Excerpt from The Legend of Graymyrh Book One – Blood and Ashes. (Warning, contains spiders!)
Kristof was beginning to regret having volunteered their services in ridding the local farmers of the giant spider that had been devouring their livestock. His company had been hunting for the creature for almost a week with no sign of it. Well, aside from the webbing. That was everywhere: and furthermore it was extremely sticky. Whenever someone became trapped in it, which happened all too often, the others had to spend almost an hour freeing them – all the while wondering whether this would be the time that the accursed monster would strike.
Even Squeaky was disheartened. “Maybe we should just give up, boss.”
The mercenary shook his head. “I gave those farmers my word. A mercenary’s reputation depends on him keeping his word, and getting the job done.”
Ruiryk groaned. “Well there must be a better way of finding this stupid spider! Following its webbing hasn’t worked so far. I don’t understand how something so big as this thing is supposed to be can stay hidden!”
“It’s a giant spider, lad: they’re infamous for being stealthy!” Banor belched. “Might be easier to just lay a trap and wait for the bugger!”
Squeaky pointed to where some local men were driving sheep to market. “We could buy some of their flock to use as bait, boss.”
“I’m tempted to use Waneve!” Kristof glared at the horse. “Fine then: Squeaky, you and Ruiryk go buy a few sheep. Banor, you dig a pit. We’ll cover it with a latticework of poles and put the sheep on top of it to lure the spider in.”
“What good will that do?”
“Simple: there’ll be a half dozen of us hiding in the pit armed with sharpened stakes! Once the spider comes after the sheep, we’ll stab up into its underbelly. Damn beast should bleed out.”
Alyrra covered her ears. “Poor creature! Couldn’t we trap it and let it go elsewhere, away from the farms?”
Kristof stared at her. “It’s a giant spider, not a rare species of bird! Why would we want to let it live?”
“It’s only trying to survive, Kristof.” The healer frowned at him reproachfully.
Marwyn nodded. “The farms that are being affected were only recently built. That spider has probably been here for decades, living off wild animals…well, that and the occasional traveller.”
“I don’t care: the farmers are the ones who hired us, they are paying us to kill it!” Waneve reared then: squealing and kicking. Kristof swore and stormed over to where the horses were picketed. “Now what’s wrong with you, you mad brute?” He cuffed the stallion on the withers. “Stand, damn you!” Waneve snorted: his eyes rolling back in terror. The cart horses nickered warily then and trotted to the far side of the makeshift pen. A sudden awful suspicion touched Kristof’s heart. Turning slowly, he peered into the tall meadow grasses that surrounded their encampment. “Oh fuck!”
The spider was at least as large as three warhorses. A pale green banded with dark brown, it blended perfectly with its surroundings. Which explained why he hadn’t noticed it before now: even though he had passed within inches of its huge fangs to deal with Waneve. The mercenary gazed into the creature’s multiple eyes. The spider gazed back into his one. Kristof tried to speak but his voice caught in his throat. He stood frozen to the spot in mute horror at his predicament: wondering how to warn his companions without startling the beast into attacking him or them.
Little Javia skipped up to him then and hugged his leg. She laughed and pointed. “Spider!”
“Yes, that’s right: we’re looking for a big spider,” Alyrra followed the child over to where Kristof was standing. “But you mustn’t trouble the general, Javia: he’s very busy.”
She bent and picked up the child, turning to smile at Kristof as she did so. The spider reared onto its hind legs and sprang forwards: attracted by the movement before it. Kristof hurled himself at Alyrra and Javia. He slammed into them and knocked them flat beneath his weight as the spider passed over them all and landed next to the horses. Alyrra screamed, and Javia grumbled.
Kristof rolled to his feet and ran at the monstrous arachnid. “Let them be, damn you!” He swung Daemonslayer at the spider’s hind legs. It was faster than he had anticipated. His blade passed through empty air and suddenly the spider was scuttling away from them. “Damn it all, somebody stop that spider!”