Moth Ch. 032byellynei©
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
Kokata jumped and landed on the ledge of his home. The termites were gone. It had almost been too easy. He pulled a termite arrow out of the ledge and stared at it.
Young fools. Younger than him, some probably younger than Lei.
He felt sick.
He had done what he could not to kill. His new friend hadn't. She had gone all the way. She must have not known that it was all just a horrible mistake.
Kokata hadn't tried to stop her.
He was trying to convince himself that it was because everything had gone so fast. But, really, was it? Innocent or not. These termites were a danger to Lei.
He broke the arrow in two and threw the pieces off the ledge.
"I see what you mean now," said his father-in-law from behind him. "I had no clue how deadly you are."
"I'm a predator," said Kokata, gazing out into the branches.
"I guess Death really was here," said the moth-man.
"He is gone now," said Kokata, turning to the man.
"It will take them time to gather reinforcements. Weeks." His father-in-law was hoarse as if he had been crying. "Plenty of time for us to flee."
Kokata looked down at his legtips. They were covered in blood. Red and drying.
"I'll go wash," he said.
"Watch out!" warned the moth-man and raised his bow toward Kokata.
Kokata looked behind himself, and raised his body to cover the moth-man's line of sight.
"Don't shoot," ordered Kokata. "She saved my life. She helped us."
His father-in-law lowered his bow, and Kokata turned to his new friend. Her eyes were wide and reminded him of Rebecca's. The small scorpid girl had gawked at him with much the same expression on her face. That, however, was the only similarity between Rebecca and this woman.
This woman was a spider. Her body, like his, was pure spider, and her face, like his, was person. She was as black as he. She had scars everywhere. Kokata could guess how she had gotten them, even if he had nowhere near as many as she.
"Thank you," said Kokata.
The woman just gawked. She was covered in blood, and cuts, and scrapes, but she didn't look seriously wounded.
"I'm Black," said Kokata, pointing to himself with two legs. "Who are you?"
"I don't have a name," whispered the woman and, suddenly shy, averted her eyes.
"That's ok," said Kokata. "Names aren't all they are made up to be."
"I like yours," whispered the woman, her face now so far below her that he couldn't see it.
"It's a made up name," admitted Kokata. "I don't like the one I was given. Maybe we can make one up for you too."
The woman whispered something so quietly that Kokata couldn't hear her.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't hear that," he said.
"Can you think up a name for me?" she whispered, loud enough for him to hear.
"I've never named anyone before," said Kokata, scouting for termites. "I'd like to keep 'Black' for myself, so how about we call you 'Dark' until we think up something better?"
"Dark," whispered the woman, and shot him a quick glance before again hiding her scarred face. "I like it."
"Would you like my help cleaning your wounds?" asked Kokata. Most of the spider-woman's cuts were on her back. Kokata expected some of them might have bits of arrowheads in them.
"Yes, please," whispered the woman, shy as a teen.
Its heart sang with joy. Its beautiful man had cleaned its wounds.
He had thanked it. He had blessed its arrival.
They would be so happy together.
He had talked to it as naturally as no other ever had. It hadn't heard half his words for the pounding of its heart. He had asked questions too. He had asked how it had come to be where it was, in a position to save his life.
"Seers," it had replied.
He was so natural when talking to it, but it was so very shy around him. It hadn't expected to be shy. When it had fantasised of meeting him it had imagined to talk and talk. The way it had turned out was fine too, though. It liked to listen to his voice. It liked to be soothed and comforted by him.
He had said that 'Valo', the moth-man, had been sent by a seer too.
Since it had first seen the drawings of him, it had imagined that they would be just the two of them: it and him. But, it could tolerate him having a friend. Especially a friend who seemed intent to help it protect its precious man.
Moths were weak, but they had good eyes to keep guard. At least at night. If the moth guarded at night, that would leave it and Black free to...
Black and Dark.
Dark and Black.
It loved the name he had given it.
It circled the trunk just enough to get the termites into line of sight.
When it had offered to find out where the termites had gone, Black had told it only to watch. He had said something about their assault having been a mistake. He had spent many words on saying that. It had admired the movements of his lips, and his voice, and his legs.
Most of his words it hadn't caught on to, being so busy admiring him and being happy. That didn't matter much. They would have plenty of time to exchange new words.
Mistake. That word it did remember. That word was very to the point. The termites had made a huge mistake in attacking its man.
Intellectual property of Nanna Marker.
It smiled. Black had said something about waiting before leaving. While Black was waiting, it would entertain itself with the termites. Its man needn't know. That he worried for it enough to tell it not to attack, was very romantic, but was also very silly.
It was in no danger.
The termites were.
"Zoa, I have its blood." It was Keme's voice.
"Fine," said Zoa, not taking her eyes of the wound she was sowing together. Whether or not their crazy mission had been a success was the last thing on her mind.
"As soon as you're done with that guy's wound you are leaving with me," said Keme. "We'll bring the blood to safety."
"No," said Zoa, pulling the hard string and knotting it.
"We can't stay here, the monster will come after us," snarled Keme. "We are too few to kill it."
"I, and Kamilla, and Jabet, will stay and protect the wounded," said Zoa, and stuck the needle into the edge of the wound. "Lay still please, Kismal. I know it hurts, but you have to be brave a little longer."
"You are the best shooter we have, you are not sacrificing yourself," snarled Keme.
"Leave, Keme," said Zoa. "I'm not going and you can't force me to."
A hand grabbed the neck-string of Zoa's shirt and pulled her to her feet. Zoa spun, her knife already in her hand.
"You can't force me to go," said Zoa calmly, pressing her knife against Keme's throat. "But you can force me to kill you."
"Don't be an idiot," snarled Keme, still holding on to the neck-string of her shirt. "Anyone who stays behind will die. The monster will live to see another day."
Zoa said nothing and kept her knife where it was.
"Fool," hissed Keme and let go.
Lei had a horrible headache and her eyes hurt even worse than her head. The day was as bright as summer. But she was finally home. There was the hive. As light worn as her eyes were it looked more like a big blurry square than a home, but there it was. Lei landed on the ledge and rushed inside where it was nice and dark.
"Black," she called. "I'm home."
"He just left," said a man's voice.
Lei spun to the sound of the voice and grabbed her bow and an arrow.
"What did you do to him?" she accused, aiming at his chest.
"I didn't do anything to him." The man raised his unarmed hands in front of him, displaying his empty palms. "He went off to feed. He promised not to go further than he could hear me yell."
"Black," screamed Lei. "Black!"
"Do you really think I would hurt you, Lei?"
"Stay right where you are, father," snarled Lei, keeping her aim exact.
A thump on the ledge assured her that Black was alive and well.
"Black," she yelled. "I'm in here."
Her beloved came inside.
"This is my man, father," snarled Lei at her father, nodding her head toward Black. "He is wonderful and strong, and I love him. And if you so much as glance at him the wrong way, I will kill you."
"Lower your bow, Lei," ordered her father, still keeping his hands where they were.
"What took you so long?" asked Black, already behind her, and snuck his legs around her for a hug.
Lei shook off his touch.
"Don't disrupt my aim," she snapped. "Take his bow."
"If your father wanted me dead, he would have already killed me," soothed Black and kissed the back of her neck.
"Son," said Lei's father, speaking very slowly, "please don't distract her while she is aiming an arrow at my heart."
"Gather closer," yelled Zoa, her bow aimlessly raised to the growth of forest bed greenery around them. "Everybody get as close to the center as possible. Pull the ones that can't move themselves."
Zoa could still fly, but there was no point in shooting from above. The thing's plating was too thick. She needed to get an arrow into its eyes, or neck, or maybe even its underbelly.
Someone screamed and Zoa turned in time to see the monster disappear into the undergrowth. Screams faded off in the direction the monster had vanished. It had taken another one.
"Gather closer," yelled Zoa and let go off her bow to help pull the wounded to one spot. The monster wasn't likely to return as long as the far off screams persisted. That was how it had been this far.
"Don't leave us," begged a wounded, young courier, and grabbed on to Zoa's wrist. "Don't leave us."
Zoa wrestled her hand free. "I'm not going anywhere," she said, and ran to pull in another of those who was too wounded to crawl. The screams still sounded in the distance.
Zoa was the only one who could leave, she was the only one who could fly. The first time the monster had taken one alive, Kamilla and Jabet had followed the screams. Shortly after, their screams had joined those of the first. Zoa hadn't followed.
The only chance for anyone was together.
Zoa hated herself for wishing the tortured screams to continue a while longer.
She wished, more than ever before, that they hadn't been too late that first time. If only she had been there when the monster had attacked Keme's family. Zoa couldn't imagine what fluke could have allowed her arrow to kill it back then, but she wished with all her heart that she had been there to fulfil Evelin's first prophecy.
"Closer," yelled Zoa, and released the courier she had been dragging
She pushed the hilt of a sword to a courier's termite-arms --he had has his wings cut off and his man arms cut open. "If it wants to take you, it will have to pass through all our blades," she comforted and closed his termite-arms around the hilt.
Zoa took a spear and handed it to one who only had leg injuries.
"Hold this just a bit above horizontal," she instructed. "If it wants you, it will have to run into this first."
The distant screams ceased.
Zoa raised her bow to the undergrowth.
The thing was faster than Zoa could ever have imagined. Back at the hive, they had all been aiming their bows at it. It hadn't even seen them before they, as one, had released their arrows.
Only then had it raised its face. And then...
Zoa was shaking, the head of her arrow vibrated. It didn't matter, though. She didn't need to aim. There was no point in aiming. A fluke hit was the only way to hit. The monster had faced them, and then, so fast that she hadn't been able to see the movement, it had had its plated back to their arrows.
It had taken two rounds of arrows, standing like that. Maybe the first it hadn't been able to move out of, but the second had obviously been intentional. It was as if it had wanted them to see how impossible it would be for them to harm it.
And then it had jumped away.
Zoa forced herself not to realise that she was already dead, forced herself not to think that those who were with her were all already dead.
There had to be hope. There had to be a way.
She wanted to lift off the ground and scout for the thing, but if she did, she'd miss the chance to shoot it. That tiny chance to shoot it.
Someone screamed. Zoa spun in time to catch a glimpse of a scarred, black, backside of a spider. It had taken one of the wounded who had not yet been pulled into the tight center.
The screams became distant in almost no time. Zoa knew the name of the girl it had taken. Zoa knew the names of all of them. The ones who were dead, the ones who were still here, and the ones who had been well enough to flee with Keme.
"Look for the scars," Vumanesco had said.
Tears were rolling from Zoa's eyes. She had been looking. She had been looking all she could. And yet it had taken another.
"Pull in the wounded," yelled Zoa.
All of them were wounded, except her.
"Don't leave us, Zoa," pleaded the young one from before. "Don't leave us."
Zoa dropped her bow and helped pull in the last of those who couldn't crawl.
She hated herself for wishing the distant screams to continue longer.
This time they did last longer. This time they lasted long enough for Zoa to wish they would silence.
Posted on literotica.com with permission of author: Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.