Sintra's Blessing: How it Came to Be
Streams of fire burned through Vera’s eyes, evident in the look she gave S’ketta when the old hag said they had business. The carriage rocked and rattled as the man at the helm racked the reins to get the horses moving faster despite the battering rain that flew on a sharp angle. “What am I to do, mistress S’ketta?” Vera asked, hand cupping her chin as she relaxed and turned to stare at the closed window slats leaking water into the interior cabin drip by drop. They’d been traveling into Warrick country, she knew that much.
It had been several years since Labrae abducted her and entrusted her care to the old witch. The crone leaned forward, her veil parting as the fabric stretched from her creaking old bones. “My dear, it is time for you to ascend in the eyes of the web mother Labrae, by giving yourself to Sintra.” Vera’s attention shifted, at first with her eyes and then with her entire head. She ran her hand through her hair with a shy smile. S’ketta began to speak again. “You must put to rest those who brought you into this world, of which one remains.“ Vera laughed into her sleeve at hearing what was required.
Vera’s lips curled into a sly smirk, her jade orbs staring into the sunken eyes across from her. “I will do anything to please them … If I must do such a thing for the web mother and Sintra, I shall.” Her finger traced along the carriage windowsill, snatching up the moisture on her finger and putting it to her lip. Her thoughts swirled, anticipating what was to come. I’ve never killed a man before, what will it feel like?
The hag sat back and rifled through a luxurious bag, hand delving into the velvet confines and retrieving a wooden box adorned with banded bordering and the carving of a dragon upon it. “This was my first blade, you will do as I have done with it. They long for you, you know. When you’re gone. Just pull that thread to gain entry, and when he sleeps plunge this into his neck - wipe the blood clean, or it will rust.”
A wave of force washed through the cabin as the carriage came to a stop, the two occupants bobbing their heads in tandem. A double-tap on the ceiling confirmed this was their stop. “Go now, my dear. For Sintra!” She opened the box and Vera’s eyes shifted to it when they caught the glint of steel. Within lay an intricate curved blade with a narrow tip made to slice and thrust. The guard of the blade was ornate, with much of the same banding that was on the box. The handle was wrapped in black leather, and the pommel looked to be bronze shaped into the form of a snarling beast of some sort, maybe a dragon.
With one hand, Vera picked up the blade and began to feel the weight. She let her wrist sag with it, and then ferried it away into her waistband and hooking it on her belt by the guard where the metal pressed against her thigh. “Very well … where shall we meet, mistress?” Vera asked.
S’ketta chuckled with a wheezing voice. “The village, at the inn. Take your time, patience my sweet thing.” Her tongue narrowed her word into a dagger. “Patience.”
Vera’s hand rubbed along the door latch, raising it and pushing it outward. The roar of a wind suppressed flooded the cavern and knocked her clothing about as she stepped out into the torrential downpour of a raging storm. The door had whipped outward, pushed back against the wind and barely contained by the grip of her arm. Vera stepped out, and with both hands she strangled the door shut without so much as a whimper. The cold wetness that enveloped her didn’t bother her much, but far from the muddy trail she could see a familiar site. It was the ranch she spent her early years in. It seemed fitting that she would put this past behind her in such a way. Vera knew she was so much more now.
Her hair was like the sagging mane of a horse by the time she reached the porch. It hung part-ways over her face and gave her a sullen look. She ascended the steps one by one, a creak underneath her feet as she made her way to the door. A hefty wooden knocker like the one she remembered hung there like a gargoyle staring at her. She reached up and took it in her hands, and then began to announce her arrival.
Silence followed, or rather the sound of the wind and rain drummed in unison as Vera waited in anticipation. After a few trills, she was prepared to knock again but as she reached for it the door opened. A wasting thing shorter than she was had opened the door, and by the look of his hair and unkempt beard she could tell that this man could only be one person - her father. His eyes gazed at her, and he growled. “Whatt’re ye want in this storm, girl?”
Vera put on a show for him. She didn’t feel anything, but she knew she had to seduce him into falling into her web so she could pluck his strings. For that, she began to pull on the one thread she had, her relationship to one. “Father…” Vera paused, intentionally for dramatic effect. “I … I’m home.” The man gasped, shaking and shuddering. He seemed to balloon with joy and shock. “V-vera!? Is that you, my darling, my angel!? Come on in out of the rain!” The door opened wider for her, and Vera silently accepted the invitation.
“Where have you been - pardon my manners! I’ll set some tea to boil. There are rags in the living space to dry yourself with, you can make yourself comfortable in the arm chair.” Vera looked at him as he turned to move to the kitchen, a slight grin spreading across her lips accompanied by a wrinkle of her cheeks that only the observant would see. “Thank you.”
Vera gazed about the house as her father went into the kitchen. “I’m so glad you’re back home! In truth - I, I thought you were dead. But you’re back now!” His voice had a rasping whistle to it, he could barely contain his excitement. Between every ecstatic yell, she could hear the same elements of wind and water moving against and within the house, more droplets from the storm creeping into the home like hungry mice.
Patience. I do this for you, Sintra. Vera breathed deeply to keep her composure as she sat down within the living space, the smoldering ashes of a fire gone cold in front of her. The chair was warm, and she deduced that he must have been asleep at the hearth before she had arrived. Her father entered the room and sat across from her in a smaller chair, the guest chair. “Am I dreaming? As I live and breathe, you’ve grown so fine my lass. Tell me, where have you been?”
He wanted to know, he wanted her story. As he should, she’d disappeared without a trace so many years ago. A plan drifted out of the haze of her mind. “I am very tired, and there is a lot to say … may we speak tomorrow morning, father?” She spoke the word ‘father’ as if it were laced with sweet venom, almost with a slight shuddering squeak.
“Oh, certainly. Certainly! I shan’t pry too much, should I? In time, we’ find time to share such matters. Your room is as it has always been. The bed might be a little small, you’re so tall now…” Vera stood as her father watched. She smiled and cocked her head at him with narrowed eyes from behind her wet hair. She picked up a rag from next to the fireplace, the warmth gracing her fingers as she went over to the stairway and ascended into her past.
Vera gazed into her dark room. It was just as she remembered it, from when she was young. She wasn’t one to get sentimental though, she had important business to take care of. Vera sat upon her bed, recounting the lie she told. She wasn’t tired at all, she was thrilled! Still, she needed to be patient. She knew the man would sleep soon. Her hands ran across the smooth fabric of her beds and sheets, kept clean from a seven year habit spurned by the toils of an obsessed old man. He should have forgotten me.
The Hatchling, as she was called by her mistress, brought her feet up to lay down upon the bed. She gazed up at the dark ceiling, her eyes adjusting to the darkness as the sounds of the storm weighed upon her consciousness. Bits passed, they turned into breaks. The now warm blade nestled against her thigh called to her, telling her to break free lest a trial claim her time. Obeying the call, she sat up and walked quietly to the door. Her hand turned the knob, opening it with the quietest creak she could imagine.
The faint sound of snoring could be heard - her father was asleep on the armchair downstairs. It was time to put the past behind her and give herself to the service of Sintra and Labrae! Stalking through the hall, Vera stepped down the stairs with calculated slowness. Every step was laden with her desire, and she knew what she wanted. This man was nothing to her! Her heart raced when she reached the bottom of the stairs, and she walked quietly to the chair which faced away from her. The greying hair of her father was illuminated by the warm dance of the flames from the hearth. Her hand brought up the blade from within her garments and she caught the glint of it from the corner of her eye. She kept her eyes on the prize, like a stalking panther after prey.
Suddenly, his head began to turn. “V-vera. Don’t go!” he moaned tiredly. She stepped off to the opposite side, concealing her blade behind her so he couldn’t see it. She stood behind him, leaning over him and whispering into his ear as she wrapped her free arm around him. “I am not the one who shall leave this place,” she mused. Her heart raced, her mind clouded with fear, but still she persisted and retreated from his side.
Her father thought about her words, a puzzled expression on his face. “What do you mean by that?”
Vera grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked his head back, the blade hovering to her side as she brought it up. Her father yelped as she ran the sharp edge across his neck, pushing it into the flesh. It was surprisingly tough, but she was exhilarated by the feeling, the power that coursed through her veins. The man gagged, choking on blood with a muffled cry. Vera glared fiercely at her work, baring her teeth. The iron scent of blood filled her nostrils like perfume, wafting from the red warmth pooling upon his chest.
When she was finished with the deed, she brought the blade up and tasted the blood with her tongue. She stifled a gag as the taste filled her mouth, but instead chuckled and spat on the floor, raking her tongue between her teeth. Perhaps this was an acquired taste? She wiped the blade on his shoulder, cleaning it of blood before shoving the limp corpse forward and onto the floor by the head. Mmm … I suppose it’s time to see S’ketta again.
A sharp and dragging, grating word carried her name, the sound of it rushing over her from above, causing the father-slayer to glance at the ceiling. Her legs grew weak when her mind filled in disbelief at what she was seeing. Spider legs were splayed out, taking up the entire surface of the ceiling and arcing forward into a large black blob dimmed by shadows. It was a massive spider. Vera dropped to her knees, again stifling the fear in her mind that battered at her and told her to run. She bowed her head to the creature she had pledged her life unto, whispering her own words. “Sintra, I am pleased to be your devout servant.”
“Look to me, dearest child,” Sintra hissed with a motherly tone. Vera looked up at the ceiling, and piercing red jewels for eyes glared at her from above. However, she wasn’t filled with fear at their sight, but rather awe and blissful accomplishment. A more human-looking girl descended from the darkness, her black upside-down hair enshrouding Vera as she found herself face-to-face with the immortal. The timeless creature breathed upon her, red eyes drinking up her soul as she drew nearer. Thin, clawed hands wrapped themselves around Vera’s head, embracing her as Sintra leaned in for a kiss. Vera opened her mouth, letting her jaw hang slack as Vera’s tongue poked through her teeth and dragged along Vera’s upper lip before thrusting in and dancing with her own.
The feeling of sharp fangs rubbing against her chin were lost to the feeling of Sintra claiming her entire being - mind, body, and soul. A burning warmth filled her as Sintra pulled away, radiating from the underside of her tongue. Her eyes were closed, taking in the sensations. “You are now one of my Weavers,” Sintra cooed. “You will not fail your master, will you?”
Vera opened her mouth to profess her undying devotion to the immortal, but her jaw was wrapped shut with webbing. Her entire body was. She struggled to get free, ripping at the sticky substance with her teeth to take a breath. Then, she remembered patience. As she brought air into her lungs, she remembered she still had the knife. Focusing on that, she cut open the web cocoon and emerged with a flowing blanket of sticky strands billowing around her. The door was open, leaving the home vulnerable to the elements.
Vera realized she was alone, looking up to the ceiling again and failing to see Sintra there. She was elated, and she could feel different, empowered. The underside of her tongue itched, she rubbed it along the edges of her teeth. She knew that Sintra had given her a gift now, and that she was hers. She was a Weaver now, just like S’ketta. Vera hummed to herself as she cleaned herself off, thoughtfully looking at a cobweb in the corner where a small spider sat poised in a web. She spoke softly to herself, feeling the sensations on her tongue with every word. “Sintra, I will not fail you, I will never fail you.”
Marks: Blessings from the Gods