Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Seb on Mon 16 Jun - 20:17

This made little sense to the no longer small spider. All the words that she had been taught, she had been given. Her mentor taught her to name things by their names; they already had names. She didn't. And now, she needed to name herself.

This made her ponder in silence and immobility during a long time. During hours, she did not move, her mind trying to grasp how one could simply "name something". She understood that someone else had arbitrarily done so, and she also knew that this was the start of something different as well.

She as Damhàn, and a female, and born as a spider, as opposed to others who were born human. What was a word that she was, that others were not? This was the word she was looking for. The only me word that would designate her. Perhaps did it suffice that she excelled in something as to distinguish herself from other female hunter spiders that had received the same training that she just had?

She reflected on she had learned here. She had learn to understand a "language". This was a powerful tool; communication was strong, and she saw this as a way to make hunt easier. She could hear, she could understand her enemy's words and tactics, and she could also confuse them with sounds. Here, she had learned to change shapes, and even while her mentor was gone, she made every possible moment an opportunity to better herself in what she already knew: hiding in silence, and becoming stronger. All this time, she had the uncanny impression that her mentor could squash her, a feeling she quite disliked. She knew a Damhàn could become stronger, as her mentor was. And all her life, she had lived, hiding in the shadows, as to not be squashed by larger creatures. Other Damhàn would perhaps try to crush her? Maybe other Damhàn thought the same, that they needed to become stronger, to not be crushed? Perhaps being strong, was also a way to please the Queen.

So she had decided that language was useful and with purpose, but strange. Making what she already knew stronger seemed easier. So while she wasn't speaking, she had climbed, and shapeshifted, and tried to push the tree, and rocks, tried to jump higher and run faster.

She was a hunter, and she already was larger than other spiders of her race. That had been something of a start. Even so, throughout all of her life, she had always remained very silent and successful in her hunt. She had imprisoned and devoured many preys, some small, some big. Even when she came to be captured by humans, she was able to outmanoeuvre many other hunters, and kill them off. They were many, and they were strong, and they wielded thunder. By the end, because fear did not overcome her, they were all consumed so she would survive.

This is what she had done, and this is what she was best at. She was stoic. And she was powerful.

She was Naja.

By the end of the day, she would report this to Kwame with the simple words:


- I am Naja.
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Admin on Sat 21 Jun - 12:05

Naja. The name was fluid. It held well on the tongue, it could even be used in polite human society, and yet conveyed so much strength. It was perfect for her, the teacher thought. Her appearance clearly showed the role the queen would soon chose for her, and she would be please by the name chosen by the spider. Everything was going astronomically well. This new pupil of his, was showing true promise.

"Decent". He said instead. Easily suppressing any meaningless pang of pride that might have otherwise shown on a human mentor. To him, and all of the Damhan, emotions were diluted to the point of being barely anything more than a vague suggestion that was almost always ignored. "Tomorrow then. You will enter the society of the Damhan. And remember the rules. You may tussle, but if you are about to kill one of the Danham, we will end you. Tell me if you understand."
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Seb on Sat 21 Jun - 12:13

She wasn't glad the name pleased her mentor. She was satisfied that she had completely her quest. Names didn't mean much to her, but they seemed necessary (and useful) enough. She had found one that matched well her own self, and her mentor had acknowledged. She had expected nothing more.

Then, when her mentor mentioned Damhàn fighting, she was strangely aroused. Her first "hope for the future" had just manifested. She wanted this to happen. She wanted to know her mission, but also wished to measure herself to the others. Was she superior, more powerful? Was she feeble, and less trained than her brothers and sisters? She wished to know this.

She listed to the orders, however, and understood them well. Her mentor had hit her a few times, without killing her. It seemed a necessary exercise in order to teach, or to learn. She wanted to learn.

- I will obey you. I will not kill. I will not use poison. I wish to serve the Queen with my abilities, and so I will test them and show them.
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Admin on Mon 23 Jun - 18:12

Her master was content with the answer and left her alone for the last night she would ever spend in her web.

The next morning, he did not bring her to a labyrinth. Her mind was sharp enough to under go the next part of the training. She traveled by places that were familiar. Places she had only seen in the distant past, on her first days here. After all, she knew she'd spent longer learning language than the entire span of her life before she made it here. She saw a group of elders bring a new spider, beaten and unconscious as she had been, in towards the web where it would feast and undergo its final transformation. And then she was brought to a group of people.

This too, she had been familiar with. The first time she'd been here, with a group of people, she had not been able to tell the difference between the spider-born Danham, the human born Danham and those wearing the other's skin. Now, she knew better. The new arrivals that had been born from sacs with hundreds of brothers and sisters could not communicate beyond the inefficient dances that were instinctive to them. Four were desperately, no, pathetically, trying to convey that they meant no harm, that they would obey. The rest were all able to talk and introduce themselves.

There were about six of them. All but one wore the human form. The homid-shaped were all calm, polite and they all introduced themselves. The one wearing the Pythus form, was... annoying. He smelled of fear and nervousness, he refused to take the human form to introduce himself, but by the words of his master Naja understood that his name meant "huge". And rightly so. While he was male, he could easily tower over any other female pythus. Possibly even the Komaci herself.

While his master tried to calm him down, the others turned towards her. It was her time to introduce herself to the gathered masters (whom had not presented themselves yet) and to those who would follow the masters to meet with the queen.

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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Seb on Tue 24 Jun - 0:17

And so she did. Before the masters she stepped forward, as she was instructed to do, and presented herself, in the respectful way she was taught. As much as language had been strange to her, "etiquette" had been something that made sense to her, and she had clinged to those interested notions of "politeness" and social signs of deference, as well as apologizing, and such things.

She gave her name, and did not explain its meaning unless asked to. It would have been considered impolite and would have insulted the other Damhàn's intelligence, apparently.

She did not know what to make of the huge spider. It seemed afraid and aggressive. Surely, she was not the only one that such a behavior discomfited, and although she felt like "teaching it a lesson", her own teachings indicated that this was not the time. She remained small and humble, and since she was now a "social being" as her master has explained, making herself smaller than she really was would be a weapon, which she started using right away.

After she presented herself, she waited for instructions or questions, to which she would respond accordingly.
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Admin on Tue 24 Jun - 16:57

The eldest present approached her as she spoke. She studied Naja intently for a few seconds, but she could tell that's all she needed.

"Naja, I understand you are Kwame's pupil. I also understand that the queen has gifted you with remarkable physical features. A rare gift. If you understand such things already, you should be honored. Would you-"

Huge rudely interrupted the speaking elder. Desperate to take his place and make a good name, but having grossly misunderstood some key tenets of obedience and social graces. With a mere glance cold enough to freeze a glowing river she stopped the humongous creature in his tracks. He was suddenly aware of his misgivings and realized his life was in danger. He made himself as small as he could, but still did not shift into homid. The eldest turned her attention back to the Komaci.

"Naja, would you kindly do me the honor of showing me the gifts of the mother. And use them to teach this man submission". she glared at Huge as she walked away.

Nearby, Huge quickly got back on his feet. Ready to fight for his life.
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Seb on Tue 24 Jun - 18:04

- Yes, of course.

Naja spun around, and glared at Huge. In Homid form, Naja was no bigger than other humans; even smaller than most males, which was strange to her. She knew, however, that "Huge" was not no "huge" for her in the same form. He was bigger than most males, that much was true.

She shifted into Pythus immediately, not wanting to be pounced on. Huge had understood immediately that he was in combat situation, and him being nervous could easily end up in her being preemptively being attacked. She would have preferred the advantage of surprise, but she already knew that surprise would not always be an option, and being able to take an opponent head-on was a good skill.

She shifted, showing a very bright and colorful skin palette, as well as a size natural to her species. Naja was powerful, and danced about her adversary, demonstrating strength, quickness and ease of movement. She danced the dance of fear, of intimidation. Either Huge would cow immediately and not even ask for a fight, either he would attack her.

And that was her plan: she was waiting, ready, and expected to avoid him and then hit as suddenly with great celerity. She would restrain him, as that was her greatest strength. She would then spin him in a web just a little. He would then have two choices. Either he would fight with some of his legs and body thus encumbered, and she would do the same thing again and again, until she could spin him up completely in her web. Or, he would try and get rid of the small patch of silk, and she would use this very moment to bite a leg, therefore handicapping him.

Either choice was tactical, and made sure she did not take ridiculous risks while he, on the other hand, had to deal with being only partly functional.
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Admin on Tue 24 Jun - 20:18

Huge did not wait, he lunged at her while standing in a way that made him seem bigger than he was. Trying to intimidate her into abandoning. She easily dodged his attack, swooped two of his hind legs and bound them together in webbing that would be impossible for a human to break free of. Huge, in his current powerful form, might manage it but he chose not to. Instead, he accepted his handicap and lunged immediately again as soon as he could.

He was faster than she anticipated, he moved with more agility than he should with two legs bounds but she still managed to dodge his blow and bind together the other two hind legs. He was at a distinct disadvantage now. The heaviest part of his body was now completely unbalanced and thusly bound his legs could not be coordinated properly.

He had no choice but to gain time to break free. He attempted to slam into her and turn her on her back. A difficult maneuver even had he been fully able. As it was, his mad gamble fumbled and he quickly found himself with all legs bound in pairs. He could stand but walking or turning around were impossible. He attempted to break free, but until he managed, he was completely at the mercy of the Komaci.
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Seb on Tue 24 Jun - 20:50

She realized this new body of her was better built to avoid blows, and that this would be her saving for long days and nights to come. In fighting, she would learn to land killing blows, but even more, avoiding these blows seemed even more important. A combat could last forever, as long as she was not wounded, her patience would outlast all her foes.

Instinctively, for a reason she did not understand (or even try to understand), Naja grasped the very idea of fear. The animal-born were not very at ease with emotions, Damhàn even less so, but fear was something they were born with, an instinct none could erase.

She would instill terror and obedience into this one by making him experience something spiders should never: she started weaving her silk around his whole body, entrapping him completely, making him feel exactly what all her fear ever felt: loss, panic and the final apprehension of death. Yes, in this, Naja was a master of fear, and she felt it was a tool she would use as well as her new language, etiquette and powerful and skillful body. This, she realized when she was done, these were exactly the gifts that the mother had made her.

When she was done, she took a few steps back, and transformed back into homid form, quietly. She had taken a more submissive posture, a very subtle one that Kwame had taught her, that still showed strength, but that meant that she was awaiting orders, comments or questions.

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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Admin on Sat 28 Jun - 20:31

The eldest walked between Naja and Huge and turned to their respective tutors. "Kwame, you are released from your charge. She is ready. She will walk with the human born to meet the queen. Tatenda, There is no same to you in Huge's defeat. He passed the test of naming, but he is not ready. He remains your charge for now. Bring him away and do not bring him back until you feel it is time."

"Yes" they both answered solemnly and curtly. Thought one had succeeded and one had arguably failed, there was no rivalry, no tension, no bad feeling. Only duty. One fulfilled and one to start over.

The elders still did not present themselves, instead, they gestured to the group to follow them, including Naja. A few of the elders remained behind to tend to the spider-born that were not yet ready.

They all walked for hours. Not a single person complained. The land was dry as bones and difficult to the human form, so the elders gave the word to morph into Lillian. Terrain and distance became almost meaningless. The harshness of the sun remained the only issue, but it could not be helped.

Long before they reached their destination, she could feel that they were growing closer. At first, there was a spiritual "sting" she could not explain to herself. It grew into a full-blown sensation of energy all over her body. This place was not just a desert of rocks, it had meaning, it had power.

At last the elders stopped. One of them spoke thusly:

"Here is the holiest of holy places. You stand now in the very heart of Estotilandia. This is the very grounds which saw the birth of our kind. It is here that the Queen Ananasa chose to spawn the very first of the Damhan. Far into the caves below, long ago, we came into this world to accomplish her will. None who are not of the Damhan may enter this place. None who are not of the Damhan may ever know of its existence. You are to forever protect this place with your life. You are to kill any and all other beings who learn of its existence. Say aloud that you understand".
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Seb on Mon 30 Jun - 23:25

The voyage had been long and hard, but so had always been her life as a spider-born. She pressed on, without complaining, without a sound. This was how she was to serve Queen Ananasa: to serve unquestioningly.

This place was somehow familiar, and she liked it, even more than she had liked the forest in which she was born. When she was told how important this place was, she immediately understood what it meant, as if she had always been meant to be here, and to protect this place. As a spider, it was easy to understand these things.

So when she was asked to repeat if she understood the importance of keeping everything concerning this place secret, she did. It seemed the only thing to do.
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Re: Part 1: Listening to the Cosmos

Post by Admin on Sun 13 Jul - 15:50

"Good. Then follow me" concluded the elder.

As a Lillian spider, she dove into a hole in the ground leading the entire group into the belly of the earth. Back home. Her multiple legs spread wide providing much needed anchors and stability in this difficult to navigate network of tunnels and deep chasms. Now and again, she had no other choice but to cling entirely to an upside down surface which was not optimal in such a massive form. In such cases, she shifted to crawlerling carefully. It simply wouldn't do to lose some of her spiders into the abyss below. None of the elders lost any. However, a few of the human born were still having some difficulty with the extremely recent concept of changing shapes and they were not so lucky. Unfazed, they ignored the couple of spiders they dropped and continued on. Guided only by vibration due to the complete and total absence of light.

Something HUGE passed by them. A creature that managed to remain in the heavy Pithus form even on the ceiling of the caves. It took a look at the hundreds of thousands of spiders and continued on its way. Soon, the group reached new passages that allowed to travel in whatever form they preferred. These new tunnels were lined by thick slightly luminescent strands of web which grew more frequent and brighter the further in they got.

On the way, another of the Elders spoke.

"The one we met on the way is known as a Limuls. His life is dedicated to protecting Estotilandia. He kills any non-damham lifeforms that step into these sacred lands. With no exceptions. They patrol the borders at all times to do this. If he was this deep into the mountains, then he was probably on a trip back from bringing food to the Pax. The Pax are spiders which are holy themselves. They live here, in these caves for their entire lives. They have never, ever, set foot outside of Estotilandia. By their very purity, their mere presence serves to preserve the sanctity of this place. Let us continue on".

Shortly after the elder was done speaking, the webs stands began to form walls and ceiling of their own, the rock was becoming difficult to see behind the webs.

"Behold, children. The Queen's Road" The same elder spoke anew.

The tunnel of webbing turned upwards through the entire mountain where it became possible to see between the strands again. It continued upwards into the sky and dove into the very cosmos itself.

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