Haimes the Scree stood before five giant silk spiders, each monster tethered to the ground by a thick chain. He was sweating from the humidity of the overcast day. Dark clouds dotted the horizon. "You may have noticed Amber went missing last night. She has been sacrificed and was taken off the island.
"Iím glad it wasnít me," Kailen (fairy) said, "but Iíll miss her."
"Good news, contestants!" Haimes continued. "Your tribes have been disbanded."
"Howís that good news?" Gorm (mage) asked.
"Well, that wasnít the part I meant. Someone is coming back to the island!"
"Youíve got to be kidding me." Ranzkin (gnome) looked mad.
"The prize for winning todayís competition is you get to choose one person to take off the list. The viewers will vote on the rest and determine who returns."
"Whoís on the list?" Dedrick (centaur) asked.
DAIRY CONFESSION Ė DEDRICK THE CENTUAR
"Wow! Somebodyís coming back on the show. Thatís exciting. And nerve-racking. I pray it isnít Christina. She had our tribe torn in two and I think Ranzkin especially didnít like her.
"I donít want anyone from Tribe Kivi returning. They might gang up on us. William or Nessa would be nice, but I donít think Nessa ever got out of that snake.
"Jewel would be good too, as long as Christinaís gone. Jewel would keep the remnants of Tribe Depths before Gorm or Kailen."
BACK TO THE SHOW
Haimes smiled. "William, Lorimer, Jewel, me and Amber."
"Nuu owt Risseena?" Paige (zombie) said.
"Huh?" Haimes didnít understand her.
"Christinaís a vampire," Ranzkin said. "She could have survived. Why isnít she on the list?"
Haimes shrugged. "If she isnít dead, maybe dying disqualified her. Why isnít Lina or Eadric on the list? Barbarians use lifestones to regenerate. Iím just the conduit for the instructions. I donít know anymore than what I tell you."
Gorm changed the subject. "So, whatís the game?"
"Spider Silk," Haimes announced. "Pick a spider, any spider. Whoever collects the most spider silk wins the competition."
"Iíll take the small one," Dedrick said. By small, he meant the waist-high one. As he trotted closer to the animal, it jumped to the height of its chain, flipped over and landed on Dedrickís back. The centaur bucked, but the spider didnít fall. It wrapped Dedrick in its silky web while he flailed around futilely. It happened fast, all in the time it took for the gnome to gasp.
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BACK TO THE SHOW
"That doesnít count, right?" Gorm asked Haimes.
"Dedrick must actually get the silk," Haimes replied. "Unless he frees himself and brings the silk back, then no."
Gorm nodded. He closed his eyes and mumbled, pulling water out of the air and sending the spray at Dedrickís captor. The spider took a face full of water and retreated to the end of its tether, shaking. Gorm rushed to Dedrick and began unwrapping the wet silk. "By the gods!" He held up his hands. The silk had melted into mushy goo from the water.
Dedrick climbed to his feet and galloped to Haimes, still covered in the muck. "Did I win?"
Haimes shook his head. "The silk must be in good condition."
"You didnít say that before," Ranzkin complained.
He shrugged. "Didnít think anyone would ruin the silk."
Paige lurched to the largest spider. She pushed against the skin over the silk-making organ, but only retrieved an arm length of silk thread before the spider, in an attempt to flee walking-death, choked its self dead on the chain.
Kailen transformed into a fairy-sized spider and coaxed the silk from one of the arachnids. He pooled the tread into a ball as Ranzkin lulled another one to sleep. Sheíd yanked two handfuls of the material when the monster awoke and chased her off.
A mound of silk thread seemed to approach Haimes. Kailen popped his head through the top of the mass, grinning. "If this isnít enough, I can get more."
"Kailen is the winner!" Haimes announced.
"Wait," Ranzkin said, "I need more time."
"You already brought yours back," Haimes said. "Kailen, who do you want not to come back to the island? Pick one."
DIARY CONFESSION Ė KAILEN THE FIARY
"It was hard to decide who to keep off the show. I barely know William and Jewel. William left early in the game. Jewel is a strong player in the competitions, but how does she get along with the group?
"Then there are the three I do know. Amber isnít strong in the games, both physically and socially. Plus Iíve already beat her once with the viewersí votes. Lorimer Iím not certain about. Nobody liked him but that was probably because Lina hated him so thoroughly. Then thereís Haimes. He runs faster than anyone Iíve known, but heís distractible.
"Itís a tough call."
BACK TO THE SHOW
Kailenís brow furrowed and he tapped a finger on his chin. "Lorimer."
"Excellent choice," Haimes said, smiling.
"Youíd say that to any name that isnít yours," Ranzkin said.
"So true. Now itís up to the viewers."
Who do you want to return to the island? William the Werewolf, Jewel the Cyclops, Haimes the Scree, or Amber the Unicorn-Girl? Vote now!