175 The Lost Shipyard part two
Two unmoving bundles lay on the pile of bones; the clicking sounds made by dozens of mandibles was the only sound in the darkness. Fresh meat, warm and tender, they could smell it, taste it even. The bigger spiders held the smaller ones at bay; they too were consumed by the need to feed. However, they had been told to wait.
A small movement on one of the bundles, just a bump really, something barely noticeable. Slowly the ice webbing parted; it was such a tiny area that none of the waiting predators noticed. A smooth nose poked through the opening, it pushed and prodded before becoming an entire head. A moment later, a tiny six-inch gecko-like creature crawled out.
The smell of a new morsel, even such a tiny one, was enough to ignite the hunger of the smaller spiders in the rear, and they surged forward.
The gecko stood on his hind legs, taking in his surroundings and chittering loudly in the darkness. He ignored the creatures closing in.
[Fear the King]
"No food brought in yet, Captain." First mate Tully stood just out of arm's reach. Often the bearer of bad news received their leader's disdain. "The men are out scouting."
Captain Yor huddled next to the fire, rubbing his hands over the flames. "Those f*cking spiders are so unreliable, time to kill a few more of them, Tully. Next time they show up, trim their numbers down a bit more."
Yor's dark eye stared into the fire, a faded bandanna protected his bald head, and an eyepatch covered the empty socket that had been gouged out in his youth. He wore a leather shirt that left his pale chest bare. A silver spider amulet hung around his neck, he sidestepped quickly and grabbed his first mate by the arm.
Tully didn't need to fake his fear; the captain had been cursed like the rest of the crew. From the waist down they had the bodies of sand crabs, Six-legs with armored carapaces covered their lower half. The captain had changed the most; his manner had become volatile and dangerous. "C..Captain!" Tully closed his eyes, waiting for the face smack that usually accompanied Yor's mood swings.
Instead of hitting him, Yor let him go. "This is my fault, Tully... I was the one seduced by her." Captain Yor refused to say her name as if invoking it would bring certain doom upon him.
Handsome Rollie and Shipwright Vy walked in single file down the icy path. Their sand crab feet moved with surety on the slick rock floor. Rollie was a striking man with piercing blue eyes and a wide jaw. His curly brown hair hung down to his waist since it had been years since he last cut it.
Shipwright Vy was perhaps the most important person on the crew outside of the captain. She repaired the ship, made adjustments to the sails and rudders. Rumor said she could even build a boat if she were provided with the tools to do so. Usually, the quiet shipwright would stay close to camp, but today she had begged Handsome Rollie to let her accompany him. She was a pretty woman with brown hair and eyes. Her skin had once been tanned by the sun, but now was a pasty white color.
Rollie held up a hand for her to stop; something was wrong. Terror hung in the air like a heavy mist. Had a dangerous predator entered their domain? "Stay close, Vy, at the first sign of trouble; I want you to run back to camp." Handsome Rollie knew that if something were to happen to Vy, he might as well feed himself to the spiders.
Vy nodded and drew a wicked-looking dagger.
The clicking noise that had accompanied their steps faded away as they both went into stealth mode. The Spiders were not at the tribute area, not even the pesky small ones that never listened. Rollie stopped when he saw the bundles, immediately he recognized them as humanoid. "F*cking Spiders!" He broke stealth and cursed loudly.
Vy dropped stealth also and stared at the two bundles. "Ice Dhassi?"
"What else?" Rollie felt his blood run cold and couldn't suppress the shiver that ran down his back. The Ice Dhassi were a vengeful and protective race; if one of their people were killed or injured, a blood price would have to be paid. He noticed a tiny movement on one of the bundles.
"Not dead?" Vy had also noticed the movement; it wasn't until they moved closer that she saw the tiny creature.
Rollie advanced closer but suddenly stopped when the gecko looked at him. He felt an underlying sense of danger radiating from the tiny lizard. "Hey... We don't want to hurt anyone."
Vy looked at her companion. Was he seriously being cautious? "Looks like a little lizard Rollie."
"I can help. Would you mind if I checked them?" Rollie used the same tone when he talked to the Captain, respectful, and nonaggressive.
He walked slowly toward the gecko; it watched as he drew a knife and cut through the Ice webbing to expose Semmi's blonde head. He gasped in surprise. "Not a Dhassi?"
When he moved toward the other body, the gecko chittered loudly at him. "I won't hurt them; you have my word."
Vy continued to remove the webbing from the blond female while Rollie cut loose the other. "She's still warm and breathing. The Shipwright couldn't help but stare; the unconscious woman was beautiful. She picked her up quickly and slung her over one shoulder. Rollie took a bit longer since he was purposefully moving slowly so as not to startle the tiny black eyes that watched him.
"I don't recognize the race. Definitely not Dhassi." Rollie picked up the male; his tiny protector scurried up to ride along.
The walk back to camp only took a few minutes. When they entered the well-lit center of camp, Captain Yor immediately stood up.
"F*ck... Don't tell me they're Ice Dhassi." Yor grimaced, if one of the Ain'Dhassi had been hurt, his crew would have to flee into the depths of the ice; into her territory.
"Not Dhassi Captain." Rollie set the man down next to the fire and stood to one side as Vy did the same thing.
Yor's face relaxed slightly. "Not Dhassi, that's good." He took a step closer, only stopping when he heard a loud, chittering sound. Fearless black eyes stared at him from its seat on the unconscious man's chest. "Move off lizard, before you get eaten."
[Fear the King]
Nix's eyes glowed in the darkness of the ice cavern. The dragon spell turned his yellow eyes to deep orange. The trail stopped on a large pile of bones. He knelt down and picked one of them up. It had been thoroughly stripped of any flesh; hundreds of small scores on the surface indicated that little spiders had been feeding.
/Alpha Team: Nix: They were here.
/Alpha Team: Pon: Any trail left?
Nix scanned the area; the overwhelming presence of ice made his thermal vision much more acute. Any source of body heat glowed like a raging fire.
/Alpha Team: Nix: That way.
Nix took off at a run, the rest of his team following closely. A minute later, he skidded to a halt and drew his Archon blade. Screams of terror erupted through the cavern and echoes off the walls.
/Alpha Team: Fajii: Incoming!
Nix turned in the direction Fajii was looking, a creature was fleeing toward them at a high rate of speed. Her eyes were wild with terror. He raised one hand, and a flame strand shot out, encircling her crab-like legs, making her stumble to the ground. He dropped a knee to her back and pinned her before releasing the strand. "I see you've met the King."