Moth Ch. 040byellynei©
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
Couriers coming to the major city Dewgold were supposed to land in the courtyards of the courier centers. Zoa was perfectly aware of this, yet she led her twenty couriers to the main military center's courtyard.
This day she wore her medal outside her shirt for anyone to see.
A wide leather strap over her shoulder carried a heavy glass box against her hip, proudly presenting a gold sheet. Against her other hip rested the top of her sheathed bow.
No sooner had she and her entourage landed, than a guardsman ran toward them yelling that this was no courier courtyard.
"Here we go," whispered Zoa to her closest companion, one of the veterans from the first encounter with the monster.
Then Zoa moved one hand protectively to the glass-box, and raised her other toward the approaching guard.
"I am Zoa," she spoke with command, as if expecting the guard to recognise her name.
The guard halted, eyeing her. Zoa allowed the glass-box to shift slightly against her hip, and for a moment the gold-sheet in it reflected sunlight into the guards face, catching his attention.
"What's that you got there?" asked the guard, approaching and raising his hands as if intending to take the box for inspection.
As one, Zoa's veterans pulled and raised their bows.
"This is not for your hands," commanded Zoa, her protective hand still on the box.
The guard, faced with armed bows, had frozen mid-step.
"Tell General Hopez that Zoa has come to show him a sheet depicting combat against spiders," demanded Zoa, tapping her fingers against the glass-box. "I will await his invitation."
The guard swallowed.
"Go," commanded Zoa, as if she, a mere courier, had the authority to command guards.
The guard turned and ran off.
Zoa's veteran's lowered their bows and requivered their arrows.
"Are you sure this won't earn you a few months in a cell, Zoa?" whispered the closest one.
"I'll bet you a month of laundrying that someone will return with an invitation to see General Hopez," whispered Zoa back.
"That's easy for you to say," whispered back the veteran. "In a prison cell, there's no tub for you to do my laundry."
Zoa made sure to only smile on the inside. They were being watched. She had to look solemn and important. She shifted every few moments, allowing her medal and gold sheet to reflect the sunlight, for anyone watching to see.
Instead of melting her gold, the librarian had decided to keep it as security. He had used one of the library's blank gold sheets for the copy, which she now carried in a glass box. The librarian had refused to keep her medal, though. The Emperor himself had placed it around her neck, and that was where it belonged.
"This way," he had said, "you can truthfully claim that the sheet is from the Emperor's library."
Where the Emperor's stamp was carved into the upper right corner on gold sheets laying on the library's shelves, Zoa's sheet was marked with a circled cross. A mark that destined the copy for remelting. Someone who had actually been inside the Emperor's library would know the difference. But, it was unlikely that Zoa should come across such a someone in the military centers of the city Dewgold.
It didn't take long before a guard came to invite 'only Zoa' to see the general.
Zoa, with a single command, sent her couriers away into the air, and told the guard to lead the way, constantly keeping a hand on her box to let anyone watching believe it's content to be of extreme value.
In the outer foyer, Zoa was told to leave her bow and arrows. Coldly she eyed the guard, as if she were considering to refuse.
"Well?" asked the guard.
"I'd rather not be unarmed while carrying this," said Zoa, tapping her glass-box.
The guard turned his eyes to the box, with a quizzical look on his face. It seemed he had trouble finding a connection.
"Are you any good with your sword?" asked Zoa.
"Of course," snarled the guard.
"Good," said Zoa, took off her bow and quiver, and left them against the wall. "If anything happens to me, you will guard the content of this box with your life."
She didn't bother to check if the dense guardsman had caught her drift. Maybe she was taking the charade a bit too far.
"Take me to General Hopez," she demanded.
Hopez was sipping a mug of water when the young courier-woman was led into his office.
"So you are Zoa," he commented.
"Yes, Sir," said the young woman, and with no further words of introduction walked to his desk and placed her glass-box on it. "I have come to kill a spider."
"I thought you had been sent to advice us on how to kill spiders," said Hopez, cooly. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw that his scribe, old man Mekel, had left his seat and was sneaking toward the table.
The young woman had seen it too and, holding a protective hand on the box, glared menacingly at the scribe.
"Please," said old man Mekel, his voice quivering with age and something else, "I just want to see it."
The young woman wordlessly pulled the box a handwidth further from the old man, and Mekel's lips quivered slightly, as if he was on the verge of crying.
"I was told there was something you wanted to show me," said Hopez, interrupting the pantomime.
"Yes, Sir," said the young woman, and pushed the box across the table to Hopez. "You may touch the glass," she instructed, "but you may not touch the gold."
Hopez bent over the box and looked at the golden sheet inside it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw old man Mekel circling the table till he was standing right next to him.
"What am I looking at," asked Hopez, moving his eyes across the carved drawing.
Copyright of Nanna Marker 2010.
"It's a sheet of pure gold," said old man Mekel, his voice quivering with age and excitement. "It really is made of gold."
"It is a depiction of a battle that took place more than four-hundred years ago," said the young courier woman, circling around the other side of the table, till she stood on Hopez's other side.
"I never thought I'd get to see one," whispered old man Mekel, reaching a hand toward the glass box but withdrew it sooner than it arrived. "Look, there is the names of the librarians that filed it." The old man pointed toward the bottom of the sheet where something was scribbled with tiny letters.
"Eight names," continued Mekel. "One for the carver himself, and seven who checked the rendition was correct."
Zoa swallowed and struggled not to look nervous. That scribe knew way too much about the gold sheets in the Emperor's library. The moment he pointed out the circled cross she'd have a hard time answering for herself.
"It's a gold sheet from the Emperor's library," said old man Mekel, and sighed happily.
Hopez glanced up at his old scribe in time to see the man's face change from elation to concerned bewilderment.
"But what is it doing here?" asked the old man, turning his eyes to Hopez. "Those sheets are not meant to leave the Emperor's library, General Hopez."
"I brought this sheet here so the general could see with his own eyes how to fight a spider," said the young woman, on Hopez's right.
"But..." began the old man, on Hopez's left, and was interrupted.
"I assure you," insisted the young woman. "I bring it here with the library's full permission."
"But..." began the old man again.
"Have you ever faced a spider?" interrupted the young woman.
"Of course not," quivered old man Mekel's voice.
"I have," snarled the young woman, over Hopez's head. "The things are faster than arrows. Their armour is harder than blades can cut. This thing we are chasing is as dangerous as a plague. The Emperor's librarian understood that as much as anyone who hasn't fought it can ever..."
"Enough," snapped Hopez, turning to the young woman. "You are making my ears hu..."
Just in front of his eyes dangled a heavy gold medal. Hopez reached out a hand, took hold of it, and held it still.
"Outstanding courage," he whispered, and turned the medal to see it's backside. A name was carved into it:
Hopez realised that he, while inspecting the medal, was actually touching a young woman's chest, and withdrew his hand. He cleared his throat, but in all honesty he was too impressed to feel embarrassed.
"The Emperor himself put that around your neck?" he asked.
"Yes, Sir," said the young woman, solemnly.
"I don't suppose you have time spare to tell me how you earned such an award?" asked Hopez looking up at her face.
"Wake up, Lei."
"Go away," whined Lei. "I'm tired."
"It's time to eat," insisted the voice.
"I'm not hungry," complained Lei, she was nauseous.
"Redrock is hungry," said the voice, and Lei was lifted upright.
The movement made her nausea worse.
"Then let Redrock eat," complained Lei. "I don't want to."
"You have to eat," insisted the voice.
Lei opened her eyes and found herself looking into a beetle-black face.
"Who are you?" asked Lei, then again closed her eyes. She was dizzy and nauseous and so very, very, tired.
"It's me. Black," sounded the voice.
It sounded very far off. Lei drifted back asleep.
"Wake up," insisted the voice.
Something was shaking her.
"Go away," complained Lei.
The voice refused to go away, and, eventually, Lei gave in and opened her mouth to offered food.
"I don't like meat," she complained, but chewed it anyway.
After she had eaten some mouthfuls the voice finally let her go back to sleep.
Kokata was shaking. His Lei's fever had been getting worse lately, but this was the first time she hadn't recognised him.
"I'll get you to a healer," he whispered.
His Lei didn't wake.
He moved a legtip to her belly, inside it their baby was moving about. Kokata had lost track of the full moons, but spring was arriving and Lei's belly was huge. There couldn't be too long to go. Kokata had to find a healer before then, he feared Lei was too sick to give birth.
"Don't come out yet, Redrock," he begged, caressing his woman's belly. "Your mommy is very sick. We're not ready. So, you just make sure to stay where you are till she is a little stronger."
Still sleeping, Lei vomited out the food he had just made her eat. Kokata turned her on her side and pointed her mouth down for her not to choke on it. He wiped away the vomit and, fearing the worst, glanced about.
Death was nowhere to be seen.
"You'll be allright," whispered Kokata to his sleeping woman. He'd wait a little bit before making her eat again. Next time he would try with just one mouthful.
Posted on literotica.com with permission of author: Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.