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Black Widow PDF Print E-mail
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Written by TheAdmiral   
Wednesday, 11 February 2009

 Black Widow

Life's a game, life's a gamble. People play games, people gamble. Some win, but in the end they all lose. Almost all, there are some who have found a way to cheat. Cheat death. They beat the bank, beat death. They can win the ultimate gamble. Jaella was one such person, is one such person and will always remain one such person.

 

In the corner of an old graveyard, a woman stood, dressed in black, only black. She stood and looked at a small, weathered grave, she cried. Her tears flowed down her wrinkled cheeks and fell down in the cold grass, alreadt wet of dew. Her face was bleak and cold and her eyes were dull, but moist. Fog hung over the graveyard this early autumn morning and the woman wept. Every morning she stood there, every morning she wept, every morning, every year. It had been long ago since her husband had died, he was still young when he traded the mortal world for the eternity of death. Perhaps it had been a good trade, for him, not for Jaella. Jaella mourned, Jaella wept, Jaella lived.

Tear by tear, drip by drip, the atmosphere changed. The fog thickened, it became colder. Faster and faster now. The pools of the nearby fen slowly froze, ice-crystals stretching out their cold paws over the water, gliding over the water surface as a serpent. A quiet serpent, an eternal serpent. Jaella felt it too and it embittered her. The cold would be the nearest she would ever get to death, the nearest she would ever get to her husband. Many fear death. They do not realise death is but the liberation of life, they cling onto life in their ignorance. Jaella knew better.

Tear by tear, drip by drip, Jaella changed. Her skin thickened, it became colder. Faster and faster now. The pools of her mind began to freeze. Her thoughts stretching their cold paws over her body, gliding over her skin as a serpent. A quiet serpent, an eternal serpent. Jaella felt it and she felt delighted. She was changing, she always did and time and time again it gave her a surge of cold energy. She was not dying, she was becoming death. Many fear death, they do not realise death is but the liberation of life, they cling onto life in their ignorance. Jaella knew better.

Her fingers grew colder, longer. Slowly her skin changed. It blackened, it became tougher, it shone in the feint morning sun. She blinked, not two eyes but many. As she opened her mouth, there were no more teeth, just two pincers, long and sharp. Jaella felt the cold running through her veins like a poison. She felt tempted to scream, but knew it wouldn't help. She was shrinking. Four bone limbs made their way through her sides, she fell to the ground, writhing in agony. She did not scream, her voice had already been silenced, she could not speak, not anymore, but she could think and in her brain she screamed a thousand screams. It would never stop, but it was better than life.

Her hair started to fall out, leaving the cold, black skin unprotected. Jaella fell and landed on her eight limbs. She was no bigger than the gravestone of her husband now and she continued to shrink, ever smaller. The grass around her reached up to her, trying to embrace her. Her ragged clothes fell from her body. A blood red hourglass adorned her black carapace. Spiders need no clothes.

In her mind, Jaella grinned. Everytime again, it gave her a feeling of ecstacy. The completion of a transformation, a strange, but beatiful feeling. There was no feeling that could compare, no mortal feeling.

She left the graveyard on eight nimble legs. She was faster now, more manouvrable, more herself. She was a predator. And it was time to hunt.

The graveyard, the frozen lake, the pine trees, they became more vague, as if in a dream. The whole area, the cold forest, it dissapeared. The images blended into eachother. Jaella could only make out blotches of colour. Slowly everything turned one colour, one colour only. All was white.

And in the white, shadows appeared. Grey areas in the unending white landscape. Grey shadows in the catacombs of the mind. The whole land, the white fields, the depthless white sky. Shadows, yes, shadows, imperfections on the white canvas. One more imperfection, Jaella. The shadows became more darker, more firm. Stronger. They started to take shapes. The shapes of natural things. Trees, bushes, animals. They materialized. The mind was loosing it's grip. The imagination was loosing its grip. Reality took over. Jaella felt it, like she always did, as a dissappointment. Death is a prize, birth a curse. A bitter sorrow took over, it always did. A sorrowful routine, unending. She was back again. A new target, a new victim. She felt sorry for them, victims of her failure. They wanted to live, yet they could not. She wanted to die, yet she could not. Death is cruel. Jaella knew.

The white fog of death drifted away, leaving a lone farmstead, in the middle of golden fields. It was late in the afternoon, the sun was setting and Jaella flicked her teeth. She blinked a hundred eyes as she looked into the setting sun. Time was such a trivial thing.

Her eight, slender legs carried her forward, over twigs, leaves and the soft earth. She closed in on her target. A young man. She could not see him, but she felt his lifeforce spilling from his mortal form. He could not die, not yet. Jaella needed to feed.

Climbing up the wall of the old farm building, she thought about life, death. How unfair, even cruel life was. Death, death was a saviour. The light after the darkness of life, the hero in times of despair. Life controlled the soul, but eventually death would always turn out victorious. Almost always. How could it have been that Jaella had come so near to death, yet had never experienced the liberating feeling of true death. No liberation for the wicked, no death for the damned. A witch is burnt, but never killed, never slain, never freed. Thus she was here, liberating others, those who did not yet know of the great gift she was about to bestow upon them, not yet familiar with the bounty, not yet comfortable with the luxury of death. Weak, perhaps. Naive, always. Mortals should learn to accept the gift of death. They shouldn't fell sorry for themselves, they should mourn for those left behind. Those tortured by life. The less fortunate.

Jaella closed in, she was close now, she could feel his dying pulse. The last energy before death. She couldn't see it, she could feel it. All her eyes could see was a soft human skin, soaked by sweat, trembling in pain and fear. Fear and pain, the weaknesses of mortality, the weaknesses of life. The gateways to death, the holes in the prison of life. One by one, she placed her cold legs on the soft skin of the human, who died with every one of her steps. His dying spasm, synchronous with the touch of Jaella, the power of the cold. She walked all the way to his neck, he was too weak to cry, too weak to cringe. Slowly but surely.

She could see the vein in his neck pulsing. In all its might, life tried to hang on to the body, but it knew it would not win. Jaella made ready for the kill, every part of her body was quivering as a sensational feeling took over her mind and body. With an unearthly hiss, she drove her barbed fangs into the soft flesh. The very essence of life screamed as the cold energies of death surged through the body like a bolt of lightning on a hot summer evening. Life screamed, but it was too weak to defend itself. No force could defend itself, not against death, not against the poisonous cold that is death. And Jaella screamed, screamed in delightful exstacy. It was incomparable to any mortal feeling. The pulse of death drove through her mind into her soul, the deepest pits and the highest heights of her soul. It was enrapturing, it was bedazzling, it was the touch of death itself.

People say death is a reaper, a dark horseman, a cold hand, a stalker in the dark. It is none of those. Death, death is a spider, death is a widow.

 

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 February 2009 )
 
Discuss (5 posts)
Black Widow Feb 19 2009 23:11
This thread discusses the Content article: Black Widow

I think I'll comment on this story as well.

Don't worry; it's not bad. My biggest criticism would be with the comma usage. They're overused. A few semi-colons would help as well. There are some other grammatical nitpicks, but the commas are the biggest problem. Go through and cut down on them. Shorter sentences would be acceptable.

On the whole, though, I like this story. It's short and delightfully surreal. You do seem to have confused black widow spiders with redback spiders, but that's not really the point of it. (I'm an Aussie; I've seen redbacks. They're nasty little buggers, but they're also native to this country and you wouldn't find them in pseudo-France.) The point is the creepiness of the imagery itself.

I mean, I'm assuming that a woman didn't actually turn into a little spider for no reason. The way the story reads gives me the impression that it's a nightmare Jaella has had. You could invoke Chaos or something, but explaining the transformation, like in Kafka's Metamorphosis, takes away the horror of it. Fortunately, I could easily see a recent widow dreaming about being a black widow spider and widowing other women. It could also be the sort of waking nightmare or hallucination that a mental patient might have. WFRP in particular has talked about sanitariums in the Warhammer world (Drachenfels also had some fun with the concept), and this sort of creepy insanity is just right for the setting.

In conclusion, I have rated it a 4. Well earned.
Re:Black Widow Feb 20 2009 00:35
I'd have to go further than the gentleman above and say the enthusiastic comma use makes the piece almost unreadable. It might help you to read the piece aloud to yourself with a short pause at each comma to get an idea of how it destroys the pacing and rhythm of your writing. There are occasions when short snappy clauses can add tension or drama to a passage (which is maybe the effected aimed for?), for me though, overuse of this robs it of any impact and instead becomes a roadblock to reader immersion.

This is meant constructively, I hope you don't take it as anything else. Keep on writing!
Re:Black Widow Feb 20 2009 09:26
Thanks for the comments! Greatly appreciated.

I can certainly see what you mean on the commas. I admit, I enjoy using commas. My only, (though meagre) excuse would be that I wrote this a couple of years ago, when I was still learning English. However, that certainly doesn't mean that I shouldn't go back to it and make the style flow better (by avoiding the huge amount of commas, as a main thing).

@FVC,
Indeed I have confused the two spider species, but hey, I'm European. At least I know how many legs a healthy spider has. Besides, it's still Warhammer.

I'm glad you enjoyed the metamorphosis.




(Working on an extremely slow laptop. I most likely will comment a bit more when my computer gets repaired/replaced)
Re:Black Widow Feb 28 2009 03:31
Greetings to you TheAdmiral!

I've read this story twice now. I don't know writing very well, but I noticed a difference in Jaella's philosophy about life and death happening throughout the story. The italicized teaser blurb paints her as one who cheats death and prepares me for a story of a cunning and resourceful and lucky heroine. Yet, in the story, Jaella is more passive than I expected. Every morning she weeps for her husband and despair of life. She transforms, and exults in death, swept up by passions. She is a victim of her condition, not rising above it like some of the philosophy in the narration about death being a release.

Having said all that, it works for me I like the complexities and contradictions. Jaella gives us insights into the possible interpretations of the interactions of life and death, but she is no prophetess dogmatically pronouncing some heavy truth for the reader to labor under or discard. She is an old woman, a grieving widow, a lingering witch, a ravenous spider.

What I enjoyed the most about your story was the emotional charge you put into it. It's quietly desperate, and so lonely, even in Jaella's exultation of change.

Bleh, I'm babbling, I know I enjoyed your story but am having trouble putting the 'whys' of it into words. Please keep writing!

----May you and yours be blessed, all the days of your life!
----Gerard the Easterner
Re:Black Widow Mar 01 2009 12:06
Thanks for the comments Gerard, appreciated.


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