004 Those Who Watch the Sky - 04


04 – Children Cursed by the Sky 1

~ I remember that day ten years ago as though it was yesterday.
Father was watching the security feeds from the wall and summoned Cliff to our home.
It should have been an insignificant event to me as any such security checks were.
To my surprise though father had Cliff take me with him to main gate.
It was the only time I rode upon the centaur’s back and I’m sure a child such as I was unnoticeable.
Yet I still to this day question that thought.
Awaiting us beyond the gate was a group if three who desired entrance to our town.
They we’re not merchants or salvagers, or even Sa·B·ers in need of rest.
Even odder was that they travelled with a small child who had seen no more than five springs.
That child would become my world as she was everything I could ever desire.
She was unfettered and fearless, full of life and dreams.
We would lie upon the grass and watch the sky for the sight of any Foreigner cities.
Their occasional passing would fill us with a desire to see the world that they surely passed over.
She desired to see that world for herself and dedicated herself to the sword.
Wanting to experience even a tiny piece of what it was to be her I did the same.
I would support her dream and maybe become a little more like her.
I would pursue a dream that was not mine to have.
I would protect that dream with all that I was. ~

“Link, wake up.”

Elliot’s voice gently called to Link through the darkness and the knowledge that she was still alive dawned on her. Being alive and being conscious were two different things however and the latter took greater effort in that moment to achieve. Still Link was willing to put in the effort and was rewarded with the fuzzy sight of Elliot’s smiling and bloody face.

“Elliot…?”

“Welcome back Link. I could use the company right now.”

“Ow~. What are you talking about? … Oh…”

Forcing herself to sit up Link quickly became aware that she and Elliot were completely closed in on all sides by crushed and twisted metal. Sparks from damaged electrical equipment were the only source of light within the enclosure and the stench of burning electrical components filled the air. Despite the situation though Elliot was smiling and Link could feel a breeze blowing through the enclosure.

“I’m afraid that we’re stuck Link. The good news though is that we and our swords seemed to have survived unharmed and this prison of ours doesn’t seem very permanent.”

“Somehow that doesn’t sound good…”

Link’s statement was not just in response to Elliot’s words but the steady groaning of strained metal that persisted all around her. The smile on Elliot’s face implied it probably was not and was supported by the swaying motion of the enclosure.

“I’m guessing we got tangled up in the lookout station as it fell and are probably dangling from whatever is left of the wall. I was hoping you’d wake up before it collapsed any further and we could come up with a plan to get out of this mess.”

“I think you have a clearer idea of what’s going on here than I do so I’m open to any suggestions you have, though…”

Elliot placed a finger to Link’s lips and silenced her attempt to show him any concern.

“You don’t need to worry about me Link.”

“But–”

“I still have one life that’s important to me that I can save.”

“Eh?!”

Link’s face turned red at Elliot’s claim and she found herself grateful for the dark. Pushing Elliot’s hand away Link took advantage of her slight frame to reposition herself within the metal enclosure causing it to sway more than it had at any point since she woke. Desiring to escape her unwanted embarrassment she ignored the swaying and attempted to peer through a gap where she could feel cool air blowing in.

“Don’t say stupid things like that Elliot. Honestly you’ll give people the wrong idea.”

“What people Link? I’m sure we’re all alone here and that no one in the village survived.”

The forced calm that Elliot had been maintaining finally began to show signs of cracking as his voice wavered with the confirmation that they were probably the only survivors. Link did not appreciate Elliot’s acceptance of defeat and groaned as she clutched at her left temple. Turning around to put her face back in Elliot’s she gave him a stern frown.

“I can at least say one other person could be alive, and he’s the last person I want having any more fuel to make fun of us. From there we don’t know what the situation in town is really like. Sure it could be all gone but I couldn’t see anything through all of the dust so it’s too early to give up.”

“Honestly Link, you absolutely amaze me.”

“Is this really the time for flattery?”

“I don’t see why not. We seem to be trapped in a ball of scrap that will likely kill us when it finally falls free and yet you’re still holding out hope that the town somehow survived. Or maybe I’m giving you too much credit as you’ve only just gotten up and I’ve had some time to sit here and think about what happened.”

With a mixture of a groan and a sigh Link fell back onto her rear and clutched at her left temple again as she leaned against the wall of the impromptu prison opposite Elliot and caused the whole structure to sway significantly. Elliot’s eyes looked around uneasily while Link closed hers and tried to calm herself down. After a moment of silence Link lowered her hand and opened her eyes while offering Elliot a smile.

“Things are pretty bad right now, and I’d be lying if I said not knowing how bad things actually are wasn’t eating me up… but, well, I’m human Elliot.”

Lowering her eyes Link looked away from Elliot as she spoke and the smile on her face contrasted with her visible turmoil. Elliot moved to speak but stayed silent as Link suddenly continued, blabbering with the slightest hint of hysteria setting in.

“This whole situation is crazy and everyone we’ve ever known and cared about is probably dead. You’ll probably never get into a fight with your brothers again and I’ll never forge another sword with my father or test it with my mother. Know more stories from Cliff about his adventuring days and no more lectures from Sister about how we’re supposed to live by the grace of Icarus and the Sister Goddesses of the Church of Cardinal. We’ll never get to ever call her by her name to her face just to see how she reacts or call anyone by their name ever again… and yet… …and yet I’m excited Elliot.”

Looking up at Elliot tears ran freely down Link’s face even as her wide smile persisted. Still she continued talking giving Elliot no chance to comfort her.

“For as long as I’ve lived in Cross I’ve dreamed of returning to the open road like I was from my earliest memories. I’ve dreamed of chasing after a Foreigner city and seeing the world that it sees and now a Foreigner city came to me and has given me that chance. Sure I always dreamed that my parents would go with me and now they’re probably dead but I’m still excited. I still see my dream right in front of me and want to go out and chase after it. Everyone is probably dead but I’m still thinking about myself and–”

Suddenly pulled into a tight hug by Elliot, Link found herself too shocked to keep babbling. Pulling her close and squeezing her as tight as he dared to spoke with a desperateness that balanced between rage and a plea.

“It’s fine Link. It’s fine. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting to pursue your dream if you’ve been given the opportunity. Just don’t forget the cost of that opportunity and remember to respect those who sacrificed for it.”

“Elliot.”

Finding her voice again Link smiled more earnestly and took a moment to compose herself in the security of Elliot’s embrace. Taking a deep breath she pushed him away and offered him a smile.

“Then in that case we need to get out of here so we don’t die here and throw away any meaning in everyone’s death, right?”

Though she spoke strongly Link was obviously trying to fight back further tears. Seeing that he wasn’t the only struggling to cope with the loss that would surely hit them even harder if they could escape their predicament Elliot managed a more earnest smile of his own.

“That’s right. And then when you become a world famous adventurer we can commission someone to come and build a memorial for everyone.”

“I think you mean we Elliot. I’m not going out there alone, especially now.”

Wiping away a tear Link’s confidence began to return to her voice and a flicker of hope appeared in her eyes.

“Of course not Link, my sword exists to support your dream after all.”

“Shame it can’t cut through this metal though.”

“Not with your blade forging skills. You’d have to be able to infuse it with Nectar for it to even stand a chance at that.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that Elliot.”

A mischievous twist took over Link’s smile and she confidently began explaining an idea that came to her mind.

“I may not be able to open an Ambrosial Gate but my father knew how to use the artificial generator in the plant and that is something I learned how to operate.”

“Not that we have access to it here.”

“Well, no, but there’s still power if the sparking wires are anything to go off of and all of the electricity in Cross is supplied by the artificial generator. It may not be the way I was taught and I don’t have permission to try on my own but it’s not like it matters right now. Now come on, help me get into position.”

Not waiting for Elliot to respond one way or another Link attempted to shuffle about within the confined space and draw her sword all at once. It was an awkward affair to say the least and the careless motion intensified the swaying of the ball of scrap that held them. Struggling to maintain her balance and attempting to gain access to one of the exposed and sparking wires, Link’s efforts only made things worse. Then with a terrible groan and a sudden shift the sound of tearing metal tore through the confined space.

“Eep!”

The guilty exclamation Link squeaked out was promptly lost to the noise caused by the entire impromptu prison tearing loose of its tethers and tumbling violently from its place of rest. Thrown about like fruit in a jar Link and Elliot were both elated that she had failed to draw her sword as the naked blade surely would have lessened their already slim chances of survival. Even that became a mute point as the tumbling heap of scrap tore apart and more than enough sharp edges were given form that would have surely been just as, if not more than, lethal as Link’s sword would have been. But then it was over and Link and Elliot found that the remnants of the majority of their former prison left them behind to tumble even further along before crashing in the distance among the burning woods before them.

Even free of their prison Link and Elliot still tumbled wildly a good distance longer before finally themselves coming to a stop. Laying on their backs the view above them was full of flame hued clouds of dust and inhuman cries could be heard from within. Turning their heads to look at each other the two suddenly burst into laughter, though whether it was joyous or ironic did not matter to the voice that suddenly spoke down to them.

“You two lovebirds are at it even in this mess?! You really are a pair of idiots!”



Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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