Betty watched the Spinner and felt a sense of wonder as it loomed steadily closer.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” she asked.
“We say ‘awesome’, as the Spinners are worthy of our awe,” Maralith said.
“Can this web support its weight?” Betty asked.
She knew she should be terrified, because a creature the size of a house was clanking ever closer to her, but some part of her brain didn’t have time for that. Sure, it looked like she was doomed, but melting down in fear wasn’t going to do anything to change that, and, really, how often was she likely to see a sight like this? Hopefully never again, but that was why she had to appreciate it while she had the chance.
“I have no idea,” Maralith said. “It might depend on whether it stays connected to its swing lines.”
“How is it even using swing lines?” Betty asked, doing rough calculations as to the mass of the Spinner and the tensile strength of the thin cord it was descending on.
“With great ease it seems,” Maralith said. “We should move, perhaps another of the hoists is still functional.”
“Lead on,” Betty said and did her best to keep up as Maralith broke into a run on her six legs.
As they ran, she spared a glance backwards and saw that the Spinner was managing, despite it’s vast bulk to swing after them.
“That’s not even vaguely reasonable,” she said, causing Maralith to glance behind them as well.
“The Spinners can create realms,” Maralith said. “Making anchor points for their weblines is an interesting application of that capability but hardly unbelievable.”
Betty scowled and ran faster, putting Maralith just slightly behind her. She knew that outrunning the spider-lady wasn’t going to save her if the Spinner caught up to them. It could easily eat them both and not even have to chew. The thought of being eaten second wasn’t much comfort, but Betty decided she’d take what she could get.
Then they heard the moaning again. Instead of being in the far distance though, the moans were right on top of them, just out of view in the gloomy darkness that pervaded the Under Web.
“I don’t think this is the right direction,” Betty said, pulling closer to Maralith as they ran.
“There doesn’t seem to be a right direction,” Maralith said. “We are surrounded on all sides.”
Betty was about to ask what was making the noise but before she could her answer lurched out of the gloom. She and Maralith both dodged without making a sound, Betty rolling under the grabbing attack and Maralith side-stepping as only a six-legged creature can.
It was only after she was clear of the creature’s grasp and sprinting at full speed that Betty pieced together what had attacked them.
It was a mummy.
Or at least something that looked like a mummy. Instead of bandages though, the Web Mummy was swathed in silk threads. She looked back to confirm that she’d seen what she thought she had and discovered that the silk threads and generally human shape were the only things mummy-ish about the creatures. Where the threads failed to cover the lower half of the creature’s head there was only a shadowy emptiness. It was as though the silk was wrapped around a person who wasn’t there at all.
“What are those things?” Betty asked, counting three of the creatures behind them.
“I don’t know!” Maralith said. “The Under Web is supposed to be empty! Whatever those are they’re not supposed to exist! Maybe they really are ghosts!”
“They’re too tall,” Betty said. “And why do they look like humans? Shouldn’t they look like you if they’re ghosts?”
Betty left aside the question of whether mechanical spider people like Maralith could even leave behind ghosts. As far as she could tell, Maralith was as much as person as anyone else, and the rules for how ghosts worked seemed to fall into the category of “nobody really knows and the people who try to find out wind up frustrated or crazy”, so she’d never looked into the subject too deeply. “Leave the dead alone unless you want to join them” was a Goblin motto that she’d taken to heart at an early age.
“How much farther to the next hoist?” she called.
Looking up, she saw that the Spinner was still gaining on them. It wasn’t able to swing very far with each line that it spun but and it seemed to need time to deploy new ones, but it also didn’t seem like it was going to run out of the swing lines any time soon.
“The next hoist is not much farther but there are more of those creatures between us, and I do not know if we will make it before the Spinner reaches us,” Maralith said.
“Why isn’t it just dropping onto the web to chase us?” Betty asked. “Even if the Under Web can’t hold it’s weight, if it can make anchor points, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Perhaps it finds the creatures around us distasteful,” Maralith said.
“Crazy question then,” Betty asked, “but can you run on the underside of this web?”
“It will be slower, but yes, I think I can manage that, why?” Maralith asked.
“Because if it doesn’t want to come down here, then that might be our best option for stay away from it,” Betty said. She scanned the web around them, following the patterns of the overlapping threads until she found a weak spot in their chaotic mesh.
Goblins don’t have proper talons or claws, but Betty’s hands were small enough that she was able to pull the threads apart and force an opening where the Under Web was only a few inches thick.
As Maralith squirmed through the hole and secured herself on the lower side of the Under Web, the Spinner began swinging faster and descending towards them at an alarming speed.
Betty pulled herself through after Maralith and clung to the spider-lady’s shoulders. She managed that just in time to see the Web Mummy’s rise up around them, passing through the Under Web like it was a mirror they could step into.
“This may have been something of a mistake,” she said as the Web Mummy’s piled onto the two of them.