The Six Legged Spider

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Clan Krei'ger's ancestral home is in the jungles of central Mandalore, a region of wild growth amidst which many strange creatures make their home. Many of these creatures are found nowhere else on Mandalore, and those unfamiliar with the Krei'ger lands can often fall prey to many unique and unexpected dangers. One such danger is the P'lest, the six-legged spider. The spider seems to be a simple green ball, the size of a thumb, making its home under the leaves of the ferns which carpet the jungle floor. All Krei'ger recognize the P'lest; they crawl everywhere, and they are not aggressive - in fact, every tree in the jungle is covered with the spiders, blending in so well with the foliage that they are seldom noticed. Children often play with them, putting their fingers in front of the spider to watch it crawl around and over. They take no notice of such interruptions unless they are trapped by a finger placed right on top of them - and then they bite. The bite of the P'lest is invariably deadly.

It is told that in the founding days of the Krei'ger, the Clan Triad of Ver'urt'eil'ung, Tod, and Ver'nicht'ung displaced the Founding Family, H'al'kath, as leaders. It was a time of turbulence for the Krei'gar, when the old alliances were shifted and broken, and new families arose - the families that define the clan's caste system to this very day. Many of these families formed themselves from the remnants of the H'al'kath's, distancing themselves from the disgraced bloodline by tracing descent through their mothers. Others of the H'al'kath declared that they were founding new families, and took symbolic names to declare their role in the new order.

One man to create such a family was Vil'acht H'al'kath, a master of the martial art known as Krei'gersk'unst. The adepts of this art forge their bodies into living weapons by bashing their shins and elbows against surfaces of rock or hardwood, toughening them into blades of bone. Vil'acht was known to all the Krei'gar as one of the greatest warriors in the land, and the H'al'kath's strongest captain. It was inevitable that the leaders of the Clan Triad would see him as a threat, and so he was one of the first on their list of the dead.

But they also feared him, for they had no one warrior who could match him in single combat. They had no two warriors who could prevail over him by working together. They had no three warriors who could slay him from ambush. He was unassailable by the strength of arms. So instead, they attempted to slay him by treachery - they poisoned the minds of the H'al'kath elders against him. In a few short weeks, Vil'acht's elders were convinced that he was plotting to overthrow them. Assassins armed with poison darts were sent to stalk him as he gathered herbs in the jungle (for he was also known as a great healer).

Vil'acht was gazing at the three-pronged thorn of the Ky'akta bush, known for its ability to cause sleep when the dart caught him in the arm. He was strong - stronger than any five lesser men - and he struggled to his feet and killed all three of the assassins who had followed him before the drug even began to slow him. But the poison was stronger, and though he managed to stagger through the jungle to the very edge of his hometown, he lost consciousness and collapsed on the outskirts of the very clearing where the children of the H'al'kath loved to play at war. As Vil'acht lay there dying, a terrible clarity of focus came to his thoughts. He looked across the ferns where his face was buried, unable to turn his head, and saw a little green ball rolling towards him along a leaf. As his vision cleared, he saw that it was not rolling at all, but walking on six spindly legs. It was one of the P'lest, the ubiquitous six-legged spiders. Slowly it meandered towards him, and then it stopped and turned, and seemed to stare out at the clearing from its hiding place among the ferns. And as Vil'acht watched, unable to turn his head, his eyes were drawn to follow what he imagined was the gaze of the spider.

In the clearing stood two of the H'al'kath elders, whose names are not recorded. As he listened, he heard one say, "Why have our assassins not returned? Surely, Vil'acht has slain them!" The other made to reply, but Vil'acht never heard it - a sharp pain traveled up his arm, and he abruptly convulsed. Unnoticed, the little P'lest had crawled across the leaf onto his arm and bitten him on the elbow. But his elbow, toughened as it was by his years of practice of the martial art, was too strong for the spider's tiny jaws, so it continued up his arm until it reached the very spot where the dart had wounded him. And there, on the little pinprick where the poison had flowed into Vil'acht's veins, the passive spider had bitten him with the full force of its venom.

Vil'acht's body thrashed wildly in the bushes, torn between two conflicting poisons. The two elders, who had not noticed him before, suddenly drew weapons and rushed toward him. But a strangeness happened, which has not been duplicated since - the poison of the P'lest did not kill him. Instead, it neutralized the toxin that was already in his veins. Vil'acht leaped to his feet and, before the elders could react, he knocked the weapons from their hands and crushed their windpipes with his elbows.

Vil'acht forsook the H'al'kath that day, running into the jungle deep into the night. He spent the rest of his life studying the little six-legged spider, learning its ways of stealth and secrecy, and became a legendary ghost who stalked the jungle bringing unseen death to his enemies. Eventually, the Clan Triad's hold on the lesser families grew steady, and Vil'acht felt the time was right to show himself and declare his new family name - Vil'acht P'lest. For his family symbol, he took the six-legged spider: all of the P'lest family wear this tattoo, the spider's body painted into their back in green with two legs trailing down behind their knees, two on their arms, and two more arching up over the shoulders and down the chest. The P'lest are warriors as all Krei'ger are warriors, but more than that they are diplomats and spies. They delight, not in outmatching their enemy with brute force, but in knowing how he thinks and how to kill him most efficiently.

Some families choose for their tattoos the most awesome of creatures, seen only on special occasions: the Ver'nicht'ung have the dreaded Viper of the deep jungles, rarely seen near clan holdings; family Tod has the mighty Eagle of the north, almost never actually encountered in the jungles of Krei'ger; and the Ver'urt'eil'ung have the mythical Dragon, a creature so mighty it is never seen at all. But the symbol of the P'lest is everywhere, crawling on every leaf of every tree, known by every child of the Krei'ger, watching, always watching.