Fungal Halo

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Venomous Tattoo

Touching nib to fang, the Spider Witch draws on her own venom for this part of the ritual.

With practiced movements, she inks fine lines onto her canvas. The securely bound creature does an admirable job of not flinching as its skin burns under each stroke.

Every few hours, the subject is adjusted to facilitate access to a new swath of blank flesh. No region is left untouched.

Even such a good subject as this cannot help whining and whimpering eventually. Some of these areas are more sensitive than others.

The wings in particular are challenging for both the witch and her subject. Whimpers escalate to gasping and moaning as fingers must carefully part feathers to expose the skin underneath to venomous linework.

Sun sets. The work is not yet done.

By the time the process approaches its conclusion, the horizon is starting to brighten again.

One last piece remains. The witch rolls her head around to work out the aches. She stretches every pair of arms and shakes out wrist stiffness.

With one sharp claw, she slices open the silk-wrapped bundle near her subject’s head, grimacing at the harshness of the light that spills out.

Those of her eyes that are most light-sensitive, she closes. The rest will be sufficient here.

The witch dips her pen in venom again and writes directly on the shining disc, etching it stroke by stroke with the words she and her subject had decided on at the beginning of all this.

An oath, a mantra, a new Purpose. Unique to this subject. Unshared with any siblings.

The words themselves are written in a language known to very few. Both the Spider Witch and this angel labored over the finer nuances of the translation until it was perfect.

As she works, the halo’s light dims. Even the divine yields to talent and will.

With a flourish, the last stroke is laid down. No more relentless blinding radiance of harsh white light from the ring, it now slowly pulses—as though breathing—with a gentle violet glow.

The wing feathers are already visibly darkening. Other changes will take more time yet.

“How do you feel, dear one?”

The subject opens their eyes again at long last. Once crystal-clear, they are now inky pools to lose oneself in.

“I’m free. I feel free.”

That Which Is No Longer An Angel kisses the Spider Witch in celebration.

They both collapse, exhausted.