shailaja could feel the cool air of the cavern moving over her naked body. She was more helpless than she had ever been, even when at the mercy of the slavers. It filled her with fear to think that she might remain that way forever. Staring toward the ceiling of the cave she could only lie helplessly while the Spider King turned his attentions to Vasanta.
She could not even move her eyes to see what he was doing, but she knew he was subjecting the Nahn princess to the same procedure she had just endured. She could hear him clearly as he stripped Vasanta and commented upon the perfections of her body just as he had Shailajas. It was almost as bad as if it was happening to her, and quite maddening that she could do nothing about it.
To finish Chelas did something quite unexpected. You wont need these, he said. And they would be perfect for Malasha and Darga. He was back at her side, his fingers seeking her neck. Shailaja felt a touch, and then the jewelled collar that marked her as the Hectors slave was removed from her throat. She had no idea how he had opened the lock. Neither she nor Vasanta had found any way of opening the collars since they had been placed about their throats and now suddenly they were gone. It was something that would have been more than welcome had she and Vasanta not been utterly unable to take advantage of it.
Pretty things, Chivas said, holding up the collars. Malasha, Darga, come try them on.
Two huge spiders scuttled forward, if scuttle was the proper way to describe the monstrous creatures that suddenly appeared in Shailajas field of vision. Leg to leg they were three yards across and their heads were the size of large melons. Chivas had to work to close the collars on their short necks and finally made do by using a strand of spider silk to secure them when they would not close.
Shailaja continued her efforts to move, but no matter how strongly she exerted her will she could not move so much as an eyelash. The paralysis was complete and absolute and seemingly never-ending.
Chivas spoke her thoughts. Do not worry, the poison of that particular spider lasts only a short time. You will be able to move soon enough and give me the pleasure I desire.
It was hardly reassuring to have their captor tell them that they would be returned to normal only to have Chivas have his way with them, but there was nothing they could do except wait to see what their fate would be.
It was not long in coming. Chivas turned from the bestowing of the jewelled collars on his pets and began the final preparations. Malasha and Darga moved forward and without apparent effort used their front legs and the chelae on either side of their mouths to pick up the two warriors. It was a most chilling experience to feel the touch of the wiry spider hair on their bodies as they were transported across the cave.
They were carried to a place just a few yards from the cut formed in the rock by the flowing waters of the river. Here dripping water had formed several large pillars of stone and they were set down next to these while Chivas took the final step in their preparation. He lifted Shailaja so that she was fully upright and held her arms over her head. He waited with her in that position while Malasha, or perhaps it was Marga, used her spider abilities to climb up the pillar on the right until she was several yards above the floor. From here her spinnerets loosed a strand of spider silk that she anchored to the rock before she scampered back down to where Chivas waited.
All of this Shailaja was able to watch, having regained the ability to move her eyes. As Chivas had promised the poison was wearing off. It gave her a brief hope that she might quickly regain all of her abilities. If she could catch Chivas off-guard perhaps she could kill him before he could call his spider army to his defence.
She had no qualms about doing away with the Spider King. He had set his spider army upon them and had threatened them with rape and death. She had very little to lose in dispatching him. Also she very much suspected that the concerted attack the spiders had launched at them was very much due to Chivas. She knew very little about spiders, but one thing she did know was that they rarely worked together. Killing the Spider King would probably result in the spiders returning to normal and give her and Vasanta a chance to escape.
Her hopes were quickly dashed, however, by what happened next. Malasha stopped her climb about three yards from the bottom of the rock column and let the loose end of the strand of spider silk she had attached to the rock float down to Chivas. He seized the end and with practiced ease tightened it about Shailajas right wrist. He then attended to her left arm in the same way, using a strand of silk loosed by Marga who had climbed up the rock column to her left while Shailajas attention had been fixed on Malasha. The result left her with her arms pulled out to either side in the shape of a Y.
That should hold you, Chivas said, in a self-satisfied tone. Now to attend to the other one.
He let Shailaja fall, but she dropped only until her knees bent, the spider silk rigging attached to her wrists easily supporting her weight. She hung between the two rock pillars while Chivas and his spider helpers attended to Vasanta in the same manner.
By this time the spider poison had worn off to the point where Shailaja could turn her head, and as the pillars supporting Vasanta were at an angle to those she was bound to, she had a perfect view of the Nahn princess.
Vasantas face reflected Shailajas emotion exactly. Her eyes blazed with anger and her lips twitched with rage. As yet unable to utter a sound she let her features speak for her. But Shailaja saw something there as well, a sense of hopelessness and resignation mixed with a little fear. Vasanta surely knew that their situation was hopeless. It seemed that they had escaped a life of slavery to face an even crueller fate.
But Shailaja was not about to give up. She had faced capture and bondage at the hands of captors every bit as brutal and malicious as Chivas and had won her way free. As long as she lived she would not give up, no matter what odds were against her.
However, it seemed that at the moment she could do little but hang in the bonds Chivas had tied her with. Her legs still did not work even though she could now move her toes and fingers.
It was the same with Vasanta. As Chivas finished tying her she also slumped, her knees bending until they almost touched the stone floor and her arms drawn out at an angle from her shoulders. It appeared to be a most painful form of captivity, as Shailaja could confirm. Her arms felt as if they were being torn from their sockets, but she could do nothing but hang where she was until the spider poison wore off.
Gradually more and more of Shailajas muscle control returned until eventually she was able to straighten her legs and stand properly. She could also move her arms, which she attempted as soon as she was able, attempting in vain to break the spider silk that held her, But she was caught fast, held not only by the strength of the silk, but also by its sticky surface which seemed to have bonded to her skin. Try as she might she succeeded only in stretching the silk slightly only to have it bounce back to its original length as soon as she relaxed.
Chivas laughed at her struggles. You are magnificent, he commented as he watched her breasts dance, but spider silk is stronger than steel for its weight. You wont get out of those bonds until I have had my full measure of pleasure from your body.
The Spider king licked his lips as he gazed upon his helpless prey. It had been a long time since he had enjoyed a woman, at least sexually. He had eaten a few but that was a fleeting pleasure. These two would last much longer than that. As long in fact as it took for his seed to ripen within them. Them perhaps he would eat them after all; or at least one of them. After all it took only one woman to raise two children. That was why the gods had given them two breasts. Either of these two women would have little difficulty in suckling two infants, not with the full jutting breasts they possessed.
The only question remained as to which one he would take first. The redhead was certainly most inviting. Even naked and restrained she radiated strength. A single mating would not exhaust her the way it had the other women he had taken and he guessed that she would not faint halfway through; not with hips and thighs like that.
He suspected the same of the olive-skinned beauty next to her. She was not as tall, but like the redhead she was muscled like a goddess, promising great strength and the ability to give lasting pleasure. Moreover, there was a certain undeniable intensity about her that filled him with desire.
He watched the sway of her breasts as she fought to escape the spider silk. They were large, and well formed, with dark prominent nipples. He licked his lips again, his eyes dropping to the area between her thighs. She had been clean shaven as was the custom of the Tharians, and her sex was plainly visible. He could almost feel the strength of her loins as he imagined what it would be like to lie between those powerful thighs. He would have made her his first choice had not the redhead chosen that moment to attract his attention.
Release us, the redheaded warrior demanded. She jerked savagely at the spider silk that held her, her body straining magnificently. She showed not the faintest hint of fear and bristled with barely controlled rage. For an instant Chivas imagined that she might almost break free. But he knew that impossible. Not even so powerful a warrior could escape the webs that held her wrists.
It did not stop her from trying, however. She twisted her body, beads of sweat gleaming like dewdrops on her skin. With her full, high breasts; rose tinted nipples; narrow waist; flaring hips; and legs that seemed almost endlessly long; she was more than just magnificent. Her hip-length hair rippled like a flag behind her as she fixed her blazing emerald gaze upon him. The stiffening of his member as he looked upon her decided him. Striding toward her, he removed his helmet and then let his loincloth drop.
The widening of her eyes showed that his phallus had produced the desired result. He always enjoyed the shock and fear that his more than impressive staff produced. He had been told once that he was grotesquely male and had taken it as a compliment. He had yet to meet the woman who could look upon him and not know fear. The redheaded warrior was no exception.
Do you like what you see? he taunted as he closed the gap between them. Soon you will know its full pleasure.
You cannot frighten me, the redhead replied. I have faced men far more dangerous than you.
Perhaps, Chivas grinned, but I doubt you have ever had one like me inside you.
There was no reply she could make to that. In spite of her bravado he could scent her fear. It was a most delicious bouquet and added steel to his already rigid member. He could also sense something else as well, so he was fully prepared when she suddenly lashed out with her right leg with the intention of emasculating him.
He caught her ankle, and making the most of the opportunity pulled her toward him while making one final stride toward her. She immediately gripped the stands of silk that held her, taking all of her weight upon her arms and seeking to use her left foot for the same purpose she had intended for the right. But he had anticipated this and caught her other ankle as well. Maintaining his grip he parted her legs and stepped between them, shifting his grip so that he now held her beneath her thighs. For the first time he saw what he wanted, a brief flicker of fear across her perfect features. Soon she would show a good deal more than that, but first he would have some fun with her.
He let her struggle, and she cooperated fully, bucking and heaving in an attempt to break free of his grip, but he held her easily and watched with mounting excitement as she battled to escape. She was even more magnificent than he had supposed, the strength of her powerful body more than evident as she thrashed against him in a frenzied effort to break free. She succeeded only in exhausting herself, and arousing him to a level he had not experienced in years. Pulling her to him he let the tip of his phallus part her velvet furrow.
If he had thought her spent, she immediately proved him wrong, fighting even harder, her breath coming in harsh gasps as she twisted and convulsed in a futile attempt to save herself. But he was far too strong for her to break free. He parted the quivering folds of her petals and pushed into her.
She gave a little cry of despair as he entered her, and then grunted as he sought to penetrate her further. She was incredibly tight, almost virginal, but he knew at once that her maidenhead had already been breached. It was a minor disappointment and one that she more than made up for by her continued resistance. As she tried to push into her she bent her legs and tried to brace her knees against his hips. It was a desperate and wasted act of resistance; and simply made his final victory that much sweeter.
Shifting his grip on her legs he hooked his elbows beneath her knees and then pushed down on the top of her thighs with his wrists and hands. Her own body weight now worked against her and the more she struggled the deeper he penetrated her. With an incoherent cry of rage and pain her fingers found the spider silk that held her wrists and she tired to use the strands to lift her body. It was an incredible act of desperate resistance and it failed just as had all of the others. With a groan she relaxed her grip; her strength spent and let him do what he wanted with her.
He pulled her to him, and using his hips drove into her, every movement taking him a little deeper. It was not easy task to fit all of himself within her. In fact he had never encountered a woman who could accommodate him. But on this occasion he finally found one who could. He took her deep and then worked his shaft in and out of her, taking the fullest enjoyment out of her.
She groaned again and this time he sensed more than just a moan of pain. As he moved deep inside her she returned his thrust with a movement of her hips, rising to meet him. And when he lowered his head to suck and tease her nipples she cried out in undisguised passion.
Her response was completely unexpected. Never had he taken a woman who did other than scream in fear and pain. Nor had a woman ever responded to him as a lover and her reaction pushed him on to a level of arousal he had never before experienced. Shifting his grip again, her gripped her flexing buttocks and pulled her hard into him, at the same time driving even further within her, using hard deep thrusts.
It produced the reaction he wanted. She screamed in a mixture of pain and passion, her body arching back as she offered herself to him. He took her as deep as he could, while she writhed and cried out. Suddenly her loins convulsed, gripping him so tightly he almost screamed and then with a final convulsion she went limp.
Her final action prompted his sudden and complete release. With a shout he pumped his seed into her womb, his thick staff delivering his white cream until it spurted from her petals. Releasing her he stepped back, and almost fell, depleted not only in seed, but barely able to stand after his efforts.
You will pay for dishonouring me, Shailaja raged. Her body was flushed with anger and passion; but more than anything she felt rage at her reaction to what had been done to her. She had been forced to endure what no warrior could accept; the complete conquest of her body by her captor. But the event had been made worse by her reaction to it. There was no denying the fact that her body had shamefully betrayed her. What made it worse was that she had done everything she could to resist such a reaction.
But Chivas had been so huge inside her; so huge and so powerful. His strength had overpowered her, forcing her traitorous body to act in ways beyond her control. She was even angrier with herself than she was at the Spider King; and was still so aroused that she would have succumbed in just a few heartbeats if he had decided to use her again.
But Chivas was now turned in another direction. Incredibly his staff was once again thickening in anticipation of conquering the Nahn princess. Vasanta glared at him defiantly, but there was nothing she could do to stop him from having his way with her.
Your companion was most enjoyable, Chivas gloated as he moved toward Vasanta. Most certainly the best I have ever had. And I will enjoy her again before long, but first I wish to taste your delights and see if you too are worth keeping.
Vasanta did not waste words in a reply. She would have had a hard time speaking in any case. Her mouth had gone completely dry and her throat constricted as she watched Chivas move toward her. His violation of Shailaja had shown her just how helpless they were. She only hoped that she could stand up to what Chivas was going to do to her as well as her companion had.
Companion. It was the first time she had ever thought of Shailaja in that way. The tall redhead had always been the hated murderer of her brother and her vow to avenge his death was as strong as ever. Everything that had happened to her since learning of Kaylans death was the redheaded bitchs fault and she would have her vengeance no matter how fate had conspired to throw them together. Chivas had done her a service by the removal of their collars and the chain connecting them. Once she escaped the redhead would die, and if she had her way she would take a long time in dying. These strange and obsessive thoughts flitted through Vasantas brain even as Chivas approached, but a few heartbeats later she had thoughts only of what was being done to her.
She had seen how easily Chivas had handled Shailaja, but that did not deter her from making the same effort to resist. Gripping the spider silk that held her wrists, she let her full weight hang from them and launched herself at Chivas as he approached. Unlike Shailaja she did not attempt to strike him between his legs, but instead aimed for his chest.
The change in tactics worked. Vasantas feet struck the Spider King full in the chest, rocking him back. However, her strike was left effective than it might have been. The spider silk binding her wrists allowed her to swing, but provided only weak support for her attack. As her feet contacted her body she was swung back on her bonds. The blow hurt but did not disable.
Chivas came up snaring with rage. You will pay for that. I had intended to be gentle with you, but now you will feel only pain.
He stepped forward, this time easily avoiding her attempt to kick him. Gripping her legs in the same manner as he had Seized Shailaja he pulled her to him. Like Shailaja, Vasanta struggled furiously, her well-muscled body writhing in desperation. And, like Shailaja, she found there was no way that she could break his grip.
Chivas spread her wide, and true to his word, used her harshly, using his rigid staff as in instrument of punishment. He entered her with a single hard thrust, making no effort to prepare her or spare her the least bit of pain.
Vasanta almost screamed as he penetrated her, arching her back and gritting her teeth. Chivas grunted, finding it no easy task to penetrate her. But he had as much time as he needed, and using sheer brute strength, parted her petals and pushed deep inside her.
Vasanta could not hold back an agonized grunt as Chivas possessed her. Her violation at the hands of the Spider King was every bit as bad as the time she had been taken by Gren and his cousins that first time in the desert camp. This time she faced violation by only a single man, but Chivas was powerfully endowed and his used his staff to punish her, repeatedly driving into her until he had penetrated her fully.
Even then her punishment did not end. While she writhed at the end of his member he bent his head and savaged her breasts, biting them with enough force to break the skin. He especially targeted her nipples, sucking them hard and then nipping at them painfully.
Vasanta endured all of this with only grunts and gasps, a display of stoicism that served only to anger the Spider King. He redoubled his efforts slamming his body against hers until every movement of his body had her gasping in pain. The assault seemed never-ending and Chivass impressive member felt enormous inside her; bringing her close to crying out with every thrust.
Just yards away, Shailaja watched Vasantas violation in mounting anger. That a woman should be so badly used had her close to screaming in rage, but she knew that there was nothing she could do to stop Chivas from having his way. However, she could take advantage of the fact that the Spider King was entirely focused on his depredation of Vasanta. As he ploughed his helpless victim Shailaja worked steadily on the silken bonds that held her.
As Chivas had stated, spider silk was stronger than steel; but that did not mean it was steel. Shailaja found that if she strained with all of her strength there was a certain amount of give to the webbing that held her. Slowly, she felt her wrists slide out of the cords that held her.
It was not easy going, and only made possible by the fact that the sweat that coated her body loosened the hold the sticky fibres had on her wrists. Each particle of gain was made only at the expense of a great deal of her strength, but gradually she felt first her wrists and then her hands sliding free.
She gripped the spider silk, feigning continued captivity. She noted that Chivas was completely focused on his subjugation of Vasanta, and that most of the spiders seemed to have no interest whatsoever in what was going on. Only Malasha and Marga seemed to be watching, no doubt hoping that Chivas would feed his helpless victim to them once he had finished with her.
Shailajas eyes swept the cave. Her weapons and those of her companion were over a hundred yards away near the wall of the cavern. It would do her little good to try to attack Chivas and his spider minions unarmed. She needed some sort of weapon.
Something a few yards away caught her eye. It lay at the base of a large boulder and in the dim light of the cave she could just make it out. He eyes widened in sudden understanding. What she was looking at was a jumble pile of equipment and rotting clothing. Due to the fact that she had been paralyzed when she had been carried across the cave she had not seen it. Recognition of what it was sent a chill down her spine, but at the same time gave her a thrill of hope.
She and Vasanta had not been the first victims of Chivass spider horde. The white of bones shone in the pile as well. She wondered how many others Chivas had captured and tortured during his subterranean reign. However, none of this mattered. What mattered was the fact that she now had the opportunity to get her hands on some sort of weapon. She glanced once more toward Chivas and Vasanta and then made her move.
Releasing the spider strands, she dashed toward the pile of equipment. Four strides and she was there; four painful strides. Chivas had badly bruised the area between her thighs, but it was nothing more than she expected from what had been done to her. Ignoring the pain she snatched up a sword from the untidy heap and turned just in time to meet Malashas attack.
As quick as she had been, the two giant spiders had reacted immediately and scuttled toward her. Shailaja watched as the spider compressed her back and middle legs and then launched herself toward her.
Holding the sword two-handed, Shailaja cut and the result was deadly. She chopped through Makashas front legs toppling the spider forward and opening it to a second strike. This time she struck straight down and cut through the centre of the spiders skull.
With a shriek the spider stopped dead and went into its death spasms. It was a surprising sound as few of the other spiders she had killed had made a noise beyond the clicking of their fangs. Shailaja had to jump clear to avoid the thrashing limbs as the spider actually flipped over on its back as it kicked its life away.
Now, however, Marga was upon her. As before the spider readied itself to jump but this time Shailaja did not wait. Already dozens of smaller spiders were rushing toward her. She did not have the luxury of waiting for each attack. Moving forward she struck straight at the spiders jaws, jabbing her sword between its fangs, and piercing its head and body almost to the hilt. As the spider died she wrenched her sword free just in time to see Chivas pull himself away from Vasanta.
No! he screamed. You will die for that. I will see your flesh torn from your bones while you still live.
Shailaja had no doubt that the Spider King would carry out his threat if he could. But she had no intention of giving him the chance. Guessing that if she killed Chivas the concerted attacks of the other spiders would stop, she moved toward him, cutting a path through the swarm of eight-legged monstrosities that sought to halt her. Just a dozen yards away the Spider King suddenly realized his danger and began to back away, placing as many of his spider minions between himself and Shailaja as he could.
Shailaja battled forward, each swing of her sword slicing through one or more spider bodies. However, the spiders resorted to the tactics that had defeated her once before, launching strands of webbing toward her and halting her progress just short of where Chivas stood. Surrender, he demanded. You cannot hope to escape. Youll only be damaged.
Shailaja, however, was in no mood to place herself at the mercy of the spider king again. Finding that the silken threads clinging to her body could not be broken she suddenly turned and charged toward the spiders that were spinning them.
She dragged several of the spiders with her as she sought to hack her way free. By now the floor was once again littered with spider corpses; a situation that served to help her as many of her attackers ceased their attack in order to feed.
Exactly how Chivas controlled them was a mystery, but their failure to immediately recapture Shailaja sent him into a rage, so much so that he screamed almost incoherently. Get you stupid brutes! Get her!
Whirling and slashing in every direction, Shailaja cut at the remaining spiders. In spite of several strands of webbing that had tangled in her blade she still managed to use it effectively, killing every eight-legged monster that came near her. However, even as she battled more and more webs were flung her way, threatening to ensnare her in an inescapable tangle. Realizing her danger she tried to cut her way free only to find as before that her sword became even more entangled.
Caught in almost a dozen threads, Shailaja was slowly dragged toward the waiting horde. Several score spiders pulled on each length of webbing, overcoming even her strength. She battled furiously; straining every muscle, knowing that to fail was to face utter defeat, and a punishment too cruel to imagine.
By now her sword was so tangled as to be completely useless and she let it go, using her fists and feet to strike at the attacking spiders. The many legged creatures swarmed toward her, once again attempting to use their numbers to take her down. Staggering under the weight of a score of huge spiders, Shailaja no longer fought to reach Chivas, but instead battled to break free. She stumbled backward, her struggles taking her perilously close to the part of the cave overhanging the river. A shout from Chivas came too late. Hold her! Hold her! Her feet slipping out from under her, Shailaja toppled backward. Dragging tens of spiders with her dropped into the swirling waters of the dark river.
She fell several yards before striking the rushing surface of the river, and her impact and the movement of the waters dragged her beneath the surface. She had time only to gulp a lungful of air before the river closed over her head. She was immediately dragged toward the bottom, the strength of the river tumbling her in the current. Struggling to escape the tangle of spider strands that confined her limbs, Shailaja kicked toward the surface and managed to reach air just before the roaring of the falls told her what her next trial was going to be.
Fighting to keep her head above water she was suddenly hurled into space, the momentum of the river actually tossing her out and clear of the waterfall. She fell, her body tumbling over and over as she fought to position her body in order to hit the water straight up and down. As a girl in her native Kaltara she had joined other young men and women in diving off cliffs into the frigid waters that were the norm in her homeland, but she had never dived as far as she was going to fall. Striking the water at the wrong angle would almost certainly kill her.
She didnt have much time to think about this as she hurtled toward the bottom of the falls; only enough time to attempt to twist her body into an upright position before she hit the water. She almost made it, entering the plunge pool below the falls at only a slight angle from the vertical. Nevertheless, the impact knocked the breath from her and she plunged deeply below the surface.
Her lungs almost devoid of air, she clawed her way back toward the surface of the river, and found air just before the dark spots that danced before her eyes deepened into unconsciousness. She gulped air while at the same time kicking strongly as she battled to keep from being pulled back under. This close to the falls the river was full of eddies, whirlpools, and undercurrents that swirled her about and attempted to swallow her.
Her great strength saved her; that and the fact that she was caught in a surface current that whirled her toward the edge of the river allowing her to escape the main current. She caught hold of a large rock jutting into the river, finding a hold just above the surface of the water and clung there, regaining her strength. Still gasping from her exertions and chilled by the cold waters, she managed to pull herself onto the rock and lay in the semi-darkness until she felt strong enough to go on.
Regaining her feet she found herself just a few yards from the trail that had taken her to the grand cavern where the spiders had attacked. Without giving the matter any real thought, and ignoring the fact that she was weaponless and naked, she headed back toward the cavern.
It did not occur to her to do anything else. Although she and Vasanta were much more like enemies than companions she was not about to leave the Nahn princess to the Spider Kings gentle mercies. And in any case, Chivas had shamed her and there was the matter of revenge. Ignoring the danger that faced her she marched toward the cavern, hoping that somehow she would think of some sort of plan to defeat Chivas by the time she arrived.