Moth Ch. 026byellynei©
Copyright of Nanna Marker 2010.
"It's not time for a new report yet," said the worn man. "And we haven't raised flag for a courier."
"I've just come to say hi," said Keme, with a friendly smile plastered onto his face. "I've brought a flower."
"What do you want from her?" asked the worn man, obviously not fooled.
"I want to see how she is doing," said Keme, widening his friendly smile.
"It's not her fault that you were too late. It's your own. You left too soon."
"Why would I blame her? She is just a child." Keme plastered an innocent look on his face. "I'd much sooner thank her. She tried to help me."
"Don't send the pretty boy away," screamed Evelin's voice from inside her home. "I want to see the pretty boy." The door moved slightly against its hinges, Keme imagined small hands banging at it from the inside. "Don't send him away."
The screams were mere whispers after passing through the thick shutters of Evelin's home.
"You're upsetting her," said Keme, filling his voice with concern. "You really shouldn't do that. She is so rarely happy."
"Let him in," screamed Evelin. "I want to see him."
"If you harm her in any way," said the worn man, "then the Emperor will have your hide. One tiny piece at a time."
"I'd never dream of hurting her," said Keme, plastering an appalled look onto his face.
"We're coming in, Evelin," said the worn man quietly, and approached the door. His voice could not have travelled through neither the shutters, nor the thick door, but the child stopped screaming and the door stopped moving.
They stepped inside and Keme put on a really wide smile when he spotted Evelin.
"I'm wearing a blue dress today," said the girl, proudly holding the skirt of it out to both sides.
"What a coincidence," said Keme, and knelt holding out the flower. "I've got a blue flower for you."
"One tiny piece at a time," reminded the worn man quietly, keeping himself just behind Keme.
The girl came forward and accepted the flower.
"You're not pretty anymore," she accused.
"Oh, but I was very pretty, wasn't I?" said Keme with a wide smile. His appearance hadn't changed since last, but he understood, as he hadn't at their first meeting, that his prettiness hadn't been a matter of appearance.
"Very pretty," agreed Evelin and giggled happily.
"Give me a hug," offered Keme and held out his arms.
The little girl ran into him and threw her arms about his neck.
"That's a good girl," said Keme, hugging the child. His one hand went to the back of her head, but he resisted the urge to break her neck.
His restraint wasn't for the sake of the worn man's knife, although the tip of that was rather annoying, pressing against the tender skin between two of Keme's backplates as it was.
Keme needed the child. He and Zoa had sought out four seers in Altwar. All had been tortured to death before they arrived. The monster, it seemed, was always a few days ahead of them.
"I've brought some pretty drawings for you to look at," said Keme, slowly releasing the child.
Evelin merely giggled, but she stayed by his side.
Keme took out the map and rolled it out on the floor.
"Toot-toot's maps are prettier than yours," said the girl.
Keme had no humour in his heart to appreciate the unfitting nickname for the somber worn man, but smiled merrily at Evelin.
"Altwar," said Evelin, holding a hand over the map, her eyes went vacant. "Aaaltwar."
"Don't let her near a map before you're ready to ask your questions," said the worn man and pulled Evelin's hand away from the map. "She sees too much."
The child was rocking in a trance of the sight.
"What do you see?" asked Keme.
The girl opened her mouth and laughed madly
"Specify your question, fool," said the worn man. "She sees too much, it's tearing her mind apart."
"The spider," said Keme. "Can you see the spider."
"Spiders like to eat," said the girl and licked her lips. "The juice of life right out of the prey. Still living, still warm. I see many spiders."
"The black spider," said Keme. "The one that scared me."
The girl stopped rocking and her eyes cleared.
"He sleeps," she said, in a motherly voice. "He rests and dreams of his woman."
The girl sighed dreamily.
"Death thinks he is beautiful."
The girl's face changed, terror entered her eyes.
"Sought," she whispered. "It seeks."
The girl writhed within the worn man's arms.
"Death was watching. They begged for him to take them, they pleaded for his touch." The girl engaged on a series of horrified screams.
Keme eyed her coldly. There was no point in putting up an act of concern. The worn man wasn't fooled, and Evelin saw whatever she wanted.
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
The child stopped screaming and started cramping.
"Don't let them in," ordered the worn man. "Don't let them in Evelin."
The girl's cramps ceased and she took a deep breath.
"I lied to it," said Evelin, and raised her face to Keme. Her voice was that of an old woman. Her eyes were narrow with hate. "I knew it was coming. I knew what it would do to me, but I lied to it."
"Get out of her," ordered the worn man, and pulled Evelin's hair.
"Fool," hissed the old woman's voice from Evelin's mouth. "The child let me in by her own choice. Only she can evict me."
The worn man released the child and got up.
"Speak your words and leave, I will drown her before I let you live in her body," he said.
"Death was there even before it arrived," said the old woman in Evelin's body, focusing the child's eyes on Keme. "His eyes were apologetic and I knew my departure would be slow and painful. Not even I could imagine how bad the pain would be. Long before it was over, I pleaded with Death, I begged him, but he just looked at me. He refused me."
"Get to the point," ordered the worn man. "Time is passing."
"I know," said the old woman. "Time is so strange when you are dead, but I know it passes."
"The point," screamed the worn man, pulling a time-glass from a shelf. With shaking hands he put it on the table. And turned it.
"Time," stated the old woman, staring at the fine dust running through the glass from top to bottom. "There is time." The woman in the child turned back to Keme. "When Death finally touched me, I refused to go with him. I would not be his after what he had let me go through. So now I am here."
"Get to the point," said Keme, coldly. He hadn't come to hear a ghost tell the tale of her own demise.
"Yes, the point," said the woman. "I was tortured to death by the monster that tortured your father to death, the monster that murdered your family."
"I will kill it," hissed Keme, leaning forward to the woman.
"No you won't," said the woman, and snorted with the child's nose. "But if you play it right, you will help the woman to kill it with her bow."
"That works fine for me too," said Keme, plastering a friendly smile upon his face. "So, where do I find it."
"It seeks," said the old woman, when she said it, it sounded far more commonsensical than when Evelin had. "It travels from seer to seer searching for knowledge of where to find. Some of them doesn't know, some of them lie and send it astray for days."
"Get to the point," ordered the worn man. "Time is passing."
The ghost glanced at the time-glass.
"My quarrel is not with the seer Evelin. I wish her no harm," she said, and turned her eyes back to Keme. "And neither should you, boy. She would have saved your family if she could. You have no idea how much she suffers to rescue others."
"Get to the point," said Keme.
"I cannot see everywhere it goes, nor when it will be there," said the ghost. "I will send you to its final destination. I will send you to that which it seeks." The ghost pulled the map of Altwar to her.
"You must not arrive a day too early," warned the ghost. "If you do, Death will feast on young couriers, and the monster will live to see another day."
"Tell me where and tell me when, ghost," said Keme, sounding friendlier than ever.
"Here," pointed the ghost.
She explained in great detail how to find the exact place. Then she explained when he should arrive, and three times repeated how early he mustn't be and how late he shouldn't be.
"Your time is up," yelled the worn man. The hour glass had emptied into its bottom. "Evelin, evict her."
"Wait!" objected the ghost, suddenly frantic. "Keme, the monster it..." Evelin's body shuddered.
"Wait," pleaded the ghost. "Keme, you can recognise the monster by..."
"Evelin, Evict her," ordered the worn man, there was panic in his voice. "Now!"
And just like that, the ghost was gone.
"Did the old woman tell you what you needed to know?" asked Evelin, and picked her blue flower up from the floor.
"She did," said Keme.
"She says she want to tell you how to recognise the monster," said Evelin, sounding like a woman, but sounding like herself. "She is very loud. Should I let her back in?"
"No," ordered the worn man.
"Should I, Keme?" asked Evelin.
"There's no need to," said Keme, friendly smile plastered to his face. "I know how to recognise the monster."
"I will tell Death where to find her then," said Evelin, with a motherly voice. "She needs her rest."
"You do that," agreed Keme and started rolling his map of Altwar.
"You were such a pretty boy," said Evelin, once again an insane little girl.
Evelin started humming. The worn man picked her up into his arms and took some steps away from Keme.
Keme ignored the both of them. As satisfying as breaking the girl's neck might be, she was not the one he was after, and seeing as she was under the emperor's protection, murdering her could get in the way of his plans.
The girl leaned her head back and stared absently at the ceiling.
"There's a man at a deep hole," she said. "He is going to fall into it."
"When?" asked the worn man gently.
"Now," said Evelin and sobbed.
"Can he be saved?" asked the worn man.
"He broke his neck," wept Evelin. "He was such a nice man. Why did he have to die?"
The worn man didn't reply.
Posted on literotica.com with permission of author: Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.