001 Those Who Watch the Sky - 01
01 – Children Who Watch the Sky 1
Clouds that drifted too close to the overgrown and decrepit, vertically stretched and towering, ovoid shaped city that drifted through the sky were burst apart by the ancient technological impossibility. Despite its size and ancient wear some lights could still be seen flickering within implying some kind of life persisting within. From the more desolate surface the greenery that clung to it already proved to be more life than grew up from the face of Icarus.
Not all of Icarus was so desolate however and under the gaze of its two moons, the Eyes of Icarus, two simple cruciform swords met below the boughs of great trees within the ruins of a stone castle from times long past.
~ It’s been ten springs since I’ve come to live here.
Is my sword strong enough yet to take me beyond the wall? ~
Is my sword strong enough yet to take me beyond the wall? ~
~ For as long as I’ve known her my sword has been for her dream.
Is my sword strong enough to support her yet? ~
Is my sword strong enough to support her yet? ~
“You’re holding back Elliot!”
A girl with waist length, straight, dark brown hair yet messy bangs chided her sparring partner as she rebalanced herself from the recoil of her parry. Elliot, a boy of fifteen years and short blond hair simply smiled with emerald eyes and a kind, fair skinned face as he looked upon his fair skinned face and sea gem eyed partner of matching years.
“Am I now Link?”
Twirling his sword in his right hand as his left rested comfortably upon his scabbard at his hip Elliot took a step back and waited for Link who lowered the tip of her identical sword to the ground behind her. Tightening her two-handed grip and returning Elliot’s smile with more of a wide smirk of her own she stepped in to meet him again. Elliot’s smile did not change as his twirling sword suddenly whipped along the ground forcing Link to jump to avoid it and it was a most impressive jump. While Elliot was just shy of average height for his age he was still easily taller than Link yet she twisted and twirled her body with no exertion so that her feet pointed to the sky and she looked down upon him with a widening smile.
Link’s sword flashed out to split Elliot’s head in two but a simple step and shift of his shoulders took him out of harm’s way and allowed his sword to meet hers. With gravity as his ally Elliot stepped into the downward arc of Link’s leap and traced his blade to the guard of her sword and reversed the rotation of her flip. Link grimaced against Elliot’s strength but did not shed her smile as she folded her body into a right angle and drove her feet towards Elliot who easily stepped around the attack allowing Link to land. Link’s landing was passing however as she tumbled gracefully out of reach of the sweeping backhand of flashing steel that would have split her in two had Elliot’s attack landed.
The lethality of their strikes would have been instant if either of them ever scored a blow as the tunic and leggings that comprised their outfits provided no protection and the steel capped toes of their leather shoes were all but useless as armor. Still the two persisted in their potentially lethal dance, Link leaping, twirling and tumbling about bringing two handed blows to bear and Elliot taking casual steps and pivots with his one handed grip deflecting and threatening his sparring partner. The song their dance conjured up of ringing metal played discordantly over the small wood that overtook the ancient stone castle. Some distance down a winding path to the castle that song excited one of a pair who made their way up the path.
“Do you hear that Sister? I told you something weird was going on at the old castle. I swear it’s haunted”
The words spilled out of the beak that protruded forth from the wiry fur covered face of the shorter of the two, his long skyward and equally furry ears flinching in tune with his stocky and furry body in response to every ring of metal. The nun who walked beside him looked down her long lamb’s face, which stuck out fully from her sock hood, compassionately at her bird like companion.
“I have much doubt that a Foreigner of any kind inhabits the castle young Squawk. Even more so one given flesh of the Nectar of Ambrosia. Even if what you said were come to pass I assure that Master Cliff would not suffer it to persist within the walls of Cross.”
“Well, he hasn’t stopped it yet Sister! Every day for as long as I’ve been training to follow in the footsteps of my fellow nāti pilgrims that infernal racket has scared me out of the woods. How’s a strapping young nāti like me supposed to attune himself with the gifts of Atheaeldre if he can’t even stay within her grace?”
“I wonder more how so vain a young man as yourself intends to follow in the ways of the cloth. But my doubts are my own young Squawk and the kindness of Atheaeldre is her grace. I am sure if your heart is truly set on sharing the good goddess’ bounty that both Celestia and Icarus himself will carry your intent to her.”
“Maybe, but will they deal with this racket as well?”
The nun sighed as Squawks words belittled the god and goddesses of Icarus.
“They have little reason to young Squawk, of this I assure you. After all, this sound is most familiar to me and suspect it is I who will have to punish those who so trouble you.”
Squawk’s shrill voice rose as he leveled a wide-eyed look up at the nun. The nun simply responded with a tired sigh and took the lead up the path towards the castle. It seemed an ill advised decision however as the afternoon sunlight glinted off of an object that had not been in the air but a moment prior. Watching the glinting object Squawk’s beak fell open revealing the tooth filled mouth it hid. The nun did not partake in such expressions however as she let a silent prayer of thanks fall from her lips as the cruciform sword planted itself in the ground before her. A moment later they heard Link’s voice rise up tinged with disappointment.
“Honestly Elliot, this is why I accuse you of holding back every day. You may be strong and have a good grip but holding your sword in just one hand is asking for trouble against someone as good as me. You should just be glad that there isn’t anyone out here who your sword could hurt.”
“I’m afraid that isn’t true young Link.”
Link had been looking back into the ruined castle as she spoke and had not noticed the nun as she emerged from the foliage in pursuit of Elliot’s sword and froze in her tracks at their voice. Slowly turning her head she donned a sheepish smile as the nun and Squawk came into view.
“S-Sister, Squawk, what brings you two up here?”
Link could not contain her nervous laughter as her left hand went to scratch at the back of her head leaving her sword to dangle hypocritically in her right hand.
“I could ask you the same young Link however–”
“Is something the matter Link? It’s not like you to stop talking so sudden–“
Elliot emerged from the foliage on cue in pursuit of Link and quickly became aware of why she had stopped talking. Seeing his sword stuck in the ground just in front of the nun his face paled and he scrambled down the path to retrieve it.
“I’m so sorry Sister. If I had known…”
Elliot trailed off as there was nothing he could really say and he donned a sheepish expression as he pulled his sword from the ground and returned it to his scabbard. The nun simply sighed again as Elliot hung his head avoiding looking at her.
“Honestly, whatever am I to so with you children?”
“I’ll tell you what you’re going to do Sister, scare this two silly just like they did to me!”
Squawk’s voice was not as compassionate as the nun’s and danced about flailing his fist in a fit eliciting a nervous laugh from Link.
“And what are you laughing about Link?!”
“Nothing, Nothing. You don’t have to get so excited Squawk.”
“I’ll get excited if I want to! I thought there were monsters in the woods and instead it just turned out to be a couple of idiots with swords playing around carelessly!”
“You’re overreacting Squawk. There aren’t any monsters here and even if there were Elliot and I would take care of them. Isn’t that right Elliot?”
“Well, you’re not lying at least.”
“And what is that supposed to mean Elliot?”
As she questioned Elliot’s choice of words Link’s hand made its way from the back of her head to her left temple and her smile quickly gave way to a dirty look.
“Confident as you are young Link, and as much history as the two of you have having dealt with one group of unscrupulous bandits some time ago it is hard to think you can handle anything while still waving that naked blade around.”
The nun’s interjection brought Link’s attention back to her own sword and a nervous laugh escaped her as she hid it behind her back rather sheepishly.
“Well, I don’t carry my scabbard on me like Elliot and I was just retrieving his sword so…”
Link trailed off as the nun leveled her with a stern look and she took a small step back.
“Why don’t I just go get it…?”
“You do that young Link.”
With the nun’s leave Link retreated back into the foliage in a hurry leaving Elliot alone to explain their presence in the woods.
“I know this looks like we’ve been disregarding everyone’s warnings about the woods after the bandit incident, but really, it’s more that we’ve taken it to heart and want to better prepared for the future. I mean I know it doesn’t look like it, but asides from training diligently we’ve been taking a different path to and from the castle everyday for the last three years to reinforce our familiarity with the woods just in case.”
Again the nun sighed and Elliot tensed up in response.
“That is all well and good Master Elliot but you are the third son of Master Cross and though it is likely either of your brothers who will succeed him you still must consider your position. You should especially consider young Link’s. She is expected to take over from her father in maintaining the plant and his other duties yet you and her mother both humor her childish desire to practice the sword.”
“It’s not a childish desire Sister.”
Link corrected the nun as she reemerged from the foliage with her sheathed sword dangling behind her right shoulder from the strap she held in her matching hand. With a defiant look on her face she proudly continued.
“I plan on being an adventurer like my parents were before we settled here ten years ago so mastering the sword is a necessity.”
“Your stay here is entirely conditional on you taking over for your father and him serving as our resident engineer. You would throw away that good will for your selfish whims?”
“Of course she would Sister! Neither of these lovebirds has even apologized yet for scaring me silly!”
Squawk’s patience had seemingly expired and his shrill voice again rose up to express his displeasure. His choice of words had contrasting affects on Elliot and Link with the former blushing and the latter growing visibly agitated.
“Who do you think you’re calling lovebirds Squawk?!”
The nun’s efforts to keep the situation under control were nearly in vain but she eventually managed to get them to follow her back down the wooded path. She was not as successful at stopping the playful tussling that happened between the three however and it was all she could do to stay calm as she led them back. She would not have expected a third party to be what finally calmed the three of them but the sight of an aged centaur in an armored and split back long coat addressing a large man in gleaming red armor did exactly that.
Link’s eyes widened in awe at the sight of the semi-mechanized red armor and even more so the massive sword that rested upon its pauldrons. How the man lifted such a weapon no less rested it on his shoulders when it was easily larger than he was brought to mind only one possibility and Link naturally had to confirm it.
“It couldn’t be… but it has to be right?! He’s a Sa·B·er!”
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater