The Red Hand Part 14
by Shane Migliavacca
The Red Hand Part Fourteen Nirzai The Wicked
Nirzai The Wicked tapped one of her long disgusting spider legs on the stone floor. Her twelve eyes burning bright, locked onto me and Tenth. Every fiber of my being wants to run away from this horrid perversion of life. I hate spiders, can’t help it. Just the thought of those eight hairy legs crawling on me. And those eyes. Nirzai has crawled out of some hellish nightmare to torment me. That’s the only thing that makes any sense. How could anything like her be natural? At our feet Maebh lies still, cocooned in webs, alive I think. Tenth’s brother Seventh, and Ninth the warrior, they’re here somewhere too. Alive or dead I don’t know.
She taps. Why is she waiting? Just kill us.
She points at me with one of her hairy legs. It hovers a few feet from my face, light from Tenth’s gauntlet reflecting off the claw at its end.
You and the one on the ground. You are unlike her and her kind. Where do you come from?
“Ah-Another place. Another world.”
You have the stench of Isr upon you.
“How dare you mention the goddess!” Tenth says. A new found defiance in her voice.
Yes! I dare. She who cursed me to this.
I look at Tenth. “What does she mean?”
Yes! Tell her what your beloved Isr did!
“Nirzai was a cruel, vain priestess in the Great Temple of Isr. She bent Isr’s teaching’s to benefit herself. Isr changed her to this thing for her greed.”
Nirzai slams one of her legs down on the ground.
Lies! I tried to lead our people away from the chains of Isr. Went I found out what she really was. I sought to free us from the will of one not of us.
“Isr helped us. Taught us the new ways. She rose us up from the ashes of the before times.”
Nirzai lurches forward. Her large mandibles inches from Tenth’s face. To Tenth’s credit I don’t see her flinch, unlike me.
Foolish child. We were simply a diversion for Isr. A thing to pass eternity for a while. She did not love our people.
Tenth holds her ground. “How can one vile as you know of love? Isr sleeps under The Vast Mountain on the great moon Ilargi. She will return to us after her slumber and-”
And nothing child! She has gone on to some other plaything. Whiling away eternity. While we are left behind. Slaves to rhetoric.
I feel the sword under my cloak. Hanging from my belt. Nirzai isn’t paying attention to me as her and Tenth debate religion. Her head is so close, there’s a chance I might be able to surprise her. I can’t make the blade very long, but those eyes are big and close. If Tenth can keep Nirzai focused on her.
I am cursed to this form. Never aging. Always I hunger. A goddess that loves us so much would do this? I was like you child. Born to the purple. I sought to serve our people.
“You served only yourself.”
Tell me little one, do they still speak of me?
Tenth smiles. Something she hardly ever does.
“The old tell the little hatchlings that Nirzai will come for them at night if they don’t mind. You’re a fable, a legend. Nothing more. A monster to haunt the young’s dreams.”
Nirzai laughs at Tenth’s comment. I didn’t think I’d ever see a spider laugh and really I never want to again. This is the moment. I feel it in my stomach. As Nirzai leans in. Getting in Tenth’s face. I angle the hilt upwards
I will enjoy devouring you.
I focus every ounce of myself into the blade. It hums to life. Blasting through my cloak. The blade is bigger than I thought I could make it. Not as large as the one Maebh made, but pretty spectacular all the same. I surprise both Tenth and Nirzai as I bring the blade upwards. I think I’m screaming as I jab the blade into one of Nirzai’s bright orange eyes. Horrible fluid bursts for from the wound as I totally destroy the eye. Nirzai wails in pain and retreats. I let the sword dissipate. I’m going to need both hands free.
“Help me grab her!” I holler to Tenth.
Adrenalin powers my muscles as we drag the old woman. Tenth’s gauntlet our only light. Nirzai howls in pain and anger somewhere in the darkness. I hope I just gave us a chance and didn’t make it worse.
“What’s your plan?” Tenth asks as we drag Maebh.
“Don’t have one.”
I’m going to suck your bones dry!
“Made her mad didn’t I?”
“Yes. You are adapt at that.” Tenth answers.
We make it to the tunnel, dragging the old women far enough in to hopefully be out of reach.
Tenth powers down her gauntlet.
“What are you-?”
She puts her hand over my mouth. “Listen.”
I listen. Except for our heavy breathing everything is silent. Then I hear it in the distance. Click-click-click. Far off. Nirzai hasn’t come after us. We have a chance to regroup.
“I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it.” I say.
I tell Tenth that I’ll act as bait distracting Nirzai while she looks for her brother and Ninth. I’m right she doesn’t like it, but my reasoning is that her people are good climbers as evidenced by my time in the city. She can climb up and get them if they’re up in a web or hanging on the wall. She thinks for a moment and agrees. Tenth offers me the gauntlet and I take it giving her my sword. I hope I can use it.
“May Isr go with you.” Tenth says.
She darts off. I see just a flash of her passing in the dark. Now it’s my turn. Time to be the carrot on the string for a pissed off spider lady. I slip the gauntlet on and rush into the darkness. Nothing but my breath in the blackness. Then I hear her. Nirzai’s legs on the stones. Click-click-click.
I take a breath and think about the gauntlet on my hand. Letting the blackness surrounding me fill my brain. Blotting out everything else till light emanates from the crystal on my hand. Here we go.
“Hey spider bitch!”
Doom-doom-doom. That’s how Nirzai’s thunderous approach sounds. Signaling my death maybe. Then it stops. Somewhere out there beyond the light.
Serena. We’re here Serena. Join us.
The voice I heard in the tunnel. So scared, so lonely. Echoing in my head. Luring me in. Since I’ve come to this planet people can’t stay out of my damn head.
“I know it’s you Nirzai! Not going to fall for it again!”
“Serena! Help me! Serena!”
That’s Tenth’s voice!
“She has me! Serena!”
No Tenth wouldn’t call out like that. She wouldn’t beg for help. Not like that.
“Quit playing around!” I scream. “I’ll take another one of your damn eyes!”
Do you know what it’s like to live in consent darkness? Forever hungering but unable to die? I’ve gone countless ages with nothing to eat. Only giving in to my hunger by feeding on vermin crawling in the tunnels. Or my poor babies. I used to feed on the ones that used these tunnels so long ago. One here. One there. Always the dregs. Nobody cared about them. I was smaller then. I could crawl through all the tunnels. But I grew too big. Too fat. Stuck in my lair. But I hear them above. There’s life in the city again. I knew it was only a matter of time before it made its way down here. To me.
As she tells me her sob story I walk forward a few feet. I nearly trip on something on the ground. Maebh’s staff. I pick it up.
I see you there girl. Where’s your friend? Plotting a surprise for me?
“She left. Ran off and left me here.”
I doubt that girl. No matter. I’ll find her.
I creep back to the tunnel, back to where Maebh lies cocooned in webs. I lie the staff next to her. I don’t know why. I just feel I need to.
Her eyes flutter open. “Serena.” She says weakly. “The webs…”
“I can’t right now okay. I’ll get them off you later.” I hope.
“No. The webs are her way in.”
Way in? I think she’s delirious or drugged. I can worry about that later when we’re out of this mess.
“I’ll be back. Hold on.”
I go back out. The gauntlet’s drain on my body is becoming more pronounced. If I hadn’t been training with Maebh and Tenth before this I’d be burnt out by now. The adrenaline is the only thing keeping me going. I feel peaceful though. I’m scared shitless, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the thought that I might end up spider food. A death wish? No, don’t think that’s it. I think I’ve found something here…a reason.
“Nirzai! C’mon! Let’s get this over with!”
Doom-doom-doom. Here she comes again. I power up the gauntlet with everything I got. Forming a shield in front of me.
Nirzai storms out of the darkness. I brace myself. Taking a stance Tenth had showed me in training. Hot orange hate in the spider’s eyes. Sickly looking puss drips from her damaged one. She slams a long hairy leg in to my shield forcing me backwards. My legs buckle but the shield absorbs the bulk of her blow. I can’t keep it up though. I’ll give out before she does. Then I’m her dinner. God, I hope Tenth gets the others out of here.
Nirzai backs away from me. She scurries to my left and rushes towards me. Stopping short of my shield.
Your friend will not help you. I know where she is. I’ve sent my children to feast on her!
Just as I will feast on you.
I see wisps of energy rise from my shield and dance in the air before getting sucked into Nirzai’s mouth. Tenth mentioned something about her feeding on the crystals’ energy.
Yes. Keep your barrier up. How much can you give it?
She’s right. I can pour everything into it, but if she can feed on the energy…How long before I give out? I power down the gauntlet.
“You’re absolutely right. What chance do I have against you?”
Defeated so soon? Oh well. I have worked up an appetite playing with you.
She spreads her mandibles wide. Her large mouth opens wide. Drool oozes out of it. I jam my gauntlet covered hand in with one quick motion.
“Eat me bitch!”
I power it up. Creating a blade that shoots up straight from its back and into the roof of her mouth. She screams in pain. I pull my hand out fast. Now covered by warm sticky drool.
Nirzai backs away. She lets out an eerie howl of rage. I take it as my cue to run for my life. I run heading to my right into the darkness. I can hear Nirzai storming after me. I give a little power to the gauntlet to light my way. Up ahead I see another tunnel that branches off of this chamber. Nirzai is close behind now. I dive for the tunnel hoping I make it far enough inside. I don’t. One of Nirzai’s legs grabs my cloak pulling me back. I turn and kick at her leg till she lets go. Swearing at her the whole time. I scramble on hands and feet further into the tunnel, out of her reach. This isn’t good enough for Nirzai. I’ve enraged her so that she starts forcing her way into the tunnel. I back up, staying out of reach. She gains ground little by little. Until finally Nirzai stops advancing altogether. Her large body stuck in the tunnel.
I watch her for a few minutes as she panics, trying to free herself. I approach her, forming a small tendril of energy from the gauntlet’s back. I concentrate and form a blade around the gauntlet.
You! You who stink of Isr! You would kill me now?
I thought about it yeah. As much as Nirzai disgusts me I can’t, can I?
I only sought to live. You have no idea what the hunger is like. And the endless darkness. Never able to age. To die from the hunger.
“Whatever you did to be made into this, I’m sure you more than paid for it.”
Yes! Yes! Would you grant me mercy?
“I going to free you. Would you like that?”
A release from the hunger and dark? Yes.
I ram the blade into Nirzai’s head.
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