014 Those Who Watch the Sky - 14


 14 – Children Left Under the Sky 5

– Three Years Ago –

The plant as it was known was in truth a factory from an era long past in a time long before the razing of the face of Icarus. The plant in Cross in particular was from a time far enough removed that the Foreigners had razed the face of Icarus several times since it was built. Restoring such ancient technologies and the benefits that they brought to modern mankind was a task typically regulated by the Cardinal Church. Maintaining them however simply required an engineering craftsman with the skills to do so and such individuals were rare. It was the fact that Hazel Sycamore was a genius engineering craftsman who could maintenance every feature of the all purpose facilities of the plant in Cross that he was able to find himself a home there. From plumbing and sewage to electricity and manufacturing the plant in Cross allowed the city to be self-sufficient and that meant the town had little need of outsiders, but having no skilled engineers when Hazel arrived with his wife and daughter allowed him access to the isolated town and the security it offered him with the plant effectively becoming his home and workshop.

Hazel was not the only one who made use of the plant, or even his own workshop as his daughter was also his apprentice and the heir to the responsibility of maintaining the plant. Link naturally was more interested in adventure and desired to one day travel the world again as she had in her earliest memories and one day in particular a task she assigned herself to that end was nigh complete. Laying down her pliers on the work bench before her she leaned back in her chair and wiped the sweet from her twelve year old brow and smiled broadly.

“Finished!”

“Are you now? Does that mean you’re finally going to show me what you’ve been working on?”

“Father!”

Turning her head Link saw her father leaning in the workshop doorframe with his arms crossed and a caring smile on his unshaven face. His hazel eyes looked out at her from behind large circular glasses and under messy dark bangs that skipped out on joining the messy tuft of hair that was the high ponytail he wore his hair up in. Seeing the tall and lean figure that always supported her broadened her smile though his questions brought a playfulness to the expression.

“Hmm… I don’t know. Should I really reward someone who’s been spying on me?”

“Gah! I’ve been found out!”

There was nothing but good will between the father daughter pair and the two of them broke into laughter together. Hazel did not dwindle longer in the door frame now that he was welcome to join his daughter in his own workshop and strolled across the room to examine her work. As he came to join her Link stood up and removed her apron before moving on to begin discarding her tunic. The sight of his twelve year old daughter undressing so brazenly before him left Hazel flustered.

“Link, you’re at that age where you’re growing from a girl into a woman. You really shouldn’t be undressing in front of me so casually anymore.”

“I’m not stripping. That wouldn’t be a good idea anyway since I don’t think this is supposed to be worn against bare skin.”

“Worn?”

“Yup!”

Offering Hazel an excited smile Link held up what she had been working on in front of her to show off her work.

“Chainmail?”

“That’s right. It should protect me pretty well and I can wear it under pretty much any outfit.”

To demonstrate Link quickly donned the chainmail shirt she held and then reached for the chainmail leggings she had left on the work bench. Effortlessly she jumped into the lower garment and then spun around to show off to her father. Her craftsmanship was superb and the mail fit her perfectly yet that fit was what drew a wry smile from Hazel.

“You did great Link. Honestly I’m always impressed with your work considering how much you always imply to hate it down in the plant.”

“I don’t always hate it. Not when I get to spend time with you or make things for when I get to finally go adventuring.”

“Like those swords you made for you and Mayor Cross’ boy?”

“Elliot, Father. His name is Elliot. Why won’t you ever call him by his name?”

“Well, whatever his name–”

“Father!”

Yelled at by his daughter Hazel scratched at his scruffy face with an awkward smile on his face. That was not enough for Link who placed her hands on her hips and stepped up to him with a pout on her face. Having to lean her head back as far as she did to look up at him from so close though caused her to suddenly start laughing.

“Ugh! Why do you have to be so tall when I’m so short

“Well you’re still a growing girl Link, which is where you messed up.”

“Eh?”

Placing a hand on Link’s head Hazel watched her pout give way to confusion. Kneeling down he placed the fore finger of his other hand on the center of her chest.

“Right here Link. Mail is pretty flexible but you’re still growing and I’m not letting you go adventuring just because you made a suit for yourself. That means that when I do finally let you go out into the world this suit isn’t going to fit anymore.”

“Wha~t That’s not fair! I spent so much time on it too. Now I bet Elliot is going to laugh at me too.”

“I don’t think he’s that type of boy. Besides, I think it was good practice for you regardless.”

“I didn’t want to just practice though!”

Tears of frustration were beginning to form in Link’s eyes and her pout was back in force turning her face red with the effort to produce so pronounced an expression. Hazel chuckled and wiped her tears away as he stood up. Shoving his hands under his untucked, button-up shirt and the pockets of his black pants he made his daughter a proposition.

“How about you leave it with me and I use the Gate Generator to turn it into a suit that will grow with you?”

“Eh You can do that

Link’s eyes widened as she looked upon her father with awe and expectation. With a nervous laugh Hazel drew a hand from his pocket to scratch at his stubbly face.

“Yeah… I can, but…”

“But?”

“Well, it’s not really the safest method, and if I do it I could get into all kinds of trouble…”

“Is that right…?”

Disappointment rolled over Link and she hung her head and looked at her feet as she kicked the ground. Seeing his daughter so dejected tore into Hazel and his mouth fell open slightly in wordless response. Pausing for only a moment in his silence Hazel eventually closed his mouth and smiled softly. Kneeling down again he placed his free hand onto Link’s head.

“Well, not if we don’t tell anyone.”

“Ahh~!”

Looking up at Hazel, Link’s whole face lit up with unmatched joy. A pang of guilt tore through Hazel as he knew full well the cost he would pay for doting on his daughter. To him though her smile was worth it more than the world itself and his guilt could not stop the smile of a happy father from spreading across his face.

“But I’ll have to lay down some rules about how we handle it so we don’t get found out. The first rule will be the most important, even more so than not telling anyone. That one will be rule number two. But for rule number one Link I need you to promise me you will keep it no matter what.”

“Hn!”

“Are you sure?”

“Uh-huh. I promise Father. I won’t break rule number one no matter what.”

There was something final about the way Link spoke and it took Hazel aback. It seemed as though his little girl was growing up behind his back and he wasn’t ready for that. He knew he was being hypocritical though as he had just chided her for not considering her own growth but he really did not want to see his little girl grow up yet. But he couldn’t back out of his offer now and he knew it. His smile growing melancholic he pulled his other hand from his pocket and extended his pinky to Link in a bid to satisfy himself and her.

“Alright then, if it’s not too much for a precocious girl like yourself, let’s make a pinky promise.”

“Really?”

“Just humor your dear old man Link. I’m watching my little girl grow up and I’m not ready yet.”

“Well~… okay.”

Reaching out a hand Link locked pinkies with Hazel and looked at her father expectantly.

“Now, what’s rule number one?”

“That you won’t touch this suit of chainmail again until you’ve left Cross behind for your adventures. Promise?”

“Promise!”

“That’s my girl.”

Ruffling Link’s hair and getting her to laugh and try to protect her head the melancholy in Hazel’s smile deepened. He knew what his promise entailed and as a result never wanted to let go of his daughter’s hand again. He would eventually have to, but in that moment at least he allowed himself to cherish the link between their pinkies.




Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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