Excerpt for Cobs by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Cobs

C.M Neary


Published by C.M Neary at Smashwords Inc

Copyright 2017 C.M Neary

ISBN 9781370775996


Smashwords Edition, License Notes


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CHAPTER 1

Our story begins deep in the Harrowan Forest. On top of an old peculiar tree, where its branches spiral out of control, lives a misunderstood spider. He is known to most as Cobs.

He has a scarlet plum body or as the other creatures would say fat and round, his large threatening blue eyes make other creatures question their actions to even mock him. His long navy hairy legs make it impossible for them to escape his wrath once they have offended him, sometimes, they do not even notice his presence or that he has been hiding around them watching their every move, waiting for his moment. His legs speed towards them without even the wind noticing he is there. It has its burdens of course. It is impossible for Cobs to be loved by any, other than with fear. He hides himself and hunts only at night, staying unnoticed in the shadows. He is used to it now. When he returns to his tree that is where Cobs true bliss is revealed.

His legs spit out white liquid until it touches the air and turns into beautiful sturdy silky thread, creating sheets of orbs, ladders or in Cobs’s case – stories. He recounts the past in vibrant details, the good, the bad and sometimes his hopes for what is to come. He swirls his thread around the branches, twisting, poking and weaving until his webs are complete. Once darkness falls, Cobs webs radiate into the night; glowing brighter than the jealous moon, curiously brilliant, his unique webs are works of art. His webs live out longer than any other webs spun by the spiders of the forest, even in some cases the spiders themselves. It tells creatures of who lives nearby and none are never brave enough to disturb him.

Cobs sits every night on his mystical creation of swirling storytelling webs, a place of peaceful rest after a long day in the forest. Cobs always wonders if he will live alone forever with only his webs as friends. A long day passes by for Cobs. He watches the forest patiently waiting for anything interesting to put upon his web. He looks out towards the striking views of the wild trees that are gently swaying with the breeze. He watches ‘The Swelling Tree’ just across from him on his web, its toxic thorns poking out through the branches and all down its bark, its spotty rustic green leaves falling heavenly from its roots. ‘The Swelling Tree’ begins to hunt, trying to fool a naive small furry creature with big nostrils to inch closer to it. The potent smell convinces it of pure pleasure. As the creature stumbles towards it, it pinches its soft body. The poison races through the bloodstream, paralysing the furry creature and takes it from the forest. ‘The Swelling Tree’ enriches itself with all the nutrients it can gather before it soaks out through the dead pores, into the soil, and back into its mother. Its own strange way of survival. He looks down at the ‘Black Death Flowers’ underneath him. There exciting colours can capture any creature’s attention. Their beauty cannot be denied by any. Unfortunately, no creature is captured by it today. Its poisonous gaze cannot fool any creature to touch its venom. He takes another long look at the magnificence around him. He sees its destruction every day. Yet he knows, most creations by the forest are just tall, harmless and breathtakingly beautiful.

Slowly the dark overtakes the light of the sun. The creatures of the night begin to stir. They creep out from their confinements and crowd out into the wild unknown of home. All they know for sure is that a large spider lives with them. They know they are in less danger when Cobs is nearby. To them he is a protector, friend and foe. Cobs stays perfectly still. He does not want to disturb their hunt. His only comfort in this lonely forest is his loud noisy companions roaming among him.

Cobs’s senses fire up with the rowdy sounds, bitter smells and demanding vibrations they create around him. Some were running for survival. Others try to catch or lure prey to feed and survive for the night. Some are not as clever as ‘The Swelling Trees’ or the ‘Black Death flowers’.No creature is every guaranteed to survive in the forest for any length of time.

As Cobs listens and watches his friends for the night scurry about, he feels troubled. For the first time in a long time, he does not feel alone. He feels his legs tighten as if someone is near, watching him.

He scatters high into the trees close by, cautious not to tip off the bursting juices of the swelling thorns. He climbs up higher and higher until he reaches the top overlooking the great wild forest.

He keeps still and silent. The warm air brushes against him; his senses overpowering his body. His legs tingle. Tiny fragments of hair rise, feeling the vibrations of close by prey scattering around him. The noises they silently make into existence and the unique aromas each one of them unknowingly give him.

Tonight his senses mislead him. His senses do not ignite anything strange or any unwelcome creature eluding him. Cobs still feels unnerved but decides to return to his tree.

He begins to weave his new web. The white silky thread spits out, then twists and whirls out as it touches the air. Cobs spins each thread into incredible tales and stories. He scurries around the branches with his sick threads wrapping around each new creature Cobs creates. He tells of the fond ones he saw today, to the glorious creations of the forest that still amaze him.

Before he can tie the last few stitches together that makes his wondrous glowing Thorn tree and all the poisonous flowers complete. An earthy female voice whispers out to him.

‘Cobs come to us.’ She speaks gentle in her desire. ‘Come to us.’ Her voice grips his senses and renders them useless. As if the cold snap of Winter Moon has come sooner than it was supposed to. Cobs searches around. He looks and tries to sense the stranger speaking to him. ‘Do not be frightened.’

But Cobs cannot help but tremble. He searches out into blackness unable to sense or see anything. ‘Who dares come to my home?’ he growls.

‘Come to us. Come,’ she whispers more kindly, unfazed by Cobs’s angry outburst. She continues to repeat her words again and again, floating around him like lost echoes.

More strange voices hover in the air. The forest becomes frozen in silence. The loud noises of the creatures disappear. Even the warm breeze that brushed against him just moments before, has now vanished.

He becomes paralysed. Unable to move any part of his body, as if pinched by ‘The Swelling Tree’ and about to be taken back to the earth.

He looks up at the night above him. Millions of twinkling stars gaze down at him, then they hurtle towards the ground. Until like explosions of lightning and sparks, they form glossy fiery rings around him. His legs give in from under his body. He can no longer keep his scary eyes open and before he knows what to do next he wakes with snowy white clouds beneath him.

CHAPTER 2

White fluffy clouds float around Cobs. It impairs his vision of this new place. He is terrified, he looks to escape, but he is unable to move. His legs are glued to the white airless fluff below him. He cannot even sense anything in this strange place. He tries taking in a long deep breath. But, nothing comes, not even the familiar scents he is used too. The strong sweet smells from the poisonous thorns as their juices drips in puddles onto the ground. Or the fresh smells of the unique flowers that grow near his wonderful tree. Or the vibrations the creatures make around him with every hop, jump and skip. The loud racket they make when they call to each other the moment the light disappears. They have taken him far away from his home.

He stares ahead, the clumps of clouds around him evaporate, showing what they hide.

Three beautiful elegant creatures are turned away from his direction, seemingly unfazed by his presence. He has never seen creatures like them before. They are giants compared to him.

They lay on high snowy shimmering rocks with clouds gliding behind them. Cobs fears what lies underneath, he sees no solid ground only a sheer clear blue sky with white paths keeping him up with these creatures.He does not dare look down too long.

He looks up and watches them. It is difficult since they are overlooking his presence. Only one turns to look at him. Her long slick bluish black face and body resemble the forests harsh blackness of night. Her long inky hair flows down, scattering on the shimmering rocks where she sits. Her eyes so hollow they catch Cobs’s attention for a lengthy moment. He feels her glare sinking deep into his memories, reliving his past. She turns away and stares off into the vast distance. She is gazing out into the hollowness; pits beneath the clouds. She sits up straight, her arms resting on her knees. She reveals a small yet beautiful waterfall, its clear waters fall through the open clouds beneath and disappear below.

The second creature, the one opposite her has now acknowledged Cobs’s existence. His long red fat furry body takes up most of the rock holding him. His face is flat, motionless, and is covered in overgrown red shiny fur like his body. His eyelids are sealed closed. His ears twitch, his large black button nose quivers, as Cobs’s unique aroma ignites the air. Without warning, the creature’s huge paws push their way out towards the rocks, turning into hot balls of burning flames. They soon vanish, leaving no trace of destruction behind them. He turns away once again.

Clouds scale over the final creature, leaving only a small visible view of a long feminine hand with long wooden fingers and pointy brown bark nails resting on what looks like a knee of twigs.

Loud abrupt noises of humming, crying and giggles ring in the air. A host of tiny odd creatures surround him. He tries his best to look out into the vastness to where they sit, lay and stand.

He sees that each one of them is different. Some have big ears and fat bodies, or scaly skin and gills all over, others have many eyes wobbling around there faces, others are big and hairy or small with sharp teeth that can chew through rocks. Some fat, some thin, some ugly, some cute and even frightening ones. They look at the beautiful creatures in front of them. They are overpowered by their master’s presence.

‘We call upon you a task?’ she says slowly, staring at him.

Her soft voice could not be mistaken for any other that calls him in the forest. His eyes cannot mistake her magnificent beauty. As the clouds float away it reveals her striking large curvy ears, they wiggle up and down, back and forth at him, her hypnotising golden eyes commanding. He turns away, not to get lost or reveal to much of himself.

He notices her figure, long tiny vines ripple all round her body, embedding her pulsing veins, colourful flowers and leaves caress her long brown hair, wrapping around her body like sheets of clothing. Creatures of odd shapes and sizes creep up her earthy legs and arms. She looks at him, pointing her whole body towards him. Her eyes digging into his soul trying to tame the wild spider.

‘A task?’ Cobs looks at her confused. ‘Who are you?’

‘Do you accept the task we have awarded you? Cobs from Spider Cave?’

His whole body shivers with fear. All the small creatures jump and bounce around with what only could be described as expected. The three elegant creatures ease towards him just a little.

‘Who are you?’ he roars.

‘Do you accept?’her voice echoes. ‘We have called upon you a task, that only you can achieve Cobs.’ She turns away. ‘Do you accept?’

‘Who are you? Where am I?’

She does not turn back to him and now the others have forgotten him one again.

‘You miss the old days, the ways it once had been in the forest when the spiders roamed free in Harrowan, like you, all that can change, it can go back to the way it once was. Soon your task will be upon you and you must be ready to do what needs to be done. Goodbye Cobs.’

His eyes shut for a moment. Clouds wrap around his legs and body, tightening their grip to the point of smothering and pull him down below.

When he can finally open his eyes hee sees his wondrous tree and his weaved web flapping with the warm breeze. Everything is the way it had always been, but, the forest has changed for him.

CHAPTER 3

A fiery storm brews in the skies, inside the unstable grey clouds lightning is struggling to free itself from its captivity. Dribbles of rain squeeze through and are ready to cleanse Harrowan. A slight breeze is gaining strength with the booming thunder’s loud eruptions.

Frightened creatures all around are struggling to find shelter from the dreadful storm. It is causing havoc. It is moments away from taking over the night.

Cobs watches intensely before returning to his old cottage it’s roof barely survives even in summer. Its walls are home to more insect creatures than stable solid stone, the soil of the forest has managed to make most of the cottage floor its home, yet, it has always survived everything the forest has thrown at it. Cobs is confident this storm will be no different.

With one last erupting bang from the clouds, the wait is over and the sky unleashes its gruelling attack upon the forest. The heavy rain and wind gushes through the poisonous thorn trees and the fatal wild flowers, each clings on tight, desperate to survive. Falling strips of branches and leaves sway back and forth into a small open hole of Cobs’ cottage. He scuttles over and conceals it with his silk thread.

The wind and rain is so overpowering, it forces its way inside any chance it can get. However, Cobs’ thread is stronger and more powerful. He wins the battle and the storm is forced to stay out.

Cobs scuttles over to his beautiful weaved web in the corner. He waits patiently for the storm to finish. In the darkness, with only his glowing treads for comfort, he remembers that night. The night he was taken to the clouds. He wants to forget. Hoping that it was just a mere dream or delusion from being alone too long. But they have been on his mind, and he has heard odd whispers.

Just today, Cobs was out in the forest, prowling the trees, hunting for his daily feast. He heard her whispers among the thorn trees, ‘It is time.’

He looks and sees the beautiful threads of the Gods glowing upon his web, all their magnificent features, the postures of their bodies lying on the rocks, the clouds floating behind them, all of it moulding together, bringing the three creatures to life. They have been on every web since they first took him. He wonders is tonight the night they will return to him? Bring him back to the clouds?

He hears the angry wind blowing, feels the relentless rain smashing into the ground, smells the harshness of wet dirt inside and out. That feeling of uneasiness cannot escape him as his body trembles, the hairs upon his legs tingle. He knows they have returned. His heart pounds, trying to escape from his chest. Before he can catch his final breath, her voice whispers.

‘It is time.’ The vision of dazzling golden eyes makes Cobs’s legs crumble to the ground and push him into a deep sleep.

Cobs stands in front of the three creatures again. They stare at him. The creature with the dazzling eyes glares, soaking into Cobs’ soul once more.

‘It is time.’

‘Time for what?’ he asks, fearful but already knowing the answer.

‘The task! There is a great danger upon you and the forest. A shadow will crawl out from darkness and hunt the Winter Moon nights. It will take the life of any creature to survive. Many will suffer, many will die. The New Born has to be protected beyond all this. He holds in him the answers.’

‘The answers to what?’ Cobs asks. ‘What is this Shadow?’ ‘

All answers will come to you in time. No longer will you roam the forest alone, away from your friends who now dwell in the dephts of Spider Cave. You can help free them from their prison, help the forest return to its true glory.’

Cobs steps back, his heart beats fast as he tries to catch his breath. He thinks of Spider Cave and of how he has dreamed of them returning to the forest with him. The trees layered in bright glowing webs as the sun sinks behind them, all the spiders ballooning through the trees. It is all he has ever wanted since it was taken for him.

Silence erupts, the hosts stop chanting ‘Protect’. He can see the importance of this task to them, the eagerness in their bodies as they lean forward towards him, their eyes yearning. He wonders can they see the yearning in his own eyes?

‘Protect the New Born. Protect.’

Cobs’s whole body feels weary.

‘Goodbye Cobs,’ she says

‘Wait !’ he shouts back, but is ignored.

He drifts away, all the voices and faces fade into clumps of clouds.

‘Wait, what New Born?’ he shouts back. ‘Why me?’

Within a blink he has returned to his run-down cottage. He hears the strong winds around him trashing hard against the unstable cottage. Small pieces of dirt and debris fall from the death walls and roof, ready to crumble with one last gush from the wind.

Cobs tries his best to get his head around the last few moments, when her voice whispers through the walls, ‘He is here’

He searches for her and that is when he sees it. He goes to the other end of the room, where just beside an old web that barely glows, is a small creature. He stares at the New Born who is sleeping in the corner unfazed by the rampaging storm.

CHAPTER 4

The wind begins to wane and a new morning is upon the forest. The cottage has survived, even the roof has stayed in place yet again.

Cobs has stayed awake all night. The glow of his web outlining the New-Born sleeping soundly in the corner. Its breathing calm and soothing once the storm had vanished in the morning.

For a long time now, Cobs has lived alone, never disturbed by anyone. Now his life has been invaded by a small creature in need of his protection. He wonders how this tiny creature managed to get inside the cottage? He has blocked the only entry from outside. He is sure nothing was in with him before the last visit occurred.

The New Born begins to wake, twitching and moving with every little noise that grows louder outside. The forest is awakening. It is getting ready for a new day and Cobs is wishing his day was like any normal day; the kind of days he took for granted for so long.

He scuttles over to the glowing concealed hole and undoes his strong thread. The sun is rising above the trees, the warmth of it beams down on his face, the strong wind and the lashing rain from the previous night has vanished. It leaves no trace of its destruction behind.

‘It is time to wake up My Boy,’ says Cobs.

The small New Born opens his eyes and looks up at him, Cobs can sense the New Born’s body shaking; feel the fear in his eyes.

‘Do not be frightened. I mean you no harm. I am your friend.’

Cobs scuttles out of the cottage, he climbs up into a tree and unknots a large white hive hanging from it. He places it on the dirty ground and unwraps his thread with his fangs. Inside is a small furry creature covered in delicious juices ready to be devoured. He throws a soft fleshy meat bone in the little New Born’s direction. He does not pick it up, he kneels beside it and chews through the bones.

‘My, you are hungry,’ smiles Cobs. ‘What is your name?’

The little New Born did not look up at him, he keeps chewing until nothing is left.

The New Born glares out, peeping though the hole of the cottage. He is memorised by it. Morning has arrived and the creatures are making a lot of racket. The New Born slowly crawls out of the cottage hole, his head moves side to side following the birds in the air, its body moves back and forth fearful but wanting to explore more.

‘This is a beautiful part of the forest, but I am afraid it can be too dangerous for some,’ smiles Cobs. Cobs watches him, the New Born watches all the new wonders from the hole in the cottage, his eyes soften. The possibility of adventure interests him.

He smiles back.

‘My name is Cobs.’ The New Born’s stares out and does not pay attention to Cobs.

Cobs scurries outside pass the New Born. The rays of the sun beam down upon the forest. The view of the little New Born is clearer once he takes steps out from the cottage, Cobs for the first time gets a good look at him.

He is tiny, does not even reach Cobs’s body. He has got tiny fingers, a tiny nose, tiny feet and toes, the only thing large with this creature is his flappy ears. If any bigger they would cover his whole face, they moved with the breeze, unnoticed to the New Born. Cobs does not take notice too long, his eyes take him to the New Born’s giant bright lilac eyes, sparkling with the help of the sun. Cobs has never seen eyes like the New Born’s before, the colour as Cobs sinks in deeper resembles all different shades of purple, pink and green. The New Born walks slowly into the rays of the sun more, he sees the white fluffy fur that is covering him from the waist down to his tiny fluffy toes keeping him warm, his skin pale as if never seeing sun before, flowing fair hair straining to grow on his tiny body blows around with the wind.

He is so young, fragile, innocent, quite adorable Cobs believes.

‘What kind of creature are you? Where do you come from?’ Cobs wonders to himself.

The New Born struggles to concentrate, as he moves in all directions. There are many interesting and mysterious creations he clearly wants to see, the damp soil, the falling leaves that seem to catch his attention. That is until the fatal cries from creatures passing by frighten him. He runs back into the cottage and hides behind the old web dangling on the wall.

Cobs knows the noise all too well, another creature has been taken by the Swelling Tree, it is hard to survive in this part of the forest, however, he knows one place that is not so dangerous and wicked.

‘We must go now, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine.’ Cobs watches for a reaction. He does not get one.

‘We must hurry,’ Cobs says, but the little New Born does not move. The fatal cries disturb him. He is no longer curious of the forest but clearly afraid.

‘Do not worry, nothing will hurt you when I’m around. Come along now I will bring you somewhere safer and a good friend of mine will be delighted to meet you’

Finally the little New Born comes out from hiding and slowly goes out into the forest with Cobs.

Cobs watches the New Born’s two little feet touch the grassy solid soil, his eyes sparkling in the sun’s rays once again. Cobs knows the New Born is amazed and curious of all the great and beautiful sights around him. He follows the New Born towards the colourful flowers close by, all the different shades of blues, yellows and whites, from the big to the small, all the large trees with shrivelled up fruits, others sour juices dripping out from its pores, some even have tiny bumpy blue leaves with tiny white slugs wiggling up its stems sucking on the drops of rain left behind.

Just a few more steps up ahead they pass enormous flowers. The open and close its petals at them passing by. Large yellow and red petals open revealing a strong appealing smell, then it turns into a burning odour in Cobs’s senses urging him to go closer to the large wild flower. But, it does not succeed.

‘Be careful not to touch anything, My Boy, there is a lot of poison around these areas of the forest.’

Cobs’ warns seeing him trying to touch a group of small baby pink and black wild flowers, untouchable for any creature. The ‘Black Death Flowers’ exciting colours can capture any creature’s attention. Their beauty cannot be denied by any. Unfortunately, Cobs will not let the New Born be captured by its poisonous venom today. Cobs keeps a close eye on him. It is difficult. The New Born sprints off up ahead. He tries to get a better look at the small furry creature that catches his attention, like the one with long flappy ears, large overgrown nostrils and a brown furry body. It hops away taking no notice of the New Born in its way.

‘Come along now,’ Cobs says anxiously. ‘We need to hurry if we are going to make it to my friend Benjamin’s place before nightfall.’

Silence captures the forest. Even the sun’s warmth is hiding behind white clouds. The creatures know a spider is roaming among them. They are afraid.

‘We must hurry if we are to arrive in time.’

He grabs the New Born’s tiny waist by his two front legs and lifts him up onto his round back. They race off through the forest in silence.

CHAPTER 5

The sun descends behind them. The shadows of the night begin to loom as the cold dew engulfs them. The large overgrown leaves from the trees crystallise, the bursting juices from the swelling fruits freeze solid. The night creatures sneak out from their confinement, to see what new creatures they are sensing. Cobs worries the New Born will be frightened from the strange noises and the red eyes protruding down from dark trees. Cobs needn’t have worried. Once they see the big scary spider they hide and cower from sight.

The New Born is curled up on Cobs’s back. He sleeps, tired from the long gruelling journey they endured all day.

Cobs goes as fast as he can, escaping the glare of the curious red dots. Finally, they arrive.

‘Wake up, My Boy, we are here,’ Cobs whispers, gently bouncing his back to wake him. The New Born opens his eyes to see a small moth cottage in front of him. It is nothing like Cobs’s little run-down cottage.

No big torn tree covers the front but it does have two large trees on each side of it with long arched branches masking the whole cottage, its wispy leaves blowing in all directions, all that’s visible is a large door, some of the walls detectable through the trees are made up of mud, old wood and sparkling stones, drooping trees conceal a green grassy roof, disguising it from anyone who did not know someone lives around this part. It has not changed since Cobs last saw it

Cobs bends down. The New Born slides off his back and hops onto the ground.

‘Come along now.’

Cobs scuttles to the cottage door that’s made up of stale dirt and old branches twined together. The New Born slowly follows behind. Before Cobs can knock or even call out Benjamin’s name a small noise emerges from inside. The door creaks open. A small creature appears, looking baffled.

‘Cobs is… Is that you?’

‘Yes, Benjamin, it’s me?’ Cobs replies

‘Ah Cobs my old friend come… Come.’

The creature, looking merry, waves him inside. Cobs gestures the New Born to follow him with a small twitch of his head

A beautiful enormous blazing fire creates heat and light as they step inside, it glows showing the small tree vines strapped around the walls, tiny specks of red berries attach to them. The cottage is quite big inside, colourful rocks and flowers spread out all around in every direction, painting the circled walls, other strange undesirable green mould of some sort covers parts of the ground.

Big stone pots and blades of all sizes hang all around, odd instruments over the fireplace gather dust, some slowly breath in air releasing loud soothing sounds, Cobs senses – remembering the calmness Benjamin’s home always used to bring him.

As he looks in the corner the most magical waterfall spills clear water, splashing off the rocks into a small hole in the ground.

‘Ah I see my old web is still here?’ says Cobs.

He crawls up on a dull web in the corner beside the fire. It had lost all its glow and strength. Cobs only then remembers how long it has been since he visited his good friend.

‘Of Course and who do we have here?’ Benjamin asks looking down at the little New Born with his squinty blue eyes.

Benjamin has not changed since Cobs last saw him, his long slivery-grey tangle beard still drags along the floor collecting everything in its path, including more hair. His small-button nose barely escaping its clutches as it wiggles about. He is completely layered head to toe in messy hair that keeps him warm on cold nights, he never liked clothes Benjamin, ever since Cobs has known him

‘This is a friend of mine Benjamin, it is why I came to you?’ says Cobs as he stares at Benjamin to get his attention. Benjamin notices.

‘Ah well, you must be hungry little one, let me see what I can rustle up for you?’

Benjamin shuffles around the cottage, he picks pieces of flowers and berries off the walls, he than shuffles over to a small chest box beside the waterfall and takes out a large chunk of meat on the bone. He picks up some dirty pots and bowls left around in different places. He washes them before throwing everything into a large stone pot and hangs it over the fireplace.

Sometime later a fruitful aroma fills the cottage, the smells of the sweet blueberries and tingly red berries roasted over a warm fire ignite Cobs’s taste buds. Benjamin puts the food in a bowl and places it the in the corner of the room.

‘Come eat,’ says Benjamin.

Cobs brings the New Born over to a small-carved stone table that is buried with dust from a long time unused.

The New Born sits drinking off his delicious food, tapping his lips against each other, trying to hold onto the sweet taste.

Cobs examines the contents on the table, the old stones of all shapes and sizes and the colourful green leaves that are crumbling into a harsh brown, old stained paper with drawings of creatures scattered around the table covering the beautiful hand sculpted spider in the middle, Cobs remembers Benjamin spending all day and night chipping away at the stone carving of Cobs and any other creature in the forest.

‘The journey must have been long ah?’ Benjamin says. ‘This part of the forest is safe enough I assure you, much safer then where Cobs is. Too many poisonous trees for my liking that is, remarkable creatures live around me. I would be glad to show you tomorrow morning,’ Benjamin says joyfully.

Benjamin gives no time for the New Born to eat peacefully. He drags the New Born around the cottage, showing him everything around his home: the Hairy Slugs that wiggle up the walls, the glowing blue worms poking out from the wall’s branches, on the roof and the ground.

He then shows him the vast flowers growing everywhere inside, even in the cracks on the ground. ‘I make most of my potions with what grows in my home,’ he says.

The New Born straightens out his arms into the air and lets out a big yawn before wiping the tiredness from his eyes.

‘I think it is time for you to sleep for the night,’ Cobs says.

The New Born lies beside the warm fire and drifts off to sleep.

Finally, to Cobs relief, he and Benjamin can finally talk. He whispers so they do not wake the New Born.

‘It is quite strange how this all happened, Benjamin, I myself am still trying to figure it out,’ confesses Cobs.

‘Come tell me old friend. I can handle strange. Since I have always been consider that myself,’ Benjamin giggles.

He tells of his visits by the strange creatures, of a special task asked of him and of the sudden arrival of the little New Born in the cottage.

Benjamin listens, absorbing everything his friend says.

‘My my my,’ he says, ‘he is certainly different than any other creature I have ever seen.’

‘I thought you would say that,’ says Cobs.

Benjamin stands up and strokes his long beard. He stares at the fire than at the New Born.

‘What is going on I do not know… with such strange happenings occurring in the forest right now. This cannot have come at a worse time.’ Benjamin looks at Cobs, ‘We will find the answers old friend.’ ‘I am grateful for your thoughtfulness, Benjamin but I also…’

‘Yes yes, I will help look after the little one. It would be my pleasure. It will be nice to have the company,’ sniffles Benjamin stroking some stray hairs away from his nostrils.

‘In the meantime you must find someone to help you in your search. We cannot find the answers alone.’

They stop when Cobs hears the New Born stirring, disturbed by their chattering whispers

‘Ah you’re awake, it is not morning yet go back to sleep,’ Cobs smiles.

He rubs his eyes and stares curiously.

‘Ah a curious little one,’ laughs Benjamin.

Benjamin walks over to a small dusty brown box that sits on the stone table. He takes out a large white fabric and sits back by the fire onto his dusty red stone chair.

‘I’m going to make you something warm to wear. It gets awfully cold here. Winter Moon is approaching and you cannot go around naked now can you? So… what would you like to be named little one?’ asks Benjamin,

He reaches inside his knotty beard and takes out a large rusty blade, its handle looks to be made with old branches infused together the same way as the door of the cottage, he begins cutting the fabric. The New Born stares up at Cobs.

‘He cannot speak remember, Benjamin.’

‘Ah that won’t be a problem. I can teach anyone to speak in a short period of time. I taught you didn’t I? I will begin teaching him tomorrow. For now, we must find some answers?’

Benjamin grabs a large stone pot hanging on the wall. He fills it up with fresh water from the waterfall before placing it over the scorching fire, he roots around among old dirty shelves, than around the stone table. He comes back with a small rock in his hand.

‘This is a Magic Stone little one this will answer any questions you ask. Do you want to know where you come from? What your name is?’

He takes the small piece of stone and hands it to the New Born. They both stand over the fireplace. The water in the pot boils and bubbles. It hoovers at the rim about to spew over.

Cobs watches patiently.

‘I only have enough Magic Stones left for two questions Cobs. What will they be?’

‘Ask where he comes from?’ says Cobs,‘or where do I go to find answers?’

There are so many questions Cobs needs answers too, who those creatures are? Who this New Born is?

The New Born steps back from the rising fire as the flames heat touches his body.

‘Do not worry it is a Blez fire it only gives out heat and light nothing more. It cannot hurt you in anyway.’

The little New Born takes a step closer to the pot and watches the bubbling water. Cobs looks on, eagerness filling his body, watching the New Born squeezing the stone tightly in his hands, before popping the small piece into the water, small splashes bounce up as the stone plummets in.

Cobs looks on with excitement, waiting for the answers to appear, what question the New Born asked. But nothing happens.

‘Now then we must wait and see,’ Benjamin says, sitting back on his comfortable red chair stitching and sewing.‘It may be a long wait.’


Cobs finishes the last swirl on his new web. It’s glows with the nights events engrave all over it. The spider thread outlines a small New Born sleeping below zig-zags of clouds, odd creatures above him, escaping through the tip of Cobs’s new web.

It obtrudes the whole corner of Benjamin’s cottage. Benjamin does not seem to mind as he sews the last few fabrics together with golden thread for the shawl. The New Born sleeps soundly, covered in Benjamin’s hair that has becoming his blanket. The enduring long wait makes the night stay just a little longer for them all, more so for Cobs.

‘Look Cobs it is starting,’ Benjamin beams.

Bubbles burst from the boiling water then start to turn a warm red. The Blez flames circles the pot, wrapping around it obscuring it from Cobs’s and Benjamin’s view.

‘What is happening?’Cobs asks.

‘Be patient,’ Benjamin answers sitting on his chair.

Suddenly the flames calm and rest under the pot, inside the red water has compressed together forming symbols.

‘What does it say Benjamin?’

‘It is old scripted writing I am afraid. I will have to search my books.’

Benjamin pulls out the pot and empties out the water. He turns it around and examines the stained black pot.

‘How could this have happened, never has that Magic Stone done such a thing to my pots before,’ says Benjamin.‘I sure wouldn’t have used my good pot if I’d known.’

Morning arrives and the New Born wakes up, rubbing his eyes, looking at the flames.

Benjamin eyes smile as he hands him his finished red hood shawl. He had been working all night on it and it is beautiful. It has beautiful long sleeves and a giant hood, small gold thread is stitched at the sides. It had been beautifully done though Cobs and he sees what looks like symbols at the side, stitched in Cobs’s own unique spider thread.

‘The Magic Stone never fails in answering any question. It is a peculiar one,’ says Benjamin as he helps the New Born put on his new warm shawl. ‘I needed to look up some old scripted writings to figure it out. I have never heard of such a name around these parts of the forest before.’

What did it say, Benjamin?’ Cobs asks excited. He has been waiting all night for an answer and for Benjamin to find out the symbols’ meanings.

Cobs stares at the beautiful writing on the shawl. The gold symbols designed on the chest, unique in Benjamin’s own writing.

‘It spells out the name Alek of Harrowan,’ says Benjamin to Cobs.

‘Any other answers?’ asks Cobs.

‘Look, the bottom of my pot, there is your answer Cobs, The Realms.’

CHAPTER 6

‘Alek, come,’ whispers Benjamin hiding behind some wild bushes.

Alek runs over and squats beside him. They watch a gigantic creature in front of them with a large horn on its forehead, stabbing a tree and ripping it from its roots. It takes its small tusk and uses it to grasp the fruits and leaves on its branches, its big long arched jaw chews loudly.

Benjamin likes to call these creatures ‘Dorron’. They are fantastic creatures, one of his favourites in the whole forest. Although, he says that about all the creatures he shows Alek and Cobs.

A giant mother Dorron is out playing with her baby. They are jumping around wallowing in the glorious rays of the sun, the baby stamps its giant feet frightening off other small creatures hiding close by.

‘What marvellous creatures, so protective of their own,’ sniffles Benjamin, trying to push away some leaves that are lodged in his nostrils.

‘The mother will raise its Dorron until seen fit and then they’re on their own. Some mothers finds it hard to let go. Some never let go at all,’ he says watching them, ‘quite aggressive, and unpredictable at times, but wonderful.’

Alek listens; absorbing every word Benjamin speaks about the wild forest. Cobs listens behind them in the trees, trying to go undetected from the creatures, the Dorrons are wonderful creatures and the only ones that cannot sense a spider around them.

Today, is the first day Cobs has explored with them. Alek and Benjamin would spend all morning and evening together out wandering, learning about its special creations. Although, they could never investigate and explores when Cobs is around. The creatures are not used to his presence yet and they will sense him nearby and scuttle off.

‘I’ve never heard the forest as quiet in all my time here,’ says Benjamin.

Cobs returns to the cottage as the night creeps in past the clouds and it becomes cold. Cobs never minds staying behind in the cottage and always prefers Alek’s versions of events, he always returns excited to tell of his day.

‘So what creatures did you see, My Boy?’ Cobs asks

‘We saw the Yellow Morkas. I have been hoping to see them for a long while,’

Alek says. His voice quiet, yet firm. Benjamin thinks Alek has been easier to teach than Cobs at that young age. Cobs however did not mention that spiders don’t intend to speak, until he did of course.

‘Yellow Morkas?’ Cobs questions.

‘Yes Yellow Morkas,’ says Alek excitedly.

‘Benjamin, you sure do give unusual names for the creatures you study,’ smiles Cobs politely.

Benjamin chuckles and stirs some left over stew in the stone pot above the Blez fire.

‘Yellow Morkas live in the trees. They’re big and fat with yellow fur all over, apart from their black flat faces. They jump real high too into the sky and grab their food in the air. Have you seen them?’

‘Cannot say that I have, My Boy.’

Alek continues to talk about all the creatures and flowers as he sips his fresh blue worm soup, his mouth glowing, Benjamin’s beard also glowing as droplets sprinkle down from his mouth.

‘We saw a small Black Berta too?’ says Alek

‘What is that?’ Cobs asks.

‘There these small furry black things. They have big black eyes and long tails that helps them stay on the trees. They climb a lot, but they’re any good at it and so they fall to the ground, most of the time. Don't they Benjamin?’ Alek beams.

It has been the third time he has told them. His excitement is infectious to Cobs.

‘Yes yes you sure are. Now finish up and go to bed its late,’ demands Benjamin.

Alek huffs in protest before jumping into a small hut bed in the corner. It is only small but so is Alek, large leaves and sheets of stitched fabrics cover the whole bed, tiny strands of spider thread stars hang from the ceiling, it makes a great scene as Alek looks above. He closes his eyes and drifts off. Cobs and Alek have been living with Benjamin for quite a long time and Cobs has enjoyed being back with his friend. Although, the questions about Harrowan, the Shadow, and Alek have been on his mind and Cobs feels it is time for answers.

‘I need to go away for a little while Benjamin, I am going to visit the Realms.’ ‘The Realms,’ says Benjamin, ‘that is quite a journey to be taking. When are you going?’

‘In the morning, I am not sure when I will be back, if the Realms know of anything and agree to help I can set off straight away to find answers,’ says Cobs, finishing the last touches of his glowing weave web with Dorrons on it.

‘Set off where?’

‘Wherever I need to go to find answers. They are the oldest living creatures that have graced this wonderful forest, apart from us spiders that is.’

‘And what if they don’t, what if they want you to return to Spider Cave for the answers?’

‘I’m sure they’ll be obliging if they know anything about this place Harrowan and where to find it? Or if they know where I can find this Shadow? I hope our travels are not near Spider Cave, if so I will prepare myself,’ Cobs says.

‘Strange things have been occurring here Cobs, you know that. All creatures are frightened.’ Benjamin gets fidgety as he stands up from his chair and stares into the fire, fear fills his eyes. ‘It is not safe for any creature to be travelling long journeys. Not at times like this. If the Realms know of any danger coming to the forest, you must promise me that you will listen to them. Realms can always sense things before other creatures can.’

‘You have my word, old friend,’ Cobs says. ‘I need to start somewhere and Realms Arch is better than any for answers as our Magic Stone said.’

‘We will come with you,’ Benjamin insists. ‘We must hurry in our answers. Once Winter Moon comes, time will not be on our side.’

CHAPTER 7

They set off before the sun comes up from its sleep and awakens the other creatures. However, the forest has never been so quiet and nothing roams or even moves nearby. The creatures decide not to come out today, even the slight breeze from early morning ceases when Cobs shuttles out from the cottage.

‘It is to be expected, Alek, Cobs is around,’ Benjamin says, walking beside him poking the yellow flowers as they open and close every time he moves past them. Cobs travels up ahead and starts to climb up the Ouckjuice trees. He rattles the branches shaking down stubborn leaves and fruits.

‘Careful Alek!’ shouts Benjamin, handling a wild Ouckjuice fruit. ‘These blue fruits burst if not handled carefully.’

Alek does not hear Benjamin’s warning. He pulls off a big blue Ouckjuice from a low branch. Suddenly, a loud bang. Everyone’s ears are startled, even the hidden creatures rummage out to run further away.

Explosions of blue dye stain everything and in all directions, splashes hit the ground, trees, leaves and even some angry insects. Alek is destroyed in blue sticky juice from head to toe. He is very upset.

‘Be careful, My Boy,’ Cobs says, still rattling from tree to tree.

‘Ah next time you will be more careful,’ laughs Benjamin, delighted with all the Ouckjuice fruits that Cobs is helping to shake down from the tree into a soft pile of leaves Benjamin made on the ground.

He picks up as many as he can, puts them in his sack and gentle lifts it over his back and staggers on.

The path gets difficult, hiding its deceitful long thick vines under tall shreds of grass, Cobs scuttles up the steep hills looking out for the moving weeds trying to grip and trip him. Alek and Benjamin follow behind but lose their footing. Alek falls first, hitting the grass and scraping his elbows and chin, Benjamin falls next hitting the hard solid ground with his head while his Oukjuice fruits roll down the hill and burst.

‘I must hide my sack from the creatures. I cannot travel any further with it,’ Benjamin says as he struggles to stand up from his fall and find any remaining Ouckjuice fruits that have not burst. He searches around for somewhere secretive. He finds a large tree that has an arched chamber in the middle. He takes out all the potions and tucks them under his beard, he takes the bag and places it inside and covers the hole with shreds of long grass and twigs. He carries on climbing up, each step cautiously thought about.

‘I do hope my sack is still here when we return,’ he confesses to Cobs as he climbs up beside Alek.

‘I hope so too,’ says Cobs.

Benjamin’s long knotty beard is making the climb a lot more difficult. He holds on tight to the vines. He lifts his right foot up but it is stuck in the grass. He struggles until he pulls so hard, his grip weakens and he falls back.

‘Are you okay, Benjamin?’ shouts Cobs up beside Alek now.

‘Yes nothing my own Healing Potions cannot cure,’ he replies.

He reaches into his beard and takes out a small blue bottle, he opens it, a puff of blue smoke escapes. He dabs a few drops onto his cuts, slowly the redness vanishes and Benjamin begins again up the hill.

The journey is slow when they come across Realms Arch it gets harder. They now have to drag themselves up the steep sharp hill.

They slip in mud and old wet leaves, they roll down and bang into thorns and dreadful itchy leaves.

‘We are nearly there,’ calls Cobs up ahead.

He scuttles up. He finds it a lot easier of course.

‘Not long now, My Boy,’ he smiles.

‘Easy for you to say,’ mumbles Benjamin from behind Alek who takes another slip and tumble, hitting his head on a large stone mossy rock, that was hiding under a mountain of dirt.

‘Why can’t you carry us up, Cobs?’ moans Alek as he rubs his bruised knee trying hard to stop the throbbing pain by pressing hard against it. It does not work

‘I am afraid this path is under protection by the Realms. All creatures must travel it alone. It is said, one will be cursed if the Realms feel cheated,’ says Cobs up the hill.

‘How is it curse?’ Alek asks terrified.

There is no answer, only a shrug of the shoulders when Benjamin passes by. Alek stops complaining and carries on up the hill quietly.

Benjamin and Alek finally reach the top of the hill where Cobs is waiting. They sit on top of a flat stone, Benjamin walks over towards a fat tree with fat leaves smothering its branches. He picks one off, juice drips out from the inside and he rubs it on his itchy skin. He picks off another leaf and gives it to Alek to rub on his own.

‘Look way over there Cobs, past the other hills, it is a big cave?’ Alek says pointing out to a massive grey cave, it taking up a wide area of the forest, large dangling green and yellow arrangements hang down from the top to its entry, it is too far away to see what they could be.

‘That is SpiderCave; it is where all the spiders of the forest live,’says Cobs after a few moments of silence.

‘Can we go?’

‘No, My Boy, it is unsafe I’m afraid.’

‘Why? Do they know you, Cobs?’ he asks.

‘It is a long story I will tell you it sometime, but for now let’s carry on, we are close to Realms Arch.’ Cobs can see, Alek is eager to know more, but it will have to wait.

They reach the top of another wild emerald green path where a tiny archway hides, small pointy thorns and small wild blue roses circling around a small hole. They look inside. It mirrors and beams their reflection back to them than catches the sun rays and lets out a big shimmer.

Cobs scuttles inside, Benjamin and Alek follow him. As they wander in it becomes dark and gloomy, loud noises echo around them. They do not stop until they reach another Arch. They enter and the whole sky above changes, it becomes engulfed with large twisted branches that cover both sides of them.

The sky is masked, only the colour of sapphire blue and intense purple are visible above from the tiny dainty leaves, some float down falling from their roots and gathering in clumps on the ground.

Tiny blue creatures start to fly towards them, bumping into them with such force; it stings like a sharp point dabbing into their skin, worse than the itchy leaves. All around they fly in different directions; whizzing past them without a care for their injuries.

‘Come, lets hurry before they all come,’ Cobs says as he hurries them deeper into the Realms territory, a blue wave of creatures flies around on each side of them and hovers. Cobs can hear their wings flickering past them. Their whispering voices faint.. He wonders do they remember him. Will she? Finally, they stop at a strange looking tree in the middle of a wide-open place, its branches venturing out into odder shapes, twisting and turning upside down and curving within one another in all directions, more so than the trees they had just passed.

A swarm of purple leaves slope down upon them, tiny flutters of blue Realms sit upon the branches, their big dark blue eyes staring at the new arrivals as their tiny hands and feet hold onto small red berry fruits that grow on the strange looking trees. Their big glassy glittering wings on their backs flicker fast, dripping tiny dots of glitter with each move. They look curiously at Alek.

‘This is Alek,’ Cobs shouts.

A small Realm flies out from the leaves and sits on Alek shoulder. Cobs stares at a Realm as it flies around Alek. It pokes his nose with its tiny fingers, than lifts up his eyelids, pulls and shouts into his ears with its high pitch voice.


Alek gets quite annoyed, he shakes his head back and forth, waving his hands in the air, trying to get the Realm away from him.. Finally, he slaps the Realm and it flies away.

‘Go away that hurts,’ he yells.

He runs and hides underneath Benjamin’s long bushy beard, protecting himself from the Realm. It flies away and lands back on the leaves. His Realms friends huddle together whispering and staring at Alek, Benjamin and Cobs.

‘They are curious about you. They find you fascinating,’ Benjamin whispers. He is quite happy for being allowed into the Realm’s life.

‘Realms are loyal creatures and have been living in this forest since its beginning. Cobs has known these Realms for a long time and they may help us.’

As Alek peeps his head out more Realms appear. The weird purple trees around them start to turn a dark blue in their presence. The Realms colour transforming the forest around them

‘Can you help us?’ Cobs pleads.

The Realms sway back and forth, their voices resounding together like a gentle high breeze.

‘The forest is in turmoil, there is a Shadow among us, you search for answers?’ The Realms are speaking louder and moving side to side, back and forth. They look worried, their eyes filling with nervousness.

‘Yes, can you help me?’ Cobs asks,‘The Shadow, they know the Shadow,’ Cobs says to Benjamin who looks on in amazement.

‘Follow the path back to your past, it is only there where you will found your answers?’

‘I don’t understand,’ says Cobs

‘Spider Cave holds all the answers you seek,’ the Realms call out. ‘They have wandered the forest just as long as we have. You must put your differences aside and find the answers the forest desperately need to survive this Winter Moon.’

‘Does that mean we have to go to Spider Cave?’ asks Alek peeping out from Benjamin’s beard.

Cobs’s heart beats furiously, his legs weaken. Cobs sits on the ground and catches his breath. ‘Cobs, are you okay?’ says Benjamin but Cobs says nothing. He knew he would have to return if the Realms said so. He has prepared himself but now that it has become a certainty, he feels uneasy.

‘I must go and ask for their help,’ says Cobs as a Realm sits on his back rubbing it, her tiny hands soothing and warm.

‘Good to see you again, Helper,’ Cobs smiles. It had been so long since he saw her, her azure colour had not faded, her joyful eyes smiling back at him. He remembers the times they spent on top of the trees gazing out into the forest, Helper’s charms aiding Cobs to sneak in and out from Spider Cave for just a little while.

‘Cobs, do you think that is wise to return to Spider Cave, after all you are not welcome there.’

‘It is the only option I have now,’ Cobs says restlessly.

‘What happened Cobs?’ asks Alek.

Cobs looks up into the beautiful patch of sky that is unrestrained by purple leaves or blue Realms. He looks deep into the small dots that are slowly turning into stars. He becomes lost in his past.

‘I remember when Spider Cave had not been given a name and was only a nameless cave. Inside it laid bare, only disturbed by creatures that went to sleep in its darkness. All spiders like me had once graced and wandered the grounds of the forest. Some parts were alight with wonderful webs from all the different kinds of spiders. The illuminating colours on their bodies, sky blue, misty white or rose red, long legged spiders with big bodies or small ones. Some with large eyes, or tiny ones, or big fangs or none at all. All the gifts they owned, senses like me, or eyes that can see past the sky, or legs that can move faster than any creature known in this forest. Trees were once blanketed with glowing threads of all sizes.


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