Capture – Web Walkers
He awoke when the spider’s legs scittered across his side. He opened his eyes a slit, staring at the large arachnid as it opened the webbing that held him, pushed itself inside and moved closer to his face. He groaned and rolled over, batting at it softly, fingers brushing the soft fur along one its legs. It nuzzled it’s thorax into his palm, settling down on his chest and giving him a playful nip.
“Stop that,” the boy mumbled, smiling. “S’tickles.” The spider’s mandibles played along his chest, tapping along with his heartbeat. He rolled onto his side, pressing into the hammock, trying to ignore the terrible sense of waking. The spider moved along with him, moved up and pushed the webbing open, letting the light from outside in.
The boy glared at the sky and sighed. Dusk was coming, he could see it writ in the fading skies, and the Spider-Eyed would expect him to come and learn more about his gift. The spider moved as he rolled free of the webbing and cupped the edge of the hammock with his fingers, pulling himself out and yawning, stretching as he clambored out, scratching the back of his head as he blinked and looked around.
About half the camp had settled in, setting up their hammocks, the telltale bulges revealing which webs were full and which were not. A few dozen spiders crawled around the long grasses, hunting tiny vermin, keeping the camp clean. The boy watched them for a time, trying to wake himself up. He knew the Spider-Eyed would expect him to be cognizant when he reached her.
His arachnid was the largest, maybe three feet tall at the shoulders. He watched as it joined the others, the swarm of them chasing after some particularly brave bit of vermin that must have risked the spiders to enter the camp to steal his people’s food. He shook his head as the swarm caught it, the slivers of his gift opening and letting him see the ghost of the poor creature.
“Patience,” he whispered, both to himself and the spirit. “Wait, next time. We’re never in any place for more than a few days.” The spirit stared at him in the blank way that spirits did, they turned and fled back into the grasses. The boy watched it until it was gone, feeling the slivers weave shut. Sighing, he followed it towards the edge of camp.
The Spider-Eyed was waiting there, a short woman with wild black hair and blue designs woven into her off-white skirts, though her clothing was covered in the dust of the road. She did not turn as he approached, but he could sense her slivers were open.
In front of her face he could see it, the gentle blue glow of eight eyes hovering before her, turned outward and watchful. Without his gift he would never have seen the eyes, never seen any of the true wonders of his world.
“It is a good thing, to be Spider-Eyed.” The woman’s words were soft as any breeze. He nodded, knowing that she would sense the motion even with her back turned. He walked towards her, staring at webs that only he could see – the attachments between all things living and not laid bare before the two of them.
The lessons began then, without words. He let his thoughts meander through his gift and felt her respond, learning what was meant, grasping a language that was so much more binding than anything a tongue could conceive. They smiled at the simple complexity of one another, of their people and their spiders and their world. The stars shone and they looked up, watching the thin strands that bound those distant lights to the night sky, to one another, to the world around them.
Sparkling, sparkling stars. Their light surged, grew, flickering beads of light traveling the length of the webs between them and the world, a thing he had never seen before. He eight eyes widened and he smiled and laughed, rocking where he sat at the beauty of what was above him, at a loveliness that no one without the gift would ever be able to understand.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said, breathless, so entranced that he used words where none were needed. To his surprise, the Spider-Eyed answered him in kind.
“It is not a thing you would have seen,” she said, and he felt the thrum of wonder and caution vibrate along the strand between them. “It has happened only nine times before, in all the stories and lore.”
He looked at her despite not needing too, feeling himself shake. Nine times, nine times, only one instance had happened nine times in all the lore of the world.
Turning from the Spider-Eyed, he fixed all eight eyes of his gift upon the webs in the skies as they descended. He had heard the fables but never believed him, but here was myth made flesh.
Another Wonderwork was about to begin.