Hatsune reacted immediately, her hand transforming into its black and yellow form before lashing out at the charging Kumobito. Teruko let out a screech as she was flung into the wall, causing the entire room to shudder a little from the impact. “Kanako, get back,” Hatsune warned. “This Kumobito has gone made.”
“Teruko-neechan, stop, please!” Rie cried out as the Kumobito hissed and got back to her feet. It was as though all traces of humanity were gone from her older sister, replaced by a feral beast. Teruko’s eyes glared at Hatsune as she bared her fangs; the black-haired girl, however, was not intimidated.
“So you really do want to die…” she said softly, her red eyes gleaming dangerously. “Fine; come at me with all you’ve got. I’ll tear you to shreds and devour your remains!” Her fingers flexed and tensed up as she prepared to strike once again. Hatsune was about to lunge forward when she felt someone grab her arm. “Kanako, what are you doing? Let go.”
“H-Hatsune-san!” Kanako pointed behind the Kumobito. “Look!” Hatsune, looking a little bewildered, realized that Teruko was standing between her and three others. One of them was a girl perhaps in her twenties while the naked girl looked to be in her teens. However, what caught her attention was the baby girl that was hissing at her, a baby girl that happened to have spider legs from her back as well.
“Huh…an infant, huh?” Hatsune mused. “That explains why she’s so agitated…” She looked over at the two girls. “So she was defending her ‘family’…”
“Who…who are you?” Rie asked, her voice shaking with fear. “Are…are you one of those…spider girls?”
“You…you’re the hotel owner’s daughter!” Kanako’s voice was filled with surprise. “Then…then do you know what this place is?”
“I’m not sure…” Rie said, looking warily at Hatsune.
“I’m sure it was supposed to be here somewhere…I know something about this place seemed really familiar…I know it…” Hatsune muttered as she looked around the place. Teruko was still hissing at her, her long legs ready to pounce; Hatsune rolled her eyes in response. “Someone please calm her down; the next time she attacks me will be the last time she breathes.”
“Teruko-neechan…” Rie reached out and grabbed a hold of one of Teruko’s spider legs. “Stop, please. Don’t do it…”
Teruko continued to look balefully at Hatsune; however, the cries of her little sister had finally reached her and she calmed down slightly. “But she’s dangerous…” Teruko whispered. “She’s…she’s really dangerous…”
Kanako quickly followed Hatsune, remembering what Hatsune had told her after they freed the girl from the small building. Hatsune had managed to recall something else from her past, something that she said had to do with the Kumobito. Kanako was worried that something bad would happen to the other students if they didn’t hurry so the two girls had rushed over. Hatsune glanced around the basement before suddenly putting her hand onto one of the stones and pushing it in. Part of the wall swung open and revealed an opening of sorts. “Hm…so I was right…”
“I remembered…I remembered that my sister and I often snuck into a hidden room in the temple. It was a large room with a statue of a spider in it. Maybe…” She didn’t finish her sentence as she hurried down the hallway. Kanako worriedly followed her, glancing back at Rie and Teruko briefly.
Rie watched as the two girls went off before getting up. “I…I’m going to help them,” she told Teruko. “Even if I do owe those…people some sort of debt, it’s still wrong to involve innocents.” Before she followed after Hatsune and Kanako, she made one last motion towards the girl that had given birth. “Make…make sure nothing bad happens to her, alright?”
“A…alright…” Teruko said as she watched her sister run off as well. She turned her attention to the girl, who was slowly stirring. “Ah…you’re awake…”
“What…” The girl’s eyes suddenly widened as soon as she saw Teruko looking down at her. “No…no! Don’t…please! Don’t…” She flinched as Teruko reached out and shivered as the Kumobito stroked her hair gently.
“I…I’m not going to hurt you, Yayoi…” Teruko said, her voice trembling. She wrapped her arms around the shaking Yayoi. “Believe me…I didn’t want to hurt anyone…believe me…I…I didn’t want our relationship to be like this…please…you need to understand. I never wanted to hurt anyone…you probably won’t forgive me…but…I never wanted to hurt anyone…” Her tears started to fall as she clutched onto Yayoi like a child clutching a comfort blanket. “I didn’t want to hurt anyone…”
“So you’ve decided to come as well?” Hatsune asked, looking slightly amused at Rie. “At least you’ve armed yourself…” she said, looking at the bat with amusement.
The tunnel was not very long and seemed to be going downwards at a slight angle. Although it was dark, there was a source of light at the end of the tunnel. The sound of chanting could be heard and Rie and Kanako shivered; for some reason, the chanting caused a twinge of fear to move up their spine.
“Looks like they’ve started whatever they were planning to do…” Hatsune muttered as she hurried towards the end as silently as possible. The three girls realized that the end of the tunnel had a small opening shaped like a mouth of sorts. The end of the tunnel wasn’t that small, but the opening was barely large enough for the three to peek out of. “There’s quite a lot of them…”
Kanako and Rie looked dismayed; there were several Kumobito chanting as they gathered around what looked like a magic circle. Several of them seemed like foreigners though they were chanting in the same language as the Japanese Kumobito. There were several other girls, naked and looking terrified, being guarded by a couple of shrine maidens who were also chanting.
As Kanako’s eyes wandered over to the magic circle, she had to stifle a cry of dismay. Three of the kidnapped students were in the middle, their hands tied behind their backs and their legs chained to heavy weights to stop them from escaping. A tall, somewhat intimidating girl of about nineteen years was standing in front of the altar, leading the chants. At her side was another girl who was tied to her, though she was turned around and they couldn’t see her face.
“What…what happened to the other students?” Kanako asked worriedly. Her question was answered as soon as she looked over at one corner of the room, the sight of which caused her eyes to widen and a small whimper to come out of her mouth. “Oh no…they…they’ve been turned…no…Watanabe-san as well…” Her eyes roved around as she took in the scene before stopping at yet another familiar face. “T-Takano-senpai!” she cried out upon seeing the older girls in the clutches of one of the Kumobito.
“This is bad…” Rie whispered. “How are we supposed to handle this?”
“Oh, this isn’t too bad,” Hatsune said. “There’s only about less than forty of those Kumobito. What worries me is the Priestess…if she can command an army of Kumobito that easily, that must mean she’s very powerful, or…”
“Or what, Hatsune-san?” Kanako asked anxiously.
“Never mind that,” Hatsune said. “What’s she doing with those?” Saki was walking over to the giant spider statue and placing something on two platforms in front of the statue and behind the altar. Her eyes widened as she realized what the first of the objects was. “Hey…isn’t that the statue we saw in the house?”
Kanako gave a gasp of surprise at the sight of the second object. “You’re right! She’s also putting up that one statue from the shrine I was visiting…”
The three watched as Saki bowed down on the floor in front of the spider statue. The chanting had stopped for the moment as the Kumobito gazed up at the statue, appearing to be in a state of reverence. Raising their spider claws into the air, the Kumobito started to make a strange sound, a sound that was like the rustling and clicking of several rattles. The sound caused the two human girls to shiver while Hatsune frowned. “Something’s going on with the statues…” she muttered. “They seem to be…!”
A sudden shrieking sound cut off her question. The rest of the Kumobito stopped their little clicking sounds as they looked at the maker of the sound. The two human girls let out a shriek as Mitsuko suddenly leaped right onto the statue, her eyes filled with bloodlust and a somewhat psychotic grin on her face.
Sadako was quite surprised to see Mitsuko break out of the group and lunge towards one of the big stone statues of a spider with open mandibles. She instinctively pulled Sachiho closer to her; if intruders came, she was not going to give up her soon-to-be mate without a fight. Even if an intruder wasn’t here, Mitsuko could be quite a vicious creature when riled up. She looked over at Saki, who frowned at the interruption.
“Mitsuko!” Kaoru called out. “What are you doing?” The older Kumobito was immediately on her feet and hurrying over to where her younger sister was.
“Hey Takagi, what’s going on there?” Sadako yelled out. “Don’t tell me it’s one of your little psychotic fits…!”
“Intruders!” Mitsuko shrieked with glee. Her spider legs rose up and started to smash the statue head to bits, causing small stone pieces to rain down. The other Kumobito were instantly on alert, some of them starting to emit the hissing sound the Kumobito made when agitated. The captured girls were instantly alert as well; many of them had hope in their eyes for being rescued. The more pessimistic ones still had fear on their faces; what if something worse came out?
Screams could be heard as Mitsuko ripped at the statue in her frenzied attempt to get at the intruders, screams that were undoubtedly feminine. Mitsuko let out a sudden screech as she fell off of the statue, smashing into the ground and instantly getting back up to her feet, hissing at the statue opening. A girl in her twenties could be seen holding a baseball bat; she had hit Mitsuko with it and apparently quite hard as well. Although Kumobito were tougher than any humans, a bat to the face was still quite surprising.
There were two other girls as well, a rather small and frail-looking one with orchid-colored hair and a taller girl with long black hair and red eyes. Sadako’s instincts instantly told her that the black-haired girl was trouble; the hair on the back of her neck prickled and she found herself moving Sachiho into a more protective position…but wait a moment…was that recognition in Sachiho’s eyes as the girl looked towards the intruders? Come to think of it, the orchid-hair girl looked close to Sachiho’s age...
“Hey Saki-sama, it’s the girl that got away!” Mitsuko yelled out.
Saki looked up at the three intruders, her face betraying no negative emotions. “So, you three maidens have stumbled upon our little sacred ceremony, eh? Don’t be shy, come on down. We don’t mind at all; in fact, you’re welcome to join…” She raised her hand, pointing at the place where the three girls were standing. Flames suddenly burst from behind the girls, forcing them to leap away and into the large room.
“K-Kanako-chan!” Sachiho cried out, one of the first things she had said in a while. Her eyes were no longer filled with resignation and defeat; now they were filled with fear towards what might happen to her younger schoolmate. The rest of the Kumobito let out a shriek as they prepared to surge forward, only stopped by Saki.
“Now ladies, let’s not resort to force so easily,” she said. Turning towards the three girls, she gave them a smile that was devoid of any malice, much to the apprehension of the two human girls.
“Stay behind me,” Hatsune said, her eyes narrowing as they focused on the Priestess. “This one is a dangerous one.”
“No need to be so defensive,” Saki said, her voice betraying no negative emotions whatsoever. “I’m…we’re not going to hurt you. This is a time when those with similar interests should work together. After all, the Promised Time is close at hand and she will soon be awakened…”
“Similar interests?” Hatsune frowned. “I don’t follow…”
“Look over there,” Saki said, pointing at the altar. The statues, now aflame with green and red colors, were starting to animate. “That’s a sign that the Spider Princess is close to awakening. Soon, the Age of Spiders will come! You should want this right? You are just like me…” With that, Saki held up her hand; it was starting to form an exoskeleton-like skin and Hatsune’s eyes widened.
“Don’t tell me…!” Hatsune looked at her own hand; it was forcefully transforming as well as the rest of her body. She fell forward on one knee as spider legs started to force themselves out of her back. “You…!”
“She’s coming…” Saki said, her voice now taking on a joyful tone. “Rejoice, my dear maidens and friends! The Spider Princess has started to stir and will soon break through her prison and appear before us, her loyal servants!”