Tuesday Teaser: Spiders, Doubts, and an Unexpected Wrinkle in Aeryn's Plans

This week's Tuesday Teaser comes to you from chapter 4 of my dark fantasy novel Into the Darkness. Aeryn discovers there are more things creeping into her carefully laid out quest than just her own doubts, and they're going to make her day that much more complicated.

And there's a special offer at the end of today's teaser.

A scream of definite human origin tore through the passage, and Aeryn froze. The sound came to her from one of the passages behind her. She crammed her map in her belt and again drew her sword. She jogged down the passage in the direction of the scream, looking into one room after another. A second cry accosted her ears, this time a distinct cry for help. This cry gave Aeryn a better sense of where it was coming from, and she picked up her pace.

She passed a room with pieces of antique weaponry hanging upon the walls and then stopped and turned back. A young girl hung from the ceiling, bound from neck to knee in white, ropy webbing. A black spider the size of a bear cub crept toward her. It emitted a hissing sound as it advanced on the girl. The girl writhed in an effort to free herself, but the webbing held her fast.

Aeryn ran between the girl and the spider, her longsword gripped in both hands. The spider skittered a few paces backward and studied her with its eight black eyes. Its mandibles snapped while it decided what to do with her. Aeryn thrust her sword at it to help it make up its mind. The spider reared up on its hind legs.

Behind Aeryn, the girl shrieked, “Look out!”

The spider spit a blob of webbing at Aeryn. She dove aside to avoid it. The blob of sticky material flew past her and hit the girl. When Aeryn hit the floor with a clatter, she switched her sword to her left hand and flicked one of her slim daggers with her right. The dagger flew true and hit its mark. The spider squealed in pain. Green slime bubbled up around the dagger blade buried in the spider's back.

Aeryn rolled to her feet as the beast lunged and snapped at her. Aeryn knocked it back with the flat of her sword. She thrust her longsword at the spider again, striking its body. Slime bubbled out of the wound again, this time spattering Aeryn’s arms. The spider made a screaming sound. It scuttled forward in a rage.

Aeryn’s boots slid on the slime that coated the floor as she backed away from the advancing spider. She skidded and cursed while she fought to stay upright in the face of the charging beast. She brought her sword’s blade up again and intercepted the spider’s mandibles, which snapped around it. Her muscles strained to keep the spider at arm’s length. When her boots gripped dry ground again, Aeryn shoved the spider back, swung her sword, and brought it down on the spider’s head, cleaving it in half. The spider fell. Its legs twitched once before it stilled completely.

“Gods be damned,” Aeryn muttered. “I hate spiders.”

A.M.

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