I decided pretty quickly after it happened that it shouldn’t have, but, as everyone around the camp helped themselves to various foods, all I could think was the same thing over and over again.
Lexio hugged me.
He hugged me. As crazy and as unexpected as it was, it still happened... And I hugged him back. I wanted to shake myself; what was wrong with me? Why was it such a big deal? It was Lexio for heaven’s sake. No one special; just Lexio.
Looking around our little Insurgo street, I felt various pairs of eyes on me. Dimitri must have heard about my little rescue and and it was safe to say he wasn’t happy, which just made me mad. He’d glared me for the past few hours, doing nothing but mope. I chose to ignore him; if he wanted to act like a child, then so be it. However, Dimitri's weren't the ones that bothered me most... It was the eight unblinking eyes of Aranea. Every time I looked up, she was in my line of sight, steadily staring at me. Maybe she was trying to freak me out, but I wouldn’t look at her long enough to let it happen.
‘She’s trying to thank you, Nephele,’ said Imara with a mouthful of what once was a deer.
‘Thank you?’ I thought back, feeling slight guilt creep in. ‘Why does she want to thank me?’
‘You saved her life and, in turn, you saved Lexio’s.’ Reluctantly I could see the logic, but I still didn’t like the staring. Even small spiders freaked me out as it was, let alone a oversized intelligent one like Aranea. ‘You should go to her,’ he added.
‘What!’ I mentally hissed at him. ‘Are you mad?’
‘She’s not bad, cub,’ he said, slight amusement in his tone. ‘In fact, she is quite the opposite of Lexio. She is the calmer side of his personality.’
‘Da,’ I thought, ‘because his ego is too big to fit anything else.’
Imara chuckled, ‘Nephele, Aranea really insists you talk to her, even if its in private. I’ll come with you and translate. She won’t hurt you. I promise.’
I suppressed a groan; I didn’t want to talk to her really but I knew if I didn’t she’d keep willing me to look at her and I wasn’t sure if I could put up with that for much longer. Swallowing my nerves, I stood up from the campfire, ignoring the looks I got from Lyra, Lexio and Dimitri, before walking off into the treeline with Imara close behind me.
I stopped a little way in; I could still see the camp from where I was but it was still private enough for them not to be able to hear my discussion. I sat down on a fallen log and less than thirty seconds later Aranea scuttled in. I watched with caution as she moved toward me. Even though she did it slowly so wouldn't freak me out, I wasn’t sure that was helping much. I could see all eight of her large, blue, hairy legs rise and fall as she got closer to me, her eight unblinking eyes, the two huge fangs that protruded from her mouth, her large body full of webbing... Suddenly I felt very faint. Aranea came a little closer, stopping a few feet away from Imara. I cringed as I forced myself to give her the eye contact she so desired.
Imara began to translate. ‘Okay, she said: Nephele, I know you are not my biggest fan.’
I felt a little guilty. “Sorry,” I said out loud so she could hear me.
‘She understands that spiders have a low reputation anyway, so she forgives you.’
“Thanks,” I said, trying to smile at her.
‘Anyway, what she wanted to do was thank you. She isn't sure that you realise what you did for her and Lexio today. You saved her, Lexio and Lyra.’
“Lyra?” I asked. “She was perfectly safe. Dolosus could have handled himself."
‘Do you think she would cope without her brother? If Aranea had died, Lexio might have gone with her and if he did not, do you really think he would be half the man he is without her?’
I mulled over his, or rather, Aranea's words. I suppose it was true but, for once, all this praise was making me uncomfortable. If only they knew how dangerous it was for me to shoot that eagle down; I could have killed them all with one misplaced bullet. It was pure luck they survived, and I didn't like being complimented for luck.
|Emily Blunt||as Lyra|
|Alan Rickman||as Dolosus (Voice)|
|Natalie Portman||as Nephele|
|James Earl Jones||as Imara (Voice)|
|Ben Barnes||as Lexio|
|Joanna Lumley||as Aranea (Voice)|
|Alex Pettyfer||as Felix|
|Rachel Weisz||as Noir (Voice)|
|Gemma Ward||as Kassandra|
|Ian Somerhalder||as Dimitri|
|Avril Lavigne||as Athena (Voice)|
|Zooey Deschanel||as Elanor|
|Ashley Greene||as Allissa|
|Helena Bonham Carter||as Marissa|
|Helen Mirren||as The Queen|