A spider almost as big as the giants had been plaguing a village that was pretty far away. Somebody from it came to Charles and told them how it was stealing men,women and children and taking them to it’s web and killing them. He explained where its web was and how to get to it. It would be a 6 day journey. They promised him half of the towns gold, hide and meat if he’d take care of it for them. They also offered their best warriors to aid him if he needed it.
It had only been 2 years since the birth of his daughter and he hated being away. He couldn’t turn his back on them though. Besides if he didn’t get it in check it may come to his own village. His wife and daughters safety meant too much to him. He agreed “I’ll set out tomorrow. I don’t want any other men. They’ll slow me down.” The man nodded and was impressed by his bravery to go alone. he wasn’t surprised though. He came to Charles because of all the stories that had reached their village.
When he told his wife she said “I’m going with you”
“No you’re not!”
“Yes! My parents will keep Victoria! If you don’t let me come and help you I’ll just follow behind.” He sighed “it’s a 6 day trip Sophie. Will Victoria be ok?”
“She’ll be with my parents. Don’t you approve of how I turned out?”
“I wont be able to convince you to stay will i?”
“No, I’m glad you realize that. Lets go to my parents house.”
Sophie’s mother was more than happy to take Victoria. She loved spending time with the little girl and Victoria practically jumped into her grandmother’s arms. Sophie handed her mother Victoria’s favorite teddy bear. “You two will be careful won’t you?” Her mother asked.
“Of course we will. We will be back before you know it, I promise.” She kissed her mother on the cheek then kissed Victoria. Charles did the same and they went home to pack what they needed before morning. Sophie couldn’t help but feel a little sad.
“Are you sure you want to go?” Charles knew that look. It was only six days there and six back, but he knew that to Sophie it would seem like a lifetime. He often had that feeling every time he was called away to help someone.
“I’ll be fine Charles. It’s normal to miss your child.” She smiled up at him as she opened the door to their house. Sjena jumped up wagging his tail and jumped on her, his large paws resting on her shoulders. He licked her face and she laughed. “Down boy.” She said and pushed him back.
“Are we bringing this guy?” Charles asked as he scratched the wolf behind the ear.
“Of course, we could never leave him here alone. He’d eat everything, plus he’s our tracker aren’t you boy?” Sjena yipped in agreement.
She packed some food items and only 2 changes of clothes for each of them. It was best to pack light so they’d get worn out less. They didn’t pack much food because they knew they could find some fruit trees along the way. She set it in front of the door for the morning. They ate dinner and then went up to bed so they could leave as soon as the sun rose. She layed on her husbands chest as he stroked her hair. “Are you sure you want to go? It’s not too late to get Victoria.”
“You just asked me that Charles”
“I know, I just prefer it when I know youre safe at home. Don’t get me wrong I know how good you are with your magic. You can’t blame me for wanting to keep what’s most important to me out of danger. You and Victoria are everything to me and I came so close to losing you when she was born. My heart could barely beat until you woke up.”
“It’ll be fine. Wont my magic make the journey easier anyway?” He reluctantly said yes. “Alright then, lets go to sleep.”
Dawn came and they both quickly got up and ate some omelettes. Charles grabbed the bag and his wifes hand. They wanted to say bye to Victoria again but they knew it would only make it harder to leave. A couple of the ladies said “awe” as they walked past. It was funny to see what a softie he was with his family when many had seen him fight and heard all the stories. Long before all this though everybody knew how much he loved Sophie. Nobody was surprised when they came back from her adulthood journey that they were engaged. Everybody had been waiting for him to ask her.
They too, the main road. They could stay on it for the first half of the journey before having to cut off into the woods. Sjena trotted happily behind him, his slight limp giving him an odd gait. Sophie often worried about his limp and was still trying to find a way to fix the nerves in his shoulder. He didn’t seem to notice though. She was happy to be out again, even if it was for something dangerous. She had not done much since having Victoria. She helped the midwife a lot with delivering babies and ensuring that everything went well. She didn’t want another woman to go through what she had.
Charles was nervous having Sophie with him. She was incredibly courageous, a real fighter. It often scared him how utterly fearless she could be. He thought back to the day she had taken baby Victoria up a tree with her to gather some nuts she needed for one of her salves. Victoria was sleeping peacefully in the little sling Sophie had made for her. Sjena, being a very loyal hound, had alerted him right away. He had stood at the bottom of the tree demanding she bring the baby down. She had smiled and told him not to worry. If Victoria was anything like her, he knew he was going to die before he was old enough to be a grandfather.
“Stop frowning.” Sophie said, startling him.
“Sorry, I was thinking about Victoria. Do you think she’ll be as crazy as you?” He smiled down at her.
“I might have to lock her up then.”
“You will do no such thing!” He laughed “you know I’m only kidding. I just love the both of you and wish you weren’t so courageous. You’re going to teach our daughter to be that way.”
“Good” he shook his head grinning.As they walked further he was praying atleast getting there would be uneventful. “I wish you were happier I was with you. Do you just like breaks away from me?” she looked a little sad and he stopped turning her face up by her chin to make her look at him “Don’t say things like that. I miss you every second I’m not near you. The only reason I do all that I do is to make sure you and Victoria are safe and provided for. It’s miserable when I can’t hold you. I get close to tears missing you when i have to be away multiple days. I love you so much Sophie. There’s so much danger out here and I hate you being in it. Anything can happen in a moments notice. I know you’ll probably get hurt while were out because even I get hurt atleast once on multiple day trips. I can’t stand to see you in any kind of pain or danger. I look sad because I’m worried not because you are with me.”
He hugged her then kissed her. “I love you Charles”
“I love you too Sophie now lets keep going and don’t say anything like that again.” She nodded and grabbed his hand again. “Victorias lucky to have a dad like you.”
The sun started to fall and Charles recommended they get off the road and make camp. Sophie agree and they found a nice spot off to the side where they would be out of the way of horses and cart. Charles collected wood while Sophie pulled out food and their water skin. She smiled at Charles when he came back, melting his heart. He piled the wood and she started a fire. He sat next to her and they ate dinner. He tossed a piece of jerky to Sjena who was sitting there drooling. “Does he do that to Victoria when she eats?” He asked.
“Drool? No he doesn’t. She growls at him and he doesn’t like that so he comes and stares at me. He’s such a little pig.” Sophie said and tossed the wolf a piece of her bread.
“She growls at him?”
“She learned it from Enzo. He wrestles with Sjena when he visits with his mom and they growl at each other. Victoria loves that little boy. They are absolutely inseparable.”
Sophie had showed Enzo how to conjure the little balls of light she often used. His mother said he was learning fast and practiced every day. Sophie loved when they came around, especially when Charles was gone. They kept her mind off of worrying. The last time he had come home he had a huge cut from sternum to belly button and he was covered in blood. It had scared her half to death. He still had a scar. They finished eating and Charles wrapped his arms around her. She pillowed her head on his chest and watch the flames dance until she fell asleep.
He sat there until the flames had died down a bit before he fell asleep. He wanted to sleep that way so he could make sure nothing tried to run off with her. Aside from his worry he was happy he wouldn’t have to be away from here for 12 days. Long trips really took a toll on him emotionally. He worried about her at home anyway. If anything attacked their village he wouldn’t know about it until he was home and anything could happen. He missed his little girl too but he knew Sophies parents would take good care of her.
She woke up still in his arms. His face was on her head. She tried to stay really still so he could sleep but somthing irratated her nose and she sneezed. Charles jumped up reaching for his sword when he noticed nothing was going on. He then moved his hand to his heart and breathed deeply. “I’m so sorry. I only sneezed. Are you always this easily startled out here?”
“No, it’s just because you are with me.”
“You could’ve woken me up to sleep comfortably.”
“No I wanted to sleep like that” he smiled and she smiled back. They gathered their things up and began walking again. “Tonight you better sleep comfortably.”
“I hope I don’t end up giving you a heart attack from a sneeze” She laughed and added “You’re so cute.” She was glad at this moment she didn’t tell him she was pregnant again. The last time Enzo and his mother was over she told Sophie. She hadn’t ment not to tell him. He just was busy lately and she didn’t have much of a chance. She decided to tell him on their way back they would be expecting another little one. He probably wouldn’t have let her come if he knew she was a few weeks along.
The second passed as uneventful as the first. Aside from two sparrows fighting over a piece of bread she threw there really wasn’t much going on. When the sun went down they did their nightly ritual of gathering wood and eating. Sophie made him lay down this time and snuggled close. She buried her face in his shirt and fell asleep. Charles woke her the next morning and she felt sick. She breathed through the nausea, knowing if she threw up he would make her turn back.
“Are you alright, you look a little green?” Charles asked as they walked.
“I’m fine, I promise.” She smiled up at him.
The sound of screaming interrupted him. It was coming from around a bend in the road. They took off running, shocked to see a couple of man sized spiders attacking a cart. The woman who had been driving it hid underneath and was kicking at the spiders. Charles drew his sword, rushing the eight legged beasts. He jumped on the back of one, stabbing down into its back. Sophie shot fire at the second one, setting it aflame so it screamed and fell onto its back. The first spider was trying to shake Charles off. He withdrew his sword and stabbed it again. It fell dead beneath him, legs curling up.
“Charles,” Sophie said as she ran up to him, “these are babies.”
The woman got up crying and ran to Sophie “Thank you two so much! Can I do anything to repay you?”
“It’s fine, we couldn’t watch you be attacked like that.” She got in her cart and gave them some fruit and money anyway. They both said thank you and the woman went on her way. “Those are huge!” Sophie said. Charles was surprised he had expected the man was exaggerating but if those were babies he couldn’t imagine what the mother looked like. “Are you really sure you want to come.” His face filled with worry. “Yes hunny, didn’t I do well?”
“Yes you did.” They kept walking. Sophies mind was on the poor horse that woman had. She hated those things. She didn’t think it was very fair to horses to have to pull you and all your stuff. Sophie hadn’t been out since before Victoria so she was honestly a little bit worn out from walking. She didn’t say anything though. It would be good to get more stamina up. Charles eventually noticed she was getting tired and said “Can I carry you? I’d love the closeness.” He knew she didn’t want to admit she was tired and he’d feel safer with her pressed against him.
They arrived at a large river. It normally would’ve resulted in Charles getting really wet but Sophie parted it using the wind. When they got across she smiled at him “see a perk of me coming. you can set me down now.”
“What if I dont want to?”
“I don’t want you getting tired because you’re carrying us.”
“Us?” she laughed. “all the excitement getting me worked up, I meant me” He set her down thinking that wording was very odd. He ignored it though. They started hearing tigers fighting with one another. One came bounding twords them. Sophie electrocuted it before it even got near. It ran away afraid. “Glad you didn’t have to kill it.”
“The spiders are creating such a disturbance that it seems to be driving the usual solitary beasts to seek each other out and hurt one another.” She said as they continued walking.
“That can’t be good. People come here all the time to fish.” Charles replied.
Sophie smiled up at him. She was worried about what she had said before. He had not said another word about it, but she was worried he might. She had to keep herself from touching her stomach. That would be a dead giveaway. She reached down and scratched Sjena on the head instead. She had a feeling the wolf already knew about her new baby. She was glad the creature couldn’t talk at least not to Charles.
“I think we should stop and rest.” Charles said.
The sun was beginning to set. He normally waited until it was all the way down so she wondered why he wanted to go ahead and stop. They did their normal thing and then Char said “Sophie, I’ve known you since you were little. We grew up spending all our time together correct?”
“You’ve never once in our lives messed up what you were going to say no matter what the situation. You also had that look this morning. I was going to ignore it because you hadn’t gone on a long journey but that us got me thinking. You’re pregnant and you haven’t told me” She looked at the ground. “I knew it. God damnit Sophie why didn’t you tell me before we left! I would’ve never let you come! How long have you known?”
“Only a few weeks and I didn’t not tell you on purpose. You’ve been busy. I promise. Yes earlier I didn’t tell you because I wanted to come but I’m not that far along. If I get hurt the baby will be fine and I’m with you. You’d never let anything happen to me. I was honestly going to tell you on our way back. I never get to go anywhere. Soon I’ll be big again and you wont let me do a thing” she looked really sad. Charles understood how she felt.
He stopped being upset with her and hugged her. She said ‘I can’t believe you figured it out.”
“Sophie why wouldn’t I? I do pay attention to you you know.”
“Well I’ve been having naseau the past 2 weeks really bad and you never noticed and like I said I wasn’t hiding it from you I just didn’t say anything. That’s kind of where that comment came from before about you just not wanting to be around me. You’re either busy or sleeping.” He felt like a horrible husband. He had been helping others out too much. He didn’t realize it was that bad. He kissed her cheek. “I’m sorry, when we get home I’ll get back to how it was and make sure I ahve time for you. I shouldn’t have let myself slip up on that.”
“You’ll be my old Charles?”
“promise. You, our daughter and our future baby are all that’s important. Besides after this it’s not like we’ll need anything for a long time.” She smiled and hugged him. They laid down together. Charles rubbed Sophies back to help her get some sleep. Day 4 was tomorrow. He hated his pregnant wife still had 8 more days to be out. Charles tried to sleep but his guilty consious kept him awake. For a long time he always made sure he had time for her. How could he let himself do that to his family? It shocked him what his wife said at the start of their trip but now no wonder.
Once he accepted he wasn’t going to get any rest he packed everything quietly and decided to carry Sophie through the night to take a day off their journey. He woke Senja up shushing her and he gently lifted Sophie off the ground. She made a noise and he worried she’d wake up but she didn’t. He was relieved and started walking fast but easy enough he wouldnt wake his wife. She’d force him to stop even though he couldn’t sleep.
He kept his eyes ahead looking for any danger until his wife sighed. Her sighs were unbelievably cute. Somtimes at home if he’d get up to get water he’d lay there listening to her. He started to stare at her as he walked. He actually stopped for a second to admire her. He felt so lucky to have such a beautiful wife. She was funny, with the most beautiful laugh and eyes. She could make any situation better with her smile. He was excited about the new baby. He finally started walking again at a fast pace
When Sophie woke they were not by the river. Charles was walking through the woods, staring straight ahead. She wondered how long he’d been going. She cleared her throat and he jumped. He looked down at her and gave her that you caught me doing something I shouldn’t be grin. She crossed her arms over her chest and he lowered her to her feet.
“You haven’t slept at all have you?” She asked, tapping her foot in mock disappointment.
“Come on love, you’re pregnant and I couldn’t sleep last night. You being pregnant scares me.” He said and combed his fingers through his hair.
“Why would it scare you?”
“Are you serious? I almost lost you last time. You bled so much, the midwife thought she wasn’t going to be able to stop it. I almost had a heart attack that night.” He had never thought of her getting pregnant again. He had been so wrapped in everything but her. “I’m terrified Sophie, so much so that I’m shaking.” He held up his hand so she could see. “I have been so neglectful, so concerned about everything but you and our beautiful little girl.”
She grabbed his face in her hands and kissed him. She hated that look on his face. She wanted him to be happy, not worried and full of guilt. “You stop saying those things. I know you love us, that we are your life. We love you so much. Please don’t worry about me and this new baby. Everything will turn out okay.” She wrapped him in a tight hug, his arms holding her close. He kissed her neck, loving the feel of her skin.
“If it makes you feel better I promise to sleep tonight”
“You better or I’ll be really mad.” he grabbed her hand lacing his fingers with hers. “If you get too tired I’ll carry you again.” she gave him a look and he smiled. Thankfully it was another easy day.When the sun was setting Charles said “We’ll get to the spider probably about lunch time tomorrow. Lets rest for now.” She started to help get everything together again but he stopped her and sat her down “let me do it please”
“here we go again. Just like with Victoria.” she smiled. Sophie didn’t fight with him. There were fruit trees where they stopped and it tasted amazing. She picked a bunch and stuck it in their bag. Char made a mental note of how much she loved it. He’d find a way to get her more. When they were done he pulled her down on top of him. He layed on the grass while she looked down at him. He grabbed her face to pull her into a kiss. “be careful tomorrow when we’re fighting the spider ok Sophie?”
“I will as long as you are.” He ran his fingers through her long hair that he loved so much. “I hope you always know you are the only thing that’s precious to me. I’d do anything for you Sophie. You’re my reason for getting out of bed each morning even if I forget to show it. A day doesn’t go by I don’t feel lucky you’re mine.”
“You’re too sweet to me Charles.”
“I could never be sweet enough Sophie. You deserve so much.” She layed down on him “I know you love me Charles. Lets go to sleep.” He laid his arms on her back and allowed himself to rest. He fell asleep hard. Last night had been emotionally and physically draining. They woke at the same time to Sjena growling. She was on the back of a Velociraptor. Charles ran over and with one swift movement killed it. Sophie looked over Sjena to make sure she was fine. “You’re an amazing little pup. Thank you for not letting it get us”
Charlies nerves were now up. If it weren’t for Sjena it could’ve attacked Sophie. He was going to sleep as little as possible on the way back home so he could keep on eye on her. He got lost in frightening thoughts until Sophie slid her hand up his stomach. That always gave him goosebumps. “Calm down. Nobody got hurt.” He nodded and lifted her off the ground. She knew he’d have a fit if she didn’t allow it so she just let him. Before they knew it they could see a humungus web and millions of baby spiders. The mother was in the middle. Sophie and Charles couldn’t believe their eyes.
“That’s going to take a lot of fire.” She said as he lowered her to her feet. He had his sword in his hand lightening quick. The moved slowly toward the web and the babies spotted them. They made this high pitched squealing sound, alerting all the others in the web. They swarmed them. Charles and Sophie went back to back as the spiders formed a ring around them. The monsters closed in and the fought for their lives. Charles hacked at spider legs and Sophie shot fire and lightening. Sjena lunged at the spiders, snapping at them with sharp teeth. The fact that Sophie was pregnant gave them all strength. She threw up a barrier around them and sunk her hands into the earth. She caused the earth beneath the spiders to open up. When they tried to run she pulled hot fiery rocks from below that shot up and barreled through the hoard of arachnids. She closed the earth and dropped the barrier, drained.
The mother spider jumped down, her screech loud enough to bust eardrums. Charles planted himself between the giant beast and his wife. She had fallen to her knees and was trying to catch her breath. The spider raced at them and Charles slashed at it, never allowing it close enough to Sophie to grab her. Sjena clamped down on one of the spider’s legs, growling fiercely. The monster flung the wolf away so it landed with a thud and loud yelp on the ground. He forced the spider to back up and away from him. It was very angry at the death of its offspring. The spider jumped down and pinned him to the ground by his legs. He stabbed, but it wouldn’t move. He could see its sharp fangs poised over his face.
Sophie had to do somthing. She summoned fire on the spider. It wasn’t a huge flame but it was enough to make it screech and get off of her husband. She passed out on the ground. With a few swift blows the spider was dead. Sjena was hobbling over to her. She licked Sophies face as Charles then ran to her. He picked her up and started running to the town of the man who asked him to help. He just wanted to get there and let his wife rest. He was going to start heading home the second she woke up.
When they arrived a woman ran up “is she ok?”
“Yes just tired. I need some place to lay her down.” She led him to her home and he put Sophie on the womans bed. He walked to the mans house and told him he had killed the spider. A child listening at the door ran around telling everybody. The whole village was rejoicing. You rest with your wife. I’ll send a horse and carriage with the two of you in the morning with everything we promised. He knew Sophie would feel bad for the horse but he nodded his head.
He walked back to the house he left his wife at. A little boy was sitting on the bed by her. He looked up at Charles “Hi. Is this your wife?”
“Yes she is”
“She’s really pretty.” Charles laughed “yes she is.” The little boy got up and ran out. Charles laid his head on her chest. He had to feel her breathing. He hated she had to use more magic when she was already worn out. Atleast the trip home in the morning would be easy.
Charles woke first and carried Sophie out to the cart. She couldn’t say anything once they were on their way. The money and goods they had been promised had already been loaded up. He promised to have the horse and cart returned. The man said it was part of his reward. He whispered his thanks and covered Sophie with an animal hide before climbing behind the rings and clicking his tongue to get the horse going. He was sore from his fight. The spider had been a lot heavier than he thought it would be. Sjena lay curled up next to Sophie, nose tucked under the animal hide.
Sophie woke when they hit a bump. She heard Charles curse under his breath and he looked back at her.she smiled up at him and he sighed. “Sorry to wake you dear.” He said and held out a hand to help her climb up next to him.
“It’s okay.” She lay her head on his shoulder and smiled. “What a beautiful horse.”
“It and the cart were part of our reward. It’s come in handy if someone needs to be transported quickly to you, the midwife, or the healer.”
“True. He doesn’t seem to be upset about pulling the cart anyway. He’s very at peace with it. I don’t see any scars on him so maybe he’s never been whipped.”
He was happy she wasn’t angry. They got home and unloaded everything. Another women from the village led the horse to where all the other ones were. Charles and Sophie went to get their daughter. Victoria was happy to see her parents. She jumped in her fathers arms and kissed him on the cheek. He hugged her then handed Vicotria to Sophie. She nuzzled her mother and they went home.
When Victoria was asleep Charles pulled his wife into him. “I’m so glad to be home. Home is where I’m going to stay for a long time.” He then kneeled down to kiss her belly. “You better not hurt your mother coming out like Victoria did.” Sophie laughed “It’ll be fine”