I could feel the air of wariness as my compatriots and I entered the Matriarch’s chambers.
“A terrible tragedy has befallen the region of Shorestone,” Lady Gwendolyn began while fanning herself in her uncomfortably warm meeting room. “Senator Dominic has been been bitten and taken deathly ill. His attacker was one of the wolf spiders that has been known to roam the area. I charge you two patrols to take this precious vial of wolf spider anti-venom to Shorestone with the utmost haste.”
Kyle and Thom, our two patrol leaders, noded in acknowledgement as Sadie, Lieam, and I bowed our assent. We set out into the sweltering heat of the hottest summer ever recorded in the almanacs of Lockhaven. My patrol, lead by Kyle, trudged on as Thom and Sadie scouted out ahead. Sadie suddenly remembered a shortcut through an abandoned tunnel close by. She searched through the dry brush and was rewarded with the sight of a dark and slightly cooler hole in the side of a small hill. Lieam’s knowledge of small dark spaces helped Sadie to navigate the passage and we emerged on the other side, closer to our goal.
We reached the borders of Shorestone near dusk and decided to set up camp for the night. During the evening we were all awakened by the smell of wood smoke. The forest quite near us was ablaze. We attempted to run straight through the conflagration in the hopes that we could make it before the fire got too out of hand. Sadie insisted that delay is not an option and going around the blaze would keep us from delivering our precious package in time. Suddenly a flaming tree fell directly in our path. Lieam handed me his length of line, as I was the best climber, and I quickly shimmied up the side of the trunk. The rest of the mice were able to climb up the rope ladder and we were able to traverse the rest of the fire with only the smell of singed fur lingering as we escaped.
I am becoming increasingly impressed with Lieam’s skills as we travel on. We finally reached Shorestone Stronghold and delivered the anti-venom to the healing mice that were attending Senator Dominic. We were relieved when we were told that he should make a full recovery. Kyle wished to speak privately with the senator and so the rest of us headed to the local tavern to unwind. I pulled Lieam aside and bought him an ale. We chatted for a bit and I told him how much he had impressed me. I could see the elation on the young mouse’s face. He is a good lad. Just then Thom stood and raised his flagon.
“A toast, to Sadie who has done an admirable job leading us through the perils of our latest quest. Skol!” Thom shouted in his deep aged voice. “Once we return to Lockhaven I wish to retire and I elect Sadie as my replacement,” he said in his clipped tones.
At first Kyle seemed skeptical of this appointment, his distrust of city mice was evident on his face, but I could see his steely glare melt away as he thought back on the times Sadie has saved his fur during the past couple of days.
Sadie greeted this announcement by declaring her intent to track down the lair of the spiders that had been plaguing the local inhabitants. We tracked down the senator’s assistant, who apparently had knowledge of where the attack took place, at a restaurant down the street. She told us that the senator was bitten while overseeing a bridge renovation project just outside of town. We decided to start our search there.
When we reached the bridge the trail seemed to go cold. All the other mice seemed stumped by the lack of any evidence of the spider’s whereabouts. I admit my tracking skills are poor, however, I was able to tax myself and managed to spy a single gossamer thread of spider silk which was almost too faint to see. We were able to follow the thread to the base of a large tree with a gap in the roots. As we approached we noticed scuttling movement in the gap.
“Go baack!” hissed a cold spider voice.
Sadie wished to have one of us stand in the clearing in order to lure the spiders out of their den. Just then a large wolf spider pounced on Thom’s back from behind. We were surrounded. I quickly leaped into action. I drew my sword and quickly jabbed out the eyes of the spider attacking Thom as he kicked and bit the creature. Kyle and Lieam attacked one of the spiders as it was leaving the tree’s base. Kyle levered the spider off balance with his spear while Lieam stabbed with his sword. With these two spiders dispatched the remaining one was quick work for all of us to fell together but not without the tolls of the battle making Thom weary.
We entered the lair of the spiders to search for and destroy any remaining in the colony and eggs that would hatch into a new generation of horrors. We entered a chamber filled with the cocooned remains of insects and other small mammals. Sadie noticed one of the cocoons was still moving and so we split it open. It held an emaciated mouse, wan and delirious, just barley gripping the last straws of his life.
“He… is… here. The… Wolf… Spider… King,” were the only words he could manage as the poison took his life. Sadie tried desperately to save the mouse’s life but was unable to and so became frustrated with herself.
We continued to search the chamber. Lieam’s exceptional knowledge of small dark spaces once again proved useful as he noticed a secret hatch that opened into another chamber. As we descended into the tight tunnel a new deeper voice boomed out.
“It’s not often food comes to me!”
What at first appeared to be a wall in fact turned out to be the harry abdomen of the largest wolf spider any of us had ever seen. I knew this must be the Wolf Spider King. I once again drew my sword and charged. The spider’s legs were a blur of movement as I thrust and parried with my sword. Though I pride myself on my skill with a blade I was unable to land a single hit. The tunnel we fought in was just large enough for Lieam to assist but sadly his sword skills were lacking. Both the spider and I realized that we were at an impasse. The spider turned and scuttled up a secret side passage. As he left his bulk must have removed some sort of support structures because the tunnel began to collapse and we were unable to pursue. Quickly we retreated to the previous chamber and then back out into the open air but we could find no trace of the escape route.
I swore to myself that I would end the rein of the Wolf Spider King.