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The Wishing Map
Chapter Eleven: …and Found (Continued)
Previously: Gina stalled for time as princess Feyrdú waited to take her life.
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Gina continued her “confession,” desperately plagiarizing, “…and each time I put on the ring, I stayed invisible for a longer and longer time…”
The pixie princess stood up on Gina’s chin, tossing back her raven mane. Her eyes narrowed. She stabbed Gina on the end of the nose, causing her to grimace with pain. “Seesquee! Heesnog! The Dragonmeer has been toying with us. This is not a confession, it is a tale—a very good tale, but a tale, no less!”
“You must speak your confession now or not at all!”
“But there’s so much to confess. I’ll tell you what: I’ll start with the little stuff, and then—”
“Heesnog, Seesquee!” Feyrdú barked as she climbed up the bridge of Gina’s nose and planted her feet on Gina’s forehead. “Shee quishtah nees quitoh, tees quitay squee meetoh!” The spiders’ spinnerets throbbed like evil cotton candy machines, dropping clumps of silk. They turned and lifted their massive stingers. The finely barbed tips gleamed with pungent yellow mucous. Gina could smell the vile poison gathering just millimeters from her eyes.
“Please, God! I don’t deserve to die. Well, maybe I do, but I don’t want to—at least not like this!” Words of earnest confession began to stream out of her: “I erased all of Mom’s favorite shows because I was ticked at her, and then I let her think Dad did it…and even though I took back the boots I stole from Fettler’s, I only did it because I was afraid I’d get caught…but I only shoplifted in the first place because I wanted Treece Vondermueller to think I was cool, which is totally pathetic…and I looked away when those homeless kids were outside Crullers because I was afraid I’d have to give them my ice cream money if they saw me looking, which is completely disgusting…”
Her tears blurred the image of the two giant stingers. “If I have to die, please let Zack know I’m sorry, and let Momandad know I love them, and let…” She thought she heard Puff’s song of despair. Is it him, or am I only remembering? Her chest shook as she said the words “I’m sorry” over and over again.
Feyrdú stood like a cold porcelain figurine on Gina’s forehead. The spiders awaited her command. They had no vendetta against the human. In truth, they were intimidated by her size, but they’d loved the Lady Feyrdú for nearly as long as they’d been alive, and would not only have killed for her—they would have died for her. But her hesitation perplexed them. Their sixteen eyes rolling in confusion, they stopped a millimeter from the surface of the human’s eyes. Should they go on? Yes, go on! their conjoined thoughts agreed. It will make the Lady Feyrdú happy! Their stingers pushed forward, but encountered a strange salty liquid on the surface of the girl’s eyes. They pulled back. What was it? It frightened them.
“Go on, dear friends,” said Feyrdú. “Finish what you have started.”
Gina froze as the stingers pushed past her saline defense and pierced the outer layer of her corneas, the windows of her eyes. The thick yellow poison spread like an oil slick on the surface of two ponds. Gina’s eyelids instinctively tried to slam shut, but Seesquee and Heesnog had propped them open with their barbed hind legs. Hesitant because of the mysterious liquid, the spiders moved very slowly, but within a minute had begun to push against the tough second layer of the human’s corneas.
It was then that Gina’s senses returned. The realization that poison-filled needles were being pushed into her eyes, coupled with the sudden coming online of thousands of nerve endings, caused Gina’s body to thrash violently against its spider-silk bindings. Seesquee and Heesnog dug into her cheeks and Feyrdú rode wide-legged on her forehead. “Your death will be sung by a thousand troubadours! Now curse me, my lady. It is your right and your duty!”
“I don’t…want to…cur…” was all Gina could say before her lungs erupted in a chorus of screams involving every atom of her body. Cave stars scattered, bats skittered, every creature within half a mile huddled in terror, wondering what type of beast could make such a sound.
One creature knew exactly what type of beast could make such a sound, a creature who’d forgotten which cave it was until this very moment. “Cease, foul beasts!” he commanded as he stepped into the entrance.
Heesnog and Seesquee froze. It was Lord Jenblevó, the one Lady Feyrdú loved. They turned and rose up on Gina’s cheeks, saluting him with their forelegs.
The moment they retracted their stingers, Gina passed out.
As Jenblevó’s mount raced across the cave and up the girl’s leg, the spiders shrank back in fear. The pixie prince was clutching a razor sharp quill. “Yield or perish!” he commanded as he leaped from the squirrel’s back onto Gina’s chest. Heesnog and Seesquee quickly turned over, presenting their shining hourglass bellies in submission. Jenblevó stepped forward, holding his lance over his head.
“No!” Feyrdú shouted. She brushed back her cape and straightened her mouseskin breeches. The twin torches blazed in her eyes.
She looks even more like a knight than the human girl! Jenblevó marveled. Like a beautiful woman-knight!
For the first time in memory he was speechless.
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Thoughts: It takes extreme circumstances to make us admit our failings and view ourselves without self defense. But assuming we survive, we are usually the better for it.
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