47. Entangled In The Spider’s Web
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Third Person PoV:

Location: Divine City of Arachnumec, Mexico

The Einherjar marched towards the location of the primitive city that had been blocked from Heimdall’s vision by a sorcerer from Midgard. They just had to finish surveying the location quickly for any suspicious activity and then they could return back home.

It took but a few moments to reach the edges of the site of suspicion. Upon closer inspection using basic sorcery that even warriors who looked down on sorcerers knew, what had blocked Heimdall’s vision was nothing but a flimsy barrier with some sort of anti-scrying and anti-detection enchantments added on to it.

“It seems the Midgardian sorcerer was nothing special after all. While this unknown magic is intriguing indeed, it is obvious that such a pathetically weak sorcerer is not the one we are looking for.” An Asgardian remarked derisively.

While other warriors concurred with the statement, they were ignoring a simple fact. How could a wise and knowledgeable Asgardian like Heimdall, who had kept watch over the Nine Realms since being entrusted with overlooking the Bifrost, be fooled by flimsy magic? 

For these warriors at the height of ignorance, such a fact did not matter. They lacked caution which came with wisdom derived from experience. 

Granted, they were sent here by the All-Father as he himself did not have great expectations of this little expedition if it could be called that. Something that would be casually asked about once before putting it aside forever.

Ultimately, it amounted to honing the skills of the most novice soldiers, allowing them to gain whatever limited experience was available.

“We just have to take a look over this settlement and then we can leave. Don’t waste any more time.” The warrior in charge of the platoon spoke as they started carving a gap in the barrier. He did not try to dissuade the remark as he felt the same way.

A small portion of the barrier was soon covered with visible cracks due to the effect of the magic that some of the sorcerers used. Soon, the barrier was opened ever so slightly and the settlement hidden on the inside became visible.

The Einherjar entered the barrier and witnessed a somewhat dilapidated city. The reason it was somewhat dilapidated was that it seemed as if the city was being repaired. Despite this, no humans were visible as far as the eye could see.

The leader of the Einherjar, Bjorn Harson, harboured a deep sense of foreboding as he observed the sole survivors of the city if they could indeed be labelled as such. Without a doubt, they bore the unmistakable traits akin to those dwelling in Hel.

“The barrier…?” A warrior exclaimed as he saw the barrier rapidly closing and all the cracks vanishing. 

“Break open the barrier quickly!” Bjorn ordered. The sorcerer's efforts to pry it open again were rendered futile as the barrier seemed unbreakable, a stark contrast to earlier.

Bjorn now knew where that foreboding came from. They had operated under a false premise until now that the flimsy barrier was cast by a weak Midgardian sorcerer to hide this city. It was more likely that the barrier was a trap to lure in intruders.

While the sorcerer certainly seemed powerful in their mastery over this unknown magic and possibly more powerful than all of them, Bjorn did not despair. Asgardian warriors were trained to remain calm under adverse situations. 

This was especially true for Bjorn who was the leader of these warriors, even if they lacked experience. Of course, he could not let his pride get further in the way of this exploration. 

“Everyone, be ready for any attacks. Let’s look around the city first.”  Bjorn ordered as he cautiously started leading them deeper into the city. 

They casually disposed of the weak undead scuttering about the city that came in their path. They seemed to act more like workers engaged in construction than warriors defending the settlement.

They continued until they reached an area surrounded by massive pillars studded with red gemstones. The structure was covered in white colour. It seemed to still be under construction.

At the centre stood an ornate altar fashioned in the likeness of a magnificent spider's nest, its delicate patterns woven from precious stones and metals. 

Bjorn understood based on his knowledge that this seemed to be a place of worship for the primitive humans who had inhabited this city. 

But due to the lack of humans and the presence of the undead, he thought that the evil sorcerer who had constructed the barrier had created this altar to conduct sacrifices to whatever evil deity they believed in.

He looked at some of the completed elaborate murals that graced the walls. They showed unknown alien entities in the midst of creating something. Another mural showed multiple evil or demonic entities surrounding the aliens from the previous one. Perhaps their subordinates?

Beside it were some incomplete murals depicting some sort of a…spider? A white spider in a cave? They could not be made out clearly. Bjorn looked elsewhere for more information and found another mural.

The third completed mural directly in front of the altar had a black background in contrast to the other ones. The mural depicted nearly all the alien entities evaporating into nothingness, leaving only their subordinates clustered around a mysterious figure. 

They were kneeling in front of this being. This enigmatic being remained elusive, its form obscured, appearing as a white-shaded silhouette unlike the others, defying easy identification.

Under the image of the figure, a few phrases in an unknown language were carved. Bjorn could read it due to his inherent racial abilities. He read it out loud:

“The Weaver of Cosmic Destiny; Lady of Boundless White; Mistress of the Ethereal Web; The Spider Goddess Who Reigns Above the Cosmos.

I pray for your blessings. I pray for you to weave my fate…” 

There next few lines seemed to be some sort of prayer to this unknown ‘deity’. Yes, ‘deity’. This spider goddess seems to be the deity that the evil sorcerer worships. Unfortunately, this knowledge did not really help him as he did not know of any such goddess.

“Let’s try to leave,” Bjorn ordered. The expedition had to be cut short much earlier than expected. There was not much written information available for them to get an idea of what was going on here. They stood gloomily a short distance away from the barrier that still could not be pried open. 

So Bjorn simply shouted, “Heimdall, bring us back to Asgard.” He just hoped that the barrier did not stop Heimdall’s ability to bring them back. 

They could subsequently relay their findings, and if it indeed traced back to the sorcerer they sought, more capable warriors would be sent to address the situation. Nonetheless, grappling with the enigmatic events unfolding within this city exceeded their capabilities

Unfortunately, there was no response from Heimdall as if to crush his hope. But suddenly, they soon heard the sound of heavy footsteps moving towards them. This was also accompanied by the rhythmic sound of a weapon like a staff hitting the ground.

The being that made an appearance as the sound stopped looked like a two-legged insect, its massive body standing around 250 cm high. It resembled an ant or a mantis, and it looked like some hybrid made by an utterly depraved fiend.

Its hard exoskeleton was wreathed in freezing cold, and it glittered like diamond dust. It had a savage tail that was as long as its body and studded with countless spikes. Its mighty jaws looked like they could easily bite a man’s hands clean off.

It had four arms tipped in razor-sharp claws, each of which was sheathed in a shiny gauntlet. It wore a disc-like amulet on a golden necklace and platinum rings around its ankles.

‘This was the insectoid monster depicted in that mural…?’ Bjorn wondered. This monster had an uncanny resemblance to the image of one of the suspected subordinates in that mural. Thinking of this he questioned:

“Are you the subordinate of the Spider Goddess depicted in those murals? Let us leave now if you do not wish to incur the wrath of the All-Father of the 9 realms.” Despite his fear, it was his undying belief that the All-Father could deter this monster.

It was a foolish thought to incur the wrath of Odin. Too bad, he had guessed wrongly this time.

“Yes. I. Am. Cocytus. Guardian. Of. The. Spider. Goddess. And. You. Shall. Be. Punished. By. Death. For. Intruding. Upon. Lands. Protected. By. My. Lady. And. Speaking. Ill. Of. Her.” The insectoid monster Cocytus spoke while breathing out cold mist. 

His mighty suppressed power made the Einherjar feel a mixture of fear and determination. They had entered this city with the belief that they were on a simple reconnaissance mission, but now they found themselves trapped within a city of the undead and faced with an opponent beyond their expectations.

Bjorn stepped forward, his sword drawn. "We are warriors of Asgard," he declared, his voice steady despite the unease that gripped him. "We will not be deterred by the likes of you. Surrender now, and we may show you mercy."

“—All. Right. Since. Lady. White. Is. Watching. I Shall. Ensure. You. Get. A. Chance. To. Shine. However. Before. That. [Ice Pillar].” As the spell activated, two pillars of ice erupted from the water between the Einherjar and Cocytus, about twenty meters apart.

“These. Pillars. Will. Be. Your. Grave. Cross. Them. And. Accept. Your. Death.” Cocytus declared.

Bjorn now knew that Cocytus did not care about Odin or Asgard at all. He also said that ‘Lady White’ was watching. Presumably, she was that white silhouette in the mural. 

Noticing their difference in power, he knew they were entirely outmatched and this may very well be their doom. But Bjorn was more resolute than ever now. 

“Brothers, let us fight to our last breaths and die with glory so we may ascend to Valhalla. For the glory of Asgard!” He shouted and started charging towards Cocytus.

“For the glory of Asgard!” The Einherjar followed after him to face the greatest and deadliest battle of their lives.

The next chapter release will most likely be delayed longer than normal.