Fabled Lake Stink

By Dark Bishop

(Moth-er fucker Part 3)

Somehow, things had gone well. Having faced real danger inside that accursed cave, I was relieved to see that there appeared to be no more of those “Illuminati” around the area just outside. However, it was getting far too late and dawn was upon us. Now, some types of moths enjoy flying around in the daytime, but to be honest that just pisses me off. Besides, since I really didn’t know where to go next, I said the only thing that made sense at that moment.

‘All right, I think we better rest for now! There’s some tall grass over there, we should crash for the day. What do you think, Clara?’

‘Good idea! I really hate flying under the sun,’ she said.

We had something in common! I felt happy for a brief instant before realizing how childish that thought was.

‘Flick enjoys the sun, though!’ said Glick.

‘Nobody gives a shit about Flick!’ I yelled.

‘So mean, boss Bhla! But we have a bright idea! We’ll patrol the area for you! Don’t you and Clara worry about nothing!’ said Flick and Glick at the same time.

I couldn’t believe my luck. This was amazing! I could get to be alone with Clara. Besides the fact that it was exciting, not to mention potentially romantic, I really needed to ask her some questions about what had happened. A few minutes later, she and I were well hidden in the tall grass. I was nervous to be at her side, but I had to focus on the issue at hand.

‘So Clara, please tell me from the beginning. What in the world is going on? Are you a part of their royalty or not? Why else would that Lucius be after you?’

‘I guess I better be honest with you now… but you probably won’t understand. How much do you know about light?’ Clara asked.

‘Well, we moths are really drawn to it. It’s pretty, but dangerous. We all are taught that of course. Hum, that’s about it I guess.’

She laughed in a cute way that would’ve charmed me under different circumstances, but at that time it just managed to irritate me.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘You really are in the dark! Light is everything in a firefly’s life. It’s how we communicate, how we guide each other, and unfortunately, how we’re classified in our society as well,’ she replied.

‘Okay, I guess that makes sense for y’all. But so what? Moths also have social distinctions. We don’t all get the same shit, literally. Our greedy king has all this fresh manure, fruits and female moths at his disposal, unlike most of us,’ I said.

‘You don’t get it. A firefly has very different rights within our realm. That depends on your lineage yes, but most importantly on the hue of light you can emit. If you don’t glow a certain way, some fireflies won’t even talk to you. You have access to fewer places. Royal fireflies, as well as those who have the special glow, don’t have to work; all they do is bask in the glory of what they call the “Radiant Society”, an elite group that owns a special area within Lake Stink where a beautiful aura engulfs it all. That is where the best places to eat are located, as well as the hottest light pubs, the flashiest entertainment centers, you name it. Basically, if you don’t belong to the Radiant Society you are a lesser being, and you’re treated cruelly,’ Clara said, looking upset.

‘Well… you know, you glow beautifully to me!’ I said, and regretted it immediately.

‘Yeah well, it won’t matter what an ignorant moth like you says. And that’s not even the real problem,’ she said.

Damn it, too soon you idiot! I thought.

‘O-okay but then? Are you a part of that Radiant Society? I don’t get it. Why would you leave such a gorgeous place?’ I asked.

‘Were you not paying attention?! That elite society thing is idiotic! So many poor fireflies are worked to death, beaten, and sometimes eaten by these bastards! Only because of the way they look! And I was definitely NOT a part of them! But my mother tried something stupid in order to make us belong. She committed a sin against them and now she’s dead! And she’s dragged me into it!’ she said.

‘Oh crap, I’m so sorry to hear that! I had no idea, you have to believe me! But honestly, what could be so bad that she was…? Wait a second, did you say sometimes some fireflies were eaten?’ I shivered.

‘Bhla, Bhla, big bro Bhla!!’ a familiar buzz came from outside the grass.

‘Illuminati patrols are getting close to us! They can smell sister… I mean, Lady Clara!’

‘What the fuck, guys?! I thought you said you knew the Pass Signal!’ I yelled. I realized then that I had no idea what the damn “Pass Signal” was supposed to do.

‘Yes, yes! We’ve used it! They’re not hostile right now, but they’ll come in and question us anyways! They think she’s close!’ said Glick.

‘And they’re right. We may not get off lightly, Glick!’ said Flick.

‘Lady Clara and you must get away! But fly low, that way!’ they both said.

Well, I’ll be damned! Flick and Glick had actually come in handy.

‘Okay guys, thanks! Look! Meet us later by those rotten tree roots! Maybe they won’t be able to smell her there,’ I said.

‘How do you know we can trust them?! They were after me just minutes ago!’ said Clara.

‘We’ll have to risk it. I saved their sorry asses! Let’s hope that counts!’ I replied.

Clara and I scurried away from the grass. In the distance, we could see Flick and Glick talking to more of their group, who were probably also called Flick and Glick, or perhaps Dick.

‘Let’s pray this rot actually hides your perfume, sweetheart! How can they even tell you apart from other females? Are you that famous?’ I told Clara.

‘Not the time to explain!’ she replied.

We stayed low and quiet, and I got to thinking. So Clara’s mom had messed up real bad. She was dead. Now these crazy fireflies probably wanted to kill Clara as well. Fuck! I had thought the problem was only some kind of prearranged marriage and that I could just talk sense into this Lucius, or maybe even slap him away (he was probably small like the rest of the fireflies I had seen so far); but now, it turned out that these sons of bitches were cannibals, murderers and whatnot. This was not good. I could fight some of them off for sure, but thousands or even more? What the hell was I supposed to do now? How did I allow myself into this mess?! I could hear mom telling me from day one, “Bhla, do NOT follow strange lights, they will lead to trouble.” I guessed she was right.

‘You know Bhla, I really don’t want to go back, but…’ Clara whispered to me.

‘I got you! I’ll think of something I promise!’ I said with an unconvincing tone.

But then she pressed her small body to me, and this gave me some courage, changing my train of thoughts. This was actually kind of exciting, right? Having a cute girl with me, befriending other bugs, running away, hiding and shit… Wasn’t this the kind of adventure I craved when I left home? I could do this. But we were going to need help. I thought of going back home and asking for a place to hide, but Clara would draw too much attention with the other moths. The last thing I needed was that asshole King Jake wanting to make Clara his new girlfriend. Maybe just lie low until they grew tired of searching for her?

Soon, our two annoying friends came meet us. It seemed like they had succeeded sending the others away.

‘Lucius ain’t playing! He’s sent all of the Illuminati looking for her! We told ‘em Clara went the other way and Captain Klick had gone looking ahead!’ they said.

‘It looks like I underestimated you guys! That was brilliant indeed!’ I said.

All of the Illuminati,’ said Clara, mostly to herself.

‘Aren’t we a ray of hope?’ said Flick, or perhaps Glick who knows.

‘Yeah, yeah. Listen, we need to disappear until they get tired of looking. I mean, Prince Lucius must have better things to do than pursuing one lone firefly, surely?’ I asked.

‘No Bhla, he won’t stop. That’s what I wanted to tell you an instant ago. I’ve realized now that he’ll just keep sending his Illuminati bastards over and over. No offense to you guys, of course,’ said Clara.

Flick and Glick looked confused, but mercifully remained quiet.

‘How can you be so sure? Why are you so important? After all, it was your mom who actually sinned against them, not you,’ I said.

‘Mom acted rashly and made a mistake. But I understand why she did what she did. I was so scared that I ran away at first, but now I see that I must stand up to them. Otherwise more innocent insects will continue to suffer under the tyrants of the Radiant Society. And we might just have a chance now.’

‘What do you mean now?’ I asked.

‘Flick and Glick, can you use your signal codes to get us back into Lake Stink and the mangroves?’ asked Clara.

‘Oh! Yes, lady Clara!’ Flick and Glick’s faces (and asses) lit up at this.

‘We need to go then. To Lake Stink!’ she added.

‘Whoa, whoa, are you sure? What made you change your mind like that? Maybe we should stay low for a while!’ I didn’t want to sound like a coward, but I couldn’t help it.

‘If all of the Illuminati are out looking for me, it means they must have left the Divine Shrine almost unguarded!’ Clara explained.

‘Sister… Lady Clara! Glick’s light has no clearance for the Divine Shrine within the Radiant Society though!’ said Flick nervously.

‘And Flick’s signal’s also too dim for that!’ said Glick.

‘We… we’re not going to the Shrine just yet,’ said Clara, looking embarrassed.

‘What Divine Shrine? And where are we going then?’ I asked. I was starting to feel annoyed because I had no idea what I had signed up for.

‘To the Red Light District,’ Clara said, and then sighed.

‘Are you sure? I mean, I think I’d rather see that after we-‘

‘Shut up! We need help from the fireflies there!’ Clara explained.

But suddenly Flick and Glick were flying in front of us in disapproval.

‘Lady Clara, we can’t agree to that! You’re too pure for the Red Light District! We’ve seen what happens there! Too shady and dirty!’ they buzzed aloud.

Clara didn’t seem happy with their reaction and started to shut them up. It was then that I noticed that her light had suffered a change – she was glowing with a pinkish hue I had not seen before. Was she blushing? Was she a Lady, but somehow related to that area of questionable reputation? I wondered what in the world she was hiding from me.

——————-

Lake Stink, an impressive body of water located deep within the warm forest. For a long time, this magnificent area had been a secret haven for many creatures – fish, reptiles, birds, and, of course, insects. Recent events however had changed this place forever, giving it a peculiar smell that lingered around its waters. While most of the inhabitants of the lake had either perished or fled, the all but supernatural resilience of bugs had given them an edge, and they had claimed the lake mostly to themselves. True, some areas within the lake were no longer apt for life to thrive on, but other sections had been preserved by a combination of strong vegetation and other natural barriers. At the center of the lake, well beyond its shores, there was a rather magnificent group of mangroves.

Their sheer size alone would have been enough to impress, but the mangroves were also unique thanks to the small beings within their branches and roots. The elegant gleam that bloomed from within would have undoubtedly dazzled any witnesses. But no other section of the mangroves was more spectacular than the top branches of the tallest tree. A powerful, almost spiritual aura seemed to emanate from them. It was right there, under a particularly large leaf, that a small chamber was located. Inside, a large firefly was shining with a lustrous, purplish white light. He was standing strong on top of a thick tree branch, just above another firefly of similar size. It was evident, however, that the former was more formidable than the latter, both in power and demeanor. The firefly on the bottom spoke first.

‘I’m here at your service, your Beaming Highness.’

‘Indeed you are, Aurelius. Though sometimes I wonder, perhaps, if my father wasn’t… blinded by the golden promise of your skills. Not to mention, those of your Illuminati,’ said the royal firefly.

‘Your Father, the latter King, always trusted us with the protection of the Radiant Society. We have never failed at this task!’

‘Oh, you certainly can protect us from outside enemies, although we both know you’re not the only one responsible for that. But you see, apparently capturing one fugitive bug, a female one at that, has somehow proven too difficult for the Illuminati’.

‘Is this about that whore’s daughter, then? I still insist we’re wasting precious time looking for her. Her mother, that useless “Twinkle” of the lower districts, tried to fool us by giving her daughter the royal name of Clara. But she was eventually discovered and punished by death. This “Clara” will never come back. Just how long can she last outside the mangroves, anyway?’ Aurelius retorted, with an air of defiance.

‘Do I need to remind who you’re speaking to?! You may be the Supreme Commander of the Illuminati, but you’re still below me!’ saying this, Prince Lucius radiated even more purple flashes. ‘Let me shed some light on this matter for you again. First her mother, this “Twinkle”, hears top secret information from one of your witless Illuminati generals, who couldn’t keep his mouth shut trying to impress a common slut. Next thing you know, her newborn Clara was inside the Radiant Society’s Shrine, after yet again, your half-lighted subordinates failed to filter her out from other elite larvae. Now, she has actually developed the magic glow! This means she knows about the Divine Shrine’s Fruit, for heaven’s sake!! She will definitely try to come back at some point!’ explained Lucius.

‘But your Highness, we’ve already located her! I got recent intel that her scent’s been detected again! I hate to say, but two of our own were acting suspiciously in the vicinity. They had a lying green hue of light when they were questioned about her by other patrols. But all of our scouts report that she keeps getting away from the lake!’ said Aurelius.

At that instant, a third firefly came flying into the small private chamber.

‘Prince Lucius! Commander Aurelius! I’m terribly sorry to interrupt, but we’ve just received an instant light message seconds ago! We’ve lost her scent, and we can’t find Flick the 11th nor Glick the 23rd either!’ the soldier said.

‘What??!! How’s that even possible?! Where were they last seen?’ Aurelius’ glow shifted from a warm, confident gold to a terrified pale blue.

‘About two Sol away sir! But right before she vanished, she seemed to have stopped running away from the lake, for some unknown reason.’

Lucius’ purple light turned searing red at this.

‘Incompetent bastards!! She must have decided to come back, just as I said! But wait… On a second thought, this may be fine. Let her get close!!’ he commanded. ‘But make damn sure she can’t get to our main mangrove without us knowing she’s here! Otherwise it’ll be lights out for all of you!!’

‘Y-yes Sir!! It shall be done!’ said Aurelius, who bowed before Prince Lucius and then flew away, alongside his underling, faster than greased lightning.

Lucius remained silent for a few seconds. Then his light became a calmed, royal purple again. Suddenly he whispered, as if to the mangrove itself.

‘You must ensure she can’t get to close to the Divine Shrine, in case the hot-headed idiots fail. And keep her alive, we must make an example of her.’

A calm, cold buzz behind the tree branches replied.

‘…Understood…’

——————

Clara’s clever plan seemed to be working thus far. As she had finished dealing with Flick and Glick’s bitching, I’d flown to her in order to demand a better explanation, but suddenly she’d dived into the smelly mud by the rotten roots. My best guess was that she’d done that to hide her scent. At least I’d hoped so. I wasn’t sure what was what when it came to fireflies anymore.

When she emerged, Clara had spoken. We were to lie hidden until it was dark again. Then, all three of them would cling on to me with their lights turned completely off, hiding in my wings. I was to fly to Lake Stink trying to stay away from Illuminati patrols, but without hiding too much from them either. After all, they shouldn’t suspect a big dark bug that had no business with them. In the off chance that some wanted to talk to me, I was to pretend I spoke a different language and fly around the closest tree or rock. Then, Flick and Glick would jump out from me and use their so called “Pass Signal” – this turned out to be a combination of previously established colored lights that only an Illuminatus would know, meaning that there was nothing of interest to report around the nearby area. We followed this plan to a T right after we had slept and fed on the mud.

After a few hours of flight, my companions informed me that Lake Stink was really close now. Clara was amazed at my flying speed and stealth, and I was beginning to feel cocky. Flick and Glick had had to use their Pass Signal thing twice. In both occasions I could hardly see the supposed color changes in them, and again, their shine seemed to be dull and a lot less elegant than that of Clara’s. Maybe my moth eyes were not made for this signal beam kind of thing.

‘There it is! Lake Stink!’ Clara whispered suddenly.

‘Phase two of the plan, now!’

This was, undoubtedly, the fabled Lake Stink! I had never seen so much water in my life! I could detect a funny aroma in the atmosphere, which was no doubt responsible for the name of that place. I was so freaking excited that I’d forgotten how uncomfortable “phase two” of the plan would be, especially for me. Clara would remain hidden under my body, but Flick and Glick would come out and use yet another special code for us to be allowed over the lake. I was supposed to pretend to be their prisoner, a big dumb insect that didn’t even speak the common speech of basic bug buzzes. I had argued that no one would be moronic enough to buy into that, but Clara said that fireflies actually captured different bugs from time to time and worked them as slaves, or at the Red Light District, although none of them had my huge size. I would have done almost anything for her at this point, and so we took our positions. As we flew slowly towards the water, Illuminati guards appeared at the lakeshore and, as expected, asked us to stop.

‘Hold up right there! Who that? Oho, if it ain’t Flick and Glick! So nice to see you, you rascal sparks… Heaven lights! What do y’all have right there?! Who’s this dark motherfucker?! We can barely see him! He huge too!’

‘Hi there, Blick and Tlick! This motherfucker’s a moth! We… we captured him! Ohohoho, we are so… shiny and strong!’ they replied awkwardly.

I cringed. These guys were the absolute worst actors I’d ever seen in my goddamned life. There was no way they’d let us-

‘Wow, really? So brilliant! Welcome guys! He’ll work hard for us fireflies, yes! Illuminati forever!’ the guards said.

I swear those guys had to be closely related to Flick and Glick. Ladybug Luck seemed to be on our side!

So we went over the lake’s waters, slowly passing more Illuminati who didn’t seem to be very concerned with us. They actually looked kind of glad once we’d passed them. This was too good to be true, and I feared they would stop us at any minute. But they didn’t. We carried on over dark waters, until I spotted something incredible in the distance. At first I thought that dawn was upon us, but then I realized that it was still too early for that. No, this was something different. From the bright horizon, there seemed to emerge a familiar shape. Vague at first, then it became clearer. Was that a group of trees, right in the middle of the lake? I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I was dying to ask Clara what was the deal with that place, but talking to her would’ve been suicide at that time.

After a good while, we were there. I was dazzled by the gleaming force now just in front of me. It had to be a dream. It was an absolutely gorgeous sight to behold. It looked like an entire sparking city, built right on and within a bunch of huge trees! What the-!

At that instant, Flick and Glick started glowing with another one of their codes. A few more small lights of various colors appeared right in front of us.

‘Go ahead, brave ones! Good job on capturing this big ass fella!’ they said.

Somehow, these fireflies already knew about me being captured, even though the first group of guards at the shore had been surprised. Yet I had not seen any messengers flying ahead of us to let them know of my presence.

As we entered the mangrove city, I knew that no moth alive would ever believe what I was witnessing. Not in our craziest legends had something so stunning ever been described. I was too stupefied to say anything, but then Clara broke the silence.

‘Good, we’re inside! There seem to be no patrols in here. Somehow we managed to fool them!’ She was ecstatic. ‘Now, we go to the third mangrove’s roots! That’s where the Red Light District is. That’s where we’ll get the help we need!

—————–

(Communicated in light language)

‘Just because you can’t see her doesn’t mean she’s not with them. She must be. So it seems they’re heading to the Red Light District, and not the Radiant Society’s Shrine? Are you sure? I guess that disgusting commoner can’t escape her own roots, after all. What a disappointment. Then again, it’s such a fitting place for her to fall and her companions to die. Don’t inform Lucius of this. I wish to show him we can take care of the situation easily enough.’

‘Commander, we’re worried about the black bug with them. He’s rather large, looks strong and he’s completely devoid of light.’

‘Do not engage them yet. When the time comes, I’ll deal with him myself!’

——————

(End of Part 3)