Webs of the Mind

"The arrogance of Shadra is growing inside you."

The words of the Empress echoed in Shalkis' mind.

Arrogance? The Spider hunts alone, yes. Not because the Spider thinks it's superior, only because others add uncertainty to the precise ambushes. Others would only get caught in the webs and alert the prey. But that is not arrogance, just a simple statement of fact. And I have always been careful not to speak above my position. I am Atai. My purpose is to serve and die if necessary. For the Emperor. For the Empress. Even when I should have defied some of the Councilors, I have stayed silent. What arrogance was the Empress talking about? I have even treated the other races with courtesy that they sometimes do not deserve.

"You still lack one important quality"

Yes, I lack patience. The joy of the Hunt is still too tempting. I only think about the prey and pursue it, often to my own defeat. The Spider way would be to prepare a new trap and wait. There is always other prey. But letting enemies escape only means that they will be harder to kill later.

Or maybe the Empress was talking about ruthlessness? When I see a fellow troll or even a member of the Horde in trouble, I rush in to help. A struggling, bleeding bait would be so much more effective in attracting more prey. Yes, I enjoy combat. I love seeing my enemies torn to shreds by shards of ice. I crave that last horrified look on their faces when they make their last attempt in escaping. But to use a comrade as bait, to see him suffer, to use him as a means to further your own ends...

No, I cannot do that. Not yet, anyway. What does Shadra want of me? If Slayrith had a normal mouth, I could swear that he was grinning. Is this a part of the test? Seeing a hatchling stumbling around in the Mother Spider's web, trying to find a foothold? Or am I just an another fly with delusions of grandeur?

Perhaps.. I must gaze deep into the Abyss. To learn from the self-proclaimed masters of discipline and patience. To learn how to make plans that span years, even lifetimes. How to work tirelessly to make those plans come true. To weave webs spanning whole continents.

Or perhaps I should start my studies elsewhere. To study the past and learn of the ruthlessness of the priests of old. To know the mind that could sacrifice thousands only to gain a small favor from something that would love to see your whole race bled dry.

No, there's no point in wondering. I need to do both.