Prologue

On a clear late spring night at the grove in Companions' Field, a new grove-born Companion emerges, Rolan is there to greet her. "I am Aranea," she says. "In three days' time, I will choose a ten-year-old boy named Peter Parker. He will have very rare gifts, a kind soul, and a fine sense of duty … yet quite impulsive."

Prologue Ends.

A Spider is Born:

On a bright late spring morning in the kingdom of Valdemar, an average ten-year-old farm boy, Peter Parker, sits up and swings his legs over the edge of his bed. His mom calls "lazybones, time to get up, your breakfast is getting cold." "I'm coming, mom," Peter calls back as he pulls on his tunic and knickers.

Sitting at the kitchen table across from his dad, Peter asks, "Can I go to the market with you today?" "Sorry, son, I need you to harness the pony to the cart to collect some more firewood." his dad replies. Looking down at his bowl of half-eaten oatmeal with disappointment in his voice he replies, "Okay dad, after I do my usual chores." After breakfast, he exits the house through the kitchen's back door. Peter heads toward the barn to milk the loudly complaining cows. After filling two small buckets, one from each cow, he carries the buckets to the milk house. With the milking done Peter turns toward the granary to retrieve the chicken feed and wicker basket. With the feeding of the chickens and half of a basket of eggs collected, he thinks to himself, "not bad", while walking back to the house.

Upon entering the house, he interrupts his parents smooching by saying "Why don't you two get a hayloft?" then puts the basket of eggs on the kitchen table to be taken to market and walks back outside.

Once back outside, Peter goes to the barn to get the pony harness from the tack room and takes it to the cart than fetches the palomino pony from the paddock, harnessed her to the cart and then climbs aboard. By mid-morning he is on his way down the well-worn path leading to the woods a mile or two behind the farm. At the edge of the woods, Peter thinks to himself a place for everything, everything in its place. Grabbing a long lead rope from the cart, he ties the palomino to a tree. Going to the back of the wagon he retrieves the hatchet and heads a hundred-feet into the trees. Peter starts picking up branches and cutting the thicker ones to make them easier to carry.

By late afternoon he (unknowingly picking up an eight-legged small hitchhiker) decides this will be the last armload. He starts to go back to his wagon when a dark cloud forms. Before he can think the words 'mage storm', the air crackles, there is a silvery-white flash and then. Total darkness!

Peter, lying unconscious on the ground, begins to dream. Dazed and confused, Peter found himself standing in a clearing, deep in a gloomy forest. Looking around, to see massive glowing red-eyed black spiders. A voice in his head commands him to crouch and then leap up to the branch above him. Peter leaps 20 feet straight up and catches the tree limb. Pulling himself up, he sits astride his perch. "Good," says the voice. "Now stand up and aim your wrist across the clearing at a branch about 10 feet up a tree and touch your middle two fingers to the palm of your hand." After doing this, a thick silk web strand jets from his wrist and hits the target. "Now grab the webbing and swing to the tree allowing your toes to touch first while bending your knees. Grab the tree trunk with your free hand while bending your elbow. Let go of the webbing and grab the tree trunk with your other hand, keeping your body close to the tree." The voice continues. ..."Imagine you are crawling on the floor, now turn around and crawl back to the ground." With this maneuver completed Peter stands up. "Good", the voice mind speaks. "Now aim at a tree below the lowest branch, make a fist and move your arm to another tree and back again." A silk mist sprays from his wrist and solidifies to form a web net between the two trees. Speaking one last time, the voice says, "From now on, you will feel a tingling in the back of your head whenever there is a danger or a dangerous person around. The more imminent the danger, the stronger the tingle." Peter, shooting a web strand at the tree branch where he thinks the voice is coming from...

The Rescue:

Early evening, Richard Parker returns home after a long day at the market. He calls out to his wife, "Mary where is the child? I need him to help unload the supplies." Mary answers, with a worried tremor in her voice, "I don't know. He should have been back many candle-marks ago." Richard quickly leaves the house, heading to the tack room to find a saddle and bridle. He runs to where the horse was left then changes the wagon harness for saddle and bridle. Mounting his steed, Richard races to the woods to find his wayward son.

Arriving at the edge of the woods, he finds the palomino pony and cart. Assuming the worst, he speedily unloads the collected wood, then ventures forward into the undergrowth where he soon finds his son, unconscious on the forest floor. Richard carries his son and places him gently into the bed of the cart. Then he unties the palomino, takes her lead rope, mounts his horse and by dusk returns home with his boy. Arriving, Richard takes Peter to his bedroom and places his fevered son on the bed while his worried mom stands nearby. While Mary wipes her son's forehead with a cold cloth, her husband goes outside to unload and put away the supplies, then removes saddle and bridle from the horse and palomino pony. Next, he cleans the tack and puts it back in the tack room. Then he grooms and feeds them both. For the rest of the night, Peter's mom keeps cold compresses on his forehead. As the fever rages on, he tosses and turns in bed all night long.

Fever Dream:

Peter, finds himself standing in a gloomy forest of massive trees, randomly spaced apart, except for a single corridor 20 feet wide. The mind voice speaks, "Next time I say 'go', climb the nearest tree about 20 feet up, fire a web strand at an angle to a tree across the corridor. At the apex of the swing, fire another strand back across angling it to the next tree. Continue this pattern until I say stop." Hearing the command 'go', Peter climbs the nearest tree and begins swinging down the corridor.

Thirty trees later, hearing the order to stop, Peter lands skillfully on the side of the tree he was heading toward. "Excellent." compliments the mind voice, "Now climb to a branch that is near level to one across from the tree you're on." Taking a position on his perch, he waits for further instructions.

Mind voice continues, "Now target a branch across from you and fire a web strand, carefully press the webbing that's in your hand to the branch you're on, securing it. Now crawl to the center of your web strand and shoot another one to the ground and attach it to where you are now. Crawl halfway down and hang there inverted. Drop to the ground doing a half-flip." Doing as instructed, Peter lands in a crouched position with one hand touching the ground to keep his balance. "Use your webbing sparely." the mind voice speaks, "It will take 2 candle marks for your body to make more." Peter turns to face the spider and starts to ask …

The next day by mid-morning Peter's fever breaks, and he awakens. Sitting up quickly, he calls out "where am I?" "Its all right" his mom answers, "your home, you had an accident." "I'm hungry, can I have something to eat?" Peter asks politely. Peter's dad comes in with a bowl of broth, hands it to his son and asks "what happened?" He replies "I don't know. There was a storm cloud, then I was here." After the mid-day meal, his parents decide their son is well enough to go outside. Peter quickly makes his escape from captivity.

Once outside, thinking out loud "I need to retrieve the abandoned firewood." Going to the barn he gets out the pony's harness and bridle. Then he goes to get her. After properly harnessing the pony to the cart, Peter heads off to the woods. Upon arriving, he secures her to a nearby tree.

Placing the firewood back into the cart, he then proceeds into the trees and soon finds the hatchet that was left behind the night before. Going deeper still, he notices some trees need trimming. Cutting some nearby vines, he ties the hatchet to his waist, leaving enough slack to use it.

Placing his hands and feet on the rough bark, keeping his body close to the tree, Peter starts to crawl up to a dead limb to begin work. After finishing pruning this tree, Peter fires a web strand to another tree that needs pruning. After, trimming several trees he leaps to the ground. Chopping some more vines to tie the cut branches into a bundle he feels a strong tingling in the back of his head. Turning around, Peter sees a seven-foot-tall black bear with antlers growing from its head. Raising his wrist he makes several multi-layer web nets between the trees to block the creature's path. Peter then grabs his bundle, sprints back to the pony and wagon, and races home.

Arriving back home, Peter removes the harness and bridle from the palomino, cleans the tack and puts it back in the tack room. With this chore done, he walks the palomino to cool her down then grooms and puts her in her stall with some feed and water for the night. Going over to the wagon Peter unloads the wood and stores it in the wood box near the back of the house.

With this accomplished, Peter enters the house through the back door where he sees his mom placing supper on the table. Father, sitting at the table with a bowl of stew, speaks out, "Where have you been all day, son?" Peter answers as he sits down to eat his stew, "I went out to bring back the wood, I put it in the wood box." When supper is eaten, Peter goes out to do evening chores. On completion of his chores, he goes to the barn, jumps 10-feet up to the hayloft and begins to imagine being a Harold until bedtime. A few candle marks later Peter hears his mother calling time to come in. He leaps from the loft and lightly lands in a crouching pose, springs forward and dashed out of the barn to the house. Once inside his parents inform him it's time for bed. He gives each parent a hug, then (feeling a little hot) he goes off to his room.

Fever Dream Two:

Peter, finds himself standing in a clearing, deep in a gloomy forest. Looking up he sees a massive glowing red-eyed black spider. Feeling a slight tingling, he looks around to see a black crow spreading its wings. A mind voice instructs, "aim for the feet and make a fist." Shooting a web net he sticks the bird to its perch. A slightly stronger tingle, Peter scans the area and spies a 20-point buck starting to lower its head. Mind voice speaks, "use both wrists and aim for the shoulders." Peter does this, forming a cocoon around the buck's body and legs. Sensing imminent danger this time, he spins around to see a rampaging boar coming toward him. "Quick, cover the ground little ways in front of you with webbing then jump aside," said the mind voice. Peter carries out the instructions. As the boar approaches the trap, it grunts and snorts with disgust as it gets stuck. Peter turns his attention back to the spider and inquires, "who are you?" quickly but politely. Mind voice replies, "Aranea."

The Reveal:

After another fitful night, Peter awakes in a cold sweat. Hearing his mom call he gets dressed and leaves his room located off the kitchen. "Mom, Dad," he says after sitting down in front of a plate of eggs and toast.," I reckon that storm was not normal, I guess that storm was a mage storm, I think I might be a changed child." "Why do you think so, son?" his dad asks. Peter aims his wrist at the ceiling, touches his palm with his two middle fingers, firing off a web strand. He proceeds to climb the web and hangs upside down. His parents, with stunning looks on their faces, drop their mouths open. While his parents are still recovering, Peter drops back into his chair and calmly begins eating breakfast. With breakfast finished, Peter nonchalantly heads out to do chores.

"What's to be done?" asks Richard once he regains his wits. "We treat our son normally and tell him to always practice his gift in a private place," Mary replies, "Meanwhile, I will write a letter of inquiry to the Heraldic Collegium." Outside, with his chores behind him, Peter goes to the barn and practices his web-swinging, web crawling, and wall-crawling. At midday, he is called in for lunch. His parents tell him what they plan to do and that he must be careful not to be seen when using his gift, but will understand if the need arises. Peter nods his head in understanding. Richard goes outside to do a few odd jobs needing attention. Mary gets out of their home school supplies for Peter's daily, intense midday learning session. Peter quietly groans! Then he gets to work. That evening after chores Peter's father asks, "son, would you like to go to Deer Creek's spring fair tomorrow?" With wide eyes and a big grin on his face, Peter answers, affirmative! And then thanks his dad. Later that night when the excitement wears off, the fever returns.

Fever Dream three:

Peter, finds himself standing in an unfamiliar gloomy forest. Looking around, he sees a path blocked by different obstacles, hearing a mind voice say,

"leap to the top of the log barricade" he does so only to have the logs begin to collapse beneath his feet. Mind voice continues, "quickly dive for the ground with your arms stretched out allowing your elbows to bend as you land in a handstand, then do a back flip into a crouch position." Receiving a mental image of how to do it, he completes the maneuver with ease. "In front of you", speaks mind voice, "with bent knees and straight back, pick up the log and the throw it to one side." Peter tosses the log (which is four times his size) easily to the side. Caught up in excitement the moment, he dashed to a log spanning a pit full of spikes, halfway across it starts to roll. He skillfully jumps to an awaiting vine and grabs it. Using his momentum, Peter swings over a pit of vipers while sticking his tongue out at them. At the apex of his swing, Peter does a backward aerial somersault landing in a crouch position in a clearing, completing the course without further instructions. Peter stands and looks up to see massive glowing, red-eyed black spiders. Mind voice gives a warning, "as you grow so will your strength, speed, and agility, be mindful of this!" Peter nods his head.

To the Fair:

The next morning in anticipation, Peter is up, dressed and at the kitchen table for breakfast before his mom can call. Peter quickly finishes eating and goes to do morning chores. Mary packs a lunch basket of boiled eggs, cheese, and bread, then places a letter to the Heraldic Collegium in with the food. Richard, insurers his wife the letter will be delivered to the guard-post near Deer-Creek, They will send it by courier to Haven. Peter, wanting to be helpful, went to get the tack and put it in the supply wagon. His father comes out of the house, hands him the basket of food to be put in the wagon, then harnessed up the horse. By mid-morning Father and son are off down the road (in Peter's mind on a grand adventure). An uneventful candle-mark or two later they start to pass a small stand of trees. When Peter senses danger, he looks toward the trees to see two young men stepping out from behind a tree, each dressed in black clothing, each with a light crossbow in their hands. Moving quickly peter aims at the men's hips and fires a web net, encapsulating everything below the neck in a web cocoon.

"Good job!" His dad comments. Father and son load the two bandits into the wagon and a few candle-marks later they approach the Deer-Creek Guard-Post. At the Guard-Post a Herald with the arm-band of a special Courier is conversing with the post's captain when a father and son approach. The Herald stares blankly for a moment then turns to face the approaching wagon. Richard stops, climbs down from the wagon with the letter in hand as the Herald approaches. Richard introduces himself while handing over the letter to the Herald. "It's about my son Peter", he says, its needs to be delivered to the Heraldic Collegium. The Herald takes the letter and places it in her shoulder bag, then inquires," what do you have in the wagon?" Richard replies, "a couple of bandits who tried to ambush us." A voice from the wagon objects. "We were the ones who were viciously set upon." The guard Captain steps up to the wagon. The Herald gets a vacant look on her face for a few moments, then announces, "The Captain and I will take care of these two." After unloading the prisoners, father and son head down the road toward their next adventure.

At the Fair:

At mid-day, they have their lunch. A candle-mark or two later they arrive at the common grounds outside Deer-Creek and takes there horse and wagon to the place designated. The Fair Manager, a credit to his profession, has all the entertainment tents, food stalls, and game stalls lined up neatly in rows with wide corridors separating them and servants to keep the grounds clean throughout the day. Off to one side is a tent reserved for the selecting of apprentices and hiring of extra hands. Richard hands his son a small coin bag consisting of ten coppers. He tells him "son, I will be at the hiring tent", then adds with a slight grin, "don't get into too much trouble." While slipping the coin bag's string over his head and tucking the bag under his tunic. "I won't," Peter replies, "get into trouble that is," them turns quickly toward the food stalls. At the fruit-pocket-pie stall, Peter buys a fruit pie for two copper coins, then seeks out the gaming stalls. Peter finds one where the object is to knock six wooden shaped bottles stacked in a pyramid shape off a pedestal using a fist-sized wooden ball. One copper for each throw. There are three pedestals. Peter buys three tries. Taking careful aim he throws at the wooden bottles on the left side causing the bottles to go flying on impact with the ball. He whips the remaining two balls at the remaining two targets with the same results. With an amazing look, the stall attendant gives Peter a stuffed Companion toy. Fruit pie consumed, new toy in hand, Peter decides to find his dad. Halfway to the hiring tent, he feels a tingling, turning around quickly to see a teenager being chased by a person in a blue guard uniform coming toward him. Quickly he covers the ground a little way in front of himself with webbing then ducks around the corner of the last stall only to stare into the deep sapphire blue eyes of a Companion.

The Choosing:

Peter feels a sensation of falling, and landing in a crouched position on a giant spider web then looks up to see a huge black spider morphing into a Companion. He hears a voice, "I Am Aranea and I choose you, Peter Parker." Peter blinks, (Without warding, he remembers the dreams that were teaching him how to use his gift.) and he sees the Companion. "Chosen, get on." Aranea mind-speaks. "We must leave now, a messenger was sent to find your father, so he will soon, know what happened to you." Peter leaps into his Companions saddle. Companion and Chosen leave the fair and head up the road to Haven and their first grand adventure. … The End?