Moth Ch. 031byellynei©
Submitted to literotica.com by the author.
Zoa glanced at the young man kneeling next to her on the high branch. He was sweating, his eyes were wide, and he was breathing way too fast. She reached out and took his hand.
"You'll be fine," she whispered, and he turned his fear-filled eyes to her. "Just stay next to me," continued Zoa, squeezing his hand harder. "I'll guard you with my life. I promise. I'll get you through this alive, Vumanesco."
Around them other couriers were gathering on high branches, preparing for the final swift flight.
The young man squeezed back Zoa's hand, his breathing was evening out, and his eyes were calmer.
"That's a good man," whispered Zoa and let go of his hand.
Vumanesco didn't let go of hers.
"Zoa," he whispered. "Whatever happens today. I want you to know that I have no regrets."
"You won't have anything to regret," whispered Zoa, sternly. "We will fight, our weapons will soak as much blood as they need to, and we will survive."
"You're beautiful," whispered Vumanesco and, to Zoa's surprise, raised her hand to his lips, and kissed it. Then he released it and turned his eyes to the direction they would soon fly. "I will have no regrets," he whispered.
Why wasn't she home yet? Kokata paced and repaced the ledge circling their home. She was supposed to have been home this night. Now the sun had risen.
Where could she be? Why was she late? What if she didn't come home this night either.
His father in law had gone to bed, he had encouraged Kokata to do so too, whatever happened they'd be better of fighting it rested. Kokata couldn't sleep. He couldn't get how the man who claimed he was Lei's father could.
Kokata again glanced about, this time his eyes found something, and it wasn't Lei. A scream caught in his throat. His anguish wouldn't let it out.
Kokata slumped to the ledge, staring at he who shouldn't be there. His Lei wouldn't be home in time. Tomorrow would come without Lei. The termites would arrive and he would have to fight them. That was the only reason Death could have to watch his home.
Kokata spun and ran inside to where the man lay.
"Valo?" he called. "Valo?"
"What?" asked the man, going straight from sleep to alarm.
"Are you sick?" asked Kokata.
"What's going on?" asked the man.
"Are you unwell? Do you feel like you are dying?" asked Kokata.
"No, I'm fine."
"Batshit," exclaimed Kokata, and looked down his own body for signs of a possible hidden disease.
"Death is here," explained Kokata, looking around to see if the entity had come inside.
"Death? What are you rambling about, son?" The moth was looking at him as if he was mad.
"I saw him standing on a branch outside," said Kokata. "He only appears for the death of people. Someone is going to die here."
"You saw Death?"
"Yes," hissed Kokata. "Sometimes I see Death. He is a pale young man, about this tall," Kokata raised a legtip to indicate an average height, "and he only ever appears if someone is soon to die."
"Son, only seers can see Death," said the moth-man, in a calm voice. "Maybe you fell asleep and had a bad dream."
"I'm not a seer," snarled Kokata, "and I didn't nap. And I don't care whether you believe me or not. Go back to sleep."
He finally came back outside where it could see him. He was beautiful. Magnificent. He was so much more than it had imagined. It sighed happily and hugged the bark. He would complete it, and it would never be alone again.
Why did he look so worried? Should it approach him and tell him that he never needed worry again?
It was here and it would protect him. Forever and always.
"What are you doing here," he yelled, staring at something.
It followed his gaze and found Death. The pale young-looking man was standing on a branch, quietly returning his gaze, but he didn't answer his question.
What was Death doing here?
It certainly had no intention of killing. Not the beautiful man and not his friend. It had been relieved to see that the white moth with black stripes was really a man and not the woman the drawings had depicted.
It smiled now at the silly jealousy that had been tearing at it before. Of course it was a man. It should have known all along. Its beautiful man would not condescend to be with a moth-woman.
Together they would become complete.
He would make it a woman. It would become she.
It smiled and hugged the bark. They would be so happy together. They were perfect for each other.
But what was Death doing here? He had no business here.
Lei landed on a branch and covered her eyes with her palms. The daylight was giving her a headache. Everybody had had so many stories to tell her, and too many had waited till the last moment. Lei had delayed her departure from the village to the very last moment not to disappoint anyone, and she could have made it home in time, if not for the cursed headwind.
Copyright of Nanna Marker 2010.
She should have foreseen that she might have to travel against headwind all the way home. She should have left earlier.
The sun was well into the sky. Black had to be worried sick. Lei took her hands from her eyes, squinted hard against the light, and jumped off the branch. She wouldn't rest again until it was in his arms.
Luckily there wasn't too far to go.
Kokata was worried sick. Death was still on his branch, Lei wasn't home, and his father in law didn't look the least bit like someone who was about to drop dead.
Kokata was toying with the thought that maybe he, himself, was about to get a heart-attack. That would explain Death's presence. It certainly felt like his heart could explode any moment.
That would really be better than any of the alternatives.
If Kokata died, Lei could still come home before the termites arrived, and her father could help her flee.
There was no doubt that the man really was her father. He was the spitting image of her, except male, and older.
Kokata circled the ledge, averting his eyes not to look at Death.
That was his mistake. He didn't raise his eyes before he heard the 'zwoing' of released bow-strings and then it was too late. Kokata was staring into a swarm of arrows all headed for him.
Its heart stopped beating at the sight of flying termites aiming bows at its man. It had never known terror like this. It jumped, faster and farther than it ever had before. It saw the arrows release but it was faster.
It placed itself between the arrows and its man and screamed with triumph and pain as the arrows bit into its skin. It had hunched its head forward only offering skin and plate to the deadly rain.
Its man was staring up at it. Disbelief in his eyes.
"Flee," it hissed. "Hide."
A second rain struck the skin on its back- and legplates and it screamed with fury and pain.
"Flee," hissed back its beautiful man and jumped.
No longer needing to be a shield, it too jumped.
Its pain was barely a far off buzz. Its body was filling with joy. Spilling with joy.
After all this time they had finally met.
It landed and jumped again. Now it would show him how well it could protect him. Death would have a busy day.
Valo put an arrow to his bow. A day early. The termites were a day early. He aimed at a winged termite-woman who held a bow and was scouting about for something to shoot. She was so very young, barely more than a girl. He had never imagined their pursuers would be so young, nor so afraid.
Valo was aiming an arrow straight at her heart. A moment after he released she would be dead. He hesitated. They were just big kids. Big kids who thought they were chasing a monster. Big kids risking their lives to rescue others.
Valo swallowed. He had thought it would be easy to kill for Lei.
He altered his aim, if he shot her in the shoulder she wouldn't necessarily die from it, but she would be unable to fight on.
Valo released his arrow and, just as he did, the young woman shifted in the air, moving her chest to where her shoulder had been.
"No," screamed Valo, but it was too late.
Something bumped into Zoa and pushed her through the air.
"Hey," she yelled.
It was Vumanesco, he was hugging her tight.
"Hey, let go," yelled Zoa, furiously batting her wings to remain airborne.
"Ouch," whispered Vumanesco, still hugging her tight.
"Vumanesco, what are you doing?" yelled Zoa.
The young termite man's wings stopped beating and his hold on her was slipping. Zoa grabbed on to him for him not to fall to the ground. One of her termite arms struck against something that shouldn't be sticking out of Vumanesco's back.
"Vumanesco," she screamed, hugging him tight and flapping madly to fight gravity. They were losing altitude.
"It's allright," whispered Vumanesco. "I knew this would happen."
"Vumanesco," screamed Zoa, slowing her wings, saving her strength to that final stretch before the ground. "Don't give in. Stay with me."
"It's allright," whispered Vumanesco, it was a bubbly sound.
"Don't let go," insisted Zoa, his hold around her was loosening. "Stay with me."
The young man's eyes became vacant.
"You're just a big kid," wept Zoa. "Don't die on me."
"I see," whispered the young man.
The ground was near and Zoa flapped hard to slow them.
"Don't die," she wept. "I'll take care of you."
She landed and fought against Vumanesco's weight till she got him on his side.
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"Listen," whispered Vumanesco.
She bent over him to look at the arrow. It was deep and it was very close to the heart.
"The scars," whispered Vumanesco. "Look for the scars. We were..."
"Vumanesco?" Zoa leaned back to look at his face.
His eyes were open. A quiet stream of blood was dripping out of his mouth. He wasn't breathing.
Zoa took a hand to his neck, looking for a pulse, any sign of life. There was none.
"Vumanesco!" she screamed.
A swarm of flying termites had surrounded his home. Kokata was fighting and he wasn't alone. From inside his home, Lei's father was shooting out at the swarm, and here, out in the open, out in the rains of arrows, his new friend was evading arrows and catching termites.
His new friend was a spider, as fast and as black as himself.
She had saved his life by selflessly shielding him with her own body. Kokata blessed her with every breath he took. He didn't know where she had come from and he didn't care.
She had saved his life and now she was vehemently fighting the swarm.
Kokata jumped through the air, caught one of the termites, and cut his man arms open. Then he moved on. The termite could land and bandage his man-arms, or he could stay in the air and bleed to death. Either way, he couldn't use his bow any longer.
If Lei had been home, Kokata wouldn't have dared be merciful, but Lei wasn't home.
It jumped through the air and, in the passing, opened a termite's gut. It hoped he was watching. It hoped he saw how beautifully it could dance. Today he would fall in love.
Termite blood on its skin was mixing with the blood it had bled from arrow cuts and scrapes. He had seen it bleed for him.
It jumped and cut a wing of one termite, a head of another.
No one could be as happy as it.
Bodies falling, screams, fading and new, blood spurting.
Zoa spun in the air to locate the enemies. An arrow swished past her, if she hadn't spun it would have hit her. She flew behind a branch. The shooter was inside, shooting out.
"Shooter in the hive," she screamed, warning her comrades.
But where was the black spider?
She flew along the branch hiding herself from the hut, then flew up and instantly headed for a new shelter from the hive's line of sight.
"Shooter in the hive," she yelled.
She saw Keme flying straight at something black, and then the black was gone, and Keme was falling.
Zoa spurted after him, but even before she reached him, his wings regained control of the air and he landed on a branch.
There was a scream behind Zoa, she turned in time to see a young woman falling, her wings missing.
Zoa dove and flapped her wings to speed up her fall.
She caught the falling courier, and madly flapped against gravity and their speed. The ground was approaching at an alarming rate. The woman was screaming, and so was Zoa, but neither let go of the other.
Keme stared at his sword. It was bloody. He had managed to cut it. Not deep. Not lethally. But enough to get its blood. He had what they had come for.
Keme wanted more. He wanted to press his blade deep into the monster's throat.
Keme looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of black.
He saw it flying through the air with impossible speed and chop the head of a courier. Then it landed on a branch and was gone.
"Cursed," screamed Keme, searching air and branches for any sign of the spider.
His leg was throbbing where the spider had cut him. Somewhere inside a voice was telling him that he was bleeding too fast. That he would die if he didn't stop it. But it was just a whisper.
"Retreat," he heard a voice scream. "Reform on the ground. Reform on the ground."
"No," screamed Keme. "Kill it."
But his voice was drowned in a growing chorus of couriers screaming for retreat.
Keme saw Zoa. She was screaming retreat. She had landed on a branch and was picking up a courier who was either unconscious or dead.
He wanted to tell her to stay, to kill it, but, somewhere inside he knew that it was hopeless, it was too fast and they were too few.
The ghost's prophecy of what would happen if they attacked too early had not been altered by the interference. Keme forced himself to control his hate, forced himself to think.
"To the ground," yelled Keme and jumped off his branch. "Retreat to the ground."
Posted on literotica.com with permission of author: Nanna Marker; literotica ID ellynei.
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