Thanks for reading! Me and my cowriter Darinost are slowly combining blogs and comment sections, so feel free to join us all on discord to discuss stories!
“Here we are folks,” Emmeck said. “At the beginning of the end. Today we find out who the finalists will be for this year’s exciting competition! But hold onto your hats, because before we get there we have another round to finish, and this one is gonna be a doozy!”
Seo-yun was only half listening to the announcer ramble in her ear as the elevator ascended. Watching Qarinah’s fate in the auction had dampened everyone’s spirits, and when it was over, they’d barely exchanged any words before bed. Betty had been too depressed to make breakfast like she had yesterday, and even Crikey had been somber as they prepared for a new day of horrors. But Seo-yun had a mission now. It was no longer enough to just keep going; she was going to rescue Samantha. Even if she had to drag that pigheaded woman out of the Paradisium kicking and screaming…
“I’m afraid I can’t describe today’s arena to everyone,” said Emmeck, “because even I don’t know what it looks like. We started with a wide open space, a magnificent empty canvas, and left decisions like that…” He finished the sentence in an ominous, melodramatic tone.”…up to them.”
The elevator doors opened, revealing a world of soft whites and grays. There was no artificial sky to be seen, no illusion of being aboveground. The stone ceiling was a short distance above them, stark and unadorned save for lights shining down. The only other thing visible in the arena was cobwebs. Massive cobwebs, forming floors and slopes and cliffs to make up an uneven landscape of hills and valleys. Seo-yun’s sensitive ears picked up the sounds of quiet chittering, and she caught dark things moving in the distance.
“One hundred of the largest spiders in the world,” the announcer said with morbid glee. “Released in here a month ago and given free range of the place. I have some good news and bad news for our contestants today. The good news is that all one hundred are female! Not a single man is gonna bother you sassy sisters today! The bad news…” he told them sardonically, “is that every one of those eight legged gals down there is just bursting with eggs to plant. All of them are looking for something warm and soft that they can wrap up like a Christmas present and stuff like a Thanksgiving turkey. At least one of our contestants is destined to become both egg sac and breakfast for hundreds of adorable little baby spiders. I don’t know about you, folks, but I can’t wait to find out who those lucky ladies will be.”
Seo-yun felt sick to her stomach listening to him gleefully describe the fate of today’s losers. She’d never cared much about spiders one way or another, but the gruesome outcome that he seemed so eager to see was horrifying. She’d heard enough talk of the past games by now to know that Belle was far from the first person to die down here, but she’d thought that the deaths were usually the result of violence between contestants, or the Paradisium being careless about safety. This was different. The game’s creators had known full well that they were sentencing one or more women to death when they devised this arena.
She looked at the other women. Unless something happened, at least one of the six of them was going to die today. None of them deserved that, not even Snowflake.
“In order to keep things fair,” the announcer said, and Seo-yun could hear the smirk on his face clear as day, “our contestants have been left blind from now on. With so few of them left, they or their intrepid handlers might be tempted to give into their baser natures and make this event unsporting by trying to spy on each other. So to keep this venerable competition of ours fair and honorable, they will no longer be privy to my running commentary of the round. Oh, but don’t worry, my wonderful audience: none of you will be denied my dulcet tones!”
One of the cobwebs was just under the elevator, gently sloping downward to meet several other webs going in various directions. It wasn’t solid ground at all, just a patchwork of thick ropy strands of webbing. They were spaced closely enough that it would be difficult to fall through the gaps, but not impossible. Seo-yun looked into one of the gaps, trying to see what was below them, but saw only darkness. She couldn’t even judge how far down it went. The floor could have been twenty feet below them or two thousand. Most of the women in the elevator seemed in no hurry to discover if the webs would truly support their weight, except for Vorona, who dodged the issue by taking off into the air, and Samantha, who immediately ran along one of the ropes. It swayed and bobbed, but held. For now.
“Wait!” Seo-yun called. Vorona didn’t pause in her flight. She didn’t actually expect the redhead to stop either, but to her surprise she did, looking back at her over her shoulder. “We, we should all stick together!”
Samantha wasn’t too far away to miss her rolling her eyes. “This is a competition, Yip Yip, not a tea party.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Seo-yun protested. “This is just a game! The other three rounds were bad, but at least they weren’t lethal. If we work together, maybe we’ll be able to protect the women who are eliminated, carry them back with us before anything terrible happens. But if we don’t put this stupid game aside and watch out for each other, some of us are going to die today!”
“Yeah,” Samantha said flatly, “but I won’t be one of them.” She set off running again. Seo-yun sighed in frustration.
“I think you’re right, meow,” said Betty softly. “I do not wish to see anyone get hurt, meow.” The cat eared girl offered her hand. “I propose we work together and share our points today, meow.”
The fox took her hand gratefully. “Agreed,” she said.
Crikey clasped her hand over theirs. “Sounds good to me!” said the koala. “We’ll be the three musketeers, yeah? This is gonna be fun!”
Even though there was plenty of space to walk around the trio, Snowflake chose to push through them roughly. “Perfect,” the nogitsune said as she stepped onto the web. “Maybe if you ask your new playmates nicely, they’ll put your cocoons side by side so you can gossip about boys while you wait to die.”
“Why, you know any good ones?” asked Crikey. “Boys, that is. Don’t think we’re gonna need much help finding spiders!” She laughed.
Snowflake didn’t bother replying, though the tails she was no longer bothering to hide flicked irritably. She bounded gracefully to another web, and then another, and was soon out of sight completely.
“At least it looks like they really will support our weight,” Seo-yun said. She braved the webs herself, and found them smooth and slightly sticky. Not sticky enough to impede her movement, though, and the way it clung to her feet was actually somewhat reassuring; hopefully she wouldn’t have to worry about slipping and falling. “Let’s search for a few ribbons, and then try and find a safe space to wait out the rest of the day.”
“Only a few?” Crikey asked. The koala and the cat joined her on the webs. “I don’t think any of those three are gonna give up early, and they’re not splitting points.”
Seo-yun hesitated. “I will hold onto the least amount of ribbons, so if one of the three of us loses, it will be me. I’m… pretty sure I could survive the spiders if I had to.” It would be unpleasant, to say the least, but her natural regeneration would probably keep her alive. As much as she wanted to help Samantha find a way out of here, she couldn’t put the others’ lives at risk in the process.
“No,” said the koala, in a surprisingly firm of voice. “I’ll take the fewest. Your heart’s in the right place, Ginger, but you’re too self-sacrificing by half, you know that? Sometimes you gotta let other people help ya out.” She untied all of her ribbons and offered half to each woman. “Go on, take them.”
“But, but you need those too!” Seo-yun said, and then gasped as Crikey opened her hand and let the ribbons fall. She quickly snatched them up before they could fall between the webs and be lost.
The dark haired girl grinned at her. “Good catch! Guess they’re yours now!” Seo-yun stared helplessly at the bundle of ribbons she was holding, and then sighed and started tying them on. Betty had already done the same with hers. “So… which way? My handler ain’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.”
“Mine is also unhelpful, meow,” said the cat girl. “Right now he’s guessing how many spider eggs will fit inside me, meow… and trying to calculate it on a napkin, meow. He’s hoping they’ll exceed one thousand, meow.”
“I’ll ask Celeste,” Seo-yun said. She pointed in several directions, her usual signal to ask which way to travel. There was no answer, and only then did she realize that she hadn’t heard the woman at all yet today. She repeated the gesture with some urgency. Over the last few days, she’d come to rely on the Wilmingshire’s servant for guidance and support. She was even starting to believe the woman thought of her as more than just a fox-eared fucktoy. She wouldn’t have just abandoned Seo-yun, right? Right?
Seo-yun felt a sudden wave of dizziness that almost made her legs buckle, and Betty grabbed her shoulder to help steady her. Her physical condition seemed to be stabilizing, and she didn’t think she was in danger of dying anymore, but it was a fragile peace. Right now she and Morris were relatively in sync, but if her emotional state become unstable, they’d start coming into involuntary conflict again. Like it or not, she couldn’t let herself give in to despair anymore.
“I… I don’t think she can help us right now,” she told the others. “We’re on our own.” She looked up at the ceiling, as though she might be able to see past it and find the woman. There had to be a good reason she wasn’t responding. Seo-yun would try and trust in her.
“Then we’ll just have to do this the old fashioned way,” said Crikey cheerfully. “Pick a direction and start walking. Onward!”
There was something profoundly disturbing about the land of spiderwebs that they walked through. There were no landmarks, no points of interest, just endless slopes. Even the cave tunnels from three days ago hadn’t felt as dead and dreary. They had been made to seem random, but they were still ultimately man-made and had a sense of pattern and purpose to their layout. The webs just shifted randomly, from hill to valley to wall with no rhyme or reason. And always below them was that inky darkness ready to swallow them up if they fell. Not all the strands that they walked on were as close as others, and sometimes they had to carefully traverse wide gaps between them.
As nice as it sounded to not be forced to listen to Emmeck’s mocking commentary all day long, the fox still felt its absence acutely. The arena was more dangerous than ever, and if anything happened to someone, there was no chance of someone else finding out and coming to the rescue. She reminded herself that Samantha had been doing this for years, and would know how to take care of herself, but the assurances felt meaningless. The woman only had to make a single mistake, and Seo-yun wouldn’t know about it until it was too late.
Seo-yun had chosen the quietest direction to travel in – one fairly close to the way Sam and had gone and not at all close to Snowflake’s trajectory – but she could still hear chittering all around them. The creators of these webs were hunting for them. She had them change direction repeatedly, always moving away from the closest spiders, but the distance between them and the unseen predators grew steadily shorter.
“So just what’s going on with you and the firebird?” Crikey whispered as they scaled a slope steep enough to make them crawl on all fours. “You two an item now or something?”
“A what?” Seo-yun asked at the same quiet volume. The koala made a circle with her fingers and pumped her index finger in and out of it a few times. Seo-yun looked at the movement blankly for a second, then realized the meaning and blushed. “N-no, it’s not like that!” she said quickly. “We’re just…” She tried to think of the right way to describe it. She had a feeling that she shouldn’t blurt out that she had the woman’s dead husband’s soul inside her. It was the sort of conversation that she was in no hurry to have with anyone. “I’m her friend. Well, I want to be her friend, if she’ll let me.”
“Friend, huh? I’d tell you to watch your back because Ember’s killed a whole bunch of her friends in these games, but she’s already tried to kill you, so…” Crikey shrugged. “I guess that warning is kinda redundant now.”
Seo-yun knew she should probably be more upset about Ember’s attempts to kill her yesterday, but the woman hadn’t behaved like someone just trying to win or kill for pleasure. The fox had seen cornered animals before and recognized the behavior: whatever Sam’s circumstances were, she’d been fighting to survive. And Seo-yun been lucky to meet people like Delphyne and Qarinah who had shown her kindness and made her feel like more than just a plaything. She imagined what it would be like to have more people like Snowflake around instead. If those were the sort of “friends” that Sam had known in previous years, she couldn’t blame the woman for being so certain that Seo-yun couldn’t be trusted. After all, Seo-yun herself had been unable to trust Morris when the time came. She was in no position to judge.
They didn’t see the spider until it was too late. Its black exterior blended in with the darkness between the webs, and while it was huddled, it looked like just another big gap. But when they got close, it came to life, shifting to spit webbing at them. The white wad was bigger than they were, and Seo-yun only barely dodged it in time. Betty wasn’t so lucky, and ended up plastered to the webbed floor. Before Seo-yun could even think about helping her get free, the monster unfolded itself and came at them.
It was large, more than nine feet in height with thin, bristly legs that moved with disturbing grace across the web as it closed the distance. Its body was black and shiny and looked tough, as though it was more metallic than flesh. It felt more like metal too when Seo-yun intercepted it, grabbing two front legs, one of which had a black ribbon tied to it. Its jaws swung open and shut, and a gray liquid dribbled from them. Something about it itched at the fox’s mind, but she didn’t have time to think hard about it.
She was relieved to feel the same power that had saved her yesterday flowing through her again. She wouldn’t be able to use it for very long, but right now it was saving all three of their lives. She struggled with the spider, managing to halt its movement despite its far greater mass. It spat more webbing at her, forcing her to jump away to avoid it. She didn’t know if she’d be strong enough to escape the webbing if it hit, and she didn’t want to have to find out. The creature used the opening to skitter towards Betty, intent on the prone and helpless girl.
Seo-yun sprang at it again, this time seizing hold of its back legs to avoid the dangerous spit. The spider bucked as she dragged it backwards away from the cat girl, twisting and fighting against her. Again there was a wrongness to it somehow, and the fox felt a moment of panic despite winning the test of power so far. Her hunter instincts were screaming that she was in danger, and she didn’t know why and couldn’t spare the focus for it. Each of the thing’s legs had three claws on the end, and they were all snapping and grabbing at her. She tightened her grip on the spider’s limbs, pouring all of her power into it, and heard a satisfying pair of crunches as they broke in two.
The beast went into a wild frenzy then, and one of its claws latched onto her side. The supernatural toughness that had stopped Samantha’s blade wasn’t strong enough to stop the claw from sinking into her skin. It ripped out a chunk of her flesh, and Seo-yun felt hot blood run down her leg. More came at her but she batted them away with her tails and rolled forward, directly beneath the creature. This put her in range of all its remaining legs, and more claws began gouging out pieces of her, far too many to catch with just four tails. She endured the pain and smashed her fists against the spider’s underside, longing for her old fangs and claws. The hard dorsal carapace dented at the first three impacts,and broke open upon the fourth. Black, slimy eggs rained down on her as she reached up, penetrating the ovaries and intestines to find the creature’s heart. She yanked it out, making the spider convulse and screech. More alarm bells went off in her head.
After a few more seconds of thrashing, the creature slumped to the side, its twitching limbs slowing until it let out a final death rattle. Seo-yun panted, all too aware that she was covered head to toe in its viscera. It smelled foul, and what had gotten into her mouth tasted worse. She spat it all out, feeling filthy and wretched but also triumphant. She’d managed to survive. Her strength and speed were still nowhere near what she’d had as a true gumiho, but to feel even a fraction of that power was wonderful.
Her slowly closing wounds itched fiercely, and she could feel an almost burning sensation in her veins. The creature must have possessed some kind of venom, but luckily her system was metabolizing it. She looked around for the others, anxious to see if they were okay. Betty was still prone on the ground, trapped by the webbing. Crikey was nowhere to be seen at first, but a moment later the koala swung up into the air and landed gracefully on her feet. She’d been dangling below the web to stay hidden.
The warm, sticky webbing came away from Betty as Seo-yun pulled on it, and the cat girl eagerly struggled out of it as soon as she could. “Th-thank you, meow,” she said quietly as she stood up, still pulling bits of it off of her.
“That was pretty awesome,” Crikey agreed as she untied the black ribbon from the corpse’s leg. “One down, two to go, yeah? How much you think these kinda ribbons are worth anyway?”
“Eight points, meow,” Betty said easily. The others looked at her and she shrugged. “Spiders, meow.”
“Yeah, that’s the Paradisium for you,” Crikey said. “Buncha unoriginal bastards. Anyway, now that we know mommy longlegs got the ribbons and you can kill the things, maybe we should start hunting them instead of them hunting us, yeah?”
Seo-yun froze. The koala’s words had made things click into place, and her blood ran cold as she finally realized what had been bothering her this whole time. They’d been hearing spiders chitter in the distance all morning, but until its screech at the end of the fight, the creature had made no noise. Which meant…
She held up a hand to signal the others to be quiet, and then turned slowly in place, trying not to make any sudden movements as she scanned the slopes around them. “We’ve been using the background noise to figure out the best path to take,” she whispered. “The louder a direction, the more spiders must be over there.” Her two companions nodded, and Seo-yun saw Betty stiffen as she realized what she was getting at.
Crikey glanced between the two of them. “Well, don’t keep a girl in suspense,” she said quietly. “What’s up?”
“What if these spiders are more organized and intelligent than we assumed?” Seo-yun asked her. “What if they knew exactly what kind of effect making noise would have, and used it to drive their prey into a trap?”
The dark haired girl shrugged. “I mean sure, that would suck, but it was just one spider over here, right? Don’t look much like a…” her voice trailed off as her eyes swept over their surroundings. “Oh.”
Seo-yun knew that the koala was seeing the same thing she was. Now that she knew what to look for, the redhaired woman could see spiders dotting the landscape in every direction. There were dozens of them. Even the way that they had come from was covered in hunters now. They had been completely surrounded in perfect silence.
Nadia made three full sweeps over the arena before resigning herself to the truth: there were no open ribbons around. The only ones she’d seen were those tied to the spiders. Worse, these were natural beasts, not one of her father’s twisted creations, so she had no experience dealing with them.
No half measures. Tanya had been very clear about that last night, and Nadia had learned the hard way to always obey her sister. It wasn’t just because orders that came from Petrov’s favorite daughter carried as much weight as orders from the man himself. Whenever the raven didn’t do what her sister wanted, bad things inevitably happened. Tanya never liked it when people didn’t do as she wanted.
It was still unnerving to see her sister playing the part of a slave while the others were around. She was one, technically, but the difference between her and Nadia was like night and day. Tanya ate with their father at every meal, kneeling at his side to be hand fed from his own plate. She spent her nights spooning with him in the bed they shared. She was allowed and encouraged to wear clothes, jewelry, and whatever else she liked, and she didn’t have to give her body to anyone else or obey commands that she disliked. When she called herself a slave and their father her master, it was a lifestyle choice, not something being forced upon her, and given how readily their father indulged her every request, she sometimes seemed more in charge than he was.
Nadia, on the other hand, rarely ate anything but cum and nutritional supplements since her father had started using her for sex. She slept on cold, hard floors when she was good, and in a small, rusty cage when she wasn’t. She couldn’t even remember what it felt like to wear real clothes anymore, and she was used freely by everyone at Paragon who knew of her existence.
Their difference in status was nothing new, even if the sexual nature of it hadn’t been around at first. Tanya had been the prodigal child since practically the moment she was born in Paragon’s laboratory. They’d already been test subjects while they were still just embryos in the womb, their genes toyed with to try and create a superior model of human. There had been twenty three of them to start. All with Ilya as their biological father and all born within days of each other, with twenty two different women as their mothers; Nadia and Tanya had been twins. Their childhood was spent being taught, trained, and tested on a variety of subjects. By the time they were four, they could speak a half dozen languages fluently. By eight, they were studying fields like mathematics and chemistry on a college level. By eleven, they knew a variety of ways to take another sentient life, and had been forced to put those skills into practice more than once to prove that they were capable of it.
Not all of Ilya’s children were equally adept. He, and by extension Paragon itself, demanded incredibly high standards from them. Anyone who fell short of those standards was culled quickly and mercilessly, as though they were no more than lab mice. They weren’t the first group of children Paragon had tested, nor the last. In most groups, not a single test subject reached puberty. Of the twenty three children in their group, only Nadia and Tanya survived that far.
By Paragon’s normal criteria, Nadia was an unqualified success, and if she hadn’t been a twin, perhaps her natural aptitude would have earned her father’s love. But Tanya was something altogether different, a genius who effortlessly surpassed her sister in everything. It didn’t matter what area it was in; physically, mentally, and socially her twin was always and unequivocally her superior. Nadia had understood the vast gulf between first and second place long before she’d ever heard of the Paradisium. In their father’s eyes, Tanya was a true miracle, a vindication of everything he’d been doing. And Nadia… wasn’t. So while she had earned the right to survive, she did so bearing the weight of her father’s disappointment and disapproval.
And then their eighteenth birthday had arrived. Ilya had come to visit their room, which he almost never did. There had been a stark difference between her sister’s side of the room, which was decorated like a normal teenage girl’s, and Nadia’s spartan living conditions, but it had still been a space that she could call her own, with a bed and a wardrobe and a few items she’d picked up over the years, like a pressed flower one of the guards had given her as a present when she was six. Later that day, Tanya would claim the entire room for herself and have all of Nadia’s things thrown away as trash.
Nadia had been lying on her bed studying at the time – even at that age, their homeschooling involved a backbreaking amount of work – and wearing clothes for the last time in her life: dark slacks, a gray blouse, and a white bra and panties. Like the rest of her clothing, they’d been purchased cheap and didn’t fit right. Having to cut holes in her shirts to accommodate her grafted wings didn’t help, but she never complained about that part. The ability to fly was the sole bright point in her life.
She hadn’t bothered to look up or address her father when he came in. Even back then, she’d been the rebellious one. Not by choice; over the years Tanya had deliberately and relentlessly deepened the wedge between Nadia and their father, transforming his disappointment into outright hatred. Trying to be an obedient daughter didn’t work when her sister would eagerly twist her every fault into a deliberate show of disrespect, and eventually the girl had accepted the outsider role Tanya had forced her into. It was easier for Nadia to deal with her father’s rejection of her when she tried not to care about him, and easier to accept being seen as a complete failure when she never tried to do any better.
Physical discipline from Ilya was nothing new – it was a rare week where he didn’t try to “beat the stupid out of her” at least once – but that day had been on a completely different level. Before saying a word, he’d grabbed her hair and dragged her off the bed and onto her feet. He’d kept one hand in her hair to keep her head up, and started slapping her with the other, smacking her head left and right. Tanya had giggled from where she watched on her side of the room. “I am now officially done with you, Nadia,” he’d told her as he slapped her. “You’re not fit to do anything but get fucked, so that’s all you’ll do from now on.”
By the time he stopped slapping her, Nadia had been dizzy and her head pounded. She’d been too dazed and confused to offer any resistance when he pushed her face into the mattress and ripped off her blouse. When he leaned down and twisted one of her nipples through her bra, though, the sharp and sudden pain had roused her, and she’d bolted for the exit. Tanya had blocked the way, catching her sister in her arms. “Didn’t you hear Father?” she’d asked sweetly as she deftly unclasped Nadia’s bra. “You should be thanking him for finally finding a use for you.”
Nadia had tried to squirm free of her sister’s embrace, but she’d been easily bested. Tanya forced her arms behind her, tied her bra around her wrists, and then spun Nadia around and pushed her down onto her knees. She’d knelt as well, using her weight to pin Nadia’s legs, then hooked her fingers into the sides of her sister’s mouth to stretch it open while her elbows pressed against the back of her wings to keep them from being used to get away. “Father, may I please suck you with Nadia’s mouth?” she pleaded, using her fingers to roll Nadia’s head up and down and side to side. “We both know she’ll do a terrible job if we let her do it herself, and you deserve so much better than a clumsy blowjob.”
Ilya had chuckled. “I am blessed to have a daughter as considerate as you, Tanya,” he’d said as he stripped out of his clothes. “How did I get so lucky?”
“Oh, I’m not really all that special, Father,” Tanya had replied modestly. “It just looks that way in comparison to my trashbag of a sister. Isn’t that right, trashbag?” She’d forcibly nodded Nadia’s head up and down for her.
Nadia had never seen Ilya’s cock before. In time she would know it better than her own face. It was thick and bumpy, with pulsing veins running down it. And it had tasted awful. Nadia had tried to twist away from it, but Tanya kept a tight grip and pumped her head back and forth on his cock, sliding him in and out of her mouth at a steady pace. “Does she feel good, Father?” Tanya had asked. “Is her wet mouth serving you like it should?”
“No, even with your help she can’t manage to do anything right,” Ilya complained. “Worthless cunt isn’t using her tongue.”
“Oh dear” Tanya said innocently. “Maybe I can help.” She’d slipped her right hand out of Nadia’s mouth and grabbed hold of her left index finger instead. She’d bent it back sharply, and Nadia howled as her sister broke her finger. “Is she being a good fucktoy yet, Father? No?” This time it was her left middle finger that was brutally snapped in half. She’d gotten the picture by then, and quickly began slurping on their father’s cock before her sister could move on to the next finger. “There!” Tanya said cheerfully when she saw Nadia frantically using her tongue. Her fingers went back in her sister’s mouth, and she started thrusting Nadia’s head back and forth again. “That should be much better. You just let me know if she starts getting lazy again, Father.”
For the next ten minutes, Tanya had made her sister brutally facefuck herself on their father’s dick. Drool leaked out around his shaft, and her face was bright red with shame and wet with tears. Tanya’s fingers remained in her mouth to keep her from biting, but the idea had never actually occurred to her. Her mind had contained nothing but panic and terror and the desperate desire to convince her sister not to break any more of her fingers. “This is what your mouth is for,” Tanya said warmly as she eagerly pumped Ilya’s cock with Nadia’s face. “Not for sharing the silly thoughts in your head. Not for breathing or drinking or eating. Nope! Your lips are for massaging Father’s cock as you slide them across him. Your tongue is for providing Father with warm tingly pleasure when you use them on his shaft and balls. And your throat-” She’d rammed Nadia’s head into Ilya’s crotch as she spoke, and the raven could still acutely remember how she’d choked and gagged as the head of his cock breached her throat for the very first time -“is for squeezing Father tight until he’s ready to feed you his cum!”
“Grk grk grk!” Nadia’s first experience with deep throating had been horrifying. Neither Tanya nor Ilya had cared the slightest about whether or not she could breathe, or how painful his fat prick would be in her virgin throat. Tanya would happily push her all the way forward, grinding Nadia’s face into their father’s crotch, ignoring the way she retched and whimpered. She would remain like that, slowly suffocating to death on Ilya’s cock, until Tanya decided to gift her another breath. Her head would be unceremoniously hauled back, and then shoved forward again just as quickly, and if she wasn’t ready to snatch a breath in during that brief window, then she wouldn’t get another chance until Tanya was feeling generous again. Multiple times Nadia passed out on Ilya’s dick, only to wake with him still buried in her gullet.
The constant oxygen deprivation made her woozy,and it was getting difficult to focus or even keep her eyes open. “Don’t close your eyes!” Tanya barked eventually, and Nadia shrieked as her left ring finger was snapped. “You’re not here to zone out,” Tanya told her as she sobbed in pain. “You’re here to please Father. Look up at him, right into his eyes! Don’t break eye contact. Do you see how happy he looks? That’s because of you, Nadia. For the first time in your sorry life, Father isn’t wishing you were never born. And you can do even better!” She’d started violently fucking Nadia’s throat on Ilya then, yanking it back and slamming it forward over and over while her sister gurgled. “Make Father cum!” Tanya had demanded. “This is why he hasn’t already killed you and dumped your worthless hide in the sewer. Because with enough training and discipline, even someone like you can become a half decent fucktoy.”
Ilya’s sperm was bitter and slimy. She’d despised the taste of it, and even though for the next seven years, semen was the closest she ever came to solid food, familiarity would never make it any easier on her palate. When the moment arrived, he’d pulled back to gush in her mouth instead, filling it to the brim with his white sticky seed. Every nerve in her body had begged her to spit the stuff out, but terror had made her swallow instead, and afterward Tanya had turned her around so she could inspect her sister’s mouth with her fingers, checking that she’d downed every drop. “See that?” she’d asked once she was satisfied. “Without even being told. You were born to be a cocksucker, Nadia.”
She’d prayed that was the end of it, but their father had other ideas. He’d pulled her back to her bed, pushed her face down onto it, and then prepared to mount her with no foreplay at all. His cock had already been hard again, and her spit was all the lube he wanted for penetrating her virgin slit. “Please!” Nadia had begged while he tugged her pants and underwear down to expose her to him. “Please Father, don’t! I’ll suck your cock! I’ll suck it every day! I’ll be a good and obedient cocksucker for you, I promise!”
“Father, wait!” Tanya had cried out, and for a moment Nadia had thought her sister was actually going to intervene to help her. But instead she’d said “I wanna have fun tooooo” in a mock pout, and then rolled Nadia over onto her back and wings so she could sit on her face. She’d removed her own clothing at some point, and her pussy was hot and soaked as it smothered her sister’s cries for mercy. “Mmmm, much better.” She’d leaned forward, her breasts brushing Nadia’s stomach, and pulled her sister’s pussy lips apart with her hands, offering her virginity up to Ilya. “Do it, Father!” she’d urged. “Fuck this whiny cunt hard!”
Nadia’s feet were kicking the air in a desperate attempt to save herself, but Ilya was not to be deterred. He grabbed her flailing ankles and forced her legs apart to get in between them. “I won’t say you are about to become a woman,” he’d told her as he lined himself up with the hole Tanya was showing him. “Because that would be an insult to women. No, you, you are just a cum dump.” He’d thrust into her then, breaking through her hymen and stuffing his cock into her. As Nadia shrieked and her virginal blood had soaked her bed sheets, he’d shared a long kiss with Tanya. “I am so proud of you,” he told her when they broke it off. His hands were kneading Nadia’s breasts while Tanya’s were still pinching and tugging on her pussy lips to make her squirm and clench on Ilya’s cock. “You are truly your father’s daughter.”
“Will you fuck me too after you’re done with her?” Tanya asked eagerly. “My virgin pussy can’t wait to welcome you home, Father!” She’d yanked out a tuft of Nadia’s pubic hairs, and giggled when her sister’s reaction made Ilya moan. “And I’ll do such a better job than this lazy slut.” She’d lowered her head and begun licking the top of his shaft while wiggling her crotch against her sister’s face. “This is the other thing your mouth is for, Nadia. Don’t worry about not being good at it: you’ll be getting lots and lots of practice from now on. Even someone as stupid as you will become an expert at licking cunt eventually.”
“Your first time will be later tonight,” Ilya had told her. “I have already arranged a special dinner for just the two of us. Afterward we’ll take a moonlit walk, and then retire to my bedroom to make love.” Tanya had squealed with glee, bouncing up and down on Nadia’s head while the hapless girl did her best to please her.
When Ilya was ready to cum, he’d twisted both of Nadia’s nipples sharply. Tanya caught on to what he was doing and bit down hard on her clitoris. Nadia had screamed at the unexpected and intense pain in three different places at once, and within seconds her clenching cunt wrung the sperm out of her father. Neither of them released her until every last drop of him had dribbled out, and when they did she sagged down onto the bed, exhausted and broken.
“Father?” Tanya had asked sweetly. “Will you do me a biiiiiiiig favor?”
“Anything you want, little one.”
“Can I be the one to fuck Nadia’s virgin ass? I already picked out a strap-on for it weeks ago, and I’ve been giddy about it ever since!”
Ilya had chuckled. “Of course you can!” The two of them had turned Nadia until her head and legs were hanging off the side of the bed, and then Tanya had gone to get her strap-on, a large ridged phallus. Too defeated to resist, Nadia had just lain there as her sister pushed her legs up into a jacknife position and jabbed at her asshole. While Tanya attacked her anus to get inside, their father had rested his soft cock on Nadia’s face. It was even more disgusting than before with the addition of blood, cum, and pussy juice. “You got me dirty, bitch,” he’d told her simply. “Clean it up.” Nadia had reluctantly obeyed, running her tongue over his flesh to clean their fluids off of it.
She was still in the middle of cleaning when Tanya succeeded in skewering her asshole. Nadia’s body had bucked wildly at the intrusion, but her sister was already too deep inside of her to get out. “You’re going to love this hole, Father,” Tanya had promised Ilya while she worked to force the remaining inches in. “All these years we thought Nadia had no talents at all, but we’ve finally found one: a tight asshole.” She’d worked with quick and ruthless efficiency to bury her strap-on and then start fucking her sister with it.
On the other side of the bed, Ilya had started teaching her how to suck him. “Lick the balls, slut,” he’d told her. “That’s where your diet comes from now. Before long you’ll be begging me to have more cum ready for you.” He’d been correct; long before her nineteenth birthday came around, she’d developed a habit of sucking on his scrotum whenever he was soft, hoping for some momentary relief for her constantly starving stomach. At the time, she couldn’t imagine ever wanting his cum, but she’d obeyed his orders anyway, slurping and tonguing his balls the way he wanted while Tanya pounded her asshole hard enough to make her entire body convulse with each thrust.
“Fuck me back,” demanded Tanya. “Having a tight ass doesn’t mean you don’t have to use it.” Nadia had weakly tried to obey, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy her sister, and eventually she’d huffed out a sigh and looked up at Ilya. “Father,” she said slowly, “now that Nadia is just our fucktoy, she doesn’t really need wings, right?” She’d stroked the black wings pinned beneath Nadia. “I mean, I’m sure they must be very distracting, especially for such a stupid girl as her. Maybe if we had them removed she’d be able to focus better on the important things in her life, like helping her sister fuck her ass.”
The threat had spurred Nadia into action, and she’d put everything she had into lifting her hips to meet her sister’s thrusts, fucking her sore virgin asshole against Tanya’s hard prick. The pain had grown exponentially but she’d kept at it. Nothing in the world could be worse than losing her wings.
“You might have a good point,” Ilya had mused. “She doesn’t seem as eager to lick my balls as a truly dedicated fucktoy would be. Ripping off those wings might be the only way to get her to stop being so lazy.” Nadia had whimpered and redoubled her efforts with her tongue. She’d been a virgin less than an hour prior, and now she was enthusiastically assfucking her sister’s strap-on while she lovingly sucked on her father’s nuts. For a while, she’d been half convinced that she’d died and gone to hell.
Their rape of her had continued for hours. When their father was hard again, he’d tried out Nadia’s ass for himself while Tanya made her lick the strap-on clean. After that it was back to tonguing his balls and cleaning his cock while Tanya raped her pussy, then taking her father in her pussy and Tanya in her ass at the same time, then tonguing his balls and cleaning his cock yet again while Tanya jackhammered her bleeding pussy. And on and on and on. At the time, she’d been certain it was the worst day of her life.
And she’d been right at the time. What she hadn’t realized until later was that her eighteenth birthday had been, in the long term, utterly unremarkable. Every day of her life from then on had been just as bad or worse.
Nadia tried to shake off the memories. The past was the past, and she couldn’t change it. What mattered now was Belle, the only person who’d ever really been kind to her. For her sake, she had to keep going. No half measures.
She broke off from her wide circle, tucked in her wings and streaked towards the closest spider. It tried to move out of the way when it realized Nadia’s intention, but it was too slow. The raven smashed into it at full velocity, breaking three of the huge creature’s legs and sending it stumbling backwards. She grabbed for the ribbon and yanked it off the spider’s leg, taking a cut from one of its claws in the process. Prize in hand, she bolted away, knowing she was no match for one of these things up close.
She flapped her wings as she ran, eager to return to the safety of the skies, but her body felt strangely heavy and her wings didn’t want to work right. Her legs tripped over themselves and she tumbled to the webbed ground, twitching erratically.
“Stupid bitch, ” Ilya growled. “I told you those things were venomous! Their poison is already in your system now. If you try and fight back like that, it will just kill you.”
Nadia heard the spider approaching behind her. Its legs scrabbled at her, turning her over onto her front, and then onto her back again. The raven didn’t understand what it was doing until she felt the warm silk wrapped around her feet. It was wrapping her up!
Ilya laughed. “Even spiders know how worthless you are! This one doesn’t think you’re even worth sticking its eggs into, cunt, so it’s going to eat you instead!” He laughed again. “It’s not a bad idea, to be honest. You’ll never amount to anything more important than spider food.”
Nadia tried to scream, but even her vocal cords were paralyzed by now. She couldn’t move, couldn’t cry out, couldn’t even… The spider took its time with her, rolling her around and around slowly and methodically to wrap her up. Occasionally one of its claws would nick her to inject a fresh dose of poison. The silk coffin grew up her legs, over her stomach and chest and wings, and finally went snugly around her head and mask.
Blind and bound, the raven felt herself being dragged along the ground. “There must be a nest somewhere,” Ilya said, still sounding amused. “It’s bringing you back home for lunch.”
Nadia continued trying to scream as she was dragged away.
Two hours later, Seo-yun and the others were still trapped. Any way they went would bring them closer to at least two or three more spiders. Seo-yun wasn’t certain she could even take on one more, let alone multiple at the same time. Her body had healed the damage from the claws and the poison had worked its way out of her system, but the fight had still taken a lot out of her.
Worse, the stalemate was only growing more dire as time passed. More and more spiders were encircling them, and they were drawing closer. The creatures were smart enough to know when they were being observed, and would stay so still that you could almost believe they were a trick of the light. Until you took their eyes off them, and then the spiders would slowly advance, drawing the noose that much closer.
“I don’t think we got much longer,” Crikey said at last. She didn’t bother lowering her voice anymore. “The buggers are eager. Some of them are barely trying to hide any more.”
Betty nodded. “They are working as a pack for now, but we are not prey that they can share, meow. They all want to be the ones to catch us and…” she shuddered, “use us as incubators for their children, meow.”
“Maybe we can use that against them,” Seo-yun mused. “If they think we’re about to get caught, some of them might get overeager and break formation, which would give us an opening to escape. It’s not the best plan, but…”
“Better than just waiting here for them,” Crikey said, and the other two nodded in agreement. “So who gets to be the pied piper here and convince a bunch of spiders to chase her?”
“Me,” said Seo-yun immediately. “I’m the fastest of us, and fighting that one gave me a sense for how they move. As long as I can keep clear of their spit, I should be okay.”
“What did I tell you about that self-sacrifice stuff?” Crikey said. “And I don’t remember agreeing that you’re the fastest. I’ll do it.” She pointed at a trio of spiders. “Those gals there are the antsiest. If I run riiiiiight near them, I don’t think they’ll be able to resist.” Seo-yun tried to protest, but the koala was already moving. “Cooee!” she called out as she moved towards the closing ring of spiders. “Which one of you girls wants to get those eggs all up in here?”
Seo-yun watched with trepidation as nine spiders began to stir at Crikey’s approach. There was nothing she could do now but trust in the woman and make the most of the chance she was creating for them.
The koala been right about the trio: they were the quickest to get moving. Two of them spat webbing at her, and then all three skittered towards her. Crikey dodged the spit easily, and Seo-yun had to admit the woman had been right about being faster too. She bounded across the sticky rope strands as though running through an open field, showing no fear or hesitation for the dark gaps between them.
“We must hurry, meow,” Betty told her, heading for the opening the koala had created for them. “The sooner we get away, the sooner she can…” The cat paused. “Meow. What is she doing, meow?”
Seo-yun didn’t understand it either. All nine spiders that Crikey had attracted the attention of were now actively chasing after her, which was part of the plan. What was not part of the plan was the direction the woman had taken. Instead of leading the creatures away from her companions, she was running directly towards Seo-yun and Betty, bringing the spiders with her.
“Run!” Seo-yun shouted at the cat, and Betty obeyed, sprinting towards escape. The fox joined her, but Crikey had already shifted her approach to intercept them.
The koala dashed right between the two women without slowing down. “Tag!” she said cheerfully. “You’re it!” And then the spiders were on top of them.
Seo-yun dodged the first three blasts of webbing, but she was already hemmed in when the fourth came at her. She deflected it with her tails, leaving all four of them gummed together. The fifth shot came not at her, but at Betty, who had her back to the monsters and was still focused on running away as quickly as possible. Seo-yun reacted without thinking, jumping in the way to intercept the attack meant for her companion. It struck her dead center in the chest, and knocked her off her feet and flat on her back.
She ripped at the gooey mess plastering her, but before she’d made any real progress she was spat on twice more, burying her in sticky webs and gluing her arms to her torso. She was still trying to break free when one of the spiders crouched over her and penetrated her pussy with its ovipositor. The appendage had the same shiny black exterior as everything else, and felt unnatural and wrong as it slid into her: too hard for flesh, too warm for a dildo, and impossibly smooth. It was thinner than she would’ve expected, tapering down to a sharp point that jabbed at her insides. After a few thrusts, the ovipositor stabbed into her cervix, making the fox gasp as the tip penetrated the tiny opening.
Then Seo-yun cried out as the ovipositor abruptly swelled up, thickening across its entire length and forcing her cervix wide open. The first golfball-sized egg shot out of the tip, striking the back of her womb with the force of a sharp kick and making her scream. A single egg was enough to fill her delicate pocket, but the spider was only getting started. Another egg slammed into her womb as hard as the first had, forcing her sensitive space to stretch around it. More and more followed.
There seemed to be no end to it. When the spider could fit no more of its eggs in her bruised womb, it pulled back just enough to start filling her pussy instead. Seo-yun tried to scream again, but another spider was already descending on her to bury its own slender ovipositor down her throat. When the tip poked into her stomach cavity it swelled up like the other had, cutting off the fox’s air supply as the creature began firing eggs into her belly. She tried to chew on the ovipositor, but it was too hard; her teeth would break first.
As she laid on her back, helpless and immobilized, she was forced to stare in horror at her belly growing steadily larger with every new egg. By the time she’d been denied oxygen for a full minute, she looked and felt nine months pregnant. The outline of dozens of eggs stood out plainly against the taut skin of her stretched belly. Even the spider seemed to realize that its incubator had reached her limit, because it began retracting its ovipositor. Seo-yun gasped for breath, and then was denied it again as eggs were injected into her throat. It was like vomiting in slow motion as the steady stream of eggs rose inside her one painful thump at a time, heading inexorably towards her mouth.
It took her a moment to realize that Emmeck was talking to her through the receiver. “…inger? Ginger? Can you hear me? We’re on a private channel right now. I was going to wait until the round was over to bring this up, but it seems like it’s now or never, right?” He chuckled. “Anyway, there was a bit of an incident last night with a fire and, well, long story short, it looks like the Wilmingshires have met a tragic end.” His voice held no sorrow or gravitas as he told her about her owners’ deaths. “But look on the bright side, sweetie: it means that there’s no one around to get said about you becoming spider food! And if you do make it out, you resourceful little minx you, the Paradisium will be happy to take ownership. Just a little something to mull over while you’re… expecting.”
There was too much going on for Seo-yun to fully process what she’d just heard. Jessica and George were dead? She’d never have claimed to like either of them, but she felt no satisfaction from their deaths. And Celeste… she’d felt like she was actually establishing a connection with the woman. She’d been cold and terse, but Seo-yun had become increasingly certain over the last couple days that there was a kind person beneath the veneer.
Her current situation was demanding too much of her attention to think about it for long. The spider violating her pussy had finally run out of space and pulled out, and not a moment too soon. Seo-yun was glad she couldn’t see what it had done, because she felt as stretched out down there as her stomach. Warm wet goo suddenly slapped against her pussy lips, as though the creature had ejaculated a massive burst of cum on her. That would have been far better than what it really was: web spit to seal her pussy closed and stop her from pushing even a single one of its many eggs out.
The eggs packing her throat made it difficult to breathe, but not impossible, and she was able to take small gasping breaths through her nose as the ovipositor popped out of her throat and the first egg struck the inside of her cheek. The slime coating the egg tasted worse than the spider guts had, but it wasn’t the filthy taste that made her heart pound and her body squirm in a panicked, frustrated attempt to get free. The egg was warm, and she could feel it tremble slightly against her sensitive tongue. Even though it felt like she was being stoned to death from the inside out, these eggs weren’t stones; they were very much alive, and they didn’t have long to hatch. Even now, if one of them broke… she opened her mouth as wide as she could, trying to keep her teeth as far away from the eggs as possible as more shot into her mouth. She felt more conscious than ever of the countless ones deeper inside her, and in her mind’s eye she saw exactly what was going to happen to her when they all began to hatch. There was at least a hundred eggs inside her right now, one hundred little spiders almost ready to burst out and crawl around inside her, curious and hungry. If she was lucky, she would die quickly. If she was unlucky, she might live through the entire experience.
Seo-yun’s mouth was soon as packed as her stomach, her cheeks bulging obscenely around nine or ten eggs. More web spit splattered against the lower half of her face, coating her mask and mouth and hardening in seconds. The fox was now trapped, stuffed, and sealed from both ends. The two spiders backed away, seeming satisfied with the result. Seo-yun tried furiously to calm down and think rationally about her situation. There had to be a way out of this, something she could- the web beneath her shifted, and a rush of horror washed away all thoughts in her head. There was a third spider, directly below her, and that could only mean one thing. Seo-yun whimpered as an ovipositor sank into her asshole.
Her guts offered the monster plenty of space, and each egg that it fired into her pushed the rest back, sending them deeper into her intestines. Seo-yun could feel the growing line of eggs inside her as they traveled through her body, and she had to stop herself from puking at the sensation. When the spider had run out of eggs to rape her with, a second spider took its place. Then a third. Then a fourth.
The assault didn’t stop until she felt the eggs in front, the first ones injected into her rectum, clink against the mass in her stomach. Her entire digestive tract from mouth to anus was now an unbroken line of spider eggs, hundreds in total. It wasn’t just her stomach stretched tight anymore: her entire torso was a lumpy, misshapen bulge. Seo-yun didn’t feel like a fox or a human anymore. She felt like an egg sac. Warm web spit struck her gaping anal ring, and the final spider scurried away, leaving her alone. ‘Alone’. The inaccuracy of that word made her sob.
Several minutes ticked away in total silence. Seo-yun tried to call upon her power again, willing herself to break through the webbing, but it wasn’t strong enough. She wasn’t strong enough. And then there was a soft voice. “Whew, that sure was something, wasn’t it?” Seo-yun opened her eyes and saw Crikey crouched next to her. “Felt like I was watching a nature documentary.”
Seo-yun made a muffled, urgent sound, and the koala put a finger to her lips. “Quiet, remember? This will be much harder if those buggers come back.” She produced a small knife and slowly but steadily cut the webbing off of Seo-yun’s left forearm, deliberately leaving her hand and wrist still trapped. Once it was free, she began untying the ribbons on it and transferring them to her own arm. “No hard feelings, yeah?” she asked as she stole the fox’s points. “The firebird was right; this is a competition, after all. It’s been a fun time playing nice with y’all, but there just ain’t enough of you left to make it worth the bother. And I did warn you about the self-sacrificing.”
Seo-yun made another, more desperate sound, but Crikey ignored it. Once she’d stripped the left arm, she repeated the process with the right. “Yeah, this is a real good haul if ever I saw one,” she remarked, showing off her ribbons when she was done. “And I’ve still got the cat girl’s to collect when I find her.” She patted the fox on the forehead. “Aww, cheer up, Ginger. You’re going to come out of this just fine in the end, I’m sure of it. And if I’m wrong, well…” She shrugged and winked. “Tell all them little babes of yours I said hello.”
Then she was gone, and it was just Seo-yun and the spider eggs again.
Snowflake couldn’t resist a shudder as she stared out over the alien landscape. Spiders. Of all the horrible, gross, rapey monsters they could have stuck down here, why did they have to use spiders? She almost wished she’d let those pirate cosplayers have their way with her yesterday. She’d rather be servicing their filthy little human dicks right now than be stuck in this nightmare room in the first place, let alone enduring the sort of disgusting things these spiders would want to do to her.
That’s why she wasn’t even going to deal with them. She’d let those other idiots run around like fools out there while she remained safely hidden near the elevator thanks to her witchfire. The first woman that returned would find herself on the wrong end of a nogitsune in a bad mood. If she was lucky, that bitch Ember wouldn’t return at all. That was just what an arrogant loudmouth like her deserved: getting trussed up and packed by spiders. Might even teach her a little humility before she died, if a phoenix even could.
And here came her first victim, right on cue. That stupid koala girl was trudging across the web, heading right for Snowflake’s hiding place without even realizing it. Her tails twitched with eager anticipation. She’d been wanting to do something like this from the beginning, but the numbers hadn’t been on her side until now. Make too much noise and the others would turn on her as the biggest threat, so she’d let them think she was a simple unassuming selkie instead, hiding her tails for the right moment. But thanks to that damn phoenix, her nature and her tails were now common knowledge. There was no longer any reason to play nice, and with that stuck up dragon finally out of the way, she was confident she could take them all on together if she had to. No need to strain herself, though, not if they were going to keep handing themselves to her one at a time like this.
She tensed as Crikey drew nearer, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. “You must be feeling awful confident to just sit here and wait, huh?” the koala asked, and Snowflake started. How… but her illusion was perfect! Master Mordred stealing her witchfire meant she couldn’t use it to manipulate the outside world anymore, but she still had enough inherent power to affect herself, and her work was flawless. There was no such thing as total invisibility, but she was certain that she’d completely camouflaged her sight, sound, and smell. And yet, the woman was looking right at her, as though she wasn’t hidden at all. As though she wasn’t even trying to hide.
Feeling suddenly self-conscious, Snowflake awkwardly stood up, pretending she hadn’t been about to leap forward and tackle the girl. She didn’t know what kind of creature could pierce her cloak so easily, or what other sorts of powers something like that might possess. She smelled human, but so had Ember. “I thought you were on team love and peace,” she said, trying to sound calmer than she felt. “The others already become spider food?”
“Yep,” Crikey answered cheerfully. “Ginger is probably experiencing the magic of childbirth even as we speak, and Betty can’t be too far behind. Spotted one of them spiders dragging something that I’m pretty sure was Vorona too, all wrapped up as a little snack. Just the two of us and Ember now.”
Served them all right, Snowflake thought. Especially that freak. The nogitsune didn’t even know how the thing was still alive. She felt a hint of trepidation though as the full meaning of Crikey’s words sunk in. Ginger, Betty, and Vorona wouldn’t be coming back, which meant she’d have no chance to steal their points. There was Crikey, but her instincts were telling her that the girl was a wildcard she should stay away from until she had a better opportunity. She didn’t seem at all sad about the two women she’d apparently just betrayed and sent to their deaths. She was a predator, just like Snowflake herself, and it was too dangerous to come at her directly.
Which left just Ember. And as appealing as the thought of that bitch squirming in a spider web was, if Snowflake didn’t find her and steal her ribbons first, the nogitsune would be disqualified for getting no new ribbons, and if she was eliminated here… she shuddered again. She needed ribbons, and she needed them now. “Did you happen to see Ember anywhere out there?” she asked, forcing herself to act casual.
“Oh sure,” the koala said easily, and pointed. “She was right out over there. Has a bunch of ribbons on her too. Looking a little tired, though.”
Snowflake took a trembling step towards the direction indicated. She hated this, she hated this, she hated this… she took another step, and then another. It didn’t get any easier, but the fear of failure pushed her on, and soon she was running towards her best chance of making it out of this nightmare.
“Happy hunting!” Crikey called out behind her.
Seo-yun waited to die. It wouldn’t be much longer now. Many of the eggs inside of her had started wiggling already, which meant what was inside them was ready to hatch. Right now, they were poking at their confines, digging at the shells that trapped them. A few hours, maybe less, and they’d begin breaking out.
She’d struggled for a while, long after it had become obvious that it wasn’t doing her any good. She didn’t want to die like this. Not because of the manner of death, though it promised to be agonizing and disgusting, but because of the circumstances. She was going to die alone, deep underground and far from home. The sun and stars would never shine on her again, and her bones would never be buried with her parents.
Part of her hated Crikey for what she’d done. The woman hadn’t just condemned her to death to help win a game, she’d done so with a smile on her lips. But Seo-yun resisted the emotion. It wasn’t that Crikey didn’t deserve her hatred. It was just that the fox didn’t have a taste for it anymore. She’d spent much of her life using that emotion as a shield, because it was easier to hate everyone else than to try and connect with them, and especially easier to just hate herself than to try and be a better person. It had been a miserable, lifeless experience, and deep down it was almost identical to where she was now: stuck in place just waiting for death. In a way, as bitter as the thought was, she was grateful to Levinson for abducting her. Without him, she would have stayed that way forever. If she had to die like this, at least she would do it feeling more like herself.
The web she was on shook slightly as something stepped onto its strands. That would be another spider hoping to add its own eggs to her. Three times now that had happened; the newcomer would poke her bloated belly for a time, checking for any available space, and eventually give up and crawl away. The shaking intensified as the creature approached, until it was standing directly over her.
Seo-yun thought she was dreaming at first when she saw Samantha’s face. “What am I going to do with you, Yip Yip?” said the woman crossly as she crouched and began tearing away the webbing. “I leave you alone for a few hours and look what you get yourself into. This is what happens when you think you can trust people.” Her words and tone were harsh as she continued to berate Seo-yun for getting herself caught, but her touch was gentle, working carefully not to jostle the eggs inside of her. The woman had come to help her. And Betty was there too, helping remove the hardened goo. They’d both come for her. They couldn’t save her, but the fact that they were trying, that they hadn’t just abandoned her to her fate without a second thought, made tears come to the fox’s eyes.
They freed her hands first, and Seo-yun quickly began assisting them in pulling the rest off. As soon as she could move again, she forced herself to her feet and ripped off the goo sealing her mouth shut. It took no effort to make herself vomit, and dozens of eggs spewed from her mouth and throat. She tore off the webbing on her lower half and similarly expelled more of the eggs. She used her fingers to get the last few out of her pussy, but she could still feel hundreds in her digestive tract, buried too deep to get out. She looked down at her swollen abdomen and nearly vomited again.
“I… you need to get away,” she croaked. “When they hatch, they’ll… I don’t know what they’ll do.”
“You’re going to be fine,” Sam said bluntly.
“No, I’m not,” Seo-yun insisted. She gestured down at herself. “There’s no way to get these things out or stop them from hatching. I’m grateful you came for me, I…” Her voice broke. “I’m really grateful, but you’re putting yourself in danger. If the hatchlings possess even a fraction of their parents’ venom, a swarm of them will be more dangerous than an adult. Please, you have to leave me here.” The eggs had begun jostling and rolling around inside of her. Moving around had agitated them, and they were eager to get out. She had no more than minutes left.
“You can drop the martyr act, Yip Yip,” said Samantha, rolling her eyes. “I know a way to take care of the eggs.” She held up her right arm, showing five black ribbons there. “See? These bastards are big and scary looking, but they’re not invincible, and I already discovered their weakness.”
“How?” the fox asked. “What did you…” Her voice died as she saw the phoenix’s expression behind her mask, as close to a smile as she’d ever seen the woman wear. Understanding dawned, and she grimaced. “Sam…” she asked instead, feeling a sudden mixture of hope and exasperation, “…is fire really your solution to everything?”
Samantha shrugged. “It’s not my fault everything burns.”
The procedure was painful, but quick. They pulled out a long line of webbing, and Seo-yun forced herself to swallow it down, leaving only a few inches dangling from her mouth. That was the fuse. The silk was extremely flammable, and as soon as Ember touched her hair to the end, flames ran hungrily down its length. Seo-yun bit her arm to muffle her screams as the fire burned her, traveling down into her stomach and then igniting the eggs. The fire consumed them easily, liquefying shells and their contents as it jumped from egg to egg. Her insides weren’t immune to the heat, and she could feel herself burning, but within a minute there was nothing solid left of the eggs, and without them as fuel the flames were soon extinguished by her own bodily fluids. If she’d been human, the process would have left her incapacitated for days, if not outright crippled or dead, but Seo-yun could feel her flesh restoring itself.
“How are you feeling, meow?” Betty asked. The dark haired girl watched her with concern.
“I’ll… be okay,” Seo-yun told her, trying not to think about the melted eggs she’d see in her stool the next time she moved her bowels. She looked up at Samantha. “Thank you.”
The redhead jabbed a thumb at Betty. “Thank her, not me. Crazy girl was running around shouting my name and meowing. At first, I thought it was either the laziest trap I’d ever seen or the smartest, but eventually I bit and she begged me to come help you.”
“Thank you too,” Seo-yun told the cat girl. She gave a polite nod of acknowledgment, but she was smiling. “Thank you both. I swear I’ll repay you for this.”
“We agreed to work together, meow,” Betty told her. “That makes us allies, and allies help one another, meow. You have no obligation to me, especially when your trouble came about from saving me from that same fate, meow.”
“Still, I, I don’t know what to say.”
“You can start by telling me which way the damn koala went,” Samantha growled. “If you don’t get your ribbons back before the end of the day, you’ll be a spider mama this time tomorrow. Here.” She untied two of her black ribbons and offered one to each of them. “So at least you won’t get disqualified thanks to not getting any of your own.”
“Wait, you’re giving your ribbons away?” Seo-yun asked. She was exhausted, still drenched in spider guts, and felt like she’d been on the wrong side of a cooking fire, but she couldn’t keep the teasing tone out of her voice. “What about this being a competition, rah rah rah? You never even used to go easy in foosball.” She blinked. “Sorry, when I’m tired it seems to be difficult to distinguish between my own memories and imparted knowledge. I don’t even know what foosball is… wait…” She stared at Samantha as the knowledge came to her. “You took a game like that seriously?”
Samantha wouldn’t meet her eyes. “It’s in my best interest to keep you around as long as possible,” she said gruffly. “You’re not competent enough to beat me, and you’re too stupid to betray me. Cat seems to be the same way.” She paused. “And if I’m overcompetitive, you can blame that damn ghost of yours for it. I’ve never met a more insufferable winner in my life. It was either beat him all the time, or murder him in his sleep.”
“We should leave here soon, meow,” Betty advised. “I believe the spiders sense prey by movement, and we’ve made a lot of that recently, meow. It would be difficult to defend against an entire group, meow.”
Even Samantha didn’t seem enthused about the prospect of taking on multiple spiders at once, so they quickly prepared to leave. “You realize how hard it is to take anything you say seriously when you add ‘meow’ to the end, right?” she asked. “You really don’t have to keep saying it every single time. Or at all.”
Betty sighed. “I wish that were true, meow.”
On an impulse, Seo-yun chose some of the undamaged spider eggs from the adult she’d killed and placed them in her backpack, making sure they weren’t matured enough to be moving. “The hell do you want with those?” asked Samantha when she saw what the fox was doing. “Looking for a souvenir of the time you almost had a million kids?”
“They’re as hard as rocks and have a decent weight to them,” Seo-yun said simply. “There are now two people in this game who have tried to have me raped or killed, present company excluded, and I’m sick of not having any weapons.”
“Now you’re getting into the Paradisium spirit,” Samantha said. “I’ll make a killer out of you in no time, Yip Yip.”
The fox gave her a hard look. “I’m not a killer anymore, Sam. But I’m not prey either. I’m a hunter, and it’s time I started acting like one.”