Pandora's Castle
By Virginia Cavazos

Chapter Nine

Glancing up, Jacobi nearly choked, as he saw a horrible site from his worst nightmares, clinging to the ceiling. He saw a giant spider, the size of a horse.

"Oh Lordy, please tell me I'm dreamin'," Jacobi whispered.

"Hardly, pretty, pretty," the spider hissed. It slowly slid down, from the thin thread of spider web that clung to the ceiling. Jacobi tried to move, but he was so frightened by the size of its jaws, his feet seemed glued to the stone floor.

"You are very, pretty," the spider clacked. It was hanging upside down on its thread. Its faceted eyes were now level with Jacobi's.

It released its hold from the thread, hitting the ground, it suddenly turned into a beautiful woman, with long blonde hair. Her slim brows knit in anger, "Where is the woman you came in with?"

Jacobi realized that this magical creature thought he was Robin. If it would keep him alive, he would play the noble outlaw.

"Oh 'er?" Jacobi said. "I ditched 'er back in the castle. I've been gettin' tired of 'er. She's gettin' to old fo' me, spotted a gray 'air on 'er 'ead. I'd been lookin' fo' somethin' younger." Giving the woman a coy grin, he sighed, "You Interested?"

"I am as old as this castle…pretty, pretty," she cooed. Her hand reached out, to gently stroke Jacobi's face. Clearly she had a one track mind. Always one to take advantage of a situation, Jacobi stepped closer to the spider-woman.

"You look well fo' your age." He clenched his fists, trying not to shake in fear, as he saw the blood of sir Guys' men on her delicate fingers.

"Um, look deary, it's cold and dark in 'ere. Do you think you could show me the way out?" Jacobi put on his sweetest smile.

The beautiful woman's head lay back, as she laughed so hard, it ran through Jacobi like cold ice. The harder she laughed, the wider her mouth grew. Wider and wider, her skin turned a shiny black. She quickly transformed into the giant black spider, she leaped back to the ceiling. Jacobi heard her voice, echoing in the hallways. "I offer you a choice…stay with me, pretty one. Remain in this castle, and I will allow the others to leave…alive. I must have your decision before the dawning rays touch the castle."

She quickly faded into the shadows. "Wot kind of choice is that?" he shouted. "Wait a minute," he mumbled. "She thinks I was Robin 'ood. If I can get 'im to stay 'ere, ol' Jacobi will 'ave a chance to get 'is bum safely out of this death trap." With a chance to get out alive, he stormed through the corridors, searching for his twin.

*** *** ***

Sir Guy was surprised to find someone helping him up. He sputtered, and spat out the cold water that miraculously appeared in the corridors.

"Who the bloody hell are you?" he spat out, as he tried to wring the water out of his hair.

"I'm Sir Thomas of Glockshire," Tom introduced himself to the thoroughly soaked man. From the way he dressed, Tom knew he was an Aristocrat. "And who might you be?"

"I am Sir Guy of Gisborne!" he angrily hissed, pulling himself out of Tom's grip. "Where the bloody hell am I?"

"From the looks, it appears you had a swim in the channel."

"Very clever," Guy snapped back. "If you're so clever, why don't you figure a way out of this dreadful castle."

"I would, but the door you swam through is no longer there."

Guy spun around, he saw a puddle of water near the wall, but no door. Searching around, he said, "Have you tried that door?"

This time Tom was in for a shock, for on the opposite side of the room, where there previously stood a fireplace, was now a sturdy wooden door.

"I don't think we should go through it," Tom quietly suggested.

"We really don’t have a choice," Guy said. He cursed himself, for hearing his fear in his voice.

Finding his sword laying on a table, Tom quickly snatched it. "I've fought many battles in the crusades, but I fear this is one battle I do not wish to face."

"Go on man!" Guy snarled, shoving Tom towards the door. Slowly, he curled his fingers on the doorknob. It creaked with age, as he twisted it. Suddenly he felt it turning faster in his hands. He leaped back, as the door slammed open.

A gale force wind flew into the room, knocking Guy and Tom on the floor.

"Water, air, what next?" Guy shouted, as he was being forced out of the room. Tom grabbed the door jam, but the wind was to strong. He felt himself falling for what seemed like hours. Suddenly he felt cold stone under him, as he slammed hard into it. He rolled to the side, as Sir Guy followed him.

"Good heavens," Tom heard someone exclaim. "It's raining knights."

Tom gazed up, to see a familiar face. He landed in the center of the castle. Surrounded by many doors, a helping hand assisted him up.

"Master MacGregor," Tom thankfully sighed. "I am sorry to see that you are caught in this accursed castle."

"We are not caught in the web of this castle as deeply as you think," Olwyn said, as he stepped up to MacGregor's side.

"Oh, this is just perfect," Guy groaned. "Now we also have two old fools trapped in this god forsaken place."

"As long as you have hope in your heart," Olwyn said, "This castle's evil cannot touch you."

"That, and a six pence will get you about as far as the next door," Guy grumbled.

"Let's go, we need to find Robin and the others," Olwyn said.

"If you don’t mind, I'll just stay here," Guy announced.

"Very well," Olwyn said. "Just be mindful of the guardian of this castle. She takes on many forms. She feeds on fear, and despair. I'm sure you'll provide a fine feast for her."

Tripping over what was left of one of Sir Guy's men, Olwyn said, "Oh, never mind, you've already met her."

Guy rushed over to Tom, being mindful of skirting his ex-guard. "Let's hurry," he said.

"I heartily agree," MacGregor said.

*** *** ***

Robin slowly walked through the dark corridors, Marion clung tightly to his arm. "This is no good, Marion," Robin said.

"If we keep walking, I'm sure we'll find an exit somewhere," Marion said.

"I don’t think so," Robin said. "Look."

He pointed to a stone wall. Holding his torch up, Marion saw a spent torch on the ground. Above it was words written by the blackened wood.

"If you are reading this, you're lost."

Robin wrote it as they walked through the corridors what seemed like hours ago. "Oh Robin," Marion sighed. Robin clutched her tightly to his side. "Don't worry Marion. We'll find a way out of here, I'm sure of it."

Feeling her despair, he tried to give her hope. "We've been in tougher spots."

"Name one," Marion sighed, as she began to walk down the corridors.

"Let's see, there was that time that Sir Guy blew me up. Oh, and what about that time you rescued me from your aunt, and…"

Robin's voice echoed in the corridors, as he continued to talk. He was unable to hear the sound of hundreds of nails, clacking on the stone floor.

"Okay Robin!" Marion relinquished. "You've convinced me," she laughed.

As Robin stopped talking, Marion froze. "Did you hear that?" she whispered.

Robin strained to listen, the corridors were deathly silent. "I think it was the wind," he reasoned.

"Does the wind smell like something that died?" Marion asked.

Robin took a few steps back. Marion saw him suddenly spin around, he rushed down the corridors, his eyes wide with fear.

"Marion! RUN!" he shouted. "RATS!!"

That was all she needed to hear. She raced down the corridors, Robin catching up with her.

"God, I hate rats," Marion shouted. "I was just thinking of them," she panted.

"Really?" Robin gasped. "You know, when we were climbing down the wall, I was thinking about the time I met my evil double."

"Let's talk about this later," Marion said. "For now, we have to find a way to get rid of these rats."

Turning a corridor, they were running past many doors. "I have an idea," Robin shouted.

Skidding to a stop, Robin waited for the rats to catch up to him. Marion hugged the walls, behind him. Once he was able to see their beady eyes, he pulled a door open.

Holding the door in front of him, he heard something very angry exiting the room. The rats let out a screech, as several of them were gobbled up. Whatever exited the room, continued to chase the rats down the hallway. Peeking around the door, Robin saw a huge, dark shape lumbering down the corridors.

He nearly jumped twenty feet in the air, as he felt a tap on his shoulder.

"Sorry Robin," Marion apologized.

"Marion!" Robin gasped. "You just scared ten years out of me!"

"Only ten? That scared twenty out of me," she panted.

Hearing the death cries of the rats, Marion let out a triumphant hoot. "That'll teach you. There's plenty more where that came from."

"Let's go," Robin said. "Those rats did us a favor, this is a corridor we haven't been down before."

Feeling a bit more hopeful, they would be able to escape, Marion followed Robin. Hanging from the ceiling, a black creature slid down its web.

"You have until dawn, my pretty, pretty," the creature hissed. Falling down, it scampered after the horde of rats.

End of Chapter Nine

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