018 Those Who Watch the Sky - 18


 18 – Children Wandering Under the Sky 2

The adventure that Link, Elliot, and Melody had dreamed of for years had at last begun. The pool at the base of the waterfall where Link learned of Elliot’s Foreigner infection and had become infected herself was well behind them. It was not the adventure that any of them had imagined however as Link and Elliot were faced with the constant threat of losing their minds or flesh to the Foreigners that possessed them. Then there was also the matter of food and nutrients. The stream that they followed in hopes of finding its source provided the group water and the wildlife and monsters both that frequented it assured them plentiful meat but the lack of vegetation as the waterfall became days behind them brought with it other fears. The monsters were also of great concern and slowed the pace of the group’s journey significantly though the swordsmanship of Link and Elliot combined with Melody’s prowess assured that they were never in any real danger as long as they avoided the far larger beasts that roamed the razed face of Icarus. Those very beasts however became more common as the stream slowly widened into a river and cut through the earth.

Concerns of monsters, resources, and the threat of the Foreigners while plentiful were not all that concerned Melody. The harpy was feeling left out in a strange way. Though she helped with hunting and fending off monsters as well as with Link and Elliot’s morning training sessions, even going so far to use her command of the wind to help Link dress and avoid spreading her infection faster, she still felt left out. Particularly whenever she would take to the sky to scout out what lay ahead her mind was given time to wander back to her earliest memories and when she first met Link and Elliot.

For Melody her past could not be defined until she met Link and Elliot. Before that day in the woods when the two children appeared before her brandishing wooden swords all she really knew was hunger and staying alive by following her instincts. How she ended up in the woods within the walls of the town of Cross was a simple matter of her instincts and wings not being developed enough for flight and falling from the cliff that encircled the town. Injured and unable to tend for herself Link and Elliot appeared before her while she was slowly starving to death. She had no grasp of human language however and did not understand a thing they said but their kindness was evident and they slowly nursed her back to health.

Nursing Melody back to health was not all that Link and Elliot did for her. As they continuously checked up on the perhaps harpy they tested her capacity for being human and shared with her their school books as well as others and learned that she had a vastly superior ability to learn compared to them. And learn Melody did, absorbing language and the knowledge held within Link and Elliot’s books as well as their dream of adventure. Though they kept her a secret from the rest of the townsfolk, honing her stealth skills became as much an adventure for Melody as joining Link and Elliot in exploring the old castle ruins within Cross’ borders as well as the more abandoned regions of the plant beneath its soil. Above all else though the skill that Melody honed more than any other was her observancy. It was the skill that made her most valuable on the current leg of her journey with Link and Elliot but it did not necessarily make her feel like it was as much her adventure as theirs. Wanting the adventure they journeyed together on to truly be shared however, one morning she thought it reasonable to discuss what she had observed as they all walked along the top of the natural wall beside the river.

“Hey ~ Link, Elliot ~ I was wondering if you two noticed ~

“Noticed what?”

Link and Elliot both turned their attention to Melody as the former asked for clarification of the harpy’s observation. What observation she would share almost felt quietly selfish to Melody though as the feverish flush that had come to Elliot’s complexion seemed unnoticed by Link who seemed to be doing her best to ignore that the skin of her legs had been completely replaced by the black shadow of the Foreigner that infected her. That her infection had spread so far though was what had brought the point of interest that Melody intended to share to her attention.

“We~ll ~ I don’t know how much you and Elliot ever paid attention to those food books that you used to bring with you, but you should know that bad things happen if you don’t eat properly ~ Especially while traveling ~

“Link and I are aware Melody. It’s why the condition of the land has been most concerning these past few days.”

“It would be kind of nice if Squawk were with us at least. Training to be a Pilgrim of Atheaeldre as he has I’m sure this river would have been a perfect place for him to practice restoring life to the face of Icarus like he wanted to.”

“Hrm~! You two are ignoring me again!”

“Eh? Again?”

“My apologies Melody. Please continue.”

“I don’t know if I want to now.”

Obviously annoyed with Link and Elliot’s little conversation interrupting her Melody pouted fiercely. Her pout was nothing as impressive as Link’s, though the similarity in mannerism between the two left Elliot with a pained smile. Melody was not sure the full meaning of the smile he held but stopped pouting as she studied his features.

“Now you’ve got me curious Melody.”

“But do I have your attention Link? You seem to be lost in your head?”

“Not my head Melody; my legs.”

Donning an awkward smile of her own Link motioned with her left hand to her legs. Unlike her legs her left hand was still entirely of human flesh and it was obvious that she was putting in a great effort not to touch her legs. It was naturally easier with her right hand however as she kept it propped up by holding on to the strap of her scabbard, but the anxiety she was dealing with was palpable in how she tried to keep her left hand away from her legs. Watching Link’s left hand and the anxious smile she wore Melody decided to stop being fussy.

“We~ll, maybe you would like to hear some good news then ~

“I’m open to some good news. Icarus and the Sister Goddesses know we could use it.”

“Ah~! Don’t tell me that you’re bored Elliot

“Not bored Link, just anxious watching that Foreigner transform you more and more.”

“In that case you should have invoked the name of Cardinal. It’s supposedly her light that stays the influence of the Foreigners after all.”

“I’ve heard the stories of the Cardinal Church’s saint Link. I just find it hard to grasp that they put a lone human above the gods.”

“He~y! You two are doing it again!”

“Ah!”

Audibly expressing her realization as Melody complained Link suddenly started laughing.

“I’m so sorry Melody. I just can’t seem to focus today.”

“Perhaps we should have set out later.”

“And give the Foreigners more time to work on us before we find another town? No thank you.”

“Well it’s not all bad Link.”

“What

Melody had to stop and turn around as her words paralyzed Link and Elliot with confusion. At last though she seemed to have their fully undivided attention and she took advantage of her captive audience.

“That’s what I said ~ I’ve been watching you two pretty closely for a while now and noticed that you aren’t suffering any of the effects you should be ~ Kind of ~

“Kind of?”

“Don’t interrupt her again Link.”

“Well, it’s kind of weird ~ None of the plants you and Elliot were chewing on seemed to be doing you much good but as your legs have changed more and more Link you seem to be not affected by just eating meat. Elliot is kind of weirder though. I don’t know if he has a fever or not but he looks a lot healthier while drenched in monster blood or just really any wildlife we’ve had to kill ~

Hearing Melody fully out Link and Elliot exchanged looks with each other. After a moment of silence they looked once again at Melody.

“Now that you mention it… Though what’s this about Elliot having a fever?”

“It’s not a fever Link, even if it might as well be. It’s just my insides are starting to feel like the heat from the woods the night we left home.”

“That is definitely something to worry about Elliot!”

“As Melody said though I definitely feel better when…”

Trailing off Elliot looked down at the ground. He did not enjoy the sensation of being drenched in blood but he could not deny the effectiveness it had on cooling the sensation within him.

“It doesn’t matter though Link. I can’t say if that is simply sating the appetite of the Foreigner blood in me or if it is attuning me more to it. I’d rather not risk it when I don’t understand it. Besides, even if it is beneficial for me your infection has not slowed at all.”

His eyes shifting from the ground to Link’s legs, Elliot’s expression shifted from shame to concern. Link shifted embarrassedly under his sudden attention and took a step away from him. The air of seriousness about the two of them however only irritated Melody.

“You two are being really bad about all of this! I told you that because it means we don’t have to spend time trying to find plants and determining if you can eat them. Even if it’s because of the bad things happening to you if you two can just eat meat like me then we can travel faster. Isn’t that a good thing

Struck by Melody’s logic Link and Elliot again froze before exchanging looks. They did not look back at Melody again though as before as they both burst out into laughter.

“She’s right Elliot. We keep worrying about how much time we have–”

“–But if we can save time because of the Foreigners infecting us then we suddenly have that much more.”

“See? ~ I told you it was something good! ~

“That you did Melody and I for one know that I appreciate it.”

“Ugh~! I wish I could feel as good about it as you two but Elliot and I didn’t figure that out on our own. We may be able to travel faster now but it’s like we took a step back in proving we’re valuable enough for the Cardinal Church to help us.”

“Then maybe you should also stop asking me to scout ahead too Link.”

“Eh

Freezing up again at Melody’s words Link stared at the harpy dumbfounded. Elliot was not so locked up and seemed more concerned for Melody as he addressed her.

“Are you sure Melody? You love flying do you not?”

“I do, but this is supposed to be our adventure ~ The one we’ve all dreamed about for so long ~ So, as much as I love flying I’d rather be down here with you two so that way we can share in it together ~

“In that case…”

Recovered from her latest bout of conversation induced paralysis Link suddenly skipped ahead of the group and looked back at them from over her shoulder with a broad smile. The words that she spoke next lit up Melody’s face and even Elliot smiled gladly as the two of them fell in after Link.

“…let’s go on this adventure of ours together!”



Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater

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