A Spider in a Web: Queen's Gambit
“We didn't...do anythi-...nngghh!”
Carol looked to and from each 'brother' of the Grimm partnership, unimpressed, and getting less so the longer this took.
She had both, pinned to a wall, dumb skull masks gripped under her hands. They kicked, flailed, feet off the ground, snatching, pawing at her arms, uselessly.
“Where is she.” She demanded, again.
“We don't know anything about that Spider-Bit-” One started, desperately, cut off as Carol slammed his head back into the wall.
“Spider-Woman!” The other corrected, shrilly. “We don't know anything about Spider-Woman!” He insisted, frantically.
“You two kidnapped her, brought her here.” Carol drew them both forward, and knocked both their heads against the wall again. “You set a trap, staged a robbery, and took her. Why.”
“Kidnap that troublemaking cu-” The other started again, only for Carol to give him another knock.
“Why would we bother?!” The scared one cut in, hands raised defensively. “She's our enemy! If we had the chance, we'd kill her!”
“Is that your defense?” Carol scoffed, and gave both another knock against the wall for good measure.
But, privately...they had a point. It didn't make sense. None of it had made sense, and Carol had been thinking it over since she'd started tracking them, and found them.
Jess wasn't here any more. The old workshop was empty, apart from these two clowns. But there were signs she'd been here. Signs of her struggle, and escape. Tape, torn and shredded, in the corridor, chair she'd obviously been taped to, in the small room, and rather obviously the unconscious Brothers Grimm.
Jess had got away from her captors...only to be jumped by someone else, on her way out. Less signs, than before. But a few strands of cleanly cut rope on the floor, and another long strand left hanging over one of the rafters by the garage doors...Carol could think of few other possibilities. Someone else was involved, and they'd ambushed her, nabbed her again, while she was vulnerable.
“Where did she go?” Carol growled, raising the two higher off the ground, pressing them harder against the wall, crushing their masked heads back. “Who else is working with you?”
“We can't...rem...remember...” The first grumbled, under his mark, trying to pull her arm away.
The thing was...she believed them. They weren't lying. They really couldn't seem to remember any of it, kidnapping Jess, holding her here, or why.
“Nothing!” The second wheezed. “Nothing before that hooded freak turned up, a few days ago!”
Hooded...Carol narrowed her eyes.
“Cops'll be here for you two later.” She muttered, and brought their heads together, hard.
Both grunted, and then crumpled to the floor at her feet. Carol dusted off her hands, and made her way to the unused workshop floor. She stopped by the garage doors, plucked up one of the cut strands of rope. Glanced up at one, hanging overhead. Knotted into a noose.
“The Hangman.” She murmured.
Making her way outside, she scanned the cracked old lot, and road. No signs of a vehicle. He'd carried her off on foot. That meant wherever he'd taken her had to be close by. She hoped.
Carol looked at the strand of rope, still in her hand. Curious, she held it in both, and tried to pull it apart. And couldn't.
“Jess...” She sighed, worriedly, letting it fall.
She was smart, capable, intelligent, Carol told herself. Jessica Drew was Spider-Woman, she could take care of herself.
She tried not to dwell on the fact that the odds were weighted pretty heavily against her. That she might have been hurt...or worse.
“I'm coming.” Carol breathed, launching herself into the sky.
It was the flash of lightning, helped by the booming thunder that followed, that brought her to, with a start.
“Hnnngg...” Jessica mumbled, her mouth dry around the thick rag still pulled tightly between her lips.
At first, she thought she'd taken a few too many hits to the head, today that the world was the wrong way up. She slowly worked out that she was the wrong way up, rather than everything else.
“Crrmmgghh uunnngghh...” She groaned, shaking her head side to side and instantly regretting it, upside down, with all the blood rushing to it.
The floor wasn't far below her head. She managed to glance upward, and didn't like what she could see.
She was still hogtied, but another rope had been fed under her bent knees, and looped to a hook on the rickety-looking plank ceiling. Her entire body simultaneously ached, tensed and sore, under the strain of her bondage, and gravity, and was numb, dull and prickling, all over.
“You are awake, woman.” A familiar voice sounded from across the room. “Good. The hour is almost upon us, and you are in hand. This time, there will be no escape.” Looking back down, she saw The Hangman, sat, in an old, battered wooden chair, across the dusty, ancient-looking old room, his elbows on his knees, watching her patiently.
“Yrrrnnggh rrggh.” Jessica retorted, stubbornly. “Mmrrmmgghhmmnngh!” She started straining, pulling at the ropes around her wrists.
To little effect, it turned out. None, practically speaking. The ropes were as tight as they'd been when the Hangman had captured her, at the Grimm's hideout. Before she'd passed out. She still wasn't in fighting shape, but she could tell she wouldn't be busting these with brute strength.
“Hhnnngghh.” She grumbled, irritably, trying instead to reach any knots she could, with her fingers, pick at anything she could find.
There was definitely something...wrong...with them. Most of the Hangman's knots were way out of reach, but she could just barely hit those binding her wrists...but...it didn't seem to do anything. It just wouldn't...come loose.
“It is fitting you waste your final moments, futilely attempting to free yourself.” The Hangman chuckled, still watching her. “She always said that it would make the moment of realisation, as your true helplessness dawns on you, all the more satisfying, and potent.”
“Shhrrgh?” Jessica stopped, looking sharply back to her kidnapper.
“Do you start to realise, I wonder?” The Hangman rumbled on, amused. “Have you not recognised where we are?”
Some grotty old house, by the looks of it. Decaying, rustic, very old, in style. Crumbling, groaning planks on the floors, walls, ceiling. Dark, too. Smashed windows letting in rain from the stormy night beyond. Old, ruined furniture, doors off their hinge-
...she'd...she'd been here before.
“Nnggh.” Jessica gasped, eyes widening slightly as she stared blindly ahead.
“It took many years, to rebuild this house to the precise specifications required.” The Hangman stood up, indicating the ruin around them. “But she is patient. As was I And waited, like me, for a chance to once again bring you to justice. And now, her patience is rewarded. I have redressed the stain on my honour your escape from my captivity once caused me. Now, you will never leave this place.” He started toward her, paused, nodding and then moved past her.
“Llrrhgh mmrghh ggrghh!” Jessica demanded, around her gag, when she heard a creaking old door open. “Hhrrghh!” She twisted, heaved against her bonds, trying to spin around, follow the Hangman's movements.
He was off the god damn deep end, that was for sure, but...but, was he right? It couldn't be. It wasn't possible, was it?
She was gone. She had to be gone.
“Rgghhnnggh!” She insisted, only able to jerk back and forth, suspended by her knees, upside down.
Even managing that made the ropes cut into her hard enough to hurt, the pressure of the hogtie making it feel like her arms were going to pop out of their joints.
The Hangman stopped at the door, looking back at her. He shrugged.
“My work is done. You will cause no more trouble.” He intoned, drearily. “And Morgan le Fay shall make what use of you she pleases.” And then he thudded out, slamming the door shut behind him.
Jessica froze, staring blankly at the door, letting herself hang limp, in her bonds.
Morgan le Fay.
For her. Revenge.
She didn't have time to let it sink in. She had to get the hell out of this mess. The hell out of here. And then come back, another day, when she was ready to put the damn witch back where she belonged, in oblivion.
Maybe with an Avenger or two along for the ride. Hulk, maybe. Or She-Hulk. And Carol.
Jennifer Walters and Carol...there was a thou-...no! Focus!
“Mmmrrnnggh!” She struggled, furtively, with the allegedly unbreakable ropes, wriggling back and forth, in the air.
None of it mattered if she couldn't even get herself loose of her bonds! And so far...she'd gotten nowhere! That mad lunatic who'd kidnapped her...again...had been right! Her enhanced strength, even in her weakened state, should have been enough, but she couldn't break them. And the few knots she could reach, with her fingers, at her wrists, simply wouldn't...do anything! It was if the ropes had a life of their own!
“Nnrrhhggmmmnngghh!” Jessica fumed, giving into her frustration and thrashing about, in her bonds, swinging back and forth from the ceiling. “Frrmmgghhmmrrghhnggh!” She ranted around the thick rag.
The old, worn roof creaked, loudly, splintered, overhead, as a result of her sudden movement. She paused, craning to peer upward. The rope, fed through the hook, the rusty old metal hook, down around her knees, suspending her hogtied, bound self, swaying slowly.
Breaking free of the ropes was off the table. She couldn't loosen the knots. What if...what had that insane wall of muscle said, before he'd brought her here...cut cleanly...?
“Hhrrmmgh!” Biting down on the thick cloth, between her teeth, she resolved herself to what she had to do.
Slowly, painfully slowly at first, she started to swing herself, backwards, then forwards, then backwards. Building up momentum, building up speed, weight, putting more and more strain on the decaying old ceiling. On the rope, hanging on that rusted, jagged old hook. Starting to fray, split, as she heaved herself, back and forth.
“Mmmrrggh!” She grunted, heaving back, and forth, with all her might. “Nnnrrnngghh!”
Every muscle in her shoulders, arms, back, cried out, under the strain, the pressure she was pouring onto her body, still painfully restricted in the damn hogtie. She ground her teeth, chewing her gag, forcing herself through the burn.
The ceiling groaned, cracked, overhead. She hoped it didn't give firs-
Splinters and dust fell, in a thin cloud. There was an audible, sharp snap.
“Wrrghnh?” Jessica murmured, swung forward, peering quickly at the ceiling.
At the metal hook, where she'd partly managed to saw through the rope. Past it, to where the screws securing the hook to the ceiling had come loose. The the rotting flooring upstairs, the plank the hook was secured to...as it broke.
“HHRRNNGGHH!” She cried out, as she came free of the ceiling, and carried by momentum, flew across the small room. “UURRMMGGH!” Landing, hard, in an ungainly, bad roll, on her shoulder, flopping onto one side, every limb afire, being pulled to its limit.
A resounding crash followed, as a good part of the ceiling was pulled down in her wake. 'Luckily', she managed to cling to the word, sourly, she'd fallen just out of its way.
She coughed, around her gag, in all the dust kicked up, and saw the gaping hole in the roof. Saw the remnants of a room upstairs, some old, equally ancient furniture. A pile of debris, broken planks and floorboards was piled up, in the middle of what had once been her 'prison'.
Some of the broken wood looked pretty sharp. Pointy.
Well, this hadn't been the plan, but...
“Hhmmmrrgh!” Jessica took a deep breath, and managed to roll herself onto her back.
Using her feet, her toes, she managed to gradually push her bound form across the floor, nearer to the shattered remnants. Little by little, hampered by the hogtie, connecting her feet and her wrists. But she was there.
Rolling onto her side, she reached out, with her hands, snatching a bit of wood, and started using it to slice through the ropes around her wrists.
For all she knew, the Hangman was on his way back. She'd made a bit more noise than intended. How far had he gone, anyway? Had he even intended to come back for her? What exactly had Morgan le Fay wanted with her? What had she intended to do?
“Ynnggh!” She mumbled, happily, broken board finally sliced through the rope, and her hands were free.
Quickly, she stretched behind her, to cut through the rope still connecting one of her wrists to her ankles, an easier task with a free hand, even with the other ropes still around her arms.
“Uugghhggnnngghhrh...” Jessica sighed, in relief, cutting through the connecting rope, and the constant, numbing pressure of the hogtie lifted, all at once.
She lay there, on her back, letting the blood start to circulate once again, catching her breath. Longer to recover would have been nice, but she had to get out of here. The Hangman might come back, and she was still partly tied up.
And there was Morgan le Fay to contend with.
Using the jagged bit of wood, she levered it under the ropes around her upper arms, and chest, hacking through them, shrugging them up and over her head, when they were loose enough. Then she sat up, taking it to the bonds around her legs, and ankles.
Free at last, she got to her feet, a little unsteadily after so long hanging from a ceiling, upside down. Tugging her gag from between her lips, letting it hang around her neck, she eyed the door the Hangman had used, and the hole she'd accidentally made in the ceiling. Taking a breath, crouching, she sprang upward, easily leaping up and through the hole, landing atop the crumbling floorboards overhead.
Lightning flashed again, illuminating the dark room she found herself in, briefly. Branches of tree created shadows, against the dark clouds, outside, rain lashing at the brittle old glass.
Jessica moved to the first door she found, hauling it open and stepping through, into another, that looked exactly the same.
She wanted to put a stop to whatever Morgan le Fay was up to...but she had to be smart, be practical. She was on the backfoot, she'd been on the backfoot since the Brothers Grimm had ambushed her, grabbed her, at the lab, this morning.
Get out now, plan, come back, kick Morgan in her incorporeal teeth.
If she could just...find her way out of this damn house.
Jessica stalked warily across another room, through another door...and found herself in another similar room. A feeling of unease settled over her, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
Another door groaned open, and she found herself in another...similar...room.
“What...” Murmuring, irritably, she cast about.
She'd been going in the same direction, every time, this didn't make sense. It looked like the same tree, in the windows. The dimensions of the house didn't...couldn't...
There was a second door, in this room, though.
Without thinking, she took it, quickly, stepping out into a long, thin hall, lined with more doors.
At the far end, was another rattling old window, shaking in the wind.
“The hell with this.” Jessica muttered, glowering at all the doors in disbelief.
She broke into a hard sprint, making dead for the window. Building speed, power, momentum, she launched herself at it, arms crossed to shield her head. She sailed through, with a crash, gracefully, curving through the air, landing in a roll, and tucked into a crouch.
But it wasn't grass or dirt beneath her, and she wasn't greeted by wind, or rain.
She was in yet another room of the blasted house! It was...cursed or something! Morgan had done something to it! What had the Hangman said, too, about rebuilding it...to certain requirements?
This one was different from the rest though. Different, but familiar. She'd been here before.
Jessica stood up, carefully, cautiously glancing around, the still, silent room. A large fireplace dominated one wall. Plush, elegant furniture, bookcases, a long table, heavy drapes on the windows, filled it. Unlike the rest of the house, this one seemed...used.
The fireplace. This was where she and Morgan had faced one another before. The same room, the same house, but in a different place.
Jessica padded across the floor, slowly, still watchful, eyes fixed on the deep, wide firepit.
She was barely ready for the massive, heavy iron chandelier above, suspended by chains, to snap, and fall, right onto her head.
Tucking her arms tightly against her sides, holding her breath, and freezing totally, she narrowly managed to avoid being crushed, as the middle ring layer fell smoothly around her, on the way down, in a rush of air, crashing to the floor around her feet.
“Well done.” A familiar, silky voice, floated out of nowhere, seemingly right by her ears.
She jumped, raising her arms dropping into a defensive posture, glancing around wildly. At the same time, the dark fireplace burst into flames, towering, roaring, unnatural. Jessica stared into the licking flames, seeming to reach out, toward her. Glimpses of shades, figures appeared within. Flickering images of a woman, the same woman, more than one, growing in strength, definition.
The heat became intense, and she shielded her eyes from it. Peering through her fingers, she saw her. And again. And again.
Morgan le Fay, in a long, sleek, green dress, her incredibly long, raven tresses falling down her shoulders, and back, stepped out of the firepit. She wore an unsettling smile, strolling sultrily across the floor, making no sound.
“Well done.” Morgan spoke, in a strange, faraway tone, seeming not to come from herself. “I knew not, thou couldst train a spider, but thou hast done all that was required.” The witch sneered, crossing her arms.
Behind her, multiple weaker shades, reflections of herself flickered in and out of sight.
“I don't know what hell you crawled back from Morgan,” Jessica snapped, lowering her arm. “, but you're going back!”
She lashed out, with her leg, in a sharp roundhouse that should have catapulted the witch across the room, into the fire.
Morgan stood, calmly, just shy of where her foot had reached.
“...what?” Jessica blinked, in surprise.
“So foolish, mortal.” Morgan shook her head, in mock-sadness. “And yet still too strong of will, and mind, for me to control directly.”
“Control...” Jessica lowered her leg, feeling a bit put out, then threw a punch, hard, at Morgan's face.
Her fist came to a stop just shy of Morgan's perfectly sculpted, elegant nose.
“It mattered not. Thou hast crawled and scuttled within my web, according to my whims, as necessary.” Morgan carried on, ignoring the fist inches from her face. “Even if one was required to manipulate most unworthy pawns, to direct you to me.”
Jessica took a step back, clenching her fists. She didn't like the sound of this. But Morgan was right, she had to be. The Grimms, the Hangman, one way or another, Morgan le Fay had been behind them, bringing her here.
“What do you want with me, Morgan?” She snapped.
Quickly, without warning, she dropped low, raised both hands, fired a venom blast at the highest intensity she could muster.
It was lost in the roaring fireplace, harmlessly.
“With you, troublesome spider? Nothing.” Morgan le Fay was directly beside her, shades flickering out behind her. “With your body...” The witch shrugged, a predatory smirk playing on her lips.
...of course, Jessica had destroyed her real body, in their last conflict!
“You're not getting your hands on-” She started, raising her arm and aiming to elbow Morgan in the jaw.
She missed, hitting air, stumbling off balance.
“That one so stupid could be a thorn in my side is a source of great shame, to me.” Morgan sighed, now standing atop the ruined chandelier. “But no more.” She raised a long, thin hand, and jerked it lightly, in Jessica's direction.
“Huh?” She flinched, as the fallen chains, around the wrecked chandelier started to rattle, move.
Before she had time to blink, numerous heavy, thick chains leapt through the air, tackling her to the ground. Even as she braced herself, tried to struggle, the thick, weighty links snapped tightly, securely around her, binding her ankles, knees, arms at her sides, hands behind her back.
“Got...to be...kidding...” Jessica kicked, fought against the chains, binding her, only able to roll about, on the floor. “Again...with...this...” She ground out, straining against the magically animated chains, which only squeezed tighter, around her, as she fought.
Morgan only smiled down at her, and lifted her other hand, twirling a finger idly.
“Hey, wha-...UUNGH!” She grunted, cut off, as the loose ends of the chains came to life, dragging her rapidly back across the floor, and up the far wall, across from the fireplace, securing her upright against it hard enough to smack her head back.
Morgan strolled lazily toward her, stopping just shy of being face to face. He cold, intangible fingers traced a line down Jessica's cheek, as she tried to free herself of the chains, holding her to the wall. Close enough to grab Morgan's ears and knee her in her perfect, poised jawline...if she could just rid herself of her restraints!
“I'd rather die than let you have my body, le Fay!” Jessica snapped, writhing under the rattling, clinking chains, around her arms.
“Thou wouldst. Which I realised. You are too stubborn, to accept my essence, to be my vessel.” Morgan removed her hand, from her cheek, and started tapping her chin thoughtfully. “Then I learned of another, who would serve better. A being of far greater power. She has been pursuing thee most ardently, this day. Her mind, consumed with thoughts of worry, for your safety. She shall be far more...receptive.” The witch stepped back, still smiling, almost gliding across the floor.
“I won't...nnggh...let you...do this.” Jessica heaved against the chains around her, tried to pull away from the wall.
“Would I tell thee of this if thou hadst time to stop me?” Morgan gave her one last wry smirk, and seemed to fade away.
A door across the room was thrown open. Well, kicked off its hinges. The Hangman came in, backwards, and his feet weren't touching the ground.
Carol came next, holding the vigilante up in one hand.
“Where is she!” The Avenger demanded, impatiently.
“...aaurrggghh...” The Hangman managed to gargle, before Carol rolled her eyes and tossed him upwards.
His head smashed through the ceiling above and there he got stuck, dangling, kicking. Then, at last, Carol saw her, peering around the struggling criminal's lower half.
“Carol!” Jessica called, wrestling with the chains, binding her.
“Jess!” She beamed, the relief on her face so earnest, so palpable Jessica was touched. “Hold on, I'm getting you out of here.” She strode across the room, toward her, through the ruined chandelier, shoving it out of the way.
Jessica noticed, too late, the hint of something under it. Inscriptions, patterns, in the wooden floor.
“No, stop, it's a tra-pphhhmmpph!” She managed, silenced as Morgan faded into view again, beside her, gesturing a hand, and a thick, silk blue scarf whipped around her head, tightly over her lips, sealing her mouth. “Crrmpphh, nmmpph!” She tried again, anyway.
“Jess, what...” Carol blinked, confused, seeing the ethereal form of Morgan le Fay for the first time, beside her, now gagged. “Get away from her!” She balled up her fists, hands starting to glow, ready to launch herself at the witch.
“Hold.” Morgan said calmly.
Carol stopped, dead in her tracks. She frowned, confused, consternation on her face as she tried to move, and found she couldn't.
“What...did...you...do?” The Avenger growled out, barely able to even move her mouth.
“Crrmpphh!” Jessica struggled, under the chains. “Mrrghhmphh, lmmghg hmmph ggrhmmph!” She grunted, under her gag, anything to distract Morgan from...whatever she was doing.
“Sleep.” Morgan said, simply.
Carol blinked, and blinked again. She shook her head, slightly, then tottered, stumbled, and flopped sideways, onto the floor, unconscious.
“Crrrmmpph!” She gasped.
“Perfect.” Morgan clapped her hands, lightly. “Your turn, pest. Sleep. I have work to do, preparations to make.”
“Nrrmmpph!” Jessica scowled back, stubbornly, redoubling her efforts to struggle free of the chains. “Mmrrpphh! Mmppgghh nnrrgghmmp tthhrrmpph!” She ranted, under her gag, trying to focus, through the haze suddenly settling over her.
Morgan's gaze was unflinching, overwhelming. Jessica felt her body refuse to obey, simply going slack, in the chains, despite her refusal to give up. She glanced, worriedly at Carol, unmoving on the floor.
“Sleep, little spider.” Morgan repeated, more sternly this time, and Jessica felt her will crumbling.
The haze became a fog, and she was so tired, all of a sudden.
“Wrmmpphh...” She shook her head, stubbornly. “Nnmmhhp...nnmmpphhh...” She managed a last sigh, her head falling forward, her eyes closing.
And then quiet.
Well, I came close to reading your saga before the end of the year. (I actually thought it was a three-parter and now see it's got another part lol Figures!)
Anyway, I continue to love this Spider-Woman story. Trapped, captured, bound, gagged again and again and again. I love that cycle, especially the gag scenes and Jessica's gag noises and protests. By far my favorite part in a bondage story.
Your descriptions here made it easy to envision everything. In my mind's eye, this chapter read like a comic book and I was wishing all along for there to be artwork before realizing that I didn't need actual images because you were describing everything so perfectly that I had no trouble seeing everything as it happened to Spider-Woman. (She really is a heroine born to be bound and gagged!)
I was surprised by Morgan le Fay being the big bad (even though I read the comics way back when and should have figured it out). As Hangman repeatedly referred to her as "She," I was convinced that the one behind the plot was Shelob. I swear that was what I was thinking as I read lol
I WILL read the next part before too long. This is a masterpiece!!!
My bad, this one really got away from me at the time, it 'was' supposed to be three at first XD
Glad despite prior knowledge I did still manage to surprise revealing Morgan though. I tried to be at least a little sneaky alluding to another player hiding behind the scenes And also very glad you find it so easy to visualise, I did really lean into trying to make the writing very comic-book-like. That said, I do still wanna get some pics done for the final 2/4 parts of this
Of course her struggling is the best part so if she didn't get free we wouldn't get to see her fall right back into the same predicament over and over again! I love the helpless situation the heroine has found herself in this time. The scene with her dangling in a hogtie upside down swinging back and forth is just...perfect
I don't know much about this Morgan Le Fay but she sounds like quite a worthy adversary. And being able to capture someone as powerful as Carol Danvers, both of these heroines are in for an exciting finish! And I'm most confident you will give it to them