008 Those Who Watch the Sky - 08
08 – Children Cursed by the Sky 5
Squawk could not contain himself from screaming as he pointed an accusatory finger at the girl who stood beyond the wreckage of the machine sentry that had but a moment before been threatening his, Link’s, and Elliot’s lives. The red-haired girl seemed confused and looked over her shoulder for any sign of the monster that the nāti spoke of, the large blue beads holding her hair on either side of her face swinging gently as she turned revealing the long ponytail that ran down her back. As she looked for any sign of a monster her long and slender while feathered tail twitched about and the look of her confusion deepened under her straight cut bangs.
“I don’t see a monster… What about you Link? ~♪”
“I’m afraid that he’s talking about you Melody…”
“Huh? Me? I’m not a monster ~♪ What a silly nāti ~♪”
Drawn by Elliot’s voice the girl named Melody turned back to face the group and offered them a happy smile. The sight of her mouth falling open joyfully left Squawk trying to scramble backwards up the tree behind him and was only stopped as Link groaned and drove her hand into the top of his head. Squawk clutched at his suddenly throbbing head and scowled and screeched at Link with watery eyes.
“What was that for you idiot?!”
“For not being able to tell the difference between Melody and a monster.”
“What part of that is not a monster?! Do you see those wings?! And those talons?! That is most obviously a harpy?!”
Link groaned again and walked over to Melody but not before clonking Squawk on the head again, though to less effect as he was still clutching his head. The motion was enough to get Squawk to continue glaring at her as she approached the white bird-winged girl with red hair and massive blue eyes and note if not for the girl’s stilt like feet that ended in her head crushing talons she would not have stood as near Link’s height as she did. Melody was also thin enough herself to make Link look more filled in, though like the other girl she was reasonably shapely all the same though her bosom was not as developed.
“I’ve read a fair share of books Squawk and Melody here is definitely not a harpy, most likely.”
“Well we can’t really be sure if she is or just a member of a chimeric race we aren’t familiar with.”
Elliot tried to offer Squawk a bit of reassurance with a smile but his blood soaked face did not serve him well under the circumstances. Looking at Elliot aghast, Squawk stammered in disbelief.
“Do you hear what you’re saying you idiot?”
“Um… Link, why does he seem so upset?”
“Because while he’s accusing Elliot of not hearing his own words he hasn’t heard a thing that you’ve said.”
“Really? ~♪ Well if that’s all I just need to introduce myself ~♪”
Whether she was purposely ignoring her or honestly did not hear Link, Melody walked up and extended a mid-thigh length, brown stocking clad leg towards Squawk. She turned her talon sideways as though to shake hands but all Squawk seemed to notice were the razor sharp claws that extended from her uncovered toes beyond where the stocking ended. Staring at the lethal implement that tore through solid metal effortlessly and glistened in the fire light of the burning woods Squawks eyes watered in terror. Melody didn’t seem to understand and offered him a big smile as she introduced herself.
“I’m Melody, and you must be Squawk ~♪ It’s nice to meet you ~♪”
“Keep away from me you foul beast! I won’t be swayed by your honeyed song only to become you’re next meal!”
“You really don’t need to panic like that Squawk. Melody doesn’t eat people, and eight years of being her friend since Link and I found her wandering the woods alone attests to that.”
“You’re also obviously ignoring some of the more obvious differences between her and an actual harpy. By the way Melody, sorry about this.”
“Huh– ?! Eek~! ~♪”
Melody was unprepared as Link walked up behind her and grabbed and released the seat of the white leotard that she was garbed in causing it snap against her rear. Placing her left hand on Melody’s shoulder Link leaned into her back and looked down angrily at Squawk.
“I hope you saw that and remembered that harpies don’t wear clothes, or have big blue ribbons in their hair. They also don’t have icaran legs but rather actual bird legs and are totally covered in feathers. And didn’t you notice her ears either?”
Bringing up Melody’s ears Link ran her fingers up the long ears that emerged from the sides of her head and all the way to the white down covered tips well above the top of her head.
“Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~♪ Stop that Link! ~♪ That tickles! ~♪”
Melody tried to pull away as she giggled from the sensation brought by Link’s fingers against her ears but was suddenly embraced tightly from behind.
Turning her head to see Link resting hers on her left shoulder with closed eyes that failed to stop the tears that ran down her cheeks Melody grew even more confused. Turning to Elliot for answers he was not much better off than Link though he managed to at least smile earnestly at the perhaps harpy. No immediate answer was coming forth from Link either as she continued to chastise Squawk.
“And then I can’t believe that you don’t recognize my handiwork Squawk. The toe rings to secure her stockings along with the thigh clasps. These beads in her hair and the clasps on her leotard. Even just her clothes in general were all made by me. Being able to make clothes for Melody is one of the few times I’ve been glad for all of the training I’ve received for anything but adventuring.”
“You’ve definitely gotten better at Link ~♪ The first few outfits you made me never fit right but this one fits so well it’s like I’m not wearing anything at all ~♪”
“I don’t even care about that right now Melody… I’m just so happy that someone else from Cross asides from the three of us is still alive…”
Tightening her embrace of Melody, Link allowed herself to start bawling into the maybe harpy’s shoulder. The scene brought a bit of jealousy to the boys though Elliot did a better job hiding his than Squawk who finally seemed to be accepting Melody.
“So where’s my hug and tears you idiot?!”
“Shut up Squawk… You were making fun of us as soon as you saw us so you don’t get a hug.”
With a mighty harrumph Squawk finally straightened himself up and crossed his arms in disapproval. The obvious joy displayed on the faces of Link and Elliot though softened his demeanor, if only ever so slightly. It was still Squawk after all and that meant he had another complaint or more ready for the world to hear.
“Well whatever the case we’ve met up with your pet harpy even if it just ended up rescuing us instead of whatever it was you had planned Elliot.”
“You’re kind of mean, aren’t you? ~♪ That’ll make it hard to get along ~♪”
“I’ve no intention of getting along with you beast. I’ll acknowledge that these two idiots trust you and that you destroyed the machine sentry, but you are still a beast as far as I can tell.”
“You could at least use my name though ~♪ It’s Melody by the way if you didn’t hear me before ~♪ Link and Elliot came up with it ~♪”
“I don’t see why a monster needs a name–”
“Because she’s our friend and not a monster.”
Turning to glare up at Elliot, Squawk had a rebuttal ready to fly out from his beak but the shadow cast over Elliot’s smile did not escape him and he changed what he was going to say.
“Are you so sure of that Elliot? I do believe that’s–”
The shushing sound made by Elliot almost went unheard over the sound his sword made as it was returned to its scabbard. It did not need to be heard though as something about the way that Elliot looked at Squawk with such a kind smile silenced the nāti uncomfortably. Having taken over the conversation Elliot turned his attention to Melody and Link, who had all but lost all of her strength and was fully supported by the maybe harpy.
“I think it’ll be best just to let him continue calling you a harpy Melody. I know it’s neither flattering nor likely accurate, but at least it still makes you special since it’s unlikely that there are any harpies in the world like you.”
“You can’t be sure of that you idiot. She has to share traits with her parents at least, unless of course she’s a Sa·B·er. It’d explain quite a bit, except maybe how a child was able to maintain their human will.”
“I wouldn’t know either way ~♪ I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember and everything else I know Link and Elliot taught me ~♪ Except for how to fight ~♪ My instincts have always been all I’ve needed there and even Link has learned from me ~♪!”
“I guess that would explain those useless kicks you were throwing out earlier…”
“You weren’t much help either Squawk…”
Link offered Squawk a pout as she looked up from Melody’s shoulder and was rewarded with a loud harrumph. Not knowing if she was going to be caught in another unpleasant surprise Melody simply smiled awkwardly just as the fire that engulfed the wood where they stood reminded them of its presence. Surprising everyone the fire ate through enough of the tree they had been next to and brought it crashing down around them, the last vestiges of the protection spell Squawk had cast mitigating most of the damage they would have suffered. Melody was the exception but her quick reflexes allowed her to jump out of harm’s way almost instantly even though it meant knocking Link onto her rear.
“Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~♪ Sorry about that Link ~♪ It might be too dangerous to stay here much longer though ~♪”
“We definitely should seek out shelter, but where? I’ve no idea where we are and between the fire, the Foreigners, and the machine sentries being hostile our options aren’t particular clear right now. We only came in this direction because I believed I saw you fall from battle with the Foreigners above us in the clouds Melody.”
“The icky things? Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~♪ Don’t be silly Elliot~♪ Those things aren’t dangerous at all. I only fell down because the air is really angry, unstable, and hard to predict ~♪ You weren’t having any trouble with them were you?”
“Not particularly, but Link’s leg needed tending to so we couldn’t continue fighting indefinitely.”
“I figured you wouldn’t have any trouble ~♪ Especially since the other two I saw seemed to be doing okay ~♪”
The efforts of LInk, Elliot, and Squawk to distance themselves from the fallen tree came to a sudden halt as they all leveled Link with questioning looks and the words to vocalize their shared question. Suddenly the center of attention again Melody laughed nervously.
“Yeah… they were further south following a really broken metal hallway through a bunch of cliffs that didn’t used to be there. I didn’t talk to them though because you two warned me that people would probably get the wrong idea about me, just like I guess your friend Squawk has ~♪ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha ~♪ That and the four-legged one was really scary looking the way he was wielding his swords ~♪”
The jab against Squawk went uncontested as even he was filled with hope at the description that he recognized along with Link and Elliot. He was however still the first to speak up.
“My word, someone who actually knows what they are doing is still alive! And from the sounds of it he’s probably in terrain that we can catch up to him in!”
“Well, there’s a bunch of the icky things between here and there, though the forest wasn’t on fire that far south at least ~♪ By now though they’re probably clear of the forest ~♪”
“That’s fine Melody. I think Elliot and I have rested enough to fight off some more Foreigners, and I agree with you that’s it’s not safe here anymore. So do you think you can take us them?”
“It’d be easier to find them again from the air, but I think the wind can guide me well enough ~♪”
“Then please lead on Melody.”
“Okay Elliot! ~♪”
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater