When I awoke from the dream of the Skinner, I could smell the distinct aroma of burning flesh. Apparently, there were some lingering fibers of the killing dream still clinging to my father, which continued to allow him the luxury of distilling fire from fury. The flesh cocoon had caught aflame from its mere proximity to my father’s ill temperament. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided to use my burning father to awaken my captor.
I emerged from my fleshy bonds wrapped in fire and dream, and the flame-born light flickered into the deep hole within which the Flesh Weaver had retired. Like my father’s deadly blade, my strength was still attached to a dream. I cleared the intervening distance between myself and the weaver of skins in a single bound. My father roared his dissatisfaction with skinners who refused to skin and masters of flesh who slept when they should have been dying.
The narrower space of the Weaver’s home focused the light of my father, and I could see the crouching horror that had recoiled into itself like some gigantic spider within its sanctum of web and shadow. I don’t know how many sets of eyes opened upon me, much too late, as I descended—bearing fire, blade, and nightmare. While the creature possessed a wealth of toothy maws, the scream that ripped loose from them was dreadfully uniform.
To the creature’s credit, it was fast enough to move its mountain-sized body enough to escape the killing share of my father’s blow. Yet the creature was sorely riven, as was the now smoking ancient stone upon which the nightmare had slept.
The creature was a storm of glistening shadows and serrated bone as it proceeded to fill the stone chamber with its lethal assortment of slaying limbs. With a speed such a creature should not possess, it discharged a stream of blistering-hot liquefied flesh into the darkness before me. The killing-dream had almost evaporated, yet I tapped its last reality-defying reservoir as I leaped beyond the boiling, hissing fluid.
While airborne, I freed my sisters into the darkness, their laughter skipping across the webs of squirming flesh that filled the weaver’s lair. The alien abomination quickly recoiled from their glittering smiles. My sweet sisters disappeared into distant darkness, their laughter following after. When an adequate amount of space opened up between myself and the Flesh Weaver, the creature hauled itself up to an impressive height, presiding like an insectoid mountain over the darkness of its underworld.
“’Twas no idle boast you made, was it, human?” the creature hissed. “You really do have the power to kill me. But it seems your fires have died away, and your precious knives are lost to you. And while I’m certain that axe of yours is death incarnate, I’ll not again let it so close to me.”
The beast extended two lengths of serrated bone pincers from sheaths of flesh that lined its swollen abdomen. Its speed again proved incredible—it crossed almost instantly the distance between us, stabbing one of its boney appendages into my leg. The creature lifted me from the ground by my wound and attempted to fling me into its throbbing webs, laughing as though it had already won.
I wrenched free of the spiny weapon and launched my father into the darkness. The weaver withdrew with a lopsided combination of fear and wisdom, yet the creature was not my target. My father collided with the stalactite-dripping ceiling of the cavern, detonating like laughing thunder. For a moment, it seemed as if the earth itself had lowered a cleated boot upon the loathsome weaver of skins, crushing the bug beneath its gargantuan stone foot. All became a deafening cloud of dust as cavern ceiling met floor. Yet the creature still lived.
The small mountain of fallen stone fell away as a badly mangled pincer broke through. Soon the creature had entirely risen from its would-be crypt, shaking off the broken earth like a dog shedding bathwater.
The ruined horror addressed me anew. “A fine swan song, if nothing else. But you will find my death harder to acquire than you might have originally calculated.”
It pleases me no end when my timing is spot on—or in this particular case, my sisters’ timing. Just as the monstrous extradimensional demon poured itself away from the sundered rock, my sisters made their move. Yet not before I countered my opponent's pervious assertion.
“Ah, but you’ve yet to see the product of my calculations, monster,” I offered. “And here it is.”
From a pile of the creature’s smoldering and disembodied body parts—the result of my father’s previous attack— severed, claw-tipped limb lunged into the weaver’s most conspicuous head. Before my opponent could employ its incredible speed to avoid further ravaging, a thick coil of woven flesh from one of the ubiquitous skin-webs covering the chamber wrapped itself around its struggling form, allowing my sisters to continue their merciless onslaught. My sweet siblings had found their mark, as I intended.
The surviving mass of the creature, now little more than a towering heap of quivering flesh and crushed carapace, collapsed before me. Even still the creature lived, if only barely.
I walked to the pile of my enemy, trying to find a functioning set of eyes to look into. After some considerable searching, a large eye blinked at me, and I saw that consciousness still coursed through the nearly caved-in head wherein the eye was recessed. When I was certain the thing focused upon me, I spoke. “I won’t pretend that I might spare you, should only your pleas for mercy properly entertain me. That would be rude. Instead, I will simply allow you to live. I have no quarrel with you, and you are already so much art. In time, when you have adequately regenerated from the lesson I have imparted, you will be a marvelous nightmare again. Nothing would please me more. Perhaps, should your ego allow, and if I’m still alive after my quest concludes, I would very much like to call upon you again. But I can see that you’re in no condition to give your answer now. However, please think it over, won’t you?”
With that, I collected my last sister from her sticking place within the web of flesh and departed the underground lair of the wretched and wonderful weaver of skins—black fruit in hand, and with wonder aplenty.
I was off to the town of Willard to finish a conversation.
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