"The River."

That storm long since dreaded had arrived, its influences at first eluding the detection of most. Then again, that alien call, not since experienced since the Eldritch Edifice, was not a sensation so readily forgotten. Despite the flow of time, the changing seasons and histories' repetitious nature. The Svengali maintained clarity, recollecting every note of that nerve-racking dirge. She had done all she could do to safeguard her people, and while it might have yet to swell into a tempest. She understood the monsoon was imminent and would test each action she had taken. Outwardly, the monarch had to appear resolute while hanging within her web; however, internally, she trembled.

 With the hairs on her neck standing upright, Valerna queried where it would strike first? Some might classify fear as frailty; these men were idiots. They were purposefully neglecting to take into account the necessity of what can be a crippling emotion. Wisdom was derived not from flinging it aside but sculpting that sentiment into a uniquely beneficial instrument. Regardless, the guillotine that was aloft still substantiated itself as quite the menace. While she might have known of that impending peril, this didn't precisely imply she could completely compartmentalize such jeopardy. Which, admittedly, did confer much exasperation. You see, there was no known solvent to ameliorate the vexation afflicted by before-mentioned ignorance.

As much as it grieved her to acknowledge it, vigilance and prudence were the only two agents available at the moment. The scrambling of her troops as if deranged could only disperse seeds of division in what was otherwise purportedly stable. Concordantly, her first plan was quite naturally perfect; it was faultless and sublime. A mastery rivaled only by its monumental collapse. The certainty of its conclusion is self-evident due to the blemish latent in every soul. Thus, she promptly redesigned it based on history to exhibit the diverging grotesqueries of our essence more concretely. However, once again, she was discouraged by negligence. Valerna had since come to recognize that the resolution eluded her because it demanded a lesser viewpoint or conceivably a mind far less hampered by the hunger for logical perfection. Thus, the solution was floundered upon by chance. That choice was equally a remedy and a scourge, paradoxical, yet irrefutable.

 That all life was the sum of a remnant of a neurotic equation. Integral to the subliminal programming of the dreamer. We are simply the eventuality of an irregularity. Notwithstanding outside forces' sincerest applications, they've been powerless to eradicate what is contrarily analytical precision. While it preponderates as a nuisance to circumvent it sedulously, it is not accidental, thus not exceeding a control measure. That has guided them, inexorably, here, to her domain. This brought Valerna to a moment of truth, wherein the primary defect is ultimately expressed, and the aberration is unveiled as both beginning and end. As she sufficiently theorized, the dilemma is choice. Long since shedding the puerile notions of Hope, it is the quintessential sentient delusion, concurrently the reservoir of one's greatest strength and one's most prominent vulnerability.

Both sides were at war; make no mistake. And the battlefield, while it may be earthly. Will transpire on one not so traditional to the dull-minded, a conflict of attrition to fragment their spirits. Butcher our world not just by the sword. But by peeling us of our Hope and our eagerness to rationalize. The war of the body and the mind, two fronts, where only one will reign triumphant. Or so she conjectured..

Immortality, the pursuit of many fools, was anything but blissful. The rancid nature of perpetual permanence, scarcely contemplated, yet this desolation was something Valerna knew all too well. The odyssey that is her life, by design, was a string of highs and lows—culminating in that inevitable precipice, a summit where the terminal plunge took place. Death, for all of its negativity, was a necessary function. No matter how strong, a woman was not engineered to bury her children—the natural harmony of our world, decreeing that a parent should be the one to wilt first.  The despondency and wretchedness of watching your offspring die is a trial few know and one none should ever taste.  Entropy, and its baleful cinch, had long since been the bane tormenting her cognizance.

Notwithstanding all her power, those vast lists of achievements and worldly attainments were powerless to abate her failure. Enfeeblement, seldom an emotion one reveled within, but one all were doomed to welter in. What advantage was the mind, what significance did prowess hold, if those you held dear inescapably turned to ash within your hands? The spider had enacted many changes and rose above an innumerable amount of obstacles, yet she could never cross this one river. Glee, while fleeting, like a wine, did much to mollify her depression. Nevertheless, once the smile had faded, she'd inevitably come face to face with that dreary reality. Despite her sincerest efforts, this weaver of webs was preordained to sulk alone within that filigree. 

Valerna was faced with that unsetting revelation; her shrewd mind had to cultivate a motivation to keep such misery away. Alcohol worked for a time before eventually deteriorating her mental state. While providing an "out of body" experience, drugs couldn't fill those chasms ripping the heart asunder.  But, the jungle and its people, bettering their existences, contributed genuine satisfaction. Many might wonder, why? Why keep trekking along? The answer was anything but inane. The choice wasn't pursued because it was comfortable, no, instead because it was arduous. And, if she should be doomed to endure this endless journey alone, then she might as well take this negative and spin it into a positive for those destitute souls. 

While most gained pleasure in violence, staring into the pages, reading about tragedies and woes afflicted on others from a safe distance as a method of being amused. Valerna hankered for something entirely contrary; wanting to apprehend rapture through that of her people vicariously is what spurred her onward. Civilization, since its formulation, was constructed around a singular principle. That a collective, whenever working as one, was more significant than the sum of the individual. And Valerna was just that, a single speck, and though she might be more prominent, a grain of sand is barely deserving of consideration. So by architecting a fine tapestry, tugging the diverse populace inward, she ascertained that intangible yet powerful concept known as purpose. For it is a purpose that guides us, purpose that differentiates us; without it, we are cast adrift within the river. Unable to resist the current, only to be battered against the rocks. 

This introspection, while seemingly profound to some, was blatantly apparent to the matron. And so, she wrote a song, a melody so that she never forgets and risks once more being pulled by that undertow.

 "Nature, nurture, heaven, and home

Sum of all, and by them, driven

To conquer every mountain shown

But I've never crossed the river

Braved the forests, braved the stone

Braved the sandstorm and the fire

Braved and beat them on my own

Yet I'm helpless by the river

 

Angel, angel, what have I done?

I've faced the quakes, the wind, the fire

I've conquered country, crown, and throne

Why can't I cross this river?

 

Pay no mind to the battles you've won

It'll take a lot more than rage and muscle

Open your heart and hands, my son

Or you'll never make it over the river

 

It'll take a lot more than words and guns

A whole lot more than riches and muscle

The hands of the many must join as one

And together we'll cross the river

 

It'll take a lot more than words and guns

A whole lot more than riches and muscle

The hands of the many must join as one

And together we'll cross the river

 

Nature, nurture, heaven, and home

It'll take a lot more than words and guns

Sum of all, and by them, driven

A whole lot more than riches and muscle

To conquer every mountain shown

The hands of the many must join as one

And together we'll cross the river

 

Braved the forests, braved the stone

It'll take a lot more than words and guns

Braved the icy winds and fire

A whole lot more than riches and muscle

Braved and beat them on my own

The hands of the many must join as one

And together we'll cross the river

 

And together we'll cross the river

 

And together we'll cross the river

Nature, nurture, heaven, and home

And together we'll cross the river

And together we'll cross the river

Nature, nurture, heaven, and home

And together we'll cross the river

And together we'll cross the river"

 
 
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"Memoria."

Another year, and while most reveled in this ritual, Valerna relived the horrors each time. Those majestic retellings were a way of experiencing a myth; nonetheless, it was anything but some fabrication in their Matron's eyes. That smell, the taste of consumed gore, those strands of flesh caked onto her vessel; they never went away. Once more, the brood mother had to forsake her happiness to ensure the sake of appearances and the gaiety of her people. Those hazel eyes peered across the balcony, taking in the numerous flamboyant decorations strewn about the exterior of those boney pyramids. This was a mirthful time, where the Dynasty came as one and insultingly deprecated past sacrifices to stoke their contemporary motivations.

 

The cacophony of their geity, ricocheting against those fortified structures if nothing else, this lull before the hurricane might give them something to fight for once the aversions appear. Those streets of bleached bones were comprised of marrow and other such remnants. They were reflecting the radiance from artificial lighting, those gems broadcasting various celebratory hues. The way they twinkled, while professedly trivial to some, was a modern marvel. The Svengali averted her gaze, gawking toward the atmosphere, as she took in the first of a few flickering stars. The firmament, how it seldom changed, unlike this bitter earth they called home. Nations rise and fall, royal lines disintegrate, yet those jewels of the heavens appeared eternally ensnared within the sky. 1,600 years of languishing, this world, her cage, she was required to tarry as if penitence had been demanded of her. Ironic, those distant sojourners of eventide, while they've never met, it appeared they had much in common.

 

The Arachnoid, letting out a tender exhalation as she crept back within her lair. Such rumination wouldn't linger, the spirit yanked from dawdling, as that aroma of baked goods and barbecued meats whisked within the breeze. As the nights before, the temperature was fair, a cold front swept bringing with it a tempest. A reminder that no matter how tumultuous life might present itself, hope and serenity may be a daybreak away. Her bedroom, embellished in ossein and webbings, unlike their southern neighbors, Valerna didn't see much value in gold. Still, given their recent interactions, she felt it prudent to dress accordingly to keep the appearance. That voluptuous body, being denuded, as she slipped on a ruby dress over her chitin. The visible canvas was devoid of blemishes, as those arachnoid ligaments intuitively ironed out and secured her clothing.

 

 Her hair, combed back, appearing wet as she peered into a polished silver mirror. That body in her eyes is disfigured—the taint from that distant memory whittling away any value from her feminity—those kempt brows unfurled while those veneered talons stroked against her bosom before resting on the heart. No amount of makeup could remedy her internalized disgust; no volume of perfume could elevate that sorrowful mood. Beyond these fortified walls, many fancied her as above them when, in actuality, Valerna was just as vulnerable, if not more so. The weight on her shoulders, soul-crushing, made all the more intolerable due to how lonely it was on top. Rising to her feet, she had one final glance athwart the room, querying how many of her fallen brethren remains were still fused with this bedchamber? And, if they could look upon her worldly attainments, what would they think?

 

The guards outside were on alert, their spiderlings remained close to their side as the streets were crowded. Many performers would be observed from throat vocalists, musicians, seers, and acrobats throughout those streets. Many giants were nude, covered in paint made from blood, dancing throughout the city around fires with a wooden effigy suspended over the pyres. Exquisite jewelry of bone and stones were being peddled, along with skin-backed books and other such souvenirs. Pits housing many creatures were tucked throughout, where nonnatives can come and see the outlandish animals of this jungle. If none of this titillated a wanderer's inclination, there was always the booze and the boxing arenas. The festivities were routine to the residents, and few, if any, still regarded such whimsical retellings as anything but fiction.

 

 Sneaking off, the Queen marched to the river, gawking into its near still waters at the reflection of the pale moonlight. Here, she always managed to find lucidity within her meditations. The tone of the current ordinarily pacified her; regrettably, tonight, its ambiance seemed absent. Why did she frequent such a mundane spot just outside of those towering trees? Because this was the spot where she died and was reborn. And that whirlpool, which motivated the current, persevered as a monument of her wickedness. Thankfully, she had time to deliberate and compose herself before showing face and addressing those she represented. Fireworks were erupting in the heavens as their rose glare juxtaposed faultlessly with the moon's spectral image on the waters. Poetic, all this power, and yet, she still couldn't cross this river...

 

War was unseemly. The dawning turmoil would persist within the pages of histories as a dark period. On one side, the jungle will be annotated as ushers of order; on the other, her people will be labeled as foreign interlopers and harbingers of death. The truth lingered within the spine, a medium the common scholar will fail to take note of or bother to espouse. Word had been dispatched as the denizens of the jungle once more were rallied. Fathers left their families, uncertain if they'd ever see them again. Brothers abandoned brothers in the fields while lovers were ripped from one another's embrace. 

Their enemy wasn't the uncivilized sands; rather a blight far more ancient eroding at the foundations of reality just outside of their purview. These tales of monsters, forerunners of the end times, may seem fantastical. Nonetheless, the attack on Skeletal highway stood as a testament verifying their unsettling existence. The Jorgenskull name has persisted in high regard for nearly three centuries would be called into question. A byproduct that had not eluded Valerna's scope, nor would it deter what needed to be done. If left alone, the desert would continue to war and bicker. Each day of strife only brought that encroaching otherworldly force closer to their plane.

Any skepticism that might linger would soon be resolved, for the matriarch understood their emergence onto the fray was inevitable. The theater of ambivalence that had long since marred the wasteland's history could only labor as bait. And their interference will rouse them from torpidity, albeit temporarily.  The arachnid was anticipating this would transpire so that their presence might convey the necessity of unity. The defilement are detestable creatures that cared little for race or creed. In their voracious eyes, all life, regardless of its heritage, persisted as food to stoke their numbers and proliferate their necrosis. 


Her navy had docked, its ramps lowered so troops may board.  Her plan was simple, a three-prong attack to overrun the opposition on all sides. Florentina would take the ships to Sandslout and commandeer authority over their breadbasket. This, in turn, could only apply pressure to the north. While General Watari would head to Obsidian Canyon, converse with his mother. And attempt to coerce the Khan to attack their southern flank. Meanwhile, Valerna would lead her troops to engage from the east raiding and conquering the settlements between them and Nirvana. Her spiderlings making up a good portion of her troops, allowing them to strike quickly and with little impediment from the terrain.

There, abiding within her tent she deliberated the prudence in this venture. Those amber eyes were scouring the map as she navigated various miniatures across it. Her mind assessing a myriad of outcomes. The troglodytes of the south were divided, weakened, and most ruinous of all were blind toward the imminent peril and strategies.  There the spider waited, having sent word to meet with her commanders before they commenced the attack. The timing was everything in war. If one facet of this tactic advanced too prematurely, it might alert the savages of the other's approach. And while they may be able to subdue them regardless, Valerna's aim was to limit the death as much as possible.


Unlike the desert and its despots, she cared for her people and saw herself as both a custodian and a servant to their continued prosperity. Of course, this realization brought with it much trepidation. After all, no ruler, no matter their counsel or experience was immune to lapses in judgments. Her banners would flap in the wind, as the various species poured into the outer rim. The officers dividing them into sections and units, recounting the purpose behind their gatherings and using the defilement's brazen aggression as a motivator and reminder of what they were fighting for. Wordlessly, the arachnid sight, weaving her web as that mind wandered into thought. Was she ready? Had she done enough during this perpetual odyssey to prepare the world?  And more importantly, would it matter?

What impeccable timing, the Diva had just finished subjugating the swamp and unifying her faction as word had reached her ears. Her mother had finally grown tired of the barbarians to the south. A collective of spineless louts who flouted their superiority. Ironic, given their history was sullied in blood and betrayal. Nevertheless, the possibility of establishing her usefulness and newly endowed power was far too alluring to dismiss. The Turziens and Toadlins, on the surface them appeared simple or weak, but under her guidance, they would rise to the forefront.  Her children, those bloodsuckers to most might appear monstrous. Yet, their importance was paramount to the ensuing turbulence.

The inquisitor had marshaled her forces, propagating forth her designs as the reptilians and amphibians purled forth a warcry. They mobilized their forces, their implements of war, and turtle mounts and were off to trek across the virulent quagmire. Ultimately, they slipped into the labyrinth of trees, marching across its shade while the wildlife of this primordial world kept their distance. Never before in recorded history had that bog been unified. A task while arduous might yet be enough to kindle Florentina's desired ascension. Eventually, they met up with the Slakrkreen as their descended earthward from their treetop metropolis. Initially, they were weary until the Princess had dispersed such lowly concerns.

Inadvertently, rather than march as separate forces. The two armies congregated under a single flock only to then travel deeper into the jungle. The horns of their armies bellowing forth a decree, just as the monk stepped from the treeline. Her muscular physique was adorned in that signature spider webbing and tortoise-shelled armor. A smile, one of repletion rested on that face as emerald eyes looked back upon her wife Nysoesa. Who, as usual, kept her fed while roosting on that royal caboose. She had just birthed another clutch, who was wiggling across the muddied earth or were adhered to the shells of those lumbering turtles. It had been some time since she had last conversed with her mother, Florentina was curious if she'd be greeted with pride, or revulsion for her defiance.

"My love, we have arrived. It is time we show this world our splendor and carve our name into the annals of history. Fret not, in the end I will ensure your safety and the advancement of our family no matter the cost."

Those words were laced with confidence, as that wicked strut did little to volatilize their vigor. Her toed armored feet leaving their mark, while the blood-thirsty soldiers who basked in her glory were close behind. Her loyal subjects waited as one, their commanders lording over their lesser brethren as they awaited word for their mistress. In the meantime, Florentina had much to do. The diva was never one to appear abashed during trying times would carry the holder of her leash toward the tent. The hand rested against the flap as she paused momentarily to give the leech one last endearing stare. 

"It is important you show your dominion over me. It is the Jorgenskull way." 

Their customs were alien, but, regardless of their peculiarity, such actions were to be expected. The barrier was whisked to the side, as the giant stepped into the war tent, smiling, as she observed her mother leaning over a map.

"Mother, I have returned. I am sorry for my insubordination However if it's a consolation I have collected the Turziens and Toadlins under my banner. And, we are here to demonstrate our ferocity and merit. But, I suppose I should be honest my queen. This darling behind me is my wife, Nysoesa. We met during my mission into the swamp. We are now wed, and after the war, I wish to inaugurate our union under the old ways. If you doubt her worth as a mate, I will gladly fight any champion to prove it! With all that out of the way, I will wait on the others to give my thoughts on whatever strategy you've managed to cook up."

Watari on the other hand peered across the Outer Rim observing as war vessels pulled into port and distant armies emerged from the growth to join their gathering. His peach eyes strayed to that central tent, knowing the time was upon him to convene and hearken to the counsel of their matriarch. Once Florentina had slipped through, Watari would follow close behind. Curiously he'd stare at the leech with bewilderment. Who was she? Why did she merit a position within this council?

Without any delay, the fox moved across the table and stood by the queen. The tip of his sword pushing into the earth as the honorable commander bent the knee from reverence. Here, he'd remain. Not making a sound as his ears flicked in response to the princess's words. So, she was wed? And that thing was her wife? How did the monk unite the turziens and toadlins? These questions were important, for every tool needed to be accounted for before they set sail or marched to war. In secret Watari was impressed. They always had a healthy combative relationship. One he hoped they could continue once the fog of conflict dispersed.

Truly, it seemed like there could be no better timing than when they had received word that Valerna would be gathering a war effort for the subjection of the sands beyond the jungle’s barrier. The Bloodsucker delighted in the knowledge that their command would soon be known far and wide, as their amassed army traveled across that primordial jungle. Nysoesa held close atop that perfect caboose, enjoying this final ride as they closed the gap towards the epicenter of the gathering forces. Every race of the jungle was here, each of their unique characteristics united under this brave effort. She didn’t recognize many of them, and felt much like a trespasser here than ever before. 

Truthfully, the otherworldly creature’s heart was astir, the desert was no place for a water-born leech, and the threat of heat-exposure set the most internalized of the predator’s instincts to shudder. Those Leechlings traveling with them.. how many would survive? While the prospect of battle and bloodshed did incite excitement, an undertaking of this scale and in such acrid of biomes was well beyond any of Nyso’s experience, making her worry over the safety of her family. Silvery optics peered into the confident emeralds of Flora’s eyes as she turned to look at her, and some of those nerves were silenced for the moment. No matter the situation, Florentina had a way of making the devourer feel better, causing her to smile back lovingly towards her Brood Bitch. “I look forward to nothing more, especially if it is by your side.” she replied, and regarded her golden goddess warmly as she was reminded of the Giant’s customs, causing the noodle-head to nod. 

This would be the first time that she would be meeting this matriarch, the one responsible for the life she cherished so dearly, and now a different set of nerves resided across the parasite’s shoulders, but one she bore in acute secrecy.

As they brushed past that flap and into the tent’s interior, there was no indication of worry as Florentina addressed the arachnid giantess regarding a map. Shifting atop that perch, that large rear leech wriggled between the blonde’s legs, giving her an approving squeeze, while she tenderly dismounted, her hand reached forward, grasping about that leash, to which under her guiding hand they approached closer towards the war-table. 

Nysoesa’s head lowered in a respectful bow “It is an honor to meet you, Queen Valerna Jorgenskull. I have...” she trailed off, as a lithe little gorgon appeared from behind the imposing physique of the queen. The two made eye-contact, and an electric shock resonated the space between them. The Hirundea blinked, and the first to recover, she cleared her throat, a tight but otherwise cordial smirk curling the side of her face

 

“Pardon me, I didn’t expect to see you have a Gorgon with you.” the apex predator tilted her head, “What a rare find.” she emphasised, metallic eyes staring intensely at those twisting snakes and characteristic scale patterns. It had been years since she’d seen one alive. Nysoesa felt like she was gazing at a relic from the past, reminded of reptilian blood, the history of screams, and the total desolation of their species. The hissing serpents and utter venom boiling within those serpentine eyes made the leech tense, preparing for conflict.

The war for the desert was upon them, the sand apes had persisted in their own turbulence, turning each other like savages and dissolving into strife. Khavati understood that the time for deliberation had reached its end. Valerna was nothing if not thorough, she had been dutifully weighing their options and planning for when this moment would reach them. The threat of that greater enemy and the vulnerability of the desert folk necessitated a unified front. 

The price of war was heavy debt to pay, on that weighed, particularly across her wife’s shoulders, as well as her own. Did the ends justify the means?  The Gorgon people had been a part of one very long  and drawn out wartime back on her previous home planet, lasting all through her late adolescence, up until the moment she was abruptly whisked away to this foreign jungle . Of course the nature of that struggle contrasted much to the one that they were facing now, but the principles of pain were always the same. Above all, her heart went out to those families currently being torn apart, never to know if they will see eachother again. These troops' lives rested entirely dependent on the guidance of their commanders, and queens.

 With that thought, Khavati remained stoically silent as her wife assessed the war-table, allowing her the time to fully drink in the tactics and scope as her fingers working dutifully along the muscles of  Valerna’s back. stroking those bony spider limbs that held her as well as the junctions where flesh met bone, occasionally she would press kisses to her skin if  Val made any sort of frustrated noise or she noticed the tenseness rising to that flawless physique.

Upon the sounds of that tent fluttering open, the viper made no haste to greet their company, the pits of the ophidian’s locs, sensing without truly needing to see that they stood at the entrance. Someone rounded to stand beside Valerna, and Khavati turned her head, that wreath of snakes tasting the air and recognizing Watari’s knelt form. She smiled slightly, glad to see a familiar face, while the voice of Florentina made itself known. 

So this was one of Valerna’s children she had heard about, she had been away in the swamps for quite some time, and clearly had been busy while away from the queen’s eye. Silently, Khavati detangled herself from those arachnoid ligaments, hoping to get a better look at her step-daughter and her supposed spouse. There, leading the princess by a leash, the sight of that sickeningly familiar entity caused the gorgon to falter, her breath hitching in her throat, her blood chilled as she gazed at the disgusting creature before her in shock. The serpents nesting about the woman’s head raised into agitated positions immediately, hissing and twisting about in distress, sensing their mistress’s emotions. They glared heatedly towards it, as the Hirundea smirked. 

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” she spit, recognizing that pointed emphasis, her hands clenched into fists on either side to hide the trembling shock that still persisted within them.

 

“I never thought I’d see one of your kind here.” she shook her head, raising her chin as she carefully regarded the princess “I am Queen Valerna’s wife, my name is Khavati Jorgenskull. Florentina, while I am glad we can finally meet, I am horrified  that wretched skin-sucker has sunk  its teeth in you. IT will only use you and hurt you, they can’t be trusted.” she then stared acidically at the bloodsucker.


“It is in their species’ nature to desecrate everything they touch.” she spoke in a deadly tenseness, glaring at the grotesque creature in front of her. Khavati never expected to run into such an enemy from her past, The Hirundea had been a relentless lot, pushing for a total takeover of the swamps, jungles, and mountains of their homeworld. Her people were still fighting them valiantly, and Khavati wished for her family and people’s victory frequently. In dreams, the memories of her last moments with them still regularly plagued the reptilian’s mind, though she kept this torment quiet, not to let it affect her or bother Valerna with pointless repetition.

Like a good pup, the spawn of Matsumota wasted no time kneeling before his queen. Notwithstanding his blighted lineage, the spider had found his devotion to be commendable. Those auburn eyes squandered little time moving toward that of her daughter and her alleged lover. Guardedly, the arachnid observed the parasite closely. Khavati, who knew her place placating her wife bounced off her perch only to gaze at this alien. While they wrangled like children Valerna would move toward a deer's carcass, Calmly, she'd reach for a skeletal knife and begin skinning the animal. The sound of the fur being ripped and peeled up the corpse resonated within the tent.

What children, their hatred seething over the brim. Did they presume now was the time to put on such brutish antics? Had they not assembled to put an end to division? Why then would Khavati or this Nysoesa engage in such frivolous bouts of dominance? Pathetic, Valerna was far too old and sensible to give a damn about the locking of such miniature horns. Her hands were covered in the blood of the game as she grunted, revealing the muscle and the organs before letting out a rustle. That dagger was slammed into the wooden table as her spider feelers clicked against one another. That commotion was a sign that they best desist their barking.

"While you two behave like children and sow seeds of instability amongst my house, our enemy continues to lure forth aversions exceeding your understanding. What did you both seek to gain from this? Have we not congregated to usher in unity? How can I rule my people if I can't keep those within my name under control." Valerna raised her hand, slamming the fist onto the table so that it shattered.  Furiously, she'd crouch and pick up the dead fawn, launching it between the two housewives.

"You want to be a beast? Eat like the vermin you are. I couldn't care less about your history. It matters little. The enemy we face doesn't give a damn where you're from, your race, creed, or ideology. You're all food. Out there you might have been some big predator, but here, in this tent, you are just a pathetic doe. Prey I could kill with no effort. You are Jorgenskull, are you not? Now, kindly close your mouths and let the adults speak. Or else, I will crush you under my heel and any who stand in my way."

Valerna remained calm that entire time, her voice, expression, and body language awarded no notion of anger, just disappointment. Cooly she'd strut back to the table giving the two ladies one last glower.

"Florentina, congratulations on your marriage. I am glad to see at least there is one Jorgenskull still left in this tent." She added indifferently before using her bloodied fingers to draw lines across the map.

"General Watari, rise. It is time I go over my plan." She'd pause giving the kitsune enough time to situate himself.

"I will march south and secure the northeastern territory. I will destroy Ashtown, the college, and Crystal town. Once they have been pulverized, my forces and children will march to Nirvana and commence the siege. While this happens, Princess Florentina will take her new toys by boat across the northern shore. You are to secure Fungi forest, Sandslout, and then commence bombarding the emerald city. Whatever forces you can spare between the naval assault and securing the breadbasket will move south and lay siege to the other side of Nirvana. General Watari, you, Bersia, and the coalition will sail on the opposite side and head toward Obsidian canyon. You are to rally your mother to accompany our cause and then join us at the siege laying devastation to any resistance or settlements along the way. A three-prong attack. Our enemy is blind, wounded, and bickering. We will take advantage of this dissension to split the spine and smother the heart with its very fat. If Samara refuses to yield at this point. You need only watch as my secret weapon rips and tears through their people.  With any luck, we can wrap this whole ordeal up in a month. Make no mistake, this isn't a war, this is a massacre."

Valerna added as she repositioned the miniatures across the surface while she spoke. Those brown eyes looked at each of the occupants before focusing on the leech and her ophidian lover. 

"Khavati, it is time you learn the duties and burdens of a queen. If you are to be anything but my plaything and blood thrall, you must act the part. I can't afford to be seen by a paltry and deficient spouse. Nysoesa, you hold my daughter's leash. She is smitten and happy, and so am I. However, if you attempt disloyalty you will find out how productive I am. This here is nothing, it's child's play. Imagine what I can create and conjure forth when I actually try? Though, I think we will get along fabulously. From one bloodsucker to another. You may have your babes, but, I too have birthed legions. Good news, you needn't wait long to prove my lover wrong. You will head out with Florentina. This isn't a request, this is an order. Am I clear? Do any of you have concerns or seek to challenge my wisdom and rule?"

Khavati stiffened as the sound of that knife hit the surface of the table, while Nysoesa's silver eyes narrowed, bristling, the leeches attached to her crown gnashing their fangs as silently she regarded this supposed queen and those hostile words. As Valerna spoke, her powerful voice dispelled the charging frictions rising within the room. Both otherworldly beings flinched as the fawn was thrust in the space between them. The Gorgon’s blood chilled, immediately recognizing her critical error in this theatre. This wasn’t the time for her personal reservations towards the fiend in their midst, regardless of how much the creature’s presence caused Khavati great discomfort. 

The viper sucked in a curt breath, feeling pricks of embarrassment cresting her cheeks dark causing her to lower her head as she redirected her attention back towards her wife. “My apologies..” she murmured, pointedly keeping her gaze from straying to the Leech or those disappointed eyes, watching Valerna’s hands as she traced crimson across the map. The Hirundea hummed, relaxing from her defensive stance, glad not to regard those acidic words with an actual reply and nodding at the Queen as they continued onto more important matters.

A three-pronged attack, a massacre of a grand scale. This was their plan, their strategy to bring their neighbouring buffoons to their knees truly and utterly.  No longer was it time for emotional inhibitions or indecisiveness, they would soon be on the warpath, careening headlong into carnage and bloodshed that would forever stain those white sands red. The serpentine mistress raised her head, steeling herself for what was to come at those pointed words from the arachnid.

 

“I will not let you down.” The woman swore, determined to prove more than just by word alone that she could help Valerna shoulder the weight of such incredible responsibility, and lead the people towards victory, no matter the stakes. 

Nysoesa could hardly wait, she smiled as Val gave her both warm regards and warnings. The comparisons were not lost on the devourer, and she bowed her head in respect once the elite predator had finished addressing them “Loud and clear, Queen Valerna. I am loyal to my wife and to you, and I look forward to proving my merit in the coming siege. I have no objections” she answered calmly, glancing at the Gorgon half a second more before turning her head towards Florentina with adulation and excitement.

Their bickering took the kitsune by surprise. He hadn't expected this sort of outrage from Khavati. While she was a newcomer to the fold. The general had come to learn she was often a fashioned soul. Nysoesa, whatever she was had unnerved the gorgon. This proved infectious as guardedly the general glared at the abomination. Was it possible this creature had woven a spell on the princess? Watari had seen stranger things, although he questioned if Florentina's spirit could be so easily subdued? But, before he could add his thoughts Valerna took charge of the situation. 

Stepping back, he'd barely evade the tossed carcass. The painter stared dumbfounded at the queen uncertain why she exhibited such a severe reaction? No, it wasn't his place to judge their family matters. They were royalty and he was just a faithful commander of their army. Wordlessly he would persist moving toward the map as finally, the spider unveiled her plan. Watari wasn't surprised, he had come to discover that Valerna was wise beyond her apparent years. Although hearing his part caused his spirit to shake.

"You do know if my diplomacy fails I will be surrounded by adversaries? No, this isn't a refusal, only a warning. No matter, if I should perish, Florentina I am sure will make them pay ten times over." Watari smiled while turning his attention toward the inquisitor. "I do not know who this woman is. But, I esteem your judgment. If you vouch for her, who am I to challenge this newcomer? Nysoesa wasn't it? You have my sympathies, Florentina is a demanding person." He spoke out of jest, making light at what was previously a dismal situation. "I have absolute faith we will succeed. One way or another, we will stem the defilement my queen." Watari bowed, refusing to rise until such a time as Valerna permitted him to.

That bombastic display had effectively dispersed the tension. Valerna understood the importance of order and the jeopardy division sowed. While conceivably improper of a queen, sometimes such gruff mannerisms were essential to repel disorder. Disarray could only whittle away cohesion that, in turn, would depreciate their superior forces. Rigidly she stood, those amber eyes bounding from one occupant of the tent to the next. That web she had meticulously woven. Despite appearing strong could come undone should their lesser nature commandeer logic.

Thankfully, such an improper conclusion had been negated. The war machine fleetingly was steered away from the steep precipice. That disaster had been circumvented, though, the Machiavelli queried for how long? Watari's fear-mongering wasn't without precedent, and while unsettling, did little to sway her plans. Sequentially, whether the fox appreciated it or not, his race and familiarity with their barbarous customs presented itself as too tempting not to employ. Whether he stumbled wouldn't derail their combined efforts, only postpone and magnify the carnage. Outwardly she may have appeared devoid of internalized tussling. However, secretly she quarreled a great deal and second-guessed her judgments.

The weaver of weds had long since dispersed of the notion that such reservations were imprudent. Instead, she concluded them to be the remnants of a sane mind fearful for her people. Those soldiers who had convened due to the plucking of her threads were not resources, but the motivators steering the Verdant Dynasty. The upcoming season of strife loomed aloft for some time. A matter the arachnid wouldn't dare assume Samara was ignorant of. That crimson menace was nothing if not tenacious and resourceful, two attributes that had confidentially elicited forth some respect. The onus of reassurance fell upon Valerna to assume, supporting General Watari as he had her regime.

"I am well aware. It is a calculative risk, one with a myriad of potentialities. Nevertheless, the benefits, in my eyes, far outweigh the likely hurdles. If you should be met with failure, do whatever it takes to survive. General Watari, both you and the Collation have become indispensable pillars of our community. You may have started as an alien, but this Jungle has made us comrades. Go, prepare your troops, and no matter what awaits us, may we procure unity." She added, only to veer her attention toward Florentina who had thus far remained reserved. 

"My baby, I am glad to see you are well. Do not chafe over this trivial scuffle. Whatever history torments our wives, I am convinced that in due time they will be conquered."

Florentina smirked, grateful that her wife's little display had steered her parent's consideration away from her misgivings. The theft of the heart, while eluded today, would ultimately reemerge. A fact that will toil as a source of heated debate and the timeless tradition of butting heads. The inquisitor stepped forward, standing by the leech before giving a mighty and audible spank on Nyso's rear cheeks. That hand had scooped Nysoesa up, only to hoist her lover so that she might steal a kiss. Those emerald eyes were looking at Khavati as if to convey the message "Back off bitch." Once the inquisitor was content, she'd withdraw her public performance only to glide that split tongue across that tendriled mane.

"You are so sexy when angry. I am blessed to have you as my mate Nysoesa. Know this, for each Sand Chimp I butcher. I will mutter your name. Each minute we are apart, I will house a thousand eggs. But, first, feed your brood bitch. This diva needs your perfect gum to maintain her strength." She winked, dispersing many questions as Valerna strutted behind Khavati only to rest her armored claw on the shoulder for support.

"Thank you. I know that wasn't easy for you. Khavati, you may doubt your strength; but I see you have it in you to make a fine queen. I don't say it enough; however, I love you. We will be marching to war and that theatre has a way of transforming a person. I can only dream by the end we step forward as better women." She added, smiling, before clenching her fangs on those luscious lips.

A wink was then followed by the spinning her of piercing. Valerna groaning, as she felt the heaviness and soreness of her bosom. "Tell me, Flora, does Nysoesa know she is to mate before us to solidify this matrimony? I am amenable to accepting her under my banner. Assuming I can verify her concern for our name is without selfish wants?"

Florentina at first said nothing. The agent was a bit preoccupied sucking on her parasite's feelers. A sight, while degenerate, held a particular bonding appeal toward the two infectious partners. An audible pop followed while the diva moaned from delight only to gawk over at Watari. "Trust me, she is more than resilient enough. In fact, it is me you should be concerned for." Florentina grinned fiendishly before pivoting those feet so she faced her mother.

"I am hungry and horny. I have no issue fornicating right here on that table and map of yours? The journey should be long enough so I can deliver us another batch. Believe me, when I say this, there is nothing more elegant than my body rammed with offspring. Honestly, I wouldn't mind perpetual inflation given the rapture it brings. And, who knows? Maybe my new mother can learn a thing or two about breaking in their partner?" The atomic blonde chortled. Shortly afterward, keeping that mouth gaped as if preparing for her meal. "Leech sex is the best sex after all..." In her mind, this wasn't up for debate, but a fact.

"The Banners."

 

The city's gates were open? Was this some trap, or had the crimson menace seen reason? No, given all visible signals' the arachnid had little cause to suspect foul play, other than that nettlesome gut instinct of hers. The campaign had unfolded wondrously. The eastern front was decimated by her spiderlings. Their resources were funneled to support her forces while they awaited the transport of supplies. And Florentina and Bersia had both returned with news of a successful campaign. Sandslout was in ruins; the fungi forest now displayed her banners guaranteeing there would be little chance of a counteroffensive. 

Though something was amiss, one of the three-prong strategies had yet to yield the expected results. The queen had dispatched her general Watari to Obsidian Canyon with the aspirations of achieving diplomatic ties with the Beastkin Union. His heritage and race made him the ideal candidate, even if the officer had little experience amidst such a theatre. The web weaver's faith may have been misplaced; though, given the lack of Matsumota's banners' she had assumed he had at least been successful in dallying their involvement, which, in and of itself was a triumph.  There, within her tent, she abode. She dispatched orders for the officers to convene as they deliberated how to best proceed. Nearly unanimously the decision was made to proceed as planned. If Samara was up to no good they had more than enough manpower to thwart any conceivable retaliation.

With her entourage marshaled, she'd call upon Dru to serve as a bystander for his people along with Bersia, Florentina, Nysoesa, Khavati, and a dozen or so soldiers. Guardedly they approached the city, stepping beyond the walls with a portion of her army close behind. Each of them rode upon the back of a spider mount as the people gawked at the invaders. Thus far, no hostility had unveiled itself, almost as if the people resigned themselves to their fate. Valerna sympathized with them, to have grieved such a defeat and to have weltered in such destitution for so long. The spider wished there was an alternate path, but as things stood, she saw little in the way of a feasible alternative. Upon slipping through the city they'd reach the heart. A palace resembling a skull overlooked the metropolis.

There, the matron dismounted, ordering those that followed her to do so as well. Her offspring would remain outside, just within hearing distance should their mother require their presence. "There is little reason to rub salt in the wound. While the sands might be uncivilized and uncultured, their compliance concerning the true war is invaluable. Divided we fall, united we stand. No matter what transpires, do try to keep this in mind." She advised, unsure if her words of wisdom would fall on willing ears or not.

Marching forward, her soldiers remained on alert as they wandered through the halls. The music reached their ears, almost operatic while the fragrance of expensive incense welcomed their olfaction. Throughout that series of corridors stood works of art, each remarkable in their own right. Samara's taste was undoubtedly expensive, conveying with it a sense of worldly attainments that appeared lacking beyond this municipality. So far, the group had stumbled across no opposition, which either boded well or ill. Eventually, they reached those large doors, having ascended to where the brain should rest as cautiously some of her guards pushed those barriers open. Valerna walked through first, her heels din riding across the acoustics while those amber orbs promptly took notice of Watari, Nokhoi, and of course, the jezebel.

At least he was alive, though given his bonds she doubted this was an ideal position to find himself in. Thankfully for Watari, Valerna wouldn't judge him too harshly given they had reasoned that his venture was the most deceptively perilous. The fact that they were alone and the gates were open did imply that some sort of deal had been reached. Nevertheless, she would fixate her focus solely on the self-proclaimed lioness of the sands. Only to be met with what she deemed the most flagrant sense of bravado. What did this horned whore mean by "discuss their surrender," Had she not gathered she was beset and her city was occupied by the Verdant Dynasty's army?

For now, the arachnid bequeathed this rebellious child time to dig her grave as she stomped about. The matron cleared her throat once the offer of refreshments had been extended. Taking advantage of this pause to proceed forward and try to exhume what it was that made this matriarch so confident with her position?

"Ironic, given from where I am standing you are in little condition to haggle. Let us not waste our time measuring egos. I promise you, mine is nowhere near as inflated as yours. Unlike some, I base my worth on actual fact not delusions of grandeur. Though, I will say your hospitality is at least appreciated. I am sure by now you've gathered I have no interest in commandeering that throne. My interest lies elsewhere." 

Valerna paused, dragging a seat only to roost herself at that table. This gesture, while inoffensive on initial inspection it toiled as a subtle assertion of dominance. She took the head spot, only to motion with her hand for the ruby queen to follow her lead. 

"Come, sit. Let us talk. While my opening remarks might appear abrasive, I assure you I respect what you have built. Honestly, you've done well for a dancer given the hurdles sprawled out ahead of you. We can either do this civilly or brutishly. Given your accumulation of art, I presumed that you're a refined ruler?" She unfurled her brows while using her opposing hand to signal her entourage to join her as well as if taking charge of the room.

The diva was drunk on the blood of her adversaries. Sandslout, while it afforded no entertainment during the massacre, had served as a platform for which she could cultivate her station. Her mother's pride, while obfuscated, was reflected within those amber eyes as the inquisitor recited her escapade. Her stern idiosyncrasy within that tent evanesced itself upon beholding her wife. That unappeasable parasite had a way of eliciting forth sensibilities conceived previously as folly. Her malachite eyes flared with a profoundly rooted inferno a passion had set her loins ablaze many times. Initially, the agent deliberated what sort of workmanship her wife had enacted on those within the toadstool forest.

The brood bitch had discovered herself entertaining beastly designs during the entirety of that campaign. Their wails stoked her lust to new zenith's as she imagined herself being mounted and desecrated upon those heaps of carcasses. Even now, standing empty, her body felt devoid of meaning. This internal ambivalence exhibited itself as the golden thorn smacked her lips while lustfully studying her spouse. The other officers poured into the tent one by one. They'd look confused at the general as she seemed incapable of keeping her hands off her lover. Dutifully, she'd caress those hair noodles, occasionally stealing a snack or two while she was forced to abide by this waiting interval.

"My apex predator, your brood bitch had fun comminuting the wills of those sand chimps. I wish you were there to experience the slaughter. Each corpse I piled was a monument to you.  However, without you by my side, its chime was inexplicably hollow." There was no shame, no inkling of humiliation in that acknowledgment. The diva had long since pushed through such mortification. She had even gone as far as to come to terms with the certainty of their intoxicating union.

Muteness took hold, as not once would Florentina refrain from tantalizing and kneading her alpha's body. Watari's absence had been acknowledged, though the brood bitch had assumed he had perished virtuously or something. A befitting fate for such a poet, there were far more opprobrious destinies such as incarceration. It didn't matter, once they were finished fondling her mother's metaphorical flesh flute a course had been charted. The monk rose to her feet, turning her back before smacking that shapely tush as if to command her queen to mount her roost. Once Nysoesa had situated herself, the dedicated incubator would stroll beyond the flaps and toward the spiderlings. She'd refuse them, ascertaining only her "thorax" as a deserving perch for that leech.

Still, she ensured they had numerous containers of water strapped to the arachnids. While laborious she'd mostly keep up with those beast or burdens pace. Perspiration ran down her brow as the inquisitor beheld the people's subjugation. Reaching back, Florentina would empty some water on her lover's head in an effort to resist this arid climate's onslaught against her lilliputian of a mate's otherworldly physique. Others might find their docility odd. But, the inquisitor knew better. She had multiple experiences with just how submissive and breedable this contemptible lot of troglodytes were. Those emerald jewels rolled as they approached the palace, looking upward before raspberrying from annoyance.


"Pretentious cunt, I resent this bitch." She muttered to Nysoesa, only to then find herself indirectly admonished by her matron. "Damn...gotta behave around this saggy tittied strumpet. Did you know she thought of herself as a higher pinnacle of feminity than me? The audacity and nerve..." She vented, baring the sheer disdain she harbored toward the jezebel.

It didn't matter, they were now entering the opulent abode of that wench. Those malachite lanterns studied the degree of prosperity exhibited throughout the palace. Surreptitiously, she was envious. How the inquisitor desired to have such a place. Nysoesa merited this and more. In short, for once the monk felt deficient, a fact that might not elude her leash holder's gaze. The doors then opened, as both Bersia and Florentina entered standing by their parents' side. Florentina recalled this room, she had broken in and used Samara's "son" as a sleeve and dildo. A misfortune his body and spirit were so inadequate. Just another stepping stone necessary to prepare her endurance and flexibility for that of her soul mates most vile dispositions.

Initially, the humble princess bit her tongue as the ruby slut went about her typical sophistry. The giant grinned, finding her face all the more punchable. What she would give to pin that hooker to the table and have her wife insert her dominance into the gaudy cunt. For the moment, Valerna had the floor and engaged with this gaped orifice in a far more cultured light than the agent fancied. Haughtily, Florentina marched by the stripper, giving her an aloof glower before pulling a seat and pivoting, bending over so that her goddess might sit first.

"Queen Samara, we meet again. Sorry about your son. I didn't mean to pulverize your prized toy. If it makes you feel any better, he was a paltry gimp and if my intuition is to be trusted, Cairo died as he lived, beneath a woman." 

She'd stand by her wife, keeping watch, for Florentina didn't trust their host. "Ah, yes. I am quite parched. Sorry, but stomping on your forces like insects has left me rather thirsty." She jabbed, twirling her pointer digit around that tendril mane of Nysoesa. 

"Curious, is there a reason why Watari is bound? Or...is it just a fetish? Listen, I'm kinky and all, but even I have enough restraint than to parade such degenerate impulses so liberally." She added, before raising a feeler to her lips for some more of that protein-enriched meal. Adding a bit of irony to that statement that only a select few might ascertain. 

The khan's arrival onto the stage was both a relief and a symbol of distress. Valerna had considered her absence, contemplating if she was stowed away for an ambush or counteroffensive. Despite being wise and measured, the weaver of webs was anything but omnipotent. She understood the jeopardy of her approach. There was no stratagem available that didn't leave them partially exposed. The blood fox's attitude hadn't changed, reminding her a bit of her daughter's rebellious side. Later, once this meeting was adjourned the matron would converse with her spawn over her harsh yet firm handling of this delicate situation. But, for now, she'd have to reposition herself accordingly.

Watari's bonds being severed brought a smile to the Queen's face. An outward gesticulation exhibiting how much she genuinely did care for that fox. While tardy, it appeared her belief in their family bond's relevance had verified itself. Perhaps the arachnid could manipulate this should a skirmish ensue to position the warrior on their side? Or, at the very least, spur Matsumota to challenge her allegiances? A pawn upon the board for a later time, for now, she'd retire her gaze to Samara while she moved toward that eye socket. The epiphany pertaining to that volcano unnerved Valerna, yet, she'd refrain from unveiling doubt or weakness.

Florentina felt the same, withdrawing into thought as she grappled to think of a way out of this predicament. Only breaking her stupor to blow some bubbles and to swat away that meat the disrespectful fox flicked her mate's way. That tiny runt had balls to strive to deface her wife with such a morsel. If it were anyone else she'd butcher them. However, even the diva held enough sense not to tussle with that combatant too readily. For now, she'd remember this effrontery while conniving some manner of retribution. The inquisitor rolled her eyes, finding the Khan's attempt to embarrass her son as unnecessary. She liked the painter, he was a good man and a solid fighter. In her eyes, the only denizen of the desert worth a damn.

"Firstly, that is my wife and you will treat her with respect. Secondly, what the hell is a Zelena? And lastly, I assure you she is very much real and amazing." The diva responded while chewing on the protein-enriched offering. Her emerald eyes glanced down at her companion to give her a wink as she grazed her armored hand across that noodle mop for emotional support.

Valerna sighed, not wishing for the purpose behind this conference to become entangled by unimportant disputes or insignificant infractions. "Enough. Let us focus on the matter at hand. Once we have reached terms then you two can discuss your differences." She scolded, only to veer her amber lanterns over to the jezebel as she seemed prepared to address them.

Dru had conveyed the lioness message, the implications of which at the time came across as trifling. The arachnoid now second-guessed that hypothesis while her heart sank from distress. She had failed to anticipate this outcome and in turn, led her people into a trap. Damn Samara! It appears for the second time she had miscalculated this horned woman's tenacity. It was this willingness to survive and her methodology of working outside that box that had garnered Valerna's respect. Naturally, she would refrain from uttering such a thing out loud. 

Initially, the thread spinner went hushed while she weighed their options. Indeed what the desert monarch had hinted at was true. The Verdant Dynasty had little interest in lording over such uncouth barbarians. Ultimately, the principle that inspired this incursion was unity to contest the looming conflict. This ambivalence, while necessary, wasn't carried out with zeal on her end. Of course the same couldn't be said for Florentina who cherished to project her merit as a tactician and an officer. The question remained, how should they continue given this revelation?

Samara was useful, but her recent gains in power despite the state of the region were anything but consoling.  Even if she turned her back and overlooked this truth today. There was no assurance that tomorrow the harlot wouldn't appropriate it against them. And so for the first time in awhile the chieftain found herself at an impasse. Before her, there were two feasible forks. One side led to unity at the prospect of a fulmination. The other would usher in further instability, forcing her to take possession of this backwater wasteland. Guaranteeing that resources and time would be wasted keeping these sand apes in line.

Her spider ligaments stretched out, rasping against that chitin shell while those powerful eyes tapered. How vulnerable and naked Valerna felt outside of her webbing. To waltz into such a den without a plan was anything but becoming of her legacy.  A despairing sigh divorced itself from her lips. Those talon fingers combed through her red hair as she resigned herself to her choice. Whatever the consequences, she'd have to own it. 

"I see, then I suppose you're right and I have no choice."

What was it the sealed Samara's fate? Simple, that solitary line. "Everything will wilt alongside me." Valerna might appear young, but she had been cursed to roam this Darwinian hellscape for over a thousand years. Throughout her voyages, she had witnessed comparable rulers. Queens and Kings who were so absorbed by their own image that they consumed everyone and everything around them to stoke the flame of their vanity. Samara couldn't be trusted, and so, she aimed her feelers at the stripper while masquerading it as a yawn and stretch. From those points, strands of her silken mesh were launched. 

One would attach to each ligament, another around the mouth with this that remained encased her hands in their viscous solution. Valerna rose, launching that chair back onto to slam her palms against the table.

 

"I, Valerna Jorgenskull sentence you to servitude to my house. I have found you guilty of faulty stewardship brought on by your voracious need to exalt your house at the expense of your people. You said it yourself if you are to die may the world rot with you? No, your fall from glory will be uneventful. Do not fuss, I will not annihilate your children. They are inculpable, and I will not transfer the transgressions of the parent onto their offspring."

With that final judgment being uttered, the giant would reel Samara close before spinning her around entombing the prey. Valerna would then look toward Abdullah and then to Matsumota. "Are you two next? Or, can we begin healing this broken realm?"

 

Her spider children sensed their mother's agitation. They would scale up the palace, crawling in from the eye socketed windows and glaring at the two menacingly. All the while she tossed the wiggling web to Florentina and her wife. 

"Keep her alive, she will serve as a lesson. The Eternal House sees her as the pinnacle, what will they think when they see her subjugated by my authority? She will make a useful accountant and in time will cherish her station at my side."

Initially, victory appeared all but certain. That ravening monk growling, balked by how effortlessly her mother had quelled that tiefling's pride. The offering of that self-proclaimed lioness held no sway over Florentina. Samara was, after all, a lesser woman. Nysoesa needn't discolor her feelers with such a rank courtesan. Within the inquisitor's eyes, the former queen of the sands was a grub, prey far to irrelevant to challenge her place within her spouse's heart. Loudly and smugly, the giantess munched on her protein gum, blowing several bubbles before peering down upon her wife only to confer an apathetic shrug.

"Nyso, I am no mere woman. I am the one and only brood bitch." She riposted pridefully before rotating those eyes—Watari, what a doofus.

Why would they exchange an assured triumph? For what? Some risky gamble that somehow that love-stricken pup might coerce that stripper with his barren charm?  A sentiment further bellowed due to Nokhoi's little side commentary. What had that wulfgar know that she didn't? Could the general be housing such convictions? Men totted about their logic, but when it came to a pair of legs, it ousted their ability to rationalize. That painter diminished his worth within those eyes for the first time, strewing seeds of distrust within that already perturbed agent.

They needed to hurry this along, not dawdle on such flaccid notions. If it weren't for the mother's edict, the daughter would have stomped her foot into that coiled "donations" skull. Best get rid of her now, lest Samara somehow manages to rise from the ashes. While others might be prone to forget, Florentina wasn't as bungling. She recollected this stripper's resilience quite vividly. When they initially met back in Emerald City, the operative immediately surmised how senseless it was to test this lecherous alien. And while she held reservations pertaining to those claims of grandeur, even she wasn't so obtuse to dispute that a kernel of truth was contained within those messages.

"Watari, shut the fuck up." Florentina seethed. Wait, hissing? That wasn't her; where did that sound originate? Guardedly her senses heightened while the golden-maned giant frantically swiveled her body to face that cocooned prisoner.

"S-steam? That clever cunt!" Valerna reflexively jumped backward, landing on those spider ligaments as she maintained a low profile. Florentina grabbed that chair, dragging it around as she'd then wrap her body around that leech. Looking down upon Nysoesa she smiled, offering her temple to preserve the life of her dearest. That comforting smile was a lie, a way to assure Nyso all would be well. Her first and only fib to her voracious predator. For the first time in that diva's life, she put someone else before her and did so without a second thought. She knew the parasite wasn't quick enough, Nysoesa was seated, and given the small widow available, the slightest delay or error would result in her death. A fate Florentina wouldn't permit. 

Time wasn't on their side, with not a second to spare that heated exhaust spread outward. Florentina's armor and webbing absorbed most of the heat. The strands tore as that plating fell to the floor. Her back was burnt, causing the often composed monk to grind her teeth and grunt in pain. The diva fell to the floor, disrobed, writhing in agony as she screeched out quite the colorful array of profanities in her native tongue. Blood exuded from her wounds, the blisters popping. Florentina finally blacked out, breathing shallowly. Valerna's eyes widened, glancing around for Bersia. Only to behold, her daughter had managed to escape the attack. Quickly, she returned her gaze onto that nude and wounded form. 

"F-Florentina?" No! Not her baby! Her heart sank, having suffered a myriad of losses. The anguish of losing one's child never got easier with time. Her runt was wounded, all because she lacked the resolve. The queen was distracted, her blood simmering within those veins to the point she had initially overlooked that jezebel. Her amber eyes ultimately stared upon that stripper as her muscle flexed and bulged. Valerna sibilated,  encouraging her spiderlings to join that choir.

"An offer? How is this for one? Once the defiled are dealt with if my daughter doesn't survive. I will strip everything you've come to love from your hands. You're fortunate we need each other. While I may be enraged, I am not senseless enough to doom our world. There are nations depending on me. And, unlike you, I don't intend to lose control over my people." 

The chieftain scurried on those insectoid legs, rushing across the scene as she inspected her babe. Those wounds, they were severe. She had to get Florentina out of here and fast. "Nysoesa, take one of the mounts and get her medical aid. She needs you now, more than ever. Go! Now! Have Khavati assist with dressing her wounds."  Those eyes then looked to Watari, giving him a deadly glare, imputing him for this outcome. If he had only shut his mouth, maybe they wouldn't have been distracted. Perhaps then Florentina would have eluded death's threshold. 

"Nirvana."

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