Dark Winds in Ambria | World Anvil

Dark Winds

25/06 - 27/06 791 AoS

The forest was silent save for the creak of a branch in the wind. The Spider God took a deep breath in, smiling as they lifted their glittering black eyes toward the sky. At several points around the forest the Gateways opened, swirling and sputtering. As more and more humans and Ambrians stepped through into the new realm, the wider the Spider smiled. All these flies had fallen into their trap and The Spider God was ready to feed.   Those unfortunate enough to be deposited into the Spider's realm were frightened and confused. They had no idea that the Spider had put a spell upon their Gateway and redirected them into a web of death. They set about making camps to keep warm and dry, and set sentries to watch their backs. Some Houses had large numbers, others were individuals who had to make allies. As night fell they met one another, mingling and sharing their grief and shock. There was some comfort to know they were not alone in this adventure. A bonfire was set by a strange lizard wanderer, and the people pondered whether this creature was friend or foe. Unbeknownst to them, the real danger lurked among them; the Spider God had made themselves appear human and was quickly making friends. And feeding.   The next day, feeling stronger and more confident, the new arrivals set about surveying the forest. In amongst the trees and fallen logs, the rough bracken and squelching mud, there had appeared boxes with strange symbols on them. Curious at first, people opened the boxes to see what treasures lay within. A rare number of boxes contained a gem - but none knew what significance they held - or a blessing that offered protections. Quickly they would learn that many boxes only contained curses: some would poison the finder unless they could locate a gem, others would maim them, or curse them to give away the gems they found. Worse still, there were traps that had been laid by the Spider to catch prey, tempting them to play a game to win gems in exchange, but many people fell to the Spider's clutches. Once they were inside the trap and were alone, the Spider would appear and suck out their souls. Those more fortunate stuck together for safety.   As more and more fell to the Spider's insatiable appetite, it became obvious to those left alive that their companions and friends were different. Strange marks, the same as those on the boxes, appeared on their skin and their behaviour was less and less normal.   The mangled, rotten bodies of travellers that had come before could be found still clutching old diaries in elvish, orcish or other. Once read, or translated, these diary entries would offer clues to this strange land and what significance these gems held. Deep in the forest a Gateway was discovered, but it was not open. As the hours wore on it became more clear to the Houses that there were 5 different gems and they could be used to open the portal like a key. For only an hour a stone tablet appeared at the Gateway that had 5 indentations on it in the same shape as the gems. But whatever information a House or group found, they kept it to themselves - increasingly wary of their fellow prisoners. A second day closed and many huddled around their fires, trying to sleep as the sounds of bellows and screams echoed around them. The Spider fed well that night.   The final dawn saw every soulless person covered in marks. There was no denying an evil had taken them over. Those left alive turned on their former friends and slew them, or tied them up. Everyone gathered at the portal, now humming and thrumming. Some of the marked blocked their way and the most devoted shouted allegiance to their master. The Spider God stepped from the crowd of unmarked and positioned themselves upon a mound, surveying a sea of confused faces. They called for their soulless minions to step forward, who then formed a line against the living. "This is my realm," the Spider bellowed, spreading their human-form arms, "and no one is leaving." None among the living had suspected this figure as the real danger. They raised their weapons in defiance - they had to get through the Gateway.   A mighty battle ensued - living against soulless. It seems as though the tide had turned against the Spider's minions, but the God raised the fleshy husks to fight once more. The living scattered, confusion ensued. Then, shouts. A call was made for gems - the living ran to aid as they could, offering up a set of 5 gems to put into the stone tablet. The portal opened! Those nearest dashed through without hesitation. Each individual that entered was teleported to the Gateway they originally came through - they would never know what fate befell those left behind, but could only wait to see if their fellow House members would follow them.   The Gateway snapped shut after 5 souls has run through. A mass of people crowded, shouting for more gems to be put in. Those still fighting were struggling to fend off the marked ones. Twice more the Gateway was activated and the lucky ones darted to safety. Only a handful of living were left when they realised there were not enough gems remaining. Most of the soulless had finally been slain, and a few living had been killed.   The Spider watched the last of their prey disappear through the Gateway. They were not perturbed; many satisfying souls had been consumed. The God turned to those left alive and a sly smile spread across their lips. "Farewell. I'll be seeing you... and eating you... later." The Spider wandered away into the forest. The living turned to one another - they would not make that easy.


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