Battling the Spider-Demon

Even the bravest of mortals quailed before the wrath of night goblins, as shown by a tale of ancient Japan.  In that country there lived a nobleman named Raiko, who boldly undertook to rid the city of Kyoto of its demons.  Retaliation by the fiends of darkness was swift.  A wasting fever struck the hero.  For many days and nights he lay in his chamber, guarded by companions but assailed by sick fancies.  And on a night a-swarm with dreams, the visions gathered solid form.  Raiko awoke and found himself chained to his pallet by countless silken filaments.  Above him waved many-jointed, bristling legs.  Huge eyes glittered.  Raiko had become a spider’s prey.

No sound came from Raiko’s companions, they sat against the wall entranced, neither watching nor speaking.  How long Raiko lay helpless in the spider’s trap, he never afterward could tell.  Nor could he tell how he found strength to grasp the sword that lay beside him.  But grasp it he did.  He cut his silken bonds and swung the weapon so that it slashed into the hairy legs.  From the spider’s maw came a gurgling scream, but the warrior could fight no more.  He fell back, trembling with weakness, and closed his eyes and waited for death.

Death did not come.  The wounded spider, leaving Raiko where he lay, scuttled through the shadows to the safety of its earthen lair.  Its departure lifted the web of spells that had held Raiko’s companions.  Awakening, they looked in horror upon their prostrate general and the sword that had fallen from his fingers; then they saw the twitching spider legs beside him and the trail of malodorous blood that led into the dark.  Determined upon revenge, they followed the track to its end and slew the maimed monster.  And when they returned, they were overjoyed to find Raiko alive and well.  Ever after his sword was called Kumokiri, or “Spider cutter,” for its work against the demon of the night.

Click to share thisClick to share this