Summary: There’s no good news without bad to follow it…
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.
“She’ll be all right?”
Weaver nodded, drawing back as soon as they had the child in hand. She was uncomfortable around other humans and the villages were obviously just as uncomfortable around her. They parents hadn’t exactly grabbed the child back, but they were happy to get room between themselves and the weaver.
“Burn the tent, burn all her things if you hadn’t already, but the fevers gone.” Most likely the villages had already destroyed everything that had come in contact with the child, but it was best to warn them anyway. “Is there anyone else sick?”
“Our son is–” one man standing to the side began, but then faltered as he looked down at an eight year old boy. “There’s something wrong.”
She turned to focus on the boy, then drew back almost immediately, wiping her hands against her skirt in nervous revulsion.
“There’s nothing I can do for him.”
“But is he sick?” The man had his hands on the boy’s shoulders and she itched to yanks them away.
“The wasps have him.” She could see it, the knotted tangle of web lines, faint but unmistakable. Little Sister stirred in her eye, jaws clicking in alarm. There was a truce between the spiders and the wasps, she could do the larvae that inhabited the boy’s shell no harm.
“No.” It was faint protest, as if he’d already known. “No, please.”
“There’s nothing I can do.”
“But he’s still alive, you can save him, kill it–”
“There is nothing left of the boy.” If there had been, she could have moved to save the boy, even at the cost of the larvae. But it was too late, the boy was merely a shell, there was nothing left of the child’s mind. “Nothing.” She backed away as the man pushed the boy closer to her.
“Nothing? There must be something–”
“The boy’s mind has been eaten, all that is left is the wasp. I can do nothing for him.”
“Then kill it. Let him die if he’s dead already.”
“I can’t. You know I can’t.” The spider’s venom would kill the wasp, but there were laws the governed the truce.
She comes out of the tent and the girl’s parents are grateful if slightly terrified of her. Another set of parents lead their boy over. The boy is vacant eyed and slightly slurry with his speech. She can still see the world web faintly and she knows immediately what is wrong.
“Then what good are you?”
“I have done what I can.” She finally had to stop and face him down, Little Sister was starting to get agitated and better the weaver settle the problem then let the spider get involved. “Leave me be.”
“And if I kill him?” Which was a threat she doubted the man could carry out, not matter how much he hated the thing his son had become.
“I am sworn not to harm, not to prevent harm.” She looked down at the boy who looked up with wide empty eyes. “Do what you will, but know that you do not kill the son you had, you kill the son you might have.”
Wasps grew quickly, and with time there was a chance they could teach it the rudiments of human living. Eventually it would outgrow it’s host, but they might have a decade with the changeling. Some times parents accepted what they could get. The spiders always argued for life, even for wasps, but the weaver could offer only advice, nothing more. The spiders and humans had an uneasy alliance and the weaver knew better than to remind the father she wasn’t quite as human either.
One of the village elders finally pulled the man and his son aside and the weaver took the opportunity to talk to another elder.
“Is there anyone else who needs me?”
“No, and perhaps it’s best if you left now.” The elder watched his compatriot counsel the man. “He is a widower, the child is all he has. He will not take this well.”
The weaver was tired, drained from the work she had done on the child, but the elder had a point. She took a steadying breath and then nodded slightly. Wide motions made the Little Sister upset.
She walked out of the village into the dimming light, behind her the funeral tent went up in flames and the night smelled of pine tar and mint.