Summary: The weaver and Little Sister work their magic. Literally.
NOTE: This is a very rough draft with no editing at all (per National Novel Wiriting Month rules) and is presented for amusement value only. Think of it as a periscope into my writing process rather than a coherent story!
There will most likely be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, contradictions/retcons, uneven characterization and pacing. These snippits are also posted out of order, so please refer to the story page to figure out where it’s supposed to fit.
It’s a funeral tent, but the girl is still alive.
The weaver closes the door flap behind her, trying not to cough from the fumes coming from the fuel-soaked hides. The tent is made to be burned as soon as the occupant has died, and more than once they’ve set fire mistakenly thinking the inhabitant was dead. The tent is empty, the only decoration is a pile of well-worn furs crumpled against the bare snow floor. She can hear the ragged breathing from the piles of furs, but it sounds more like a dog than a child.
Little Sister stirred in the weavers right eye socket, feathery light touches of disapproval. The spiders had quite a reverence for life and weren’t shy about sharing that bias with their partners. While the spider couldn’t read her mind, it could sense the changes in her biology that gave her away. The weaver stilled her thoughts, and the spider settled with a faint clicking that passed for sighing.
Weaver carefully unwrapped the blankets, pausing each time the child stirred in its fever dreams. As the coverings came off she could smell the slightly minty odor of low mountain fever. The infection was a death sentence in the winter, the only known cure grew only in the spring and dried flowers lost their potency soon after the first snows. Now, late into the winter, all they could do was wait for the child to die.
Except they hadn’t had a weaver.
Now that the child had been unwrapped, the weaver started to unwind the bindings on her right arm. The brown-grey cloth was soaked in pine and dried apples but the smell from her own wounds added a sour under-taste to the child’s sickly mint. Her forearm was a mass of bruises and puncture wounds, mottled purple and yellow from bruising the wounds marked her as a weaver more prominently than anything but her missing eye.
Little Sister stirred as the bandages came off and the giant spider slowly crept out of the eye socket and onto the weaver’s shoulder. When the spider had been young the weaver had to coach her on where to bite and how much venom to release. Now Little Sister was an old hand at the practice, well-versed in how much venom was required for any situation. Once the bandages were gone the spider made its way down to the weaver’s forearm and added a new bite to multitude of healed and half-healed scars.
The weaver bit her lip against the bright dash of pain and then relaxed as the venom number the bite. Slowly the thin glowing lines of the world web came into focus. Every living thing was entwined in the Great Mother’s web and she could see them all. Every connection, every link, and when the venom had settled she would be able to manipulate them. Her eye, already a pale blue, darkened to bright blue and began to glow slightly.
Little Sister finished her bite with a quick drink, just enough to coagulate the blood and make the spider glow softly. Just as the spider’s venom gave the weaver power over the world web, so did the weaver’s blood give the spider greater power over the material world. The Great Mother’s children were children of the other, vulnerable in the worlds of men and beasts.
Now that she could see the world web, the weaver knelt over the child. Her left eye glowing blue, she carefully started untangling the child’s web lines. Every thread she worked back into place quieted the dreams and by the time she was done the child was sleeping peacefully. The weaver didn’t attack the disease, simply reopened the pathways for the body to provide its own defense. Now the heat of the fever still remained, but the underlying sickness was gone.
Little Sister reclaimed her perch and the weaver carefully rewrapped her arm. The bites would heal on their own, the spider’s venom kept them clean and clotted. There was a faint burn from the older scars, memories of the power transfer. When the arm was wrapped she tucked it back into the heavy sleeves that helped to mask the smell from the other humans. It was a distinct odor and the spiders and their keepers had learned long ago that different was not always a good thing to be.
The work had taken long enough that the weaver’s view of the world web had faded, slightly, but she could still see the faint lines that traded from both herself and the child.
The weaver carefully carried the child out of the tent, placing her in her father’s arms.