The Pearl Ch. 13byThistlethorn©
The Pearl Part 2: Whore Spider
Edited by PennLady
This is a copyrighted work of fiction. All rights reserved.
Qiang appeared in his lair, next to the bed. He looked back, checking Dakota and Mingzhu. Dakota looked to be in shock and Mingzhu was still unconscious.
"Are you able to remove Mingzhu?" he asked Dakota.
Dakota nodded in response, too dazed to even speak. She slid off his back and gingerly laid Mingzhu onto the floor. With a shake of his head to dislodge Chad, Qiang resumed human form. He gathered Mingzhu into his arms and laid her on the bed. He looked over to Dakota; she looked as though she might fall where she stood.
"Perhaps you should lie down also." Qiang indicated a place on the bed next to Mingzhu.
Dakota nodded and laid down in the offered spot.
"Stay here, I'll be right back," Qiang said, but Dakota's eyelids had already fluttered closed.
Qiang rubbed at his neck and came away with a bloody hand. He pulled a cloth from the bookcase and cleaned his neck as best as he could, then left the chamber with no further word.
Chad regarded both women from his perch. He flitted closer and landed on the headboard, uncertain about what he thought and felt. Things were far from over. The spider thing was still out there and needed to be stopped, he was certain of that. In his first moment to breathe since he first saw the Jorogumo, it was the only thing of which he was certain.
Conflicting feelings tore through him. He had just risked his life, as a goldfinch for fuck's sake, to save a woman he didn't even know, a dragon he owed nothing too, and a woman that not so long ago he wanted to beat into submission himself. A stab of shame trembled through him, causing him to wonder what was happening.
The seemingly eternal question of the moment came back to haunt him some more. Who are you?
"I don't know."
Who do you want to be?
"I don't know. I thought I did, but who can I be, after all is said and done?"
You can be me the darkness whispered. I will always be here for you. It was still his voice, but it reminded him of the Jorogumo and even the bakemono. He shuddered. There was a comfort there, he couldn't deny that. The comfort of expected norms, a way to be he understood, behaviors he'd spent his entire life perfecting. Then he considered the cost of the comfort, the horror of his future, and ran again into the wall of his indecision. Who was he, indeed.
He cocked his head, watching the women sleep. Is there hope of escape from the darkness? he wondered. Of redemption? Must things stay as they are, or can I make them right?
Chad's body seemed to pulse for a moment, then between one breath and the next he was again human, leaning against the headboard. He stood for a moment, adjusting to the sudden change. He shook his head.
I may not know exactly who I am, he decided. But I know who I don't want to be. I will become who I'm going to be. There are parts of myself I may keep, but the parts of the darkness, I will release.
When Qiang returned, he was carrying a large bowl of water and towels. He spared a glance to where Chad leaned against the headboard of the bed, watching the women. His face showed no reaction, but for a moment he was surprised. When Qiang considered how helpful Chad's presence had been, unexpectedly so, he conceded a certain wisdom to it. He handed the bowl of water and towels to Chad.
"Here, hold these."
Chad took them without response. Qiang went to his apothecary drawers and pulled out several bottles and bandages. He went back over to the bed, laid the items he brought on the bed, and took the water bowl from Chad with a "Thank you." Chad nodded but said nothing.
Qiang sat on the bed and set to cleaning the bite wound on Dakota. It was deep, but he decided it didn't require stitches. He noticed the blood on her pants and carefully removed them. The cuts on her vagina where superficial and only required cleaning. After drying off the areas he applied salve and bandages. He proceeded to check her over for any additional injuries. Her stomach was bruised, but he couldn't detect any serious injury. He covered Dakota with a blanket and moved over to Mingzhu. As he did so, he glanced up at Chad, and was concerned to see a thousand yard stare already settling into the boy's eyes.
"When did you find out about the Jorogumo?" Qiang asked as he started to look over Mingzhu. Her injuries were fewer than Dakota's. There was a hand-shaped bruise around her neck and a large, dark bruise with a goose egg of a knot in its center on the side of her head. He sensed no concussion and and sighed in relief.
Chad's confusion caught Qiang by surprise for a moment. Then he realized Chad had most likely never heard the creature's name before.
"The spider thing," he clarified.
"Oh. Ah, I guess when it took Sebastian."
Qiang looked up from applying salve to Mingzhu. "You were there when it first struck?"
Chad shrugged. "Yeah. I was out there, up to no good. As if I could do anything anyway. But then he goes into this building and wham! Spider bitch puts the moves on him and she's on him like stink on shit. And he just kind of let her. He did try to get away, but eventually just gave over to her. But he went through a lot of the webbing, and I think that's part of how she does her mojo. That's some scary-ass shit, I'll tell you." At the memory, his stare became all the more distant.
Qiang was impressed that the boy had realized the Jorogumo used the webs for her magic. Then again, Chad had realized there was a true dragon at the restaurant. It seemed there was more to him than met the eye. A thought struck Qiang.
"Was it from you that Dakota got the idea to visit Sebastian?"
He nodded. "I couldn't tell you how I did it," he replied as he looked down. "But yeah, I got her to go."
Qiang sighed. He finished applying the medicine to Mingzhu then looked up.
"So you sent the person with the least ability to stop the Jorogumo to help Sebastian?"
Chad looked back up. His face reddened as he said, "Well I didn't think she could stop the thing. I thought she could just, I don't know, get him to leave." His jaw set, his eyes hardened, and his voice took on a recriminatory tone. "Yeah, I know, I put her on that thing's radar. If I hadn't sent her, we wouldn't have had Night of the Living Dead the home game."
Qiang considered what to say next. He was frustrated with the course of events, but also realized the boy felt some remorse.
"You could have come here," he said.
"You threatened to kill me."
"Look up hyperbole when you get a chance." Qiang's patience began to fray.
"At five inches high, that's a hell of risk to take."
"Fair enough," Qiang conceded. "But for future reference, I don't tend to kill people bringing me vital information. Now please concentrate on where you saw the Jorogumo's den. With good fortune, she hasn't moved it."
Chad drew back. "You're not going to get into my head again, are you?"
"Well I'm certainly not going to find it on Map-Quest, now am I?"
"OK, do it."
Qiang obtained what he needed. "Thank you for your assistance, it is greatly appreciated. Congratulations on breaking the spell. Perhaps I'll see you around some time."
Chad looked startled. "What?"
Qiang gathered the first-aid supplies from the bed and put them away as he spoke. "Well, what else is there? You found you're way out of the spell. I don't imagine you would have done so if you were still seeking revenge, so there's nothing you need from me. Chang is unfortunately not around at this time, but upon his return I'll be sure to let him know what happened."
Chad remained silent, looking a bit lost. When the silence dragged on, Qiang said, "Is there someplace I can send you? Or, if you'd prefer, you can simply walk out. The staff will no doubt stare and whisper, but just ignore them. No one will stop you."
Chad looked down and mumbled, "I want to see this through."
Though Qiang understood what he'd said well enough, he wasn't certain he believed it.
"What was that?"
Chad looked up and met Qiang's gaze straight on. His tone picked up steel. "I want to see this through. I want to see the Jorogumo dead. I have to see it dead."
Qiang shook his head. "I'd like to accommodate you, hero, but I haven't the time. I need to finish this as soon as possible. I will be bringing Dakota around and I think the last thing she needs after being assaulted by the bakemono is seeing the other person who recently assaulted her."
Chad's face reddened, and although his eyes showed shame at what was said they never wavered. He continued to meet Qiang's gaze and stood his ground in silence.
Qiang threw up his hands. "Fine. I haven't time to argue with you. But you're not staying around in that form."
"Does it have to be a goldfinch?"
Qiang frustrated expression slowly softened. "No, I don't suppose it would. Would you prefer another type of animal?"
Chad shook his head. "No, at least I know how to operate as a bird. Just something a little less squishable. Maybe an eagle?"
"Not very common to the area." Qiang paused for a moment as he thought about the larger birds of the area. "What about a hawk?"
Chad nodded in assent. A blink later, he was a hawk perched upon the headboard. Qiang returned his attention to Dakota. Though he was loathe to awaken her, he knew he needed her help. Even knowing the location of the Jorogumo's den wasn't quite enough. He doubted he could lure Sebastian out and fighting the Jorogumo where Sebastian could become a liability struck Qiang to be as dangerous as leaving him with the Jorogumo alone.
He eased his energy around Dakota and roused her as gently as he could. He could feel her consciousness rise up from the depths it had retreated to. Slowly, he brought her fully back. At first she resisted, fighting the force that sought to bring her back. Then she was fully awake and sat bolt upright. Her eyes were open wide and her breathing grew panicked.
Qiang took hold of her shoulders and soothed her. "It's all right, Dakota. You're safe here."
She looked over to Qiang, and for a moment seemed to not recognize him. Then it all came back and she buried her face in her hands. Qiang gave her time to compose herself. When she'd calmed down, she returned her gaze to him.
Qiang sighed. "Now we try to get Sebastian's river to show us its heart."
In her lair, the Jorogumo reeled. The bakemono, destroyed. The energy she invested, wasted. The girl still lived and the dragon was helping her. Curse them both!! She seethed.
She regarded Sebastian. She needed to feed, and perhaps in the process take her mind off her losses. As much as she might regret it, she considered draining him in this feeding. Under normal circumstances she could extend a meal like this for days, even a week. As she had no idea of her adversaries' plans, however, she would need all her strength to run as far and as fast as she could.
She eased her herself over to him and caressed his snout. He blinked and looked at her, his eyes unfocused. Her hair billowed out around her as she coaxed him on his back. He rolled over and smiled. She smiled back and scuttled on top of him.
"You are such a magnificent beast," she complimented, running her hands along his underscales.
"Thank you," he murmured in return.
Her hair curled around him, loosely tangling him. If this was her last meal from him, she would savor it. She stroked and teased him until his shaft slid out, then she mounted him and set to milking him.
She leaned forward and licked at the scales where the pearl was, sensing the delicious power there. She traced the area with her tongue and could taste the faintest bit of the pearl. Her vagina clamped down and she shuddered in the ecstasy of feeding. His semen flowed into her, and with it his life force. Sweet as it was, it didn't compare to what she felt and tasted from the pearl. She contemplated cutting it out whole, but that ran the risk of alerting him to the danger he was in. Eventually, the pearl itself would break down to bolster his life force and when it did, she would have that too. She would lose some of the vitality in the rush, but when she added the power of even a fledgling dragon to her own she would be one of the most powerful, and satiated, Jorogumo around.
Night had settled. In the dark, the three of them--Qiang in his dragon, Dakota, and Chad as a hawk--stood on the river bank, with Chad perched on a sturdy tree branch. It had been decided that Mingzhu would stay back at the lair. Decreed by Qiang was more correct, but no one had the strength to argue. He'd also made it perfectly clear his preference was to leave Dakota behind. But since he needed her to lure out Sebastian, he had to bring her along. Once her part was completed, he expected her to stay out of the rest. For her part, Dakota hadn't yet decided how that would play.
Qiang glared at the river and snarled. It wasn't giving him what he wanted. Dakota fought the punch-drunk urge to laugh. He'd arranged everything else, but the river wasn't going to go along with him. He needed to find the river's heart or center. The spot where its essence was strongest.
"Listen, you blasted river, I'm doing this for your dragon. A little assistance isn't much to ask."
The river appeared to pick up momentum and Qiang glowered harder.
"You are not making this situation one whit easier," Qiang argued.
"Qiang." Dakota laid her arm on the shoulder of his front leg. "Let me try."
He swung around his head and looked at Dakota for a moment, as though he had forgotten she was there. Then he stepped aside, giving her access to the river.
Dakota walked to the edge of the bank, knelt down, and drew her hand through the water. It could have been her imagination, but she thought the river swelled around her hand. She felt the piece of Sebastian tingle faintly.
"I understand you don't entirely trust Qiang," she started.
don't trust at all
She jumped and fell backward. Qiang had started to growl, but stopped, observing Dakota.
"Did you hear that?" he asked.
Dakota, wide-eyed in shock, just nodded. Qiang lowered his head and with his snout pushed her towards the river. "Still your mind and try again."
Dakota gave Qiang an uncertain look over her shoulder, but knelt again at the river's edge and focused on quieting her mind. When that failed, she focused on the river and laid her hand in the water. She was certain of it, this time. The water was collecting around her hand. She tightened her focus on the water around her hand. She could feel the energy of the river, cool and inviting.
"Please," she began again. "Qiang only wants to help here. Show him what he needs, I'll vouch for him. You have to realize I only want what's best for Sebastian."
There was a moment's pause as the river continued to trundle by, still collecting around her hand. Then she heard,
"Thank you," Dakota said with reverence and relief. She turned her head around to Qiang. "The river agreed to show me."
Qiang nodded. "Good. What do you need to do for it to show you?"
"Oh, I, um, don't know." She turned her attention back to the river. Before she could ask she heard,
"You mean the river water?" she asked, thoughts of any number of contaminants coming to mind. She heard no further words, but the direction remained. Qiang brought his head next to Dakota's.
"Gather up some water in your hands," he instructed.
Dakota gathered up water in her cupped hands and looked at Qiang. He delicately drew a single claw across the surface of the water, but Dakota felt the tremor of power run through. So, it appeared, did the river. The sound of its passing increased.
Qiang raised his head and gave a cross look to the river. "Oh, please, I didn't do anything but purify it. Your intent is still intact." He returned his attention to Dakota. "Drink, it's safe."
Dakota raised her hands to her mouth and swallowed down the water. She gasped. Quicksilver cool, the water moved through her, almost as if it was alive. Belatedly she realized in a way it was. It wasn't just water, it was part of the river and it was inside of her. She remembered some of the things Sebastian had said about his experiences with the river, and now better understood them. She rose unsteadily to her feet. Qiang hovered close by.
"Are you all right?" he asked, concern in his voice.
Dakota nodded. "Yeah, I think so. It just feels really weird."
He nodded in sympathy. "I imagine it does. This river is particularly..." he glanced at the river with some annoyance, "spirited."
Dakota managed to muster a smile in agreement as the water continued to move within her. "You can say that again. How long is this going to last?"
"Until your body processes and passes the water. It wasn't much water, it shouldn't take long. Another reason we should get moving. If you feel you are ready," he looked first in one direction then the other, "which way should we go?"
"Oh, of course, just a second." Dakota pushed the disconcerting portion of the river's presence out of her mind and instead centered her attention on what it was trying to do. She felt a pull to go to the right.
"This way." She pointed in the direction and headed off. They walked in silence, Dakota concentrating on the river, and Qiang with his own thoughts. They walked for maybe fifteen minutes before Qiang became frustrated. He moved himself in front of Dakota and presented his back.
"Get on and tell me where to stop."
Dakota climbed onto his back. Qiang rose a few feet above the ground and flew along the river. It wasn't long before Dakota felt an urgent pull form the river.
"Here!" She shouted.
Qiang overshot by a little and curved back around. He landed in the river and looked at Dakota.
"This is it, you're sure?"
Dakota looked around and nodded. The grass on the bank extended in the water and the trees grew thick and strong around the area. The water was deep, though perhaps not the deepest spot. She recognized where she was at. It was where Sebastian had brought her when the river wanted them to have sex. She wondered if he knew this place's significance. She felt the river's power pulse through her, causing the water within her to dance.
"Yes, I'm sure of it."
"Good. Call him. If he should come, so much the better. If not, we go to him." Qiang's voice was hard.
Dakota nodded and closed her eyes. She had never thought before about what it was she did to call Sebastian. She just wanted him there and he would show up. She suspected it would be much different this time, and much harder. She focused on Sebastian and asked him to come.
Sebastian jerked beneath the Jorogumo and raised his head, his bleary eyes clearing. "What is it, my sweet?" the Jorogumo asked, though she was sure she knew the answer. "Dakota is looking for me. I have to go." He started to roll over when the Jorogumo tightened her web. He strained for a moment, then laid back down.
Dakota felt something go wrong. She took a deep breath and tried again. Still, something was keeping him from her. The Jorogumo. She sighed and slumped on Qiang's back.
Qiang attention was still focused on Dakota. He didn't like what he saw at all.
"Do we need to go to him?"
Dakota shuddered at the thought. She straightened her back and sat upright. "No," she said, though were the strength of her conviction came from she didn't know. Maybe the river. "I'm not beaten yet." She worked her hands into Qiang's mane, gripping it to give herself strength. She reached into herself, to the piece of Sebastian, and pulled it into her being. Her breath skipped, as did her heart, and then she doubled down on the energy, calling Sebastian to her with all her will.