Immortal Scars (DRAFT)

~ Z ~

Black Jacket
Sep 3, 2015
The Cosmos~!
So I made my first draft of Immortal Scars (Zenta's story) and I want you guys to give it a read. Feel free to share any thoughts and criticisms about my story.

A lone creature walked on the single path heading towards the mountains in the distance. Its fur was as white as snow and it walked erect like a man. Bearing two large fox-like tails, the beast was canine by nature and appearance. The greatest evidence of that was its head and face; sporting two incredibly large ears, long muzzle, and a reflective visor that covered the upper half of its face. The downpour of heavy rains showered the beast as it silently walked along the muddy path. With its fur drenched, the canine desperately tried to find a shelter to hide from the rain. Along the path, over a few hills, rested a large plot of fenced land with a large cottage. Within its walls, children were laughing and screaming and playing, all of which caught the beast’s attention, even from a distance. ​

Over the hills, through shallow puddles, and slippery mud, the fox approached the porch of the cottage and gently tapped his knuckles on the wooden door. From the other side, the children were heard giggling and scampering close to the door while a voice tried to hush them. Excited murmurs followed by shushing noises continued to catch the fox’s attention. He stood silently as the voice from earlier urged the children to back away from the door. The door opened slightly and on the other side was a bug-eyed female creature with a pink apron.​

“Hello?” ​

“Yes, hello, ma’am,” The beast spoke. “I apologize for intruding at such a late hour, but I was wondering if I may seek shelter here until the rains pass.”​

The door creaked open some more, showcasing a crowd of children behind the curly haired woman. She inspected the beast curiously, wondering what he was. With a little bit of back and forth between the beast and fairy-lady, the canine was allowed to enter once he shook off the water from his drenched fur. The children stared in awe at how tall the beast was, gathering around him as they guessed how tall he could be while others wondered what kind of animal he was. ​

“I just finished making dinner, would you like a plate or two?” asked the young woman. “Don’t be ashamed. What did you say your name was?”​

“Thank you, ma’am. A cup of tea would be most appreciated.” The fox smiled before taking a seat on the floor. “You may call me Zenta.”​

“Zen-tah?” One of the children butted in. “Zen-tah needs milk, Ms. Tibbit! He’s so big, he’s still taller than me when he sits down!”​

“Now, now, what did I say about being rude to guests?” Ms. Tibbit, the fairy-woman, scolded. “It’s not very nice!”​

The children were many different shapes and sizes. Some had fur, some had smooth skin, others scales; there were hybrids of every kind and color from every spectrum. The older children circled around Zenta while the younger ones had fun swatting at the beast’s fluffy tails. Ms. Tibbit urged the children to take their seats for dinner as she prepared the plates of food for each child, starting from the youngest to the oldest. Zenta followed tow, making his way to the table, feeling his way for a chair that was not occupied and waited patiently for everyone to take a seat. Ms. Tibbit was impressed by his manners.​

“Okay children, what do we say?” Ms. Tibbit said as she rushed to her seat.​

“Thank you for dinner, Ms. Tibbit!” They sang in unison before each child sat down, fiddled with their forks and spoons, and ate cheerfully.​

“Are these your children, ma’am?” Zenta asked while Ms. Tibbit poured some hot tea into Zenta’s teacup. ​

“Oh, heavens, no! This is an orphanage. I take care of these little ones and make sure they find a nice family to go home to!” Ms. Tibbit gazed at all the children. She occasionally rose up to help the younger ones cut their food or clean their mess. Every time her wings fluttered, they produced a tiny amount of fairy dust and glitter everywhere she went. Zipping back and forth, the fairy took a seat next to Zenta, enjoying the few minutes of rest she had. “May I ask where you are heading?”​

“I am heading to the mountains,” Zenta took a sip of his tea. “But first, I must cross the forest. I rather wait until the rain subsides since I do not like my fur getting wet.”​

“The forest is dangerous! There is a terrible monster that lives there. She has a very ferocious appetite and will eat any unsuspecting traveler that gets too close to her webs. She has already eaten a child that ventured too far into the woods...” Ms. Tibbit sighed. “It would be wiser to take the path around the forest. The journey is longer, yes, but it ensures your safety; that vile spider creature never sets foot outside her forest.”​

“Zen-tah is heading to the forest? No! Ms. Tibbit, tell him no!” The children gasped. “The monster is big and scary! She’s got sharp claws and fangs!” The older ones warned Zenta as the little ones squirmed in their seats. “She’s gonna eat you up if you’re not careful! I heard that she can hypnotize people who see her eyes.”​

“I see, I see,” Zenta took in the information while sipping his tea. “This monster sounds like a minor problem. You need not worry for a traveler like me, I am more than capable of defending myself against monsters.”​

The children and Ms. Tibbit all gasped, stunned that Zenta was a fighter of some sorts. Appearance wise, he did not look the part. This bit of information excited the children. Admiration filled their eyes as they looked at Zenta as if he was a hero, or someone they wish to be. None was more apparent than in the green eyes of a little girl. With only a striped tail, she was normal compared to the other children. The girl refused to look away from Zenta; only when she was called over to play with the others, did she finally part view with the furry beast. The group of children, inspired by Zenta’s monster fighting capabilities, pretended to be the fox in a variety of scenarios. They each took turns being the monster and Zenta. The children were creative, using toys as substitutions for weapons and did their best impersonation of the wicked monster believed to live in the forest. Ms. Tibbit and Zenta enjoyed a conversation while watching the children play, occasionally cheering them on. ​

Once the rains began to subside, the grey clouds parted to show the light from the full moon above. It was around this time that many of the children, especially the younger ones, were getting sleepy. The older ones were allowed to stay up an extra hour and help Ms. Tibbit with dishes or other chores. Zenta knew it was time to go, but before he left, he decided to help out Ms. Tibbit with any chores as to let the older children play more. The little green-eye girl silently watched Zenta from afar, being careful to remain out of his line of sight; unfortunately for her, his massive ears captured everything, even the faintest tip-toes. No matter where he went, the beast would constantly hear the same child shuffle behind him. For the while, he paid no attention to it until it was time for him to leave. The children all gathered around him by the door, insisting that he stayed until morning. The little ones cried and the older ones begged Zenta not to leave, some going as far as to throw a tantrum on the ground, kicking and stomping until Ms. Tibbit scolded them to behave properly. Then came out the green-eyed girl from the crowd of children. She stood between the door and Zenta, trying to prevent him from leaving. The determination in her eyes stunned Ms. Tibbit, considering how timid the girl tended to be around others. This girl kept a strong stare directly at Zenta, outstretching her arms to show she was willing to stop him from leaving. Ms. Tibbit scooped the girl away and apologized to the fox profusely before setting the little girl down behind her. When Zenta was by the steps of the porch, the same little girl grabbed the beast by his tail, trying to pull him back or be taken with him. Zenta paused and lifted his tail to meet the girl eye to eye. The girl, in turn, stared at him where his eyes would be, instead, she saw her own reflection on his visor. Ms. Tibbit yanked the girl from the beast’s tail and gave her a flick on the forehead and ear as punishment.​

“I am afraid I cannot stay, little one. I have a journey I must do,” Zenta said with a smile as he gently caressed the top of the girl’s head. “It is far too dangerous for children.”​

“Please be safe on your journey, Zenta!” Ms. Tibbit waved. “You are welcomed back here any time!”​
Zenta waved goodbye to the orphanage and headed down the path he was on earlier. The air smelled of dew and rain and the ground was still soggy from the downpour. The path he was on lead went through many green hills, each one having flowers in bloom at its base. The full moon overhead shined over the tiny droplets caught in the moist grass, making it glitter with every step Zenta took. Over and under the hills, Zenta finally came to a fork in the road. One lead directly to the forest just at the bottom of two hills and the other continued eastward following the edge of the forest over the horizon. The fox pondered silently if he should heed Ms. Tibbit’s warning but decided to go against it. He had nothing to lose. He continued forward, sliding down the slope of the hill until he reached the entrance of the woods. A sign caught Zenta’s attention, but it was old and eroded by the weather for anything to be read off of it. He brushed his fingertips across the wood, tracing the etchings very carefully and read what his fingers were able to tell him. Tangleweb Forest.​

The forest was thick with trees that barely any sunlight (or moonlight in this case) penetrated the canopy to reach the forest floor. It naturally looked dark and gloomy inside and many of the tree branches were bent over to reach for the ground instead of the sky, similar to a willow tree. The tallest of the trees would only have their incredible trunks visible because all the smaller trees blocked the view to the sky. Vines and mosses dangled between the twigs and bark of the thousands of trees, tangling those unlucky enough to get snared in them. Multicolored bioluminescent fungi grew from the ground and latched themselves onto the lowest branches of the willow trees. Whenever the wind swayed these branches, the glowing fungus would dazzle and amaze all who saw them. The largest of these fungi grew in clusters between leafy shrubs and near the roots of the trees. Although the light from the sun (and moon) was not present, the mushrooms lit up the forest well enough for people to make their way across.​

Zenta faced the forest and took a deep breath. He noticed two things; someone or something was watching him and the forest reeked of blood. The first thing did not bother him as much as the second, nonetheless, he continued to press forward into the forest. The beast walked through the thicket, carefully maneuvering between the vines and low hanging branches. Every step he took was precise and his ears flicked at every snap of a twig, yet, he did not seem worried or alert despite something watching and following him through the forest. In fact, the fox seemed distracted by the gentle breeze flowing through his fur and the distant trickling of a faraway stream. The only concern he had was the smell of blood that covered the forest. When Zenta made his way through the branches of a willow tree, the being following him grew closer, so close that the beast was able to hear its footsteps; however, when he turned around, he saw nothing behind him. He pushed away the bushes, peering over them to see if he may spot his stalker but saw nothing yet again. He searched the nearby area, but not very thoroughly, and almost playfully, all while he kept a smile on his face. After a few minutes of poor searching, the beast gave up with a shrug. Looking up, the beast nodded his head and then squatted down, preparing to jump. In a mighty leap, Zenta bolted off from the ground and into the canopy, disappearing from view. He did not move; instead, he thought this would uncover the identity of whoever was following him. He waited silently, peering from between the leaves until the stalker came into the light of the mushrooms. When it finally appeared, Zenta’s smile only grew.​

From within the bushes, the little girl from the orphanage popped out! She had tiny scratches on her arms and legs, no doubt from the branches and shrubs, and covered in dirt, almost as if she was trying to mask herself from Zenta’s view. The child glanced up at the canopy, narrowing her eyes to see if she could spot the elusive fox beast. As much as she looked, she could see nothing. Her next step was to attempt to climb the willow tree, but climbing a single tree to the canopy is incredibly difficult, especially when not all the trees that grew reached that high. Try and try as she might, the little girl continuously fell off the tree. Zenta watched as the girl attempted over twenty times, getting back up every time she fell down. Once the girl was finally able to reach the first high branch of the willow tree, she continued to trek higher and higher. A fall from this height could prove fatal to the little girl but she continued on, ignoring her safety, eager to find the beast. Amazed by her determination, Zenta continued to watch the girl’s slow ascent to the canopy, curious to see how far she was willing to go. Once she reached the incredibly high treetops did the beast started to move to avoid detection. Never once did Zenta take his gaze off of the little girl, not even for a second as he silently slipped between the branches to stay out of view.​

The girl squirmed and wiggled between the vines, being overly careful where she placed her foot to avoid falling. She was unable to see in front of her thanks to the light from the mushrooms not being able to reach up through the leaves into the canopy, and the moonlight overhead blocked by the trees higher up, making this section of the forest pitch black. No matter how careful this little girl was, her hands and feet would slip through patches of weak branches, and every time she recovered, she would suffer another slip. Her lips formed a pout, getting visibly annoyed that she has not spotted Zenta, failing to realize that he was watching her every move in silence directly behind her. In a desperate act to find the beast, she prepared to hop through the pitch-black branches, but in her attempt to stand, the branches under her feet gave out, sending the child falling straight through the canopy. At this height, with nothing to soften her fall, and nothing to break it, there was little chance the child would survive the fall.​

Out from the canopy leaves, a blur of white fur rushed out to grab the little girl before she hit the floor. Zenta held the youngster under his arm as he landed gracefully on the forest floor, barely disturbing the ground. He placed the child on the ground, allowing her to catch her breath. The poor child’s face had tears rolling down her cheeks and hiccups from her low whimpers and faint crying. When the child looked up to see Zenta smiling down on her, she gasped and wiped away any tears she had before taking a step back from the massive beast.​

“Now, now... it is quite alright. You are safe now,” Zenta said as he lowered himself to meet the girl’s height. “You are the young girl from the orphanage, yes? My, how bold of you to follow me to such a dangerous forest! Are you not scared?” The little girl shook her head.​

“Then why do you follow me? I have told you before, my journey is too dangerous for children. I cannot bring you along, little one.” The little girl remained silent, lowering her head to face the floor as her lips formed a stubborn pout. “Well now, I suppose I have to take you back to Ms. Tibbit. She must be worried about you.”​

The child shook her head and immediately wrapped her arms around Zenta’s shoulders. He paused, feeling the child’s grip tighten around him. Even as the beast straighten himself out, the girl refused to let go, dangling off the fox’s body like a necklace. Zenta let out a long sigh.​

“Are you going to follow me everywhere I go? My, that is quite a tenacious spirit you have, little one.” Zenta managed to pry the green-eyed girl from his shoulders and gently place her down, squatting down to meet the girl at eye level once again. “I cannot leave you all alone in this forest, and taking you back to Ms. Tibbit will do little to deter you from following me it seems. Very well, you may accompany me to the other side of this forest, but once we reach the end, we must part ways, little one.” Zenta smiled to the youngster and petted her head. The eyes of the girl lit up with fascination and, for a moment, she felt tears form in her eyes, but with a quick flick of her wrist, she wiped them away before they ever showed. ​

“Now then, do you have a name that I may call you, young one?” The child shook her head and gripped her stripped tail, embarrassed.​

“Hmm, I see. I suppose I can give you a temporary name for the meanwhile. Let’s see...” Zenta sat down on his bum, scratching his chin.​

“You are small, strong willed, and have an unshakable spirit. Hmmm, ah! What do you think of the name ‘Cuki?’ Where I am from, it means ‘strength from within.’ I think it suits you rather nicely!”​

“Cuki! Cuki!” The girl, now named Cuki, hopped in place from the excitement of being given a name. “Yep! I like it! I like it a lot!”​

“Ah, so you can talk.” said Zenta. “Any reason why you were so quiet before?”​

“I didn’t want you or the monster to hear me.”​

“Ah yes, the monster, of course!”​

“You’re going to slay it, right?”​

“Cuki, I am not here to fight the monster; I am simply here to cross the forest. If I come across the rumored monster, then I will defend myself, but I did not come looking for a fight.” said Zenta. “Why do you want me to slay the monster?”​

“Because that monster is ugly and mean! All it does is eat people and scare everyone, and that’s not nice!”​

Zenta let out a sigh followed by a chuckle. He straightened himself out and rose to gazed towards the forest ahead of him. “Well, that is certainly some ambition you have there, Cuki, but it is as I said; I did not come looking for a fight. I actually try to avoid fighting.” The beast tilted his head down towards Cuki. “If you wish to follow me through the forest, please stay close to me. I would not like for you to get lost...”​

Cuki nodded to the beast and followed him through the thicket of the forest. The two would come across a small opening within the forest that managed to have no trees, only stumps and a mushroom in the center with a hood so massive, it provided shade from the open sky. The moon overhead shined down on the beast and child as they came to the center of this opening, standing under the giant cap of the mushroom. Cuki was starting to get sleepy, and Zenta knew he could not continue with a child who dozed off as she walked. He took the back of Cuki’s shirt and lifted her up and placed her on top of his two giant tails so she can rest easier. In no time at all, she fell asleep and the beast drifted off into meditation, being careful and aware of his surroundings.​
I had to split it into two posts since it went over the word count. B|

A few days had gone by since the two entered the forest. The closer the two headed to the mountains, the less the willow trees drooped; instead, the willows began to sprout upwards, resembling umbrellas. The sunlight was able to pierce through the thinner leaves and branches, giving this part of the forest more natural light. This meant that the two were close to reaching the other end of the forest. Even in this beautiful and brighter part of the thicket, the smell of blood grew stronger for Zenta. A sudden growl caught his attention and the beast stared down at the child who held on to his hand. Cuki frowned before placing a hand on her stomach, trying to suppress the hunger she had. Zenta had nearly forgotten that Cuki had to eat more frequently than he did. ​

“It sounds like you are hungry, Cuki. Perhaps we should take a small break while I gather some food for you.” ​

“No, I’m not hungry at all! I can keep going!” Cuki turned her head away from Zenta who squatted down to meet her at eye level. “No breaks!” ​

“Now, now, Cuki...” Zenta waved his finger in a scolding motion. “No need to put on a bravado, my ears can hear your tummy growl. I forgot that you are still young, so you need to eat to get big and strong, yes?” Zenta began to chuckle as he petted Cuki’s head. “Please stay here while I go search for something to eat. I will return shortly, Cuki, I promise.” ​

Cuki barely nodded before Zenta had jumped and disappeared into the canopy. She was all alone. Cuki did not know what to do all by herself, sitting under the shade of a tree, casually waiting for Zenta to return. Suddenly, the noise of some rustling bushes caught her attention and she immediately assumed it to be Zenta until she heard a woman’s voice. It was a soft and gentle voice, yet, it sounded as if it was in distress while it scuffled in the bushes. As Cuki went to investigate, she was still very cautious of who, or what, it may be.  ​

From the bushes fell a beautiful woman with long black hair, whimpering and seemingly out of breath. She was shocked to see Cuki before throwing her arms wildly for the child to get away. The mysterious woman gripped the floor, something grabbed her legs from the bushes, and began to pull her back into the thicket. Cuki was quick on her feet, rushing to the woman in an attempt to help her. Moments before the child grabbed the lady’s arm, the woman was pulled back before Cuki could grab her. The woman’s screams echoed slightly in the forest, sending a cold chill down Cuki’s spine. Yet, she continued after the woman, despite the danger or Zenta’s warning to stay put. The more she chased the woman’s voice, the deeper she went into the forest, and the deeper she went, the less she realized how much in danger she really was. ​

The woman was seen on the ground with her lower half covered by a mound of leaves by the time Cuki found her. She looked unharmed other than the few scratches made from being dragged. Cuki was hesitant about getting closer, fearing that whatever dragged the lady might come out and attack her as well but her curiosity urged her to stay. Slowly, Cuki inched closer to the woman, who laid face down in the dirt. Not knowing what to do, the child gently nudged the woman’s shoulder, trying to see if she could get a response. Without warning, the young woman’s body started to move as did the leaves behind her. The pile of leaves fell off and exposed a large spider abdomen with several sharp spider legs attached to it. Each leg resembled that of scythes. The woman that Cuki was following was the upper half of this spider creature, and upon a closer look of her face, Cuki saw four red glowing eyes and a smile full of sharp teeth. Cuki fell to the floor with fear as the spider-lady towered over her. ​

“You are such a cute little thing, aren’t you?” The spider-woman said as she held out her hand, allowing some smaller spiders to crawl in between her claws. “My children told me that you’ve said very naughty things about me, saying that I was mean and ugly. What rude things for a child to say!” ​

Cuki shivered as the giant spider-lady leaned down to examine her from head to toe. She was quick to rise up to her feet and flee as fast as her little legs can push her, but the spider had many tricks up her sleeve. The woman’s throat started to swell and her cheeks puffed out. From her mouth, she spat out a spider thread that latched on to Cuki’s back, yanking her back inch by inch. Poor Cuki tried to kick and shove, but it only made things worse. The thread began to stick to other parts of her body and prevented her from moving. The Spider-Lady held up the child by the thread, inches from her face. ​

“A snack before dinner wouldn’t hurt. Besides, I love sinking my fangs into youngsters like you; they’re extra tasty when they’re scared.” The lady glanced around at the thousands of spiders that started to surround her. “Let’s head home, my children. You all must be hungry.”  ​

And with that final statement, the spider lady chuckled as she lumped Cuki over her shoulder, the child tangled in the web that stuck on to her. ​

—————————————————————————————————— ​

Zenta hopped down from the canopy and landed gracefully on his feet while he cradled fruits in his arms. Arriving back in the spot he promised to meet Cuki, he noticed the child was not there. A sigh of disappointment escaped his lips as he assumed Cuki went off to look for him again, but his nose picked up a scent that he knew to be Cuki’s. He followed it diligently and wondered what trouble the child was up to now. As he walked through the forest, he did not come any closer to finding Cuki, instead, the scent of blood started to grow stronger the more he followed Cuki’s scent. Something else was picked up by his nose, the scent of another creature, along with Cuki’s. Zenta started to eat some of the fruits with him as he traveled, following the smell of blood, hoping it would lead him to Cuki. ​

My, my... what a unique child. Truly troublesome... Zenta thought to himself. I wonder sometimes; is parting with her the right thing? Perhaps I should give it some more thought. Yes, I will do that... ​

As Zenta grew closer to the source of the smell, be began to notice thin webs hanging from the canopy, no doubt from the monster he heard about. In an elegant fashion, the beast would slip and sway between the hanging threads, mere inches from touching them but never did. Every time he came very close to touching one, the web would mysteriously move out of Zenta’s way, almost as if there was a force in play. It was as if a very gentle breeze would sway the threads from ever touching the beast. Except the breeze came from Zenta’s body. More and more Zenta traveled, the curtains of webs getting thicker the closer he got to Cuki’s scent. Within the cobwebs were bodies, each littered in different stages of decay, and each one tangled and wrapped up neatly before they died, infested with tiny spiders who made the bodies their home or feasted upon their remains. The forest floor was no longer a beautiful green color, but a rusted brown, no doubt from all the blood that seeped into the ground. The trees around Zenta had slash marks, cuts, and burns, possibly from battle, and some were broken, decaying on the floor just like the bodies. ​

 Zenta continued to munch on a fruit before tossing the core behind him. He walked through the hanging corpses, casually stepping over any bodies or debris that may be in his way. The spiders that lived in the bodies started to stir up and glare at Zenta with all eight of their eyes before jumping towards the beast with their fangs exposed, ready to sink into the fox-man. However, once the spiders got near Zenta, they all fell to the ground, dead. They never managed to reach the beast before mysteriously dying, all without raising the slightest bit of attention from him.  ​

It seems that I am getting close. The stench of death is growing considerably and the enemy is starting to notice my presence. ​

There were bigger spiders the deeper Zenta walked, and those did not die off like the smaller ones did. When those attacked Zenta, he slapped them away with little care, as if it were a minor nuisance. The spiders, however, flew and splattered against the tree trunks, leaving only spider guts and twitching legs. At this point, the arachnids stopped hurling themselves to Zenta and, instead, parted out of his way in a hurry. He stopped in his tracks and stared upwards into the canopy. Six glowing red orbs locked down on the fox-beast and emerging from the shadow of the treetops was a giant spider. It had venom dripping from its fangs while it let out an intense roar that shook the trees and its leaves. ​

This one will not let me pass by easily, it seems... How vexing. ​

A sigh of annoyance escaped Zenta’s lips as the massive arachnid dropped from the canopy directly on top of him, the impact alone snapped even the thickest trees in half. ​

————————————————————————————————— ​

“You better let me go or else!” Cuki squirmed, tangling herself even worse in the web she was awkwardly stuck on to. “I’m warning you! You’re gonna regret it later!” ​

“Oh my, what a scary little thing you are!” The Spider-Lady giggled. “What’ll happen if I don’t let you go?” ​

“Zenta’s gonna come and kick your butt! He’s able to fight ugly monsters like you! He said so himself!” ​

“Zenta? You mean that weird furry beast? He’s probably being eaten alive by my spiders on his way to find you. Even if he did manage to get past the smaller ones, he’ll never find his way here. He’ll get tangled in my webs and feed my children just like the rest who try to pass the forest. This is my domain, little one, I know it like the back of my hand; I doubt he will ever find you. Once I’m done with you, you’ll just be a corpse hanging off my trees.” ​

“You need to stop eating people you—you meanie.” ​

“You should learn to shut that trap of yours, little girl; you’re in no position to be talking back to someone who’s about to eat you.” The lady approached Cuki, trailing one of her sharp claws from one side of the child’s neck to the other. “You know if I cut you right here, you’ll bleed out and die in just a few seconds, but where’s the fun in that? Maybe I should give you my love bite and liquify your insides? Hmm, I’m not in the mood for soup, I want flesh. What to do... what to do.” ​

“J-Just let me g-g-go.” Cuki began to studder, her bravery beginning to fade.  ​

“Oh? Are you scared now? You were so brave before. Then again, I love it when my prey plead for their lives, especially the little ones. It’s like I said, they’re extra tasty when they’re scared.” The lady’s lower jaw began to unhinge and split in two monstrous fangs that dripped with saliva and venom. Her upper teeth grew sharper and her mouth opened so wide, the teeth lining the inside of her throat were visible. “Beg for your life! Beg!” ​

The arachnid grabbed Cuki’s throat, pulling the girl head first into her mouth, but turned her head to the side when a massive spider leg flung out from the dense forest and impaled the tree next to her. The hairy leg was twitching and bled a neon green color at the tip where it was ripped out of the body. Surprise and angry riddled the woman’s face as her grip on Cuki’s throat tighten. Another spider leg zipped by to stab itself on to another tree beside her, then four more whizzed by. Disgust now overtook the Spider-Lady's face as she stared at the dismembered parts of one of her children. ​

“Ah, I finally found you, Cuki. You are quite a handful, you know that?” Zenta’s voice rang out while the beast was dragging behind him the giant spider from earlier by one of its legs. “I told you to stay put and wait patiently. You are lucky I came when I did or else you would be in this creature’s belly.” Zenta peered at the woman squeezing Cuki’s neck.  ​

“And who are you?” asked the Spider-Lady. ​

“I am but a mere traveler wishing to pass through this forest.” replied Zenta. “Please release that child.” ​

“You’re not like the others who travel here. I’ve never seen your kind before.” ​

“I am not from this world.” ​

“Oh, a rarity! Not only do I get to dine on the delicate flesh of a child, but I also get to eat an outsider as well? Lucky day! I’ll make sure to eat you piece by piece so I can cherish your flavor.” The Spider-Lady licked her lips and released her grip on Cuki. “You may have gotten lucky and beaten my children, but I am no pushover.” ​

“Oh, I would hope so, ma’am.” ​

The Spider-Lady rushed to Zenta while her claws started to grow longer, easily resembling blades now. Her blade-like claws dragged across the floor, leaving behind a trail as she closed in on Zenta. She lifted her hand above Zenta’s head and slammed it down to the floor, creating a cloud of dust. It was all so quick that Cuki had no idea what she witnessed. Once the dust settled, the arachnid stared at the crater to see that she had skewered the spider corpse Zenta held on to earlier, and not the beast himself. Each of her eyes scanned the area independently before locking on to Zenta who was standing on top of a branch overlooking the woman. ​

“I do not want to hurt you, ma’am. Kindly release the child and I will leave you alone.” Zenta said. ​

But she did not listen. Instead, she dashed to the tree Zenta was on, and, with one swipe of her scythe-like legs, she cut the tree cleanly in half. As the tree and beast fell, she fired a spider thread from her spinnerets on the end of her abdomen. The threads split into multiple threads that ensnared the fox-beast onto the trunk of another tree. With his body now immobilized, the Spider-Lady confidently approached Zenta. Her claws carefully traced the fox’s muzzle before letting her hand trail to his chest. Digging her claw into his skin, she cut him just enough to draw out blood. ​

“Hmph, you’re very adamant about this child, aren’t you? Very well then, how about I make you kill her instead? Once you’re caught in my gaze, you’ll do anything I’ll say.” ​

“I do not think that will work on me, ma’am.” ​

She ignored him. The arachnid woman gently cupped Zenta’s face in her hands and stared at him with all six of her eyes (four main ones and two smaller ones on her forehead). Each eye began to blink seductively, and with each blink, the color of her eye changed. The hypnotic flash of color in her eyes was followed by a flirtatious lip bite as her hands caressed his cheeks and neck.  ​

“Don’t look at her eyes!” cried Cuki. “Look away! Look away!” ​

“Do not worry Cuki, I have already said it would not work.” ​

Both the woman and child were surprised that Zenta had not fallen into her trance. Once again, the Spider-Lady tried her hypnotic eyes on Zenta with no results. The look of astonishment swept across her face as she gritted her teeth in annoyance. Finally, she swiped the visor covering the beast’s eyes off his face, and upon seeing his now exposed face, she took a step back, shocked at what she saw. Where Zenta’s eyes should be were two large empty sockets. No matter how much the Spider-Lady tried to hold open Zenta’s eyelids, she could spot no eyes. ​

“You... you are blind?” She said in a shocked tone. The look in all six of her eyes was sheer confusion. “How are you able to move the way you do? You move as if you can see!” ​

“I do not ‘see’ in the way you do; my vision is a little different. To answer your question, yes, I am blind, but it does not hinder me. I am able to see, and sense, energy. I am incredibly disciplined when it comes to using and manipulating energy, both in myself and others.” The webs on Zenta’s body began to sizzle and burn away. All over Zenta’s body, a glowing white aura began to form on his outline. He dusted off the ashes of the threads from his shoulders. “I am warning you; I am not an opponent you want to fight.”  ​

Cuki was in awe as she discovered this whole time Zenta was blind. She questioned how he knew she was following him from before, and now it all made sense to her. The child saw the beast easily escape his bindings, something she has been trying to do for a while to no avail on her part. The white aura that surrounded the beast caught her attention and her curiosity. What is that? Is that... his energy? How is he doing that? It’s so cool! ​

“Bah, you don’t scare me. Do you have any idea how many I’ve killed in this forest? I’ve killed all types of creatures, and you’ll be no different! I am the strongest in the entire forest; I am the Spider Queen! What can you do to me?” She spoke with venom and anger towards Zenta. ​

“Ma’am, I already know the outcome of this battle; if you continue to not heed my warning, you will die.” ​

The Spider Queen did not listen and lifted her arm to slash at Zenta, but only managed to cut the tree behind him, breaking it into splinters, as the beast jumped away from the attack. He landed a few meters behind the Spider Queen. He parted his feet and held out his right palm while his left was by his hip. Both his hands shimmered with a white energy that looked as if his hands were on fire. The energy swayed with every step Zenta took, leaving behind a soft trail of light. Zenta now took on a stance, ready to fight back. ​

“This is your final warning; if you continue, and if you die as a result of it, it will be from your own poor judgement.” said Zenta. “Release the child and let us pass.” ​

“Silence!” The Spider Queen roared. “I’ll kill you like all the rest!” ​

The woman sped to Zenta, her jaw dislocating once again in an attempt to bite a piece of him. Zenta did not move until the woman was but a few feet from him. He shot his right palm forward and slammed it against the Spider Queen’s chest. The impact caused a shockwave that shook the grass and trees, and flung the woman back, making her crash through the dense forest. It wouldn’t take long for the woman to rush out of the thicket and extend her sharp claws towards Zenta. She hacked and slashed but no matter how fast she moved, Zenta seemed to be one step faster. The way Zenta dodged her attacks resembled that of an elegant dance. When her arm lashed out to grab Zenta, he gripped her wrist and snapped it.  ​

The woman reeled back in pain, but before she could move away from Zenta, the beast used his fingertips to tap at certain points across both her arms, all at incredible speeds. Within moments, her arms limped at her side, unable to function.  ​

“What did you do to my arms?!” she screeched. “I can’t move them!” ​

“I blocked your energy from reaching your arms.” Zenta said as he took a step back from the Spider Queen and turned to walk to Cuki. “Consider it my final warning to you. The next time will be your last.” ​

The arachnid stared at the fox in fury, but his strength was too much for her. She wondered what he was and how he obtained such power. Even the calm way he held himself, and the grace in every one of his moves, made her reconsider attacking him again, however, she would not stand for the humiliation she endured. ​

Zenta approached Cuki who was busy trying to make her way out of the threads, desperate to pitch in and help. With a gentle touch, Zenta used his finger to cut and burn away the webs holding Cuki hostage. The moment Cuki was free, she was shaking like a leaf, the close encounter with death she experienced earlier had left her riddled with fear. The child latched on to Zenta and hugged him as she hid her face in his patches of fur. A smile formed on the beast’s face as he gently rubbed the girl’s back to reassure her that everything would be okay. The shaking stopped and Cuki looked up at Zenta; something sparked in those eyes of hers. ​

In the heartwarming moment between Cuki and Zenta, the Spider Queen snarled and cursed under her breath, unable to stand the humiliation. Her eyes shined in a vivid red fury as she let out a rage induced shrill, cursing Zenta’s name. From her mouth flew out another thread, this time it was incredibly fast, as she aimed it at Zenta. While the beast was ready to move out of the way, he felt himself pushed away from the attack by Cuki. The child took the hit that was meant for Zenta. Once snared in the sticky web her tiny body started to go numb and stiff. On the web itself was venom meant to paralyze anything that was unlucky enough to get caught in it. As quickly as the web shot out of her mouth, it retreated back just as fast. Cuki was dragged at lightning speeds towards the opening mouth of the arachnid queen. Unable to defend herself or put up a struggle, the child closed her eyes as tight as she could, awaiting death. ​

But death did not come; instead, it was Zenta. Moments before Cuki was swallowed whole by the woman, Zenta shot his palm up towards her chin, shutting her mouth by force, severing the web from her mouth and releasing Cuki. The woman’s head flung back, but she managed to stab Zenta’s arm and yank him close to her with one of her scythe-like limbs. She lifted her body upwards and extended her sharp spider legs in an attempt to skewer Zenta. Zenta’s glowing hand slammed on her unprotected abdomen. A shockwave came from the impact followed by silence. ​
The Spider Queen looked down to see that the impact did not leave a hole in her abdomen or any visible bruise. She turned to Zenta with a smirk until she felt a trickle of blood drip from the corner of her mouth. She gasped for air, unable to breathe anymore. In her struggle to breathe, Zenta freed himself from her impalement. The beast walked towards Cuki, who watched the arachnid choke on her own blood. ​

“Since you do not have much time left, I will explain briefly,” Zenta began as he removed the threads from Cuki, his coated hands immune to their paralyzing effects. “What I did was release a highly concentrated amount of energy directly into your body, attacking your vitals. They ruptured instantly.” ​

The Spider Queen coughed furiously as she fell on to her side. The life in her eyes started to fade away, and shortly after, she stopped moving and breathing, her eyes finally glazing over. Cuki stared silently at the Spider Queen as her life was snuffed out. She would normally feel sorry, but not for her. Her tiny body was cradled by Zenta as he walked over to where his visor was. Cuki felt all her worries wash away in Zenta’s arms and, eventually, as he casually walked through the forest, began to feel an overwhelming weight of fatigue. Before she closed her eyes, the last thing she remembered was the gentle smile Zenta had. ​
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