Moth Ch. 039byellynei©
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
"I'm sorry, Zoa," said Officer Fol. "But with three seers saying they think your plan will fail, we have to abort."
"They didn't say it will fail, Sir, they only said they think so." Zoa had to bite her tongue not to add derogatory comments about tracksters 'thinking'. She and Fol weren't alone.
"Three think you will fail, the rest have no clue," repeated Officer Fol, calmly. "Not one claims, or even 'thinks', you will succeed."
"I still think we should try, Sir."
"Duly noted," commented Officer Fol, "You may be excused, Courier."
"Yes, Sir," said Zoa through gritted teeth and marched out.
"It was a good plan," said Fol, to the official who had brought in the trackster reports. "I'm sure the Hero Zoa will make up a new one soon enough.
"Kids heads are full of crazy plans," said the official, his voice full of contempt.
"If you say so, Sir," said Fol; the civilian fool outranked him.
"I will put it in my report that the aborted plan was concocted by a young courier woman with no leadership experience," said the official and made a dry-nosed snort.
"I'm afraid that would not be entirely correct, Sir," said Fol, carefully. "The Hero Zoa assumed leadership during the events that led to her being awarded by the Emperor himself."
The official made no counter, but his mouth moved down into even deeper sourness. Fol guessed that the man would, on paper, find a way to word himself that circumvented that circumstance. Maybe something like 'never been appointed leadership for'.
Fol didn't mind all that much when the civilian officials messed up, or made more complicated, harvest reports and tax gathering. He had learned to think of the reorganisation of such matters as a game. Like a gigantic puzzle which he had to help reassemble a few times every year.
But, when the officials interfered with matters of life and death, he couldn't take it with good spirit. People dying for the ego of whoever had the biggest desk and the whitest sheets, was not a laughing matter.
The sour-faced official, who could never hope to be awarded by the Emperor, was still gathering his papers when a young courier came charging in.
"I have a door," bellowed Fol, rising behind his desk. "You will knock before you enter."
The kid cowered but didn't retrace his steps, he was heaving for air.
"I was told to hurry," panted the kid, fumbling with his bag. "I've just returned from my survey round, the seer Evelin's flag was raised."
"Emergency reports from the seer Evelin goes straight to the general," instructed Fol, and pointed toward the western wall of his office.
"I have a message for the general too," gasped the kid, still heaving for air. He had obviously flown as fast as he could. "But I was told to go here first."
Fol's heart froze. Words from the seer Evelin was never good news. Someone close to him had to be in mortal peril to warrant a personal message from the Empire's greatest seer.
The courier finally managed to unbuckle his bag and retrieve a white sheet for Fol. He reached it across the table and Fol tore it from his hands and unfolded it.
He read it. Frowned. Read it again. Frowned deeper. And read it yet again.
A smile threatened to grow on Fol's face. He refused it and retained the stern military folds.
"You'd best go deliver the general's message to the general now, Courier," said Fol.
"Yes, Sir," panted the young courier and staggered out.
"What does it say?" asked the official, when the kid was gone.
"I wouldn't presume to know which words the seer Evelin has for the general," said Fol, deliberately misinterpreting the question.
"What does yours say?" insisted the official.
Fol caressed the stamp at the bottom of the very white sheet, the stamp proclaimed the seer Evelin was favoured by the Emperor, then he handed the sheet to the official.
It was a very brief note in the flawless handwriting of Evelin's caretaker.
"The seer Evelin says: Do as the hero with the sheathed bow tells you. Her arrow will taste blood."
Fol reseated himself and reached for his mug of juice. He was tempted to slurp, but thought it better to let the official concentrate. Shouldn't take him too long to realise that the Emperor's city didn't have a whole lot of female heroes with sheathed bows to choose from.
"Given this new information," said the official hesitantly, after what had to be at least his tenth read-through of the short note, "I will condone the plan you presented to me."
"Zoa's plan," said Fol. For the sake of his career, he withheld a malicious grin.
"The plan which the young courier-woman favours," insisted the official.
"Here is Toot-toot with food for you," he called, putting the trey to the floor. "Come and get it, Evelin."
"I'm bad," sounded a sobbing voice from the closet. "I'm bad. I'm bad. I'm bad."
"I'm bad," screamed the girl from inside the closet. "I'm bad."
He didn't bother to warn her before storming to the closet and pulling it open. Something was very wrong.
"I'm bad," wailed Evelin stabbing at her arm with a sharp metal pen.
He tore the pen from her and threw it across the room, then grabbed hold of the injured arm.
"I'm bad," sobbed Evelin. "I'm bad."
"Stop it, Evelin," he commanded, inspecting the cuts. Some of them were bleeding but none were deep. Evelin had come to harm before, her insanity was a constant threat to her life, but she had never before purposefully harmed herself.
"Why did you do that," he yelled, pulling her out of the closet and into his arms. His stomach hurt with worry.
"I'm bad," wept Evelin. "I just wanted his voice to go away. I wanted it to go away, dad."
"You're not bad," he comforted, holding her tight while carrying her to where he kept his first aid gear. "You're my little girl, Evelin. You'd never harm anyone."
"I'm bad," wailed Evelin.
"What took you so long," asked his Lei. She was hoarse, and her eyes were almost as red as her nose.
"I've fetched some chest lotion for you," said Kokata.
"Put it back where you took it," snarled his woman. "We're not thieves."
"Either you let me rub it on you, or I will hold you down and rub it on you anyway," snarled Kokata, making no comment to her assumption. What he had done had more semblance to armed robbery than to stealing.
"Don't you dare," wheezed his Lei and broke into coughing.
"I paid for it," snarled Kokata, caught Lei's arms and held her down. "I left enough spidersilk for him to spin a half-ball, if he cares to."
"Say you aren't lying to me," asked his woman, in between coughs.
"Maybe it was closer to a quarter-ball's worth of silk," admitted Kokata. "I didn't want to stay too long."
If the terrified healer had had his way, Kokata wouldn't have been around long enough to leave even that.
His Lei ceased struggling, and Kokata bared her chest and started smearing on the lotion.
"He promised this will make you cough less," said Kokata. "He said that while you are pregnant you must avoid the strong cough-quieting teas. They are bad for both mother and child. He said to avoid them while you are breastfeeding too."
"I don't intend to still have this cold when the baby comes out," wheezed his Lei.
"I'll make sure to tell him that if I ever see him again," said Kokata, spreading the lotion. In spite of his terror, the healer had asked thorough questions about Lei's symptoms. His final verdict hadn't been 'a cold'.
Kokata had been tempted to deliver Lei to the healer's care and leave her there. With a lot of rest and a healer's attention, the 'long cough' wasn't dangerous. Not even for a pregnant woman. And with luck, the termites might leave her be and keep after him.
For Lei and their unborn's sake, Kokata would have made that sacrifice and fled on alone, except he knew that she wouldn't meekly stay behind and nurse herself. She'd chase after him till it killed her.
His Lei's skin was too warm. She was having a fever. The healer had instructed Kokata on that too. He had told Kokata to always keep his woman a little too warm, but to never let her be far too warm.
The healer hadn't been able to explain how to tell the difference. It was a matter of experience he had said.
"We have to move on," wheezed his Lei, when Kokata was done smearing lotion onto her. "We have to keep moving."
"Let's stay here another night and day," said Kokata, closing the large jar of lotion and putting it away. "You need to rest."
"I'll rest while you carry me," wheezed his Lei and again started coughing. "We can't stay in the same spot for more than a daytime at a time. We can't give them opportunity to plan a large scale attack."
"We haven't run into tracks for a very long time. Maybe we've lost them."
His Lei, now coughing too hard to talk, shook her head in denial.
"Move," she wheezed, in between two coughs. "On."
Kokata gave in and started packing.
Posted on literotica.com with permission of author: Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.