Moth Ch. 011byellynei©
Written by Nanna Marker, a citizen of Denmark, born in 1976.
Lei was fast asleep long before Kokata was satisfied that her wings would be safe. No longer having an excuse to be near her, he withdrew to his nearest hiding-place.
He had never before told anyone about the beetles. It was a strange feeling: having talked about himself. He couldn't remember ever before having talked as much in one night. He was glad he hadn't gone into more detail, though. She didn't need to know exactly what it had been like. There was no need for him to tell her about the things the real kids, the beetle-kids, had thrown at him. No need to mention the name-calling.
Kokata rested his body on the branch and studied Lei.
Before she had arrived, he would study little things. Like leaves or flowers. He would pick a leaf and watch it for hours every day. Every living thing had thousands of details, tiny perfections and imperfections, and you'd never notice if you didn't watch far beyond the point where you'd think there was no more to see.
Before she had cocooned, watching her had been nice. In spite of her sadness, the scrawny moth had had such a lively way about her.
Watching her now was almost painful. In spite of the fluffy patches of silk on her back and wings, she was too beautiful. Kokata lay absolutely still and just watched. Her breathing was deep and slow. Her mouth was open.
Lei licked her lips in her sleep. Kokata smiled, it was such an endearing movement. He could almost imagine her dreaming about sweets.
After a while, her sleep seemed to become more shallow. She tugged her arms closer around herself, bend her legs and made a complaining sound.
A wind gusted through the branches, rustling every leaf, and Lei shivered. The night had become cold.
Kokata considered waking her and urging her to her hole but got a better idea.
Lei woke at noon from being too warm. She kept her eyes closed to the annoying daylight and pushed off her blanket. It was a wonderfully soft blanket, so instead of shoving it away she curled it into her arms, hugged it tight, and rested her head on it. Then she went back to sleep.
The sun was setting by the time Lei woke again. She felt great, she hadn't slept that well since leaving home. She stretched and rubbed herself against her soft blanket. Then opened her eyes to find herself hugging a thick, fluffy, white blanket. Lei blinked and caressed the unbelievably soft thing.
It was silk. It had to be Black's making.
She got up, folded the blanket into a neat little square, and looked around for Black. She couldn't see him anywhere. Maybe he was sleeping in his lair.
Lei hugged the folded blanket against her chest and cheeks. She hated to have to give it back. Her own blanket, handwoven from rough grass, wasn't soft at all, neither was the lizard hide. Thinking of it, she realised she hadn't touched anything that was really soft since leaving home. But, even at home she hadn't had anything as soft as this fluffy, silken, blanket.
Maybe she could make something from the surface silk of her cocoon, but that would be a tiny something. A used cocoon never had much usable silk on it. She hadn't thought to talk to Black about her cocoon before going to sleep, he might have thrown it out already.
If he had, Lei hoped she could keep herself from scolding him. She didn't want to repay kindness with sour soup a second time. Not that she feared another assault. Now that she knew it was all for show, she doubted he'd be able to scare her again.
If it wouldn't just be plain mean. She just might have scolded him again, for no other reason than to see his face when he realised he couldn't scare her. Lei grinned mischievously into the blanket and wished, just a little bit, that she were meaner than she was.
Lei jumped off the branch and flew down to her hole. She laid the blanket safely in a corner. If only she were dishonest, then she could keep the blanket in her hole and tell Black the wind had blown it away while she slept. Lei sighed. She had only just met it, but she already loved that blanket.
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
"Worth a fortune," muttered Lei. Even if she married a master-craftsman, she doubted she'd ever own something like that blanket. Black might have practically infinite silk, but she would not try to take advantage of him like the beetles had, nor cheat him.
She pushed the blanket out of her mind and started dragging her belongings out into the star-light. It was time to see how well everything had wintered.
The survey was a mood-killer.
Most of what she had made had wintered well, but the few losses there was were heartfelt. Trying to make herself everything she needed was an overwhelming task.
Like a good bow.
Lei's family, her former family - she now had none, were bow-makers. Lei knew everything there was to know about making bows. Since she was twelve, Lei had been an excellent bow-maker. As far back as she could remember, she had always had a good bow.
Now she had a bad bow. Actually it was worse than bad. It wasn't even useable for target practice. She avoided using it, not to forget how to use a real bow. An amateur might think the basic use of bows was the same, place an arrow, pull back the string, and let go.
Lei hah'ed at the imagined amateur, and decided that it was time to try to craft a circle-sharpener. She would need one of those to even think of making a crow-knife, and she needed one of those to even think of making a...
A good bow was made of no less than twenty-seven parts. To make a good bow of those twenty seven parts you needed eight specialised tools. She didn't even have the tools needed to make those tools. She didn't have the tools to craft the twenty-seven parts either.
The task was overwhelming.
If she were a beggar, she could have begged Black for a full-ball of spider-silk, then she could have sought out people and bought everything she needed, and more.
Lei put her belongings back in the hole and flew off to look for materials with which to make a circle-sharpener.
Kokata gazed after the moth till she was out of sight. He hated to see her go but trusted she would be back. She had, after all, packed most of her belongings neatly back into her hole.
Spring passed so quickly that Kokata sometimes found himself wondering if he had been cold, and if he had, how he could possibly have gotten so cold. But, really, it wasn't a fluke of cold nor speed of time: Spring flew past because he was too happy to stop and notice the passage of time.
Now that he was actually talking to her, and not merely allowing her to talk to him, Lei sought him out every single night. Several times of night even. They'd talk for hours. Kokata was amazed his throat wasn't worn out from passing so many words.
Lei even talked while working on her tool-making. Which was a good thing; Lei was rarely idle.
He hadn't talked so much in his life as he did that spring, hadn't talked so much, and had never before had a friend. Lei had called him his friend.
Kokata was almost sad the nights were getting warmer. On cold nights, Lei would wrap the white blanket about her; he loved to see her use it.
She had tried to give it back to him the night after he had first covered her in it. He had asked her what she thought he needed a blanket for, and had told her to throw it away. The look on her face when he had said that had been priceless. She had clutched the blanket tight and had glared at him, as if he had told her to throw away a bucketful of red-rocks.
She slept with it in day. On cold days she rolled herself into it, on warm days she slept on top of it. Kokata had on several occasions been so bold as to peek into her hole and check.
This had been the happiest spring of his life.
The first nights of summer were great too, but then Kokata got it into his head to tell a fairytale he had once overheard. In spite of his lack in skills as a narrator, the project was a success: Lei smiled and laughed.
Everything was perfect until he clumsily finished the tale and Lei started narrating another tale.
"Once upon a time there was a great hero," started Lei. "His name was Uvalanga and he lived in a forest far, far away."
Kokata felt as if all blood withdrew from his face and legs.
"Uvalanga was a termite, and none should hold that against him. He was a real man," continued Lei, waving her arms and voice with her words. She obviously had some practice telling stories.
"I'm bored with stories," said Kokata and jumped off Lei's branch.
"Hey," yelled Lei after him. "Where are you going?"
"I've got work to do too," snarled Kokata. "Webs don't build themselves you know."
"There's no reason to be so cranky about it," yelled Lei.
Kokata ignored her and started the work of cutting down his old web. It was just a bad excuse for escaping, the web wasn't in need of being replaced.
Written by Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.
Web-making was a soothing task. By the time he cut the last strand on the old web and watched it float away with the wind, Kokata felt much better. By the time he had made a skeleton triangle for a new web, he felt good.
"I'll just work here."
Lei's voice startled him and he glanced up at her. She had moved her workplace to the carrying branch for his new web.
"That way we can talk while you work," said Lei.
"How considerate," snarled Kokata. Lei didn't react to his tone and for once Kokata was sad that she had learned to ignore his tendency to snarl for no reason.
"It's a really good story, the one about Uvalanga," said Lei. "But very difficult to deliver just right."
"Don't bother for my sake," snarled Kokata.
"It's about time I practiced my storytelling skills anyway," said Lei. "You shouldn't let things like that rust."
"I don't see why not," snarled Kokata.
"Cranky-wort," teased Lei.
"Crybaby," retorted Kokata, automatically. But their imitation of childish interaction didn't make him feel like smiling as it usually would.
"Once upon a time there was a great hero," narrated Lei.
"Tell it to someone who cares," interrupted Kokata.
"His name was Uvalanga and he lived in a forest far, far away," continued Lei.
"Shut up," snarled Kokata.
"Don't be like that, Black. I sat through your story."
"That doesn't mean I have to listen to you babbling all night," snarled Kokata.
"Actually, it does," snapped Lei.
Kokata gritted his teeth and remained silent.
Lei went back to her storytelling. Obviously more interested in practicing her skills than in pleasing her audience.
Kokata turned his back to her while working his web and pretended she wasn't there. He hadn't webbed this brutely for years. The glue patches with which he melted strand to strand were large and clumpy, the angles of the masks were uneven and chaotic. The deeper Lei duck into the tale of Uvalanga, the worse was his mood. Until finally she reached THAT part of the story.
"... but deep in those swamps," narrated Lei with an ominously dramatic voice. "There lived a monster so vile that none had lived to tell of it. It was no normal monster at all. It was the foulest creature that had ever withered its way across this world, and its name was Kokata."
Kokata closed his eyes. His cheeks distorted with emotion to the point of hurting.
"It's stench was worse than that of a rotting corpse, was more foul than the worst fumes a swamp could ever produce, more..."
"SHUT UP," screamed Kokata, and leapt up his web to where Lei sat. "Shut up, you ugly piece of bat-food. You're a crossfucking cunt and I don't want to hear your stories."
"I'm not a..." shrieked Lei, jumping to her feet.
"You would be if you had had it your way," snarled Kokata and pointed a leg at her. "Or have you already forgotten your butterfly sweetheart who always did everything right?"
"Don't," said Lei, waving a hand dismissively at the air between them.
"Don't what?" snarled Kokata.
Lei narrowed her eyes but kept her mouth shut.
"Get your things off my branch," snarled Kokata. "I'm sick of you and your never-ending chit-chat. All night, every night, yack this, yack that."
"Fine," said Lei, and started gathering her things.
"Crossfucking slut," spat Kokata and jumped away to find a place to cry unseen.
Of course, once Kokata had wept out the immediate agony, he regretted his behaviour, but he wasn't one to say sorry. He didn't know how. No one had ever showed him. Well, that wasn't quite true. Lei had, she'd always find a way of letting him know she was sorry if she felt she had wronged him.
This time Lei hadn't wronged him a tenth the way he had her, and she seemed to be fully aware of it. She kept to her branches and her hole and didn't even glance his way.
Kokata did consider the option of simply jumping down there and say, 'I'm sorry. Now forgive me.' But he feared that would not suffice. When Lei snapped at him, she'd sometimes say, "I'm sorry", and then excuse by explaining why she had been upset.
If it could make her forgive him, he would gladly say, "I'm sorry." But he wouldn't explain why he had been upset. He wouldn't tell her why he hated that story. His name was one of those dirty details with which he wouldn't smudge her white ears.
He would have to find another way.
Lei was lonely. Three nights had passed since Black had called her a crossfucking slut. He hadn't sought her out, and she wouldn't be seeking him out. Not this time.
At least she had her work. And, when her work was done, she would have a good bow, as well as the tools to make more. Once she had a couple good bows to trade off, she could seek out people. No matter that she was lonely, she wouldn't seek out people empty-handed. They might take her for a beggar.
She had so far made four of the eight tools she needed for the bow-crafting itself, and most of the finer tools needed to craft the twenty-seven parts for a bow. This night she was working on a bowl. Bowls were tools too. At home she had used ceramic bowl's and had taken them for granted.
Beetle's made ceramic bowls in bulk and, as a sign of good will, added them for free to almost any trade. The beetle villagers her family had traded with had been good people, nothing like the ones Black had told her of.
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
Lei had no clue what clay was used for pottery and didn't know how to make, and heat, ovens either. Use of fire was a beetle-craft. Lei had to cut her bowls out of hard things, and cutting bowls out of hard things was... hard.
Lei's heart jumped with surprise at the sudden sound, and her knife slipped.
"Batshit," yelled Lei, and held her cut finger up for inspection. It wasn't as bad as she had feared. The cut was barely skin deep, but a single drop of blood was slowly growing out of it. She put it in her mouth not to bleed on her things.
"Did you cut yourself?" asked Black. He had moved from behind her to straight above her, his legs on both sides of her.
Lei nodded, the side of her finger still between her lips.
"Is it bad?" asked Black, concern in his voice.
Lei took the finger out of her mouth and looked at it. It had already stopped bleeding.
"No," she said, coldly.
"I didn't mean to startle you," said Black.
"What do you want," said Lei, moving her eyes from her finger to her unfinished bowl.
"I had a thought," said Black, sounding uncharacteristically timid, "that maybe one day you might need a fortune." He moved forward, his body passing above her head, his legs passing by on both sides of her. Once past her working place, Black turned and lowered himself to the branch. He put down four white balls at the very edge of her array of tools and materials.
"I was thinking that you could go back to Aribo forest and trade these off for a fortune," said Black.
Lei moved her eyes to the four full-balls of spider-silk thread.
"I'm not asking you to go back to Aribo," added Black, meekly. "It's just that if you ever need a fortune then you could go trade for it, and then you could return afterwards."
"I remembered you saying that four full-balls of spider-silk was worth a fortune there," said Black, quietly.
Water was filling up in Lei's eyes. She swallowed again and blinked rapidly not to burst into tears.
"I..." Black shifted uneasily. "I shouldn't have called you names, and I didn't mean the other things I said."
Lei swallowed again and moved her eyes to her hands, wishing her throat would untie so she could say something without starting to cry.
"I was hoping we could forget what I said," finished Black, and then he jumped off her branch.
"Wait," croaked Lei, and reached her hand after him, but he probably didn't hear. By the time she had cleared her throat to yell, he was out of yelling range.
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