Moth Ch. 043byellynei©
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
"Lei," screamed a loud, hoarse, voice, and Zoa could hear the sounds of hard body-plating ramming against metal bars. "Where is she?"
"How long has he been at it?" asked Zoa.
"A few hours, Officer Zoa," replied the guard. "He is getting stronger and faster every day."
"So I can hear," commented Zoa. "The woman isn't much better. But her we can tie down."
"May I ask how the baby is, Officer Zoa?" asked the guard hesitantly, she wasn't supposed to waste officers' time with questions she didn't need the answers to.
"You may not," stated Zoa sternly, coldly eyeing the guard till the woman looked like she wished the ground would swallow her. "But, little Redrock is fine. He has been stuffing himself to the point that we've had to find a second milk-mother to skip in a few times a day. He is even starting to look chubby."
"I have a mate," volunteered the guardwoman, "We've been thinking of getting children. We would..."
Zoa shook her head and the guardwoman went quiet.
"You can let me in now," ordered Zoa and the woman unlocked the door.
"Where is Lei," screamed the spider at her, and rattled the bars of his cage. "I want to see her."
"Your woman is in a place that has windows, and drapes, and far fresher air than this," said Zoa, coldly, waving a hand out at the large dungeon chamber in which the spider's metal cage stood. "But if you should somehow manage to cause harm to your cage, we might have to move her to a place like this."
The spider released the bars.
"Does the dark bother you?" asked Zoa, turning brighter one of the bright-glows at the wall.
"No," snarled the spider.
"Does the light?"
"No," snarled the spider, pacing his cage but keeping his legs from the bars.
Zoa took out her pad, a sheet, and a pen.
"Today we are going to talk about the day we first attacked your home in Altwar," she said.
"I already told you everything I remember," yelled the hoarse spider. "Again, and again, and again. I want to see Lei and I want to see my son."
"And now you will tell me again," said Zoa, coldly.
"I saw Death," began the spider. "I thought that meant that Lei would be a day late so we couldn't escape in time. I didn't realise you would attack early."
Zoa listened closely to every detail the spider provided of the other spider's arrival and their battle against her fellow couriers. She had interrogated him and his woman every day since they had recovered enough to talk, and still hadn't found any discrepancies that didn't even out with further questions.
There was, as yet, nothing to indicate they were lying.
Defending yourself against wrongful assault wasn't illegal, not even if the assailants were the Emperor's couriers. And, if the spider's story held true he had tried to spare their lives.
So far every cut the spider had described making, Zoa recognised from her memories of her fellows' injuries. From his description most of the opened arms and legs were his work. All the chopped off heads and wings had been Dark's.
The other spider had been nameless, which explained why, even Evelin, had been calling her 'it'. In her head Zoa had been going through everything Evelin had said that day she and Keme were there. Her switches between he and it perfectly fit the caged spider's story. The tracksters who had had access to this spider's blood had all called him 'he', never it.
The spider in the cage had a name: Kokata.
Every trackster who had touched his cut off leg had declared his innocence, but Zoa wasn't taking any chances. The spider was too dangerous for that.
If he and his woman really were as innocent as they claimed, they'd be released within a few more months.
Three hours had passed since the worn out man had ingested the bad-smelling, foul-tasting, herbal tea. He had dosed the amount to fit his weight according to the crayon-written instructions left by the ghost.
He wasn't dead yet, actually he felt no effect at all. The initial nausea from drinking the foul brew had vanished within minutes.
His eyes sought out Evelin. She was on the floor playing with toys that weren't there. She was humming and rocking. He knew she was seeing. Evelin was always seeing. Humming and rocking was good. She did that when she wasn't witnessing too many horrible things at once.
He had thought that if the foul drink wasn't lethal, maybe it would be a sedative. But he didn't feel sedated at all, and he had followed the instructions to the letter.
Evelin screamed, then started weeping, then started laughing, then rose and started marching around the room singing a verse from an old marching song. The child and her dress were grimed with dirt. A long time had passed since last she had let him wash her.
He only forced baths on her when she started getting dirt sores. The child claimed the dirt of her own skin and salt was an armour shielding her from visions in the air. Maybe it was. The child was always seeing, he couldn't tell for sure that she didn't see a tiny bit less when she was dirty.
"It rains a lot," said Evelin. "Why haven't they dug ditches? Why does the crop have to drown?"
"When?" he asked, relieved to have an opportunity to move her sight to a task that didn't involve illness or murder.
"Thirty-six days," stated Evelin. "Thirty-six. Thirty-six. Thirty-six."
"The fields around the village of course," said Evelin, rolling her eyes at him.
Copyright of Nanna Marker 2010.
"What village is that, Evelin?"
"The one that lost fifteen people to the plague three years back," yelled Evelin at him. "Their skin swelled with boils. Pus ran out of it till the boils went deep enough for them to BLEED!" The last was a scream.
"Come back to the present, Evelin," he commanded. "What does the village look like right now?"
"They stank like corpses even before they were dead," hissed Evelin.
"Go forward, Evelin, what is happening in that village right now?"
The child calmed, and rocked, and hummed.
"They are all out in the fields. Only an old man and two old women are in the village. They are weaving and talking. The sun is shining and that is nice, it soothes their old joints."
"What's the name of the village?" he asked.
"Kafala's rest," stated Evelin.
The worn out man jotted it down next to rain, thirty-six days, and missing ditches.
"So many died in the plague there," said Evelin. "So many young tombstones."
"You can leave that village now, Evelin. They will be warned about the rain, I promise."
"I love you, toot-toot," said Evelin and crawled up on his lap.
"I love you too, Evelin," said the worn out man and hugged his daughter.
The peace lasted only twenty precious seconds, then Evelin again started rocking, and laughing, and singing, and crawled off his lap. Moments later she shrieked, startled by some vision. Then she curled into a tight, weeping ball.
"I'm bad," wept the child. "I deserve this."
The worn out man averted his eyes and blinked to hold back his own tears. Then he rose, went into the kitchen, and measured out a dose of the foul brew there fitting a child of Evelin's size.
He brought it to the girl
"I don't want it," hissed the girl, pushing away the cup.
"It's punishment," lied the man, "because you were bad."
The child pulled the cup from his hand and downed the foul brew in one long draught. Her face distorted into a grimace of disgust and she handed him back the empty cup.
"It tasted awful, toot-toot," complained the child.
"I know," comforted the man, and pulled her into a hug.
The child started singing a ballad from the man's grandfather's time. It was a very long one. Some verses he could remember and sing along on. Halfway through the fifth verse Evelin went quiet.
"Can you hear that?" she asked.
"What?" asked the man.
"It's so quiet," said Evelin.
The man listened. Apart from Evelin their home was always quiet.
"Where did all the voices go?" asked Evelin. "It's never been this quiet."
Evelin stuck dirty fingers into her dirty ears and moved them about, then took them out again, and shook her head.
"It's really quiet," she said, disbelief in her voice.
"It is?" he asked.
"It really is," claimed Evelin. "There's no screaming. No yelling. No whispers."
"There really isn't," said the child and turned to look up at him. "Dad, why are you crying?"
There was no night in her cell, no day either. Just damp, old air. They all said she was crazy, but she wasn't the crazy one, they were. Crazy termites.
She hadn't done anything wrong, why had they stuck her into this place? How long had she been there?
In her cell there was nothing to do but think. All that thinking was driving her crazy. Or, maybe, she had been crazy all along. There was a lot of them and only one of her. If they all said she was crazy did that mean it was true?
Her cell was dirty, she was dirty too, they didn't give her enough water to clean. Barely gave her more than she needed to drink.
She closed her eyes and whispered the names of all her children and her mate. It helped. They were real, she was real, and she was not crazy. She'd just have to keep hanging on. Someday she would get a chance to escape and return to her family. To what remained of it at least.
She had failed her mission. The life of her mate and of her bow-craziest daughter had rested in her hands, and she had failed. At first she had had hope to turn the situation around, she had tried to reason with the termites. There was no longer such hope, never should have been. Termites were not reasonable.
What there was now was the rest of her children. They still needed a mother. She and her mate had been rash to both venture out. Her mate likely dead, and her lost in a termite dungeon, left their children practical orphans.
It was a heavy burden.
She heard footsteps in the tunnel outside her cell. More than one pair. Likely another soul being dragged into a life of damp desperation.
The door opened. Probably a meal. There was no point trying to break out of this door. There were other doors between her and freedom. Many others. Every time she tried to escape, they took her deeper.
She turned, not believing her ears. That voice!
"Valo?" she asked. The light from the tunnel's brightglows behind him made him nothing but a large shade.
"Is it her?" asked an impatient voice, one she recognised as the termite guard that usually brought her meals.
"Yes," said her mate's voice, and he came all the way to her, and hugged her. "This is my mate."
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"Good riddance," said the termite guard. Brevila hated the man, she bit or kicked him every chance she got.
"We've been so worried about you," said her mate, Valo, speaking in a voice as if he were talking to a child or a crazy person, then he whispered into her ear, "pretend to be crazy, Brevila. That's the only way I can get you out of here." In a loud voice he continued. "It's time to go home, honey. Come on, get on your feet."
Brevila rose to her feet.
"Remember, act crazy," whispered her mate into her ear, "but don't overdo it." Her mate put an arm around her waist and led her out of her cell. In a loud voice he said, "Thank you for taking care of her."
"No problem," said the guard, sounding impatient, "It's our job."
Brevila broke into hysterical laughter, but that was allright, crazy people did that all the time.
They walked through endless tunnels. Every door opened for the guard's call. 'Was' opened for the guard's call, Brevila corrected herself, she had to stop thinking like a crazy person.
Finally they stepped out into fresh air. The blinding, eye-piercing, headache-inducing, light of day had never been so welcome. Brevila couldn't see a thing, but her mate seemed to have some vision so she clung on to him and let him lead her further. She heard creaks of the hinges of a large termite gate, and noticed the shadow of passing under it.
Her mate led her further along the big termite-city's pavement, they passed a few corners, and suddenly he stopped.
"Allright, you can stop pretending you are crazy now," he said, and pulled her in for a kiss.
Brevila grabbed hold of his head and kissed him back.
"Dear life I've missed you," exclaimed her mate after their kiss.
"I thought you were dead," said Brevila and pulled him in for another kiss.
"I'm not, and neither is Lei," said her mate after that kiss. "I got separated from them. There was no way I could find them again, so instead I went here to check on you. Took a long time to find you. Took even longer to convince them to give you back to me." Then he lowered his voice and whispered, "These city-termites are crazy."
"I know," whispered back Brevila.
"I have a room just a few centers that way," said her mate. Brevila guessed he was pointing somewhere but still couldn't see well enough to tell. "Let's go get out of this light and get you cleaned up."
A ten year old termite boy was playing at the edge of a pond, pulling a leaf to the shore of it and pushing it in. The leaf floated and the boy giggled excitedly, then searched the shore for something to push it around with.
He saw something sticking out of the water and bent out reaching for it. He shrieked when from behind him someone grabbed hold of the neck-string of his shirt and pulled him backward, away from the water.
"You are not supposed to play at the pond," said the someone, who was a winged termite woman. "You can't swim."
"I'm not going to fall into the water," claimed the boy.
"You are not a seer, little Redrock," said the woman sternly. She was young and pretty. "You can't tell what is going to happen before it does."
"But I like playing at the pond," said the boy. "It's so nice and quiet here. At home mum is yelling at dad and gorging down cooked meat as if there was sugar on it."
"Lei is a good mother," said the young termite woman. "You can't convince me otherwise, little Redrock."
The boy pouted and kicked at the soil, "Dad says she is only acting that way because the baby has grown large enough to tickle her on the inside." The boy sounded like he didn't really believe that explanation. Then, he looked up at the winged termite. "Hey, are you a travelling termite?" he asked.
"I am a termite, and I am travelling," said the young woman. "But I don't have a caravan."
The boy looked disappointed. "So, you've just come to visit mum and dad then?"
"No. I came to warn you, Redrock."
"Me?" The boy pointed at himself, not quite believing the statement.
"Yes, you. I came to tell you that if you ever again play at a pond, I will tell your dad about it, and he WILL," the young woman tapped a finger on the boy's chest, "spank you. He will spank you so hard that you won't be able to sit for days, and that, my young friend, is a promise."
"My dad never spanks me the first time he catches me doing something bad," said the boy. "He always warns me that if I ever do that again, then!"
"Ponds are different," warned the young woman. "If you don't believe me I can go tell him right now, then you'll see for yourself."
The boy shook his head, he believed her.
"And don't go thinking I won't know if you play at a pond," continued the young woman. "I'm a seer. I'll know."
The boy's eyes widened.
"How else would I have known you were here?" said the winged termite-woman with a smile.
"Wow," exhaled the boy.
"Redrock," called another young woman's voice in the distance. "Redrock where are you?"
"That's Rebecca," said the boy, suddenly looking very nervous. "If she finds me here..."
"Run along and let her find you someplace else," offered the winged termite-woman.
The boy ran away, leaving the winged termite-woman alone by the pond's shore. The wind rustled along the forest bedding, bringing sound and vision to the young woman's skin. She listened to the voices in the wind, then took a sip from the canister she always kept at her hip. Soon the voices would again be tolerable whispers.
"Thank you, Evelin," said Death. "I am glad not to have to take that one yet."
"You're welcome," said the young termite-woman and smiled at the pale man.
"It's a good thing you didn't have to talk to Kokata," said Death. "Redrock wouldn't be the only one not able to sit for weeks if you had."
"I know," said Evelin with a sad smile.
Kokata might forgive the loss of one leg, but Lei would never forgive that she hadn't been the one to breastfeed Redrock.
"It was wise of them to build a new home closer to the beetle-village," said Death.
"Very," agreed Evelin. "The baby inside Lei is a moth, and the one after that will be nocturnal too. The two after that will be daytimers."
"I didn't know," said Death and chuckled.
"They will need all the babysitting which friendship can buy to get by," said Evelin with a smile. "Years will pass between their children all sleeping at the same time."
"Then how will they have time to make all those children?" asked Death, raising his eyebrows.
"All the babysitting which friendship can buy," said Evelin and winked at him.
Evelin blew him a kiss through the air and jumped up into the wind.
Written by Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.
And that was how things went.
I hope you have enjoyed the story and beg of you now a comment, short or long, speaking of good or bad, anything really. Your criticism, or praise, means a lot to me.