Chapter 13: Spiders at work
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Andrew watched the army marching down the street. "Do you think it was them?" 
"It must be." Rah'asu said as she watched the soldiers.
It might not... Shimeirin was wracked with guilt.
"This king guy really is important if all these people came after he died." Insu was watching the soldiers as well.
"I'm actually surprised the Spider Kin pulled something like this off so quickly." Andrew knew letting them in the city would probably lead to deaths but certainly not the king. "None of them even got caught."
"I don't know enough about how they do things here..." Rah'asu stepped away from the crack she was looking through and sat down on the floor, her feet dangling through a large hole. "But seeing that castle thing makes me think the king is well protected."
"I want to go in the castle." Insu looked at the direction the castle was. They couldn't see it from here but it wasn't difficult to remember how to get to it.
"I don't think they want to see you." Andrew shook his head slightly.
"That's the last place I want to be." Rah'asu pulled her pack towards her and took out some flat bread. "I imagine it's going to be filled with Terrans and soldiers."
"Probably. I bet Eric will be there too." Andrew shivered at the thought.
"Can't we just get rid of Eric's bracelet? We can do that now." Insu glanced at Isaac, whom was still sleeping even though it had been a week.
"Maybe if we can get him by himself." Rah'asu sighed and laid down.
"We need to find another way out of the capital. It's only a matter of time until someone takes an interest in us." Andrew stepped back from the gap in the wall he had been looking through. "I wish the spider kin had at least told us to leave the city before they closed all the gates." 
"We didn't warn you because we want your help." A voice came from under the floor.
Rah'asu scrambled up and got away from the biggest holes in the floor as possible. Andrew wasn't near any holes so he merely turned towards the voice. Insu jumped down the biggest hole.
"And what do you want us to do?" Andrew shook his head. He wanted nothing else to do with the Spider Kin.
"All Terrans have been called to the castle. We want you to go." The voice said.
"And what would I do?" Andrew was curious what their plan was.
"Simple. We can no longer enter the castle thanks to the soldiers and Terrans. So, we want you to tell us what is going on inside. Stupid of them to not let at least a few Terrans stay in the castle to guard the king." 
"What about us?" Rah'asu asked. "The other Terrans will notice us right away."
"Where are you?" Insu's muffled voice came from under the floor.
"Andrew will go alone." A pause. "Oh, you don't have a choice Andrew. If you don't help us, you won't see your friend again."
Andrew and Rah'asu's eyes shot to where Isaac had been laying. Isaac was gone, and they hadn't even noticed. Andrew ran to where Isaac had been and immediately looked to a large hole close to where he had lay.
"Insu!" Rah'asu yelled. "He has Isaac!"
"I don't see anything! There's no one down here!" 
"We will contact you every night, Andrew. We will let you know the time and place." A pause, "And Andrew, interesting your friend's bracelet is missing."
No one spoke for a few minutes. Rah'asu sat in the corner and looked furious. Insu was doing something under the floor and Andrew stared at the empty spot where Isaac had been.
Shimeirin wonders what will happen now. Shimeirin was depressed but curious.
I think something big is happening soon. Not just the killing of the king. Andrew dreaded the unknown plans of the Spider Kin more than the thought of going alone to a castle filled with probably insane life sucking killing machines.
Andrew stood up. "Insu! You're not going to find him."
Insu's head jerked up through a hole, his shoulders catching, then breaking through the too small hole. "Andrew, I'm sorry."
Rah'asu walked up to Andrew. "We'll be OK. The Bat Cave is a good place to hide so we'll be safe."
Insu pulled himself onto the floor, pieces of broken wood falling off of his shoulders. "Yeah. It'll be boring, but I'm not going to leave until you get back."
"Thanks, guys. To be honest, I'm kind of glad to be doing this. Isaac wasn't waking up, and I had no idea what to do next. If Shimeirin and I can secretly destroy bracelets, then we can prevent whatever the Servant is planning on doing." Andrew just then noticed his hands were shaking.
"Good luck Andrew." Rah'asu hugged him.
Insu jumped and nearly tackled the two before hugging Andrew and Rah'asu at the same time. "Yeah! Good luck!"
Andrew left The Bat Cave alone. 
His walk to the castle was uneventful as everyone was more than happy to avoid him, even the soldiers. Even as he approached the castle gate, all he got was a once over by the guards. It wasn't until he had entered the castle grounds that someone stopped him.
"Who are you!" A voice called out in English.
Andrew turned to look at the owner of the voice. It was a man, definitely Terran. He had dark skin, with large muscles, dark hair, and an accent that said he came from India. He was about the same height as Andrew, though maybe a hair shorter.
Should I lie? Andrew didn't know how well all the Terrans knew each other or whose names they knew. He might be OK giving his own name or raise suspicions.
Shimeirin thinks Andrew should tell the truth. Maybe...
"My name is Andrew." Andrew decided honesty was the best policy. "What's your name?"
The man thought. "Right. I remember Eric saying something about you."
! Eric is here?! It was all Andrew could do not to panic. 
The same sense of panic started in Shimeirin, which only amplified it. No...
Andrew distracted himself by talking to the man. "Yeah, got lost in the forest for a while. I was lucky to make it." Let's hope Eric doesn't change that.
"I'm sure." The man didn't look interested in hearing Andrew's story. "I'd rather be in the forest right now killing more Shifters, but I wanted to cash in on my bounties. I'll have my mansion in another trip or two."
"Yeah. My friend already bought a house." Andrew wondered what would happen to Lisbeth.
The man yawned. "Well, all Terrans are to meet in the keep." He lazily pointed to the largest of the structures. "I hope this doesn't take long."The man turned from Andrew and headed to the gate and leaned against the wall a little way from the opening.
Shimeirin wonders if we can destroy Eric's bracelet. 
With Isaac's bracelet gone we have no other way of fighting him. Andrew didn't regret destroying Isaac's bracelet despite this.
Shimeirin didn't feel any better. Let's go so we can get Isaac back.
Yeah, I want to get this over with. Andrew hoped he wasn't visibly shaking from his nervousness.
Shimeirin hasn't got to speak with Isaac yet. Shimeirin wants to do anything Shimeirin can to get him back. Shimeirin's fear subsided slightly, and some determination appeared.
Andrew smiled and began walking to the keep. Yeah. And not rescue just Isaac, but everyone else tricked into wearing a bracelet.
Andrew entered what looked like a large hall. It was long, with a set of large doors on the far end and two smaller doors on the walls to either side. The walls and ceiling were covered in fine paintings and reliefs depicting either war, men, and other events. Several large open windows were spaced evenly at the tops of the walls and were set in just the right way to let in the most amount of light. Six columns supported the ceiling, one in each corner and two in the middle. It looked like some weird mixture of Greek and medieval architecture. There was no furniture.
Several people were in the hall. Other than the two sets of guards, one set at the door Andrew had just come through the other on the opposite set, there was a group of seven people. Four were Terrans and three Calorinite men. Andrew only recognized one. It was Eric, and he was already staring at Andrew, a grin on his face. The rest of the group noticed Eric and also turned to look at Andrew.
Andrew noticed that two of the Terrans looked similar to the Terran he had met outside. The first, a tallish woman with jet black hair, dark skin, and a lean frame was definitely from India. The man next to her was much the same, tall, with black hair, dark eyes and skin, with a full beard and muscular build. The last was a woman that looked similar to Eric. She was tall, with blond hair, light eyes, narrow face, pale skin, and an athletic build.
The Calorinites looked to all be nobles as they wore some of the fanciest clothing he had seen on Calorin. Only one stood out to Andrew as two of the men flanked the more fancy looking man. This man wasn't tall for a Calorinite but still towered over the Terrans. To Andrew he looked rather average looks wise and had the typical brown hair, dark eyes, and narrow and stretched features that Andrew had only just got used to.
Upon seeing the attention on him Andrew began walking towards the group as he didn't want to appear suspicious. I hope Eric doesn't do anything with that noble here.
Shimeirin thinks Eric won't. If a Winged Kin attacked another near a noble, they got punished. Well, unless they were told to or were attacked... 
Let's hope these guys have similar customs. Andrew doubted it, but hoped.
The first to speak to Andrew was not Eric but the noble. "Greetings Terran. I am Lord Rtea, *** of the First ***." 
Andrew smiled. "My name is Andrew."
Eric introduced himself. "Hello again, Andrew. I was hoping to run into you after we met in Inei."
Andrew nodded to Eric.
"So this is the one you told me about. He looks just as ragged as you told me." The blond woman said. "I'm Silja, by the way."
Lord Rtea looked Andrew over. Soon his brow furrowed. "I do not believe I have met you before Andrew. I do recognize the name. You are the one that went missing?"
Andrew had hoped no one would notice that. "Yeah, I missed the portal and ended up in the middle of the forest."
The noble looked at Andrew but showed no sign of emotion. "You survived alone in the forest? Impressive. I would imagine the Shifters would have tried to kill you every chance they got, and Terrans new to Calorin are killed just as easily as the rest of us. Tell me, how did you survive?"
No way I'm telling him the truth. But what should I say?
Shimeirin didn't reply. She felt just as stumped as Andrew.
"It wasn't by fighting." Silja said. "In fact, I don't think he's absorbed much power yet."
"I don't sense anything either." The Indian man said then cocked his head. "Maybe a little. It feels strange, like there is more than one person inside of you."
It's the spirits that followed you! They're still inside me! Andrew was more panicked at the thought of dozens of spirits inside him than these people finding out.
Shimeirin told them to leave! If you can hear Shimeirin, spirits, go away! Shimeirin was less panicked and more angry.
"You are a strange one, Andrew." Lord Rtea said as he stepped closer. "Not only did you become lost, you survived alone in the forest for months... if you were alone."
"I did come across a Priest of Melche at a temple. He gave me food, shelter, and taught me some." Andrew hoped they would buy this, it was true but not the whole truth.
"I'm not aware of any temples dedicated to Melche in the forest." Lord Rtea thought, "But I wouldn't be surprised if she or Servant had hidden temples." He looked at Andrew, "Where was it?"
"On the other side of the mountains. I was lucky to find a pass that went through." And it was guarded by Spider Kin.
"Interesting." Lord Rtea turned to one man behind him. "Get me a map of the forests." He turned back to Andrew. "I want you to tell me where the pass is."
I don't want to, but I'm not sure I could tell him, anyway. Andrew hoped seeing the map wouldn't help any.
Shimeirin knows. Shimeirin has flown high enough to see the mountains and forests for a long way. Shimeirin only became slightly sad bringing up her flying.
Don't tell me. "I'm not sure how much help I'll be. It's hard to keep track of the land when all you see is forest."
Lord Rtea nodded. "Understandable, but you could at least tell us how many days it would take to walk."
Ah! That's a way to tell. Darn... "I guess. About three weeks west of Inea to the pass?" Andrew didn't feel bad about giving a general direction to the Spider Kin village after what they had done.
Lord Rtea nodded then leaned forward. "Tell me what you think about our Kingdom."
Andrew wondered why a lord would care about something like that. "Well, it's definitely better than the forest but at least in the forest I could get my own food." Andrew laughed a little. "For a while I thought I was going to starve because I didn't have any money."
Andrew noticed that Lord Rtea was watching his mouth when he spoke.
"No need for money." Eric shook his head. "The peasants would give it to you if you asked."
"There's no way I'm doing something like that! I never grew up like the ways these people have, but I think that taking their stuff could mean starvation." Andrew gave Eric a mean look.
Lord Rtea looked at Eric. "Andrew is right, Eric. I've never approved that some of you Terrans take advantage of the peasantry like that."
"You just don't like hearing the complaints, Rtea." Eric shrugged.
"I agree with Andrew." The Indian woman said. "In India I have family that barely survive on their small farms. If someone came and took any of their food, it could mean they would go days without."
Eric threw up his hands. "Fine."
Lord Rtea turned to Andrew. "Did the priest of Melche teach you our language? I have noticed that your mouth's movements aren't strange like the other Terrans and you have an accent. I've never heard a Terran with an accent."
He noticed?! What an observant guy! Andrew was impressed despite another worry to add.
Shimeirin likes Andrew's accent. It's cute. Shimeirin didn't seem the slightest bit bothered.
"Let me see your neck." The Indian man said. 
Andrew had covered his neck as part of his disguise and had forgotten about it or how not having a choker would be suspicious. 
Andrew pulled the clothing away from his neck. "I wish the priest had had extras."
"Too bad." Silja said as she looked up from his neck. "I always hated learning languages in school. It's nice not having to worry about it."
"Maybe next time the Servant comes we can get one for you." The Indian man said.
Andrew shook his head. "Don't need it now."
The Indian man smiled. "That is true."
Andrew turned to the Indians. "I'm sorry, I haven't asked for your names."
The Indian man barely hid a frown. "Rishu Rajavade," he turned to the Indian woman, "and this is my wife, Aasiya."
Lord Rtea cleared his throat. "Now that we are all introduced we should get to business before we distract ourselves too much."
Everyone nodded. Rishu and Aasiya looked relieved to have the attention away from them. Eric watched Lord Rtea but glanced at Andrew often. Silja watched Lord Rtea but didn't hide her not wanting to be there.
"Andrew, as you know some *** *** the castle last night and killed King Tuyrs. We don't know exactly what group did it, but we want you Terrans to look for any Shifters that might have found their way into the city." Lord Rtea turned to each Terran, "And kill them if found, whether or not they are the ***. We want to send a message to Shifters. Come to the city and you will be killed."
"Will there be a reward?" Silja said as she shifted her weight.
"Only if you find proof that they are the ***. About 10,000." Lord Rtea said.
Silja smiled. "Nice." She turned to Eric, "Let's go!"
Eric shook his head. "Maybe later."  
Silja shrugged. "I'm not sharing" She ran out of the keep.
"I want to look around first." Eric looked to Lord Rtea.
Lord Rtea nodded. "You are more than welcome to look where the murder(?) took place."
Rishu and Aasiya looked at each other and nodded. 
"We will look too." Rishu said.
Everyone looked at Andrew.
What should we do? Andrew wondered if he could just leave. There was no way he would tell them what he knew.
Shimeirin doesn't want to look at any dead bodies. Shimeirin felt sickened for a moment.
It might not be there anymore, but I just want to get out of here. 
Shimeirin likes that idea.
"I think I'll go start searching now. That money would be useful." Andrew smiled weakly. "Maybe I can show you where the temple is later?"
"I see." Lord Rtea said and turned to the others. "This way."
Andrew turned and headed to the door and didn't bother looking back until just as he was leaving. Eric was staring at him with the smile of a madman.
We need to keep an eye out for Eric. Andrew said as soon as they reentered the city. That smile...
Does he know?
I bet he doesn't care who killed the king. Andrew shook his head.
Andrew thought about running back to the Bat Cave but knew that he had no way of outrunning Eric. So, he walked at a leisurely pace and took in the sights of the capital.  Once they reached the slums, he noticed that the street he was on was empty. Andrew looked around to see what would cause it only to find Eric exit a now shattered store front.
"Hello Andrew. I believe I gave you a month?" Eric's face turned from insane happy to predatory.
"I..." Has it? "Leave me alone, Eric. Go play with your girlfriend." To Andrew's surprise he was more angry than scared and finally snapped. "I'm sick of this world! I'm sick of these bracelets and what they do to you guys, what you do to others! Leave me alone!"
Andrew... Shimeirin was sad but sympathetic.
Eric laughed. "Now, now, Andrew. You should blame yourself for that! If you only killed like me and the others, it wouldn't have come to this! If you weren't such weak prey! Oh, I want to see what it's like to tear the life out of another Terran! Your life, Andrew!"
Andrew walked straight at Eric and held his eyes with Eric's. Shimeirin.
Shimeirin panicked. What!? Now!? Shimeirin isn't sure...
If he attacks us we die! Andrew was close to Eric. It would only be a moment.
Eric laughed wildly. "So eager to die! You must hate this world! Or... or do you want to become my power? Yes! No? No!"
Eric made no move to stop Andrew as Andrew grabbed his arm.
Go! Andrew hoped he hadn't rushed things.
Shimeirin found herself in the now familiar... Inside? Eric's soul was exactly where Isaac's and Lisbeth's had been and saw that it was also engulfed in another spirit. 
Shimeirin gasped when she noticed how weak Eric's soul had become. It was so faint. No wonder he was going crazy!
She soon noticed the prison that held the spirits. There were many. Far more than Lisbeth or Isaac had had. Shimeirin felt such sorrow at the sight. So many killed and trapped.
What!? Came a baritone male voice. Who are you to enter MY body!?
Shimeirin decided to not waste more time and headed for the place that would rid Eric of the bracelet. If she could beat this bracelet's spirit to that spot she would win. Would it be so easy? It had taken Spring Sunset a few seconds to leave Lisbeth's spirit so maybe she could beat it.
Just after Shimeirin began to move she heard shouts behind her. Dozens of spirits appeared just where she had been. It was the spirits she had freed from Lisbeth!
For Lady Shimeirin! For our kindred! Came shouts from the spirits.
Get out! Yelled Eric's spirit. I will not have you interrupt me!
Eric's bracelet spirit had already detached from Eric and was racing towards them. The spirits saw this and raced to meet and soon were fighting. The bracelet spirit began to glow as soon as it started fighting and it surprised Shimeirin to see a stream go from the spirit, to the Place, before it split into thousands of small threads that each connected to a spirit in the prison. Because of that it was easily pushing the freed spirits back and it wouldn't be long until it reached Shimeirin.
Shimeirin became excited. The freed spirits were slowing the bracelet spirit down enough that it wouldn't reach her in time! She just hoped that spirits couldn't be destroyed.
Something hit Shimeirin and she came to a stop. It was Eric's spirit! As weak as it was, it had somehow avoided the freed spirits and reach Shimeirin just before she could destroy the bracelet.
What... Eric seemed confused. If you... if you... I don't know... but I have to stop you... why?
Shimeirin needed to do something. She only had moments until the bracelet's spirit reached her. He was so weak... could she? She had to try. Shimeirin is sorry!
Shimeirin 'punched' Eric in the face. He staggered backwards and Shimeirin hit him again, then a third time. This caused Eric's spirit to fade some and Shimeirin could then push past him as he could no longer mount any kind of strength.
What are you doing!? The baritone voice shouted just behind Shimeirin.
Freeing them. Shimeirin whispered as she reached into the Place and destroyed it.
Shimeirin turned around and saw the bracelet's spirit jerk to a stop.
Who are you? It said, fury and... respect(?) in its voice.
Shimeirin. Shimeirin said as she finally took the time to take in his features. He only looked vaguely familiar to her.
A spark of recognition showed in the spirit's face. Blue Ocean's daughter. 
The bracelet's spirit let out a laugh and then vanished.
Lady Shimeirin! Lady Shimeirin! The surviving spirits shouted as they gathered around her.
There were spirits everywhere now with the prison destroyed. Many were disappearing but most joined the growing group around her. If spirits could hug, she would have received hundreds. It filled Shimeirin with some of the greatest joy she had ever felt. She had done this! She had freed them. Just the looks of joy on their faces!
Shimeirin turned to the more familiar spirits. Thank you for helping. Shimeirin doesn't think Shimeirin could have made it without your help.
We will stay with you until we defeat all the other Terrans. Came one of many shouts.
Thank you. Shimeirin knew that she wouldn't worry about having these spirits follow her.
Lady Shimeirin! The spirits shouted.
Shimeirin turned to a group of spirits as they brought Eric's motionless spirit to her. Let's leave. Shimeirin knows he can't do anything anymore.
Many of the spirits shouted different punishments Eric deserved, but Shimeirin ignored them and began heading back to Andrew. She had done it! Not only that, but it had been easy. With the help of the freed spirits she could defeat any bracelet spirit!
Is killing Terrans too easy? Well...