Book 4, Chapter 145

Bird-Eating Spiders

Outside of his followers, Richard only brought the ten rune knights meant for Nyris and Agamemnon along on his journey back to Faelor. All of the broodmother’s drones were left behind to defend the city, and with a cloned brain standing by to take control in case of battle he wasn’t worried about Bluewater’s defences.

When it came time to depart, the followers were shocked to find a bluish-black pupal creature hovering beside Richard that was about five metres tall and close to two metres wide. They didn’t know what this creature was supposed to be, and they didn’t understand how such a large thing would fit through the portal, but that was a question that didn’t remain for a long time. After the rune knights had gone through, the thing doubled its length to grow thinner before snaking through the gate.

The followers looked at each other, completely speechless. However, when they reached the Church of the Eternal Dragon on the other side they found the creature had reverted to its pupal form, silently floating in the air as though nothing had happened.

Nyris and Agamemnon had already received the news and were waiting in the main hall. The two barely greeted Richard before they rushed to the Forest Plane without wasting any time.

……

The Forest Plane was just as green and damp as the last time. Everyone’s clothes were drenched by the time they made the short walk from the portal to the city proper. Richard had used this time to explain the strategy to Nyris and Agamemnon. Thus, they only rested for a bit before leading 800 elite soldiers straight to the Tree of Life.

Once there, Richard entered the treehouse at the top and called forth the Tree’s will. It answered almost instantly, “Great visitor from another plane, what good news do you bring? I can sense great power from that being you have brought with you.”

“How long will it take for you to start attracting woodpecking crows if you start your growth period now?”

“Ten days. The evolution will take a month in total.”

Richard thought over it for a bit, “Hmm, I still need a bit more time. You can start the process after a week.”

Richard felt like the Tree gasped as it went silent for a moment, its answer filled with agitation, “As you wish, mighty visitor from another plane!”

When Richard walked out of the treehouse, he emptied the tree of everyone but those operating the ballistae. While the camp was being set up in the surrounding meadow, he had the astral chrysalis float over and release its quarry.

The cocoon slowly floated to an empty plot of land, raising its tail and basically vomiting thousands of fist-sized whitish eggs from the openings of its body. One could see through the translucent walls that a bug-like creature was curled up within. The last few eggs were obviously larger than the rest, dark green in colour. It then relaxed its body, floating up another ten metres into the sky.

One subconscious command and the eggs started squirming, the larvae within breaking through the walls. The white worms that were hatched were far faster than one would expect, almost blurring to the normal eye as they consumed their eggshells and crawled towards the forest nearby.

Every blade of grass en route was cleared to leave behind flat brown earth. From a bird’s eye view, it seemed like a stream of white was washing through the meadow towards the forest. The larvae continued to climb up the ancient trees, eating their leaves and then even their bark, going all the way to the roots as their snow-white bodies quickly turned green. The white flood continued to crash through the forest itself, but this time they left behind a pool of dark green excrement. 

After two layers of trees, the worms had doubled in size. All that could be heard in the forest was the sound of gnawing as the elves and humans watched silently with disgust. The worms soon grew to one metre long, able to rush through trees in mere seconds. The humans were still alright, but the elves were enraged at the sight of the disappearing trees. However, the grand elder stopped Jubu from stopping this desecration.

Richard didn’t care about these larvae once he unleashed them, heading back into the treehouse and starting to meditate to increase his power. Sadly, the Tree of Life couldn’t spare him any life energy while it was preparing to advance.

Three days passed in the blink of an eye. The fist-sized worms had all grown to nearly two metres long, having eaten thousands of trees to leave a huge empty patch in the middle of the forest. Midnight the third day they finally stopped eating and started weaving silken cocoons for themselves that hung off the trees they hadn’t gotten to. Thousands of snow-white cocoons dangled in mid-air, blowing in the direction of the wind.

Although the sight of the worm flood had been eerily fascinating, Richard’s soldiers had quickly grown used to it and started their own work. A barrier of steel plates was erected around the Tree of Life, made especially thick to withstand the attack of the woodpecking crows. The Tree of Life was making its own preparations, its branches slowly growing thorns that were about half a metre long.

Three more days later, the great cocoons started to split open as odd-looking creatures climbed out from within. These soft-shelled spiders with enormous abdomens were the counter the broodmother had prepared for the woodpecking crows. Thousands of bird-eating spiders, each the size of a pony, crawled up the Tree of Life at once. The spiders nestled themselves within the tree branches, locking themselves against the bark before they stopped moving.

Richard stood at the base of the tree, anxiously palming his elven longsword. He should have been confident in the broodmother’s preparations against the woodpecking crows, but there were still many unknowns as to what would happen when they were attacked by thousands upon thousands of them. As smart as he was, he knew that things tended not to work according to plans.

……

Ten nerve-wracking days thus passed by. One morning there was a sudden silence in the forest, even the occasional rustle of leaves in the wind disappearing completely. It was as if the trees themselves froze in place, afraid of attracting something terrifying if they made the slightest of movements.

The woodpecking crows were already here.

A gentle breeze blew past in this strange environment, slowly picking up. A woodpecking crow suddenly flew across the canopy and hovered near the Tree of Life. It let out a grinding screech before diving down towards the tree.

A bird-eating spider that was obviously larger than the rest was waiting nearby. It let out a screech of its own that was too high for normal human ears as the muscles in its abdomen parted a little to reveal two slits. Strands of white silk shot out like lightning, accurately catching the attacking crow within. The strands split apart into what seemed to be thin, light webbing, but they were unimaginably tenacious as they wrapped around the crow’s body and sent it plummeting to the ground.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: ML

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA