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:: Section 2 ::
:: Section 3 ::
:: Section 4 ::
The Arachnian Calendar ...
Krrchrrk'rrkt- The Hatching Moon. (Second Quarter) Equivalent to January in the calendar of the shadow world. Named for the hatching of the second brood of the year, which is traditionally believed to produce Servitors lacking in strength and endurance.
Arch kk'rrkt - The Weavers Moon. Equivalent to February in the calendar of the shadow world. The storms of Archkk'rrkt are fierce and powerful burying the great northern wastes under blankets of snow. Few dare to roam outside the web-holds during this time, so activities center of crafting needed items, particularly tapestries, book spools, and other woven goods. During this time, artisans are expected to dedicate themselves to crafting "Keerk'ttk", or "great works", that require exceptional skill and concentration.
Tkkt'rrkt - The Gathering Moon. Equivalent to March in the calendar of the shadow world. Named for the Great Story telling, "Tkk'rcha R'krra" In Arachnian, that lasts about a week and is held usually once a year, after the second brood has been culled. It is during this time that works created during the Weavers Moon are showcased. At night, for the first six days, the Matrons gather their Servitors, a selection of young hatchlings, and the Arachnian histories are told. On the seventh day, the Matriarch gathers the entire Hunt within the largest hall. There, the works of the winners of the showcasing present themselves and their creations. A great feast is held at the end, culminating in the sacrifice of captives.
Ettch'rrkt - The Fanged Moon. (First Quarter) Equivalent to April in the calendar of the shadow world. During the Fanged Moon, the severe training of the first brood begins. The harsh and agonizing training that hatchlings are forced to endure further weeds out the feeble from the strong. Arachnians that survive go on to join the ranks of the Hunt's massive military force, while the less fortunate are thrown in the larders for the second brood to feast upon. What remains after the larva has feasted, usually small pieces of flesh clinging to the bones, is thrown to the bone worms for cleansing. The bones are then used for decorative use throughout the web-hold, or carved into weaponry.
Rrkt'ttkta - The Moon of Essence. Equivalent to May in the calendar of the shadow world. Rigorous physical training continues on into the Moon of Essence, as well as the beginning of strenuous intellectual exercises. Hatchlings that survive the harshness of The Fanged Moon become Initiates of the Alchema, where they are taught the basics of alchemy. Elixirs that replenish web, cures the plague, or just about any other wonder one could think of are all created within the grand hall of the Alchema, and it is here, where the most brilliant alchemists in the world are produced.
Vtkkr'rrkt - The Fertile Moon. (First Quarter) Equivalent to June in the calendar of the shadow world. During the Fertile Moon, the first breeding of the Year takes place. A courtship dance is performed by mature male Arachnians, with the hope of attracting a Matron, or even the Matriarch. A male Arachnian performs the courtship dance by clicking his mandibles slowly, stretching his leg segments to show off size, and extending his arms and moving them in a circular motion. While the courtship dance does help a males chances of finding a mate, Matrons make their selection on the basis of what traits a male will contribute to her offspring, with an emphasis on intellect, physical strength, and cunning. If the male is selected, and survives mating with a Matron, he then becomes a Servitor.
Ttrrkz'rrkt - The Hunters Moon. Equivalent to July in the calendar of the shadow world. Preparations must be made for the hatching of the First Brood. An enormous quantity of food must be acquired, and stored in the larders in preparation for the horde of larva that will hatch under the Hatching Moon (First Quarter). Scores of Claw and Caster Units under the command of Matrons, (Those who were not given permission to breed by the Matriarch) Storm out of the web-hold in a battle-crazed frenzy in search of victims. All over the Great Wastes, battles are fought between web-holds, and other small communities who are unfortunate enough to be in the way. Many web-holds are destroyed this time of year, resulting in whole Hunts falling prey to another. A Selection of Captives are put in special holding chambers called 'Tkaaa'kac' in Arachnian, where they are force fed and fattened up for five moons until they can no longer move. These succulent captives are to be sacrificed to Taath Triumphant under the last night of the Flensing Moon.
Krrchrrk'rrkt - The Hatching Moon. (First Quarter) Equivalent to August in the calendar of the shadow world. Named for the hatching of the first brood of the year, which is traditionally believed to produce Servitors with immense strength and endurance.
Ettch'rrkt - The Fanged Moon. (Second Quarter) Equivalent to September in the calendar of the shadow world. During the Second Quarter of the Fanged Moon, the severe training of the second brood begins. Hatchings that survive the harsh training go on to join the ranks of the Hunts massive military force, while the less fortunate are thrown in the larders for the first brood to feast upon. What remains after the larva has feasted, usually small pieces of flesh clinging to bones, is thrown to the bone worms for cleansing. The Bones are then used for decorative use throughout the web-hold, or carved into weaponry.
K'htin'rrkt - The Whispering Moon. Equivalent to October in the calendar of the shadow world. Named for the whispering voices of the Bountiful Ones, "Chttaat'rrk" in Arachnian, or 'Demons of Taath', that only the most devoted clerics of Taath can hear. Some extremely fanatical clerics of Taath depart their Webhold with only an obsidian knife, a single penthanian skull filled with water, a small supply of bone worms and specially prepared flesh wine called 'Zzrik'alkaz' (Gods wine, that is normal flesh wine mixed with the Kaz'rk fungi). During the day, the cleric purifies the mind by reciting the eight hundred and eighty-eight verses of the Ak'ttr chk'itzla, or 'Codex of the Pure', an ancient Arachnin web-spool of prophecies and prayers devoted to Taath and the Puritan until the cleric achieves a dreamlike state. If the cleric is worthy, he becomes a channel for demons to speak Taath's will and is called the Tli'krzaal, (Attendent Exegsis or Interpreter of the Word). The cleric spends two Moons out in the barren Wastes communicating with the Bountiful Ones and, if they survive, return to their web-hold on the first night of the Flensing Moon.
Vtkkr'rrkt - The Fertile Moon. (Second Quarter) Equivalent to November in the Calendar of the shadow world. During the Fertile Moon the second breeding of the year takes place. (See 'The Fertile Moon' (First Quarter) for more Information).
Ttrik k'rrkt - The Flensing Moon. Equivalent to December in the calendar of the shadow world. Named for the adoring praise and glorification Arachnians give Taath and his Bountiful Ones for guiding the construction of the first web-holds in the dark places of the World, after the great war with the penthanians. The few clerics who survived their pilgrimage under The Whispering Moon, return to their web-hold to inform the Hunt of Taath's will. The Captives are released from their holding chambers, and brought to the web-holds main hall, where flensing tables line the walls, ruby tipped blades and other torture devices sit on racks, and the scent of Toltra burning in Imperial Dragon Skulls is very, very strong. The captives are cleansed by being given a rough sand bath, then slowly tortured in the name of Taath, his Bountiful Ones, and the Puritan. When the victims become very weak, but not unconscious, the abdomen is opened up and the heart is wrenched from the body. The still beating heart is placed in the basin, and offered to Taath. Screams of agony and excruciating pain mixed with the eerie sound of skull harps being played echoes all across the Great Wastes during this one night of the Flensing Moon...as the Hunt gorges themselves on every remaining captive that still lives... even on the weak of the Webhold. The Grand Sacrifice is believed to bring favor to the Hunt by Taath and his Bountiful Ones, and that they shall be blessed for the upcoming year...
[This article was originally presented in the July 1, 1997 Issue of the Dragon Fire Chronicles, entitled "CIBOLA" by Chiriga Zenphiir.]
I heard the bells of old Taath temple ringing out over the sand last night.
Saccha'i just grunted at me when I told him. He holds nothing in reverence now that his mate is deadgot the Whispers and walked off alone, at mid-day, when the rest of us look for cool shadows to keep us from broiling in our carapaces under the sun-- and he is our best fighter now, throwing himself into battle like fresh blood is all that keeps him alive; like he's praying for a talon or a dagger to send him back to Taath. And nothing hits him, ever.
He'll get the Whispers himself soon. Or just give up and lay down in the sun, and wait to die.
So I went a little ways past the edge of camp to listen. Desert wind brought those bells to me in its howling. That wind never ceases, and at night it is bitter cold, and some say you can hear voices in it, the desert speaking to you...When the voices become all that you can hear, you have the Whispers, and those seductive demon voices lead your off into the deep dunes, to bake in the sun.
I'd never heard the windvoice, until that night; perhaps the desert knew I would listen to nothing else. I have no time for voices. But the echo of my Lord Taath; those bells!
Long time before I returned to the fire; the moon in its endless fall left us behind, abandoning the sky full of stars. The desert is incomprehensibly dark at night, and makes of everything a silver-edged shadow.
And in my dream it was the old city come to me, in all her dusky splendor, as I had heard my mother tell it-- stucco-skinned, barefoot, strong woman with dust in her hair, blood on her fingers; an earthen jar of water at her feet. She sung a hymn, alien high-pitched raspy melody, and I closed my eyes as she anointed me with water from the jar, fingers of her left hand drawing the symbol of Taath in cool wet lines between my breasts.
And she pointed west and I saw the sun setting, scorching the sky, behind a huge ancient fig tree; and I woke up yearning.
For some reason the others were silent as I told them that we had to turn west. Dreams of their own, perhaps. Saccha'i didn't even stop to glare at me-- we packed, and we left; they didn't ask, and I didn't explain. The mountains followed us, shadows of the birth of the world, locked in silent stone forever.
I was not surprised when we saw that tree on the horizon. The hollow-sounding bells caught and danced on the wind again as we approached.
Desert-dwelling scorpions half as big as we were waited at the tree's roots, snapping at something. Venom gave their stingers a pale milky sheen. They fought something quick and slender and black; a dervish warrior wrapped in rags. It flew; it danced in a smooth deft ecstasy of bloodlust; the scorpions fell before it. Desert wind curled its long fingers around the fighter, murmuring hushed approval.
Little Liasa, the wild abrupt one, joined that ragged shadow with an enthusiastic screech, tearing legs and crushing chitin with abandon. Saccha'i and I watched, silent, as the two decimated their prey.
The sand was sticky with blood when they were done; the ragged figure saluted Liasa with its shattered broadsword. She chittered curiously at it in reply, faceted ruby eyes glittering, and bowed, and the figure swept back its tattered hood and looked at me with a kind of recognition in its dark eyes.
Moons later and the desert is giving way to grasslands. There is much food and we are brewing new flesh wine, but something in me reaches for the lonely desert wind, and something in it, I think, reaches back.
Kyloa is still with us. Saccha'i too, surprisingly; the old killer took Liasa under his wing at some point and the two are quite a formidable team now, Liasa quick and merry and devious, Saccha'i solemn and powerful. It seems Kyloa has brought him to a new faith in Taath.
The dark one and I fight together, but we seldom talk. There is little to say. I think the desert calls him, too. The elvish-slanted eyes in that dusky face are often distant, especially at night, when we watch the fire and drink flesh wine. He calls himself San; I don't know what that means. I have never yet seen another like him.
We are very far from the old city. I never hear the bells any more.
--From An Old Arachnian 'Spool' Text,
Found In The Grasslands Outside The Spur--
A Spider's Ambition, Investigative Report
[This article was originally presented in the Nov 25, 1996 Issue of the Dragon Fire Chronicles, entitled "A Spider's Ambition, Investigative Report".]
(Editor's note: This web spool was found on the dead body of an Arachnian by one of the agents of the DFC. The Arachnian had apparently been trying to find his way to Meetpoint, and been attacked. Perhpas by a host of brigands. Fortunately, the attackers must not have recognized what the spool was, for it was left in plain sight by the creatures body. The reporter who found this spool has asked that his name be kept private, as he is in no small fear for his life. It has been here translated into the common tongue, and provided for your perusal. I would say that it certainly sheds some interesting light on some of the spiders most recent activities. We invite the spiders response to these rather damning allegations, and hope to have them for you the reader in time for the next issue.-Rags)
Woven this third day of the Weaver's Moon,
In the year of the Fang Ascendant,
In the fifty third year of our Lady's reign.
I hope this spool will be able to make it to you in a timely fashion. I've entrusted it to a courier of some ability, but we both know how difficult it can be to navigate the Wastes during the season of storms. I know he'll get it to you eventually, or die trying, but I need your assistance with a matter that requires a timely response. A number of spools detailing some interesting historical happenings here in the city are in the pouch that arrived, hopefully, with this message. Please concentrate your attention on the matter they discuss and return to me any insights that you may have.
How go your alchemical studies? Is that bloated old Matron Chrrkattrris still nipping your hindparts to study? I've been away so long that I'd even be willing to listen to one of her rambling lectures on actar and it's uses just to remind me of what I'm missing. This accursed place purports to have an establishment dealing in alchemical supplies, but the dolt running it can't seem to get more than a few weak essences in stock. The sheer ignorance regarding matters alchemical is staggering. Even a spiderling fresh from the cr che could distill far more powerful potions and brews than the weak teas that pass for wonders here. I've tried to cobble together some basic equipment from what's available, but haven't had much success. You were always the better student at such things.
I despair even more for the state of the food supply here. The city has a delightful variety of fresh meats just walking around, of which I've sent you several preserved samples, but the level of true cuisine is appalling. Not one single shop offers foods prepared in the traditional ways! No spicing broth, no flesh wine, no grubs, and not a single flensing table to be found. How do they expect us to eat without binding straps and blood runnels on the table? They're all barbarians, Kkchrrikkttarr. I know my work here is important, but my mouthparts water at the thought of the delicious meals I could be enjoying back there at the webhold. If you should ever visit I beg you to bring a thorax pouch filled with treats for your old cr che mate.
Since my arrival here the weather has been abysmal. At first there was just a nip in the air, but now it seems to snow almost every day. Not the crisp, clean snow of home, but a terrible wet slush that falls from the sky and clings to everything it touches. Every afternoon I'm forced to clean a gruesome mixture of slush, dirt, and debris from my footpads or spend the night hobbling around like an old Matriarch with eggs. If the teachings of the Gods did not say otherwise I would swear this city is a slice of the hells made manifest.
And the smell! You'd think that even a two-legger would be able to practice the most basic measures of hygiene, especially considering that foul liquid that oozes from their skins. The least bit of exertion seems to cover them with an odorous film of the stuff, but do they bathe? Never! At best they'll pour some water over themselves. I've endeavored to teach a few of the inhabitants here how to take a proper sand bath like civilized beings, but I labor in vain. I won't even attempt to describe the musky odor of wet fur that wafts from certain sections of the city.
Speaking of which, has there been word there of a new civil war amongst the Khat kin? Rumors abound here of some kind of conflict going on in the hinterlands of that wretched rock of an island they call home. It would make sense considering the number of refugees that seem to have settled here in the Spur. The damnable beasts are everywhere, running through the streets like a herd of rutting muck crawlers.
There was a bit of excitement a few weeks ago when the dull-witted twit that passes for their ruler arrived. He claimed to be visiting in order to recognize the establishment of a Pride here, but considering the stories floating around I think it's no coincidence he chose to leave the isle at the same time a war was brewing. Could you contact one of the Matriarch's servitors and find out what the situation is? I'd be most appreciative of any information you could pass along to me.
For about a week after the establishment ceremony the khatkin seemed reasonably organized, but then they broke up into factions once again. I expect that we won't have to worry about them all that much. It should be simple to manipulate that inane code of honor in order to make them impotent at the time it matters most. It's amusing how easy it is to bait them a bit and then watch as they become helplessly entangled in a trap they never saw or even knew existed.
In terms of real power very few of the khatkin are a threat to our plans. Their magical abilities are amateurish and totally ineffective against our resistance, their weapon skills are useless against the heavy armor we favor, and they have the discipline of a gang of kittens. I think publicly killing a few until they're permanently crippled should insure their obedience. To guarantee that my information regarding their capabilities remains current I've retained several servitors. Besides the usual complement of Psycians I've been lucky enough to locate several disgraced khatkin eager for revenge against their kind. Between the two groups I expect few if any facts to slip free of my grasp.
The one group I think we may encounter problems with are the dragons. At this point a council has been established to help manage their affairs with the other races of the Spur. Not every dragon has sworn allegiance to it, but there is a core group of older dragons that does interest me. They have a respectable amount of magical and martial ability, but it's the level of cooperation present that may prove troublesome. They spend a great deal of time with one another and have developed several useful group fighting techniques.
I will continue to observe their tactics, but I believe we can counter many of their strengths and play upon their one great weakness. Beating them will be difficult because of the synergy formed by their duel abilities in both runecraft and bladework. Conversely, few of them can be said to truly excel at either craft. Since they're dependent on runes to enhance their fighting capability, and the group support that approach provides, breaking up any battle groups they form should be a top priority. If we can spread them out and web them down in the vulnerable period right after they invoke runes it shouldn't take much time at all to break their cohesiveness. Individually they aren't much more powerful than the khatkin, so keeping the battle group from re-forming will go far towards assuring us of victory.
The greatest asset available to us in any conflict with the dragons is their reliance on an artifact in the form of a silver dragon's tooth. At this time it is entrusted to one called Michael, a close confidant of the council leader Acinonyx. If we can gain possession of it the mere threat of it's destruction may be enough to neutralize any threat the dragons present. I suspect that they would much rather submit than risk permanent injury. How different from the dragons of old, eh? But not really surprising when you consider how inbred the entire species is.
Which brings me to the most serious threat before us. Two Imperial dragons have visited the city of late and I suspect that they have lairs nearby. When our plans come to fruition I would expect them to take a dim view of our actions against their younger kin. Considering the raw power they possess I do have some concerns as to how we should handle the inevitable retaliation to our actions. If you could speak with the elder weavers of the Alchema and find out what techniques were used to hunt dragons in the old times I would be most appreciative. Perhaps the news that there is a supply of fresh dragon parts just waiting to be harvested will be enough to stir up the ancient Matriarchs from their slumber. If that should happen I look forward to seeing the resulting battle.
While it may be some time before I finally see you in the flesh I want you to know that your efforts are appreciated. If the Gods smile upon us it should be just a matter of time before we establish a proper webhold here in the city. When that happens I hope we can celebrate with a feast that would put Ttizzarchkichrr's last debauch to shame. Till then I am, as always, in your service.
Webspinner of Hunt Arkkata
Servitor of Taath Triumphant
Servitor of Matriarch Tr'Arkkata
Initiate of the Alchema