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Orphan

Penywise Sep 10th, 2015 (edited) 11,906 Never
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  1. A wide, hungry grin splits her face, eyes flashing to predatory. Her first guest. With ghost steps, she traverses her maze of recently woven web, honing in on the rhythmic bouncing of struggling prey, the rustling of her clothes the only sound she makes, a tight, woven top with long sleeves that props her large breasts up, and cuts away to a sheer, toned midriff, and a patterned loin cloth tied to her hips. Her lips wet themselves over the anticipated struggle. The first of many, she hopes. The deep caverns are filled with silence, and the dripping leakage of surface lakes, as water seeps through miniscule cracks in the earth and collects on the fangs of rock, before splashing upon the stone below. Still, slick wetness coalesces upon the stone floor, forming stalagmites, the lower jaw to meet the yawning of the beastly earth.
  2.  
  3. The young spider passes through the maw, and the cavern opens, deep and echoing. This far in her den, the fact that she’d felt the wiggling of ensnared prey so far away was only a testament to her heightened senses and masterful webwork. She stops as the thrumming changes. Reared up on instinct, she stares into nothing as the fingers the soft webbing on the walls, reading the vibrations. There’s an impact, and the struggling stops. Frowning, she hurries up her cavern, when again, the webs being to bounce. Gentle. Tentative. Rhythmic and repetitive. Anger surges within her as she realises she was now being baited.
  4.  
  5. Midday light begins to shine in the dark, the further she makes it to the surface, navigating her own traps and snares. The bouncing of the web lasted minutes before a deathly stillness, the only movement now her own. She lifts her legs up, and digs into the wall of the cave, scaling up the side, and heading out to the mouth of the crevasse upon the ceiling, low and close, using even her human arms to crawl along.
  6.  
  7. She comes to the opening of the cave, and looks down, surprise colouring her face. Ensnared in web is an unmoving, silent bundle of swaddling, partially unwrapped around a small male, human child, little more than half a year old. She anchors herself to the ceiling, and lowers herself with her web. Hanging from the ceiling, she reaches down, and peels back the swaddling covering the infant’s face. Light brown hair, the boy’s eyes are closed in sleep.
  8.  
  9. She releases her web, and drops gracefully to the floor, barely even shaking her own web. She inspects the child closer, and picks it up in her arms. Naked. Famished. She’d seen babies before, chubby little scream factories. This nearly skeletal child, wreathed in silence, sparks a deep panic within her. She puts her fingers to his chest to check his vitals. Heart is beating strongly, a little slowed by the child’s dormant state. Lungs are rising normally. She sighs in relief. Looking out, the forest that surrounds the mouth of her cave is silent. Tense.
  10.  
  11. She wraps the child snugly in his swaddling, tight but not constrictingly tight, and bundles him in a few thick strands of web, tying the fabric shut. She was new to the area, having only recently found the cave she would call home, but she still took note of her surrounding residents. She sets off to the wolf den she scouted out a few weeks ago, child in arms. Perhaps the wolf could help. For the first time she wishes she were back in her mother’s den, so she could take the elder arachne’s wisdom.
  12. /
  13. The lone wolfgirl raises her head, picking up on a peculiar scent. And a familiar one with it. The second scent is more than welcome. The first, is not. She hunkers low before her den, hair standing on end, searching the woods for the source of the scent, a low rumble forming in her chest. The large, thin, black leg of a spider spears through a bush, followed by two more. It parts the plant, and the wolf growls louder as the Arachne makes herself known, brushing a leaf out of her hair, holding a child to her chest.
  14.  
  15. “U-um. Hi.”
  16.  
  17. “This is my den, what do you want?” A girl as territorial as the wolf would just chase intruders out, or chase certain intruders in. A giant spider commands a certain respect, though. Her eyes flick to the branches of the bush, some crushed with the casual motion of the spider’s walking, and she swallows a mouthful of spit.
  18.  
  19. The spider holds the child out, “I was hoping you could help me?” The wolf cocks her head to a side, and relaxes a little,
  20.  
  21. “Help?” She beats down the urge to flinch back as the spider advances, showing the baby to the wolf.
  22.  
  23. “I found him abandoned in my web not even an hour ago. I was hoping you could help me track down who put him there.”
  24.  
  25. The wolf hesitates, glancing back at her den, unwilling to leave it alone if not absolutely necessary, “What’s in it for me?”
  26.  
  27. The spider’s two primary and six auxiliary eyes level a flat stare at the wolf. She rises a little in agitation, and answers in an equally flat tone, “My goodwill and gratitude.”
  28.  
  29. “Uh. Right.” The wolf steps closer, and buries her nose in the baby’s neck, fluffy ears flopping as she memorises his scent, air swishing around as her soft tail passes through it. She must have tickled him, because the babe giggles faintly in his unconsciousness. She pulls her face back.
  30.  
  31. “Got it?”
  32.  
  33. “Yeah.” The spider turns around,
  34.  
  35. “Okay, hop on.”
  36.  
  37. “Uh…”
  38.  
  39. “You don’t want his scent to fade right? I’ll take you back to my place, we can start from there.” She takes note of the wolf’s continued hesitation and rolls her eyes. Well, two of them. “Just get on I don’t bite.” The wolf swallows her apprehension, and climbs on the spider’s back. “Now, hold on.” The spider rockets out of the clearing and into the woods with blistering speed, the wolf clinging to her human chest for dear life. The spear-like legs dig into everything, piercing the ground, piercing into the trees if an obstacle presents itself, the spider rushes gracefully through the underbrush.
  40.  
  41. The wolf goes to cry out as a particularly thick branch rockets towards them, but the hard, edged claws of the spider slice through it effortlessly as one of her front legs flashes out, and crushes it underfoot. Her tail hangs limp across the spider’s abdomen, her ears flat, and she makes it a point to get on her new neighbour’s good side. She squeezes her eyes shut, opening them only by the time the ride is over, to see the entrance of a cave. She recognises it. Too large and impractical to be a den, she passed it over. So it came as a bit of a shock to see it covered in tunnels of web.  The spider carries her over to the mouth, before lowering herself to let the wolf down.
  42.  
  43. “Found him here.” The wolf nods, and scrambles off the spider’s back, lowering herself to the ground. She picks up the babe’s scent quickly and her ears flick as she catches a happy gurgle.
  44.  
  45. “Owowow” She turns to look at the spider, having her hair pulled on by the now awake child, a finger in his mouth. Gently, she takes his hand and pulls it from her hair, “Don’t do that.” His hand goes to her face, and traces along her lips. And then he laughs and smacks her mouth with an open palm, “Pff~” she lowers him away from her face and twists her head away, “He’s energetic for such an underfed child. Do you have that scent?”
  46.  
  47. “Yeah.”
  48.  
  49. “Lead the way.” The wolf nods and stretches, her tail rising high as her muscles tense, and her butt thrusts out as her back arches. The spider catches an eyeful, and blushes, compelled to put a hand over the child’s eyes, who coos happily, as oblivious as anything.
  50.  
  51. She lowers her paws to the earth, and shoots off at a dash, leaving behind a startled spider for a moment. She blinks once, then grins, taking it for a challenge. She hugs the child close to her and darts off after the wolf, on her heels in no time as the girl rockets through the underbrush, halting only for a moment at a time before heading off again, the frequency of these stops growing greater the older the trail.
  52.  
  53. Her furry ears shoot up, and the wolf nearly tumbles as her muscles lock. The spider comes to a much more graceful stop. “W-what is it?” Her nose twitches and her ears flatten, tail hanging low. A quiet whine escapes the proud girl’s mouth.
  54.  
  55. “I’ve taken you far enough. See for yourself.” Without waiting for a reply, the wolf bleeds into the bushes and vanishes into the woods, her voice the only thing remaining, a disembodied phantom. “Name’s Misha though. You know where to find me, let me know how it turns out.”
  56.  
  57. “R-right…” The spider offers her own name to some empty trees, “…Aruen.” Her voice echoes back to her and she sighs. “Now what spooked her?” She pushes down a branch with one leg, and skitters out into the open. Past the tree-line, now, or just on it, she can see the plains below. The long, stretching road that crosses a river and bisects a town. A town now burning.  
  58.  
  59. Smouldering, really. The spider sighs with a modicum of disgust. “Humans… Is this where you’re from?” She talks to the child who’d since gone quiet. Maybe he can smell the smoke in the air. She shifts uncomfortably, and holds the baby out, frowning. “M-maybe there’s survivors.” She doesn’t even take two more steps out from the treeline before halting, an instinctual fear keeping her at bay. The concept of ‘prey’, of ‘man’ is a good one, appealing even.
  60.  
  61. The concept of ‘humanity’ instils in her only fear; the forests the threshold of her courage. Nervously, she looks around. “Maybe I can just leave it here…” she thinks aloud, a distant, fond memory stirs within her. The baby squirms and reaches for her and she sighs, giving a small, scared smile. “No… I can’t do that.” She holds the infant to her, and heaves a heavy, shaky sigh. She turns her back on the smouldering village and heads back into the trees.
  62.  
  63. “Geez, what am I doing. You get the husband first, then you get the babies, not the other way around! They aren’t the same thing either!” She shakes her head, the frustration and unease being forced away, and she holds the baby up to her face and gives is a playful glare, “You better pay me back plenty when you grow up.” The child giggles and puts both stubby hands on her face. A very warm, very mature smile appears on the young spider’s face. “Oh well.” She brings him back to her chest once more, and heads to the wolf’s den.
  64.  
  65. “So?”
  66.  
  67. “I uh… decided to keep him, I guess.” She lowers herself, resting her abdomen on the ground. The wolf tips her head to the side, never having seen a spider sit before. “How do I feed him?”
  68.  
  69. “Uh… well, they start on milk, right?”
  70.  
  71. “Milk? Like… cows?” The wolf cups her small breasts and gives them a jiggle, her fingers sinking in. “O-Oh… I don’t think I have any.” Misha shrugs,
  72.  
  73. “You don’t know if you don’t try I guess. Monsters should be able to… I think. I… hang on.” The wolf ducks into her den, and rifles around a mound of trash, her butt bobbing and long furry tail wagging as she struggles to haul out a large crate. Glass clinks inside it as she heaves and comes free, smacking into her chest and putting her off balance. With a whine, she rubs her tailbone, and scrambles back out, popping the lid on the wooden crate, showing lines of bottles filled with white, creamy milk.
  74.  
  75. Each has a faintly glowing rune on the ground glass stoppers of the bottles, each individually tied off with twine. Each rune glows red or blue, the blue ones whole, and the red ones shattered and fractured. “I stole this from some guy’s caravan when it tipped over along the road.” She grins, her tail wagging as she relives her mischief, “They were busy trying to pull it out of the mud. I uh, I tried one and it made me leak milk for a week, and made my boobs all squishy. You can have them I guess. Just don’t drink the red ones. They make you sick.” She puts the crate down before Aruen, and the spider hands the baby to Misha and reaches for a bottle with one of the blue runes. “Unless you want me to do it?”
  76.  
  77. “No… I’ll do it.” She hands the chid to the wolf and bites through the twine and puts her thumb to the glass stopper, pressing up, until the thing pops, and the rune shatters with the sound of a delicate wind chime, turning a bright red. A cool air rolls out of the gap between lid and bottle, and the spider pops the lid off fully, before taking the cold bottle to her lips, and letting the mellow, sweet, incredibly creamy milk pass her lips.    
  78.  
  79. It lingers in her mouth and pours down her throat in waves of soothing coolness. The spider gulps it greedily, almost wishing that it wouldn’t end. As if by some trick of the mind, or even by auxiliary enchantment, the bottle gives its creamy bounty until her belly is full of the stuff and Aruen is entirely satisfied, a much larger quantity than could possibly fit in the bottle and as if it were waiting for that exact moment, the bottle runs dry, not even a speck of milk clinging to the glass. With a gasp she takes the bottle from her lips, and the red rune vanishes entirely, leaving only an empty glass bottle.
  80.  
  81. A long, pregnant moment passes before the spider doubles over, clutching her stomach, groaning as if in pain. The wolf panics, understandably, “A-are you okay? I-I’m sorry, I thought the blue ones were okay,” Her rubs the spider’s back with her paw, “A-Are you in pain?”
  82.  
  83. “Nnnh~ N-no...” The Misha freezes, Aruen’s gasps and moans changing tenor, hands she thought were clutching her stomach, rubbing somewhere lower. The spider looks up, her fringe covering her face, panting desperately, beet red. “I-Is this normal?”
  84.  
  85. “I don’t know!”
  86.  
  87. The spider whines as she pinches a nipple between shaky fingers, and dances circles around her clit. Her eyes grow misty, tears forming at the corners of her eyes, and she chews on her lower lip before gasping, strands of saliva linking her lips, and beads of venom dripping from her fangs. The wolf just stares, red-faced as the spider squirms in the dirt, her top straining and splitting as a fresh expanse of tit-flesh almost rolls out of the spider’s chest, and their owner squirms in orgasm. Pink nipples on soft and creamy alabaster flesh harden, and weep milk as the Aruen massages her chest between moans.
  88.  
  89. Misha looks on, unsure at this point if it’ a trick of the light or the expanding bosom, the spier’s hips where they join the arachnid half even seem slightly wider, the toned muscles on her human abdomen more prominent as if her breasts drained the excess body fat, yet somehow, her abs still looks incredibly soft. The tits stopped growing at just about the same size as her head each, her top now little more than a lewd under-bust corset, milk dribbling from her nipples.
  90.  
  91. She sits in the dirt, gasping and moaning from the sudden change, and her belly grumbles in hunger, to replenish the body so recently wrought with change. Misha holds the baby to the mess of a woman, “H-here. While you’re… you know.” The tired woman looks down to her own weeping breast.
  92.  
  93. “Oh. Right.”
  94.  
  95.  
  96. “Want some?”
  97.  
  98. “N-No! No, I-I mean, I’ll go get us something to eat.” The flustered wolf heads off, leaving the spider and the baby alone. Hesitantly, though slightly more composed than before, Aruen brings the child to her breast, and collects a bead of milk on her finger. She brings it to the child’s lips, and the baby reacts to the taste, and begins to suckle on the finger. Giggling to herself, she moves the boy from her finger to her nipple, and bites back a moan as the child’s lips stimulate a newfound heightened sensitivity. But any residual lewdness instilled by the clearly tainted milk is washed away in an overbearing tide of maternal affection.
  99.  
  100. She smiles at him, and strokes the child’s thick, soft hair, not entirely unlike the down of a chick. The child drinks her milk greedily, and she stops him only when she feels he’d had enough. His stomach was only tiny, likely smaller than the average babe’s due to his malnourishment. Best not to do him any harm, besides, she didn’t feel like the whole lactating thing would be temporary. There’s plenty more for the child.
  101.    
  102. Rather than complain, he gurgles happily, and closes his eyes. Why her web in particular? The thought left her nervous. She hadn’t been there long enough for the humans to learn to avoid the cave. Perhaps it was all to chance, someone just saw giant webbing, and decided to leave the child there. Either way, she didn’t regret the decision to take him with her. Whether she would though, was for the future to decide.
  103.  
  104. The bushes rustle, and the wolf returns, maw bloody, the throat of an abnormally large hare between her teeth, two more equally large ones in her claws, and Aruen turns her mind from her thoughts. “That didn’t take long.” She shrugs,
  105.  
  106. “Finding them was easy, catching them even easier.” Aruen looks at the active hunter with a measure of envy, her own methods inclining further to trap making and stalking. “I’ll cook these. How did the feeding go?”
  107.  
  108. “Ah, good, good. He drank a lot. It made me even more hungry though.” Misha grins,
  109.  
  110. “I thought it would.” The wolf heads to a pile of stones with four sticks dug into the ground in the shape of an ‘x’, and takes a large flat one off the top, revealing a heap of ash and faintly glowing embers. The spider watches as she heads into her den and returns with a bundle of kindling and tinder. She layers what looks to be some king of dry leaf pulp across the embers and builds a tent of the sticks, before blowing gently and consistently. The ember flares and catches the tinder, devouring it in a flame that catches on the kindling. Before long she’s moving larger things into the pit, and a healthy fire is roaring.
  111.  
  112. The spider rocks the snoozing child as she watches with mild interest, the wolf dropping the hares on the ground and taking one in her claws. With a single scything claw, she slices down the middle of the large creature’s underbelly. The thing’s fur matted together in spikes and small horns sprout from its skull, a sign of the area’s latent demonic taint. It’s not all bad. It means the creatures are less skittish, and easier to hunt, if you’re prepared for it to attack you in turn. Bigger critters means more meat, too.
  113.  
  114. With a long incision from chin to pelvis, Misha makes similar incisions down the hare’s legs, and grabs a paw, twisting and snapping it, peeling the skin back with the aid of her razor sharp claw, slicing skin from meat. Her digit becoming matted in gore and fat. She does this with each leg, until the skin flops into the dirt. She grabs its short tail and wrenches, snapping the bone, and peeing the skin from the back. When the whole thing is skinned except for the head, she decapitates it, and digs her claw into its gut, tearing out its innards, and dropping them to the ground in a pile.
  115.  
  116. More or less ready to have the meat cooked and pulled from the bone, she hands it to Aruen, “Mind cooking this while I do the other two?” the spider puts the sleeping child aside, and takes the carcass,
  117.  
  118. “Sure.” She spears it with a nearby stick and places it on the spit, the flame licking the fresh meat just barely. The smell of cooking rabbit fills the air, and by the time it’s done, Misha had already moved onto the last rabbit. They sat in silence and ate, basking in the warmth of the fire, Aruen taking the lion’s share, not that Misha seemed to mind overly.  
  119.  
  120. Afternoon passes into night, and the spider snags the last leg of rabbit, teeth sinking into it and tearing the roasted flesh from charred bone. With a sigh she sits back, eyes instantly going to the child sleeping next to her.
  121.  
  122. “I think you’ll be good at it.”
  123.  
  124. “I hope.” She heaves another sigh, and collects the still-sleeping child, “Well, it’s getting late. I should head back and put this one to bed. Oh god. That’s actually something I’ll have to say from now on isn’t it?”
  125.  
  126. “’This one’? You still haven’t named him?”
  127.  
  128. “Hmm…” She taps her lower lip… “How about… Leofstan. It was my brother’s name.” The wolf tilts her head,
  129.  
  130. “Your brother?”
  131.  
  132. “Ah, step-brother, really. Long story. Anyway, I’m off.”
  133.  
  134. “If you need anything, you know where I live.” The spider leaves, as suddenly as she appeared, taking her child with her.
  135.  
  136. Aruen looks at the frail thing, frowning suddenly, wondering why the helpless child reminded her of the kin she watched over so long ago. Walking in a nostalgious daze, it’s not until her thin leg bounces slightly on the soft spongey webbing of her home the baby begins to stir. Trustingly, it looks up at her, and her eight eyes soften, “Ah. You have his eyes.” Walking the walls and ceilings she comes to her innermost alcove and settles into her half-nest half-bed, pushing aside the quilt she wove and stuffed with feathers from caught prey.
  137.  
  138. He gives a soft cry, and an unnatural instinct alerts her to his need. She takes her top off, the thing useless now that her bust cannot even fit in it, and pulls the child from his swaddling, holding him to her chest once more, where he takes her nipple greedily, and fills himself of her bounty. She settles into her woven bed, and pulls her giant quilt over the both of them, her torso and the child she holds to it the only parts remaining uncovered. “You’ll need clothes won’t you?” She blushes faintly as she takes her nipple from the child’s mouth, and pulls him into her chest, hugging him close and protectively. She’ll need to fill this cave in a second layer of web, just to be safe.
  139.  
  140.  
  141. *   *   *   *
  142.  
  143.  
  144. “Leo! How many times have I told you not to do that?!” Heedless of his mother’s stress, the seven year old bounds off the walls, earliest years of infancy having taught him how to avoid getting tangled in the web. She gasps as he drops from a lip in the rocky ceiling, down through a crevasse in the mountain’s belly, only to be met with reassuring laughter from below. She crests the lip and lowers herself with web, arms crossed.
  145.  
  146. Her glaring eyes fall on a giggling boy utterly ensnared in webbing. His eyes meet his mothers and his smile falters, a guilty expression he wears far too often taking its place. She understood his excitement, of course, he always got excited before visiting Misha. That was no excuse for his recklessness though. Well, if it could really be called that. He knew just as well as she did how protected the walls of his home were.
  147.  
  148. She just hung above him, watching, her eight eyes glowing slightly in the dark,
  149.  
  150. “S-sorry, mum…” She just stares at him, “C-can you help me?” She sighs, and lowers herself down onto her web, her feet piercing down around him, slicing the webbing binding him,
  151.  
  152. “I’ll leave you there next time.” He takes her extended hand and she pulls him into her.
  153.  
  154. “Sorry.” She ruffles his hair, and kisses the crown of his head,
  155.  
  156. “Come on, can’t waste all your energy before you get to Misha’s.” Leo finds his feet, and Aruen brushes imaginary dust off his shirt and pants, straightening his clothes as he squirms. She runs her fingers through his hair, sweeping out the webs, an impromptu comb, and licks her finger, using it to push back his fringe and make it stick.
  157.  
  158. “Muum~”
  159.  
  160. “Quit fussing.” She leans back to admire her handiwork, “There. All handsome and cute.”
  161.  
  162. “You’ve got some web on you.” Leo points to his hair, and Aruen brushes away the webbing in her own long hair. She lowers her body, and holds a hand out for Leo to take,
  163.  
  164. “Did you bring your book?”  
  165.  
  166. “Yes.” The boy plucks at his shirt, “Do you know where that other shirt of mine went?”
  167.  
  168. “W-which shirt?”
  169.  
  170. “The one you made me with the sword pattern” Aruen averts her eyes and blushes slightly, a gesture the boy misses,
  171.  
  172. “No, I’m sure you just left it somewhere. Anyway, hop on. You don’t want to be late for Dave’s training, right?” The boy lights up at the mention of the ex-townsguard, and climbs on his mother’s back, clinging to her long, loose top, belted in place at the hip and long enough to cover her immodesty. “Hold on~” the spider heads straight to the wall, the boy’s arms closing around her hips to hold him in place as she crawls up the pitfall the boy jumped into.
  173.  
  174. “What are you doing today?”
  175.  
  176. “Dave said we’d work on footwork and parrying.”
  177.  
  178. “Be good for him, okay?”
  179.  
  180. “Yes, mum!”
  181.  
  182. ***
  183.  
  184. Stick smacks against stick, the only sounds in the forest, the odd cadence of birds, the scuffled dirt as feet shift around and the raucous ringing of wood on wood. A loud crack rings out, and Leo’s stick is smacked from his hand, spinning as it sails through the air before the tip bounces against the dirt, and topples.
  185.  
  186. Defenceless now, the boy cannot react to the adult hand that swoops down and ruffles his hair, “Very good! But that’s enough for today.” Dave beams down, and turns to the spider sitting nearby, watching, “He’s a quick learner.” She laughs as Leo trots over,
  187.  
  188. “Tell me about it.” She hands the boy’s book to him, “Did you have fun?”
  189.  
  190. “Yeah! Dave is really strong. I wanna be strong like him some day.” Aruen grins at the man playfully,  
  191.  
  192. “Careful. He might get even stronger than you.” He barks a short bout of laughter,
  193.  
  194. “I’d bet on it, in fact.” Auren’s pedipalps fold for a makeshift chair for Leo to sit in, though really it’s more like she’s holding him than anything. She kisses his crown,
  195.  
  196. “Good job today.” He settles back and gives her a hug before opening his book to read.
  197.  
  198. “Thanks, mum.”
  199.  
  200. Dave averts his eyes somewhat uncomfortably. “I’ll just go see what Misha is up to. She should be back soon.” He heads off, no response from either of them, but that was to be expected. Leo was already absorbed in his book, Aruen in running her fingers through his hair.
  201.  
  202. “Are you tired?”
  203.  
  204. “No.”
  205.  
  206. “Thirsty?”
  207.  
  208. “Um… a little.” She lights up visibly, and undoes her belt, then pulls up the loose shirt, revealing both large breasts. And by default, everything else. A strange fascination takes the boy as he beholds her large breasts, a single one almost big enough to obscure him entirely. Something deep and underdeveloped stirs, as if trying to rear its head above the surface of the rolling tides of instinct, but the winter is still well and truly set, the surface frozen. Grumbling dejectedly, it settles down again and awaits the spring.
  209.  
  210. She guides the nipple into his mouth, Leo’s hands reaching up to hug the massive breast, instinctively coaxing the delicious milk out, warm rich and thick, the book forgotten on his lap. With her pedipalps supporting his weight, her hands are free to run through his hair and hold him close. She takes to humming softly, a half remembered tune with bridges of improvisation. His tongue brushes her nipple and she falters, the hum rising in pitch as she tries to hide a moan. Were he looking he’d see her face contort in pleasure.
  211.  
  212. She chuckles as his cheeks puff with the volume of her milk, and it courses down his throat to sit heavy in his stomach. “Good. My milk will help you grow big and healthy.” Her fingers trace along the lines of his developing muscles, working her fingers into kinks, massaging the aches and pains of exercise. He lets go of the nipple, already, full, and she wipes up the beat of milk that spills from it, tasting herself, then dropping her shirt and belting it back into place. “Was that good, dear?”
  213.  
  214. Leo nods, a deep yawn taking him, lulled into sleepiness by the heavy weight in his stomach, and the spider’s soothing fingers. He takes the book in his lap, and opens it up to where he last left it. Auren smiles, grips him tightly and flips onto her back, her legs curling around the boy’s protectively as he rests on her belly, his head nestled between her large breasts, arms in the air holding the book up as he reads it.
  215.  
  216. She holds him there on her back with her arms hugging her child, her legs keeping him close, and it isn’t long before his arms lose their strength and the book falls to his chest with a plop, the two of them fast asleep under the evening sun, filtered in through the foliage of the forest roof.
  217.  
  218. Aruen stirs, smelling the delicious scent of cooking stew, but missing the comforting weight of Leo on her chest. She yawns and stretches her muscles that grew stiff in her sleep, flexing her arms, tightening her belly and arcing her back. Nerves cross, and her legs splay out too, despite not actually having muscles to stretch. She flips herself, and stands at tall as she can, stretching her arms up, before lowering her arachnid half and relaxing with a huff.
  219.  
  220. “Smells good.” Her eight eyes scan the glade, seeing only the den, the makeshift furniture Dave built, the roaring fire with the pot of stew cooking, and the couple sitting together before the fire. “Where’s Leo?”
  221.  
  222. Misha looks up from kissing and nibbling at Dave’s neck. “Oh. You’re up. Leo said he wanted to go for a walk.”
  223.  
  224. The eight eyes sharpen. “You left him alone?!”
  225.  
  226. The wolf shrugs, “I told him to keep close. Try calling for him?” Aruen reigns in her anger. It’s not Misha’s child, nor is Leo her responsibility.
  227.  
  228. “If I shout, come running, okay?” Misha nods dubiously.
  229.  
  230. She walks into the bushes, feeling for the thin, nearly invisible webs she’d lain across her territory. She catches one. “Doesn’t quite feel long enough.” She lifts it up between her fingers and looks for which way it runs. West and East. “It’s been broken.” She feels for another web she remembers to have lain in that direction. Healthy vibrations flow through it. It’s quiet except for the general noise of wind. A heavy block of air pushes into the web, something giant and quadrupedal passing by, likely some kind of deer.
  231.  
  232. She feels the webs, the velocity and amplitude of vibrations, feeling some webs cut short, and some that remain the same length as when she first laid them, slowly drawing a mental image of her territory in the forest and all that moves within it. She sighs in relief, releasing a tension she didn’t know she was holding as she touches a web and feels Leo walk past. Well, something exactly his size and shape, moving at his usual speed. He’s not too far. Just as she’s about to let the web go and head to him, she feels something else. Something much larger, passing just after with the tension of a stalker.    
  233.  
  234.  
  235. ***
  236.  
  237. Leo steps through the undergrowth, walking aimlessly, enjoying the tranquillity in the forest that was his home. Not breaking his stride, he plants his hand to the trunk of a fallen tree and swings his legs over, landing with a quiet thud on the other side, and almost walking face first into a bundle of web. He brushes it aside carefully, and keeps walking. His eye catches a length of stick, straight with most the loose bark stripped from it.
  238.  
  239. Picking it up and swinging it about, it has the same heft as the stick he used earlier to train with. He comes to a clearing and grins, swinging his stick about, now with more room to move. Lazily, he goes through his routine of swings, overhead and under arm, from the shoulder to the hip and back again. He bends over and grabs a stone from the ground, tosses it unto the air, and smacks it into the forest with the tip of his stick and a loud crack.
  240.  
  241. The stone flies through the clearing with a perfect arc, to land in the bushes at the far side, if not for the paw that lances out and catches it. A large werecat, at least large to Leo, steps out from behind a tree, naked with pitch black fur and visible muscles that bunch and move eye-catchingly as her wide hips sway lithely from side to side as she approaches. Predatory eyes hone in on him, and a feral grin puts him on guard.
  242.  
  243. “Hey now, little guy. You can’t just throw stones around like that. What if you hurt someone?”
  244.  
  245. Leo takes a step back, “U-Uh… sorry.”
  246.  
  247. “Sorry? What do you mean sorry? You could have seriously hurt someone.”
  248.  
  249. “I didn’t mean to”
  250.  
  251. “You didn’t mean to, what, throw that stone up and smack it away? Was it all an accident then?” She closes the distance, grin widening as she drops the stone. Leo takes another step back, but his ankle snags on a root and he falls flat on his ass. The shadow looms over him, breasts swinging low, abs tightening. “What are you doing so deep in the woods anyway, kid? Why don’t you just come with me for a nice walk and we’ll,” He’s already up and sprinting, “see what we can do to make it even, maybe find your parents…” She watches as he vanishes into the bushes, almost shaking in excitement at the sight of his fleeing back.
  252.  
  253. She feels the molten electricity course through her, and her muscles bunch to the point of cramping pain. The pleasure of the hunt compresses her, a war between wanting to tear him to pieces and ride his pelvis into the ground and the sportsmanship of recognising her rival’s abilities. He needs a headstart, right? What tension held the cat in place shatters and like a spring she uncoils, bounding rather than stepping as she follows the scent of prey.
  254.  
  255. Rocketing forth, she leaps, clawing at the tree that flies towards it, kicking off it onto the next tree and finally hitting the ground running, seeing his top vanish around another tree in the distance. She adjusts her pace, having already more or less caught up in an instant. Down low on all fours, she makes as much noise as she can to startle him, remaining just behind him as his legs pump and he leaps over roots and fallen trees and rocks, remarkably well for someone his size and age.
  256.  
  257. His heart beats hard in his chest as if to leave the body behind as a distraction for a quick escape. He hears her right behind him, her breath hot on his neck. He grits his teeth, as he leaps over a small stream, letting momentum carry him into a boulder on the other side, fingers latching onto the face of the rock, pushing off with his legs to slip over it and down to the other side, landing with a roll, and returning to a flat out sprint, hearing a gleeful laugh behind him as the cat simply leaps right over the rock and lands steadily on the undergrowth behind it.
  258.  
  259. He sprints into a clearing, but misses a dip in the earth covered with clover. His foot lands right in it and he rolls his ankle, laming himself. He hobbles to a halt, eyes scanning the glade for anything he can protect himself with. He comes across a solid length of stick, and dives for it, spinning in time to see the cat approach form the other side of the glade, grinning.    
  260.  
  261. “The chase is over, little boy. It was fun, but” He swings the stick as she enters his range, but she catches it in a claw and throws it behind her, unbalancing him. With her other hand she pushes him down to the ground, and stands above him, flushes in her excitement, “It’s time for something more fun~”
  262.  
  263. Looking up at the merciless grin above him, Leo finally gives in, the pain in his ankle, the fear the excitement, the adrenalin coursing through his system, it all surges to a head and breaks the dam in the form of tears. “Muuuuum!” He cries out, desperately, not expecting a reply but it makes him feel safer to call for her none the less.
  264.  
  265. The cat relishes in his fright, and the eight looming eyes pounce, fangs digging deep into the jugular of the surprised cat, pumping her with neurotoxic venom. She empties her fangs into the cat, the bloodstream doing the rest of the work, and drops her into the dirt, stepping over her stiffening body for Leo to leap into her arms, crying, “There, there love. I’m here now. It’s alright, no one will hurt you now. I’m here.”
  266.  
  267. Dave and Misha arrive a few seconds later, frowning at the cat who is now paralysed, eyes flitting fearfully from face to face. “What do we do with her?” the spider looks down coolly as she comforts her son.
  268.  
  269. “I’ll handle it.” Misha turns to Dave,
  270.  
  271. “Could you take Leo back? Get him something to eat. He must be tires.” Aruen nods.
  272.  
  273. “Are you okay with than, hun?” Not even looking up, Leo shakes his head. Aruen gets down ever lower, nearly eye level, and strokes his hair, gently pulling his head back to look at her. She leans down, and kisses him, shocking him out of his tears with her soft lips. “It’s alright. I’ll be right after you, alright? I just have something to take care of. Be brave now.” She wipes his tears away, and he nods, and turns determinately to Dave, the grown man laughing.
  274.  
  275. “Attaboy. C’mon, lets grab some food.” He ruffles his hair and leads him away, slowly to account for Leo’s twisted ankle, and Aruen begins to encircle the stiff cat’s limbs, torso and throat in thin, strong web, sheer terror reflecting in the feline eyes.
  276.  
  277. “What was that?”
  278.  
  279. The spider smiles evasively, “What was what, Misha?”
  280.  
  281. “Don’t give me that. You were here long before we were, you could have stepped in before he twisted his ankle like that, before she almost had him. Why did you wait?”
  282.  
  283. She shrugs as she pulls on the web, tightening the bindings, watching as the cat’s eyes flash in pain, and the thin yet incredibly sharp web cuts into her skin, beads of blood collecting and running down the cords of silk. She turns to Misha. “I don’t really know, I just had the thought that… didn’t Leo’s scared face look real cute? I was going to wait a little longer, but I couldn’t help myself when he cried for me. Such a sweet sound.”
  284.  
  285. The wolf looks at the cat, “Just answer me this. You wouldn’t let harm come to him just to see that face, right?” Aruen half turns her head from observing her prey, a single eye falling over Misha.
  286.  
  287. “Do you even have to ask?”
  288.  
  289.  The wolf represses a shudder, and turns her back on the spider. Aruen bends low, grinning, and pushes the girl’s fringe behind one of her ears, “Now, how should I play with my little attempted kidnapper, hmm?”
  290.  
  291. “Aruen.” Misha calls to her from the edge of the glade.
  292.  
  293. “Yes?”
  294.  
  295. She turns back once. “Just… don’t let him see any blood on your clothes.” A quiet silence descends over the glade as the wolf leaves. Aruen’s eyes pass slowly over the gradually deepening wounds on the paralysed cat as she applies more pressure to the bindings, as if to lap up the pain. The fear. A quiet happiness settles in her chest as she considers how she’ll punish the one that hurt and scared her Leo.  
  296.  
  297.  
  298. ***
  299.  
  300. “Where’s mum?” Misha looks over her shoulder, into the woods she just emerged from.
  301.  
  302. “She’s just… talking to the cat lady. She’ll only be a little longer. More importantly, are you okay? How is your ankle? Here, let me help take your boots off” Misha sits before the boy and takes his leather boots in hand, dextrously working the laced strips of leather considering her paws.
  303.  
  304. “It’s okay if I don’t move it. Dave had to carry me though… sorry.” The man returns from the firepit with a bowl of soup,
  305.  
  306. “Hey, don’t worry. It’s not your fault.” He catches Misha’s eye, a questioning glance, and winces when she nods imperceptively in affirmation. “Here, eat up.”
  307.  
  308. Misha fidgets uncomfortably as she peels the boot of his foot and observes the angry red swelling. “I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have let you wander off all alone.”
  309.  
  310. “It’s my fault for walking off.”
  311.  
  312. “It’s no one’s fault, other than that cat’s, love. And she’s learned her lesson.”
  313.  
  314. “Mum!” Leo puts his soup aside and stands up suddenly, forgetting his wound. Just as he’s about to put his weight on his bad foot, Aruen rushes forwards and catches his him,
  315.  
  316. “Careful, careful. You hurt your ankle, remember?” He hugs her hips, her belly button the highest point he could reach. She laughs happily, and lowers herself, holding his head to her heart. “But don’t go off again, okay? You have no idea how worried I was. There are bad people out there. All you have to do it stay safe, with me.”
  317.  
  318. Leo looks into her eyes, and smiles brightly, genuinely, “I know that, mum. I love you.” He goes back to hugging her, utterly unaware of the effect of his words. Aruen just stares into the nothing, blushing heavily enough to feel like she were burning, love hearted pupils throbbing to the tempo of his words coursing through her mind. ‘I love you’ She scrunches her face up and screams a silent ‘Kyaaa!’ and squeezes him extra tight, rearing back to wrap a few of her arachnid legs around him.
  319.  
  320. “M-mum…can’t…breathe.”
  321.  
  322. “O-Oh! Sorry.” She lets him go, and puts him down where he was sitting before, and sits next to him, where Dave hands her her own bowl of soup and they eat in near silence, until the sun goes well and truly down, the light of the fire the only light left, if one ignores the stars and the moon. Leo yawns, drawing Aruen’s attention.
  323.  
  324. “Ah, are you tired, Leo?” The kid nods,
  325.  
  326. “A little”
  327.  
  328. “Well, it’s understandable. Should we head back? I think Misha and Dave want some time to themselves anyway” She casts a mischievous smirk to the two adults.
  329.  
  330. “Okay.” She holds her hand out to help him onto her back,
  331.  
  332. “Are you settled in?”
  333.  
  334. “Yeah.”
  335.  
  336. “Bye Aruen, Leo”
  337.  
  338. “Later Aruen, Leo”
  339.  
  340. Leo smiles tiredly as he waves, “Bye Dave, Misha.”
  341.  
  342. The walk back is peaceful and silent. She doesn’t even have to check to know he’s asleep. She grins, a sudden giddiness taking her. She got to see some special things today, got to hear him cry her name. ‘Fufu, I can’t wait until you can call my name a different way though’. Pleasant thoughts fill her mind as the cave comes to view. A sense of sanctuary comes over her as she steps into her web. He’ll be safe here.
  343.  
  344. She heads into the bowel of her den, where the things she’d collected over the years were. Things Dave had built, things she’d looted, things she’d bought from the town once it was rebuilt. Her clothes sold very well there apparently. Slowly, as not to disturb him, she lifts him off her back, and lays his sleeping form down onto the bed, with was little more than a large frame strung up with thick, tough web to form the mattress, and a softer silk for the sheets and blankets.
  345.  
  346. The day’s events catch up to her, and her nipples harden at the sight of his peaceful sleeping face. Cheeks flushing red, she stifles a soft laugh, and climbs the wall to the hidden alcove, and pulls out an unwashed shirt.
  347.  
  348. “Finally…” She lowers herself down above him, until her chest is nearly parallel with his as he lies flat on his back, her breasts inches from touching him. She brings the shirt to her nose and inhales, growing wetter as she watches his face shift in his sleep. Slowly, sensuously, her fingers trace down as her hand moves lower to her womanhood, just before where her human half joins spider.
  349.  
  350. She moans softly into the shirt, the noise muffled into silence, as she spreads her slick vulva between pinky and forefinger, a strand of lubrication linking the two lips to bend under its own weight and land with a quiet plob on the boy’s pant under her. With her pink insides so lewdly exposed, she inhales another lungful of his scent, and dips her two fingers in, brushing her clit with her palm as she penetrates herself, thrusting her fingers deep inside her, biting down on the shirt she herself had sewn for him to wear.
  351.  
  352. Her fingers grow soaked as she plunges them into her pussy, spreading it wide, and thumbing her clit. Her heartbeat thunders along as she grows hornier and hornier, her morsel right below her, agonisingly tasty yet unripe. Two fingers stop being enough, and she dips a third in then the fourth, grinding her teeth into the fabric, and tasting him in her mouth, smelling him, becoming intoxicated on his scent.
  353.  
  354. The temptation grows too fierce and she lowers herself just enough to lay her lips upon his. She kisses him as she fingers herself, yearning, begging to do more, imagining his cock plunging into her, spilling its seed, impregnating her. Needing it, wanting it. Frustration overtakes and she withdraws from the kiss to squeeze her eyes shut and drag in another lungful of his essence, and cram her whole fist into her cunt, feeling her own walls coil and constrict, trying to milk her hand of an orgasm that’ll never come.
  355.  
  356. He crams the shirt into her mouth and freed up her other hand to pinch and pull at her milky nipple, the white milk dribbling down onto Leo’s shirt, staining him in a collection of her juices. She’ll have to clean him later but she doesn’t care, so close to the edge now. She pinches a little harder, fucks herself a little deeper, and cums moaning low and strangled as she struggles not t wake him, gushing her girl-juices all over him none the less. Panting, she hangs, naked, dripping, trying to master her own heartbeat. She pulls herself up, hides the shirt, and lowers herself again, taking her hand out of her pussy.
  357.  
  358. She snuggles up to his sleeping form, making him open his mouth in his sleep. Not one to waste the perfect opportunity, she slips her fingers into his mouth, making him taste her love nectars in his sleep. “Fufu~ I hope this gives you sweet dreams, dear.” She lays her head upon his chest, and quickly chases those sweet dreams herself.  
  359.  
  360.  
  361. *   *   *   *
  362.  
  363. Leo moans softly, muffled, as his dreams warp and grow significantly…wetter. Soft hands wrap about his manhood in light phantom sensations, and the cold cave air gets to the sensitive skin. Sensations fall into place one by one, the soft warmth of Aruen’s somewhat-squishy belly at his back, a tight wetness around his fingers, the silky bindings around his wrists keeping them there and the soaked gag in his mouth, mixed liquids of his own saliva and the familiar juices of his spider lover. He grits his teeth, his muscles straining. Despite the powerful muscles he’d developed training with Dave and doing chores, despite being a measly year and a bit from the prime of his life, he still can’t wrench the bindings from his wrists. Aruen giggles, and licks up the length of his neck, then nibbles on his ear, one of her pedipalps thrusting his fingers deeper inside her sodden snatch, the chitinous limb curling around his bound arms. “You can’t resist me, darling~”
  364.  
  365. Her breasts press up against his back, and he shudders excitedly as he hears her swishing something in her mouth. With her other pedipalps clinging to his hips, she jerks him off from behind, hands slick and messy with his first orgasm. Her fingers glide up the length of his shaft, her other hand stroking and rubbing the head of his cock, hard and throbbing with the strength of his arousal.
  366.  
  367. She takes one of her hands from his cock, and pulls down on his gag, turning his head to face her. He takes the opportunity to voice the usual complaints, but they’re cut short, “He-mfgh” Her lips seal his, and she spills the contents of her mouth into his, a healthy dose of her saliva and venom milked from her fangs. He swallows almost greedily, reflexively, the heated, lusty fire scorching down his throat on its warpath, igniting a conflagration in his gut and by extension, his loins. “It’s not good to resist. Besides, we’ve got to get all that healthy seed out of you. You can’t just keep it all bottled up, you know?” She leans in close, and he blushes further as she licks across his face as if to claim it hers. She slips the gag back into place. “Now, no more talking. Let me handle this.” His sigh is audible, despite it cutting of halfway into a low groan as her fingers resume their working at his shaft.
  368.  
  369. She stops suddenly, cooing “Ooh, I have an idea.” She picks herself up, the sheets rustling as they slip off her arachnid half, and with a leg she rolls him over onto his back, pinning his arms under him. He watches her curiously, heart catching as she lowers herself onto his legs, and bends forwards, breasts wrapping about his rigid throbbing cock. “Ah. I just felt you twitch. Do you like my breasts that much.” She giggles as he nods his head, “How about… this…” She starts to massage her breasts around his cock, lifting them, squeezing them together, thrusting her chest back and forth, playing and rolling her nipples between fingers.
  370.  
  371. She begins to pant, and licks her lips, “Almost…” she grabs a handful of tit-flesh each and squeezes, whining as the pearly white milk spurts out. She giggles as she lactates a healthy stream, and leans back to grind her leaking nipples against the head of his cock, covering it in her warm, smooth milk, making his groin even more of a mess. She lifts a nipple to her mouth and sucks, grinning down at him as he looks upon her hungrily. The other nipple she milks into his lap with her hand, then releases the nipple between her lips, and lets her breasts fall down either side of his milk-coated cock.
  372.  
  373. “Do you like it?” He groans in assent, and bucks his hips, watching her quaking valley of flesh wobbly with the force of his thrust, pushing his cock though her cleavage. She gasps and giggles, and presses her boobs together to make it tighter for him. “Mmm, fuck my tit-pussy. Make sure to give me lots of your milk okay?” His cock isn’t small, but despite it, her large breasts engulf it entirely like it were sucking him in. Her fringe slips down, half obscuring her face. With a finger she pushes it all to a side and tucks it behind an ear, as she buries her face in her breasts.
  374.  
  375. Buried in her own mass of breast-flesh, she fishes out the head of his cock with her mouth, and wraps her lips about it, humming contently as he thrusts through her tits into her mouth, grinding the head of his cock against the roof with such intensity that he can practically taste his coming climax, hear it rumbling on its way down through to his balls, the most primal of instincts to breed, and fill with seed. With his hands bound under him, small thrusts are all he can manage, but with every surface of his dick embraced by either the soft, milky, tight breast onahole or the hot insides of Aruen’s mouth, it doesn’t take him much to orgasm.  
  376.  
  377. Cum spurts out the passage between her massive tits, and out the top where her face is hidden, but most of it flows down her throat into her belly, a long, thick and heavy load. She pulls her head out of her tits and gasps for air, cheeks and chin dripping with his ‘milk’. The spider runs her hand over her face, collecting it all on her fingers and licking it up in long, lewd strokes, her eyes locked on Leo’s.  
  378.  
  379. She leans back down over him, and slips her finger under his gag, shearing it off, her other arm slipping behind him, to pull him into a hug and at the same time slice the bindings around his wrists. Smiling happily, she rests her head on his chest. “You sure released a lot. Maye I should do this more often?” Leo chuckles as he runs his fingers through the spider’s hair.
  380.  
  381. “You already do this every morning.”
  382.  
  383. “Yes, and?” He knows a dead end when he sees it, and gives in. They lay together a little longer, Aruen exploring his body with her fingers lovingly, as if to memorise by touch each and every inch of him. A useless endeavour because by know she knows every last inch intimately. But soon he grows restless, not having the boundless patience of the spider, his young body demanding movement. He sighs, sits up, and gets out of bed, her arms leaving him regretfully.
  384.  
  385. He stands still for a moment at the edge of the bed and stretches, joints creaking in protest. Across from him tossed into the web lining the wall is an unstrung recurve bow, a quiver, a bundle of shafts and a sack of bones he’d spent some spare time carving into arrowheads. The crudest of the crude, but more than enough to fell game to feed his spider. He plucks the bow from the wall and wipes the web from it, sitting down. There’s a rustling behind him, and Aruen leans down to nibble and lick at his ears as she drops a thick and wound line of non-sticky, yet immensely strong web in his lap.
  386.  
  387. “Here you go, love.” He twists his head and gives her a soft kiss which she receives with her lips,
  388.  
  389. “Thank you.”
  390.  
  391. “Hunting again?”
  392.  
  393. “Yeah, there’s this one trail I have a good feeling about. Hopefully I can tag something large, get Dave to help butcher it and share the meat, head into town and share the rest.”
  394.  
  395. “Ooh, we haven’t been to town in a while. It could be a date.”
  396.  
  397. “That’s ‘if’ though. Also, I kind of want to buy more books.” He stands up, taking a few headless arrows he’d shaped, a giant bundle of web and the bag of bone-heads. With relative ease, he straddles the arachnid, and rests his back against hers. He lays the sticks in his lap, and fishes a head from the bag, fixing it in the stick and threading it in place with web. Her back vibrates as she talks.
  398.  
  399. “If It’s books, I have a few.”
  400.  
  401. “Yeah, I kinda already read them.”
  402.  
  403. “Fufu… not all of them~”
  404.  
  405. “Nah, those too.”
  406.  
  407. “What?! They were for your birthday.” She affects a pouty tone.
  408.  
  409. “Oh. Sorry. I thought you were just hiding them.”
  410.  
  411. “How did you even get up there?”
  412.  
  413. “There’s nothing you can hide from me, Aruen. Also, webs.”
  414.  
  415. “Damn.” She chuckles softly, biting back the urge to allude to at least one thing she’d planned for his next birthday. She keeps her straying hands away from her womanhood for the time being. Her thought changes quickly as he begins work on the second arrow, “Hey, stay safe alright? If anything happens, just pull a web, I’ll be there.”
  416.  
  417. “You say this every time.”
  418.  
  419. “What, don’t you like me worrying about you?”
  420.  
  421. “I didn’t say that.” He grins and reaches back to tickle her sides, making her laugh and buck almost like a horse.
  422.  
  423. “Kyaa! S-stop!” In her bouncing, one of the arrows flicks up, and his hand flashes out to snatch it before it can fall too far. “You know I’m sensitive there.” He laughs softly,
  424.  
  425. “I know, I know, sorry.” She settles down, and he absorbs himself in his work, lacing his arrows. Before long, the tenth is done, and he decides to stop there, hoping off the spider and returning six to the quiver. “So what are you going to do today?”
  426.  
  427. “Ah… sit around, I guess.” She grins cutely, “I’m very good at it.” Leo laughs,
  428.  
  429. “Allright then. See you in a bit.”
  430.  
  431. “Bye bye.” He turns, arrows in a hand, bow in the other, and sets to climb out of the cave and head into the woods, rife with game. After a few measured moments, Aruen follows.
  432.  
  433. ***
  434.  
  435. The leaves barely rustle as he stalks along the undergrowth, downwind of the game-trail he’d spotted a few weeks ago. A noise behind him alerts him to a presence, and slowly but quietly, he turns to see a large hare grazing. He chews a bottom lip, deciding whether to wait for something bigger or go for it. It stops, lifting its ears and scenting the air. Too perfect a target. Through the bushes, downwind, a perfect shot. He moves almost instinctively, drawing the bow back and with a whisper, he sets it loose. The ears have only enough time to point towards the noise of the incoming arrow before it pierces its chest with enough force to knock it back.
  436.  
  437. Kill taken, he resolves himself to, at best, having the smell of a dead animal hanging from his belt as he waits for other prey.
  438.  
  439.  
  440. ***
  441.  
  442. The large fox creeps silently through the underbrush, hidden from the hare. Utterly oblivious, it grazes, and the fox feels an almost feral sneer come to its lips. Easy prey. It tenses, and just before it leaps, a thin strand of web snares it by the muzzle and lifts it into the air. It goes to yelp, but can’t open its mouth as the spider draws the web upwards. She puts a finger to its nose and whispers, “Uh-uh. Leo’s.” The fox whines as the meaty sound of an impact rings out below, and its prey is taken.
  443.  
  444. Slowly, she lowers it back to the ground. The web comes apart, and she watches it run off. She smiles softly to herself, and moves along to follow her man.
  445.  
  446.  
  447. ***
  448.  
  449. The large meaty carcass slaps against his leg from where it’s tied to his belt with some thin rope. He runs quietly down the game trail, checking for markings, hoof prints, scoring in the wood, anything. Newer signs lead him to a clearing that looks almost too perfect, and he picks a good position and climbs up a tree settling down, to test his patience. There’s a nice breeze blowing through the canopy and as he sits and waits in the silent sounds of the forest, and watches as the sun crawls through the sky, changing the way the rays of lights fall, he finds himself slowly slipping into a sleep.
  450.  
  451. ***
  452.  
  453. Before long, he enters the familiar, gentle pattern of breathing when he sleeps. Slowly, she lowers herself on web from one of the branches higher up, and comes to face level with his sleeping visage. Far from seeming disturbed, he actually seems to fall into a deeper sleep with her looking at him, which suits her perfectly fine, because she could stare at his face literally all day. In face there have been days she’d spent absolutely tired because she’d spent all the previous night doing just that.
  454.  
  455. A long, pleasant time passes as he sleeps peacefully high up in the tree, and she gets so zoned out, she fails to notice the breeze pushing her until her lips are nearly touching his. With a strangles gasp she leans back, but the gust proves strong enough to bridge the distance, and her soft lips meet with his sleeping ones. Her eyes go wide, and she blushes, unable to explain the situation, but he doesn’t wake, only smiles slightly. With the danger of discovery no longer an issue, she finds herself drawn more to his lips.
  456.  
  457. Slowly, tentatively, she leans forwards until they touch again, just the slightest amount, and reservedly, very reservedly in a way as not to wake him, she tastes him, licking and nibbling at his lips, stopping whenever he begins to stir, kissing him tenderly. A bead of arousal slips up, or down, her upside down form, and with it, comes a rustling of the bushes below. Startled, she zips up her web, and settles back down on the branch above. Looing hatefully at whatever disturbed her, she sees a majestic Buck with large and twisted horns and a third eye based at the top of his skull, fur matted and spiky, though deceptively thin, only slightly harder than the hide of a normal deer. She looks down, to see Leo still snoozing, an reaches to a nearby twig, snapping it.
  458.  
  459. ***
  460.  
  461. He start, a quiet crack, but more than enough to let him know something is near. His first thought it so cast his gaze down, and the gods of luck smile kindly, as he spots his first real, large prey in quite some time. He draws back on the bow and lets loose, aiming for the third eye. He misses, and the arrow digs deep into the shoulder of the hulking animal. Spooked by the sudden assault from above, it runs, and with a curse Leo drops to the ground at a crouch, and sets off at a sprint. He misses the thud of a much larger creature drop after him.
  462.  
  463. The creature is faster than him, undoubtedly, but Leo knows the woods almost as well as it, and climbs over trees and jumps streams, pulling an arrow and firing at an open clearing, hitting it square in the rear flank, making it stumble, one of its legs lamed. But it’s still too far, Leo not fast enough, and as he sprints after it, he gets the feeling he’ll lose this one.
  464.  
  465. A grey blur passes before the Buck, and blood fountains from its torn throat. It stumbles and falls, about as surprised as Leo is. His sprint slows to a jog as he nears the felled beast, and the grey blur reveals itself to be Misha, standing there with a chunk of meat in her maw.
  466.  
  467. “Yo.” Blood dribbles down her chin as she stands there, then, in the moment of silence, tips her head back and swallows the raw chunk of meat.
  468.  
  469. “Ah, you caught it. Thanks.” The wolf looks at the massive felled beast’s shoulder,
  470.  
  471. “Missed the eye?”
  472.  
  473. He walks up to it, and starts retrieving the arrows, careful not to damage them. “Yeah.” The wolf frowns and sniffs the air for a second. Hey eyes flick to some trees, and she struggles to keep the smile off her face.
  474.  
  475. “Good hunting?”
  476.  
  477. “Yeah, I caught a hare too. Would you and Dave help me butcher it? You can have half.”
  478.  
  479. “Sure. Let’s just get this back, then.” Misha crouches down, and slips an arm under the hulking beast’s belly, and lifts it onto her shoulder, using her other claw to steady it. Leo takes a moment to admire her strength as she walks away, before snapping to, and following at her heels, halting only a moment at a rustling in the bushes behind him.
  480.  
  481. They walk for a while, until the rhythmic, familiar sound of a hammer on wood filters through the trees, louder and louder. Then a few high metallic ‘chink’s and then the steady scraping of Dave’s planer. Misha parts the bushes, but her form blocks the view ad soon it’s swallowed as the foliage swings back into place.
  482.  
  483. Grunting slightly as the bow catches on a branch, Leo pushes the same bushes apart to reveal a familiar clearing, now much larger than it was a few years ago, with much more cleared ground, and a large house-like structure above the den. Dave straightens and arcs his back, groaning as he pushes down on the lower muscles, about half way through making one of the arms of the chair he’d just finished constructing smooth. He turns as the heavier-than-usual footfalls.
  484.  
  485. “Catch something good?”
  486.  
  487. “Nah, Leo did. I just stopped it from running away.”  She hikes a furred thumb back, and Dave leans to the right,
  488.  
  489. “Oh, hey Leo. Good hunt?”
  490.  
  491. “Yeah. Caught a hare too. Wanna help cut ‘em up?”
  492.  
  493. “Sure.”
  494.  
  495. The dust stirs as Misha dumps the hulking mass to the ground with a dull, heavy thud. “Hey, careful.”
  496.  
  497. Misha shrugs at Dave’s reproach, “Just tenderising it.” He rolls his eyes as the wolf squats low and sets her claw into the beast’s hide, stripping it neatly and cleanly. Dave ducks into the home for some tools,
  498.  
  499. “Dump it on the slab when you’re done, there’s space on the rack too, throw the skin up there.”
  500.  
  501. “Yes, dear.” Leo stands around awkwardly, unable to really do much. Walking to the house, or rather, cabin, really, he unstrings his bow and sets it against the wall along with the arrows, and sits with his legs splayed out, back to the wall. Slowly, hair begins to lower into his field of sight and after nearly a meter, and it starts to pool in his lap, the owner’s upside down face comes into view. Aruen smiles at him with a certain love struck intensity, and leans forward to give him a short kiss.
  502.  
  503. “How was hunting?”
  504.  
  505. He smiles back, “Yeah, it was good. What were you doing?” She lowers herself the rest of the way, and twists, so that she sort-of sits in his lap, pinning his legs under her body, her chest comfortably close to his,
  506.  
  507. She drapes her arms over his shoulders. “Ah, you know. Hanging around.” The door opens, and the pair of heads turn. Dave blinks once at the giant spider on his doorstep.
  508.  
  509. “Oh, hey Aruen.”
  510.  
  511. “Dave. How’s things?’
  512.  
  513. “Good, good. Leo brought us some good meat and hide. Same as usual, I’ll cut it up and skin it, sell the stuff in town, we spit the meat and coin fifty-fifty.”
  514.  
  515. She smiles, “Thanks.”
  516.  
  517. “Ah, actually, Dave, if you don’t mind I’d like to head into town this time.” The man frowns at Leo’s words,
  518.  
  519. “You know who to sell it to?”
  520.  
  521. “Yeah, you showed me last time.”
  522.  
  523. “Guess I don’t mind. Misha?” The wolf doesn’t even turn from her work for the conversation, her canid ears picking it up well enough.
  524.  
  525. “Sound good.” Dave shrugs, and heads over to his wife with an assortment of metal blades, leaving the couple sitting together alone.
  526.  
  527. Aruen frowns pensively. “Why do you want to go to town?” Leo grins,
  528.  
  529. “I just thought it’s been a while since we went anywhere together.” The spider just smiles gently, and rubs her cheek against his before resting the other on his shoulder,
  530.  
  531. “I’d love to.” A wet meaty thud breaks the serenity as the skinned carcass is slapped onto the massive stone slab already drained for the most part by having its throat torn out and carried to the camp.
  532.  
  533. Dave sets into it with his blades, backing meat from the bone and setting it aside on the slab. Misha heads inside and returns with a crate with frosted air seeping from the cracks, and light blue runes glowing slightly. She cracks the lid and wrinkles her nose as the rolling frozen air strikes her in the face. Her nose isn’t wet like lesser canines but it’s an uncomfortable sensation all the same. She starts packing the meat into the crate.
  534.  
  535. The spider looks at it longingly “I need one of those.” The man laughs,
  536.  
  537. “Good luck. This thing costs as much as a house, or a full plate or armor.”
  538.  
  539. “How’d you get it then?” The man scratches his stubbly beard and the wolf giggles,  
  540.  
  541. “Uh… long-term borrowing.” Leaving the question to lie, Leo turns to Aruen, and digs his fingers into her soft sides, tickling her,
  542.  
  543. “Hop up so I can make a fire.” She laughs and squirms, grabbing for his wrists, but he sets himself in for the long-tickle, and soon her eight legs scramble to a stand if only to get away from his fingers. She pouts,
  544.  
  545. “Who treats their mother like that?” He just smiles in response and stands, heading off into the woods to gather sticks. She watches his back disappear into the trees and her pout and the smile hiding behind it fall completely.
  546.  
  547. “I don’t like it.”
  548.  
  549. Dave shrugs as he works at the meat, “You can’t keep him in that cave forever. Men are inquisitive. Sooner or later, he’ll want to leave.”
  550.  
  551. “I won’t let him.”
  552.  
  553. “Leave with him, then.” She opens her mouth to throw back a response, then shuts it, thinking. An easy smile falls back in place.
  554.  
  555. “Yeah. I’ll do that. How’s that buck coming along?”
  556.  
  557. He grunts. “Almost halfway.”
  558.  
  559. “Want a hand?”
  560.  
  561. He grins wryly, and he and Misha back away “Sure.” The spider saunters up to the slab, and rears up, two front legs like chitinous scythes, hands splayed out like claws. She falls upon the beast and lashes out, a high shriek of steel on stone sounding, making Dave wince.
  562.  
  563. “Don’t cut the slab, please.” The spider huffs, deflating.
  564.  
  565. “Sorry.” The rest of the carcase falls into a diced blob of flesh, losing its form.
  566.  
  567. “Feel better?”
  568.  
  569. Aruen nods to Misha who wipes a glob of flesh from her cheek and into her mouth, “Yeah.”
  570.  
  571. Dave looks at it with a tinge of distaste. “You could have at least taken the bones out.”
  572.  
  573. “…Ah. My bad.”
  574.  
  575. ***
  576.  
  577. The fire crackles pleasantly and the broth broils, the occasional overflow falling to hiss on the wood below before the fire reclaims its lost ground, and the frothy stock is baked into the wood, emitting a pleasant odour. That and sitting behind Aruen with his arms linked above her slim yet soft belly, his head resting on her shoulder, and the woman in question leaning back into him, holding his weight effortlessly, made Leo feel very comfortable, yet at the same time, very tired. No doubt the day’s exercise plays a significant part in that fact.
  578.  
  579. “Still with us, Leo?” He bites back a yawn, but doesn’t quite manage to stifle it.
  580.  
  581. “More or less.” Misha nods, and fills a bowl with the broth. Leo climbs off the Arachne, and sits next to her on one of the long, thick logs that line the stone-ringed campfire. Settled, he takes the bowl Misha offers, and hands it to Aruen, taking another for herself when she fills it. She then fills Dave’s bowl and lastly her own. Waiting for Dave to take the first mouthful before she takes her own.
  582.  
  583. They eat in silence, and stare into the fire as they taste the flavour of the soup and enjoy the heavy sensation of it filling their bellies and spreading warmth throughout. Aruen leans against Leo’s shoulder as they eat, and as the food disappears, bottles are brought out, and the relaxed if somewhat sombre atmosphere turns into something slightly more energetic.
  584.  
  585. After a few bottles are emptied, Dave and Misha’s consideration for their guests diminishes with each sneaked caress, and each shared look. Innately understanding that their time here is up, Aruen and Leo take their leave, sated and satisfied, the pair lazily saunter back to their own den.
  586.  
  587. ***
  588.  
  589. With a springy bounce, Leo flops onto the bed of webbing, his spider crawling in after him, the short walk energising him somewhat.
  590.  
  591. “Hey.”
  592.  
  593. “Yeah?”
  594.  
  595. Leo chews on his lower lip, considering hi words, “…Why haven’t we had sex yet?” A long silence fills the room as Aruen just stares at him, wide eyed and open mouthed, growing redder and redder.
  596.  
  597. “I- wa- h-how do you know what that is?!”
  598.  
  599. Leo blushes and looks aside, “I saw… them. O-on accident! I asked Dave what he was doing, and he explained it. Misha just looked so… happy. I want to make you look like that. Happy.” His gaze narrows on the squirming spider, “Also, what we do in the morning is a bit more than ‘release’.”
  600.  
  601. “I-I didn’t lie or anything… It was release.” She looks down guiltily at being caught out,
  602.  
  603. “Forget that. You’ve done pretty much everything else. Why not this?” She opens her mouth to say something, but only a light mumble comes out. Inaudible. Leo gives her a bit longer, and she tries again,
  604.  
  605. “I didn’t want to force you. Shut up, don’t give me that look, I-I just… took you. I didn’t want to force it on you, if you didn’t… you know, want to.”
  606.  
  607. “That’s irrational.”
  608.  
  609. “I know.”
  610.  
  611. “Well… why didn’t you tell me what it was, so I could make that decision sooner?”
  612.  
  613. “…” She heaves a heavy, anxiety ridden sigh, “I was scared you’d say no.”
  614.  
  615. “I wouldn’t. I love you, both as the person who raised me, and as the woman I love. No is the last thing I’d say.” The words rock her, blow away and lingering hesitation or doubt she has. She stares at and through him at the same time, jaw slackening, lips curling into a stupid grin. “Aruen?”
  616.  
  617. “Y-you said it.”
  618.  
  619. “I-I did?”
  620.  
  621. “I love you!” She grabs him by the shirt, claws digging into the fabric she wove just for him. Leo looks into her eyes and realises she can no longer see him. Or perhaps it’s just that he is the only thing she can see right now. There’s a fervent worship reflected in her glowing eyes, and as her grinning jaw hangs open, purple venom slips down her fangs. Surely the throbbing hearts reflected deep within are but a trick of the light.
  622.  
  623. “Aruen?” She attacks him, in a flurry, fangs sinking into his shoulder, unloading a tremendous amount of venom, but she throws him into the wall before it can even begin to spread. The web catches him, but like he’d lost all knowledge of how to get out of it, he only struggles. He barely has enough time to stop bouncing with the recoil before she’s already on him, legs a frenzy, disoriented already, the sudden spinning of the world does no good, and he squeezes his eyes shut as the tension in his pants becomes unbearable and her venom does its work. When he opens them next, he can’t move, entirely captured in her web, and Aruen is before and above him, already naked, breasts swaying pendulously in their motion, her nipples hard and already leaking fine beads of milk.
  624.  
  625. She doesn’t say anything, only looks at him beneath her, cocooned in web. “What are y-mphf” Almost as if to silence him, her lips crash forcefully into his, hand bracing the back of his head, fingers buying themselves in his hair possessively, holding his head in place as her lips press against his, and her tongue pries his teeth open to coil around Leo’s like a snake.
  626.  
  627. Her free hand traces down his spine, until the finger reaches the base of it, then she drags it around his hips to the crotch of his pants, and she slices the web there, and pulls down his pants, freeing his hard and already dripping cock. Her fingers curl around it, her soft thumb rubbing the glans and smearing its length in pre-cum. He groans as she begins to stroke him off, and he struggles for air, her lips stealing it from him.
  628.  
  629. As hard as he’ll ever be, cock throbbing and bouncing, she positions him with her pedipalps, and reaches a hand down between her legs to dip her fingers in her womanhood. They come back sticky and covered in her excitement. She rubs it into his dick, and lines it up with her lips, the head pressing into their near impregnable tightness, his maleness perhaps slightly too large and thick for her first time. She forces it in anyway, legs curling around him and thrusting him into her, her womb’ first taste of cock, taken to the hilt.
  630.  
  631. Only then does she break the kiss, to unleash a cry that echoes and bounces off the cave system, filtering into the forest as an orgiastic moan. She holds him crushingly tight as she comes, decades of pent up anticipation erased in a single motion, the convulsing and writhing motions of her cunt, wringing Leo’s cock, and with an uttered groan of his own, and to much latter embarrassment, he cums as soon as her cervix parts around him. Washing her womb directly in a coat of hot, pent up white seed.
  632.  
  633. The warmth suffuses her, and trickles down the length of her pussy, she pants, raggedly. “Sorry, I don’t know what came over me.” Her finger runs down his cocoon of binding, and the web springs free. “More?”
  634.  
  635. He lunges at her, making her cry out in surprise as his muscles bulge and strain, taught as he flips her on her back against the web, and straddles her, slipping his legs behind her front two, and kneeling atop her, cock poised. “More.” She reaches out for him, fangs already glistening with their bounty,
  636.  
  637. “Come to me.” He grabs her hips and falls onto and into her, obeying her, filling her, letting her sink her fangs in for another dosage. It hits him like a mountain, and only her pedipalps and legs locking him within her keep him there. His cock hardens further as the tainted concoction rushes to it, so much so that he can make out the faint bulge of his cock in her belly. But then that could be the delirium induced on him by finally being joined with her. He begins short, slow thrusts into her deepest parts, and he clutches at his back, fingers digging in.
  638.  
  639. Heedless of the pain, he seeks out her breast, and gives it a tug with his teeth. A hot squirt washes down the back of his throat, and his lips latch around it. She holds him here with a hand as he drinks, his tongue flicks and plays with her nipple. Nothing holds back her moans and cries, her sheer wetness making it so that when his hip collide with what passes for hers, a lascivious slap meets their ears, drawing him only to greater lengths.
  640.  
  641. Leo thrusts deep one last time and bites down on her nipple before once more breeching her cervix and blasting his load into her womb, but there’s no respite for the spider beneath as even as he cums, he continues to thrust. She reaches up and behind and clutches at the webs around her, pulling and tearing as them as they transmit the vibrations of her vicious pounding right back to her in cacophonous sensation.
  642.  
  643. He releases her breast, and traces kisses up her breast to her collar bone, hands following behind up her curves, to slide across her breasts, making her squirm as they brush her ultra-sensitive nipples, and slide up her armpits to her lithe, shapely biceps and up further still to lock hands with hers, fingers intertwining. As they do, his lips trail up her throat, and find her mouth.
  644.  
  645. Pinning her hands to the web, her legs pinning him to her, they writhe in a passionate, long overdue embrace, muscles heaving in rhythmic motion, her natural scent mixing with the potency of their sex, the cave filling with the smell of a spider being bred. Milk leaks from the tit Leo’s lips didn’t grace, and only adds to the messiness as his flat muscled chest presses into her soft and enormous bust.
  646.  
  647. She bites his lip on a particularly deep, well angled thrust, and moans into him as he strives to hit that particular spot again and again. The taste of blood, venom and saliva mix in their mouths, and they drink it down readily as their tongues encircle one enough, tasting one another.
  648.  
  649. Another climax courses through them both, her walls driving him to the edge once more as she milk him of every drop he has to offer, and then more as her fangs slip back in and his cock rises to full mast once again. But Leo’s stamina finds itself at the brink, and sensing this, Aruen again reverses the situation, laying him across some flat web, pinning his legs under her and sitting astride him, fingers tracing circles and crawling across him like tiny spiders in their own right.
  650.  
  651. “Mmm, not nearly enough, darling. This is the night I’ve dreamed of ever since I took you in, we’re not ending it early.” His heart flutters as her venom splashes against his tensed abdomen, and he can’t hide or supress the fear, arousal and anticipation that courses through him. His grin gives him away, and the figure atop him smiles maternally. “You’re mine, aren’t you. No one else’s.” She leans low, and licks up the side of his neck, his jaw, and she gives a little bite on his earlobe. He hears her lips part, and her sultry whisper. “My own, private, precious, beloved little spider-slut.”  
  652.  
  653. Something deep in him reacts to her words far more favourably than he would like, “Oho, you like that?”
  654.  
  655. “No.”
  656.  
  657. “Don’t lie to me, beloved. I felt you react.” A heavy blush covers his cheeks, but the extra blood-flow to his face does nothing to diminish the hardness of his cock.
  658.  
  659. He pouts, “Well you’re the one who raised me. It’s your fault.” She giggles,
  660.  
  661. “It is, isn’t it?”  He bites back a groan as her walls begin to shift, taking a more active role in milking him, as she gets used to using the virgin muscles used to bring men to the heights of ecstasy, “I guess this,” She gestures to the almost-clear outline of his maleness, “Is my fault too, then?”
  662.  
  663. “Entirely.”
  664.  
  665. “Ooh, I better take good care of it then.” She leans down to wrap her arms behind him, and pull him into a sitting position, looking down on him lovingly. She forces his mouth open one-handedly with pressure to his jaw, and pops her nipple inside, forcing it unto him. Milk once more fills his belly, vanishing at is comes, leaving him ever thirstier. He hasn’t a moment to spare on the strange, empty state of his stomach as he absorbs her energy and repays her with his own as he comes yet again into her belly, now slightly rounded with the sheer weight of seed in her womb.
  666.  
  667. Not sated, she tips his head aside, and bites again. Something deep and primal unshackles itself from within Leo, and the tit slips from his mouth as he gasps wordlessly, and her venom glows through his veins and skin, spreading through him. His eyes flash a deep iridescent purple, and he fairly growls as he digs his hands into the curve of her behind and lifts her, making her gasp them scream as he brings her back down on his cock.
  668.  
  669. Viciously, lovingly, passionately, he fucks her with all the vitality of not a man, but an incubus, her cunt convulsing around his cock, as she thunders through orgasm after orgasm, so tightly crushing his indomitably thick cock, the seed is forced out, making their laps a seething hot pool of cum and juices, but he thrusts into her on primal instinct, and spears into her womb again, a final load, larger than all the last combined, as he purges a lifetime wasted not balls deep in the woman before him.
  670.  
  671. Her belly expands short of the point of pregnancy as he floods her womb. She cries as the last orgasm nearly wipes her mind clear leaving in its place only a thick white. She dredges her consciousness up, and collapses atop him, her weight bringing him down too. Leo gasps.
  672.  
  673. “Okay… I think that’s enough.”
  674.  
  675. “Yeah. For now.” Aruen nuzzles her cheek into his neck and shoulder, and smiles contently.
  676.  
  677. “What was that?”
  678.  
  679. “Proof that you’re my husband now.”
  680.  
  681. Leo laughs, “Well I guess we better register it when we head into town, huh?” Aruen giggles at the thought, and Leo squeezes his eyes shut and sighs, as if releasing a burden. “Actually, there’s another reason I wanted to head into town.”
  682.  
  683. “Oh?”
  684.  
  685. “Yeah… I want information. About me. I want to know where I came from.” With his eyes closed as he holds his lover, he cannot see the deathly expression that takes her. “I want to know just who I am.”
  686.  
  687.  
  688. *   *   *   *
  689.  
  690. “Here, lad. You won’t need it. But it looks pretty damn cool either way.” Leo looks down at the sword given to him.
  691.  
  692. “How did you get this?”
  693.  
  694. Dave scratches at his beard. “I… borrowed it.”
  695.  
  696. “I… huh. Well, thanks, I guess.”
  697.  
  698. The man grins wryly, “Don’t mention it. And if anyone asks…”
  699.  
  700. “’Don’t mention it’, right?”
  701.  
  702. “Anyway, the cart is all loaded up for you. No horse though.” He grins mischievously, “Gotta put those legs to work.”
  703.  
  704. Leo sighs. “Yeah. Well, at least it’s not that far.”
  705.  
  706. “You know the way?”
  707.  
  708. “Yeah I can find the road. Then I just follow it down ‘till I hit the town, right?”
  709.  
  710. “Yeah, Arnhem.”
  711.  
  712. “All right, well daylight is burning. I’d rather not get caught out at night, or I really will have to use this sword.”
  713.  
  714. “World ain’t that bad yet, lad. Still. Take care. And here, take this, just in case.” Dave produces a sealed letter addressed to the merchant he does business with.  
  715.  
  716. “Yeah, will do.” Leo takes it, and puts it aside, turning his head back. “Ready, Aruen?” There’s a rustle from the bushes behind him, and they part to reveal the spider, burdened by a massive bow she can likely only draw vertically if she stands to her full height. Easily Leo’s height and then some, an equally large quiver at her arachnid hip, the contents dark and swirling, like she could pull shafts from nowhere.
  717.  
  718. “Yeah. Found it. Had to do a bit of digging though.”
  719.  
  720. “What is that?”
  721.  
  722. “It’s my old hunting bow.”
  723.  
  724. “Gods. What exactly did you hunt with that thing?”
  725.  
  726. The spider grins, “Things too big to handle without it. C’mon, lets head off.” Leo looks to the cart, filled with skins, the enchanted crate of meat, and the neatly folded cloth he was first brought to Aruen with. He sighs, and walks to the large cart, old with split and frayed wood, but immensely sturdy, with obvious and numerous repairs, darkened at various stages by age.
  727.  
  728. Taking his place by the handles of the four wheeled cart, Leo heaves, and stumbles, having put far too much force into it. The cart rumbles by easily, the wheels slick to turn, his strength more than enough to comfortable pill it. “Huh. Thought it would be harder.” He settles into an easy pace, and begins to tug the cart along a dirt path, created by years of use by Dave, Aruen following aside him.
  729.  
  730. “So really, what do you even hunt with something like that?”
  731.  
  732. “You don’t see it much up here, but further south the beasts the beasts are massive. Something about the land there.”
  733.  
  734. “I kinda wanna see what that bow does.”  
  735.  
  736. Aruen smiles, “Yeah? Watch this.” Obviously pleased by the chance to show off for Leo, she unslings the bow from her chest, and rises on her legs, seemingly towering. She reaches into the depths of the quiver and produces a long thin arrow with a brutal looking head, and knocks it to the string, woven from web. Eyeing a tree in the distance, she pulls back, wood, bone, sinew and string groaning. With a gentle exhale, she releases, the string snapping to place with a mighty whip, the arrow shooting forth, splitting the air and slamming into the tree.
  737.  
  738. With a wood-splitting scream, the trunk shatters into a thousand splinters, the arrow slamming through and into a tree behind it. It groans teeteringly, a large chunk of its strength now gone, but somehow manages to not collapse under its own weight.  
  739.  
  740. “W-wow…”
  741.  
  742. “Impressive, right? You need nothing less for some of the boars down south. Naturally, only a monster can draw something like this.” She strokes the wood with pride, and the two head off to survey the damage.
  743.  
  744. “Wow. This tree is basically demolished.” Aruen wrenches the arrow from the tree behind it, and drops it back into the vast expanse of her darkly swirling quiver.
  745.  
  746. “Still needed three to put down the boar I hunted last.”
  747.  
  748. “How long ago was that.”
  749.  
  750. “Long before you were born. Before I even came up here really. Wow. Talking about it makes it feel so long ago. I only really did it while I was looking for a home.” She slips the bow over her head, the string nestling between her breasts. They start walking down the road again, in even paces, the way her eight legged gate matches his two legged bespeaking of their time and comfort together.
  751.  
  752. “Why take it out now?”
  753.  
  754. She shrugs, “I guess I feel more ready with it.”
  755.  
  756. Leo grins impishly as he pulls the cart and looks ahead, “What, were you that worried about me?”
  757.  
  758. “Always.”
  759.  
  760. “We’ll be fine.” As if responding to his words, the trees thin along the path as it opens to a much wider travelled road, solidly compacted ground with the odd spattering of fence and crystal lantern, soaking in the filtered glow of the sun through the leaves, waiting to release the stored luminance.  
  761.  
  762. “You know I’m still surprised at how suddenly this went up.”
  763.  
  764. “You shouldn’t be surprised at what gold can do, Leo. Tch. Humans. They’d harvest their own organs if enough gold were involved.”
  765.  
  766. “I’m human too, you know.”
  767.  
  768. “You’re Leo. That’s all that matters to me.”
  769.  
  770. “Well, as far as harvesting goes, it’s not like the forest isn’t giving one back for every tree Faraon cuts down. First werewolf packs then pissed off dryads. The local lords had to dump some serious coin into Faraon if they wanted to get the town to such a state where it could effectively harvest lumber.”
  771.  
  772. The cart bounces as it leaves the thinner path and rolls to a stop onto the more trodden path, “I say they deserve it.”
  773.  
  774. “Sure. People live here. I’d fight back too, if their axes came this way. Fortunately the best wood seems to surround that lake that runs off the mountains.”
  775.  
  776. Aruen frowns, “I can’t help but think that there’s a reason the wood there is of such a high quality. Lets hope they don’t piss off whatever that reason may be, and affect the whole forest.”
  777.  
  778. “One can only hope, right. But say something does happen to the forest. Where would we go?”  
  779.  
  780. “I guess it doesn’t really matter so long as we’re together.” Leo looks upward, considering her words, an easy smile on his lips.
  781.  
  782. “Yeah. I guess it doesn’t.” He starts walking again, turning the cart of one path and down another. He eyes the falling sun with some unease. “At any rate, let’s try and be out of the forest by night fall.”
  783.  
  784. “Relax, it’s only mid-day.”
  785.  
  786. “Past mid-day.”
  787.  
  788. “We’ll be fine. You have me here with you, and nothing in the world can hurt you.” She grins, leaning down to kiss his cheek as he languidly walks, towing the cart behind him. Her lips touch his cheek, and he turns his head to meet hers with his own.
  789.  
  790. “Lucky me.” The two walk in an easy silence a while longer, neither needing to speak, immersing themselves in the ambience of woodland creatures, and the regular squeaking as one of the cart’s axles grinds on its rotation. Then finally, the spider’s lips part.
  791.  
  792. “So. Say you find where you came from. Who left you… then what?”
  793.  
  794. “I guess I just head to where the answers lead me. I… Will you come with me?”
  795.  
  796. She laughs, “You’d have a harder time getting me not to.” The two continue in their gentle silence for a long while, simply enjoying the company of one another. Eventually, Leo stops, groans and stretches.
  797.  
  798. “Let’s have a short break. Been at it for a while.”
  799.  
  800. “Mmm, I could use a snack~”
  801.  
  802. “I said break.” Leo rolls his eyes, and pulls the cart off the road. Soon as he does so, Aruen takes his hand, and guides him to a nearby tree, pushing his back against it, and lowering herself, eyes set on the slowly hardening object of her desires. “H-here? What if someone sees?”
  803.  
  804. Carefully, she undoes the pants she herself made for him, and with a smooth hand, fishes his cock out of his pants, “Then they won’t see again, darling. Don’t worry about it. Now…” With fangs dripping, she digs her teeth into his hip, and he relaxes as her molten venom spreads through him. “Feeling a little more obedient now, darling? Trust me. I raised you, didn’t I?”
  805.  
  806. Leo swallows, cock throbbing, relaxing against the tree, letting it support his weight, and letting the spider hold him up, “Yeah…”
  807.  
  808. She giggles, and kisses the head of his cock, getting pre smeared on her lips. With glinting amusement, she eyes him as she licks the taste off her mouth. She reaches up, and cups his balls, squeezing them gently, rolling them around in the palm of her hand, urging a little more strength into his spine, making him groan and straighten. “Now you can thank me, child, with all the tasty cum you haven’t spilled since morning, okay?”
  809.  
  810. “Sure…” He reaches out, and brushes her face with his hand, collecting her fringe, tucking it behind an ear, and guiding her soft lips to his needy cock, “Anything for you.” She gives a happy coo as his shaft penetrates her lips, and fills her mouth. Her tongue coils around it, as it plunges deeper yet, into her throat, covering it in venom and spit and the tight warmth of her oral embrace.
  811.  
  812. She hums happily, as she fills herself of her favourite taste, and Leo zones out as he look down at her servicing him, her many legs twitching in rapturous pleasure, hands balling into fists where she holds his pants, her breasts swaying with the motion as she thrusts herself onto his cock like an onahole, kissing the base of his dick, and rubbing her nose into his abdomen before pulling back, tongue twisting around his shaft, hardened beyond normal capacity by the venom coursing through his veins, intoxicating her.
  813.  
  814. One of her hands slips from his pants as her head bobs on his cock, and her fingers dart downward, beneath the cloth that girds her hips, and into the sopping wet femininity below. Leo takes a more active role, guiding her pace with his hands, her own fingers buried deep in her twat, matching rhythm with the speed he thrusts his manhood down her throat. She makes happy gurgling noises as her husband molests her throat, his speed increasing, she can nearly taste his oncoming orgasm, the reward waiting. She redoubles her efforts, urging him on, moaning around his shaft, holding his churning balls, coaxing his seed.
  815.  
  816. With a muted cry, Leo pulls his wife’s head into his groin, and cums down her throat and into her stomach, so much so that her stomach fills, and her eyes widen as alabaster spurts leak from her nose, but she doesn’t splutter, instead her eyes soften with affection as she watches him tense in orgasm. As the taste of his seed washes back to fill her mouth, she reaches her own quick climax, joining the tail of his. She works her tongue around his shaft as she draws back, cleaning it, leaving it shining in the mid-afternoon sun.
  817.  
  818. “Mmm, what a meal. Good boy, you saved up a lot. More than usual, wasn’t it?”
  819.  
  820. “Y-yeah. Not sure why.”
  821.  
  822. “Well, more is always better.” She grins, “Means you’re healthy.”
  823.  
  824. “I’m hungry.” He corrects her.
  825.  
  826. “I packed some food. Sorry, I-uh… ate without you.” Leo laughs, and runs his fingers through her hair as she does his pants back up and rises.
  827.  
  828. “That’s alright, you can still keep me company. So what did you pack?” Leo pushes himself off the tree, and makes for the cart, understandably drained.
  829.  
  830. “Rations from a while back. Dried fruits, cheese and salted mutton.”
  831.  
  832. “Mmm, you know your way into a man’s heart.”
  833.  
  834. “I’ve been in your heart for years, love. I’ve made myself at home.”        
  835.  
  836. Leo fishes out the foodstuffs, “This meat would agree with you.” Aruen crawls up the cart and sits atop it, legs splaying outwards. Leo leans back into her as she wraps her arms around his shoulders an rests her cheek against his own, her breasts pressing up against his back.
  837.  
  838. “Eat up, sweetie~”
  839.  
  840. “You make me this comfortable and I’m likely to fall asleep right here.”
  841.  
  842. “While that sounds nice, it’s best we sell these furs off sooner rather than later.”
  843.  
  844. “Yeah, I guess we better.” Sighing, Leo hops off the edge of the cart, and starts to pull,
  845.  
  846. “W-woah! At least wait for me to get off first.”
  847.  
  848. Leo laughs, “I believe you already did. Besides, you’re not that much heavier.” Aruen blushes and smiles, lying down her human half atop the furs,
  849.  
  850. “If you insist, darling.” The two continue walking down the road through the forest, passing some traveller on the rare occasion, passers-by who stare uneasily at the spider perched atop the cart. Aruen glares back with open disdain, and Leo watches their movements, unusually aware of the weight of the sword resting at his hip. Monsters seem to be common enough though, because seeing Aruen provokes little more that wariness, not the crazed, dogmatic fear of the places to the east.  
  851.  
  852. As night falls and Leo considers whether or not they should really spend the night in the forest, the road widens, and the trees clear, setting sun splashing out across the grassy plains, fading in to the misted oceans far off in the horizon. The town is in the distance, only a few hours walk.
  853.  
  854. “It’s still amazing to see this town flourishing again.”
  855.  
  856. “What do you mean?”
  857.  
  858. “It just surprises me, every time I see this place. When I first found you, abandoned in my web, this place was nothing but ashes.”
  859.  
  860. “Eh. That’s humans for you. Well, anyway, we’re too late to do any trading, so let’s just find an inn and a place to store this cart.” Leo starts walking, dragging the cart down the road. Gravity is somewhat on his side, as all the land on this side of the mountain ranges slopes down towards the ocean more or less, but it’s still a bit of a haul, having pulled it all day. Aruen falls into a silent kind of brooding the closer she gets to the town, and before long the two are traveling in silence, much of the traffic on the road having die down, absolutely nothing coming or going from the road to the north, shrouded in an eerie mist, and little traffic from Faraon to Arnhem. “Look like we’re some of the last”
  861.  
  862. “Hope the guards aren’t a pain in the ass.”
  863.  
  864. “Should be fine. What’s up that way anyway?”
  865.  
  866. “No idea. There’s a river, a bridge and a giant gate that’s been closed for as long as I’ve been here at least. Place is said to be cursed. Human superstition.”
  867.  
  868. “There’s probably some truth to it.”
  869.  
  870. “Eh. I only know that I don’t want to go anywhere near it.”
  871.  
  872. “Well, it’s a good thing we’re heading the other way, then, right scaredy long-legs?”      
  873.  
  874. She reaches around and pinches his cheek, “No teasing.”
  875.  
  876. “Showwy” She lets go, and strokes the now red cheek, “Any way, you should probably hop down now.”
  877.  
  878. She thumbs the string of her bow as it rests between her tits, “Right.”
  879.  
  880. With a weary apprehension, the two head down the path towards town, the sun long and truly gone at this point, the flickers of braziers along the town wall flashing into existence with magic flare, the majority of which situated at the opposite end of town. Flaming eyes that watch down southwards. An unnatural air hangs over the town, the fact that the watch-fires are more concentrated southward whereas the town itself is built to watch over the cursed gates of the north, is a bad sign.
  881.  
  882. Heads turn at their arrival, and the sleeping guard stir, standing to attention to meet them. As they get close enough for the town walls to loom a senior member of the guard steps forward to halt them.
  883.  
  884. “Hold up you two. Step away from the cart. Off to the side, please.” His tone is friendly enough, but neither miss his hand moving to the hilt of his sword. He waves two men behind him forward. “We just need to check what you’re bringing in.”
  885.  
  886. “What are you checking for?”
  887.  
  888. “Weapons. Tainted contraband.”
  889.  
  890. Leo frowns, “Why would we have any of that?”
  891.  
  892. The man shrugs, “Wouldn’t be the first time those monsters down south tried to slip something past us. And with the Demon Queen’s armies deadlocked at Linnake, that’s the only way they’ll make progress Northwards.”
  893.  
  894. “Really, though? All the way up here?”
  895.  
  896. The guard eyes Aruen. “Stranger things have happened.” He turns to his men, “Anything?”
  897.  
  898. “Just furs and meat, Sir.” The man nods,
  899.  
  900. “Alright, carry on then. Gate’s closed for the night, so use the smaller portcullis.” He points to the portal to the left of the gate, then looks to Leo’s sword, “And make sure that doesn’t get drawn in my town. We’re all tense these days, and tense people will say some regrettable shit, more so towards a monster. So hold your sword, because people won’t hold their tongues.” He sighs, then smiles, “Just be glad this isn’t the Imperial Capital, and us Lyonesse men aren’t nearly as mad. Have a good night.”
  901.  
  902. The two enter via the secondary entrance, the town still somewhat active from the guard’s words, you’d assume all monsters to be looked down upon, but there are still a few couples going about their business easily, though far less than you would expect from a town this size, so far from large cities and human prejudices. “I guess we better find an inn and worry about selling our stuff tomorrow.” Leo looks around, the only remotely inn-looking place, a large establishment off to the side with its lights still on, and a handful of people milling inside and out of it, a raucous noise invading the streets each time the door opens to let patrons in or out.
  903.  
  904. “Shall we head in there?”
  905.  
  906. The spider considers Leo’s words for a moment, frowning. “I… guess. If they aren’t too noisy, that is…” She shuffles a step closer to Leo’s side, “and if they don’t try anything strange.”
  907.  
  908. “Should be fine.” Leo grips the handles of the cart and heaves forward towards the inn, the crunch of the wheels on the dirt becoming less audible the louder the din becomes.
  909.  
  910. The inn sits high, high enough to require a few steps to reach the porch it sits atop, and scattered around the establishment’s sheltered perimeter is a haphazard collection of tables, chair and patrons, milling about, some men, some women, some not even human, a peaceful co-existence that speaks of the town’s detachment from the front, its remoteness from the zealotry of lands beyond the great gates.
  911.  
  912. With that said, the only monsters present are the usual culprits, benign creatures of the surroundings, harpies, werecats, kobolds, and a rather rough looking were rabbit, buckler strapped to her back, a Morningstar upon her hip. All of which, except for the maybe-mercenary, easily found in the lands, skies and forests surrounding the town of Arnhem.    
  913.  
  914. “I’ll wait here, you go see if you can find us a room.”
  915.  
  916. Aruen frowns, “Are you sure, dear?” Leo turns to face her, eyes taken from the inn, missing some of the curious and enticed gazes that fall across his back, aware of it only through Aruen’s reflected agitation.  
  917.  
  918. “I’ll be fine.”
  919.  
  920. “Okay then. I’ll be back soon.” Drawing herself up, she steps towards the inn, a leg moving at a time, and then halts. She hesitates and turns back, striding up to Leo. He leans back reflexively as she nears, nearly towering over him.
  921.  
  922. “Wha-” She takes the back of his head and seals his lips with a kiss, fierce and possessive. His breath freezes in his lungs and he stumbles back as she leans onto him, his back pressed to the cart. She forces her tongue through his teeth, and tips his head further back, his own tongue ensnared within hers. Pricks of hot embarrassment flare up and spread across his body as he feels the gazes pierce him, unsure of whether or not it is his own strength holding him up or hers. Only as his lungs begin to groan in need does she release him, and let him drag in a shay breath, “A-are you done?”
  923.  
  924. She takes a glance behind her noting the flushed faces, the eyes that can’t meet her own, and the unconscious reaffirmations that their own men besides them aren’t about to be taken. “Yeah, I think I am. Sit tight, dear.” Leo watches as she walks back to the inn, his cheeks still burning red.    
  925.  
  926.  
  927. ***
  928.  
  929. “Are you sure it’s okay to just leave it there?” Leo frowns, glancing out the rain-slicked window, a wasted effort, as the window is both blurred with moisture, and not facing towards the abandoned cart in the first place.
  930.  
  931. “I’ll be fine, the owner said that in that warehouse, it was safe and nothing would happen to it. And after our lovely… chat, I’m sure he’s more than aware of how important to us it is that nothing happens to that cart.”
  932.  
  933. Leo hops off the windowsill, and walks over to the dying fire across the room, crouching before it, and reaching across to the basket to his side, to pull out another log of wood, holding it carefully between two fingers as to not skewer himself full of splinters, of which the crudely cut wood is riddled with.
  934.  
  935. He throws it into the fireplace, displacing half-burned logs in a cloud of embers. The fire rises to consume it, and Leo stands, stretching out. Arms reach out from behind him, and encircle his chest, pulling him back into the spider’s soft embrace.
  936.  
  937. “Aruen?” She leans down, and kisses his earlobe, then his jaw, then the side of his throat. “What, you can’t wait? We haven’t even eaten yet.”  
  938.  
  939. “Nope.” Her dripping fangs slide into his throat, and he goes rigid. Leaving a restraining hand across his chest, her other goes down, dancing across his abdomen, and teasing lower. Her slender fingers slip under his trousers and curl around his hardening maleness. A gleeful smile tugs at her lips, knowing that he’s hard for her; the venom hadn’t yet reached that part of him, though it wouldn’t be long. She undoes his trousers, his already rigid cock springing free, the molten flames of his arousal consuming him so fast it leaves him light headed. “And I won’t stop either, not until every delicious inch of you reeks of me.”
  940.  
  941. “There are a lot of inches to cover, then.”
  942.  
  943. She pauses a moment, and lets out an almost-bark of laughter that quickly devolves into a giggle, “Shut up.” She places her hands on his shoulders, and pushes him down, to his knees first, then onto his back. She settles over him, her face just before his cock. Leo grins, faced with his lover’s aroused and slick lips, and reaches up to hold her hips in place, lowering her just enough to place his lips to the hard bud of her clit. She lets out a low moan, as his lips encircle it, and he teases the pleasure cluster with his tongue.
  944.  
  945. Not one to have the thunder of the moment taken from her, she quickly sets to devouring his dick, full lips wrapping around the head of his cock, tongue snaking out to coil around it, and guide it deeper into her throat as she begins to bob her head up and down the length of his shaft, already milking the pre out of it. Leo groans in satisfaction, and feels the ripplings of his oral pleasure in Aruen’s steadily increasing wetness.
  946.  
  947. He hugs her closer, and thrusts his hips slightly, as he plants a kiss on her lips, and parts them with his tongue. With practiced motions, he searches through familiar fields, for the spots that make her quiver and cry, half lost in the giddy contractions of the spider’s cunt, half in the hot, wet sensations of his cock plunging through her tight throat, as she takes him to the base, fangs settling dangerously against his crotch.
  948.  
  949. She gives a half giggle, as she wiggles her nose into his abdomen, throat working to milk the seed from him before relinquishing most his length, to focus her attentions on the head of his cock, tongue swirling around his glans. She even curls her soft fingers around his churning sack, egging him on. This spurs in Leo more than just the urge to blow his load, and he works his tongue, deeper, leading only to his downfall, as she gives throaty, deep pleasured purrs that serve only to tighten his gut with his impending climax.
  950.  
  951. Determined yet, he toys with her clit, encircling it with his tongue, flicking it, then plunges his tongue back in, striking all the points to make her own orgasm crash hot upon the heels of his own. The pleasure grows too great, the venom in his blood sending him past the tipping point, and with a muffled grunt, he climaxes, Aruen’s throat bulging to take the load, some of it spurting through her nose as she fails to swallow it all fast enough. The spider, not one to waste the offerings of her prey, simply takes his spurting cock down to the base, Leo’s hot cum painting her stomach white as it sits lodges in her contracting throat, the taste of it pushing her over the edge with the assistance of her lover’s tongue, wringing out her own climax.
  952.  
  953. She quivers atop him for a moment, then sighs happily before standing up. “Mmm.” The spider rubs her hand on her belly, “It’s a good thing there’s oh so much more where that came from.” Her eight eye narrow in on her son’s still rigid cock, and she grins in a far from maternal manner. “Gooood boy~” She advances on him, and wraps her arms around him, using her two front legs to sweep his own from under him. She carries him to the bed, and drops him on it, crawling partway atop it herself.
  954.  
  955. Leo rolls his eyes, “You have that look in your eye again.”
  956.  
  957. “Oh? And what look is that.”
  958.  
  959. “The hungry one.” He leans forward, and wraps an arm around her human hips, and pulls her atop him, his cock pressed flat up against her belly, and sits up to kiss her, his tongue slipping into her mouth. She puts her arms around his shoulders, and lifts herself just high enough to get the head of his cock prodding the entrance to her quivering quim, and then she sinks down, impaling herself. She gasps, breaking the kiss, and Leo grabs her head, and tips his own to the side. He pushes her down, and as if taking his lead, she bites into the bared flesh, sinking yet more venom into his veins.
  960.  
  961. The man sighs as it courses through him, and the spider atop begins to move her insides, milking him without even moving, relying only on her mastery of her succubi slit. “You should really be careful dear. Well, not that I wouldn’t love having you hooked on me.”
  962.  
  963. “Think I probably already am, to be honest.”
  964.  
  965. “I love you, Leo. Lets just stay like this, forever.” He quietens her again with a kiss, and she holds him tighter, her two front legs encircling his lower back as her arms claim his upper. Her eyes close as she sits with him, milking him, the only movement, the rolling motions of her abdomen as she contracts to draw all the seed out from him, so that he might paint her womb white.
  966.  
  967. They break the kiss, and she rests her head on his shoulder, adding a rocking motion to their tender love making. Leo gasps once, as his second orgasm that night hits him, and he grabs at her hips, to try and thrust the tiniest bit deeper as he cums, but it’s futile; the two are already locked as closely together as possible. Aruen sighs happily, but doesn’t stop there, keeping her rocking contractions going, eager to milk yet more from him. His cock sensitive, Leo gasps, “Uh-uh, there’s still more of that yummy white seed in there. I’m going to take it all, leave absolutely nothing for those other sluts.”
  968.  
  969. “O-other sluts? Oh, the ones outside a few hours ago.”
  970.  
  971. “I saw them looking.”
  972.  
  973. “Well then, you better make sure there isn’t a drop left.”
  974.  
  975. She smiles softly, “I will. Sorry, just bear with it.”
  976.  
  977. “It’s nothing to bear with, because-”
  978.  
  979. “You are mine-”
  980.  
  981. “All yours.” She kisses him, fangs dripping, and feeds him her venom. His cock hardens inside of her, almost growing, as he swallows the fel concoction, an odd strength running through him. He cums again, a load harder and larger than the last. She holds him tighter, as he floods her womb, but doesn’t stop.
  982.  
  983. He grunts, and heaves her over onto her back, making the spider squeak, her legs curl up defensively, locking him inside her, but her has enough room to move, thrusting his cock into her sodden snatch. He leans down, and catches a milky nipple in his teeth, instantly rewarded with a warm spurt. She reaches up, and runs her fingers through his hair, “Mmmm, I was so full, too. Drink. Get your strength up, and maybe I really will be able to take every last drop.”    
  984.  
  985. His lips curl into a grin around her nipple as he thrusts his hips into hers, and gropes her other tit, squeezing rivulets of milk out to run down his hand. Not to waste it, Aruen grabs her own breasts, and pops the nipple into her mouth, she looks into his eyes as she suckles from herself, smiling, and gives a soft coo as she feels his cock twitch inside her. He cums again, load just as large as the last, and watches as her belly begins to expand just the slightest bit. The spider moans into her own breast as she cums to the sensation of being to thoroughly filled, then lets the breast pop out of her mouth, still leaking milk. She reaches for his arm, and sinks her fangs back in, pumping yet another load of her aphrodisiac fuck-venom into his system.
  986.  
  987. With a bit of effort, the rolls over, back onto her legs, and settles down, bending luxuriously over her own spider half, one hand at her lips, spreading them and letting Leo’s thick seed slip out onto the sheets, another beckoning him closer. “Oh no, looks like you need to fill me some more. Come, Leo, just keep thrusting your hips.” He crawls over on his knees, an almost vacant look in his eyes as the venom wreaks chaos in his system, his entire world the spider before him. She holds her hands out for him, and takes his face in her hands, leading him atop her. “Good boy, such a sweet child, and all, all mine. Come. Lets feel good together.”  
  988.  
  989. He enters her embrace, called to by the seductress, led by the venom in his veins, but he would have answered her call all the same. His throbbing cock burns with the sensation of the air on his shaft, and only the sweet lips of her twitching twat can be the salve. With her pedipalps holding his hips, he thrusts back in, and is led to her breast, the spider beneath moaning and squirming as he ravishes her, blushing so hard she almost heats the air. Her eyes burning with the desire to do just what she said she would. Milk him of every last drop.
  990.  
  991.  
  992. ***
  993.  
  994. Leo blinks, and struggles to lift his head, not a single muscle in his body listening to him, not wanting to move from this state of perfect rest. “Ah, you’re up?” He rolls his eyes upward, to see, beyond her large breasts, Aruen looking down at him, his head resting against her belly, her pedipalps over his shoulders.
  995.  
  996. “I’m hungry.”
  997.  
  998. She grins, and reaches behind her, pulling around a tray absolutely stacked with food. “I knew you would be. Sorry, I went a bit far last night.” She takes a piece of ham, still hot and juicy, and presses it to his lips. He takes it, chews, if chewing was the right name for it when the succulent meant practically dissolved in his mouth anyway, and swallows,
  999.  
  1000. “Do you feel better though?”
  1001.  
  1002. “Yeah.”
  1003.  
  1004. He smiles up at her, “Then I’m happy.”
  1005.  
  1006. She looks down at him, a plethora of emotion flitting across her face, “Awww,” She leans down, cups his face and kisses him, “You’re the sweetest.”
  1007.  
  1008. “I know, I know.” She reaches for a strawberry, and pops that into his mouth too.
  1009.  
  1010. “Anyway, just eat. We’ll deal with the furs any anything else later.” Groaning Leo masters his motor controls, and sits up to face a clearly crestfallen spider. “Couldn’t you have lain down just a little longer?”
  1011.  
  1012. “Oh, sorry.” He opens his mouth, and Aruen grins, happy again. This time she takes a piece of cheese, and pops that into his mouth too, nibbling on a piece of meat as he chews.
  1013.  
  1014. “So what do you want to do first?”
  1015.  
  1016. Leo swallows, “Eat.” The spider giggles,
  1017.  
  1018. “No, after that.”
  1019.  
  1020. “Lets sell the furs first. The meat will keep for a while longer yet, and we can sell that after. Then we’ll go and find someone to take a look at that cloth.”
  1021.  
  1022. Aruen takes a sideways glance out the window that offers a rain-garbled view of the street below. “Shame that today is the perfect day to do nothing.”
  1023.  
  1024. Leo shrugs as he picks up a large berry and holds it out for the spider, “It’s alright, all we really have to do today is sell the meats and fur. Sure, it’ll cost another night, but anything else can wait until tomorrow.” Aruen leans forward and takes the berry with her teeth, her lips brushing his fingers. She crushes it, the juice spilling into her mouth, flooding it, almost.
  1025.  
  1026. “Are you done eating?”
  1027.  
  1028. Leo grins, lasciviously, “Almost.” He moves himself a little closer to her, and takes one of her immense, rounded breasts in his hand, massaging it, fingers sinking into it like a cloud of soft, milky white flesh. The spider bites back a moan, as a bead of milk forms, “I’ll be done after a quick drink.” He latches his lips to the nipple, and begins to drink the heavy flow of white, creamy milk. Aruen’s fingers brush through his hair as he drinks from her, a satisfied smile on her lips. They sit together like that in relative silence, until Leo feels his belly grow heavy. He pulls back on the nipple until it comes free with a pop, and her beast bounces back into place. “I didn’t realise spiders were so milky. Are you sure you aren’t part cow?”
  1029.  
  1030. Her eyes widen in mock indignation, “How mean! I did this for you, you know!”
  1031.  
  1032. “Really?”
  1033.  
  1034. “You know Misha’s bad habit?”
  1035.  
  1036. “The one where she raids caravans, and pretends like they just happened to break down?”
  1037.  
  1038. “That’s the one. Anyway, this was when I first found you, and she had this crate of bottles from a ‘tipped over’ caravan. Back then I wasn’t sure how to feed you, and Misha suggested I take one. I didn’t plan on the effects being so permanent, but… here we are I guess”
  1039.  
  1040. “Huh. You know, I always wondered.” Leo stares at the topic of conversation, and gives its nipple an idle poke, making the spider back straighten like he just send a current through it. “Well, if we’re done eating, we might as well get the day started. Do you know what time it is?”
  1041.  
  1042. Aruen looks out to the clouded, drizzling sky, “No clue.”
  1043.  
  1044. “Well, I’m sure we didn’t sleep that long.” Leo stands up and looks around the room, a little messy with stains from last night, odd strands of web hanging from things. He looks up, and sees his shirt webbed to the ceiling. He raises an eyebrow, and tries to jump for it, but his fingers just brush the sleeve. He’s about to pull a chair or bed over, when Aruen reaches up and plucks it from the ceiling. He takes a look at her long, arachnid legs.
  1045.  
  1046. “You know, you forget how long those are, when you’re always sitting so low to the ground.”
  1047.  
  1048. She stands, drawing herself to about half the height she possibly can with her long legs, towering over Leo, “My oldest sister used to always do this when she talked to people.” She sinks back down again, “But it’s a bit of a pain.” She reaches around for her top, and puts it on, breasts filling it out almost absurdly. She turns around, and lifts her long hair out of the way “Could you do this up?” Leo leans over, and ties the back of it into place, before putting on his pants, and grabbing the bag and sword he put off to the side when they first arrived.
  1049.  
  1050. “Ready?”
  1051.  
  1052. “Yeah.”
  1053.  
  1054. “All right then, let’s go make some money.” He pushes the door open, holding it for Aruen, who does one last search of the room before nodding to herself, and heading out. “Didn’t leave anything?”
  1055.  
  1056. “I don’t think so. I have that cloth on me.”
  1057.  
  1058. “We’ll ask to have the room locked anyway, we have it for two days.”
  1059.  
  1060. They head out of the inn, deciding to first check up on their cart, rain cascading off the roof of the inn, miniature waterfalls striking upon the dirt and stone, carving rivers through the cracks in the rock, coalescing down the sides of gently concave streets.
  1061.  
  1062. The wet weather keeps back all but those who bring their own shelter, affluence riding in carriages, a beggar with a simple board of wood resting atop his head, pressed to the wall to steady it, an impressive display of posture is nothing else. Then there are the odd few here and there who dash from cover to cover. Thankfully, the warehouse isn’t too far from the inn, a substantial bit of cover from here to there, Aruen’s hair only lightly misted with raindrops by the time they pass through the large oaken doors of the warehouse.
  1063.  
  1064. Their cart is up by the far back corner, sitting lonely in a relatively unremarkable part of the building, hidden by larger, older wagons. “Everything still there?”
  1065.  
  1066. Aruen lifts some furs and shifts some things around “Mmm… yep. Everything is still here.” She giggles, “How good for him.” Leo tilts his head, but something about the sinister undertones dissuades him from asking what she meant. Instead, he puts his hands to some of the larger carts and throws his weight against it. Wheels grind through the dust as the old wood groans, and he opens a path to haul his own humble cart through, Aruen watching with a pleased glance. “I raised a strong man.”
  1067.  
  1068. He grins, “That you did.” The path to the rain-sodden exit of the warehouse now open, Leo grabs the handles of the cart and begins to pull, Aruen following by his side, the two of them stopping just before the exit, staring into the rain. “How exactly will we manage this?”
  1069.  
  1070. A bearded head pokes in through the doors, tentatively, relief washing over as the owner of the inn recognises his tenants. “Oh, it’s you two. Gods, would you like to make any more noise?” He looks past them to the older wagons in the warehouse, “Jeeze, that took a whole team of men to move in. How’d you even budge it? Anyway…” He frowns, then steps into the warehouse, heading to one of the walls, “You’ll need something for this rain.” He heads over to a large chest, and opens it, pulling out a thick dense blanket, more like a rug.
  1071.  
  1072. “This will keep your wares dry, assuming you don’t sit out in the rain for too long. It’s usually a coin or two to let it out for the day but…” He rather pointedly avoids Aruen’s gaze, “Just be quick.”
  1073.  
  1074. “Sure thing. Thanks.”
  1075.  
  1076. “Don’t mention it.” The man walks back out of the warehouse and towards the inn, leaving the blanket for Leo to drape across the top of the cart. There’s a bundle of rope off to the side, and Leo takes the liberty to ‘acquire’ it to tie the blanket down onto the cart. Set, he takes the handles again, and looks to the spider.
  1077.  
  1078. She speaks before he does, “Know where to go?”
  1079.  
  1080. “More or less. Dave was pretty clear on the instructions, and I kind of remember from last time. Do you have the letter?” She produces it from gods know where,
  1081.  
  1082. “Yup, right here.”
  1083.  
  1084. Leo takes a breath, “Alright then. Let’s do this.” The quick moment of inertness having sunk the wheels into the ground a bit, producing a slight bump as Leo steps forward, a second as he pulls the cart onto the cobbled road, his natural posture, the sword at his hip and the ease at which he pulls the cart striking an odd dissonance, like a lord ploughing the field, earning a few glances as he heads down the main road with Aruen at his side, turning off it as they reach the more industrialised part of town. Deeper roads, and higher rooves slightly easing the intensity of the downfall, so long as you aren’t standing near the waterfalls off the edges of the rooves.
  1085.  
  1086. They stop before a store with a metal sign in the shape of a cleaver hanging from the roof, markedly similar to the one Dave described. Seeing as there were no other along this street, they decided to head inside. Halfway through trying to figure out what to do with the cart, a figure instead comes out to greet them, tall and muscled, wielding a bloody cleaver, head adorned with high pointing canid ears and a big bushy, tawny red tail, beginning to get slightly sodden in the rain. Her nose twitches, and she calls out to them.
  1087.  
  1088. “Deer?” Leo nods, “Keep walking, alleyway to the left, head down it, it’s the building to the left, you’ll meet my husband there.”
  1089.  
  1090. “Thanks.” The wolf turns and heads back inside, the two watching her exit. “Kind of an abrupt woman.” They keep walking, ragging the cart to the right side of the path to better turn it into the alleyway, the corners sharp, like there was no alley there to begin with, so someone merely knocked a hole in the wall of buildings to make one. It’s too narrow to head in side by side, so they approach it single file, the spider heading in first. The natural slope of the path means the deluge of rainwater here is particularly thick, Leo having to use different muscles just to keep the thing from rolling over him.
  1091.  
  1092. The thin path opens to a wider area, that looks to house quite a few sheds and warehouses for different businesses, looking through one window revealing stacks of timber, another revealing rolls of cloth. There’s another path into the open area further down, which leads all the rainwater out, so nothing gets flooded, regardless, each building is elevated. The one to the left is their destination, Aruen already there, talking to a man, presumably the husband of the wolf.
  1093.  
  1094. Leo watches her hand the letter to him as he approaches, the man’s eyes turning to him and the cart, “Ah, Dave sent ya, did he?” He squints at Leo, frowning, “I remember now, yeah, you were with Dave a while back. Leo, right? So this is Arren?”
  1095.  
  1096. “Aruen.”        
  1097.  
  1098. “Right, sorry. I’m Ged.”
  1099.  
  1100. She laughs, “No problem. So Dave mentioned me?”
  1101.  
  1102. “Yeah, I mean, not much to talk about when you live in a forest, no offense, so his wife’s best friend and her kid get a bit of mention whenever he comes here to sell stuff.”
  1103.  
  1104. “Bit intimate for a business relationship.”
  1105.  
  1106. “Nah, we used to be in the same line of work. So, what’cha got? Cass mentioned deer? Ah, first lets get out of this rain. Just a sec.” He heads back into the building, and after a moment the two closed, large double doors open, one before the other. “Just head in through here.”
  1107.  
  1108. Leo nods and hauls the cart under cover, the rain growing less amplified as they leave it behind, it’s beating upon the roof a reminder of its presence. He squats down and begins untying the rope holding the damp blanket in place, then peels it back. It falls to the wooden floor with a wet splat. Ged pulls the two great doors closed again and comes over to peer into the cart to inspect the contents.
  1109.  
  1110. “Hmm, furs and meat. Pretty usual, why isn’t Dave doing this?”
  1111.  
  1112. “We were heading into town anyway, might as well save him the trip.”
  1113.  
  1114. “Sounds fair. Cass!” He leand back and shouts for his wife, the wolf appearing a moment later.
  1115.  
  1116. “Yeah?”
  1117.  
  1118. “Wanna take this meat and prepare it for the display? Smells pretty fresh, best to sell it off today.”
  1119.  
  1120. She nods, “Sure.” He hands her the crate, and the wolf puts the cleaver under her arm, taking the crate with both hands and heading back into the shop.
  1121.  
  1122. “You’re a butcher, right? What will you do with the fur?”
  1123.  
  1124. “Ah, I know a guy. Anyway, that was a hefty box of meat, and there are a quite a few quality skins here. Jus’ about the usual haul from Dave. Right, then. Wait here, I’ll get some coin.”
  1125.  
  1126. The two wait in momentary silence, Leo leaning against the cart and Aruen playing with his hair, trying to get it to set right as it dries from the rain. “Do you have any idea how much this is worth?”  
  1127.  
  1128. Aruen frowns as she tries to get his hair to obey, “None.”
  1129.  
  1130. “Me neither.”
  1131.  
  1132. Aruen shrugs dismissively, retracting her fingers from his hair, satisfied. “Dave trusts him. I’m sure he won’t try to rip us off.” A minute later, Ged returns with a bag of coins,
  1133.  
  1134. “This should cover it. You said you were in town for another reason? Feel free to leave the cart here ‘till you have to go”
  1135.  
  1136. “Oh. Thank you that would be really helpful.”
  1137.  
  1138. “Na, don’t mention it. Nice doing business with you two, see you later.” He gives a nod and shakes their hands, bringing a sense of closure to their dealings before turning around and heading back into his shop leaving the two alone once more.  
  1139.  
  1140. “What now?”
  1141.  
  1142. “Dunno. I’m kind of hungry. Want to find some place to grab a quick snack?”
  1143.  
  1144. “There might be something along the main streets.”
  1145.  
  1146. Leo pockets the bag of silver coins that was handed to him and heads out the smaller door, Aruen emerging behind him, “Let’s have a look then. What did you want to do after?”
  1147.  
  1148. “Head back to the inn and grab that cloth with the emblem on it, then find someone who can tell me about it. Someone in charge, or failing that, someone with some kind of registry where I can look up who this emblem belongs to.”
  1149.  
  1150. “Sounds boring.”
  1151.  
  1152. Leo shrugs, “It’d be a whole lot more boring without you being there to take my mind off things.” They walk along the streets in single file, hugging walls as to catch the minimal shelter provided by overhanging rooves. Not that it helps overmuch, the rain accompanied by frosty, whirling winds that often change, blowing rain around to an area previously dry.
  1153.  
  1154. The weather showed little mercy to the creatures scurrying around, but a remarkable amount of citizens were out anyway, doing their businesses, seeking their leisure. The overcast sky shone a grey light over the town, the constant downpour muffling the noises of the city, leading to, should one manage to stay dry, quite a comfortable atmosphere that inspired very little action. Leo’s nose twitches, and he breathes in the rain-dampened aroma of cooked food. Led by the nose, he turns down a side street, seeing a stall a few yards away, under a large awning keeping it and the area around it dry, steam rising off whatever is being cooked in the pots in the bench, a handful of tables to sit at to the side.
  1155.  
  1156. The two share a glance and come to a mutual decision, appetites whetted by the smell. The eyes of the girl manning the stall fall across Leo first and she gives him a friendly, professional smile, then they continue onto who came with him, and she sort of blanches. “Good day, Sir, M-Ma’am.” Her eyes shoot down from Aruen’s eight, “C-can I help you?”
  1157.  
  1158. Leo raises an eyebrow, but doesn’t mention it, “Yeah, what’s in those pots?”
  1159.  
  1160. “U-uh, stew, sir. Rabbit, mutton, beef, and a mix of different meats. The last one is our most popular tody, sir. Good for this weather.”    
  1161.  
  1162. “I’ll have the last then.”
  1163.  
  1164. “Same.”
  1165.  
  1166. She nods, significantly more composed, “Two coppers, then.” Leo fishes two out of his pockets, smaller change for the trip, something like handing a food vendor the silver he got from the sale of furs would result in a fistful of smaller coins. She takes them, and reaches under the bench fishing out two wooden bowls and spoons. She opens the pot and pulls out a ladle hidden within filling the bowls with the soup nearly to the point of overflowing, then hands them to Leo and Aruen with a smile, eyes still not meeting those of the spider, “Enjoy! Just leave it on the table when you’re done.”
  1167.  
  1168. They take the bowls and head to one of the further tables, the wood already beginning to heat up in their hands, not an unpleasant sensation to stave back the cool air. They sit opposite each other, Aruen putting one of the chairs aside and imply lowering herself to the table’s height. Leo stirs the broth with his spoon, the murky dark brown mix swirling appetizingly, various shapes and colours rising to the surface, potato, carrot, chunks of meat, and likely a myriad of other finely cut vegetables dissolved into the mix. He lifts out a spoonful, and tips it into his mouth, the earthy flavours pleasing to the palate with a strong flavouring of meat and herb, a far cry from the simple but efficient dishes they cook at home.
  1169.  
  1170. Aruen makes similar satisfied noises, and frowns as she swallows, “Perhaps we should start growing herbs.” Leo shrugs,
  1171.  
  1172. “This is nice, but I don’t mind what we usually eat. Up to you though.” Aruen falls into culinary contemplation as the two of them continue with their meal, eating in a comfortable silence, until the bowls are empty, and the bellies full. They stand up from the table, Leo groaning and stretching.
  1173.  
  1174. “That was good.”
  1175.  
  1176. “Yeah.”
  1177.  
  1178. “What now?”
  1179.  
  1180. Leo shrugs, “There’s got to be some kind of town hall or something. Let’s head back to the main street and, I dunno… look for the most important looking building.”
  1181.  
  1182. They head back the way they came, tracing steps back to the main road, the skies darker than ever, the rain temporarily stopped. The air carries on it the scent of a storm and it spreads lances of dulled anxiety into those trapped outside. Leo chews his bottom lip, and casts his gaze skywards. “We’d better find this place sooner rather than later.” He looks down along the stretch of the road, and spots a soldier standing around, looking bored as he observes the passing people, leaning his weight on his spear.
  1183.  
  1184. He turns his head as Leo and Aruen approach, with a part curious, part bored gaze. “Can I help you?”
  1185.  
  1186. “Yeah, who can I talk to about the sacking of the town some years back? Or where could I go to look up on a family crest?”
  1187.  
  1188. The man frowns pensively, still slouched on his spear, “Hmm… you want the guildhall. Ask for Bernard de Valle. He is a busy man though, so be prepared or a wait.” He turns his gaze skyward. “Or come back tomorrow.”
  1189.  
  1190. “Where can we find this guildhall?”
  1191.  
  1192. He extends an arm “Take the fourth right along the road and then turn left. Can’t miss it.”
  1193.  
  1194. “Thank you.”
  1195.  
  1196. “Happy to help.” The disinterested soldier turns away whilst Leo and Aruen begin down the main road, walking side by side now that they don’t need to seek shelter from the rain.
  1197.  
  1198. Aruen grabs his hand, her fingers slipping between his. “Are you alright?”
  1199.  
  1200. “Yeah. Let’s go find out who I am.”
  1201.  
  1202. The guildhall is a large, domineering building, merchants and high society passing through its doors in regular intervals. Well, as high a society as a town like Arnhem can have, anyway, paying taxes, consorting with business. On a day like today, far from a harvest season, the activity was muted, subdued with only the affluent and bored hanging around, discussing menial things, the odd dispute to be settled before a semi-formal court, maybe an off-season display of cultural arts.
  1203.  
  1204. But on a sunny, productive day in the midst of a harvest, often the festivities would spill out onto the streets, stalls being erected to sell off harvested produce, new and old business partners gathering to have trade links flourish once more, performers making use of the crowds to get their names out, preparations for night-long festivals, and rituals to a good harvest the next year around.
  1205.  
  1206. Only once had Leo been at such a time, to sell meats and furs with Dave, the spike in supplies and demands netting a decent price. But it would be a few months before any of that came around to Arnhem again, and in this overcast weather, any such merry makings were held inside the hall. There were fewer monsters inside compared to the number of humans, but even then Aruen didn’t draw any one’s attention, despite her larger and more imposing breed, testament to the self-absorbed nature of those who gather here.
  1207.  
  1208. One did notice, though, a cute girl with ginger hair, emerald green eyes and a modest bust, sitting behind a desk with some books scattered around her, clearly taking on some kind of administrative role, a door behind her. She waved them over, and smiled as they approached earshot, “Hello, is there something I can help you with?”
  1209.  
  1210. “Yeah, we have some questions, and were told to look for Bernard.”
  1211.  
  1212. She tilts her head, “Bernard? Why? What kind of questions?” Silently, the door behind her opens to reveal a luxurious looking office, and a suave, middle aged man. Slender, but to all appearances still fit, he emerges, hair stylishly combed back, a sleek ducktail beard with strands of grey streaking through it.
  1213.  
  1214. “About the town before it was sacked and rebuilt some years back.” He wears a loose white shirt with a deep cut neck tucked into his trousers, a dagger on his belt, and looking behind him to his office you see a rapier mounted on the wall behind his chair.
  1215.  
  1216. She opens her mouth in a silent ‘aah’ of realisation, “Yeah, he’s just about the only person here who could answer such questions.” He grins, and winks at Leo and Aruen, putting a finger to his lips, shushing them as he stalks up on the girl sitting at the desk. He stalks up behind her, then pounces, hands flying to her breast, catching her nipples between thumb and forefinger, rubbing them against the fabric of her top. He nibbles on her ear and she locks up, letting out a low, quiet moan as to not draw attention, visage shimmering, for a split instant showing the ghostly apparition of horns, wings and a tail, eyes flicking to crimson red.
  1217.  
  1218. It passes, and she blushes, “B-bern… company.” He releases her ear, but keeps his hands firmly latched onto her breasts, massaging and playing with them as the girl squirms in her seat.
  1219.  
  1220. “Ah, yes. Can I be of some assistance?”
  1221.  
  1222. Leo clears his throat, “Uh, yes, sir de Valle,”
  1223.  
  1224. “Bernard, please. And you are?”
  1225.  
  1226. “Bernard, then. I am Leo, this is Aruen. We have some questions about this town and the sacking some years back.”
  1227.  
  1228. “I… see. Hmm,” He frowns, “I get the feeling this will be quite the lengthy chat. How about the two of you join me in my office?” He finally relinquishes his grip on the poor girl, and turns to leave, gesturing the two of you follow him. The blushing redhead doesn’t let him leave, not immediately at any rate, catching his wrist, and pulling him down for a kiss on the cheek, lips coming up to his ear, whispering something to him that neither catch.
  1229.  
  1230. “I see. I’ll look over it later tonight,” she releases him, and he turns back to the other two, smiling, “Sorry. Shall we?” He gestures the two to enter his office, and walks in after them, closing the door, then stepping around his desk to take a seat, gesturing to some of the chairs in front of the table, smiling apologetically at Aruen, who can’t benefit from them. “Well then, what is it you wished to know?”
  1231.  
  1232. “Do you mind if I satisfy an idle curiosity first?”
  1233.  
  1234. “Not at all.”
  1235.  
  1236. “What exactly happened?”
  1237.  
  1238. “Brigands. Arnhem wasn’t as structured or defensible as it is now. A particularly large raiding party hit it from the forest to the east. Right after the taxes were collected and right before they were sent off to Amroth. The entire region took quite the hit. Any one remotely important looking was slain, the woman taken. An atrocious affair, really. I and a few others were chosen to oversee the reconstruction of the town, after all it is the best place to watch the cursed lands to the north, and an important link joining Faraon to Amroth.”
  1239.  
  1240. Leo sits back, digesting the information. A short silence filling the room. “So… you weren’t here when it burned?”
  1241.  
  1242. Bernard raises his eyebrows, “Heavens no. Do I look like a dead man to you?”
  1243.  
  1244. Aruen pulls out the cloth, and Bernard’s eyes instantly fill with sadness upon flicking to the sigil, “You recognise this, then?”
  1245.  
  1246. “I do.” He sighs, “That is the sigil of family Edhellond, Lords of Amroth… an old family whose line tragically ended in this very town, its lord and lady slain by the brigands… their son never found.” Bernard frowns, and takes the cloth in hand, rubbing his thumb across it. “This is swaddling cloth. Remarkable condition too, if a little obviously aged.” He lifts his head, “Where did you find this?”
  1247.  
  1248. Leo nearly misses the question entirely, jumping slightly when Aruen puts her hand on his shoulder, “Honey?”
  1249.  
  1250. “A-ah, sorry.” He coughs to clear his throat, “Um… found… I guess, it was found on me.”
  1251.  
  1252. “Excuse me?”
  1253.  
  1254. “Aruen? Perhaps you better explain.”    
  1255.  
  1256. “He was left with me, abandoned in my web at the mouth of a cave I’d made my home. I knew there was a werewolf nearby, so with her help, we tracked the scent of whoever left him back to the village… It was burning when we arrived.”
  1257.  
  1258. “…Why your cave?”
  1259.  
  1260. “I’ve no idea.” She grins, “I’m glad though.”
  1261.  
  1262. The man frowns, “…Strange. Odd. Very strange… Diana!” The red haired girl outside pops her head in,
  1263.  
  1264. “Yes Bern?”
  1265.  
  1266. He doesn’t answer her immediately, instead turning to Leo and Aruen, “You must be… curious, yes? Of the truth of the matter? Diana here studied the arcane at Lyonesse.”
  1267.  
  1268. “I did? I-I mean, yeah, I did.”
  1269.  
  1270. Bernard points to the cloth on his desk, “This, without a doubt, is a genuine article, once wrapped about the heir to house Edhellond. I can guarantee this.” He then turns to Leo, “I cannot, however, say the same of your blood. Not with any confidence, anyway. Nor can you, I should imagine.” Leo shakes his head, “As fate would have it, with a little of Diana’s power, we can find out. Are you interested?”
  1271.  
  1272. Leo nods, firmly, “I am.”
  1273.  
  1274. “Very good. Lady Aruen, if you could step away from Leo. Sir Leo, if you could take the cloth in hand.” Aruen reluctantly parts to stand at the side of the room. Leo remains seated, and reaches for the cloth.”
  1275.  
  1276. “This is a spell commonly used in trials. Should a suspected murderer claim to have no knowledge of a murder weapon, he is made to hold it, and the magic is cast. If he held it at some point prior, used it to shed blood or indeed slay, the magic takes all of this into consideration, and the white circle that shall appear about you will either turn blue if your words ring true, or red if they don’t.
  1277.  
  1278. It’s said to be quite painful if the spell catches you out on a lie red handed, but should you be mistaken or correct, Diana will work to diminish the effects either way.” Bernard smiles gently, “You’re not on trial here, after all. But something tells me it’s not a pain you’ll have to experience. Diana, if you will.”
  1279.  
  1280. The girl nods, and spreads her arms, lips moving in an incantation. Leo watches in awe as mystic winds surround him and begin to form a ring lined in runes, a language unknown to him. Aruen too, watches in interest, and neither note the flickering of Diana’s mirage as she draws power away from it, momentarily. Bernard puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder, and, out of eyesight, reaches down to his dagger, fingers curling around the hilt. The movement, a supernaturally calm, slow and gentle motion, as to not stir the praeternatural senses of the spider.
  1281.  
  1282. They all watch with baited breath, as the circle forms, throbs, and then slowly begins to turn blue. Diana steals a questioning gaze at Bernard, and the man chews on his lip for a short moment, before meeting her gaze and shaking his head gently, releasing the dagger, a happy mask slipping into place as Leo turns around, “Well congratulations. It would appear that you are indeed the heir of Edhellond.”
  1283.  
  1284. Leo muddles on the information for a while, taking his time to speak. “So, my birth-parents then…”
  1285.  
  1286. Bernard nods sadly, “Dead, I’m afraid.”
  1287.  
  1288. He rests his elbows on his knees, and bows his head. “…”
  1289.  
  1290. Bernard walks back to the other side of his desk, and drop down into his seat, pulling open a draw as he does so, a glassy clink accompanying the action. He pulls out a decanter containing a dark brown liquid, and two glasses, “A drink, lad?”
  1291.  
  1292. Leo looks up, and into the murky brown liquid. “Yeah.” Bernard pours a glass for him and slides it across the desk, wordlessly asking if Aruen would like one too. She smiles and shakes her head, declining him. Leo down it, the alcoholic burn searing through him, but he hands the glass back for a refill all the same. “So, what happened to the family? Their estate?”
  1293.  
  1294. “Your family,” Bernard corrects him, “And all they own have been looked after by a steward. Their butler actually, who managed to escape the brigands. The only one of the lord’s entourage who did. The now majordomo of Amroth. An… advantageous position to hold.” Bernard grimaces, “I dislike the man, but I know him well. If you like, I could write you a letter, naming myself as a witness for the legitimacy of your bloodline, and send you off to Amroth. It’s bound to cause quite a stir, the return of the Lord.”
  1295.  
  1296. Leo grins wryly, “And I suppose you’ll remind me of all the assistance when I am the Lord.” Bernard returns the grin, “Will you become Lord?”
  1297.  
  1298. Leo sighs, “I… don’t know. I…” Bernard slides the decanter across the table.
  1299.  
  1300. “Take it. Let it help you mull over the decision. I’ll begin writing the letter tonight. Return tomorrow with your answer. If it is ‘yes’, we have much to discuss regarding the uh…” his eyes flick to Aruen, “logistics of visiting Amroth.”
  1301.  
  1302. Leo takes the bottle, and nods his thanks, “I will. Thank you, for everything.”
  1303.  
  1304. Bernard accepts the thanks graciously, and inclines his head, “Not at all, youngster. You and your wife have much to discuss, I’ll bet. I have much to prepare, I’ll trust you can see yourselves out?”    
  1305.  
  1306. Aruen and Leo both nod, and turn to leave, closing the door behind them. Bernard watches the closed door for a while, before sighing heavily, and leaning back in his chair, closing his eyes. The soft fragrance of a woman sinks into his consciousness, and he feels Diana climb onto the chair, her dress riding up to her wide, fertile hips, her soft thighs straddling his own hips. She drapes her arms over the back of the chair and rests her chest against his, leaning down to lay a kiss on the side of his neck, “Are you sure that was wise, Bern?”
  1307.  
  1308. He places his hands on her curvy, round ass, and strokes it, bringing his thumb up to rub at the base of her long, spaded tail, making her moan throatily, demonic wings fluttering.
  1309.  
  1310. He sits up as the demons mirage sloughs off her like water, her curves filling out, breasts pressing into his chest with their expanding size. He takes her hips and pulls her closer into him, making the blue-skinned beauty coo in delight as she feels his hardness press into her perpetually willing lips, a few mere blasphemous scraps of cloth barring him entry.
  1311.  
  1312. He presses his face into her prodigious cleavage. “I don’t know.” It comes out muffled, and she giggles as she strokes his greying hair, but she understands him all the same.
  1313.  
  1314. “We should have killed them both.”
  1315.  
  1316. He lifts his head. “Perhaps. Perhaps not. If his story is to be believed, growing up in the wilderness, with nothing but the morals of the spider to guide him. He may yet prove useful. If he says no… we can always kill them both later. Write the report, Meridiana. I’ll have a crack at this letter.”
  1317.  
  1318. “Mmmm,” she wiggles her hips against his, and leans down, her tongue slipping past her full, seductive lips, and tracing a line up his jaw to his ear, her tail snaking into his pants, “I can think of a few more… ‘pressing’ issues.”
  1319.  
  1320.  
  1321. ***
  1322.  
  1323. Leo sits on the edge of the bed, elbows on his knees, looking down at his hands, ruminating, not noticing the silent assailent. Her venom beaded fangs slip into his throat, and pump their load into his bloodstream. Leo jerks as a familiar sensation floods his system and he reaches back to pat the head of the ambushing spider. “What was that for?”
  1324.  
  1325. She licks the wound she made, and smiles, “I thought you needed a little help unwinding” the partially paralytic venom courses through him even as she talks and already he feels some of his muscles release their tension, a gentle, spreading numbing not to the state of true paralysis, but he knows that’s well within her abilities. He leans back, resting his head into her bosom and smiles as a lethargic yet tidal lust swells up from within him.
  1326.  
  1327. “Maybe I do.”
  1328.  
  1329. Aruen gropes behind her for the decanter and one of the discarded glasses, refilling it, and bringing the alcohol to his lips, “Drink,” He can almost taste the teasing smile dripping from her words, “My Lord.”
  1330.    
  1331. “Ugh, please, no.” He opens his mouth for the cup she brings to his lips, and he swallows down the fiery mix. “I don’t even know if I want it yet. Would you… come with me?”
  1332.  
  1333. She puts the glass down, and drapes her arms over his shoulders, pulling him into a hug, smooshing her cheek up against his, “I’ll always be with you.” He smiles and twists his head, his lips coming to hers. With little reluctance, she lets him roll her over onto her back, her large form taking up the entire surface of the bed, her hair splaying out, and hanging over the edges of the bed, tiny webs in their own right. Her eyes glint with a subtle excitement as she looks up at him, waiting for his next move.
  1334.  
  1335. Bracing his weight with a hand to either side of her head, Leo leans down and kisses her, slipping his legs around her hips, just behind the pedipalps, where girl meets spider. The versatile appendages hook around his waist, keeping his hips in place, connected to hers. He shifts his weight over onto one arm, dropping to an elbow, freeing the other to grope at her chest, fingers sinking into the milk-laden flesh, making her giggle.
  1336.  
  1337. He breaks the kiss, “What?”    
  1338.  
  1339. Her pedipalps hook into his waistband, “Pants, dear.”
  1340.  
  1341. “Ah, right.”
  1342.  
  1343. After some manoeuvring, he settles back down atop her, now pant-less, erect cock resting heavy upon her belly throbbing with each heart-lurching beat, the venom long since spread throughout his system, leaving only a heated lust-haze in its wake, a semi-rhythmic stream of pre dribbling out to make her belly sticky.
  1344.  
  1345. She reaches up with a hand, and pulls him back down by his nape, her other hand reaching down to guide him to her entrance, the hard head of his cock making her bite her lip in a half-stifled whimper as it presses into her clit then parts her lust-slickened folds as she pushes it down and into place.
  1346.  
  1347. Leo’s breath catches as she slides him into her, their faces close enough for their noses to touch, feeling her hot breath roll cross his cheek, her tight, warm, wet walls clinging to him welcomingly as he slips in to the hilt and her muscles begin to work to keep him there and relieve him of his stress and worries.  
  1348.  
  1349. Aruen clutches at the sheets with her now-free hand, tearing into them, and opens her mouth in a breathless moan as she feels him hit her deepest parts. Saliva clings to her soft pink tongue and mixes in with the deep purple of her venom as the pleasure milks it from her fangs. Too tempting a target, Leo closes the gap and presses his lips to hers, their tongues entwining. Reacting almost like some kind of flytrap, Aruen pulls him into her, the hand on his nape moving to his shoulders, her other arm across his back, holding his chest to hers.
  1350.  
  1351. Utterly bound within her, Leo begins to move his hips, rolling them in pedipalps-assisted motion, short, slow, deep thrusts, giving each nerve he passes ample time to process the thick cock spearing through, with enough sure force and motion to make her big milky breasts jiggle.
  1352.  
  1353. His hands naturally creep their way to sink into the soft porcelain flesh, to pinch and tease at the bright pink nipples, fingers growing slick with the creamy white milk, cause enough for him to pull away from her soft lips, dextrous tongue and enticing fangs, to latch his lips around one of the leaky nipples.
  1354.  
  1355. The thrusting act of sex itself almost seems to come second to the drinking of her bounty, his trusts growing ill-timed and erratic, as if almost by afterthought, soon to stop, resting buried inside her, the milking contractions of her walls the only movement as her body works to get him to fill her womb with his seed. His tongue flicks at the nipple, and she hugs his head into her chest, tipping her own head back and letting out a low, throaty moan that reverberates an rumbles through her chest.
  1356.  
  1357. The stream of milk thickens, and fills his mouth. He gulps large mouthfuls of the dense, creamy milk, his cock twitching inside her womb at it floods into his belly and sits there with a pleasant weight, the aphrodisiac effects of the corruption-tainted milk already mingling with the venom in his blood to wreak havoc on even his resistant and enduring system.
  1358.  
  1359. As if sensing it, Aruen hugs his head tighter, and plants a kiss on the crown, ruffling his hair slightly, as the head of his cock grinds into her cervix and throbs powerfully, once, twice, then spurts his thick cum all over the walls of her uterus, filling her womb with a single, powerful orgasm, making both shudder in bliss. Which might have been where a lesser couple stopped.
  1360.  
  1361. Aruen, still holding him, twists her body, reversing their positions, trapping his legs under her weight, his dick still buried in her, her pussy leaking the overflow of cum. From the new position sitting astride him, she continues to hold him in place, and milk his still hard shaft with her contracting walls, far more dextrous and masterful than those of a lesser woman. Leo, adapting to a familiar and favoured position, rests his hands on her hips, and lies down on his back and sighs in pleasured comfort as he uses her hips as leverage to thrust up into her.
  1362.  
  1363. Letting him retake the initiative, Aruen lay across his chest, and plants kisses along his shoulder and neck, occasionally pricking him with her fangs for another dose of venom to keep him hard throughout the ordeal as she milks orgasm after orgasm out, the quick burning milk and the tainted venom supplying him with the energy to tirelessly thrust up into her cunt, until its own masterful ministrations are distorted and disarrayed as powerful waves of orgasm crash through her one after the other.
  1364.  
  1365. Their hips grow wet with accumulated girlcum and seed, the cooling sticky sensation a frigid counterpoint to her hot depths. The wordless lovemaking ends as it began, with quiet moans and everything spoken through their bodies alone, her lips right by his ear, breathing her ecstasy into it, giving the lobe occasional licks and bites. Leo slams his hips into her a last time and cums for the umpteenth time, the both of them finally falling still, bar the soft breathing of two content, sleeping lovers.
  1366.  
  1367.  
  1368. ***
  1369.  
  1370. Bernard paces around the room, hands linked behind him, dressed much the same as yesterday but a little more dishevelled than they recall. Bernard was, evidently, not a morning person. “There are a few things you should be made aware of. It’s not so bad here, but with the demon forces pressing on Linnake, a lot of aid has come to the kingdom of Lyonesse from the Imperial Capital and the Kingdome of Thule. That means that there is a strong Order presence in Amroth. Thulians aren’t nearly so… rabid, but the Imperials are another matter entirely. I’m sure it won’t be a problem…” Bernard turns to Aruen, “But you’ll more than likely have to smuggle yourself into the city. They’ve driven away all the monsters in the region, sparking migrations to the north where there are plains, forests and far fewer fanatics… or south, right into the arms of the enemy. Open arms that are more than happy to use it as justification for their cause.”
  1371.  
  1372. He returns to his chair and sits down heavily, resting his elbows on his desk and turns to speak to Aruen directly. “Now, sneaking in a city like that will be easy for you. The area around Amroth is tall and grassy and extends right up to the city walls, which I’m sure you could slip over unnoticed. But the estate will be harder. That seal of mine should have to suffice” He pulls open a drawer and retrieves a wax-sealed envelope, pushing it across the desk to Leo. “Use the seal to convince them I sent you.  Once you’re in the estate, being seen shouldn’t be too much of an issue and there’s nothing the Steward or his people could do, as there’s no official Lyonesse law against monsters. It’s a more vigilante approach by the Order that has sparked the exodus. Due to conflicting interests, you won’t find any of the Orderites within the Steward’s estate. From there, hand him the envelope a-” He pauses and frowns, as if remembering, “Do ensure that the seal is unbroken, mind you. From there, hand him the envelope and, well, what happens after that is up to you.”
  1373.  
  1374. Leo pockets the envelope and bows his head, “You’ve been a great help, Bernard. Thank you.”
  1375.  
  1376. He grins, “Not at all, Sir Edhellond.” Leo grimaces and the older man laughs, “Depending on your decision, you’ll have to get used to it.”
  1377.  
  1378. “Ugh, I guess. One more question before we leave.”
  1379.  
  1380. “Yes?”
  1381.  
  1382. “…What was the name of their son?” Bernard doesn’t miss the phrasing of the question, and replies in kind.
  1383.  
  1384. “His name was Cael. Apparently you were quite large and thin as a babe. So they named you after a slender folk hero with some skill at the bow. Cael Edhellond”  
  1385.  
  1386. Aruen screws her face up, “Leo is a better name.” Bernard laughs,
  1387.  
  1388. “I agree. I should say the lack of pretension would make you stand out quite a bit in the courts. But… whether that is a good or bad thing is yet to be seen. Is that all for today, then?”
  1389.  
  1390. Leo stands and bows. “Yes. Again, thank you for everything.”
  1391.  
  1392. “Not at all. Do return at some point and let me know of what transpired. Then, until later.”
  1393.  
  1394. He nods, and opens the door “Later.” He looks to Aruen and waits for her to exit first, following after. Meridiana waits until they leave to enter the room, her guise firmly in place.  
  1395.  
  1396. “…” Bernard catches her gaze calmly, smiling inwardly as he waits for her to sift through the pile of things to say to him. She steps forward, an assertive act at odds with her mask, and plants both hands on the table, leaning toward him, revealing a grin, “That was cunning of you, Bern. Some days I wonder if you aren’t a risk yourself. Maybe your leash needs to be tighter.”
  1397.  
  1398. He leans back in his chair, hands resting face down on the arm-rest and tilts his head to the side, half smiling. He turns one of his hands upwards and crooks a finger. The succubus smiles lazily and climbs over the desk and into his lap, curves swaying as she does so. “It doesn’t matter how tight you make my leash, if I’m not the one wearing it.”
  1399.  
  1400. “You’re just lucky I’m bad at my job.” He wraps his arms around her hips, and buries his face into her bosom, holding her tightly and fondly, mumbling something into her chest as he does so. She smiles, her power over him absolute, yet she is utterly incapable of using that power for anything other than his sake, so absolute is his power over her. The difference between them being Bernard’s all too human ambition. A dwindling fire she faintly recalls she once held, before the centuries whittled it down to something infinitely more satisfying, and perhaps, domestic.
  1401.  
  1402. “I wouldn’t take any one else.”
  1403.  
  1404. “You know how the steward will react. Especially towards her and their relationship.”
  1405.  
  1406. “More or less.”
  1407.  
  1408. “You know how the boy will respond.”
  1409.  
  1410. “More or less.”
  1411.  
  1412. “You know Her plans for this land.”
  1413.  
  1414. The man grins, “More or less.”
  1415.  
  1416. The demon sighs, “At least we’re on the same side.”
  1417.  
  1418. Bernard shrugs and reaches up to give her a peck on the lips, “I’m on our side, regardless of what gods and devils dictate. Besides, I can’t help but feel sorry for the lad. I’m not entirely unrelated to his situation after all. If we were only going to replace the head with a brainless puppet, isn’t it better to replace it with a head more sympathetic? Less work for me, for one.”
  1419.  
  1420. “And if he isn’t as sympathetic as you think?”
  1421.  
  1422. He sighs, “There are more puppets where that steward came from.”
  1423.  
  1424.  
  1425. ****
  1426.  
  1427. “Ready?”
  1428.  
  1429. “Yeah. It’s good we don’t have to worry about the cart. Did he say if he was just holding onto it and Dave’s coin, or if he were going to actually return it to them personally?”
  1430.  
  1431. “Mmm… the former.”
  1432.  
  1433. Leo shifts his pack to a more comfortable position and rests a hand on the hilt of his sword. “At least it should only take a day and a bit to get there. It’s further than Arnhem, but I’m not pulling a cart either.”
  1434.  
  1435. “It’s not too far. We could always just run, and get there before nightfall.”
  1436.  
  1437. “I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed. The walk will do me good.”
  1438.  
  1439. “You’ll always be my Leo. Never forget that.”
  1440.  
  1441. “I won’t.”  
  1442.  
  1443. Their rhythm, though chaotic, continues its steady beat down the wide road, the regular gait of a growing man and the staggered piercing of arachnid legs into the dirt. Leo keeps his eyes and ears peeled, his already more-than-human senses heightened, feeding off of the spider’s anxiety, the indomitable net of vibrating informants sorely missed. Out on the planes, in unfamiliar territory.
  1444.  
  1445. “I never realised you were so domestic.”
  1446.  
  1447. Aruen pulls a face, “If home is comfy, why leave?”
  1448.  
  1449. He laughs, “Sorry. Not much longer and we can go home.”
  1450.  
  1451. “It’s alright, I’ll manage.”
  1452.  
  1453. They slip into silence again, ears focused on the waving grasses and the very distant low rumble of the waves crashing against the shore, carried on the westerly wind along with the salt. It drags hooks in its wake and hauls in a grey sky. The winds pick up and before long, the sun shies from their travels, painting the already indistinct grasses a muted grey.
  1454.  
  1455. The familiar woods that stretch on in the distance in a great line along the mountain ranges begin to look almost hostile as the weather worsens in temperament, seemingly amplifying the feelings of isolation as it whips and howls around them.
  1456.  
  1457. Though the palate is overbearingly grey, it still paints a striking picture, as the forest boundary ends and the mountains rise beyond it across the vast expanses of open ground. The prime feature of the landscape, the colossal gates that have bordered the low and highlands since time immemorial. The city of Korsvag hidden by the curve of the land. Wind and rain beaten as they are, even from this lengthy distance the gates stand obviously resolute, barely weathered except for perhaps a slight softening of the edges of the mythic parapets.  
  1458.  
  1459. Even the immense silhouette of the legendary rocs could be seen faintly in the distance as they return to their roost atop the parapets for the coming storm, their habitat making them the icons for the Korsvag crest. Long before they carried off men to breed of course.  
  1460.  
  1461. “I have to admit it is pretty out here. The sky seems to stretch on forever.”
  1462.  
  1463. “Mmh. Though perhaps my upbringing has rubbed off on me. Open places like this put me on edge.” Aruen smiles softly at that and they continue onwards at a slightly faster pace, heedful of the turning weather. In a few hours, the tallest points of the town walls crest the horizon. The wind picks up and the grasses begin to bend and sway, like ripples upon an ocean.
  1464.  
  1465. A bead of wetness strikes his cheek and another his lips. It tastes of salt. Leo casts his gaze to the black angry sky over the ocean to the north west. “I don’t like this, though. We should hurry.”
  1466.  
  1467. They move at a quicker pace and it isn’t until they are a few hundred meters away from the gates into the city that the rain begins to fall in earnest. “We should split up now. See you inside?” Aruen nods and leans in to give him a kiss. They stand together like that for a while, embracing each other in the rain until Aruen pulls away.
  1468.  
  1469. She smiles softly, “You should get moving. Any longer in this rain and you’ll catch a cold.”
  1470.  
  1471. “I’ll head in then. Should I do something to help you find me?”
  1472.  
  1473. A grin spreads across her face, “No, just start heading towards the estate. I’ll find you.” They share another short kiss and Aruen heads off into the damp grass, crouching low and disappearing from sight, black carapace blending into the shadows, avoiding the fading light that manages to bleed through the now-black clouds.    
  1474.  
  1475. Leo starts forward, heading towards the gates. They have already closed to the main road, a smaller door to the side all that remains open to late travellers like Leo. Three men guard the door, two in similar uniform, another dressed more regally, bearing the insignia of the Imperial Capital. The three heads turn as he approaches and the two Amrothian guards straighten from their relaxed poses, affecting a sort of formality that would be out of place at such a low priority posting as the back gates of the city, if not for the watchful eyes of the Imperial.
  1476.  
  1477. One of them places a hand on the hilt of his sword, a display of deterrence and the other rightens his pike. Despite the bleak and dark sky it wasn’t especially late, so this lone wanderer wasn’t as suspicious as he perhaps could have been. All the same, the guard calls out to Leo once he’d come close enough that neither had to raise their voice. Despite their proximity a little force still had to be used in order to talk over the falling rain.    
  1478.  
  1479. “What’s your business traveller? It must be urgent for you to face this road alone. Bandits have become commonplace of late.”
  1480.  
  1481. There were many things he could have responded with, but he wagered sympathy would garner more favour. “The cowardly often take war as an excuse to run amok. You have my condolences.”
  1482.  
  1483. The man looks him up and down and scoffs. “I’d rather your sword, but thanks. What’s your business?”
  1484.  
  1485. “I’m here on an errand of sorts. It is somewhat urgent.”
  1486.  
  1487. The man nods, “Then I won’t hold you any longer. Do stay civil.”
  1488.  
  1489. Leo nods in return as he passes through the smaller entrance and into the city. The area immediately around the entrance was somewhat still but further along the road, it opened up into a more communal district whit a lot more traffic, dark silhouettes passing by still-burning lamps.
  1490.  
  1491. Amroth is a large and ancient city, with an emphasis on economy. With the dread Ithilien to the north, Linnake to the west, Korsvag to the east and the lands to the south, it was a veritable crossroad in its early days. But ever since the rich and influential Ithilien closed its borders it had to make do with the lands west, east and south of it. Despite that, it still did well for itself, something which is evident in its large and well-manned walls, paved streets and lavish shops. It was a rich city.
  1492.  
  1493. With the city situated on a hill, rather predictably, the powerful and rich gathered to the highest point of the city. And with this in mind, Leo turns from the festive streets and heads up the incline. He crosses a street, heades through an alleyway and then down another, and somewhere after the third street and fifth alley, a shadow descends upon him. Fingers curl around his chin to tip his head back.
  1494.  
  1495. Aruen offers a kiss by greeting then descends from the walls of the alley to stand next to him. She grins, “See?”
  1496.  
  1497. He returns her smile teasingly, “Took you long enough.”
  1498.  
  1499. “Maybe if you would stop moving about. I had to take to the rooves to spot you.”
  1500.  
  1501. “How close am I getting? This place is like a maze.”
  1502.  
  1503. “Not too far now. A few more blocks.” Leo nods and looks around furtively before stepping up and pulling the spider into a strong hug, hiding his face in her bosom. She smiles softly, and returns the embrace warmly. There was probably room for a few words of encouragement to still his nerves, but she knew her arms alone were enough for him. Soon he wiggles out of the hug, a brave face on.
  1504.  
  1505. “Let’s hurry then, before it grows too late to make a house call.”
  1506.  
  1507. “Sure.”    
  1508.  
  1509. They continue heading down the alleyways, keeping out of sight for the most part. Not necessarily because they have to, but because they would make more time by navigating the smaller side streets than they would being held up by some of the Imperials Leo had seen patrolling.
  1510.  
  1511. They step into another alley, yet when they exit there is a very abrupt change from the shambling passageways they just left to the open roads lined on all sides by large manors. Advantageously, they left an alleyway remarkably close to their destination and can already see the large almost castle like manor. Guests enter and leave through the large front gates as if there were a function on and both their eyes are drawn to the lightly guarded, lightly trafficked side entrance consequentially.
  1512.  
  1513. “It’s probably best to try and enter through there. You can’t turn into a human or anything can you?”
  1514.  
  1515. “Unfortunately not. My mother could though, but she is much older and much more powerful than me. In fact you should meet her someday; she can tell you all about it. It’s how she stole my father in the first place.”
  1516.  
  1517. “Then that place is probably best.”
  1518.  
  1519. “Should I just… keep out of sight?”
  1520.  
  1521. “…No. If this is my home, then it’s yours too. I want you to walk in with me proudly. Let’s go.”
  1522.  
  1523. Struggling to keep the grin from her face she follows behind him, crossing the road quickly and heading down a small path between two buildings. It comes to a three way junction, the path to the left directly facing the side entrance to the large manor. There is a single servant leaning against the gate, half asleep but vigil all the same. He looks up as Leo materializes out of the dark and then double takes as the giant spider materialize after, her expression cool.
  1524.  
  1525. Leo smiles disarmingly as the man straightens and raises his hand in greeting. “Good evening. I come with a message from Bernard de Valle of Arnhem, that I and my partner were told to deliver directly to the Steward.” He reaches inside his pack to pull out the letter, and he shows it to the still-somewhat-stunned watchman.
  1526.  
  1527. “T-that is indeed the seal of de Valle, but I’m afraid the Steward is entertaining guests right now, so-”
  1528.  
  1529. Leo smiles, something less than friendly behind the expression, “So interrupt him. I am more than certain that the contents of this message are direr than any guest.”
  1530.  
  1531. The man balks, but any protests are ground under the spider’s glare. “V-very well. It’s not my neck.” He turns and opens the small gate, standing aside to let the two past, visibly stiffening as the spider passes by him.
  1532.  
  1533. Leo eyes the man levelly as he closes the gate behind them, “Is something the matter?”
  1534.  
  1535. “No, Sir. Follow me.” The man bows his head and takes a lead, frowning somewhat at the way he addressed this strange messenger. He leads the two down the side of the manor though manicured gardens, glowing lanterns and partygoers seen in the distance. He takes a left towards one of the servant’s doors and pushes it open, revealing a small room for laundry, with a door to the right signifying the servant’s quarters and a larger door infront likely opening into the hall.  
  1536.  
  1537. The man hesitates before pushing it open and swallows audibly before entering. Music pours into the small room and he enters without notice. As does Leo. Not so much the giant spider. The hall is large and while not absolutely packed, still respectably full of visiting affluence and local powers. Tables are lines up in the middle with cooling food, dinner having been served long ago. Wine flows as the bards play and many circles gather to chat idly.      
  1538.  
  1539. Eyes don’t all immediately turn, but the first to do are those of the Imperial guard standing watch and a few bearing Amroth colours. Leo mutters a curse under his breath as they approach. “I thought he said they wouldn’t be on the estate.”
  1540.  
  1541. As they lay hands on their arms, Leo moves between them and Aruen, hand on his own hilt and its then someone signals the bards to stop. A solitary voice rings across the hall. “What is the meaning of this?”
  1542.  
  1543. The man takes a knee, “My Lord, sir uh…”
  1544.  
  1545. “Leo.” Standing tall, he speaks over the watchman, as the one who spoke, presumably the Steward, approaches. “I come with an urgent message from Bernard de Valle of Arnhem.” He offers the letter to the nearing Steward, but rather than take it the man looks Leo up and down, frowning slightly.
  1546.  
  1547. “Do you now? You look familiar, what did you say your name was?”
  1548.  
  1549. “My name is Leo.”
  1550.  
  1551. “And your family?”
  1552.  
  1553. “I think that this letter will answer a lot of your questions.” He gives it a little waggle, and the Steward takes it and inspects the seal before tearing it.
  1554.  
  1555. “If it doesn’t, I’m sure a night in the dungeons will. Guards.” He waves. The men resume their approach and surround them as the Steward reads. Aruen shifts in slight agitation and Leo puts a hand on her arm. Long pregnant moments pass as they watch the Steward undergo a wide array of emotions.
  1556.  
  1557. The first is irritation as he opens the letter. Then confusion. All eyes are on them at this point, and a dignitary stands, “What is it, Gerald? The presence of that thing is turning my appetite. Let my men take it outside already.”
  1558.  
  1559. He nods absentmindedly and waves again, reading intently, “Yes yes.” The guards take a step, but the hiss as Leo bares the first inch of steel rings far louder than it has any right to.
  1560.  
  1561. “I would advise against that.” The Steward looks up at Leo and hesitates a moment before turning to the nearest guard,
  1562.  
  1563. “Wait for now.” No sooner had the words left his lips than he turned back to the letter, eyes widening.
  1564.  
  1565. “Guards. Stand down.” He looks up, “I remember now. You… are a spitting image… Do you have the cloth?” Leo nods and retrieves it from his pack. The Steward takes a staggered step back as he feels it, and spreads it out. “The… amount of times I myself have washed this personally… Lord Edhellond!”
  1566.  
  1567.  
  1568. * * *
  1569.  
  1570. The door closes to the small room and the grinning Steward ushers them to a seat, pouring drinks, “I cannot believe it, I simply cannot believe it. You cannot have chosen a more advantageous time to reveal yourself, Cael.”
  1571.  
  1572. “My name is Leo.”
  1573.  
  1574. “What? Oh, yes I suppose it would be strange to suddenly learn of a new name. You’ll get used to it. But, really, what supreme timing.” He places a cup down for Leo, himself then Aruen, “And you too, Miss…”
  1575.  
  1576. “Aruen.”
  1577.  
  1578. “Miss Aruen, you know not the service you have done for this household, nurturing and raising its heir up until now.” He bows, “I thank you.”
  1579.  
  1580. “What do you mean about my timing?”
  1581.  
  1582. “We were right in the middle of discussing the future of our household and a potential alliance with the Strohm family of the Imperial Capital when you arrived. If no blood relative could be found, I would have to take it upon myself as Steward to produce one. Then the heir himself arrived. This is the perfect opportunity. I hate to thrust this on you the instant you arrive, but the daughter to the Strohm family herself is here tonight. The iron could not be hotter, so to speak. How about I introduce the two of you?”
  1583.  
  1584. Leo frowns, confused. “I-”
  1585.  
  1586. “Oh! Yes,” He turns to Aruen, “I’m sorry, this conversation is quite private. Once more, I cannot express my gratitude and if you could come back later, we can provide anything you like as a reward within reason, but as for now, you may leave. You duty is done.”
  1587.  
  1588. Aruen’s strained and thus far friendly expression goes cold, “Excuse me?”
  1589.  
  1590. He turns back, “You must understand, Cael, that the Strohm family are powerful allies. Their daughter really is quite sweet. You needn’t fear rejection, you’ve become quite the sensation, I’m sure she is intrigued.”
  1591.  
  1592. “Um, no I-”
  1593.  
  1594. The Steward continues on, smiling, “We’ll organize everything. You only need to be there, you don’t even have to remain faithful, in fact I advise against it! There’s this lady in town, related to an old Lyonesse line of nobility, a-”
  1595.  
  1596. “Enough!” The man is stunned into silence, “I love Aruen, she is the only woman I’ll take as a wife. This is not up for discussion.” The Steward sits there in silence, agape as the gears turn.
  1597.  
  1598. “…Yes… I understand how you may feel that way, it’s not all that strange considering the long spans of time you have spent together… but you must understand that it’s just a perversion of psychology, a misattribution. What you feel isn’t actually love and at the very least, the Lord of Edhellond cannot be seen consorting with beasts, you admit that much, surely.”
  1599.  
  1600. “…What was that?”
  1601.  
  1602. “Well, the Heir cannot be seen with a mere monster. That much is just common sense. Especially if we are to pursue stronger bonds with the Imperial Capital.”
  1603.  
  1604. Aruen makes to rise, but Leo grabs her wrist, clutching at it frightfully hard, gripped by anger. He stands, words coming out coolly. “Then I am no Heir. I’m returning home.”
  1605.  
  1606. The Steward sits in silence and bows his head. The door opens and steel reflects the candle-light. “No, Cael. You’re not.”      
  1607.  
  1608. * * *
  1609.  
  1610. His legs pump as he leaves the fallen city, orgiastic screams hounding him. A demonic premonition for the fate of these lands settles chillingly deep within his bones as the fires of Linnake incinerate all but stone and flesh, the former solid and immutable, the latter sworn to the legions of monstrosities currently engaging in hellish orgy.
  1611.  
  1612. His muscles ache and burn but he sprints as hard as he can for the nearest outpost still standing, his last duty to spread the word, to send it back to Amroth. But as the message passes from mouth to mouth, the final link in the chain would only find a host-less party and a trail of corpses.
  1613.  
  1614. * * *
  1615.  
  1616. He lay in her web, dick sore, panting, sweaty, a bead of it collecting and running down the long scar on the side of his chest. “Hey.”
  1617.  
  1618. “Yeah?”
  1619.  
  1620. “What I said back then, it was cool, right?”
  1621.  
  1622. “What you said back then?”
  1623.  
  1624. “When we left the estate.”
  1625.  
  1626. “Ah… ‘Then I am no Heir. I’m returning home’, Right?”
  1627.  
  1628. “Yeah. It was cool, right?”
  1629.  
  1630. Aruen giggles, “It was cool.”
  1631.  
  1632. Leo rolls onto his side, and props himself up on an elbow, looking at Aruen, the bedroom window giving a view that stretches east out across Amroth to the besieged Korsvag. “You don’t mind that we’re already back, do you?”
  1633.  
  1634. She leans forward and gives him a kiss, “I don’t mind being your house spider.”
  1635.  
  1636. He smiles at the term and rolls over onto his back, basking in the sunlight, his muscles weak and lazy. He groans. “I don’t wanna get up.”
  1637.  
  1638. Aruen grins and pulls him into a hug, her eight legs curling around his legs, “Do you want me to send Bernard away then?”
  1639.  
  1640. He hesitates a moment as if considering it “…No. This new position has new responsibilities I suppose. I had better see to them.”
  1641.  
  1642. “I’m proud to have raised such a diligent child,” she puts on a mock official tone, “Lord Edhellond.” Leo grins and pokes her ribs,
  1643.  
  1644. “You have just as much responsibility, Lady Aruen.”
  1645.  
  1646. She sours, “Ugh, don’t remind me. There is something seriously wrong when the majority of a political discussion revolves around dicks.”
  1647.  
  1648. Leo laughs. “But still, it’s surprising that Bernard was on their side this whole time. I can’t help but feel deceived.”
  1649.  
  1650. She smiles, “You and many others. But the difference between you and them is that when the Demon Army took Amroth after taking Linnake, they ended up as public fuck-poles and you ended up a Lord.”
  1651.  
  1652. He grins, “Funny that.”
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