Moth Ch. 035byellynei©
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
"You must be the young hero," said the librarian, but made no other move to greet her.
"I am Zoa," said Zoa.
"You can wash in there." The librarian pointed. "I have laid out white visitor's robes and slippers for you."
Zoa glanced in the direction the librarian pointed. The squarish building did look like a bath house.
"I washed before I left the city," informed Zoa, turning her eyes back to the librarian.
"Now, you will wash again," insisted the librarian. "As will I for having waited for you out here. Make sure to leave your own clothing in the box I have laid out to you for that purpose."
Zoe eyed the librarian. His purple robes were spotless. The edges on them were as white and clean as fresh snow.
"Will you wash or will you leave?" asked the librarian.
"I'll wash," said Zoa, gritting her teeth. She'd do as told even if the old pervert should insist on soaping her breasts. She needed his assistance.
"Go then," said the librarian and turned to walk in the opposite direction.
Confused, Zoa gazed after him till he entered a squarish building identical to the one he had indicated to her. If his intention hadn't been to see her naked, she just didn't get it.
Zoa shook her head and walked to the bathhouse.
Inside she was greeted by a small girl wearing grey, white-edged, robes. The child said she was there to assist. Zoa raised her eye-brows but didn't object.
"We have tubs, and showers, and buckets too," listed the extremely clean child.
"Showers?" asked Zoa.
"Water that falls like heavy rain or a light waterfall," explained the girl. "It is very efficient."
"I don't need help undressing," said Zoa, and started taking off her courier clothing.
"Oh thank you," said the child, sounding as relieved as Zoa would if she, on sanitary duty, was told that she didn't need to help empty the latrines.
"Where is that box for my clothes?" asked Zoa when her clothes were in a neat pile.
"Over there." The child pointed. "I can do it for you if you like." There was hesitation in the child's voice as if she really didn't want to perform that task. In her hands she held a mop. While Zoa had undressed the child had washed the, already spotless floor, between the entrance and where Zoa was.
"I'll do it," said Zoa, wondering about the fuss. Her boots had been clean, she hadn't left footprints on the floor.
Zoa put her clothes in the box.
The child put a lid on the box. Zoa could have sworn she heard the little girl breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe the whole washing thing wasn't a matter of old perverts getting a chance to sneak-peak at young women.
Zoa chose the tub option, and the child brought her a variety of soap and a mountain of white towels.
"Should I hurry?" asked Zoa, not knowing how long the librarian would take to get ready.
"Please take your time," urged the child. "I'll make sure the next tub is warm for you when you're done with this one."
"The next tub?" asked Zoa, already in the tub, and leaned back with a smile. This washing thing was becoming more an unexpected luxury than an unexpected inconvenience.
"I'll prepare as many tubs for you as you'd like," said the child. "Please use at least two."
"If it makes you happy," said Zoa, and sunk into the pleasantly warm water till it reached her chin.
When she left the bathhouse and again met up with the librarian from before, Zoa was cleaner than a snowflake. Her visitor's robes were as white as one.
The fourth time the librarian stopped for the two of them to change to clean slippers, Zoa was starting to wonder if they would reach the library itself before having to camp for the night. Not that she would know it if night arrived. There were no windows. Their path was lighted by smokeless bright-glows.
"Here it is," said the librarian, when they stood at a new door. "The library."
He unlocked the door, pushed it open, and let her in.
Zoa stepped in, looked around, then gawked around.
"The sheets really are made of gold," she whispered. That was one legend she had never believed.
"Of course they are," said the librarian. "Anything else would decay too fast."
All around them were shelves from floor to ceiling. Each shelf was marked with a tiny titled gold plate, and in each shelf lay a sheet of gold.
Between the rows of shelves, was a path large enough for four termites to walk side by side and it reached far.
"This is but one of a hundred entrances to the library," said the librarian. "This is but one of thousands of rooms in it."
Zoa swallowed. She hadn't known there was so much gold in the world. Nor so much knowledge to put onto sheets.
"Follow me," instructed the librarian, as if Zoa would even dream of doing anything else. "You have come to learn of the spiders."
"I have come to learn how to kill a spider with mind," corrected Zoa.
Intellectual property of Nanna Marker.
"As I said," insisted the librarian. "Spiders, not spider-beasts. It has been seventy years since last a spider went on a killing spree within the Empire."
Zoa gawked at the librarian.
"It has happened before?" she asked.
"Just about everything has happened before," said the librarian. "And just about everything will happen again. That is why history is so important."
Zoa had no clue how to respond and remained quiet.
"Only five-hundred years ago, spiders were common. They were respectfully referred to as those favoured by Death. Although few of them were seers, it was said that they could all see him.
"In their own bodies, the spiders had all they needed. They had no need for tools, homes, clothes, or blankets, and had no desire for jewellery or gold. They formed no villages or clusters of their own, but often lived near the villages of people of other kinds, alone or as small families.
"Five hundred years ago, spiders were said to be kind and gentle people, who would often lend their strength to their weaker neighbours."
The librarian glanced at Zoa, whose forehead had furrowed. His description didn't match the monster she had encountered.
"This library contains countless recounts of spiders lessening the impact of draughts and plagues by coming to the aid of moth, butterfly, beetle, and termite," he said, and waved his arms out at the shelves. "They are not born evil, young hero."
"Whatever he was when he was born," replied Zoa calmly. "He is evil now."
"And not the first to end up that way," agreed the librarian, then resumed his narrative, still leading Zoa through large rooms filled with shelves. "The beginning to the end of their unique culture came with the spring of four-hundred and eighty-one years ago. Without warning from neither word nor seer, a single spider attacked the Emperor's palace. He fought his way from outer wall to innermost sanctum leaving a trail of corpses behind him.
"He found the sixteenth Emperor in his children's quarters and with no word of explanation cut him into seventeen pieces. Then the spider laid himself down and allowed the Emperor's guards to kill him."
"You can't be serious," said Zoa.
"I do not jest with facts of history," said the librarian. "The sixteenth Emperor was slain by a spider. No one ever found out what the spider's motive had been, nor even his name."
"Dear life," whispered Zoa.
"The seventeenth Emperor, who was anointed emperor a mere month after witnessing his father's brutal demise, made a decree that spiders were abominable creatures and declared that they should all be slain. He was nine years old the day he was anointed, and ruled till his death at the late age of ninety-two.
"The eighteenth Emperor continued his work till the spiders were eradicated and made law that spiders born from crossbreeding were to be buried or burned as stillborns."
The librarian turned down a row of shelves. "I've set you up a studying table down here, young hero. If you can't read, I can."
"I can read," assured Zoa.
"The twentieth Emperor undid the law for spiders to be killed at birth, but the change was of little consequence. You see, spiders are rarely the outcome of crossbreeding at all and are never the outcome when one of the parents is a termite."
Zoa did see. Most crossbreeding included a termite as the one part, since termites were more open-minded on the matter. And, in forests, were termites were fewer, Zoa expected that most abominations were slain at birth no matter the word of the Emperor's law.
"I guess," the librarian used great emphasis on the word 'guess' as if afraid that Zoa might miss it, "that most of those very few spiders that do live to adulthood, crawl away and lead their lives in complete solitude. But, whether that is true or not, it is fact that sometimes, decades apart, a murderous spider appears and spreads terror till it is slain."
"Do the records state how those where slain?" asked Zoa. "In detail?"
"In some cases I guess they do," said the librarian again putting great emphasis on 'guess', "I haven't yet studied those that thoroughly. Here is your table, young hero."
"Oh," said Zoa, studying the strange reading table. There was soft pens and piles of white sheet to one side on the table, and a large glass box on the other.
"Gold sheets are for records, white sheets are for notes," chuckled the librarian and pulled out the chair. "Please be seated."
Zoa seated herself.
The librarian fetched a flat plate from the bottom of a shelf, wiped the already perfectly clean plate on both sides with a thin white towel, and inspected the towel.
"The fight against dust is hard and eternal," he said.
"You seem to be on the winning side," commented Zoa, who hadn't seen a speck of dust anywhere in the library.
"We never relent," said the librarian, took his plate to a shelf and pushed it under a gold sheet. He carried both to Zoa's table, pushed it into the glassbox, and sealed the box.
"You may touch the glass, but you may not touch the gold," he instructed.
Zoa eyed the gold sheet. On it was carved diagrams of a spider's body seen from several sides, arrows pointed to specific spots. The weak spots, guessed Zoa.
"You will not need to study the records of single murderous spiders to learn how to slay the one you are after," said the librarian. "Exterminating the spiders in the first place was far from easy. Their speed is uncanny and their armour is thick."
Zoa nodded, she had seen that with her own eyes.
"The seventeenth Emperor had to find ways to kill them before he could. Every method, every weapon, and every strategy his experts discovered and put to use, is stored here," said the librarian. "You will find more than you need to slay but one."
"Thank you," said Zoa, keeping her eyes on the diagram.
"You referred to your monster as he. Are you sure it is a man?"
"Fairly sure," said Zoa. "I've been told it has a man's voice."
"Let's hope it is a he."
"Why?" asked Zoa.
"The records state that spider-women are faster and stronger than the spider-men."
Posted on literotica.com with permission of author: Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.