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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 79: Hastings 212
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Previous chapter: Beam 81
There were a lot of reasons why a battle with the spider elves was a bad idea, and Lauren wasn’t going to sit and think about them. Tiras had given a command to form the standard double-file and care for the animals to prevent them from panicking, and the troupe was beginning to snake forward. The spider elves seemed undecided, but Lauren decided they should stay that way. She shouted, “You have not heard, you have not known, even from long ago your ear has not been open, because I knew that you would deal treacherously,” and hoped that it would work on these strange creatures.
As she walked forward, she recognized that Tiras and Sheegoka were flanking the door as the rest passed through. Taz was obviously leading the group, the top two keeping watch in case of trouble. Gojo joined them when he reached that point, but Malacon was in the rear, helping keep the mules calm--he had what seemed a magic presence that removed fear from anyone on his side who was near him.
Just as Gojo broke off to join Tiras, the spiders moved. Whether the spell didn’t work, or they were resistant to it, or something else, they had clearly decided to attack. Lauren was about to yell ‘incoming’ when someone else yelled it; she stepped out of line and drew her kau sin kes. She noticed that to this side all three of them, Tiras, Gojo, and herself, were fighting with the same whipping chains, while to the other side it appeared that Malacon and Apatukwe had joined Sheegoka to fight with various kinds of swords. She hoped they would be all right, and noticed that the rear of the line seemed to have accelerated a bit. Zamphir and someone else she had not met were struggling to keep the mules under control, but that was not her priority at the moment.
There were five of the creatures to each side. Lauren was not certain how to fight an eight-legged centaur-like spider creature. Glancing, she saw that Tiras had managed to entangle two of his opponent’s spear arms with one of his weapons, and was attacking with the other, while also parrying the creature’s third spear. Although this seemed a good strategy, it distracted Lauren long enough that one of her attacker’s spears clunked solidly against her breastplate. She struck with her one kau sin ke, wrapping it around the creature’s neck, but realized she couldn’t sweep its legs at all effectively.
She remembered an attack used against her not so long ago, and reached out with her mind to lift the creature telekinetically. It rose and drifted away from her, but was tethered by her weapon, and with this skill she couldn’t apply the kind of force needed to injure it. She dropped it to the ground, yanked the chain, and lost her grip on the handle.
That wasn’t a serious problem. She had another on her waist, plus the psionic weapons. Drawing the blaster, she impacted it solidly, knocking it back as it scampered to absorb the blow. Her one kau sin ke was dangling from its neck, and it was trying to remove it with its free hand, but that was not her primary concern. Again she grabbed it telekinetically, and this time lifted it nearly to the roof before dropping it. She thought a fall like that would finish it, but just the same fired the blaster at its elfin portions as soon as it hit the ground. The body cracked, but the creature still lived, struggling to get to its feet. She should have inverted it, dropped it on its back. Well, she could try again. She took hold of it and lifted it, again high, and tried to invert it.
She was interrupted by the rapid approach of one of the others. Gojo had engaged one, and Tiras was fighting two, but she couldn’t help either of them at that moment. She let go of the spider in the air and raised her shield in front of the one charging, which collided with the invisible force wall and fell back a few steps. The falling one crashed into the ground, on its back as hoped, and broke open. It would not rise again.
Dropping her shield, Lauren tossed her kau sin ke over her shoulders and drew the psionic drill to her hand. She fired both psionic weapons into the oncoming attacker, which slowed it but did not stop it. He hurled a spear at her, and she had no way to block it but to roll out of the way. She wound up rolling toward it, losing the chain over her shoulders, but coming up to her feet directly in front of it and discharging both weapons again. She then put up the shield just in time to block its two spears, and decided that the effective strategy seemed to be the telekinesis, so she grabbed it and lifted.
It threw both spears at her. One broke on the stone floor of the cave but the other scratched her hand as she tried to knock it away without losing her concentration. She continued lifting it but felt herself swooning, and then dropped it as she collapsed.
It occurred to her that the drow weapons must be poisoned. It made sense for creatures who worshipped spiders so thoroughly that they became spider people to use venom on their blades, and she should have anticipated that. But that was the last thought she had before she blacked out the rest of the way.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #383: Character Departures. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: