Friday, February 23, 2007


Daniel started to run after the Wil when a thunderous explosion of gnarled tree branches delivered a monstrous creature into the short clearing around the edge of the pond. It was a gargantuan, hairy spider, its body alone the size of a Clydesdale with a man of some sort riding upon a makeshift saddle just behind the crown of black eyes upon its head.
The rider’s hair was silvery white and long with pointed ears that protruded through at the normal place one would expect. He wore a thin beard of the same color and his skin was a ghastly, pale gray. His torso was adorned with a silver breastplate made of layers of metal scales that shimmered with violet color and he carried a long, intricately crafted lance in his right hand. The elf’s form was beautiful and terrible all at once and his steed made him all the more hideous. The elf looked at Daniel and he was frozen with fear.
More ghastly riders appeared, coming through the trees behind the first with their horrid mounts, their eight legs traversing the surface of the mighty forest root system with ease. Daniel tried to run, but he slipped on the ice. His skates were missing, replaced by his normal shoes. The elf rider urged his spider-mount forward to attack the boy with its great, two foot long fangs. Daniel could see the venom dripping as its mandibles opened to reveal the black daggers.
Daniel was snatched away from the jaws by a large bird of prey, nearly his size and powerful. It bore him up swiftly, carrying him by the shoulders. Was he now to be this predator’s next meal? “Don’t worry, lad, I’ll get you out of here,” said Meineke’s voice through the bird.
“Meineke, is that you?” cried Daniel as they soared up toward the twisted branches of the nearby trees.
A blast, like a clear bubble, was hurled off of the end of the elf’s lance. It hit Daniel and Meineke in flight, sounding like a thunderclap. Daniel fell away and landed among heaps of decaying leaves within the gaps in the massive tree roots. Meineke tumbled in the air on a collision course with the thick trunk of a craggy, old tree. His form morphed almost faster than could be seen and he righted himself in time to land on the vertical face of the tree trunk. Meineke was hanging there in his original form, claws set into the porous bark like a defiant squirrel.
He leapt down to the ground with the same elegant precision and found Daniel among the smelly old leaves where the roots hung over them like prison bars. “Come on, Daniel,” said Meineke as he led the boy back into the leaves and intertwining roots.
The Wil was tunneling through, finding their way through the labyrinth created by the roots. Pockets of dead space were littered among the leaves as they tried to keep moving away from the Spider Elves. The spaces between the roots were too small for the spiders to enter, but Meineke could hear them moving around above them, searching for their prey.
Meineke spotted a patch of light and they headed for it. The pair came up through a rotted out trunk that had a large enough hole in its side for them emerge onto the forest floor again. They were running again, with the Spider Elves about twenty yards behind them. Daniel did his best to try and keep up with Meineke. The Wil seemed a natural for such an environment, leaping from root to root and ducking under others to stay ahead of the elven riders and the nightmares they were riding upon.
As they were running through the dense forest, Daniel began to notice something. There was a distinct groaning emanating from all around them. It was like the forest was moaning in agony over the situation. The harder he ran and the closer he and Meineke’s pursuers got to them, the louder the noise became.
The trees were beginning to sway their craggy top branches, yet Daniel felt no wind and the intrusive fog was not being displaced. Could the trees be moving on their own, he wondered. He ran into an area where the roots heaved up in tight bands like a wall before him. Meineke had circumvented it while Daniel was paying more attention to the movement of the forest than his way. He realized, too late, that he was cornered next to a huge old tree with massive boughs.
One of the elven riders was upon him. His mount hissed and bared its venomous fangs for the kill. Meineke was nowhere to be seen. Daniel turned to attempt a climb, but he couldn’t find a purchase anywhere for his incapable, child’s hands. The tree was vibrating underneath his palms and there was a sound like wood twisting under duress. The giant spider lunged forward at the prodding of its rider. Daniel screamed as the sleek black fangs came at him; there was nothing he could do to defend himself.
The ground shook like an atom bomb unleashed, sending Daniel back on his side into the dirt. He looked back at the fiendish predator, only to find one of the massive branches of the tree grinding the spider and its rider into the ground, like a man squashing a bug under his thumb.
The branch began to lift slowly, revealing a ghastly residue from the kill. Daniel thought he might vomit, but that was before the rising branch revealed another elven rider twenty yards away. The rider looked aghast at his former companion’s remains dropping from the branch, intermingled with hunks of arachnid pulp, back into the stew surrounded by eight splayed legs.


dona said...

Wow! Thanks for the samples! Very intriguing. I'd love the chance to read the whole work some day! ;-)

James Somers said...

I'm hoping the short story version will appear in an upcoming Fantasy anthology later this year...I'm currently working on the first full length novel for this series now.