Sorry it’s so late, guys! We had Bright Lights today–and company here all morning, so I didn’t have a lot of time. Anyways, I’ve got time to do it now! 🙂
I almost deliberately waited to post this part until a Thursday, so you would have to wait the whole weekend to figure out what happens next. (You’ll see why when you get to the end.) Here we are though–guess I was just too excited about the story to skip any days! 🙂
Ryan and Amelia fluttered up onto the large rocks and joined the crowd of hunters that was gathering there. It seemed every man and boy in the colony had come. Most of them were talking and looking down between the tall (by fairy standards), steep cliffs the rock-sides made.
The web was stretched between the stone sides, Amelia knew. Everyone was talking about it, and Sir Hawthorn and his wife, Cianna, always knew what it was doing and what it had last caught. But she had never seen it for herself. She was brave and determined, but dangerous bugs were her limit. Her father had died of a bee-sting, and Amelia had been terrified of bites and stings since then. She had, with her mother’s gentle guidance, handled his death very well; but she had an unreasonable terror of bug bites. She hung back from the edge while the men talked.
King Titus himself was there, but Sir Hawthorn was taking command, since—as Amelia learned from Ryan—the expedition had been his idea, and he knew this part of the forest better than anyone else. He was giving orders like an army captain. “Make your ropes into lassos, everyone. Talk among yourselves and pick someone to have a knife ready, to kill the flies when they’re brought up. You there, young lady; will you step over here and watch for a fly to come in while we get ready?” This last was addressed to Amelia. “Yes, sir,” she answered as willingly as she could and inched her way towards the edge.
She looked down into the web below, stretched out like a safety-net for someone to jump into—though its purpose was, of course, quite different. She could barely distinguish the spider, hunched up in a crevice in the rock at the edge of his net—waiting.
As Amelia stood looking down, the men were tying ropes and comparing knives, and Sir Hawthorn was encouraging them to move towards the edge, so they could lasso a fly quicker, if one came. And so it was that in the chaos of dragging ropes towards the scene of action, someone backed into her. Why ever he was backing towards the edge no one could have said, but he ran straight into Amelia as she stood playing lookout.
She teetered on the brink for a terrifying moment before she fell; plummeting down into the gray expanse of mesh below her. It was stretchy, and bounced beneath her when she hit, but she stuck to it and did not fly off. There was shouting and hurrying feet above her. She tugged and pulled, but the strands of cobweb would not release her and every bit of her skin that touched them stung at the efforts to free herself. Soft footsteps made the threads quiver suddenly, as another creature shook the safety-net. Amelia twisted herself around just in time to look into the face of the spider: huge body; hairy legs; eight hideous eyes; horrifying, fang-like mandibles. She screamed, and then managed to close her mouth and eyes to keep the silk out of them as it tied her up. She was being wrapped into a still, grayish bundle like a trapped fly! She wanted to shout, to cry. She scrunched her eyes closed, clenched her teeth, pursed her lips. The thick net muffled all sounds—even the shouting and commotion on the rock above her. The vague awareness that the spider was turning her over and over to wrap her securely; horror; disgust; overwhelming, encompassing terror; till a single spider-sting on the back of her neck drove out fear and consciousness.