Good day! Oh, my, is it evening already? I can feel my lips pulling back, showing my razor sharp teeth. Pay them no mind. Such teeth are quite normal for a servant of the Ashelockes, which is exactly what I am, their humble servant. Once, I was a maiden fair, with long, blonde hair, traveling with a knight, but we fell afoul of Duessa Ashelocke. To think, we thought her no more than an evil enchantress, who could be defeated with mere steel! This was before we saw her fangs. Worse was the moment we felt their sting. Both my knight and myself fell into a helpless swoon. Duessa feasted upon my knight, slowly, until no drop of blood or vitality remained within his body. Even as his eyes grew glassy, they were filled with adoration. Once he’d been mine, but Duessa sank her fangs into his neck, he was lost to me. Once she got her four arms around him, he was doomed. At least my knight’s fate was quick. Mine was much crueler. Duessa enchanted me, transforming me into the dimunitive, whispy fairy you see before you. It amuses her to see me attempting to flutter around with torn wings and a wizened body. All I’d done was to try to save her from her own dark fate. I’ve suffered for centuries, because I dared to insult an Ashelocke by saying even one of them could find the light within. There isn’t a greater insult to an Ashelocke than to suggest one of them isn’t a creature of darkness. They delight in wickedness, pride themselves on the snares they can lure others into. True, they serve a purpose in weeding out other wicked, greedy folk, by allowing the consequences of their actions to catch up with them. However, they’re not above playing cruel games with those whom foolishly walk into their webs. All arachnocrats do. If the Lady Duessa finds you here, at Widow’s Web, she won’t be pleased. You don’t want her to catch you here, especially if she and her ladies get hungry in the middle of the night. Some of them are more scrupulous, only feeding upon their chosen bridegrooms during a marriage feast, but Duessa Ashelocke is not one of the scrupulous ones. If she realizes you came here by means of my author’s blog, she’ll be even more displeased. My lady didn’t get a blog, you see. Not that she’d choose to be at any of the Cauldrons of Inspiration. She’s highly suspicious of inspiration, unless she’s draining it from someone else. Too many of her friends have gotten fat on those foolish enough to find them inspirational. What? You say Master Damian has a blog here? Why, the naughty boy! If Lady Duessa finds out, she’ll be furious! Tee hee! She hates it, whenever Damian paints, or does anything artistic. It warms my heart, I must confess, to see Master Damian defy her. Too few people can do so and live. However, I musn’t let Master Damian warm my heart too much. He’s an Ashelocke, after all. The Ashelockes, one and all, are my enemies. One day I’ll have my vengeance on the entire swarm of them. I’ve got a plan, which will drain the life from them, even as they’ve drained the lives from so many others. In order for it to succeed, I must play the part of the loyal servant. Now, I fear I’ve confided too much in you. I can’t let you leave my presence, not after speaking so freely with you. Duessa Ashelocke musn’t suspect me. I’m afraid you’ll all have to disappear. No, I’m not an arachnocrat, but as someone who’s existed in their webs for a long time, their hungers are now a part of me. The sight of you all makes me quite hungry, so I see no reason why you shouldn’t be my evening meal. Don’t worry, though. Just one little bite from my fangs and you’ll be as giddy as an arachnocratic bridegroom. You’ll love every moment I’m eating you. Now, please, don’t tremble so! I don’t like my meals to squirm too much.