Pixie woke up wishing she had died. Her whole body was covered in bruises from the fall and everything ached so much she wondered if she could move at all, even if she wasn’t securely fastened to a gigantic spider web in the middle of a horribly cold dungeon. There were familiar voices in the distance. She was sure one of them was Garm’s. There was no way she would ever forget his dreadful voice. Not after all the nasty things he said. The other sounded female, so she guessed it was Hela’s.
“We underestimated those little brats,” Garm said angrily. “Or perhaps it was your cage that was defective, mother.”
“Impossible! That ice is unbreakable. I’m telling you those two have some kind of powerful magic. How else could they melt both statue and cage?”
“Don’t be so full of it, old woman. Your magic is not the most powerful of Dahna,” he said.
“Neither is yours.”
“We’ll see about that soon enough. But for now, we must find another way to get to Delmes.”
“We could torture the brat,” Hela suggested. “Children never sacrifice themselves for their parents. They’re too afraid of pain.”
“Why mother, that’s a wonderful idea! Summon Hecate. She’ll take care of this in no time,” Garm ordered.
Pixie heard the sound of big heavy feet leaving the room far away behind her. It was probably a snowman fetching Hecate. She could only guess that would be her torturer. That meant she had no time to lose. She had to find a way to escape, but her arms were held fast to the web and whenever she moved it, it only seemed to tighten its grip. Soon all but her face was wrapped in the silky fabric and she couldn’t move at all. Desperate, she looked about the room in search of someone or something, maybe another prisoner that could help her or perhaps Meni. Where was Meni? Did he manage to get away? Was he frozen in a corner somewhere? She suddenly felt terribly alone. What would happen to her parents? They would probably get killed all because of her. And Meni and his family, they had nothing to do with this, yet they would pay the prize. Once Garm was king he would probably seek them out and have them arrested. Perhaps it was best if she just gave up. They would never be able to torture her into giving her mom away if she was dead. And they wouldn’t have anything to bargain with. In her opinion, it was the only way out. But alas, the web was so tight around her she could do nothing. Only close her eyes and sleep. Which, surprisingly enough, she did. After all, she hadn’t slept a wink and her adventure was proving quite tiring.
When she woke it was because of the sound of feet. Several of them, and they were moving down a tunnel in her direction. She raised her head and opened her eyes just in time to see a humongous black spider appear from the right. The thorax alone was about three times Pixie’s size. She could swallow her whole. Pixie bit her lip to stop herself from screaming.
“A heather pixie!” Hecate roared. “And a child at that! I haven’t had a decent meal in months and this is what they send me? The only thing worse would have been a human!”
Frightened as she was, Pixie could see an opportunity when it arose. “I’m half-human,” she informed the spider trying to hide the grin that was starting to form on her lips.
“Is that so?” replied Hecate, her voice sounded calmer, yet still quite sinister. “Nice try young one. It shows you got a good head on your shoulders. But I’m afraid I don’t believe you.”
“I am, I swear. My father is one hundred percent human. I don’t even live in Dahna. I’m here on… on vacation.”
“If you are truly half human, then you shall give me a drop of your blood. It is the only way I can be certain,” the giant spider said.
“What for? If you’re gonna eat me, I’d rather you do it quickly.”
“My dear child, with all due respect, I may be quite hungry, but I will never stoop so low as to eat human. You’re the stupidest animals in all the earth. Drinking your blood would render me terrifyingly ignorant. I would like a taste, so I can make sure you are not lying. Once when I was still a young spiderling I lived in an old house with some humans. They tried to kill me so I had to strike. Poor chap tasted so badly I nearly spilled my insides. It was the first and last time I ever had human, but I’ll never forget the taste.”
Pixie didn’t know what to believe. Hecate seemed dishonest. She had a way of slithering the words so as to sound like a snake hissing. It made Pixie very uncomfortable. Then again she had nothing to lose. If this was a way to avoid getting eaten it was worth a try. “Very well,” she finally replied, “but just one drop.”
“One is all I need.”
With two of her front legs Hecate freed Pixie’s hands, leaving the rest of her body securely fastened to the orb-like web. Then she gave Pixie a small piece of broken glass.
“You will have to cut yourself,” Hecate informed. “If I bite you, you’ll be paralyzed and won’t be able to move for hours.”
Pixie stared at the glass. She could use it to cut herself free. But what good would that do? The spider would certainly catch her. She would have to try her luck. Closing her eyes, she pressed the tip firmly into her index finger. There was a bit of a burning sensation and a large drop of bright red blood emerged from the cut. Pixie held out her finger for Hecate to taste. The giant spider placed her tube-like mouth over her prey’s finger and sucked the blood right off it. She cringed and made an ugly face.
“Ugh! You are definitely human,” said the spider as she dropped Pixie’s finger with disgust. “Perhaps it’s time I went out hunting. There has to be something up there better than you.”
“Oh yes,” Pixie began. “I saw some really big abominable snowmen and a pool full of penguins in the castle. Those would certainly fill you up nicely.”
“Snowmen? The hairy ones or the snowy ones?”
“The hairy ones, with the big horns on their heads,” Pixie replied.
“You lie. Garm told me they have gone extinct.”
“Hey, I didn’t lie about being half human, did I?”
Hecate was silent for a moment, scratching her head with one of her legs. “I believe you are telling the truth,” she finally informed. “But just to make sure, I will go seek proof. After I come back I will decide what to do with you. In the mean time, I suggest you stay perfectly still. You see, I build a special web around my victims; the more they struggle, the tighter it wraps around their bodies. So if you move too much, you might end up being crushed to death by the silk.”
Apparently Pixie’s horror showed on her face because Hecate raised a leg to her mouth and said: “Oh dear, perhaps it was best if I had bitten you. Too late now, I don’t want another taste of YOU.” And she disappeared through one of the tunnels.
The moment she was gone, Pixie let out a wide, cheerful smile. Silly spider had forgotten to take back the piece of glass! Trying to move as little as possible she attempted to cut the threads of silk, but the web was covered in a sticky substance that adhered to the glass and she ended up hacking away at the cocoon. The harder she sliced the tighter the sheet wrapped around her body. Finally, it was becoming difficult to breathe. She stopped moving all together, fearing even her next breath. Large drops of sweat began to glide down her brow. They seeped between her eyelashes, stinging her eyes. She had to find a way to get loose before Hecate came back.
Her lungs began to burn as her ribs pressed hard against them. There was hardly any room for air. She tried to breathe, but instead an all too familiar wheezing echoed through the icy walls.
“No,” she thought desperately. “I can’t have an attack now. I can’t even move!”
Pixie closed her eyes, trying not to think of her asthma. She knew panic only made it worse. But when you close your eyes, everything else becomes more intense. She realized she could hardly feel her feet. And the gooey, sticky substance of the web was freezing against her already wet skin. No wonder she was having an attack.
Suddenly, her breaths became faster and shorter and the wheezing louder until there was no way to prevent the panic. It was happening and there was nothing she could do. She was gasping for air now, but between the web’s ever tightening threads and her incapacitated lungs there was no hope.
She began to drift in and out of consciousness. She saw her mother napping on the couch back home. She looked so peaceful, without a care in the world. Pixie had never seen her so relaxed. Then everything became dark and cold and she was back in the cave, except Garm was there, and Mrs. Piper, and Hela. Her mother wore a long white veil made of spider webs. It trailed behind her, collecting dust and insects and everything in her path. She walked towards Garm with tears flowing freely down her face. Hela walked before her, spreading snow across her feet and all the way to the altar where her son stood waiting for his bride. Pixie tried to scream, but there was no air left in her.
“NO!” she whispered. “No, no, no… I won’t let this happen.”