The room was filled with all sorts of objects that looked like they belonged to another era. The walls were adorned with wall scrolls going yellow with age and all sorts of papers were scattered all over the floor. There was a desk in the room that had more papers on it in disarray. There were also a few objects on the desk: a small statue, a paintbrush, a few books…
Kanako found herself stepping tentatively into the room. ‘What are you doing?’ her mind screamed at her. ‘Just go back to the room you were in now! Do you want to get in trouble for sneaking around someone’s house?’ ‘But it’s abandoned, and Hatsune probably wouldn’t mind…’ ‘That’s not the point! Sneaking around is bad! You know that just as well as any…’ However, such thoughts were driven out of her mind the moment she laid eyes on one of the walls.
There were newspaper clippings posted all over the wall. The headlines sent chills up her spine: “FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL STILL MISSING…” “STRANGE ANIMAL DEATHS BAFFLE AUTHORITIES…” “WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO STRANGE CHILD…” There were more, most of them about missing girls, strange sightings of some sort of creature, and mysterious deaths.
‘What…what’s up with this room…?’ As Kanako stepped backwards, her foot landed on some of the papers that were on the floor. She bent down and picked up some of the sheets. It appeared to be a diary of sorts.
“My daughter has given birth and the baby is healthy! She’s already able to scuttle on the floor, and she’s so adorable! My daughter, however, still hasn’t come to accept her situation yet. She keeps crying and won’t even look at the child…”
“The baby is growing up just fine! Today she’s killed a crow; such a smart baby! I wonder how she caught it, but all she did was smile. The poor thing still can’t get her mother to look at her though…honestly, that daughter of mine! She’s shut herself up in her room now, crying about how we let her be raped. Nonsense! It was all for the sake of her Highness that we did it! We had to usher in a new generation!”
Kanako couldn’t bring herself to read the rest of it. ‘This…this is sick…’ she thought to herself. ‘What…what kind of room is this? What kind of person would have this stuff here? Was…was that person crazy?’
Her eyes soon wandered over to the desk. The statue on the desk seemed almost identical to the one she had seen in the shrine, only with a glowing green mark instead. The paper on the desk didn’t seem as old as the ones on the floor, but the contents were still just as disturbing to Kanako.
“I have to write this down; they say that it’s one of the best ways to vent your feelings. She still won’t talk to me…she’s locked herself up and wouldn’t answer. But she can’t leave me now; the egg I had implanted in her has hatched, and now she’s the second mother of our child. But why won’t she even look at our baby? Our child is begging to see her second mother…so why won’t she come out? Humans can be rather hard to understand sometimes…I just hope that she realizes that she needs to be there for our little baby soon…”
“Kanako?” Hatsune’s voice caused Kanako to nearly jump out of her skin. “There you are; I’ve been looking all over for you…” The taller girl looked around the room, her eyes widening. “What…what kind of place is this?”
“I…I don’t know,” Kanako said. “I…I was looking for the bathroom and…”
“This…” Hatsune was staring at one of the wall scrolls. Kanako’s eyes widened in horror; the picture on it depicted a girl and a spider creature with the upper half of a human female. The spider girl was on top of the human girl who seemed to be trying to push the spider girl off. The human girl’s kimono was practically torn off and the whole thing looked like some sort of rape scene.
“Who could’ve drawn something so horrible?” Kanako whispered. However, there was a strange look in Hatsune’s eyes…recognition? Had she seen something like this before? The black-haired girl was already moving away from the scrolls, her eyes roaming around the room. She suddenly ran up to the desk and picked up the statue.
“This…” Her eyes were wide as she stared at the statue. She seemed mesmerized by the light. “I…I’ve seen this before…but where…?” She dropped the statue as she stumbled backwards, one hand clutching her head. “Ah…ugh…”
“Hatsune-san! Are you alright?” Kanako cried out, running towards Hatsune only to be stopped by Hatsune holding up a hand in a stopping gesture.
“I…I’m fine,” Hatsune said, removing the hand from her head. “Just…just a bit of a headache, that’s all…I’m going to step out for a while…I’m not feeling too good…” As Hatsune left the room, Kanako quickly followed her, giving the statue one last glance before following her.
“Rie, I’m leaving for a few hours; look after the guests, alright?” Masako called out as she walked out of the front door.
“Alright, mom!” Rie called out while secretly wondering ‘Guests? What other guests do we have besides the teacher and the students that haven’t been kidnapped?’ She watched from the window to make sure that her mother wasn’t going to turn back, then hurried to her mother’s room. ‘I need to find some sort of proof that my mother is responsible for the kidnappings; then, I’ll have to find out someone who can call the police outside of the village.’
Her mother’s room was neat as usual. Rie immediately headed towards her desk and tried one of the drawers; locked, as she expected. ‘Good thing she doesn’t know I know where she hides the keys…’ With that, Rie headed towards the closet and pulled out an empty jewel box. Opening the cover, she pulled out the bottom to reveal a hidden compartment inside. Inside were four keys, three of them modern-looking and one of them looking a little more old-fashioned.
‘Hm…which one is the drawer key?’ she wondered as she headed over to the desk once again. She got the right key on the second try; pulling open the drawer, she noticed that the inside of the drawer was neat as well. ‘I’ve got to be careful in case she notices that something is out of place…’
Inside of the drawer were several stacks of paper and a notebook. Rie reached for the notebook first, flipping through the pages. Most of them were simple accounts about the inn such as how much money was made and reminders to find missing objects. The pages in the middle were empty, but as Rie flipped towards the end, she noticed something that caused her to suck in breath sharply.
There was some sort of spider web design on the back, though on closer inspection it was revealed to be something more. The pattern looked like several symbols arranged into a web shape. ‘This pattern…I’ve seen it before somewhere…’ As she turned the page, she let out a gasp.
There was some sort of message scrawled on the page. “Remember to renew the sigil at the old shrine near the lake.” There was another one below that: “Find potential girls for breeding with the Kumobito.”
‘Kumobito?’ Rie wondered. ‘What could those be?’ She turned to the last place and stared at the message written on it:
“Remember to check the basement.”
‘Basement? We had a basement in this place?’ Rie wondered. Her eyes suddenly wandered to the old key that she had found in the box. ‘I wonder…’
She tried to think about where the entrance to this ‘basement’ could possibly be. ‘It couldn’t possibly be in mother’s room; she’s on the second floor. It has to be one of the rooms on the first floor…the problem is which one…’ She looked out the window to make sure that her mother wasn’t back yet and proceeded downstairs.
She saw Handa-sensei as she was walking down. “Oh, Rie-san!” Handa-sensei said as she came running over. “Is there any news from the police yet?”
“Oh, Handa-san…no, I’m sorry that there’s nothing from the police yet. Now if you’ll excuse me…Handa-san!” The teacher, in her hurry, had tripped. “Are you okay?” Rie asked as she ran over to help the teacher. However, as she reached the teacher, Handa-sensei grabbed a hold of her and pulled her down a little.
“I’m being watched,” she whispered in an urgent manner. “There are strange people who keep pacing the area around my hotel room. What should I do?”
Rie took a look; indeed, she could see three people that were clearly not customers of the inn; she recognized one of them as a friend of her mother’s. ‘Damn,’ she thought. ‘What’s going on around here?’ “Stay in your room for now and don’t attract any attention,” she whispered back. “Make sure that your remaining students are safe; I need to check something out first…”
She hurried away from Handa-sensei to avoid raising any sort of suspicion. ‘If I were mother, where would I hide a basement where no one else could find it?’ The place that made the most sense was her office; might as well check there.
Her mother must’ve been in a hurry; the door to her office was slightly ajar. Rie was instantly on guard. ‘Alright, something strange is definitely going on. Since when was my mother this careless? She must have something really big on her mind…’ Rie took a deep breath, looked around to make sure that no one was watching her, and quietly stepped into the main office.
Once again, the insides of the office were especially neat. There were several cabinets where Masako kept records of the guests as well as a desk that had several papers stacked into small piles. There were several photographs on the wall as well, most of them depicting Masako with a young Rie. ‘Mother…she used to be so fun to be around. Now, it’s like she’s a different person, someone I don’t know anymore…’
There was a painting on the wall, a painting depicting a Japanese temple. ‘That’s strange; why is the painting so low? I could just reach out and touch it. Why would mother hang something like that so low on the wall?’ Reaching over, she lifted the painting out of the way and smirked. ‘Ah, so this was the dirty little secret…’
There was a small hole in the wall that, upon further inspection, was revealed to be a keyhole of sorts. As Rie fished for the key in her pocket, she suddenly realized that it was in her best interest to pick up some sort of weapon. Who knew what she would find? She hurried out of the office and into her room where she rummaged in the closet for a bit. “Aha! Found it!” she said as she pulled out her baseball bat. “This should do the trick.”
Making her way back to the office, she tentatively tried the key; it fit in perfectly and she turned it. She stepped back, startled, as part of the wall revealed itself to be a hidden door and opened inwards. Rie stepped inside cautiously, making sure to inspect the door to ensure that there was a way to get out. She didn’t need to worry; there was a doorknob on the other side that worked.
The stairs leading downward were quite long, about sixteen steps or so. The room wasn’t too dark and she had no real trouble looking around. As she neared the final step of the stair she stopped, trying to home in on something with her hearing.
‘Wait a minute…is that sobbing? Oh my god! Is my mother holding someone hostage here?!’ Rie quickened her pace as she got off the stairs but felt her hand nearly catch on something thin yet sticky. She squinted at her hand to see what it was. ‘Spider silk? Ugh, this place must be filthy…’ She brushed her hand on her clothes impatiently, causing the thin strand of the web to fall to the ground. There was another door on the wall and she tested it; unlocked. She opened it cautiously and peeked inside, freezing when she saw what was inside.
She could see the faint outlines of thick spider webs everywhere in the room. The layers of webs were extremely thick and seemed to blanket most of the room. However, it was the occupants of the room that caused Rie to freeze up.
There was a girl in the room…well, at least she looked like a girl. Her back was faced towards Rie, showing the four long spider legs sprouting from her naked back. The creature was pinning someone on the ground with long spindly limbs, a young girl who couldn’t have been older than sixteen. The captive was also naked, her wrists bound above her head by spider threads as the creature seemed to be sexually assaulting her. The captive was sobbing in a muffled manner; the creature seemed to be deep-kissing her given the slurping sounds that Rie was hearing from them.
Suddenly, the creature’s head jerked up. She let out a hiss and the spider legs flexed. The creature got off of her captive and crouched down, letting the four spider legs touch the floor before scuttling towards Rie with a speed so fierce that the eighteen year old girl hardly had time to react before she was knocked over.
The creature reared her head up and let out a cry that sounded like a shrill hiss mixed with a scream. As the creature lowered its head down, the cry was suddenly cut short. Recognition came into the creature’s eyes in a way that was akin to dawning horror. “R…Rie?” the creature stuttered. “Is…is that you?”
Rie was equally stunned. "T-Teruko-neechan!"