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Having difficulties with U, so I’m giving you W instead. They sound close enough I figured I could swap them.

I have a humanoid race in Haunt of the Wilds called black widows. They’re not actually spiders…that’d be a little too weird for me to want to write about. But they are people who essentially feed off their sexual partners, simply in a magical way rather than a gory, disgusting way.

This little vignette was supposed to talk about how black widows do their thing, but it never ended up getting too detailed, which is probably a good thing. So it’s mostly an introduction of what they are and how they’re received by most other people.

WIDOW’S PREY

“They’re everywhere, you know? A lot of folks are getting wise to their ways, but even those who know to be careful could fall into a trap. ’Cause them black widows, they’ll do everything in their power to pretend to be something they ain’t.

“My daughter—”

The man choked on his own words, looking for just a moment as if he would start sobbing. Then he swallowed the emotion with a grunt and sudden fury sparked to life in his eyes, echoing next within his voice.

“Those widows, they pretend they’re human, pretend they’re anything. All smooth talking and smiles as if they weren’t the despicable people they are. How do they live with what they do? Huh. There I go assuming they care about something other than themselves.”

“Your daughter,” I prompted tentatively.

The fury faded. Replaced by a film of morose agony. “I thought I’d warned her well enough. Thought I’d explained the dangers. Instead I left a gaping hold in her defenses. Left her vulnerable.” He blanched. “As a parent you try so hard to protect them. Make mistake after mistake and just hope they survive on their own despite all that. I’d told her all about widows, how they’ll flirt and flatter, their eyes only for you. But their attention is ’cause they see a prize, not a person. Told her about how they’d lie so smoothly, that she should watch for their voices to drift into that seductive language. They ain’t perfect. They make mistakes too. Just got to watch for them. Warned her to always commit to that first kiss while with her friends. That way if she goes numb they can stop the widow from taking advantage. Anyone who insists on privacy for that first moment—them’s the one’s you avoid. She knew. My daughter was smart. She knew.”

His brow furrowed and he seemed to lose himself for a brief moment. When I shifted in my seat, my gaze flicking across the street to where the black widows spoke quietly on the large veranda of the home there, the man reached out and grabbed my arm. As if worried I’d be dumb enough to leave the porch and put myself in danger. I wouldn’t, but the principle of the matter annoyed me.

“I’ve nothing they could possibly want.”

The man laughed bitterly. “So you think, so you think. My daughter, she thought she was safe too. A human with only the rudimentary skills of a storm mage. She could barely drum up dust devils in the basin.” He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter how little you think of yourself. They will find something worthwhile. I’ve seen the way you cast the shadows away.”

“But—”

“They’ll be one of them who’d take a simple light casting. Add to their stolen meaningless lives.” He spat.

I sighed, but his warning sank in well enough that when one of the black widows lifted his head and winked at me, I turned my back on them all, opting instead to gaze where the buildings began to tighten and rise farther into the city. The fear that suddenly gripped my heart must have shone on my face because the man nodded knowingly.

“Good, good. You might have a chance at surviving in this city since you’re not so dumb as to think just because you’re both male that he might not be interested.”

I didn’t tell him I’d prefer a male, not wanting to insult him.

He went on regardless of my silence, his voice a mourning whisper of regret. “My daughter, see, she hadn’t known that. Had thought other females safe. That it was only the men she had to fear. Hadn’t realized widows were equal opportunists.”

“My fault,” he whispered.

A tiny dust devil whirled its way down the street. Out of place between the brick houses and cobbled walk. The man tightened his grip on the arm of his chair and scowled at the black widows. Then he turned back to me.

“Don’t let them take you,” he said firmly. “Don’t give the bastards the satisfaction of gaining even the least of us.”

Then he lifted a hand, swirled that dust devil into a tiny tornado and sent it straight through the building opposite us.

This was a teaser for The Wilds Duology
Now on Pre-order for Only .99

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