Moth Ch. 004byellynei©
Written by Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.
"We're here," said Lei, released the rope, and let it fall to the ground.
They had been there a while, but she had decided not to declare it until the forest's edge was out of sight.
"Altwar," she clarified.
Exhausted she sank to her knees.
"What now, Oli?"
There was no reply, only that horrible stench. She had lost count of how many nights had passed since he died.
Lei curled into a tight ball and covered herself with her ragged wings.
"What do we do now?" she whispered and closed her eyes.
Since Oli had died she hadn't thought further than to get him to Altwar. Having arrived she was emptied of whatever insane power had enabled her to drag his corpse that far.
If anything, her and Oli's venture had taught her that life was not fair. They had both suffered the plague and they had both survived to travel onward. When their last boils had dried out and fallen off with hardly a threat of scars, their success had seemed certain.
In spite of how weak they had felt after the illness, they had laughed and sung. Good spirit had been their unspoken travelling companion. The cold Oli had conceived a few days later hadn't dampened their mood. They had laughed at it. After surviving the plague itself, who could anything but laugh at a common cold?
Lei would never laugh at a cold again. Having had a rotting corpse as only companion for so long she doubted she would ever again laugh at all.
The forest bed was not a place to sleep, but Lei was too exhausted to realise she was nodding off.
As it was, the stench of Oli's decay saved Lei's life. The bugs that would notice a delicious moth sleeping on the forest bed were far more attracted by the closeby rotting butterfly. While Lei slept, a battle between ants and a beetle-beast took place next to her. Eventually, the ants received reinforcements and the beetle-beast lost more than his prize.
Lei was woken by a horrifying wail. Even as she jumped to her feet, she recognised the sound to be a beast's scream of death. Protectively she spun to Oli's corpse and froze with fear at the sight of forest ants.
Since Oli had died, she had fought off several scavenging beetle-beasts. Ants were different. Ants knew no fear and ants fought in flock. What ants lacked in intelligence they made up for in numbers and perseverence.
The beasts were meticulously cutting Oli and a large beetle-beast to transportable pieces.
Lei couldn't move. If she were a larvae that would be the right thing to do. Just be still and hope the beasts wouldn't notice her, but when an ant approached her, her body remembered that she had wings and Lei took off with a scream of horror and grief.
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
Travelling with Oli, she had learned to fly in blinding daylight. In the open land between forests one didn't need much sight to avoid obstacles. Squinting her eyes against the light of day, Lei bashed through the unfamiliar Altwar forest. Her wings were torn in many places from the hardships she and Oli had faced, before and after his death.
A sensible moth would have landed up high and awaited night. But sense was no friend of Lei's as she tried to flee a far too fresh memory of busy ant jaws. Faster and faster she flew. Her exhaustion as defeated as her mind by that too recent sight.
As she had been raised to, she flew high in the trees where branches and leaves were dense. She could only just see well enough to dodge them.
If she hadn't been half mad by then, she would have known better. As it was, she collided head on with a web. The web was fresh: still perfectly elastic and unbelievably sticky.
For the second time that day, Lei froze with fear. Her sanity returned, rendering her mercilessly sharp.
Spiders were natural enemies of moth-beasts, but rarely devoured actual moths. Mostly because moths had wit and knew to watch for webs.
Lei kept absolutely still. Sometimes a spider would be lazy and wouldn't bother to instantly remove a stray leaf from its web. If she lay absolutely still, the beast would think her to be merely a leaf. That was the theory at least. Lei had never before been so stupid as to fly into a web. Vibrations in the web was how a spider told prey from debris.
The wind caught in her wings pushing her and the web with her backwards. Lei swallowed, pushing her fear down into her stomach freeing her throat for breathing. Her front and the fronts of both her wings were stuck to the web. She was trying to remember what she had been told of breaking free of webs. It had been so long ago.
The first instructions had been don'ts.
"Don't get into a web in the first place," had been the most imperative.
Her one arm was only stuck at one point near her wrist. She tugged it free, shoved it through one of the net's masks and made a move for Oli's knife, which she had worn on her upper thigh since his death. She couldn't reach it.
Vibrations. There were vibrations in the net and she wasn't the one causing them. The spider was approaching.
She pulled her free arm back up, shoved it through another mask, and fumbled for the knife. She could almost reach it. She bent her body against the web, stretching it, and finally got hold of the knife's handle. She pulled it free and wildly started carving at a strand of the web.
The web vibrated more fiercely. The spider had sped up. Lei screamed when it reached her. Spinning her head, eyes widened in spite of the light, she saw black spider legs on all sides of her. The spider's body had to be at least as large as hers to have legs long enough to span her wings without touching them, but Lei couldn't twist her neck enough to look; it was straight behind her.
"How dare you cut my web," snarled the creature.
Lei's eyes widened even further and she again went absolutely still, staring away from the monster. It was a man's voice.
"I'm sorry," she squeezed out through terror numb lips. "I thought you were a spider.
"I am a spider," snarled the man's voice.
"I..." stuttered Lei. "I meant I though... thought you were a spider-beast."
Where she was from, spider-beasts were called spiders. The mere thought of a spider with the mind and body of a man was nauseating. She had heard stories of such abominations, but never imagined to meet something so vile.
Copyright of Nanna Marker 2010.
"Let go of the knife," ordered the creature.
"I... I need it," protested Lei. "It's my only knife."
"You," said the creature, from behind Lei pressing one of its hard limbs against the base of her neck, "need to let go of it."
Lei closed her eyes against the painful light of day and let the knife drop.
"What a waste of a perfectly good web," complained the spider running the tip of his limb down Lei's back. "All skin and bones and dry, dusty wings."
"Please don't eat me," pleaded Lei.
"Eat you." The spider sounded offended. "There's nothing to eat. You look like you haven't eaten all summer. I doubt there's even enough blood in you to wet my tongue."
Lei let her head sag in resignation. After what she had been through, being taunted and killed by an abomination seemed a natural end.
"You are pathetic," said the spider. "I ought to cut off your wings and let you fall for ruining my web."
The spider pulled one of Lei's legs free of the web. Lei did her best not to imagine how much it would hurt if he pulled it off her, did her best not to imagine what it would be like to listen to the sounds of her own leg being munched down. The spider pulled her other leg free, still holding the first up and away from the web. Then there was a ripping sound and the spider released both her legs.
Lei shrieked with surprise when her legs fell through where the web had been and dangled freely.
"Don't piss yourself, Scrawny," said the spider, accompanied by ripping sounds.
Lei had only time to realise the spider was cutting the web around her, before she was in free fall, disconnected web still clinging to her front and wings.
She flapped her wings to stop the fall. They didn't move right. Elastic web still connected them across her front. In her desperate attempt not to fall to the ground, she flew straight into the trunk of a tree. From there she fell straight down a few bodylengths and landed hard on a thick branch. And there she remained.