009 Those Who Watch the Sky - 09


09 – Children Cursed by the Sky 6

The catastrophic night wore on, but for Link, Elliot, and Squawk escape from the worst of it finally seemed to be at hand. Before them, leading their group through the woods the harpy Melody ran with her knees to her chest with simple flicks of her ankles. Following her as closely as possible was Squawk huffing and puffing for air compared to Link and Elliot who brought up the rear and gave the group a triangle formation. Much better control of their breathing as Link and Elliot had however they definitely looked the worse for wear than their nāti friend, both of them coated in the copper blue blood of the Foreigners and Elliots own red blood mingling with it though his own bleeding had long since ceased.

Close as the end of the night seemed to the group it was still one fraught with danger. As they ran encumbered with their own exhaustion and carried forward only by adrenaline they eventually escaped from where the wood still burned brightly with the flames that ravaged it and once more exposed themselves to the abominations of flesh, fang, and claw that they knew to be the Foreigners. In the growing darkness Melodys claws and the swords of Link and Elliot flashed rending Foreigner flesh and thickening the coat of blood that they wore. Desperate as they were to escape the night and stay alive in the darkness of the wood with the fire falling far behind them, they failed to notice that not all of their foes were of flesh and fang and claw. The vile parasites had begun infecting the wood itself and turning the flora and fauna both into monsters that desired only to kill the group of four.

The wood would offer threat and protection both to the four for little longer as their desperate flight eventually lead them to thinner and thinner woodlands as they neared the typically more barren lands of the face of Icarus. In such open spaces they would surely be fully exposed to the horrors that fell from the sky and out of the clouds of dust, smoke, and ash that night, but they pressed on just as surely as their exhaustion sapped their strength and adrenaline born of fear kept them running. Adrenaline however could also be born of hope and the first signs of daybreak appeared in the skies off to the childrens left revealing that that smoke and dust that filled the sky did not go on forever.

Look!

Speaking up Link drew the groups attention to her and in turn towards the sky to the southwest where her gaze fell. Some distance ahead of them and well into the sky where it belonged, the massive technological impossibility that had scrapped their home away as the sun set the night before loomed above. The vertically stretched ovoid that served as a city to the Foreigners cast a shadow before them as much as it did behind them, but with the first rays of daylight reflecting off of its plant engulfed metal exterior it somehow seemed softer and less malicious than the devastation it left in its wake implied.

Idiotic thing! Why couldnt it stay that high to begin with?!

Screeching vehemently Squawk shook Links scabbard at the Foreigner city having become aware of it. The city, bar some lights that could be seen twinkling within even from the ground, showed no signs of life with which to respond to Squawks vitriol filled complaint and simply continued its slow ascent back into the sky as it continued its trip south. There was no point in wasting further energy on it and so high in the sky it was becoming harder and harder to believe that it was the source of the troubles that befell the four of them that night.

I wonder why it descended…”

Less hateful of the Foreigner City than Squawk, Elliot looked upon it with curiosity. Naturally the ancient city had no answer for him but Squawk was glad to speak up in the Foreigners stead.

Because the Foreigners hate us, thats why! Surely the way you two idiots have always dreamed about going off on adventures and harassing the merchants that passed through Cross have heard the stories of the fools who incited the wraith of the Foreigners.

You mean the fall of Lucir, right?

Thats right, the people that defied the Cardinal Church and tried to build a nation inviting the wraith of the Foreigners again on to all of mankind. What type of idiots would ignore the Foreigners razing the face of Icarus some five hundred years ago?

Link had no answer for the question that Squawk asked her in response to her answer and she fell into thoughtful silence. Elliot glanced worriedly in her direction but felt he too could not answer that question. Raised in a town in which the Cardinal Church had deployed a lone nun to serve as their primary educator and the lone Sa·B·er that defended their town also being affiliated with them assured that their values were well instilled in him. Those values included technology being sparsely used beyond quality of life aspects such as plumbing and sewage along with electrical lighting, heating and cooling, and radio communication. All else was left to be handled only by those approved of by the Cardinal Church lest mankind in its hubris again invite the fury of the Foreigners upon them.

You dont suppose its because of the machine sentries do you?

Why would it be the machine sentries? Father had permission from the Cardinal Church to repair them and ready them to protect the town since Cliff was the only Sa·B·er in Cross and we never really had a militia. Im more likely to guess that that Sa·B·er in red was responsible.

Youre blaming a total stranger now who you know nothing about. Truly you are an idiot Link!

Link pouted fiercely in Squawks direction but as the nāti was keeping his eyes ahead on Melody it was a wasted look. Noticing that they had put some distance between them and the wood and that the turned up shelves of earth they had been running through now gave them a fair view of the burning forest behind them Link turned her own attention to the harpy.

Hey, Melody! How much longer until we catch up with Cliff?

Huh? Well were at a cliff now ~

“Eh~!”

Made aware of the geographical change ahead of them Link, Elliot, and Squawk came to a jumbled stop. Staring back at the group behind her with a smile Melody laughed at the three of them as they fell over themselves.

“You’re as much of an idiot as these two and I should have expected it!”

“Don’t call Melody an idiot!”

Not taking kindly to Squawk’s bellyaching Link drove her fist into his head before joining Melody at the cliff edge. She was shortly joined by Elliot and Squawk clutching at the top of his head and the three of them were astound by what they say.

The basin that the town of Cross had rested in was as a small hole compared to the ripples of cliffs and rocky shelves that rolled out before them. Jagged and unforgiving it could not even be determined if the freshly churned earth as pushed up by the Foreigner citys recent contact with the face of Icarus was safe to traverse. More telling however was that there was no sign of the metal corridor that Melody had spoke of that had led the group this far and Squawk was quick to voice his noticing of this detail.

I knew we couldnt trust this accursed beast! Tell me, do either of you idiots see any sign of an escape shaft from the plant?!

Shut up Squawk, Im looking.

Much as Link spoke harshly towards Squawk she could not deny that there was no sign of the corridor in question. Elliot seemed to be of the same mind but took his concerns directly to Melody.

Perhaps we misstepped due to the land being upturned by the Foreigner city?

What are you talking about Elliot? ~ Sure I made sure to avoid the metal people but once we were clear of the woods I took us right back on track ~♪”

I dont think that bird brain of yours understands what the idiot is saying; there isnt any sign of the escape shaft!

Well not from there silly ~ Most of it was already torn up and falling in on itself so it probably was buried already ~♪”

Buried

With a word Melody chased away the hope that had been keeping the others going all through the night and well into the early morning. She did not understand the despair that the three of them were suddenly expressing however and tilted her head curiously.

Is something wrong?

Of course something is wrong you idiotic beast! Weve been running through the night desperate to find the only other survivors of this horrifying experience only to discover that they were likely buried alive!

I dont get it Is that supposed to be a joke because it doesnt seem very funny…”

Squawk was likely to blow his top but Elliot placed a disapproving hand on his shoulder and shook his head. Turning his own crestfallen smile onto Melody he tried to come to terms with their situation.

If only it were a joke Melody, but hearing that the tunnel has been buried…”

Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha ~ Are you sure youre not trying to tell a joke because they look fine to me ~♪”

Looking back out over the cliff into the terrifying ripples of earth and rock that awaited them below Melody smiled quite sure of herself. Elliot and Squawk could not wrap their tired minds around what the harpy spoke of as they too looked out and only saw the desolate upturned earth. Link however suddenly had a realization and her eyes lit up.

Which way Melody?

Theyre right over there Link ~♪”

Nodding her head to indicate where she was looking Melody gladly answered Links query. Stepping up to the edge of the cliff and cupping her hands to her mouth as best she could while still holding her sword Link conjured up all of her strength and yelled out as loud as she could.

CLI~FF! SISTE~R! WAI~T! WERE COMING UP FROM BEHIND YOU!

Having spent the last of the strength that she had, Link stumbled back and would have fallen had Elliot not caught her. Grateful as she was the confused look on his face pleaded for an explanation and Link smiled for him.

Elliot, its Melody here. Her eyes are so much better than ours of course she could see them when we couldnt.

Of course!

Enlivened by Links explanation Elliot shifted to shout out over the cliff himself.

SISTER! CLIFF! ITS REALLY US!

A heavy sigh interrupted the good cheer of Link and Elliot as Squawk shook his head at the both of them.

Honestly you amateurs, if they really are out there they wont hear such paltry screams.

Squawks boasting was not just for show and as the nāti cupped his hands to his beak Link and Elliot were forced to cover their ears. Melody was not so fortunate to have hands with which to protect her long ears and yelped out in pain, though her voice was buried under Squawks mighty shout.

YOU TWO SELFISH IDIOTS‼ WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING LEAVING ME AND THE TWO IDIOTS BEHIND?‼ AND DON’T THINK YOU CAN GET AWAY EITHER‼I DON’T KNOW HOW WE’RE GOING TO CATCH UP YET BUT THESE TWO IDIOTS HAVE A PET HARPY WHO CAN SEE YOU FROM HERE AND ALREADY TRACKED YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT‼”

Lowering her hands from her ears Link looked at Squawk tentatively and smiled awkwardly.

“That was something else Squawk. Where did you learn to shout like that?”

“Learn?! Don’t make me laugh Link! I’m a natural born master of course!”

Folding his arms as best he could while still holding onto Link’s scabbard Squawk offered Link a proud harrumph. Lowering his own hands from his ears Elliot donned an unsure smile of his own as he looked at the proud nāti. Melody having to experience the full might of Squawk’s impressive shout was herself laughing even as she complained about the experience.

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~ My ears are ringing and I cant hear anything else ~ ⁈ Oh~!” Look! ~ Look! ~ Whats that⁈ ~♪”

At Melodys surprise and insistence Link, Elliot, and Squawk turned their attention once more out beyond the edge of the cliff and were rewarded for their decision.

Ha! Look at that, they heard one of us at least!

More likely than not it was Squawk.

Of course it was. Like either of you idiots could possibly have shouted so magnificently.

Having reason to smile earnestly again the group looked out over the broken land that awaited them and welcomed the sight of the flare rising up into the sky in competition with the rising sun.

~ The night had at last past.
For those of us who had survived it should have been a release.
Though we had survived there was still much grief that awaited us.
The Foreigner City did not only wipe out just a small town from the face of Icarus.
Our emotions and will to survive would yet be tested more in the days ahead.
What we so conveniently ignored as we fled for lives and fought to survive.
The Foreigners wrought not just destruction but also despair.
We had survived, but the Foreigners’ curse was already upon us… ~




Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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