Friday, 24 June 2022

Eight Pious Arachnids

  1. During the years of strife, the Prophet Erimon was in the service of Argoz, High Prince of all Letarmine. When Erimon failed to obey Argoz in a matter of the interpretation of his dreams, he threw Erimon into a dark stone pit which contained giant spiders, there to be devoured. The seal of Argoz was placed over the pit, and Erimon was left there. But Erimon despaired not, and a veil of light was placed about him, and he sang of the Highest Heavens. When Argoz came to re-open the pit, he was shocked to see Erimon alive and well; he had even taught the spiders to make gestures of blessing, and to stamp their feet as if they were at the Festival of Palm Fronds. Great was the astonishment and sorrow of the High Prince!
  2. The blessed hermit St Arilan is said to have cast aside his possessions to take up a life of prayer and contemplation, living in peace with every beast of the earth and bird that steps upon the winds. However, the Hagiographies speak of him dressed in plain robes, for in the land of Rhoopagno the winters can be cold indeed. Rhoopagno tradition holds that these robes were woven for St Arilan by spiders that visited him in his cave; however, research by ecclesiastically-approved natural philosophers has demonstrated that this would be quite impossible.
       It is far more likely that the spiders provided thread with which the Saint was able to sew together the bolts of cloth given to him by the charity of the region. This does not stop tailors and weavers in Rhoopagno from dressing up as spiders on the Eve of St Arilan. Moreover, it is a custom of the region that every bobbin should have carved into one end an eight-legged image of a spider.
  3. The War of the Chalcedony Kings kept the pious daughters of the sage Octesian from maintaining his tomb shrine in a proper fashion. The tomb was of course complete, but the Ten-Day Seal had not yet been set in place. They were driven from their lands under the Caustic Edicts. However, when finally peace settled again over the land, they were able to return. They rejoiced, but were saddened that the tomb was still unsealed: creeping things could have entered the tomb, and flies - which, as any reputable sage will tell you, are merely a curdling of the Widdershins Force. 
       Yet when they reached the tomb, they found that no fly - neither the gadfly, nor the horsefly, nor the cranefly - had entered that place. All had been blocked by the webs of a benevolent spider - who was, through sad circumstance, better able to manifest the virtues of filial piety than the daughters of Octesian.
  4. By the accounts given in the Hymns of Drinian, the 11th Avatar of the Preserving Sovereign appeared on the Fifth Day of the Sixth Month, mounted on a heavenly steed. The steed took the form of a great spider of marble countenance, but four of its legs terminated in gold hoofs, like the hoofs of a mountain goat, and four of its legs terminated in bronze talons, like the talons of a forest hawk. Each of its eyes had the colour of a flawless pearl; the chittering of its mouthparts was like the temple sistrum and it span indigo silk to cover the body of the Avatar. This spider could run faster than the pheasant-flighted arrows shot by the Passarid Mothers and of all earthly foods would eat only dates and scallions.
  5. One summer month the hero-sage Mavramorn began a series of extreme ascetic exercises, designed to purify her soul. She threw down bow and spear, and retreated to the woods. She forsook the company of all comely youths and sweet-mouthed singers, deigning not to even look upon them. Even when not in a period of fasting, she would pluck a berry from a bush and then wait an hour and a half before consuming it. Her days were spent in prayer and meditation. 
       Beyond the woods were she did this, however, demons descended from the mountains, riding upon war-wagons pulled by tusked swine. Mavramorn knew of their presence, for her eyes saw clearly after her asceticisms. But she was bound to remain in the woods. Then, one afternoon as she sat in contemplation under a tamarind tree, a spider with its own notions of defence policy bit her upon the tricep. Mavramorn let out a highly unpleasant oath and batted at it. Having spoiled the effect of her ascetic exercises she sighed, sorrowing exceedingly, and went to retrieve her bow and spear.
  6. The maiden Prismia dwelt upon the farm of her father, a heathen. Her wish was to enter into a convent, yet her father wished her to make an advantageous marriage to the son of another heathen landowner. She sighed at this, and her sighs were lifted by a passing angel to the ear of the Pancrator. The Pancrator then caused a message to be taken to a certain spider in the barn of Prismia's father. One morning when Prismia woke, she saw that the spider had written the first two-thirds of the Sistine Creed in a vast web in the barn door. Her father was baffled, enraged, and then bowed to the inevitable.
  7. When Uvilas was driven from the city of Miraze, he fled to the rocks of Belisar, there to shelter among the jagged boulders. He reached the rocks and found a place to lay his head but was stricken by a fever and lay among the boulders for a month. No food had he, and only dew to quench his thirst. Yet spiders among the rocks came and found him stretched out and still and fed him on certain roots and berries and nourishing gums of that region. Therefore, no man of wisdom and respect goes among the rocks of Belisar, in memory of the sustenance given to Uvilas. 
  8. A bravo of the city of Glozellea was lounging near the Plaza of Fractured Stars. He spotted a fair maiden of sound health and radiant beauty passing by, and called out to her "Fair One! One whose hair falls like blossom! Tarry a short while. I have a sack of newly-roasted beans, but none to prepare mocha for me. Use those long-fingered hands, quite devoid of imprisoning rings, to prepare a brew of pleasure for us both!"
       The maiden hissed at him like an irritated cat, and directed her chaperon to make the signs of scorn and vexation towards him. Puzzled, the bravo slumped against a wall. A spider descended from a web and began to laugh at him "Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!"
       "Why do you mock me so?" said the young man. "Surely you know I could crush you beneath a boot-heel."
      "I merely thought," said the spider "that when my kind mate, the man has his head bitten clean off. It struck me as funny that you run so fast into the arms of your doom. Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!"
      The bravo, hearing this, resolved to live a healthier and more circumspect life.


  1. AWESOME! Some of these will be appearing in my campaign as saints.

    1. Glad you like them!

      Not to ruin the magic, but all names are taken from here:

  2. I must correct you, for it is well known that the sound of spiders' laughter is "Hlo-Hlo".

    1. Is that Lord Dunsany or Clark Ashton Smith? I feel it should be one of them. In any case, certain affectations are doubtless fashionable among the spiders of Glozellea.

  3. Tremendous. The dressed up tailors gathering for St Arilan's Eve is an especially striking image. If I found the table included in one of Lin Carter's Ballantine anthologies I wouldn't be surprised.

    1. Never read any of Lin Carter's Ballantine anthologies! Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks provided me with much of the entries in that series, however.

  4. Update - there is now an audio version of this post here: