017 Those Who Watch the Sky 17


 17 – Children Wandering Under the Sky 1

~ Adventure.
To experience excitement.
There is no excitement greater than clinging to one’s self.
Faced with the uncertain of life or death gives every moment meaning.
There is no emptiness.
You are always filled with fear or elation.
That is adventure.
To go forth and experience.
To face yourself and meet yourself.
I want to meet myself and know that I can hold onto her. ~


“Ugh…”

Groaning softly and still feeling the pain present below his sternum where Link had struck him, Eliot became aware of the sounds of the waterfall and pool he had spent the last two nights at. Birdsong accompanied by the light of day told him that for the first time since before the destruction of Cross that he had slept. Still having his own thoughts about him was surprising in itself but the relief that washed over him as he heard footsteps nearby implying he had not been abandoned was cathartic. Finding a reason to smile earnestly he did not resist as the expression curled his lips and he forced himself to sit up.

Taking in the sight of the camp around him it seemed that Link had been busy the night before as a makeshift fire pit rested near him and there were signs of meat of some kind cooking over it on sticks. Link herself was nearby and in a more normal state of dress than Elliot had seen her in before she unexpectedly made sure he got some rest. Her attire was not quite normal however as she had ripped off the legs of her leggings revealing her bare legs as she danced about in practice with her sword flashing in the morning light. Elliot watched her for a moment with a smile on his face before a slight sadness found its way into his eyes. The night was not a dream yet it was hard to think that Link had been open with her fears. It seemed to be a consequence of the Foreigners upending their lives but it weighed heavily on Elliot all the same. Link’s mental state was not all that weighed on Elliot and he held up his hand and stared at it wistfully.

“Hey, don’t tell me after that you’ve suddenly started feeling differently about me! It was embarrassing enough last night but it’d be even worse if you started having those types of feelings for me…!”

“You don’t have anything to worry about Link; I was just thinking is all.”

Looking up Elliot offered Link a smile as she looked at him obviously embarrassed. His words did not seem to bring her much satisfaction though and she started pouting as she planted the tip of her sword into the ground and her free hand on her hip.

“Hrm… I don’t know how to feel about that Elliot. You’re so hard to understand some days…”

“If it makes you feel any better Link, then you should know that you’re beautiful.”

“EH

Link’s mouth fell open and her face glowed as she deepened by at least two shades of red. Stunned into speechlessness Link just stood there paralyzed and though he smiled Elliot felt sorry for her. It was obvious that she was not prepared for the compliment even though he spoke it truthfully. Even now he was still enamored by the sight of her naked flesh and felt as though he could see past her clothes and was sure she probably felt the same way based on her expression. Not wanting to torment her however he decided to provide her a way to take her mind off of what was so obviously embarrassing her.

“So where’s Melody?”

“Melody… Oh! Right! Melody! Um…! She went out to scout out a good path for us up the cliff here!”

Spinning around and looking up the waterfall the excitement in Link’s voice countered her attempts to conceal her embarrassment. With her eyes off of him Elliot took another moment to look at his hand. Closing his eyes he pressed his finger tips to his chest and his smile grew pained as he recalled the sensation of Link’s flesh upon them. He did not allow himself to dwell on it though and rose to his feet falling into his accustomed stance with his left hand resting on the head of his scabbard.

“Then the plan is to follow the water to its source?”

“Or hopefully to a town along it. It’s not like we really have any choice though. As close as Melody is with her ability to manipulate the air, none of us can really cast magic so we can’t just summon water like Sister could. That and we don’t have any supplies to tend to our swords so I’ll need to keep an eye out for any stones I might be able to use.”

“It sounds like you’ve planned things out fairly thoroughly.”

Stepping up next to Link, Elliot offered her another smile. Not quite ready to face him yet Link looked away from him and her nervousness twisted the confident expression she tried to put on as she moved her free hand from her hip to the back of her head.

“W-well, that should be obvious. You know I’ve always wanted to be an adventurer so I’ve learned what I could about how to survive. I just didn’t expect to have to deal with a Foreigner along the way. I guess I was too careless.”

“Under the circumstances Link I don’t think you were in any position to be prepared for it.”

“Li~ink! ~ I’m back! ~

Melody’s voice ringing out from above Link and Elliot had their conversation cut short. Turning their attention skyward they saw the harpy zip into view from above the waterfall. Flapping her wings and spreading her tail feathers as wide as she could Melody drastically slowed her pace and began to descend in a gentle circle. Turning her attention to where she would be landing Melody’s face lit up as she saw Elliot standing with Link.

“El~liot! ~ You’re awake and not a monster! ~ Link and I were so worried that she had been hasty in just knocking you out cold. ~ Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~

“Melody! Don’t reveal stuff like that! He seriously really needed to get some sleep and didn’t need to hear that I was worried!”

“It’s fine Link. And yes Melody, as you can see I’m fine.”

Chuckling at Link’s expense Elliot earned a pout from her before he turned his attention to Melody who landed behind him and Link. Skipping up to them Melody offered them both a bright smile.

“That makes me so happy to hear ~ Link may not admit it but we really were so worried about you ~ Though after that whole scene last night I don’t know what Link has to be embarrassed about ~

“Shut up Melody! It was and still is embarrassing!”

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! ~

Laughing playfully Melody ran from Link who started chasing after her obviously annoyed at being so embarrassed. Watching the scene Elliot couldn’t help bursting out laughing himself and earned a dirty look from Link.

“Don’t you start too! Argh! You two are starting to make me think of Squawk!”

“No~! ~ Don’t compare me to him Link! ~ I don’t want to be compared to someone so mean! ~

“Then stop teasing me!”

As much fun as the three of them were irrefutably having they did not have the luxury of time to so indulge themselves. Thus, it was not long before they were on the move with Melody leading them along the best possible path to take them to the top of the waterfall. It was not a straightforward affair however and she had to take to the sky numerous times to double check the route she chose for them. Eventually, though far removed from the waterfall itself, the three of them reached the stream that fed the pool they had spent the last two nights beside and began their journey. Having finally begun and freed themselves of any further immediate distractions Elliot spoke on at least one thought that was still distracting him from the night before.

“Link, last night, and Before Melody interrupted us… The way you spoke about the Foreigners infecting us…?”

“Hm? What about it…”

“It’s just with all of the Sa·B·ers you’ve pestered over the years–”

“I wasn’t pestering them.”

“–I don’t recall even one of them ever referring to the Foreigners as anything at all like a person. So I was wondering how you came to that conclusion.”

“Hmm… well it’s not that I really see them as people… I mean we mostly just call them Foreigners even though we’re not actually talking about the actually Foreigners but the monsters that legends say are born from their cities. But, even then… when I move any infected part of my legs it’s that sensation I have, like someone is fighting back and trying to kill me… …that and I swear I see green eyes like a dragon or something from a children’s book. You don’t experience anything like that?”

Resting her hands on the back of her head as she walked Link looked curiously at Elliot. Sharing Link’s mannerism for pinching her chin while in thought, Elliot bowed his head and stared at the ground he treaded over as he did. Closing his eyes he concentrated on the terrible burning sensation that coursed through his veins and under his flesh. Horrible as it was though he could not see anything but the back of his eyelids though he could feel emotions he was certain were not his own. Even then he did not feel as Link did.

“I can’t really say Link. All I feel is… something like aggression and a horrible burning sensation.”

“Really? Hmm… Maybe you should try imagining something then. You’ve obviously been holding on through sheer willpower, but is that really enough?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I don’t just want to survive, I want to win. I want to beat this Foreigner that’s infected me and take back not only my body but since it’s here take its powers for myself. Foreigners have amazing power and grant the Sa·B·ers who conquer them those same powers. I don’t know enough about the Foreigner infecting me but if I can conquer it then I can claim its powers once I learn what they are.”

“That’s a nice dream Link, but I don’t recall any of the Sa·B·ers who visited Cross ever really clarifying how or why Sa·B·ers gain powers from the Foreigners that infect them.”

“I don’t think it’s that complicated, and since Squawk suggested that maybe Melody is a Sa·B·er I’ve been thinking about maybe it’s like how I have my father’s hair color and my mother’s eye color.”

“You mean passed on traits?”

“That’s about right. I mean, the Foreigners that infect Sa·B·ers become a part of their body right? So it’s kind of like if they have that power then the Sa·B·er should too. I think I’m kind of looking at it like a book maybe. The Foreigners that infect us have all this data in them and when they merge with a person the person gains access to that knowledge if they know how to look for it.”

“Are you seriously describing a Foreigner like a spell book?”

“That would be fun but maybe more like a machine. It can only do what it was built for but we have to guess what that is ourselves. I want to try to figure that out myself before we find a town to make myself more valuable to the Cardinal Church so they’ll help me become a true Sa·B·er. I just don’t know where to start. Like I said, I just don’t know enough about the Foreigner infecting me.”

“You really are amazing Link. I never would have thought of it that way. But if I could understand the nature of my infection…”

“You could make the Foreigner your own!”

Finishing his thought for him, Link offered Elliot a bright smile. His reaction though prevented it from lasting and she was left wondering if she had finished his thought incorrectly.

“Am I wrong?”

“I couldn’t say Link… my infection wasn’t really like yours. There wasn’t a single Foreigner I let touch me; only their blood which likely infected mine through my wounds.”

“Then I bet you’re better off than me.”

“Link?”

“Well, think about it. I bet that’s how most Sa·B·ers get infected is through blood mixing during battle. But that means you just have to conquer the changes to yourself. Since you’re a swordsman conquering yourself is necessary to become a better swordsman anyway. Me on the other hand… I have no doubt that the Foreigner infecting me is definitely its own entity that wants nothing more than to eat me.”

“Saying it like that Link makes it sound like I’m the Foreigner…”

“No, only a part of you.”

“Only a part of me…?”

Though Link’s words were more hypothetical than insightful they resonated with Elliot in a way that opened his mind to a new way of thinking. Link caught on as she saw the change in his eyes and decided to run with it in the hopes that her rambling would help Elliot not lose out to his Foreigner infection.

“Yeah! The you I’ve always known is human, but who is the Foreigner coming to life inside of you? Whatever it is it’s taking your form for itself so you just have to separate the Foreigner you from the human you. Then you can see the face of your opponent and not just defend yourself blindly but fight back. And if you don’t hold back like you do against me you’ll be able win for sure.”

“I don’t hold back against you Link.”

“I don’t believe you, bu~t…”

Link smiled broadly before skipping off ahead of Elliot alongside the stream. Looking over her shoulder she read his blank expression before spinning around to face him and clasping her hands behind her back.

“As long as you don’t hold back against the Foreigner you, I’ll forgive you.”



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