006 Those who Watch the Sky - 06


06 – Children Cursed by the Sky 3

Copper blue blood burst out of the Foreigner as surely as a last scream of life as Elliot’s sword split the abomination into lifeless halves. Squawk nearly forgot himself as he chased after Link and Elliot his beak falling agape in awe at Elliot’s sword work.

“My word, the idiot actually killed it…”

Stunned as Squawk was it wasn’t long before his cynicism returned.

“But honestly, how can he kill enough when there are probably thousands falling on us? And what about the other idiot? Isn’t her leg injured?”

Peeling his eyes off of Elliot Squawk turned his attention to Link who was significantly more impressive than Elliot. Dancing about and twirling like an acrobat as she charged ahead, her sword like Elliot’s stole the life from any Foreigner she encountered. Impressive as Link appeared however, it was obvious she was straining significantly more so than Elliot, the grimace on her face giving away the pain she fought against to move as she did. A frown crossed Squawk’s face as he watched her knowing she couldn’t keep up that pace but the only cover in sight was the fast approaching burning woods ahead of them. With a sigh of resignation Squawk proceeded to raise his voice.

“Elliot! Make way for those trees and prepare to defend Link and me for at least a good minute!”

“Is something wrong Squawk?”

“It’s nothing Elliot! Squawk’s just being paranoid! We can’t afford to stop now!”

“That’s exactly why I’m insisting we take cover under those trees! They may be on fire but at least they’ll protect us from any Foreigners dropping onto our heads!”

“That sounds like stopping to me Squawk and we don’t need to!”

“It’s less of a stop than it’ll be if your leg gives out you idiot! Now stop arguing with me and let Elliot lead us to cover!”

“Link…?!”

Elliot risked a concerned glance in Link’s direction and would have earned a pout of disapproval if she did not further grimace as she pivoted off of her injured leg and leapt out of the way of a lunging Foreigner. Link outright winced as she landed, though she still made sure not to let the Foreigner have a chance to endanger her or the others again before continuing onward. Regardless, her blatant pain was enough to get Elliot to turn his eyes towards the burning tree line ahead.

“We’re headed for the woods anyway Link so let’s take a moment to get our bearings!”

“Honestly! Ugh! You two should be more worried about Melody than me!”

“I’m more inclined to worry about the idiots I see and know will keep me alive than some stranger I’ve never met!”

“Well, if we can save her she’ll be a great asset to keeping all of us alive Squawk. Now come on Link, this is one time you’re the one who is going to have to give in first.”

“UGH~! Fine!”

Elliot smiled reassured as Link groaned about his and Squawk’s concern for her but otherwise gave in. There was a still an uneasiness about his smile though as he had no assurance that Squawk’s suggestion that the burning woods would minimize their engagement with the Foreigners would prove true. He was for certain though that the shadow he had seen fall from the sky would require them proceeding past the woods and that if they had fallen within Cross’ territory that they would be able to determine their bearings by the trees. That of course though required that the trees were not burned beyond recognition but there were no more immediate paths to take in the current situation. Knowing that, Elliot redoubled his efforts and served as the group’s spearhead leading them violently into the woods ahead.

“HOT~!”

Link let out the yell as the temperatures around then soared upon entering the wood and they were quickly surrounded by a raging inferno. Squawk was unsurprisingly unsympathetic in response.

“Bear with it you idiot! In case you haven’t noticed there isn’t a single one of those abominations ahead of us!”

“I don’t care! I don’t have you’re protective fur coat!”

“Honestly you’re such a whiner for such a derring-do adventurer wannabe!”

Critical as Squawk was though he took a deep breath and steadied himself as he ran. Concentrating his thoughts inward he reached deep into himself and touched upon a light and the energy that flowed through it. Taking hold of that energy he raised up Link’s scabbard as a makeshift conduit and let a prayer fall from his beak.

“~ Oh kinded Atheaeldre,
in the shadows of your bough I seek your protection.
I beseech thee oh merciful goddess to shade these pilgrims from harm.
Protection! ~”

Swinging the locket end of the scabbard down violently towards the ground a surge of energy rushed out from Squawk and swirled around the group before disappearing with a blue shimmer. Instantly the heat of the flames that engulfed the forest seemed but a warm lamp to Link and Elliot. Stunned the two came to a stop and examined themselves dumbstruck before turning the same expressions onto their nāti companion.

“You can cast magic?!”

“Well a little bit at least. I am training to join my fellow nāti as a Pilgrim of Atheaeldre after all.”

Scratching at the side of his beak bashfully Squawk displayed a rare moment of humility. Neither Elliot nor Link took the chance to jab at him as they were both obviously too impressed, though Link’s eyes began to sparkle as she looked upon him. Suddenly in a burst of excitement Link grabbed his hands in hers not realizing that she was crushing them between her sword and scabbard even as he obviously winced in pain.

“That’s absolutely amazing Squawk! I’d love to cast magic so you have to teach me! I already have an idea of the basics thanks to the artificial gate generator in the plant so you just have to explain the ground rules!”

“First of all let go of me you idiot!”

Yanking his hands free of Link’s grasp Squawk yelled at Link but to seemingly little affect. She was still looking at him with shimmering and pleading eyes and there was little way he could shed her attention now. With an irritated sigh Squawk turned his gaze to Elliot who was still staring amazed.

“You’ve really come a long way Squawk.”

“Don’t patronize me Elliot and stop just standing there like an idiot. I’m going to try to tend to Link’s leg but I have less of a firm grasp of healing magic so this is going to take a minute or so. That means you better be watching our backs you idiot.”

“Of course. Though I can’t help but be grateful that you had not revealed this ability sooner or we would have shared the same fate as the rest of Cross.”

Elliot’s solemn words did not sit well with Squawk and he let a load huff.

“Pah! That was just me not enabling this idiot like you were. Plus it was punishment for her kicking me in the face and being half of the cause of me being scared silly while trying to attune myself with the gifts of Atheaeldre.”

“I’m so sorry Squawk. If I had known you were training in magic I would have been glad to help you out.”

Link’s eyes still sparkled as she spoke to Squawk but could find no sincerity in her words. He however, had every intention of surviving the night and getting back at Link so he pushed her lack of sincerity aside while letting his agitation show on his face.

“Only for your own ends you selfish idiot. Still, if you really want to learn then you best be ready to be humiliated.”

“What are you planning Squawk?”

“Nothing nefarious Elliot. Now stop watching us and watch our surroundings! Even with my spell in place we aren’t safe.”

Giving Squawk a wary look Elliot reluctantly pulled his attention away from the nāti and Link. No longer under Elliot’s scrutiny Squawk again turned his attention to Link whose eyes still sparkled but a shadow of doubt had become visible within. Sighing, Squawk decided to work as quickly as he could.

“First off sit down and stick out your leg Link. And no back talking. We’re only doing it this way because you want to learn.”

Nodding her head Link carefully sat on the ground and extended her injured leg in front of her. Kneeling down beside her Squawk placed his hands on her leg. Closing his eyes he again reached out for that light inside of himself.

“Now pay attention Link because I’m not wasting any time even though a more thorough job would be better and I could aptly humiliate you even more.”

“I think I might honestly be glad for the dire circumstances then…”

Link laughed nervously and Squawk shot her a dirty look. Clamming up Link looked down at her leg and waited for the nāti to continue.

“Now then, you’re knowledge of how to operate the ancient machine is useless if you want to cast a spell of your own. Maybe if you knew how the machine generated an Ambrosial Gate it would help you but we both know no one including your father understands the workings of the ancients that well. Fortunately for you however all human beings possess an Ambrosial Gate and can open it with training and call forth Nectar into the world. The size of the Gate and flow of Nectar vary from person to person so what you can accomplish and how quickly is more innate than trained beyond the greatest of sorcerers, but one thing that is always the same is how much you can affect is limited by the amount of Nectar at your disposal. Your own body serves as the vessel to hold it and if you overflow it you’ll destroy yourself. That is unless you share it with a second vessel be it a person or anything else that can hold Nectar. For healing magic the recipient is typically the second vessel as the transient nature of magic requires a great deal of Nectar for a more permanent result. Of course I’ve already got another spell filling our bodies with Nectar so the healing magic won’t be as effective, especially without a thorough examination of your legs for the injury and to compare it to how your legs should be while healthy.”

Again a nervous laugh rose up and out of Link and her face turned red, though the light of the flames around them hid her embarrassment.

“That would have been humiliating letting you handle my legs like that.”

“Just knowing you know that has me smiling behind my beak.”

“Pervert.”

“I can stop the explanation and just be done with it.”

“That might not be a bad idea regardless Squawk. I’ve noticed movement in the distance and odd flashes of light.”

Elliot’s interruption drew out an air of desperation from Squawk and he perhaps began to sweat beneath his wiry fur.

“Another of those blasted machine sentries… And it’s probably too much to hope that this one is actually working properly…”

“Dammit!”

Link muttered the oath under her breath and looked off in the direction that Elliot was observing and was rewarded with the very strange flashes of light that he mentioned. Based on where they were seated and facing it was along the path to where they believed that Melody was perhaps engaged with Foreigners. Gritting her teeth Link moved to stand but was stopped by Squawk’s firm grip on her leg. Link turned a desperate look on him but he merely shook his head.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking but you’ll want me to finish this spell if you intend to fight the machine sentry.”

“Then hurry it up, I’ll have to just get you teach me later.”

“Maybe not if you just practice trying to imitate what you’re about to feel. I’ve already near overflowed the both of us with Nectar and you’re not going to be able but to help but notice it as soon as I cast the spell. I advise you brace yourself though because as I said, I don’t have a very firm grasp of healing magic.”

With a nod of her head Link gave Squawk the go ahead. It was a pointless motion though as the nāti had no intention of waiting for her permission and was already praying for his spell to take shape.

“~ Oh merciful Atheaeldre,
as life wears flesh so too do we recognize it’s restoration.
Head the humble words of this pilgrim and let us aid the wounded.
Heal! ~”

 A golden glow radiated out for a moment from both Link and Squawk and then faded as quickly as it had appeared. Rising to his feet squawk took a step back and invited Link to stand with a firm nod and anxious look in his eyes. Bracing herself Link accepted his invitation and rose cautiously at first but soon rose fully with a confident smile on her face.

“That’s absolutely amazing Squawk.”

“Only if the effects of the spell worked as intended and aren’t a transient thing.”

“As long as it lasts long enough it won’t be a problem. Are you ready Elliot?”

“Not anymore then when Squawk insisted that we fight machine sentries underground instead of moving to safety.”

“Well, we don’t have a choice now. Though, look on the bright side; if we have to fight it and can win then we can take cover in the plant wherever this thing came out from.”

“You’re optimism always astounds me Link.”

“Come on Elliot. I want to be an adventurer and that means I’ll have to face a lot more dangerous foes than an old broken piece of scrap like this. Honestly, what type of adventurer would lose to an old and ancient machine anyway?”

“A reckless one you idiot! And I can’t practice healing magic on a corpse so don’t you dare turn out to be one!”

An exasperated smile spread across Link’s face and she gave her sword a twirl before taking her preferred two-handed combat stance with blade tip pointed at the ground behind her.

“Don’t worry Squawk. My leg should be good enough now, so this should be easy.”



Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

025 Those Who Watch the Sky - 25

022 Those Who Watch the Sky - 22

001 Those Who Watch the Sky - 01