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Comic profile: Arachnid Goddess 2
Arachnid Goddess 2
Strange mature journeys in the world of Xibalba
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Content flags: Violent ContentSexual ContentNudity
Comic language: English
Genre: Horror
Activity status: Active
Archive url: Visit archive
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Last update: Today
Number of comics: 19
Number of subscribers: 7
Visitors: 994 visitors (2570 pages viewed)
Rating: 5 (2 votes)

Comic description

A sequel to the original Arachnid Goddess webcomic, set in the future of that world after the adventures of Ahab, with new and old faces. Done in a story based format in b/w art. Doesn't require knowledge of the first webcomic. (The story follows below the illustrations so that readers of another language may use a translation service to follow along.)

Authors

Chernobog
Chernobog
I'm kind of a writer who draws, rather than an artist who writes.

Like the content I make? Come check out my books on Amazon!
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00WWGB1ZI

My Deviant Art account: http://PennDreadful.deviantart.com/


Most recent comments left on Arachnid Goddess 2

Chernobog
19th Aug 2017
Chernobog
As they ventured, the conversation changed to more mundane yet important topics. Whenever possible, Bali-la pointed out various plants she knew for Karolina's benefit. The Xibalban wasn't an herbalist, but she knew more than the average member of her kind. And maybe one day, Karolina would learn why that was. But for today, it was enough that Karolina get an idea about the basics. Because she was so sheltered in Adelaide, she needed to know what was obviously poisonous and recognizable. Of course, Xibalba had no shortage of things to harm or maim someone, even on the foliage level.

To her credit, the shovel witch wasn't completely ignorant. Although she had never wandered outside town borders, she was allowed at the edge of the swampland surrounding the Adelaide. This allowed her a modest sampled measure of the variety of greenery in the area. Coupled with her inquisitive nature with the returning hunters, she was able to confirm a few notes as Bali-la explained the life around them. Which was good, because there was a lot to take in. Quietly, Bali appreciated the chance to teach the young human woman. It brought forth pleasant memories and in truth, she was no stranger to the art of instruction, although her caste was not that of a Sage.

Still, however experienced a hunter or a friend of the forest might be, one cannot prepare for all possibilities. Or notice them. Especially when lost in thought and tutoring a novice. When danger struck, she saw no signs of them or their traps.

In a sudden moment, caught off mid-sentence on the topic of flowering succulents, Karolina found herself being yanked skyward. With a yelp, her pointed hat fell off and she was brought halfway above to the branches of the dismal swamp trees, as she found herself trapped inside of a net. It looked similar to the silken bag that Bali-la used the other day to carry the apples and pomegranates, only bigger. Tangled and held taut with her head peeking out of a gap in the fabric, she tried to burst out, but the bag proved strong and tough, only stretching but not breaking.

Bali-la heard the noise and was about to turn to look, when she felt a large rough green hand clench over her spotted shoulder. "Don't move..." gurgled a guttural voice. Bali tensed, her fists already up in a defensive position.

Behind her, she could hear multiple individuals issuing out low bellowing groans, as well as the voice of Siouxsie speaking out, "Frieeend...?" followed by "You rough..." and then some irritated hissing of her own. What was happening? As Alpha, Bali tried to take in the situation as quickly as possible, but from what she gathered, it was an ambush and the strangers had the advantage in mere seconds.

Several more came into view on her flank. They were bulky, scaly bodied, and often hunched. Some were far taller than either her or her companions. But the look of them was obvious. Gator people. Crocodile kin. Even gharials. Or as they were recognized in the lands of Xibalba, the Longtooth Clan. They were known to lurk in swamps and wetlands such as this area, and in truth, Bali had assumed they were around even before she arrived at Adelaide. And it had been one thing to venture through their lands alone and undistracted, as opposed to a small group who didn't entirely know what to watch for.

However, she knew only hearsay of their territory. They were a bit different than Xibalbans of her kind, who liked marking their territories as a source of pride and to establish clear borders with neighboring tribes. Longtooths sought to control waterways and mud ridden terrain, preferring their neighbors to only recognize their scaly holdings as fluidic in nature. This allowed outsiders to mistakenly wander into their lands, which gave the Longtooth opportunities to ambush with minimal energy. Such as this moment now.

"What have we here?" moaned one. "A human in the bag, some yellowy barbarian woman... what is this other one with the short dark hair? She looks ill. Mmm, it matters not. Guuhhhh... stand down barbarian. Or the lot of you will be torn asunder here and now."

Bali felt out the situation. It sounded as though there were somewhere between four and seven of them. One Longtooth was problem enough- these beings were known for being bipedal tanks, both strong and tough. No one would mistake them for an easy fight ever. Swallowing hard, she relaxed tentatively. This was not a battle she or they together could hope to win. "Very well... I suppose you were hiding in plain sight, weren't you?"

"Astute," the voice grunted. The Longtooth were experts in blending in their large forms with mud and plant life. They only needed to be nearby, waiting and dreaming in the heat as they were said to do. "You are the Alpha of this group?"

"Yes. My name is Bali-la."

"Then, Bali-la, tell your subordinate held by my brother to cease her struggling. We don't need to keep you alive, you should know."

Bali was allowed to glance behind her, where she observed Siouxsie carrying on like a maddened badger. She hissed, gnashed her bony teeth, and kicked uselessly, all in an effort to turn around in the grip of a gator man and attack. "Siouxsie! Stop. Don't fight now."

The zombie looked confused. "Not friendsss...?"

"No, they are not. But don't fight with them, okay? They'll hurt you and Kara."

The zombie pouted but complied. "You rough..." she elicited to her captor.

"Bali?! What are they going to do to us? Who are they?" called out Karolina, as gator men wrested her and the net down from the old cypress trees.

"They're called the Longtooth clan. Just stay calm, Kara."

The human mewled nervously as the net was wrapped around her like a papoose. A gator man slung her over his shoulder and stood waiting for the others.

"What do you want with us?" demanded Bali of one of her captors. "We weren't looking to cause trouble with your people."

"You couldn't cause us trouble if you tried, barbarian," said the voice again. She recognized a Longtooth with a moss-like beard as the one who was still addressing her. "And it matters not what your business was here or somewhere else. You will be brought back to the village and your usefulness will be determined. If you have some skill, we might keep you. Or you might be eaten alive. Xibalban and human bodies are something of a delicacy. We covet meat in all of its forms."

Bali scoffed. "So you plan to kill us, eh?"

"Not necessarily. But that remains to be seen. Now walk! Their safety relies on your obedience, Alpha."
Left on 18. The Longtooth Clan
Chernobog
11th Aug 2017
Chernobog
In general, most members of humanity do not enjoy wandering a humid wet swampland, filled with uneven terrain, biting insects, and off putting smells of rotting vegetation in the air. However, in the world of Xibalba, most of those people weren't around anymore to voice their opinions to Karolina. From her past, she knew the swamp as the forbidden place, where only the village's hunters would boldly stride into and come back home adorned with mud and a fresh catch, be it fish or perhaps a snake. As usual, she had questioned them whenever she had the time, but such moments were few. At the very least, she gathered a general idea about the terrain. Traveling in it, however, was proving far more exciting than any story.

As the trio walked with Bali navigating a path, Karolina was quiet, her attention thoroughly caught up in studying every little plant, bug, and bird call she came across. And there was no shortage of any of those. And unlike Siouxsie who was also silent during their trek, Karolina had many thoughts and wonders coursing through her mind.

"Are you still back there?" Bali joked over her shoulder. She knew they were even without looking, as she could hear them easily as they stepped on random fallen branches.

"This place is amazing!" Karolina marveled, taking in all the lush greenery and sights of semi-hidden animals. "It's so... busy! I haven't even seen half of these plants before," she stated, spying a cluster of bamboo near Bali's flank. Like the animals, some plants in the new world of Xibalba had mutated from human times, but it wasn't a flat rule across the board.

"It is nice, isn't it?" agreed Bali. "Not having too much trouble?"

"No, not at all. It's been mostly grass so far. I mean, it is muggy here, but I'm too distracted to care."

"Heh. Well, do keep an eye out as best that you can. I know there's a lot to take in here and this is new to you, but everywhere is basically dangerous too. Of course... some would say that's part of the charm," Bali observed with a more distinctly Xibalban viewpoint.

"Huh? What does that mean?" inquired the shovel witch, pulling her attention from some hand sized butterflies.

"I've been told I can be a little reckless. I like a challenge sometimes. I don't always shy away from danger, that sort of thing. But that sense of adventure is not necessarily unique to me. Not entirely. It's one of the main reasons Xibalbans as you know them actively stay in humanoid form, even if their natural body is anything but."

The shovel witch glanced about, looking confused. "Still not sure I get that, honestly."

"I wouldn't worry about it, really. That's just a fancy way of saying we can feel more things in a humanoid body than, say, an armor covered carapace."

"Ooh, okay. Hm. So, does that mean this is not how you really look then?"

Bali chuckled aloud and waved a finger, as if to clear the thought from the air. "Don't worry. For all pretensive purposes, this is the actual 'me' you're seeing. In any event, I don't want to distract you too much right now. Keep your eyes peeled for anything that might seem dangerous, be it creature or quicksand. Because as beautiful as the swamp is, it's also a garden of death, Kara. There are plenty of creatures out here that won't think twice about going after us if they feel they have half a chance."

"Geez. How do you get used to that idea?"

"You just live within the mindset of it. It's like swimming in the ocean. After entering, you're as wet as everything else around you. An ocean is dangerous- it has riptides, strong currents, and stinging jellyfish. But if you're afraid to go in, you'll always see the worst in it by that perspective. Rather, try to see both what is beautiful and terrible at the same time, if you can. To us, those concepts are almost interlinked at the core."
Left on 17. Green New World
Chernobog
3rd Aug 2017
Chernobog
Karolina searched Bali for a response, but the Xibalban seemed to be in no hurry to delegate an answer. If anything, her focus had returned to scrubbing the zombie, who as usual, seemed relatively oblivious as to what was being discussed. The shovel witch pursed her lips, hoping for some kind of acknowledgement or opinion. Bali did not make it quick.

"It's dangerous out there, Kara. You've made it rather clear to me that you're not well versed in life beyond Adelaide. Suppose I take you along," she spoke calmly. "The chances of you dying outside this place are significant. There is no shortage of animals, monsters, and all manner of mundane issues that will precipitate an early end for you."

Karolina nodded, the truth of that statement being bittersweet, but hardly unknown to her. "I know that. But there's nothing for me here, either. This is an existence, not a life. It's dull, predictable, and..." Her face winced, catching her words. "Unsatisfying."

"You are one of the few interesting things that has ever happened to me. A random variable to my day to day life of burying an entire village of misplaced bones. Bali, realistically speaking, I don't think I could ever complete this. I don't know which humerus goes to what forearm. Not after years when I've dug hundreds of graves for those who died intact, versus several hundred who are still scattered all over the landscape. In some ways, yes, I bury the dead out of respect, as I was raised. But in many more ways, I do it out of habit and a need for purpose."

"Resurrecting Siouxsie only confirms that what I wanted is not within my grasp. I can't fix this town. But... maybe I could change my situation. Isn't that along the lines of what you said? Maybe I want to make things right for myself. Live while I'm still alive..."

Bali slowed her at task again, her eyes strangely distant and fixed.

"Bali?"

"Hm? Oh, sorry... something you said took me elsewhere for a moment."

The two stood awkwardly. Bali licked her lips and raised her head, thoughtfully looking at Karolina. "What about her?" she inquired in regards to Siouxsie.

"She would have to come with me. Come with us," Karolina announced. "I know it's imposing. But I can't ignore my responsibilities anymore, just because I'm not good with them. I see that now. She and I are a package deal."

Bali allowed a small smirk. "Well, good. Because if you said otherwise..."

Karolina brightened. "Wait, does that mean you'll have me along?"

Sighing in resignation, but appearing no less willing, Bali nodded slightly. "Yes. You can come with me. But there's going to be some conditions and understandings."

"Okay."

"I'll give you one hour to prepare. Take anything that you must have with you, but pack as light as you can. The country outside this town is a gigantic swamp. Don't bring shoes, they're rarely practical. And dress lightly. There's no fresh water well waiting for us out there and the water, however abundant, is not always safe or drinkable. The heat in Adelaide is nothing compared to the wilderness."

"Alright, I can do that. I have a satchel that should work. Maybe I'll bring a change of clothes and a canteen or two," said the witch, organizing her thoughts aloud.

"Secondly... and this is important. You might not understand it, but my kind like having a clear sense of who is in charge when it comes to being in a group. I am your friend, but I'm also going to be the 'Alpha' of our group. I have experience when it comes to being in the wilderness and dealing with others. I will be fair with you, but there may be times I will need you to listen and follow through without arguing about it. And those requests may even be strange or unusual. I need to know that you're fine with that."

"I, uh... sure. I'll do my best. What about Siouxsie?"

"Her circumstances are special. She'll be both of our responsibility. I, as an Alpha, must watch over those in my pack. And as for you, you'll be my 'Second'; so you'll need to watch over her closely. She's not in a position of self determination right now."

"Huh. Alright, I guess that's fair. All that I know about the outside world comes from stories. I suppose it makes sense to follow someone with experience."

Bali chuckled. "You'll find I'm far less than perfect, but I thank you for the note of confidence. And I don't mean to be pushy either. It's, eh, just a Xibalban concept. We're very specific about who is in charge and matters of ranking. Oh, and there's a third note I'd like to bring up while I'm at this."

"What's that?"

"Take whatever you need for your magickal studies. I think that's something we should develop while we're out there. I'm going to be teaching you along the way... about the world, nature, history, perhaps even myself... but you would find it useful to understand your craft out there. Mages and witches are uncommon, but they're often respected and practical when they're around. 'If you have an edge in life, sharpen it', as they say."

Karolina nodded reluctantly. She was still feeling quite gun shy about playing with magic at the moment, but she knew a bit of studying couldn't hurt. It seemed that Bali-la wanted her to experience self improvement, she reasoned. Or perhaps make a unique asset of herself.

"We'll talk more about magick down the line," Bali said. "I have questions for you. Much as I'm certain you might about me."

"Heh. Well, that's certainly true."

"Very good. One hour then. Gather your items and make your peace with Adelaide... we might not be coming back for some time. I will be waiting on the outskirts of town where we first met."

The witch nodded happily, inspired by the idea of taking a journey and leaving this ruined town. The zombie's bath time, meanwhile, had ended. Siouxsie was swaddled in a towel and walked upstairs to get dressed. The zombie seemed without concern and possibly not even aware they were going on a trip together. Likely, she would not have even cared if they did.

Bali-la watched them go and then stretched in a cat-like fashion with a sigh, wiping the cauldron's water from her hands. Things were moving quickly. It was a welcome change from how it had been for a painfully long period of time. And perhaps it was characteristically reckless to bring the inexperienced girl along, but Bali was sure that one way or other, the Australian human would be useful. It was merely a question of how and when.

Before long, Karolina appeared at the town's edge with Siouxsie. The witch carried the satchel she mentioned under her arm and her shovel in the other. It seemed an impractical implement to tote along, but Bali held her tongue, believing there might have been some significance to the object. Beyond that, Karolina was still wearing her shorts from earlier, but with the white shirt and ragged vest from yesterday, as well as a witch's hat. Bali raised a brow. "Is that dressing light enough?" she inquired.

"Well... I find them comfortable. White reflects the sun and the shoulders are open for breathability. The shorts aren't too long. The hat helps me focus my magick. And the vest is sentimental. It's not that heavy, really. Heh. Sorry, I'm just not ready to go around with my butt showing out of my underwear, little miss-panty-floss," she said with a chuckle.

Bali shrugged with a grin. "Fair enough. So, what's going on with Siouxsie...?"

The zombie was even more covered. She was wearing raggedy denim overalls and her body was otherwise completely covered (save for the face and digits) with bandages.

"Yeah, about that... she saw herself in a mirror when I was getting dressed and she said, "Sick" to me. From then, she insisted on covering up. She found some bandages and started putting them on herself."

"Interesting... okay, but what about the overalls?"

"Those used to be my father's. I told her about the heat, but she didn't seem to understand or care. And she kept trying to dress herself, but she didn't seem to understand that part somehow. She was running around up there with pants on her head! She even thought it was a game when I tried to remove them and show her how to wear them... eh, the overalls are a compromise. I didn't want us to be late and she didn't make a fuss with these."

"That must have been a sight, ha ha... well then, are you ready?"

"No. But I am willing. Let's go! I can't wait to explore what's outside of town."

Bali-la smiled and the three took one last look at Adelaide, with no certain plan of when they might return.

"Bye bye home," uttered the zombie, crudely waving her bony hand. The witch and Xibalban exchanged a quick look, and together, they entered the vast shadowy vegetation filled swamp, a strange child of Australia and Louisiana's union together.
Left on 16. Looking Back Going Forward
Chernobog
25th Jul 2017
Chernobog
The next day, she awoke to the sound of birds beyond the frame of her window. The rain had stopped and the little creatures were surely splashing nicely in the puddles, if not drinking their fill. And beneath the tower, another tone emanated. It was the ethereal melody of that unusual singing she heard last afternoon. Bali-la was awake in the cellar, to no doubt.

Noticing the bag of 'strange fabric' still left in the room from yesterday, Karolina partook of another apple to start the day, and proceeded to get dressed. Feeling uncommonly relaxed and casual, she donned an old blue plaid flannel over an undershirt and hiked up a pair of cuffed khaki style shorts. The act reminded her to bring Siouxsie a change of clothes, so she made a quick grab for some raiments that she felt content never to get back again.

Far downstairs, she found Bali performing a song for Siouxsie, who seemed enraptured by it. The zombie woman was no longer in a web (indeed, it was strangely gone altogether), but she was still otherwise cocooned and in visibly good spirits. Karolina paused to listen to the odd syllabic song, letting the seeming nonsense sounds and intonations flow through her. Was it some kind of Xibalban language, she wondered? But she corrected herself, recalling that the village people of Adelaide told her that everyone spoke the same language since the Herald event. Odd how the world worked, Karolina idly observed.

Bali took notice of her host and with a smile, closed out her song in a way that seemed as though she planned the notes to conclude that way. "Good morning, Karolina. You look content."

"Hey Bali. I slept really good. I feel great. How about you?"

"I'm glad to hear that. Mm, mine could have been better. It's not a knock against the accommodations. I just don't sleep as well as I'd like," said Bali.

"Sorry to hear that. Hmm. What about her?" the witch asked, gesturing to the zombie.

"Ah. Well... I'm not sure, ha ha. We spoke for a bit last night before I retired. I woke up several times, but she wasn't so much sleeping as staring off into space rigidly. I can tell you that she wasn't responsive in the least. I think she's capable of entering some kind of torpor state. Or she's a really deep sleeper and can do it with her eyes open."

"Huh. There's a lot we can only guess about her. Oh... uh, maybe I shouldn't be talking about her like she's not here. I'm sorry, Siouxsie. That was rude of me."

The zombie looked up with an oblivious grin, as if not aware of anything until she was addressed. "Freeeend," she slurred throatily.

"Ha ha... ah. Hey, how was last night? Were you comfortable?"

The zombie just stared, her attention wandering after a short period of time, as if the question had never been asked. There was no sign that she understood it, let alone had a response.

Bali gingerly stepped closer to Karolina and whispered in her ear. "Just to let you know, she's not able to understand or process certain things from what I can tell. At least, not yet. Particularly, she isn't good at responding to questions requiring self awareness. She'll blurt things out sometimes, but she's not part of the 'I think, therefore I am' school of existing. I'd say just give her time. Actually... you said you dealt with her a little bit when you first raised her. Was she like this?"

Karolina pursed her lips, pondering information that she had long made efforts to forget. "Well, maybe a bit. I don't remember it too clearly now, to be honest. She had longer hair back then... I recall that more than anything else. But I could get simple responses out of her."

"Mm. Let's just take it easy on her now. She had been in a frenzy state for a scary amount of time. Some Xibalbans don't come back when they've been starved like that for long periods. They just stay as wild beasts."

Karolina frowned. But Bali patted her on the shoulder. "Hey, don't worry about that. She could be worse! Do you remember what I said yesterday?"

It took Karolina a moment, but her face brightened as the words came to her. "All we can try to do is make things right sometimes."

"Right!" beamed Bali-la. "Now, what say we give this little zombie a proper bath? Do you have anything for that we could use?"

"Oh yes, absolutely. I've got a cauldron, some old soap... there's a functioning well nearby. We should do this outside, though. The water will be a bit cold. We can pre-heat the pot safely outdoors, you see. The cellar isn't well ventilated for that kind of job."

"Of course. I'll fetch some firewood," said Bali.

About half an hour later, everything was set. A large heavy cauldron had been rolled out the protective doors of the light house and with some fire, the two heated it up to at least a warm temperature. It was already hot outside, but the shock of cold water could have been unpleasant, and Bali wanted to scrub the zombie good. While they prepared, Karolina found a spare brush and some shampoo powder that the village's late herbalist had made.

Siouxsie was proving rather patient and easy to work with. She sat nearby, watching whatever moved. Her expression was that of someone discovering many new ideas at once, such as clouds, sunlight, rocks, and water. She had trouble speaking the words that represented these things, but she otherwise seemed to be a sponge, ready to sop up basic information. Karolina found it charming, in a way. She couldn't recall the last time she observed anyone else actually enjoy learning new things. She began to hold the opinion that Siouxsie was, in many ways, child-like. It was quite the different impression she made from the mausoleum the other night!

Bali helped the zombie out of the cocoon and eased her into the warmed cauldron. An old rubber duck was placed on the surface of the water and this seemed to delight her. "Beyrd!"

"That's right, Siouxsie. That bird is called a duck. Isn't it cute? You can play with it, if you like."

"Duck. Ha! Duck."

"You just relax, Siouxsie. I'm going to wash your hair, okay?"

"Duck! Ha ha ha! Duck."

"Sounds good."

Soon...

Bali worked up a nice lather in the zombie's hair. And Siouxsie just seemed to laugh hoarsely at the feeling. Karolina watched, mostly bemused, but she was also concerned for a time. Her experience in dealing with corpses indicated that a dead body in continued contact with water made for a... disgusting scenario. And it didn't occur to her until the bath was well underway. This was further made worrying since Siouxsie had flesh exposed joints about her arms and legs. Fortunately, nothing so displeasing came to pass. Much in the sense that Siouxsie didn't bleed from those joints, she also didn't absorb water. For this, Karolina was eternally grateful. She also noticed that her skin was strong like someone living. Dead bodies tended to slough. And Bali's hair washing could have normally caused an incident.

But then again, this was all magic, wasn't it? Karolina wondered how the rules worked. Siouxsie was dead, but perhaps being undead changed a few qualities about her form beyond simply animating it. It was intriguing. Karolina wondered again what the spell was really supposed to do... bring someone back to life as she thought? Or had she not messed up the spell and a zombie like Siouxsie was the actual design? She wished her mentor was around to field such a series of questions.

"So, Karolina..." Bali said, interrupting a train of thought. "What's on the agenda for you today?"

"Oh. Um... maybe I'll dig a few more plots? I don't know. I almost want to take the day off for once."

"You mean you dig graves every single day?"

"Well, yes. Essentially. My father and mother instilled me with the 'virtues of hard work'. It's kind of hard to shake. And this village never seems to be finished, it feels like. Hm. So, what about you? Heading out today?"

Bali had a funny expression on her face, like that of a Mona Lisa painting. Karolina couldn't place the meaning. "I suppose so. In the spirit of what I asked yesterday, I only intended to stay one day. I feel like I've imposed a great deal as it is."

"What? Oh, no, no no. Nothing like that, Bali. You're... you're welcome to stay. We have space. And, um, I like the company?" she said sheepishly.

"Ha ha ha. Well, I do, too. Both of you."

It hit Karolina then that Siouxsie would be her responsibility going forward. It only made sense, but she hadn't thought that far ahead. Yesterday was a doozy.

"But, I should be getting on soon," Bali said conclusively. "I'm no grave digger, sorry to say. I like to travel the land. See the sights and the people- you know how it is."

The witch felt her heart grow heavy. She didn't know. At all. She had been isolated in the middle of a dead village for years now, organizing and burying the entire populace by herself. And now, her only companion would be a zombie woman who was fascinated by the idea of a rubber duck. She went quiet, staring at the drying earth as she held a change of clothes for the zombie.

"Pass me that brush, Kara?" she heard after several minutes. It seemed to rouse her. Kara? Did I just get a nickname, she thought to herself.

"Oh, um, sure..." Karolina said, briefly shaking herself out of some existential fog, as she traded the cleaning implement. Kara, huh? It had a nice casual ring to it. She never had a nickname before, by her recall. Especially since she was adamant about not having her mother's name for a moniker.

The shovel witch looked off to the side, eyeing up a distant pile of bones that had required organizing. She frowned, as they had been dashed to the dust by last night's storm. The scattered remains were bleached wherever the arid grit of Australia did not cover them. It would take hours just to arrange the pile again in a way that made sense for future sorting. 'All those people, once distinctive, now just lost pieces of a forensic puzzle.' All of them, baking anonymously in the sun under the unearthly dull orange sky of Xibalba. A tiny green bottle fly landed on her eyebrow. But she wasn't in her body and the little creature licked the salt of her sweat without need of discretion.

"Bali?"

"Hm? Yes?"

"..."

"Kara? Karolina? What is it?"

"Don't leave me here," the witch said quietly, staring ever locked onto those white bones far afield instead of with her guest. "Please."

Bali's hand slowed its washing motions on Siouxsie's back. "I see..."

The shiny verdant bottle fly twitched as it was want to do and buzzed away, flying aimlessly to whatever random eddy of an air current caught its attention.
Left on 15. Bubblebath
Chernobog
19th Jul 2017
Chernobog
Karolina watched, wincing a bit. It was one thing to hold a dead rat by the tail. It was another to watch Siouxsie slowly pop back to a semblance of awareness and practically inhale the poor thing, as Bali dangled the vermin over her head. The zombie woman did indeed chew the rat, but the whole process was more akin to watching a snake choke down a smaller animal. After all, it wasn't as though Siouxsie could use her hands.

Bali seemed unfazed, as she kneeled next to the ghoul like some caretaker nurse. It was probably not outside of her wheelhouse to watch such a thing, Karolina assumed. The Xibalban was definitely more worldly and experienced than the shovel witch. Karolina wasn't truly ashamed, as she well knew she was ignorant of the world beyond the borders of town. If anything, she felt a bit envious. Bali-la was so much more confident than her and there were signs that she was insightful. Still, Karolina's opinion of her seemed to change from moment to moment. Bali was just so foreign to all that she knew.

As minutes passed, Siouxsie seemed to look about herself, as if awakening from a stupor. Her eyes blinked, instead of staring emptily. It appeared the feeding worked, just like Bali-la said. Intrigued, Karolina inched closer to observe the bound guest.

"You know, you can come onto the webbing here," Bali said, noticing Karolina with a soft smile. "Like I said, it's not sticky. And it will support you, don't worry. I can see you want a closer look. C'mon."

Learning that Bali could spin webs in short order admittedly made her seem a bit dangerous, Karolina thought. But it was unlikely that the Xibalban would do anything right now. Nothing suggested Bali was really waiting to attack Karolina, and she knew it. It was simply the very idea of climbing into a human bearing spider's web willingly, was just asking for trouble. Karolina sighed. This was quite a day.

Cautiously, the shovel witch climbed aboard and found the silk to be soft, bouncy, and quite strong. Walking on it probably wasn't realistic, but moving along on her knees seemed to work quite well. And true to Bali's word, the web easily supported the additional visitor that was the shovel witch. Taking some heart, Karolina scrambled closer.

By now, Bali allowed the wrapped up zombie woman to sit up, supporting her from behind. Siouxsie occasionally murmured quiet gurgles and noises, as if remembering how to move her jaw for something other than moans and snarls. Her expression had changed completely. The feralness was gone, as well as the maddened stare. In fact, she looked rather doe-eyed, her face softened into a visage of child-like curiosity. "Ahhh..." she breathed out, observing the room and her guests.

Karolina brightened. This was closer to how she first saw the zombie. So perhaps the feeding issue was just as Bali said. It seemed criminal now, as Karolina reflected on it, to leave the poor thing starving eternally in a mausoleum. But as she was a dead person, Karolina had not considered food was even necessary. It felt obvious now and she felt bad for it, having created suffering in another, particularly in this situation.

"I'm... sorry. For what I did," spoke the humbled shovel witch. Siouxsie turned her head to the side to look at her. "I should have fed you. I... well, I really didn't know what I was doing. With any of this. And... truth be told, I'm sorry I disturbed the peace of your rest. I was playing god. And I blinked." Karolina bowed her head. "I can only hope that you understand and might someday forgive me. I will do my best to somehow make this right for you, Miss Siouxsie." She wiped a tear from her cheek, feeling the redness of her face.

Siouxsie watched. It wasn't clear how much she understood. But Karolina knew that she was at least aware she was being addressed.

"Frerrehhh..." Siouxsie struggled, trying to speak.

Bali and Karolina rose to attention. It was different than simple gibberish. They could see the zombie trying to make words. "What? What was that?" Karolina asked, rather surprised.

"Freeehnn... you.... freh... freend?"

The witch and the spider woman shared an excited exchange. "She talks?!" Bali said silently with motions of her lips.

"Are you saying friend?" Karolina asked curiously.

"Freh-end. Frieeeend... you frieeend?" Siouxsie struggled to enunciate.

"I... I'd like to... sure. You want to be friends?" Karolina repeated, feeling an old guilt dwindle within her. "After all I did?"

Siouxsie finally smiled with that odd bony tooth plate showing. "Friend. Siouxsie... friend."

"Oh gosh! Bali, this is...! I'm Karolina, Siouxsie. Hello! And this is Bali-la."

"Kah-roe-line-uh... Karo-lina. Belly. Belli? Baly-lah?"

"You'll get it," Bali said, grinning. "Just Bali is fine, Siouxsie."

"Bali... friend, too?"

Everyone was all smiles. "Of course, Siouxsie. Absolutely."

Later...

They hung around the zombie woman, trying to get her to talk more to them. It was exciting to try. Siouxsie, for her part, was not exactly an amazing conversationalist. Her words were often ponderously put together and while quite friendly, she did not seem to have much in the way of opinions or memory. Karolina attempted to probe her mind for details about all sorts of things, from something as basic as what objects were in the room to what the afterlife was like. Of the former, Siouxsie could vaguely describe shapes, but with no articulation. The barrels and the crates in the room were just called 'box' in her command of language. As for the latter, she simply stared vacantly. Karolina had hoped to hear something enlightening from what was surely a unique perspective, but it was well beyond what the corpse woman was capable of. However, time was growing late and the day had been very long. It was time to call it a night.

"Why don't you head to bed, Karolina? Let's keep Siouxsie down here for now, just in case," Bali whispered. "I can make sure nothing bad happens. And I don't want to leave her alone right now."

Karolina nodded, rubbing her eyes and brow. "I am pretty tired, so I think I'll take you up on that. You're going to be alright staying down here with her?"

"I'll be fine. I don't think she's any danger, really. I just want to be sure. And I think it would be best to keep her company in the mean time. She's probably a bit delicate right now. Oh, and one thing? Can you bring some spare clothes for her?"

"What happened to what she was wearing?"

Bali made a face. "Well, it was soaking wet and to be honest... pretty rancid. I had to discard it. Tomorrow, I'd like to try giving her a bath, too. The rain washed off the worst of her skin stains, but you know how it is."

Karolina chuckled softly and nodded. "Sounds like a plan. You got it. I suppose I'll head up now. And, uh... Bali?"

"Yes?"

"Thanks for everything. I'm not gonna lie... I wasn't sure what to think of you today. At some points, I wished you had just returned to the swamp. But you know? I'm glad I didn't say anything like that. Not... meaningfully, anyway. I hope. You're a pretty nice person. This has just been a lot to deal with, is all. And I'm sorry for being kind of a self loathing prick. But I think you really do care about others. In your own unusual way, at least," she said, chuckling.

Bali smiled humbly. "Thank you, Karolina. I appreciate that. I know this must have been a challenging day for you, by the look of things. And I didn't always make it easy, particularly as a stranger from the wilderness. But I thank you again for allowing me to stay the night here. And I try to make a difference when I can. Just remember this, Karolina... some of what happened today, we did together. And all we can try to do is make things right sometimes."

Karolina nodded, happy but tired. "I'll try to remember that. Have a good night Bali. And you too, Siouxsie. I will see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Good night, Karolina."

"Bye bye friend," said Siouxsie.

And so went the first day and night of Karolina's first positive encounter with the outside world. She felt a weight lifted from within her. The day had been trying, but inside, she felt she had a taste of what it meant to grow as a person and leave the demons and inner shackles behind, at least a little bit. And in so many years, she had never slept as good as she did that night.
Left on 14. Resuscitation