U is for Una

Once I was a lady with faerie ties, a handsome knight at my side. My knight vaniquished those whom I bade him to vanquish and all was delightful. The delight ended when my foolish knight fell in love and allowed himself to be ensnared. In truth, he’d loved Stefan Ashelock for a long time, only to ride away from that passion. When he heard Stefan had fallen into an enchantress’s web, nothing would stop him from battling that enchantress to free his former love. Only my knight was utterly ensnared by Duessa Ashelocke, Stefan’s wife, even though she was the very enchantress he opposed and far worse. My former love, my companion ended up one of Duessa’s Valentines, wrapped up in a cocoon, and doomed to dangle in the Spider’s Temple, while the Spider’s vessel slowly drained the life from him. For that’s what Duessa Ashelocke truly was, a monster, who’d prayed to the spider to transform her into a monster, so she could deliver women from the tyranny and rapine of men. Well, she convinced other ladies with her conviction to join her in her monstrous state, founding Arachnia within the Ashelocke lands. These ladies live in their lovely gardens, nurturing beautiful boys, only to feed upon them before they can become men. Not that Duessa limits herself to just boys, taking the occassional girl. So much for Arachnia and Mystere being havens for women. It certainly has not been one for me. The lady clipped my wings, making me a slave, bringing out my darker appetites. Now I’m as monstrous as she is. I’ve endured humilation and dark hunger in that creature’s service, yet my vengeance may be at hand. I’ve tampered with some of the ointments used to anoint a Marriage Feast, a boy about to be ritually drained of his essence. Duessa and her kin will suffer the after-effects of certain specially seasoned victims. For I have all the malice and fun of the Hollow Hills and the hidden groves and I look forward to fruit of my mischief. What chaos shall be brought to these carefully ordered gardens, I wonder? Duessa herself may be ripe for my vengeance. For the spider lady loves a boy now as much as I once cherished my knight. Damian Ashelocke may let be the instrument of Duessa’s downfall. I savor every moment of pain he inflicts upon her cold heart.

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