“Halt!” barks an orc guard. “You, where are you taking these prisoners?”
“Queen’s orders,” the armored guard replies calmly, “she wants the male castrated and fed to the carnivorous nymphs, and she wants this girl here to watch.”
“Very nice.” smirks the orc. “Carry on.”
Nina whimpers and wraps her arms around me. I can’t react, I’m too scared from what I’ve just heard. I’m going to die, horribly. Our escort grabs me painfully by my hair and drags me forward. I hurry to keep up so as not to incur her wrath, but my fear is overwhelming. I don’t want to die like this.
We come out of the cave to where the wagons are housed, and I feel the cool air of the night on my naked flesh. The guard leads us toward a small building I’d not noticed before. I can hear awful sounds from inside: high-pitched female giggling, ripping and tearing noises, and male screaming. The queen must keep those carnivorous nymphs in here. As we near the building, drawing away from the cave’s entrance, I sharply turn to Nina.
“Do it now,” I implore, “kill me, don’t let this happen.”
“I love you.” Nina says as her hands lock around my throat, ready to snap my neck.
“No!” exclaims the guard, knocking Nina roughly away.
At that moment, she raises her helmet’s visor and a familiar face greets us, a face with pale skin and gleaming red eyes. Araña! Nina and I are speechless.
“I had to get you away from the guards,” she says, “now we should be clear to leave. You’re lucky, the queen really wanted this done to you, but I intercepted the guard sent to do the deed.”
We’re still silent, both amazed. Araña takes a moment to remove her armor, revealing her human form in its usual attire. How she managed to get out of that full set of armor on her own I’ll never know. But there’s no time for questions. She leads us away from the cave via a roundabout route until we’re back on a main road headed southward, toward our home. I’m weary but Araña keeps us walking until I can barely put one foot in front of the other. Luckily for us, she stowed some clothes for us in a bag concealed by the roadside.
When we make camp for the night, Araña tells us of how she heard the orcs take us, but could not act immediately as instinct would not let her leave her freshly laid eggs. But as soon as she was certain the eggs were safe, she hastened to find us and worked her way into the fortress, just in time to save us from our grim fates. Best of all, the queen will still think I’ve been killed, and though Nina will be seen as missing, perhaps the queen will leave us be for now.
“She will be dealt with,” Araña assures us, “but for now, we need to get you two home. I heard talk of a monster army rallying against her, so let’s hope they do their job well.”
Nina and Araña both curl protectively around me under the starry night sky. Nina needs no sleep, and Araña seems to need less than any human would need. I know they’ll guard my rest well, and so I slumber until morning.
Our journey home takes a long while, but I’m happy to be anywhere but in that cavern lair. Araña says she and Nina can fix the shattered front gate to our estate, given the right supplies. I’m not too concerned, the orcs have no reason to return here. I’m just so happy to be home I can hardly vocalize my glee. Of course Nina and I shower Araña in hugs, kisses, and praise, all of which the arachnitaur gladly accepts.
“Oh you two will repay me in time.” she promises with a devious grin. “I’ve gone a week without feeding, and watching over my eggs has not been the most fun task ever. I’ll get you two in my web and you’ll repay me for my heroic deeds, just you wait and see.”
In all honesty, I don’t dread that prospect. Araña may be a bit of a sadist, but she loves me. I’m the father of her young. And she’s quite fond of Nina, too. She’d never go too far with us. I trust her. And I’m also eager to see our eggs hatch, to see the little arachnitaurs I’ve sired; my daughters.
“It will be a few weeks,” Araña tells me while we eat breakfast in the kitchen, “but they grow up incredibly fast.”
“I can’t wait.” I reply.
On our second day home, Nina, Araña, and I are working in the front yard, fitting new metal bars into our gate. The work is arduous, but the two women are much stronger than I, and they do well at the task. Yet, we all stop short when we see the figure coming up the path; a green Slime Girl, walking deliberately toward the house. Araña pushes Nina and I back, taking up a defensive stance in her natural, half-spider form.
“Come no closer!” she snarls in a territorial manner. “These beings are my beloved ones, you won’t harm my family.”
“Nina, Marcus,” says the Slime Girl in a familiar voice, “it’s me…”
Suddenly, Nina’s words come rushing back to me. Monsters use men for life force and food, they use women as food, but they can also convert women into monster girls. In a heartbeat, Nina and I rush past Araña and embrace Elaine in her new, slimy form. She hugs us tightly in her squishy arms, her slime covering us, but we don’t care.
“She turned me,” Elaine explains, “it was an awful process, but then I was set free. I just followed the road south and happened to see you all working out here.”
“Stay with us!” I insist. “Please, Elaine. We almost lost you once.”
Our Slime Girl friend thinks about this for a moment.
“My family was slain in the orc raid,” she says at last, “I have nowhere to go. Are you sure I can stay.”
“We’re an odd family, the three of us,” Araña answers, “I’m sure you’ll fit in very well. Though we’ll have to do something about you trailing slime everywhere.”
“And I’ll uh… have to feed eventually, on uh… life force.” Elaine says sheepishly.
Araña and Nina both share a good natured laugh at that.
“That’s what our precious little male is for.” Araña explains. “Come to think of it, I’m a bit hungry myself. How about we take Marcus inside for a little snack.”
The three women cluster around me, giggling as I pretend to struggle in their grasp.
“Don’t I get a say in the matter?” I ask in a fake indignant tone.
“No!” they all say at once.
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