Prologue
Vengeance Denied

AT 803 (AZ 1175) - Autumn
The Stone Forest, The Darklands

In the darkest depths of the Stone Forest, Arachne's many eyes gazed at the prey caught in her web, an elegant noblewoman clad in a flowing garment of white linen. The giant spider opened her mouth to reveal a face, the last trace of her former humanity. Her voice echoed eerily throughout the petrified woods, as if many mouths were speaking in unison.
"Pallas Athena, your eyes have changed since last we faced each other. They were once as cold and hard as stone, but now I see mortal fear within them. Where is the mighty goddess who presumed to judge me?
"'Impious' you called me among so many other curses in your childish tantrum over such a trifle. I only wish the poor fools counted among your devotees could see you now." She paused for a moment to let her taunts sink in. "Part of me wants to torment you for as long as you have tormented me, but now that I finally have you in my power, I find that my patience has already been spent."
In a lightning-fast movement, Arachne sank her fangs deeply into Pallas' flesh. The venom did its work quickly, The color drained from the Olympian's skin and she broke into a cold sweat.
"That bite will not kill you, rest assured," Arachne said, "but you will be quite unable to move. Though I have every confidence in the strength of my web to hold you fast, I am not so careless that I would assume there are no tricks left in you. You will not be able to move, but you will feel everything as I slowly melt flesh and bone over the course of the next three days. You should remain alive for at least two of those days. Your suffering will be... exquisite..." She said the last word with especial relish. "I have been looking forward to this for quite some time..."
As Arachne drew her head closer to her prey, a flash of light caused her to recoil with a shriek. Her blue blood streamed from a large wound in her abdomen. She whipped around to face her attacker, but he was already gone.
Turning back around, she saw a man dressed in white, in the same fashion of old Achaia as Pallas. He had freed Arachne's prey from the web and was chanting a spell while waving his hand over Pallas' face. He was trying to cure Pallas of Arachne's venom, but the great spider would not allow him to interfere any longer. While he was distracted, she brought down a heavy claw on the man's back, but her prey was gone. Her bitter howl could be heard for miles.