Chapter 1 part 2- The Spider Queen

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Silvia waited in the hall outside of the chamber. Behind a curtain, she watched the men leave. Some ran, one cried, some were silent. Each and every one revolting. Paying customers to a snuff show for their own species. Silvia stroked the palm-sized spider that rested on her wrist and waited. Then came the smiling man.

Henri Trehar-nothing in the bio he submitted to the Brothel stood out to her. Except, of course, his family connections.

"Mr. Trehar," she called. Her voice was soft and smooth as velvet; a lovely alto. In her industry, awareness of those details mattered.

He turned to her, his smile fading for the first time since she had noticed him in the show. She raised one black eyebrow at him.

"I'll not make a second request. Follow me." The blood had all been wiped off of her, and a crisp tunic hid her modestly from the eyes of the world. This was how she preferred to converse; clean, with the stench of death and fear lingering. Henri Trehar looked up at her like the little troll he was. It was nothing new to be taller than the cretins who came to watch her dance, and the height variance effectively reminded them that she was always in charge.

The spider's prickly hairs slid under her fingertips as she turned and walked deeper into the hall. Henri followed. He stunk of sweat.

A smile played over her lips, never wide enough to show the gleam of her white teeth. Maybe if bathed properly, he'd be less revolting.

They walked down a long corridor with many curtained doors. Other wings of the Brothel had more modern accouterments, but Silvia preferred the elegance of the old fashioned décor even if it meant a sacrifice of technology. This hall was modeled after the rest of Yahal, a planet so backwards its ruling class had slid back to something resembling the ancient feudal system-- if not for the Brothel and its monetary support of the Council of Five, the entire planet would be a backwater unvisited by anyone from any other planet.

Silvia lifted one of the cloths and strode into a large chamber decorated in red and black. She seated herself on a red leather chair with a black quilt thrown over the back. Henri's eyes immediately went to her darling tarantula, and as much to encourage him as because she wanted to, she began to pet this spider even as the other scampered off her arm.

He sat across from her after checking for any arachnids. This was good. She didn't want to work with someone who killed one of her pets. He already had a strike in her opinion as someone who attended her shows. The spiders were the only things in this place that she could love. The objects that filled her chambers all belonged to the Brothel and as such were tainted, decorations in a jail cell she'd endured since she was a toddler. The rest was vile a parade of the worst of mankind, showing their most monstrous faces.

"My lover recognized you," Silvia said. "I rarely note a face among the chained who come to play voyeur. But he has an amazing memory."

"Your lover?" Henri asked.

"The arachnid," Silvia said. Each word dripped out like a separate sentence. He should feel stupid for such a statement.

His following silence was encouraging. He might be useful after all, this small, hairy man. A spider crawled across the floor and onto the toe of her boot. Her soft, full mouth curved up in a smile.

"I'm called Silvia. As a meeting place, my rooms leave much wanting. I'm not akin to the harlots here who keep their rooms friendly to male visitors." I'm not a whore. She pursed her lips.

Mr. Trehar made no response, and Silvia expected none once she heard the click, click of Halis' eight feet coming up the passage behind the bed.

Halis didn't pay any heed to their visitor. He was still sticky with blood. From the look on Henri's face, he found Halis hideous. She pitied some humans when confronted with Halis but had no tenderness for the breed of monster who came to watch one of their own species slaughtered for no purpose but entertainment.

You are more of a monster than he. She pursed her lips, studying Henri's pale face.

Then, her eyes slid over Halis. His body was covered with hairs as thick as copper wire and his eyes, blacker even than her own, observed them.

'Soon, my love, soon,' Silvia said in a voice carried over the shadows of the air. The web that wound between them, connecting them to not only each other but the guiding force at the center of the internal network, allowed them telepathic communication.

Halis' chuckle reverberated in her mind, covering her thoughts in delicious darkness. 'There is an ancient parable about an old woman who takes in an injured snake. When its needs have been met, it acts as nature dictates. Let me know when I can eat him.'

"My partner Halis," Silvia said. "You're going to do us a service, Mr. Trehar."

"Anything," Henri stammered.

"I've a little voyage planned. We're going to leave this backwater planet."

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