The long table sagged in the middle to accommodate the curvature of the spherical room. Fat strands of spider silk criss-crossed the air above like ribbon confetti suspended in time.
Gustav, a man with a sharply trimmed gray beard sat at the table and shook his head. He would have preferred this year's meeting somewhere else. As always, all the food was mush - as if everything went through a mortar and pestle. An invariable delight for someone who didn’t know how to chew. It made him wonder why his sister bothered to give all her Arachne children such sharp fangs only to eat mush.
Choosing what to eat came down to color, and the table was a rainbow. Where the food lacked in texture, it made up for it in multi-faceted flavor. Though tasty, he had no idea what he ate. He pretended, he hoped that it was all the innocuous, but stayed away from anything green, just in case.
The skittering noise of the Arachne attendants' spiky legs against the stone was hushed as if by an invisible command. The room went silent. The Queen of Arachne, his sister, arrived from above. She descended with a company of servants, and settled at the end of the table next to him. Larger than any Arachne present, her glowing red and black abdomen was swollen like a mosquito engorged on blood. Slumping down into a pillowy rest, her presence loomed over everyone at the table.
"Gustav, you made it," the Queen said, her somewhat squeaky voice carried clearly through the room. Her human half was dressed in a red sheer silk gown, more revealing than he would have liked, exposing hanging rolls of fat from her belly to the top of her chubby cheeks. He tried to remember how she used to look as a human, but time had stolen that from him.
He sighed. "Someone had to."
She smiled and smacked her lips. Her eyes skirted from one meal to the next, her fat fingers fidgeting in delight. A glutton at a feast, he thought to himself, and couldn't help but chuckle at the irony.
"We're all one good harvest away from extinction," he reminded her, and would have likewise reminded every one of the 'gods' as they liked to call themselves. He couldn't recall the last time everyone was present. Nowadays, he visited each of his brothers and sisters in turn.
“Sure, sure," she said dismissively. "We’ll talk about that later, let’s eat.” She jiggled, settling down in her cushions and then snapped her fingers.
Promptly, attendants rushed in with bowl after bowl of mush of various colors for her to feast. She used her extra pair of human arms with a dextrous speed, handling several large spoons and bowls like a juggler. First she’d try a taste and if she liked it, she’d slurp down the contents with such a zeal that it sounded like a toilet flushing. But if she didn’t, she’d get angry and take great pleasure in chucking the contents at the closest attendant.
He waited for her to burst, almost hoping. By the time she was done, he had to lift his feet off the floor so as not to get them dirty in the multi-colored slurry slowly creeping from her end of the table.
She wasn’t done though, next came the drink. An attendant literally rolled up a whole barrell and placed it on the table in front of her. A long drinking straw was connected from the top of the barrel to her puckered blue lips.
"You say that every year we meet," she finally said.
"And I'll say it again, and again."
"You worry too much. The Glooms haven't moved an inch."
"No, but I do worry they will. If that happens everyone would be wiped out in a single night."
She smirked, licking her lips. "Well, not everyone."
"And Petros is too busy now. Can you believe it? He's even got a religion going, thinking he's some sort of an all-powerful god."
"Relax. We'll be fine."
"When they release a titan on your little island here, you won't be fine," Gustav said.
"I can handle a titan, I've done it before."
"At what cost? And what if they send two? Three? Then what?"
She waved her hand dismissively. "They can't."
"How can you be so certain?"
"You told me yourself that they hardly moved."
He frowned. "What I didn't tell you is that there's four now."
She gasped, her many eyes going wide. "What? That can't-"
"They made another one recently. It's a small right now, but it's very, very hungry. And this one can fly. Just think about that. They're adapting. Yet everyone I talk to doesn't seem to care. Everyone's too busy playing with their little toys, when tomorrow could be their last!"
"Let's kill it while it's weak, while we can," she said in a near whisper with fear in her voice.
"That could start an all out war. A war that we'd most certainly lose. What I need to do, is start a colony in the mountains."
"That won't be easy. They're already crammed. Maybe have that dragon friend of yourself clear up an area?"
"Friend? He's no friend, he's an imbecile. He'd make things worse."
"What about other continents, did you check them recently?"
He nodded. "Only three aren't affected. The poles and-"
"The desert one?" she asked.
"Yes. It's completely devoid of life."
"I'll help." An amused voice said, and a black shadow shaped in a figure of a man materialized, sitting down next to the man with a beard.
"Oh, hi Lou," she said. "Glad you made it."
"Help? Your last help is still imprisoned for 20 more years, and I have a half a mind to just kill him for all the good he's done," Gustav said.
"I already told you I was sorry. It's not my fault he-"
"Honestly, the best you can do is to stay the hell out of the way. "
Lou smiled, a horizontal quarter-moon rip formed where the mouth would be if Lou was a man and not a shadow. "Well, I'm going to help you whether you like it or not. In fact, I already did."
"Why?" Gustav tried to look Lou in the eye, but only darkness stared back.
"Why? I really deslike 'why.' I much rather prefer 'Why not?'"
"I really wish you didn't. Go play with the beasties instead, or something. Anything."
"That's no way to treat your brother. Besides, I'm bored with them and need new entertainment."
Gustav groaned. "God help us all."