Nanette picked up Lincoln’s revolver, the only weapon she felt some familiarity with. She pointed it at Evan and Millie and pulled on the trigger, but nothing happened. It took a minute to figure out how to take off the safety. Then she pointed it again, but at the last second, turned it on one of her flunkies. The bang was loud. The man yelled his surprise and collapsed, his hand across his stomach where he started bleeding out. Nanette’s arm shot straight up. She almost hit herself in the face with the weapon, but looked at it with approval as she put the safety back on and handed it to one of the other men.
“Gather these weapons and put them in the wagon,” she ordered. “Take the couple. Gag and tie them to the wagon. I may have further use for them.” As she followed everyone out the door, she turned her head with one last thought. “All right, Meg. You can have the wounded one.”
Everyone heard the screams of absolute terror. Millie threw her hands to her ears. Evan looked back and dropped his jaw. Nanette came out grinning. She said, “They eat fear. They feast when they scare someone to death.”
Boston gave her bow and arrows to Katie, and her Beretta to Lockhart while she held on to her wand. Alexis pulled her wand and gave her bow and arrows to Lincoln, though she said he could not hit the broad side of a barn. Sukki pulled out her knife, military issue from the future, made from a steel far better than she ever imagined. Elder Stow had his gadgets. Decker broke off a table leg he could use as a club.
“A spear would be nice,” he said.
Lincoln nodded. “Keep them at arm’s length.”
When Lockhart, Katie, Decker, and Elder Stow came out of their rooms and on to the upstairs balcony, their heads cleared a bit. Good thing, because three giant spiders came clicking down the hall in their direction. Katie sent an arrow through one while Lockhart fiddled with the safety on Boston’s handgun. Boston waved her wand and set the other two on fire. Alexis called up a wind that blew them on to the courtyard below where they would turn to charcoal without setting the whole house ablaze.
“No point in setting the house on fire,” she said out loud, and Boston smiled sheepishly, like she had not thought of that.
Everyone paused when they heard a distant, Bang!
“Millie and Evan?” Katie asked.
“They are gone,” Boston reported.
“We need to help the family,” Alexis said.
Lockhart shook his head. “They seem to be coming from that direction.” He shot another one that might have come from the upstairs storage room.
“The horses,” Sukki suddenly spouted.
“The sabers,” Decker and Lincoln thought of them at the same time. Lincoln, Decker, Lockhart and Katie had Patton Sabers wrapped up in their things, kept in the stables with their horses.
Decker started in the direction of the stairs without waiting. The others followed.
Elder Stow shot one on the stairs. Decker got to use that club when a giant spider surprised them in the courtyard. They picked up their pace and burst out the back door, heading toward where the barn and stables were located. Decker and Katie sensed the trouble, and Boston heard the click-clickof spider legs on the wooden walls inside the stables.
“Hurry,” she yelled.
Alexis waved her wand at the door, and the doors blew open. The horses in their stalls were panicking. They saw dozens of giant spiders around the place.
Decker and Lincoln ran for the sabers. Alexis took her bow back so she could shoot the beasts and conserve her magical strength for her healing magic, if needed. Katie, being an elect, quickly mastered her bow and arrows. Lockhart fired the Beretta two handed, as he had been taught all those years ago at the police academy.
Elder Stow pulled out his sonic device, and the spiders protested. The humans shouted their complaints and rattled a bit as well. Elder Stow refined the sound, and all the spiders fell off the walls. He did minimal damage to the creatures, but he paraphrased Alexis’ words. “I don’t want to burn down the place.”
By then, everyone had their sabers, and they waded into the spiders. Sukki liked her knife, but found it as easy to punch one and cave in its head. Despite her glamour of humanity, in reality, she was a bit of a linebacker in her build, and very strong.
Boston took back her bow and arrows from Katie, and thought she better practice. Elf maids were known for their excellent archery, and she knew a fire in the stables would only make matters worse. It did not take long to slice the remaining giant siders in the building, but the walls and the people got covered in blood and guts.
“We need to see about the family, and the other people in the inn,” Alexis said, again.
Sukki stepped up, holding her side. “I got stung,” she confessed.
Alexis and Boston got her to lie down, and Alexis went to work immediately drawing out whatever poison might have been in the bite, and then healing the wound, which looked like quite a gash.
“We will check on the family,” Katie said, meaning her and Lockhart.
“I’ll stay here with the girls,” Lincoln said, and for once, Lockhart agreed. Lincoln got all too quick to keep back where it was safe, but in this case, these spiders could be anywhere.
“Just give me a second to adjust this screen device…” He turned it on, and handed little discs to Katie and Lockhart, and one for Decker who had his hand out. They were tuned to let the people pass through the screens. “If there are any inside the area, you will have to deal with them, but at least no more should be able to get at you from the outside, or at the horses.”
“Ready?” Decker seemed anxious.
Lockhart simply nodded and led his group back toward the house.
“Alexis.” Boston called from the stalls. Alexis’ horse, Misty Gray, was not only dead, it appeared partially eaten. Katie’s Black Beauty was down and breathing heavily from the poison. Elder Stow’s horse was also down, with multiple bites. Lockhart’s horse, Dog, still stood, but he looked bitten several times. Decker’s horse, Weber, looked bitten at least once. The poison oozed out of a gash on his side. Boston’s Honey and Sukki’s Freedom looked untouched, and that felt like a small miracle.
“Alexis,” Boston called again, but she sounded weepy. She saw two spiders on the wall, ready to swing down on Black Beauty. Boston carefully fried them with the hope that they would not fall and set the hay and the whole stables on fire. Alexis, and Sukki, back on her feet, helped contain the fire. Lincoln got the last one with his saber as it made a dash for the door.
Boston wept, but Alexis grabbed her hand to add her magic to the healing process. Sukki and Lincoln kept watch, just in case. Alexis made an executive decision. She pulled the poison from Weber, Dog, and Elder Stow’s horse, which as far as anyone knew, he never called anything other than horse. Black Beauty seemed too far gone, and by the time Alexis and Boston arrived there, exhausted, the horse had died.
Boston wept some more, and Alexis joined her.
Lockhart, Katie, and Decker burst back into the downstairs courtyard area, sabers ready, Lockhart still holding tight to Boston’s Beretta. Elder Stow came a step behind, juggling his weapon and sonic device. He considered activating his floatation device and flying up to the balcony above. He also considered going invisible, but he imagined these giant spiders had to be the result of some magic, and that magic might see through his invisibility screen. His plan went on hold when they got met by some fifteen or twenty spiders in the courtyard.
The travelers almost backed out of the house in the face of such odds, but a dozen men burst in the front gate to add their spears, swords, and shields to the fight. More spiders came from the family side of the house, or dropped down from the balcony or the roof, but altogether, the fight did not last long. The spiders were disgusting when stabbed or sliced in half, but they were not smart and only knew one way to attack.
At the end, one man lost his spear and screamed when a spider got ready to bite him. Lockhart’s bullet arrived at the same time as an arrow. The arrow got shot with enough force to drive the spider back against the wall. A woman stood in their midst, and smiled.
“That was fun,” she said.
“Artemis,” Katie recognized the woman.
The woman sighed. “In this place, it is Diana. Saturn renamed everyone in his corner of the world. Before he went over to the other side, he even gave Hera the name Juno. That took courage.”
“I imagine Hera is not one to trifle with,” Katie said, as she and the goddess hugged.
“I should say,” Diana agreed, as she backed up and put one hand to her cheek as if remembering something from long ago. Katie thought it might have been Troy.
“More like she is taking care of me,” he answered, and Diana smiled again.
“Decker,” she turned to the man. “Venus and I were talking just the other day, and your name came up. You are still on her list, you know.”
“No. Please,” Decker said, and Diana laughed, which made every face in the courtyard smile.
“Elder Stow,” Diana moved on. “How is that adopted daughter of yours?”
“Well, I hope,” he said.
“She is well,” Diana assured him, as she turned at last to the soldiers in the courtyard.
The chase begins, to save Millie and Evan, not to mention get back the weapons which do not belong in the hands of the with, much less in the days of the Roman Republic. Until Monday