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Bound, gagged, and no escape!
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AG2 pg.90 Eulogy of Sound by PennDreadful AG2 pg.90 Eulogy of Sound :iconpenndreadful:PennDreadful 2 0 AG2 pg.89 Knowing Your Enemy by PennDreadful AG2 pg.89 Knowing Your Enemy :iconpenndreadful:PennDreadful 2 2 AG2 page 88 Heart of Thorns pt.16 by PennDreadful AG2 page 88 Heart of Thorns pt.16 :iconpenndreadful:PennDreadful 3 1 AG2 pg 87 Heart of Thorns pt.15 by PennDreadful AG2 pg 87 Heart of Thorns pt.15 :iconpenndreadful:PennDreadful 5 1 AG2 pg.86 Heart of Thorns. pt.14 by PennDreadful
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AG2 pg.84 Heart of Thorns pt.12 by PennDreadful
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AG2 pg.83 Heart of Thorns pt.11 by PennDreadful
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Hey gang. To the handful of people following my webcomic here on DA, just letting you know I'll taking a break from updating for the next two weeks, due to upcoming travel. Why?

I'm getting married! :D

Arachnid Goddess 2 will return on the week of October 15th.

Edit: Thanks all! I'm very excited!

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PennDreadful
Chernobog
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Personal Quote: Everything is what it is, except when it isn't. And except when it is. That's the first step.
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AG2 pg.90 Eulogy of Sound
Swarmed by the ooze-like mass of multiple geists and held in place, Bali was forced to guzzle more and more blood. She unintelligibly shrieked and hissed, thrashing like a maddened creature, as her eyes dilated and threatened, only half focusing on the witch tormenting her. Karolina gashed her own hand to spill out more of her life's blood into Bali's mouth, held open by the mitten shaped hands of the geists. "Yes, you're not much more than an animal on two legs when it comes down to it, aren't you? Look at you! To think I had something to be afraid of..."

"I can see this is having an effect. What does happen, I wonder? Because I think I have an idea."

"This is what power is, when used with cleverness, Bali. It's what Outer Hell was never capable of. Ingenuity and the ability to adapt. It needed a leader. But beyond it's strength, I didn't need it. And to think, you helped me along! I don't need anyone now, do you understand? No one. I don't know why you're so dogged on coming after me, but it only took a matter of time to figure out how I could separate you and Ruukunda. It was easy to prey on your individual flaws; the both of you."

"Now, I could have killed you, but I prefer to make an example of you going forward. It's so much worse for a Xibalban, from what I've gathered thanks to my new powers, to unable to recover from something no matter how strong their will to survive is. I could chop you to pieces and as long as you were stubborn enough and left to survive even slightly, I'd see you running at me again in months, I imagine."

"So remember this day, spider woman. The day I corrupted that delicate balance of shadow and blood essence within you. And the day I took your unique gift and cast it to the dust."

Cruel, the shovel witch had the geists release Bali, inflicting her with shadow poisoning from their sustained touch, but also contaminating the form of energy she'd require by feeding her significant amounts of blood, which was not something the fae like herself could engage in.

Bali fell backwards after a delirious attempt to stand and began to thrash, cough, and foam at the lips. Her insides were going haywire, wracked with pain, and her mind raced feverishly. She couldn't focus and she could scarcely think a coherent thought.

Bali had been corrupted.

Kara smirked, watching her nemesis reduced to a sickened wretched state. "Sing if you can, little bird. But your days of the Song are over now. The sounds will not part from your lips any further."

Humming to herself, Karolina turned and walked away, dismissing her geists as easily as she did her enemies, while Bali screamed to the fading sun and uncaring sand, rabid, confused, and maimed.
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AG2 pg.89 Knowing Your Enemy
Each fight, Kara came back not only stronger, but wiser as well. Not only of her enemies, but of her power, and what knowledge the memories of Outer Hell had possessed. They were often difficult to read, as they flowed through her in a taste that was both alien and self distracted. It was little doubt she wasn't much of a match for her aunt or Bali. But now, she was getting the hang of it. The geists had achieved humanoid forms now, although they were thin and mute of voice. But they moved faster and she could command more of them at a time as well.

In the days that passed, Kara discovered the godly identity within her book as well. This Chernobog... he was a weak Scandinavian god, something obscure even from his own time. While he survived on the crumbs of being acknowledged by some witches, such as Ruukunda, Kara had no need of him. Instead of finding the dark god menacing, she considered him a mewling blow hard, unable to do much on his own beyond the teaching of magic. She did not need him, but what power she could derive from his essence within the book was still of interest. Absorbing it through sheer force of her own magical might, she needed nothing of his identity, which was his heart infused into the book. So, she left it there, realizing it might make for a useful tool still. For what isn't valuable to one, is treasure to another.

With that in mind, it was time to rid herself of the two meddlers. Noticing neither was technically willing to kill her, and seeing their strife together, she appeared one day before them in what seemed like a usual provocation on her part. Making use of her now much more numerous geists, Kara placed the book down on the dusty turf of the land as the battle ensued, acting as if it was a hassle to carry. Forcing Bali and Ruukunda to handle geists on their own, made easier by their apparent disharmony, she subtly lured Ruukunda closer to her book and pretended not to notice.

Originally, the plan was to kill her aunt, but since they weren't trying to kill her, why was the older witch still here? Reasoning it was less for Kara's sake, but for the book and Chernobog now, the bait was left wide open. And the older witch wasted no time in gathering it up greedily, upon noticing it seemingly forgotten. For if she could not save her niece, honoring Chernobog with his missing heart would surely earn her favor. And so, Kara granted this, pretending to let her have a victory with something seemingly valuable. And how better to protect that new asset than to retreat with it?

Ruukunda made a token effort to alert Bali that was leaving the scene with 'something important', but the spider woman was being besieged heavily with almost three times as many geists as usual now. Ruukunda had been lured to the book, in fact, by a small light presence of geists that could be easily dispatched. And since the witch didn't want to risk losing the spell book again, she ran regardless of what Bali did, although she likely assumed the Death Clan tribeswoman would escape as well. Kara's plan was now to seal that trap.

Overwhelming the weary dancing martial art's practitioner, Kara had the geists swarm and grapple Bali. The spider woman was definitely stronger and a better fighter than any of them, but there is only so much one can do against ants.

"Ruukunda? Where are you?! I need a hand here!" Bali-la shouted, not having heard Ruukunda's earlier call, nor having noticed her departure in the chaos. But there was no assistance to be had.

Kara rationalized that Ruukunda wouldn't kill a blood relative after all the hesitation, although Kara still didn't know the magnitude of Ruukunda's actual role in her life beyond pushing magic on her. So with her apparent victory in hand, perhaps assuming Kara would weaken without the book, Bali became isolated and suffered a real defeat, dragged low by the shadowy humanoids. No man or woman is a mountain.

Bali was the real threat. She was not a blood relation and might easily kill Kara if she really tried. Kara knew Bali could have done it already, but she seemed to hold back. Which was odd, because Outer Hell's memories indicated Xibalbans were very blood thirsty. But they also could be beaten down, to have their spirits broken enough to realize they were outclassed. All in all, she couldn't fathom why Bali kept bothering with her, as she hesitated to deliver a killing blow each time before Kara could escape. Maybe it was that lapse in mental strength Kara knew she would suffer... a strange inner pang of guilt when she too, was brow beaten by the spider woman. But her powers would warp her away and the entire skirmishing relationship would begin again anew in days, each time.

"I could kill you, I'm sure. But you've spared me many times," asked Kara, when the Death Clan woman was finally restrained long enough by the sheer amount of geists. "Why, I wonder?"

Bali gazed at her with intense orange eyes, a sign of the fae and a Xibalban morning. "Because I know there is someone in there who can be saved. Maybe you're not being controlled by anything now. And maybe you wanted this power you've taken. I've seen it in your eyes. Surely, you know it's there. You know what you're doing and what you've done is wrong. Unnatural even. Yes, I don't want to kill you. I want to help. I'm sure I can-"

"The voice of the power within, now at my behest, tells me what you did in the city was unique. An old gift that can cleanse the world with a song." Kara responded, pacing about idly. "I respect that you want to 'save me'. From what, I don't care. But you're not as I understand or have ever understood Xibalbans to be. So, I won't kill you either. Really, without you and Ruukunda, I wouldn't have the immediate opportunity to sharpen my proverbial sword... these powers, of course. So, you have my thanks. But I can't have you or Ruukunda getting in my way anymore. I've out grown you both, I suppose."

"I'm going to leave you with something... well, not in such exact words, actually... that will make sure you never forget the day you realized you could have ended all of this by simply doing what your animal brain would naturally tell you to do. Your gift could be a threat to me in the future- I'm fairly certain these geists would be considered corruptions. What benefit is there to having an army if one person can simply scream them away? I need human spirits to make these and there's only so many left, of course. We humans are a dying breed."

"So forgive me if I don't care about what Xibalban Australia considers 'natural'. You certainly don't. A spider woman who won't kill? Psh. I wonder if that's like a human accepting that she's a mediocre nothing with no chance on her own in this world? Yes, we change our fates, don't we? Hypocrite."

"If you can't bring yourself to kill me, then don't cry to me when I take the one thing you can't give."   

The geists held a struggling Bali down. She thrashed and hissed, but there was too many to fight off. Kara walked closer, smiled, and then sliced her own hand open with the dragging sharp tip of her burial spade. She scarcely winced.

"I know something else about your kind, orange eyes. I understand the fae like yourself only feed on shadow essence? How interesting. I hear there's a lot of shadow essence in me, to be honest. But today, I think we're going to try the other side of things, Bali."

"Now DRINK," she demanded, squeezing her own hand. Bali's mouth was forced open by the geists and Kara's blood began to flow onto her tongue and throat. Bali gagged and coughed, trying to reject it, yet...

"So pure..." Kara whispered in grotesque bemusement.
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AG2 page 88 Heart of Thorns pt.16
So began the first of a series of battles with Kara. Able to choose where and when to appear, she would launch into Bali and Ruukunda with a troupe of geists, who acted solely at her beck and call. At this time, the geists were crudely formed lumps of darkness with white specked eyes. They weren't particularly fast or dangerous, just numerous. Typically, Ruukunda would confront them with magic, logically arguing that sorcery was safer than hand to hand with the things. This left Bali free to bring the fight directly to Kara herself.

At the time, Kara wasn't terribly impressive either. Although she carried her spellbook strapped to her back, she largely ignored it, relying instead on improvised powers given to her by essence of Outer Hell and whatever pain she could inflict with her shovel. Unfortunately for her, she was Bali-la's inferior in hand to hand. Bali was not only stronger, but faster, and well trained in hand to hand. Easily able to lock up Kara's attacks with the spade, the spider woman laid into Kara with punches, kicks, and chokes. The goal was not to kill Kara, necessarily, but to see if that frightened humanized face would return. Bali believed that expression, such as she saw with when Kara was the wraith, was the true person behind the power. If Kara could be snapped out of the influence of her powers, such as they were, perhaps she could be saved.

But it was foolish. And fitting Bali's reputation, reckless.

No matter how many times she battled Kara, while the witchling would seem to revert to a less megalomaniacal person at the end of her stamina, she would simply vanish away. And from there, she would appear some days later, ready to fight again. This went on over and over, much to Ruukunda's growing irritation with Bali. "She can't be saved! Come on...!" Yet, Ruukunda herself would not volunteer to land the killing blow either.

Worse, the geists were beginning to take a more humanoid shape than the dark amorphous lumps they were before. They grew claws and teeth and seemed to fight more like a pack of wolves than with true mindlessness. While this was still within the ability of the two women to handle, Kara herself was growing stronger too. And with this, the temporary bond between Bali and Ruukunda frayed more.

Ruukunda came to understand that Bali couldn't use the Song again as she did in Outer Hell proper. It took a great deal of time to recover to that level of strength, leaving Bali only able to sing and hum to less than useful effects as far as combat was concerned.

The attacks went on for several weeks, which wore on the witch and the Death Clan woman. Kara was dead set on stopping them, and the fights seemed only to strengthen her resolve. Surely, she could have simply left the area altogether, but no, she wouldn't let what challenge the two presented go. There was no reasoning with her either. She looked at them as an obstacle that had to be dealt with, if for pride's sake, before she could do anything else with her abilities.

It was only a matter of time, between the constant fights and the inability to stop Kara fully, before the situation truly turned against the duo at last for their hesitation. Kara learned all too well how to fight them now and she was growing increasingly dangerous. And she could see the tension between Bali and the witch's ineffectual team up. Understanding several particulars about the situation, Kara decided it was time to drive them apart, crushing more than their bodies. No, now she would crush their spirits. Just what Bali had foolishly tried to do to make her stop the madness.

"I don't want to be 'saved'. Not by you or anyone else."
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AG2 pg 87 Heart of Thorns pt.15
A couple days passed, as the witch and the barbarian waited for Karolina's return within the expanse of Australia's Outback, surrounded by vast fields of dust, cacti, and small earth toned shrubs. The Death Clan woman was still skeptical that Karolina would innately find her, but Ruukunda merely asked her to be patient.

Bali had resumed her humanoid guise now. The arachne body was strong, but it wasn't well suited to her own sense of agility, as she couldn't incorporate her dance fighting skills with it. She also removed her courtesan's garb to her more commonly worn skimpy outdoor wear. Ruukunda shot her a disapproving glance, being much more covered up, comparatively. Most humans preferred to disguise their bodies with clothes, Bali had been told, whereas her kind preferred showing off their physiques or at least having higher mobility. Otherwise, they might wear clothes taken from others beaten in challenges and fights, as proof of a trophy. Such things were done out of pride of prowess. Of course, as a fae blooded shapeshifter, Bali would cosmetically form her attire, as was typical.

It was another hot dry day in the Outback. The waiting and maintaining a sense of needing to be ready was draining in and of itself. Ruukunda was odd company. Sometimes she would talk at length if the subject was either about magick or Karolina herself. Often, she was very clipped in her speech and disinterested in conversation. Bali found her to be overly self controlled as a whole. Too professional and detached to make a friend from her, she thought of the witch.

But it was on this day that Karolina finally appeared. And by that, she actually seemed to come out of thin air all of the sudden. Bali detected nothing of an approach, only the feeling of eyes burning into her. She pivoted around, along with Ruukunda who picked up on the presence. Standing nonchalantly, Karolina stared at them with a dead pan expression and sunken yellowy eyes, no doubt a mark of Outer Hell's influence. She was dressed in dark pants, shoe-less, with a buckskin vest and a long white shirt. Around her waist, a belt was tied tightly to her form. And in her hands, her tell tale long digging shovel. It was not an impressive appearance, as she looked rather ordinary, but the gravedigger's daughter had a stifling presence around, as if the air was dissipating in her wake.

Expecting an attack, the Death Clan barbarian assumed a martial pose. In her mind, she wondered why it seemed the Song didn't work as well as she thought on Karolina. The dark influence was still within her, clearly. Was she losing her gift of music and melody?

"Before this comes to blood, which I see you're expecting... you must be wondering the obvious. Eh, Death Clan?" Karolina said quite plainly. "Why? Why is she still doing this?"

Bali tensed. Was she reading her mind? No, this was Outer Hell speaking for her. It certainly knew of what the Song was now.

Karolina hinted at a small smirk, before seeming bored. "What if I told you it did work?"

What?

"You did me a favor, Xibalban. Saved me quite a bit of time and considerable effort, really. I suppose I should thank you. But I doubt you'd accept my gratitude graciously."

Ruukunda interjected. "You need to leave her now," commanded the witch to her niece, but she was really talking to Outer Hell's hold on her. "All this talk doesn't change the fact you must be quite weakened within her-"

"Let me just stop you there, auntie," Karolina said, raising an open palm. "You don't get it. Neither of you do, it seems. So, I'm going to walk you through this."

Ruukunda and Bali shared a confused glance, but remained wary.

"The Song, as I understand it to be called, did work. Such an interesting force, really. I never knew it existed. It scoured the corruption from me. All the possessing forces. So, you've come here to save a girl from the great gloom of Xibalba and... what? Return her where?"

"To a live of supreme drudgery? Digging holes for the deceased? Living a life within a small boxed in town, filled with paranoia and xenophobia of anything beyond it's own meager borders? Or, perhaps a life of studying endless to some inscrutable end so I could end up like you, auntie?"

The witch shivered. "Wait... Karolina? Why are you talking like this? Am I supposed to believe Outer Hell has no hold on you?"

Karolina smiled with dull amusement. "And the last horse crosses the finish line, eh? Auntie, auntie... my life was a boring hell. There is no future in Adelaide. Digging ditches for the rest of eternity? Cowering behind the defense of equally nervous guards while Xibalbans roam the land like gods? Devoting myself to the long nights of studying how to do magic tricks? What kind of spells would someone boring like me even learn? You said it yourself once... the spells within a book are based on the nature of one's character. And what did I learn? The ability to summon my spade and make it stronger so it wouldn't break under pressure easily? What kind of garbage magick is that?"

"No, no no..." Karolina threw back her head, flipping back her hair. "I wanted that power. What you call Outer Hell beckoned to me... begged me. It was leaderless and chaotic. It needed a vessel to go onward. It promised me the one thing I couldn't get on my own. Freedom. Freedom to leave Adelaide, to wander on my own. These past nineteen years have been a waking prison. My parents are fine people, but they're boring and unable to change. Stifling. And you're no different, auntie. For all your magick, you're as rigid as they are. I don't know why you wanted to take me under your wing, frankly. But I needed to escape the curse of being a Bailey. Of being... ordinary. And here we are."

"I should clarify something... I don't hate you, auntie. You're just doing what comes natural to being a Bailey. Of being a human in this world of monsters. I don't really hate any of you, I think. But if I see an obstacle, I will break it. I will not go back to that mediocrity that has been my life. When I stood, surrounded by the geists of that village that I... well, I knew what I had caused. Even before Outer Hell, there was something peculiar within this ordinary mask that is who I've been. And I knew that I was destined for greater things than being a studious bookworm and digging holes for the family business."   

"Outer Hell was a means to an end... nothing more. How fortunate the Death Clan removed it. Now, the power is mine alone. Is it really corruption when it was solely my goal to begin with? The geists I have made of the dead need no burial plots. They listen without the rote and ritual of spells. The voices of Outer Hell were strong, yet ironically feeble of character. I am not. So I give you this warning. Get in my way again and I'll show you what one boring little human can do. I will not give up my freedom ever again."

"I am Kara. And this country will be my personal playground. The geists will drive all unnecessary challengers from the land. Those who haven't the sake to leave, will join their numbers. And they will listen only to me now."

Time seemed to slow to a crawl for Bali-la. This was insane. Her entire assignment had spiraled out of control. The Song... might have actually made things worse. She could hear Ruukunda screaming her head off at Karolina in frustration and disappointment, but she couldn't understand the words. How could someone even save someone like this? Karolina was not some hapless girl, used as a tool... she was ambitious, power hungry, and malevolent. She showed no shame in slaughtering an entire village or consorting with a dangerous evil force. And people were just obstacles to her? It was such a foreign viewpoint to the spider woman. Maybe... maybe she should have simply killed her in the city, if it was possible. Her clan implied that was what was desired. Ruukunda even suggested it as an option. Now, the girl was a megalomaniac and her heart was filled with thorns.

"What am I even doing...?" Bali mumbled to herself. Reckless. Always reckless, her kind would say. She couldn't fix the past. She couldn't save anyone.

Or could she?

This had to be dealt with. 'Kara' had to be confronted. Left to her own devices, she would no doubt be a great menace if the Xibalban walked away now. But there was no Song to sing. Her throat was no anywhere near ready yet. And since it appeared that Kara wasn't corrupt to begin with, the Song would do little again. The idea of someone with such pure disregard for everyone else, willing to condemn everyone to a slave's existence as whatever the geists were...

"No," stated Bali firmly, interrupting the two magic users.

"Pardon?" Karolina and the witch looked at her.

"We're doing this now. Or however long it's going to take. If I ignore you now, this will be no different than ignoring the mere spark that ignites a forest fire," hissed Bali.

Karolina raised a brow. "Is that so? Then the decision has been made. Auntie, what about you? Going to die with this bush woman?"

Ruukunda stared darkly. After a moment of hesitation, she sighed. "This has been my fault from the beginning, it seems. I played god with you to make my sister happy. And to give you a chance. And this is what you've done with it..."

"What are you talking about?" Karolina didn't follow her meaning, not knowing of her complications at birth.

"I don't want to do this. But I will do what needs to be done. I brought you into this world as much as my sister Carol did. My mistake."

Karolina slimmed her eyes. The facts behind those words escaped her. But the tone did not.

"Well then. I guess I'll be spared the monotony of your funeral, because you two just dug your own graves," snarled Karolina with displeasure. "Remember. You chose this!"
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BuzzyNSparkle Featured By Owner 23 hours ago  New Deviant Professional Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the fav! Keep on watching ;)
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Master-Geass Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2019  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the
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kaspired Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2019
Thanks for the fav!
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AuPlauSe Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2019  Student Artist
happy birthday
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zacharyknox222 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2019  Hobbyist Artist
:):):):):)Happy Birthday!:):):):):)
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Psychoboy07 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2019
Happy (early) birthday, Penn.

Figured I may as well send the well-wishes a week early than risk a week or more late, as has sadly been the case with multiple friends and family. That's a bad. 
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PennDreadful Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2019
Thank you! I appreciate the thought!
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Psychoboy07 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2019
You’re very welcome
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redhondo Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2019
Thank you for the fave.
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HarlockLondom Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2019  Student Digital Artist
thx for fav
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